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15 unusual uses for Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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As he sat down to put pen to score, what did Mozart think his music might achieve? Something on the lines of pleasing listeners, challenging performers, satisfying patrons and keeping the wolf from his own door, we suspect.

Think again, Wolfgang – you’ve underestimated yourself. Undisputed genius though he was, he can surely have had little idea how, two centuries later, masterpieces such as Eine kleine Nachtmusik and The Magic Flute would be credited with powers stretching well beyond the concert hall and opera house.

It was Alfred A Tomatis who, in 1991, suggested that listening to the great man’s music helped brain development. Dr Tomatis’s ‘Mozart Effect’ has generated no little debate since, but by then he had lit the touch paper – suddenly, inquisitive scientists, innovative farmers, ingenious marketeers and the like were looking at just what the great Austrian could do for them.

Here, we present 15 of the finest examples of how Mozart has been put to use in the modern day…

 

1. More alcoholic wine

Let’s begin in the rolling hills of Tuscany. For Carlo Cignozzi, a wine-maker from Siena, playing The Magic Flute to his vines has become an important part of the production process.

Since 2005, the Italian has been piping Mozart’s opera over 56 speakers in one of his Brunello vineyards – the grapes ripen in 14 days as opposed to the normal 20 which, we learn, in turn increases the wine’s alcoholic content.

‘From this vineyard,’ says Cignozzi, ‘a special Brunello is born: “Flauto Magico”, the first wine in the world ever to have been grown completely in tune with Mozart’s musical harmonies.’ BBC Music Magazine is hoping that Signor Cignozzi may feel the need  to sent us a bottle or two for, ahem, research purposes. Or perhaps a case.

 

 

 

2. Less alcoholic students

The joys of the grape and the grain can, of course, be taken a little too far. But, thankfully, Mozart is here to help too.

In 1999, officials at Pittsburgh University got so fed up with the sight of students rolling around paralytic that drastic action was decided upon: Eine kleine Nachtmusik was subsequently played through loudspeakers on campus between 10pm and 2am in the hope that it might encourage a little behavioural moderation.

Whether or not it worked, the choice of composer certainly caused uproar on campuses elsewhere. ‘Mozart is the most conservative and middle-brow of the lot,’ fumed Zoe Abrams of Manchester University students’ union very, very angrily, if not entirely accurately. ‘What gives them the right to inflict such punishment?’

 

 

3. Clearer water

Should you prefer water to wine, do make sure that it is similarly Amadeus-enhanced. Research carried out in the late 1990s by Masaru Emoto, an entrepreneur and doctor of alternative medicine, apparently shows that water which has had Mozart played to it produces clearer crystals when frozen than water that has been exposed to heavy rock music.

Interestingly, as Emoto explains in his series of books called The Message From Water, Mozart-water is similar in terms of crystal clarity to that of pure mountain streams. We are not making any of this up.

 

 

4. More plentiful milk

Milk-drinkers should give thanks to Mozart, too. In 2007, dairy farmer Hans Pieter Sieber was delighted to discover the power of the composer’s Concerto for Flute and Harp on his herd of 700 Friesian heifers in Villanueva del Pardillo, Spain.

When playing the work to his cows as they lined up for milking, Sieber noticed a general air of bovine calm and contentment, which soon equated in real terms to an increased production of milk of up to six litres per animal.

‘It is relaxing music for them but, at the same time, it is dynamic, it keeps the cows active,’ explained Sieber’s son Nicolas. ‘The trick is not to have music that is too relaxing.’

 

 

5. Eggier Eggs

And while we’re on the subject of dairy… Leading up to the 2003 Mannheim Mozart Festival, the organisers thought it might be a good wheeze to play 14 days of solid Wolfgang Amadeus to 3,000 hens at a local farm, just to see how it affected egg production.

The answer was, in terms of quantity, not a jot. However, when served the Mozartian eggs at the festival, concert-goers said they ‘definitely tasted better’. Possibly not the most scientifically informed study ever.

 

 

 

6. Calmer dogs

In 2006, an RSPCA rescue centre in Somerset unleashed a veritable pack of ‘Woofgang Amadeus’ headlines when it revealed that it had installed a £2,000 sound system to help out when some of its canine residents were getting a little feisty.

The dogs, said staff at the West Hatch kennels near Taunton, would quickly relax to Mozart and Bach, but not so pop or dance music. ‘It definitely works,’ enthused deputy manager Anita Clarke. ‘It’s quieter in the kennels now.’

 

 

7. Friskier sharks

Now over to the aquarium where, in 2007, love was, alas, most certainly not in the air. Or, rather, not in the water. When Bloodnose, a 20-year-old male brown shark, consistently showed little interest in 15-year-old Lucy, scientists at the Blackpool Sea Life Centre played him the Romanza from Eine kleine Nachtmusik to try and get him in the mood. Hmmm.

Three years have since passed, and the lack of any announcements of a new brood of Don Giovanni-loving sharklets rather leads us to conclude that the experiment, described as a ‘little bit nutty’ by Bloodnose’s supervisor Carey Duckhouse, has not been entirely successful. A pity.

 

 

8. Super rodents

How do you get rats to negotiate a maze in double quick time? Simple – play them Mozart’s Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos, as former cellist-turned-experimental-psychologist Frances Rauscher discovered in 1998.

While enjoying this very diet of special K488, her lab rats at the University of Wisconsin were able to negotiate a labyrinth far faster than when there was silence – asked to explain the phenomenon, Rauscher suggested that the music was stimulating certain neuron connections in the abstract reasoning part of the brain.

Interestingly, similar results have also been observed in separate experiments on mice, which not only moved quicker to Mozart, but also ground to almost a halt when exposed to hard rock music. And then attacked each other.

 

 

9. Sportier athletes

Mozart can make people move faster, too. In April 2004, just before his country was due to host the Olympics, Dr Thanassis Dritsas, cardiologist and adviser to the Greek Olympic team, pointed out the benefits of listening to the composer’s works as part of a training routine.

‘Before every workout there should be 10 to 15 minutes of classical music at a slow, easy pace, so that exercise begins at a low pulse-rate to aid the blood flow to the muscles,’ he advised. Four months later, Greece won six gold medals, its biggest haul since 1896. 

 

 

10. Fewer yobs

What, or rather who, does it take to prevent louts from making people’s lives misery in public spaces? Yes, you’ve guessed right. In the early 2000s, Tyne and Wear Metro successfully scared unruly types away from its station with occasional blasts of Mozart and Vivaldi.

‘They seem to loathe it,’ said a delighted spokesman. ‘It’s pretty uncool to be seen hanging around somewhere when Mozart is playing.’ Which is all a bit depressing, really.

 

 

11. Quicker growing babies

So now for one of the more heart-warming discoveries. Doctors in Tel Aviv say that playing Mozart to premature babies has been shown to make them grow faster.

The reason, they say, is because babies use less energy when lying back and listening to the gentle strains of the composer’s music than when left in silence, and so put on weight more quickly. But, they insist, it has to be Mozart.

‘The repetitive melodies in Mozart’s music may be affecting the organisational centres of the brain’s cortex,’ says Dr Dror Mandel. ‘Unlike Beethoven, Bach or Bartók, Mozart’s music is composed with a melody that is highly repetitive.’ It’s suggested that, in enabling babies to go home earlier, the finding could save hospitals millions of pounds.

 

 

 

12. …and quicker growing fish

Sadly for gilthead seabream, they also appear to grow more rapidly when serenaded by a little Mozart.

A discernable acceleration in growth was observed when bream at the Applied Hydrobiology at the Agricultural University of Athens were played the Romanza from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (see also No. 7 – it must be a fish thing) for the first 89 days of their lives and, it seems, they were better developed too.

Given that a date with a dinner plate and a hungry Athenian probably awaited them, one imagines that the fish themselves were none too chuffed about this little speeding up of matters…

 

 

13. Tastier ham

Likewise, how would one break it to a poor pig that the real reason he is going to be treated to a bit of Mozart is to make him tastier in the long run? This, though, is exactly what happens at the Embutidos Fermin meat company in La Alberca, Spain.

‘When it’s time for them to meet their maker, they play them Mozart,’ said Don Harris, whose company imports the meat to the US, in 2008. ‘After Mozart, they go to bed for the night. The next morning they go off to piggy heaven. They want them very mellow. If they’re scared, they produce epinephrine. If they’re not stressed, the meat is fine.’

 

 

 

14. More breakdownable sewage

What is it about The Magic Flute? Not only does it help grapes ripen quicker (see No. 1), it also makes faeces decompose faster. Or so says Anton Stucki, chief operator of the sewage centre in Treuenbrietzen near Berlin.

Earlier this year, we reported how Stucki has recorded a noticeable speeding up in the breakdown of biomass since he started playing Mozart’s opera throughout the plant – so much so that the centre is expecting to save around 1,000 euros a month.

‘We think the secret is in the vibrations of the music, which penetrate everything,’ Stucki explained. ‘It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better. But of course you need the right frequencies and the right music, and Mozart hits the spot.’

 

 

15. Gigglier biologists

Finally, the most remarkable Mozart effect of all. In 2001, researchers at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas showed how plants exposed to the sound of the Concerto in G photosynthesise more quickly than if left in silence or, amazingly, than if they ‘listen’ to Bach. Or did they?

While the research paper comes complete with tables of figures and long words than non-biologists don’t understand, the citing of that nebulous ‘Concerto in G’ raises suspicions of inauthenticity – which are confirmed when the likes of B Spears, J Brahms and WJ Clinton appear in the list of sources at the end. Ho ho. Those wacky lab researchers.

 

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Freya Parr The best recordings of Beethoven’s Symphonies

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No composer changed the symphony more radically than Beethoven. Whilst his First (1801) pays its respects to the 18th-century classical tradition of Haydn and Mozart, each of the eight successive symphonies follows a unique trajectory heralding a new era: composers were no longer subservient to their court patrons and could assert their right to individual expression.

So it’s little wonder that Beethoven’s colossal symphonic legacy both inspired and intimidated later 19th-century composers. From the moment these works entered the repertory, conductors viewed the performance of a Beethoven cycle as a litmus test of their achievements.

Battle lines as to the ‘ideal’ interpretation of the symphonies were established at an early stage between Mendelssohn, whose performances were mercurial and precise, and Wagner’s more fluid and nuanced approaches.

This dichotomy is mirrored in current approaches with opposed views of the music emanating from Riccardo Chailly on one hand and Christian Thielemann on the other.

 

 

The best recording

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly (2011)
Decca 478 3492

With works of such contrasting character and such an extended recording history, suggesting a cycle that is recommendable on all accounts becomes almost impossible.

Any serious collector will not only want to own several versions, but also savour some inspired recordings of individual symphonies – for example, Carlos Kleiber’s legendary account of the Fifth.

At the same time, in comparing currently available cycles on a symphony-by-symphony basis and in a highly competitive market, it becomes evident that some cycles achieve a greater level of consistency than others.

While certainly not subscribing to the notion that the most recent recordings must of necessity be the best, I found myself most completely captivated by Riccardo Chailly’s 2011 cycle with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Captured in superb sound by Decca, these are highly-charged volatile performances, owing much of their clarity and precision to recent approaches by period instrument ensembles and played here with breathtaking brilliance by one of the finest orchestras in the world.

Chailly can be too impetuous for his own good in some of the faster movements, where an occasional bit of poise might provide necessary emotional relief, and it’s unfortunate that the bass soloist in his opening entry to the Finale of the Ninth momentarily loses his bearings. But these seem minor flaws given the engrossing nature of the set as whole.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0PAk3K7qPNlaUHemxJvSst

 

 

Three more great recordings

Vienna Philharmonic and Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestras/Wilhelm Furtwängler (1948-54)
EMI 567 4962

It’s a testament to Furtwängler’s genius that recordings made over 60 years ago and in sometimes recessed mono sound remain mainstays of the catalogue. The qualities that the conductor brings to Beethoven are legion, not least a wonderful fluidity in the shaping of the melodic line which takes full account of the tonal conflicts that lie at the heart of Beethoven’s thinking.

In terms of tempo fluctuation, Furtwängler might seem much more wilful than many other interpreters, but the musical insights can be visionary. No interpreter, even modern-day admirers such as Daniel Barenboim and Thielemann, come close to projecting the transformation from minor to major at the outset of the Finale of the Fifth with the same awesome impact.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/1kaYnfsC9yEgI5NnNHlE0M

 

 

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner (1994)
DG 477 8643

From the 1970s onwards, historically informed performances on period instruments have stimulated listeners to hear different things in Beethoven’s music. Leaner textures serve to intensify Beethoven’s orchestration, bringing new and vivid colours to familiar works.

Any suggestion, however, that a resort to earlier notions of performance practice results in interpretations that are dry and inflexible is way off the mark, for the approaches are just as varied as on modern instruments.

For example, those who prefer a more fluid subtly nuanced view of Beethoven will warm to Frans Brüggen’s recent set on Glossa which offers some wonderful insights. Nonetheless, there’s a palpable sense of commitment and imagination in John Eliot Gardiner’s invigorating 1990s recordings that has you at the edge of your seat.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/2QYHFWDAkEDxKjzM2Xq68X

 

 

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä (2004-8)
BIS SACD 1825/6

There are two particular strengths in Osmo Vänskä’s beautifully engineered SACD recordings made between 2004 and 2008. First, the Finnish conductor manages to capture the essence of Beethoven’s thinking through his painstaking attention to inner details.

Second, he has established a sense of partnership with a first-rate orchestra and secures urgent and incisive playing. In general, Vänskä has more interesting things to say about the earlier symphonies, where the performances are strongly characterised and fleet of foot.

But the set is a superb achievement, illustrating the point that great Beethoven performances are not the exclusive province of the central European orchestral tradition.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/53TF6dlvKI54Gg5LMOHW6f

 

 

And one to avoid…

Although Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra gave compelling performances at the 2012 Proms, this set does not quite ignite the same spark as those concerts. Despite the orchestra’s energy and enthusiasm, it doesn’t possess the subtlety of timbre and precision of ensemble one finds in other versions.

Another issue is Barenboim’s propensity towards heaviness which can make some
of the interpretations sound stolid. 

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Freya Parr Free Download: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake under Vladimir Jurowski

'This recording conjures up a compelling emotional narrative'

This week's free download is part of the Pas de deux in Act 1 of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, performed by the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation 'Evgeny Svetlanov' under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski.

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.

Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.

If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page.

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Freya Parr What is the greatest film theme of all time?

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With the Oscars and BAFTAs just around the corner, film fever is well and truly in the air, so we've teamed up with RadioTimes.com to discover the greatest film theme of all time. 

Check out our shortlist of film themes below and vote for your favourite.

 

 

The list includes films from across the decades, with some of the most iconic melodies to grace the silver screen.

Some will have a fantastic score throughout the film, while others just have a killer tune that sticks in your head or weeks. What will you choose?

 

 

Click here to vote for your choice.

 

1) Jurassic Park – John Williams (1993)

2) Vertigo – Bernard Herrmann (1958)

3) Chariots of Fire – Vangelis (1982)

4) Back to the Future – Alan Silvestri (1985)

5) The Godfather – Nino Rota (1972) 

6) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Howard Shore (2001)

7) The Dam Busters – Eric Coates (1955)

8) Up – Michael Giacchino (2009)

9) Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre (1962)

10) E.T. – the Extra Terrestrial – John Williams (1982)

11) Superman: The Movie – John Williams (1978)

12) Doctor Zhivago – Maurice Jarre (1965)

13) Halloween – John Carpenter (1978)

14) Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Jerry Goldsmith (1979) 

15) The Mission – Ennio Morricone (1986)

16) Edward Scissorhands – Danny Elfman (1990)

17) The Pink Panther – Henry Mancini (1963)

18) Inception (i.e. 'Time') – Hans Zimmer (2010) 

19) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (i.e. 'Hedwig's Theme') – John Williams (2001)

20) Pirates of the Caribbean – Klaus Badelt (2003)

21) The Terminator – Brad Fiedel (1984)

22) Jaws – John Williams (1975)

23) The Dark Knight – Hans Zimmer (2008)

24) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Ennio Morricone (1966)

25) Gone With The Wind – Max Steiner (1939)

26) The Great Escape – Elmer Bernstein (1963)

27) Raiders of the Lost Ark – John Williams (1981)

28) Brokeback Mountain – Gustavo Santaolalla (2005)

29) Titanic – James Horner (1997)

30) Gladiator – Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard (2000)

31) Braveheart – James Horner (1995)

32) Rocky – Bill Conti (1976)

33) Dr. No (aka ‘The James Bond Theme’) – Monty Norman (1962)

34) American Beauty – Thomas Newman (1999)

35) The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat (2014)

36) Out of Africa – John Barry (1985)

37) The Life of Pi – Mychael Danna (2012)

38) 633 Squadron – Ron Goodwin (1963)

39) La La Land – Justin Hurwitz (2016)

40) Atonement – Dario Marianelli (2007)

41) Star Wars: A New Hope – John Williams (1977)

42) Forrest Gump – Alan Silvestri (1994)

43) The Magnificent Seven – Elmer Bernstein (1960)

 

Listen to our playlist of all the 43 nominations here:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/bbcmusicmagazine/playlist/6LFObuU0EvpaQLj1iueTHO

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Freya Parr The greatest piano concertos of all time

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Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 

The ultimate technical challenge and test of stamina for any pianist, Prokofiev 2 drives forward like a freight train, pulling out of the station gracefully, tentatively, before hammering on its way.

The opening movement’s cadenza, so densely written it’s scored on three staves, is a white-knuckle test for any pianist, while the final movement is an unstoppable force of pure energy.

It’s also incredibly beautiful, the composer perfectly balancing virtuosity and aesthetics.

Chosen by editor Oliver Condy

 

 

Khachaturian Piano Concerto 

In the creepily sinuous Andante con anima second movement of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto, a distinctly eerie sound – like something from a horror movie – emerges from the back of the orchestra.

While this appearance of the musical saw (or, alternatively, the flexatone) gives the Armenian composer’s 1936 work a uniqueness within the concerto repertoire, there is a lot more to his Concerto than just that.

The opening movement is a riot of oriental colour and chromaticism, while the Allegro brillante finale hurls the soloist, orchestra and listeners towards a thrilling finish.

Chosen by deputy editor Jeremy Pound

 

 

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 

Beethoven’s fifth and final piano concerto blazes with majesty and energy, its three movements ranging from transcendence to triumph.

Cast in the heroic key of E flat major, this 1811 concerto is full of confidence and joy – listening to it can’t fail to lift one’s spirits.

The piece is at its most magical in the Adagio un poco mosso, a hymn-like movement in B major that seems to take us to another realm.

Chosen by managing editor Rebecca Franks

 

 

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2

Is there a more romantic concerto? Okay, the work is now imbued with the heady emotion of David Lean’s classic film Brief Encounter (1945) and it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the soundtrack.

It’s a musical rollercoaster of contemplation and elation–which it ably added to what might have otherwise been a bit of a staid drama.

Written while Rachmaninov was coming through a deep depression, the music does appear to render, in vivid hues, the complexities of human emotion – from the darkness of self-doubt to the intoxicating release that comes when the light is finally allowed in.

Chosen by reviews editor Michael Beek

 

 

Ravel Piano Concerto 

A whip crack. Jazz-infused melodies. A soundworld taking inspiration from Basque and Spanish music. What’s not to enjoy? Ravel’s concerto manages to achieve real emotional depth while also giving us the perfect party piece.

After the first movement, which is full of fire and fun, the second movement takes a step back and explores a much more serene landscape.

The piece ends with a final movement travelling through a series of unexpected key signatures to revisit the initial feisty atmosphere. It’s got everything you could wish for in a piano concerto. 

Chosen by editorial assistant Freya Parr

 

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Freya Parr The greatest piano concertos of all time

Rating: 
0

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 

The ultimate technical challenge and test of stamina for any pianist, Prokofiev 2 drives forward like a freight train, pulling out of the station gracefully, tentatively, before hammering on its way.

The opening movement’s cadenza, so densely written it’s scored on three staves, is a white-knuckle test for any pianist, while the final movement is an unstoppable force of pure energy.

It’s also incredibly beautiful, the composer perfectly balancing virtuosity and aesthetics.

Chosen by editor Oliver Condy

 

 

Khachaturian Piano Concerto 

In the creepily sinuous Andante con anima second movement of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto, a distinctly eerie sound – like something from a horror movie – emerges from the back of the orchestra.

While this appearance of the musical saw (or, alternatively, the flexatone) gives the Armenian composer’s 1936 work a uniqueness within the concerto repertoire, there is a lot more to his Concerto than just that.

The opening movement is a riot of oriental colour and chromaticism, while the Allegro brillante finale hurls the soloist, orchestra and listeners towards a thrilling finish.

Chosen by deputy editor Jeremy Pound

 

 

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 

Beethoven’s fifth and final piano concerto blazes with majesty and energy, its three movements ranging from transcendence to triumph.

Cast in the heroic key of E flat major, this 1811 concerto is full of confidence and joy – listening to it can’t fail to lift one’s spirits.

The piece is at its most magical in the Adagio un poco mosso, a hymn-like movement in B major that seems to take us to another realm.

Chosen by managing editor Rebecca Franks

 

 

Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2

Is there a more romantic concerto? Okay, the work is now imbued with the heady emotion of David Lean’s classic film Brief Encounter (1945) and it’s easy to see why it was chosen as the soundtrack.

It’s a musical rollercoaster of contemplation and elation–which it ably added to what might have otherwise been a bit of a staid drama.

Written while Rachmaninov was coming through a deep depression, the music does appear to render, in vivid hues, the complexities of human emotion – from the darkness of self-doubt to the intoxicating release that comes when the light is finally allowed in.

Chosen by reviews editor Michael Beek

 

 

Ravel Piano Concerto 

A whip crack. Jazz-infused melodies. A soundworld taking inspiration from Basque and Spanish music. What’s not to enjoy? Ravel’s concerto manages to achieve real emotional depth while also giving us the perfect party piece.

After the first movement, which is full of fire and fun, the second movement takes a step back and explores a much more serene landscape.

The piece ends with a final movement travelling through a series of unexpected key signatures to revisit the initial feisty atmosphere. It’s got everything you could wish for in a piano concerto. 

Chosen by editorial assistant Freya Parr

 

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Freya Parr Five essential works by Benjamin Britten

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Ceremony of Carols

Composed in 1942 while Britten was crossing the Atlantic from America, its unusual scoring of treble voices and harp present a range of serene, exhilarating and ecstatic settings of medieval carols.

Recommended recording:
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/David Willcocks
Classics for Pleasure 968 9492

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/5lCiSaoKolpFbOOqaFwLxS

 

 

Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

This was Britten’s first major work on returning to England. The calm pastoral of its opening song revealed a new vein in his music.

Recommended recording:
Peter Pears (tenor), Barry Tuckwell (horn); English Chamber Orchestra/Benjamin Britten
Decca 436 3952

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/7qG4EgLw8lovfWWbPPMyZJ

 

 

Peter Grimes

The première secured Britten’s international fame and the opera testifies to Britten’s masterful sense of drama.

Recommended recording:
Peter Pears; Royal Opera House Chorus and Orchestra/Benjamin Britten
Decca 467 6822

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/6qo8SZdI88VBw98MvxXJ4X

 

 

War Requiem

Written for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral, Britten juxtaposed the Requiem Mass with poems by Wilfred Owen.

Recommended recording:
Peter Pears, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Bach Choir; LSO/Benjamin Britten
Decca 475 7511

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/1O6r5AtedLGTCUeyRYCN7T

 

 

Suite on English Folk Tunes

Britten admired Grainger more than Vaughan Williams, and this is evident in his by turns quirky and brooding suite.

Recommended recording:
Bournemouth SO/Richard Hickox
Chandos CHAN 9221

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/7rUuORnOw9PsknfLYE2PVG

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Freya Parr Join us at the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards

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The BBC Music Magazine Awards are the biggest annual celebration of the best recordings from the world of classical music, and you can join us on the evening for only £20 a ticket.

The evening takes place at London’s Kings Place on Wednesday 10 April 2019 and begins with a champagne reception, where you’ll have the chance to meet the magazine’s editorial team, music industry professionals, artists and celebrities.

You’ll then move into Kings Place’s main hall for the awards ceremony, which will feature performances by award-winning artists from across the world. The Awards will be hosted by editor Oliver Condy, with a star-studded line-up of guest presenters. Previous guests have included Simon Callow, Gok Wan, Ed Balls and Anneka Rice.

 

To buy tickets, click here.

To vote in the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards, click here.

 

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Freya Parr BBC Music Magazine reveals nominees for 2019 Awards

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The nominations for the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards have now been revealed, with 21 of the best classical recordings from over the past year chosen by an expert jury.

The discs were selected from the 200 recordings awarded five stars by our critics in the last 12 months. Voting is now open to the public, so you can choose your favourite recordings from seven categories: Orchestral, Instrumental, Chamber, Choral, Vocal, Opera and Concerto.

There were a huge number of Debussy recordings released in 2018 in celebration of the composer’s centenary, and the best of these are reflected in this year’s Awards shortlist. In the Instrumental category, Alexander Melnikov is nominated with his recordings of Book 2 of Debussy’s Préludes and the much-loved La Mer, in which Melnikov is joined by Olga Pashchenko. Melnikov appears again playing Debussy in the Chamber category, alongside other leading musicians including Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras in a selection of late works by the French composer.

 

 

Contemporary composer John Adams also appears in two categories in this year’s Awards: he conducts his thrilling Doctor Atomic in the Opera category, and his Naïve and Sentimental Music and Absolute Jest are performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian in the Orchestral category.

Old classics have been given new life in several of this year’s Awards nominations, including new recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony by MusicAeterna and Teodor Currentzis, and Mahler’s First Symphony by the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra under Adám Fischer.

New discoveries include Michael Collins’s recordings of Crusell’s fabulous clarinet concertos and a set of recordings of ‘Moralizing Songs in the Middle Ages’ from the Sollazzo ensemble in the Choral category.

 

 

Rising stars of the classical music world are heralded in this year’s Awards, with 25-year-old composer Owain Park’s choral works performed by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge in the Choral category and 26-year-old guitarist Sean Shibe’s disc SoftLOUD nominated in the Instrumental category, following his entry in the same category last year with his debut album. 

Familiar faces in the BBC Music Magazine Awards this year include previous winners Mark Elder, who conducts Rossini’s Semiramide in the Opera category, and the Gabrieli Consort under Paul McCreesh, who are nominated in the Choral category with their A Rose Magnificat album.

'Drawing up our shortlist has been, like every year, a huge challenge', says BBC Music Magazine editor Oliver Condy. 'The quality of recordings in all genres throughout 2018 was remarkable. But now the power is in the hands of the music-loving public, and I'm excited to find out who they choose as the ultimate winners!'

In addition to the shortlisted recordings, there are four jury awards – Premiere Recording, Newcomer of the Year, DVD of the Year and Recording of the Year – all of which will be announced at the awards ceremony on 10 April.

The full list of nominees can be seen below, and the public vote is now open at www.classical-music.com/awards. You can also listen to audio clips from all the nominated discs here.

Voting closes on Tuesday 19 February 2019, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Kings Place on Wednesday 10 April. For full details of the nominees and how to vote, go to our Awards page here.

 

 

Orchestral

Tchaikovsky
Symphony No. 6
MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
Sony 88985404352

John Adams
Naïve and Sentimental Music; Absolute Jest
Doric String Quartet; Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Peter Oundjian
Chandos CHSA 5199 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Mahler
Symphony No. 1
Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra/Adám Fischer
Avi AVI8553390

 

Concerto

Bartók
Violin Concertos Nos 1 and 2
Christian Tetzlaff (violin); Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
Ondine ODE13172

Rachmaninov
Piano Concertos Nos 2 and 4; excerpts from JS Bach’s Partita in E for solo violin, arr. Rachmaninov
Daniil Trifonov (piano); Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Deutsche Grammophon 483 5335

Crusell
Clarinet Concertos, Op. 1 and Op. 11, Grand Concerto, Op. 5, Introduction et air suédois, Op. 12
Michael Collins (clarinet/conductor); Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Chandos CHSA 5187 (hybrid CD/SACD)

 

Opera

Handel
Acis and Galatea
Soloists; Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn
Chandos CHSA 0404(2) (hybrid CD/SACD)

John Adams
Doctor Atomic
Soloists; BBC Singers; BBC Symphony Orchestra/John Adams
Nonesuch 7559793107

Rossini
Semiramide
Soloists; Opera Rara Chorus, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Sir Mark Elder
Opera Rara 9293800572

 

Choral

A Rose Magnificat
Works by Leighton, Tallis, Warlock, White, MacMillan, Sheppard, Park, Wylkynson, Howells, Lane and Martin
Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh
Signum SIGCD 536

Parle Qui Veut
Moralizing Songs of the Middle Ages
Sollazzo Ensemble
Linn CKD 529

Owain Park
Choral works
The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge/Stephen Layton
Hyperion CDA 68191

 

Vocal

Mirages
Works by Messager, Debussy, Delibes, Delage, Stravinsky, Thomas, Berlioz, Massenet and Koechlin
Sabine Devieilhe (soprano); Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth et al
Erato 9029576772

Schumann • Mahler
Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 39; Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister; Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Florian Boesch (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Linn CKD 511

Enfers
Works by Rameau, Rebel and Gluck
Stéphane Degout (bass-baritone); Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902288

 

Chamber

Bacewicz
Piano Quintets Nos 1 & 2; Quartets for Four Violins & Four Cellos
Silesian Quartet et al
Chandos CHAN 10976

Deux Works by Bartók, Poulenc, Ravel and Dohnányi
Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin), Polina Leschenko (piano)
Alpha ALPHA 387

Debussy The Late Works
Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Xavier de Maistre (harp), Antoine Tamestit (viola), Magali Mosnier (flute), Alexander Melnikov, Javier Perianes, Tanguy De Williencourt (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902303

 

Instrumental

JS Bach
Works and transcriptions
Vikingur Ólafsson (piano)
Deutsche Grammophon 483 5022

SoftLOUD
Works by Oswald, MacMillan, Reich, Wolfe, Lang; 17th-century Scottish lute pieces
Sean Shibe (guitar)
Delphian DCD 34213

Debussy
Préludes, Book 2; La mer (transcr. Debussy)
Alexander Melnikov (piano), Olga Pashchenko (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902302

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