Search

mandersmedia.co.uk

Retailers of Vinyl, CDs, DVDs etc. through Amazon, Ebay, Discogs, iHaveit, MusicStack and CD & LP. A friend of Help Musicians UK.

Tag

Classical-Music.com

Freya Parr Six of the best… First Nights of the Proms

Rating: 
0

1895

The very first First Night was back in 1895, at London’s Queen’s Hall. It was certainly a generous programme, with conductor Henry Wood limiting himself to pieces by a mere 22 different composers. Liszt, Bizet, Chopin, Wagner and Saint-Saëns are among the names still familiar, Cyrill Kistler, Joseph Gungl and Tito Mattei rather less so.

15 soloists joined The New Queen’s Hall Orchestra; the audience was large and enthusiastic. ‘If the succeeding concerts… are as brilliantly successful as the first of the series,’ wrote The Guardian’s reviewer, ‘No one interested in the venture, either financially or artistically, will have reason to complain.’

 

 

1930

Three years after the BBC had taken over the running of the Proms, the organisation introduced its new ensemble to the great festival – for the first time, the First Night was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, taking over from the Henry Wood Symphony Orchestra.

For its debut outing, the BBC SO treated the Queen’s Hall audience to a lengthy programme of favourites by Stanford, Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Charpentier, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Dvorák, plus the Proms premieres of Raymond Huntington Woodman’s An Open Secret and Henry Clough-Leighter My lover, he comes on a skee. A new era had began.

 

 

1995

To celebrate the centenary of the Proms, this First Night truly was one to remember as Sir Andrew Davis conducted Mahler’s massive Symphony of a Thousand. The stage was fit to bursting, with members of a trio of cathedral choirs, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Philharmonia Chorus and the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus. As you can imagine, they really raised the roof!

 

 

 

2012

In the summer of 2012, we commissioned Mark-Anthony Turnage to write us a fanfare to celebrate BBC Music Magazine’s 20th anniversary. Canon Fever is riot of multi-layered brass and percussion with ‘Happy Birthday’ cunningly hidden within its textures. And, of course, we were delighted when the BBC Proms decided to kickstart that year’s season with the piece’s world premiere performance, the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s brass section deserving a medal for their virtuosity – and enthusiasm!

 

 

2016

What made this Prom particularly poignant was the impromptu rendition of the French national anthem to open the concert. Sakari Oramo led the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the anthem as a tribute to the victims of the Bastille Day attack, that had taken place the day before. The stage was lit in red, white and blue and the audience took to their feet. It was an incredibly moving gesture of solidarity for everyone there, and it is an evening the audience will struggle to forget.  

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2us7nFV
via IFTTT

Advertisements

15 composers and their dogs

Composers and their dogs - David Lyttleton

Rating: 
0

Companion, distraction, muse, subject and even audience – dogs have played many roles in the great composers’ lives. Writing music can be a slow and solitary business, and many composers have found that a patient hound can make the ideal companion. And when better to mull over a tricky thematic development or a complicated modulation than while out walking one’s four-legged friend?

Important compositions have been inspired by, dedicated to, written for, and in one case significantly delayed by, a dog. Some, such as Elgar and Wagner, have shown a remarkable level of dedication to their own animals; for others, a passing acquaintance with other people’s pooches has left a lasting impression.

Of course, not everyone is smitten with the sound of the bark – you won’t find any mention here of Ravel, Borodin, Tchaikovsky or Constant Lambert, as they were all cat people. However, many are. So may we introduce you to…

 

1. Beethoven & Gigons

We begin with a tale of female clouds with silver canine linings. Beethoven’s bagatelle Für Elise was written for his student Therese Malfatti – the composer’s messy handwriting caused ‘Therese’ to be misread as ‘Elise’ when the manuscript was rediscovered after her death.

Beethoven had fallen in love with Therese and proposed to her in 1810, the same year as the bagatelle was written, but she rejected his advances, perhaps because of his famous temper though more likely due to the age difference of more than 20 years between them. One small consolation for Beethoven was that he was befriended by Malfatti’s dog, Gigons.

Shortly after the ill-fated marriage proposal, Beethoven wrote to a friend ‘You’re wrong to think Gigons only goes to you. No, I too had the good fortune to have him stick to my company. He dined by my side in the evening, and then accompanied me home. In short, he provided some very good entertainment.’

 

2. Chopin & Marquis

Luckier in love was Chopin whose lover, the novelist George Sand, owned a small dog called Marquis. Chopin and Marquis got on well, and in one letter to Sand the Polish composer writes ‘Please thank Marquis for missing me and for sniffing at my door.’ Chopin’s Minute Waltz was originally known as Valse du Petit Chien (‘The Little Dog Waltz’), and its scurrying, playful music is said to have been inspired by the sight of Marquis chasing his tail.

 

 

 

3. Wagner & Leo

A series of unwelcome distractions severely delayed Wagner in completing his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. By 1862, his publisher was expecting the completed score, and Wagner was working frantically to finish it in a rented house near Mainz. Then came yet another distraction – his landlord had tied up a bulldog named Leo outside the front of the house, and it wouldn’t stop whining.

Wagner took pity on Leo, and resolved to free him. A servant was called to help him release the chain, and the composer held the dog’s head as the lock was opened. But the ungrateful beast bit Wagner’s right thumb, causing an infection. The injury meant that Wagner couldn’t write for six months, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave him a justification for the continuing delays to the score.

That said, it took another five years for the work to be completed, and there’s only so long you can blame the dog…

 

4. Wagner & Pohl

Despite his run-in with Leo, Wagner remained a dog-lover throughout his life, and his canine companions over the years included a King Charles Spaniel called Peps, a Labrador named Pohl and a Newfoundland dog named Russ. In 1866, Wagner’s first wife Minna died and he missed the funeral.

She had been living in Dresden while Wagner was living in Switzerland with Cosima, later to be his second wife. His justification for not attending the occasion was that he was unable to travel due to an ‘inflamed finger’ – sound familiar? Soon after, Pohl also died.

Again, Wagner was not present, and a servant hastily buried the dog in the back yard. When the composer heard, he was outraged at such a casual send-off.

He had the dog dug up, ceremoniously fitted a collar around his neck, placed him in a wooden coffin, and had him interred in a proper grave. Biographers have speculated that this bizarre ritual was an act of contrition for the guilt of missing Minna’s final farewell.

 

 

5. Sullivan & Tommy

Pity poor Edward Hall, Arthur Sullivan’s stockbroker who, in 1882, filed for bankruptcy, owing the composer £7,000. In an unusual business arrangement, Sullivan claimed Hall’s dog Tommy as ‘assets’ in lieu of repayment. By the time Tommy died eight years later, Sullivan had grown so attached to him that he had the dog stuffed and mounted in a glass case in his home.

 

 

6. Busoni & Lesko

Similarly skint was Busoni. In 1886, the Italian needed a holiday, but as a penniless music student in Leipzig, raising the money for foreign travel was out of the question. In August, his fellow students lost touch with him and assumed he must have gone away after all.

Then one of them, Ferdinand Pfohl, saw a poorly dressed man – a blacksmith he thought – walking down the street with Lesko, Busoni’s very smart, and very distinctive, Newfoundland dog. Assuming the dog to be stolen, he confronted the man. On closer inspection it turned out to be Busoni himself, who had decided to take a staycation and disguise himself as a labourer so as to avoid his usual social circle.

But then things started to get out of hand. Another of Busoni’s acquaintances later spotted him, still in disguise, now addressing a gathering of real workmen on the theories of Marx, and receiving a rapturous response. Fortunately for Lesko, he was never implicated in any of his owner’s holiday activism.

 

 

7. Smyth & Marco

Dogs and music rehearsals are rarely a good combination, as Ethel Smyth discovered to her horror. The English composer spent the late 1880s studying music in Leipzig, where she lived with Marco, her unruly half-breed St Bernard whom, in 1887, she took along to a rehearsal of the Brahms Piano Quintet in the presence of the composer himself.

Everything was going well until Marco suddenly came bounding into the room and knocked over the cellist’s music stand. A potentially awkward moment, but luck was on Smyth’s side: Brahms, also a dog lover, was more than pleased to see Marco….

 

8. Hahn & Zadig

Reynaldo Hahn, the very master of French song, was once bought a dog by his lover Marcel Proust. The author named the dog Zadig, after the eponymous philosopher from Voltaire’s novel. Ever the jealous type, however, Proust then took to writing long letters to Zadig, explaining how he would be so much more happy if he himself were a dog. Quite barking, some might say.

 

 

9. Elgar & Marco and Mina

Elgar loved dogs but his wife Alice couldn’t stand them. Before they met, the English composer owned a spaniel called Marco, but their 30-year marriage, while happy for both parties, was dogless – though Elgar did of course enjoy the occasional walk with his friend George Robertson’s dog Dan, so charmingly portrayed in No. XI of the Enigma Variations.

After Alice’s death in 1920, Elgar spent the rest of his life with two canine companions, another spaniel called Marco and a Cairn Terrier named Mina. The latest communications technology allowed Elgar to keep in contact with his dogs, even when on work trips to London.

On his 70th birthday, the composer conducted a live broadcast concert, which he concluded with a short speech over the airwaves. In it, he said goodnight to Mina, who got very excited hearing her master on the radio. On another occasion, Elgar was dining at Brooks’s Club on Pall Mall, and was called away for an urgent telephone call.

‘They are on the line now, Sir Edward,’ the waiter informed him. When he reached the telephone, fellow diners overheard loud barking coming down the line and Elgar saying in a firm voice ‘Don’t bite the cushions’.

 

10. Shostakovich & Tomka

In April 1947, a reporter from the Moscow News visited the Shostakovich home to conduct an interview about the composer’s family life. He and Shostakovich sat in the lounge and could hear the composer’s wife and children packing bags in the next room. Then a large, and obviously unhappy, dog wandered in, barking and whining.

‘Tomka’s upset because the children are going away to the rest home’, Shostakovich explained, before adding in a more serious tone, ‘you know, I have a theory that dogs lead such short lives because they take everything so much to heart.’

 

 

11. Moondog & Lindy

As a child in rural Missouri, Louis Hardin had a dog called Lindy who, he said, ‘used to howl at the moon more than any dog I know of’. Strange behaviour perhaps, but not as strange as Hardin’s own habits in later life. He took to hanging around New York’s 54th Street, dressed as a Viking and composing music under the pen name ‘Moondog’, a tribute to his former pet.

 

12. Henze & James

The composer Hans Werner Henze is a great lover of all things English. In the 1990s, he owned a dog called James. Despite being German himself, and despite the fact that both he and James lived in Italy, he always talked to the dog in English.

 

 

13. Crumb & Yoda

When it comes to expressing affection for one’s pets in music, George Crumb has few peers. In Mundus Canis (A Dog’s World), a 1998 suite for guitar and percussion, the American gives a series of musical portraits of the dogs his family has owned. In the last movement we meet Yoda, ‘a fluffy-white animal of mixed parentage and mercurial temperament’.

The music scurries along with the tempo indication prestissimo possible, then suddenly stops and the guiro player (a role Crumb often takes himself in performance) points his stick at the audience and says in a stern voice ‘Bad dog!’ Quite rightly, Yoda himself appears on the cover of Bad Dog! A Portrait of Crumb, released on DVD last year.

 

 

 

14. Adams & Eloise

Crumb’s compatriot and contemporary John Adams doesn’t much like dog shows. He often ends up at them though, because his wife exhibits Pointers. In a blog entry, Adams writes that he has just driven their dog Eloise to a show, where he was relieved to entrust her to his wife:

‘I’m grateful to hand over Eloise because I’m outta baggies, and I am deathly afraid she’s going to do another poop in front of hundreds of professional dog people.’ How lovely.

 

15. Laurie Anderson & Lollabell

And finally, let’s not forget the experimental US composer Laurie Anderson. In June 2010, Anderson and her husband, the rock star Lou Reed, staged a concert on the steps of Sydney Opera House exclusively for dogs (watch below). In line with the tastes of their target audience, the music was performed at very high pitch. Although the composers themselves had difficulty hearing it, they were able to take expert advice from Lollabelle, Anderson’s Rat Terrier.

 

 

– Gavin Dixon

Illustration: David Lyttleton

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2XPxfwJ
via IFTTT

Freya Parr A guide to Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer

Rating: 
0

Der fliegende Holländer

Composed: 1840-1
Premiered: 2 January 1843, Dresden

Off the coast of Norway, a mysterious sailor and his equally mysterious ship appears. We learn that the sailor, the eponymous Dutchman, is fated to journey the seas for eternity – only if he finds unquestionable devotion from another, will the spell be broken. Senta, a local seamstress, is smitten. To prove her faithfulness, she makes the ultimate sacrifice…

 

Looking back in later years, Wagner liked to present his Der fliegende Holländer (‘The Flying Dutchman’) as the first of his mature music dramas, the product of a German artist who had at last discovered his calling. In fact it was begun in France when Wagner was seeking his fame and fortune there, hoping to breach the citadel of the Paris Opera with a success to emulate those of Meyerbeer. 

It was by no means his first opera. He had previously essayed the styles of German Romanticism in Die Feen (‘The Fairies’; 1833), French-Italian light opera in Das Liebesverbot (‘The Ban on Love’; 1835) and French grand opera in Rienzi (1840). Evidence of his grand operatic ambition was there but, aside from some local appreciation, little sign of a major breakthrough. And already, aged just 30, his life had had its share of drama – posts in Magdeburg and Riga had been accompanied by the accumulation of debts and marital problems.

 

 

Now, inspired by his stormy sea journey away from the Latvian capital (and his creditors), he came up with a scenario – about a cursed Dutch sea captain destined to sail the oceans for eternity – that he thought might at least make a suitable curtain-raiser in Paris. He was unable to get it accepted there, but in elaborating it for the Court Opera in Dresden he was able to flesh it out into a full-scale, three-act opera. These days it is sometimes done in the three-act version with intervals, sometimes as a through-composed structure without them. 

The Holländer certainly marks a step forward in Wagner’s stylistic development, not least in the way it to some extent abandons individual numbers in favour of continuous composition. Something akin to the traditional numbers is still in evidence – Senta’s Ballad and the choruses of the Norwegian and Dutch crews are examples – but the composer is keen to cover over the traces and prevent audience applause if possible. Senta’s Ballad is a particularly interesting case because such a ballad is a traditional feature of 19th-century opera.

 

 

But what Wagner does is to elevate his to a position of pivotal importance in his work. Coming as it does immediately after the metrical chattering of the Spinning Chorus, the Ballad lifts us out of the mundane, bourgeois, domestic sphere of the spinning maidens and into another world altogether: a world inhabited by a visionary woman who identifies her role as the redeemer of the accursed sea captain. 

In Der fliegende HolländerWagner felt, not without justification, that he had begun a new stage in his career: as the creator of a drama in which the poetic text was no less important than the music – hence his insistence on writing both. It was to be another decade before he finally mastered the synthesis of music and text that was to characterise his greatest works.

 

 

But it was a major step, both in terms of its musical structure and in the dark, brooding nature of the work’s subject. The premiere in Dresden was not quite the success the more triumphalist Rienzi had been, but it was enough to earn him the job of Kapellmeister in that city. 

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2xXiJDK
via IFTTT

Freya Parr Five of the best Shostakovich conductors

Rating: 
0

Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903-88)

Mravinsky gave world premieres of seven of Shostakovich’s symphonies: 5, 6, 8 (which was dedicated to him) 9, 10, 11 and 12. Though the composer’s favourite interpreter for many years, his refusal 
to conduct Symphony 
No. 13 ‘Babi Yar’ caused 
a permanent rift. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 8 
Leningrad Philharmonic/MravinskyAlto ALC1150

 

 

Kirill Kondrashin (1914-81)

When Mravinsky refused to conduct the Symphony No. 13, Kirill Kondrashin stepped in, though his recording has the sanitised text that Yevtushenko was forced to rewrite. Kondrashin’s performances of Shostakovich were famously harrowing, although all his Soviet recordings were withdrawn when he defected to the West in 1975. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 13 ‘Babi Yar’ Vitaly Gromadsky (bass); Yurlov Choir, Moscow Philharmonic/Kondrashin
Praga DSD350089

 

 

Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

Shostakovich admired Barshai, originally violist of the Borodin Quartet. On hearing his conducting of the ‘Eroica’ Symphony he is reported to have said, ‘We haven’t heard Beethoven like that since Klemperer.’ Barshai conducted the premiere of Symphony No. 14 in 1969. He founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and made the famous arrangement of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 for 
string orchestra. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 10 
WDR Sinfonie Orchester/Barshai (from complete symphony set)
Brilliant Classics 6324

 

 

Leonard Bernstein (1918-90)

Bernstein was a passionate advocate for Shostakovich’s music at a time when he was deeply unfashionable among the Western avant-garde. He approached the music as a great Mahlerian, creating indelible interpretations which breathe a very different air than those of his Russian contemporaries. No. 7 with the Chicago Symphony contains perhaps the most shattering slow movement committed to disc. 

Recommended recording:
Symphonies 1 & 7 Chicago Symphony/Bernstein
DG 427 6322

 

 

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1931-2018)

Rozhdestvensky conducted many works of the composer, perhaps most memorably the Western premiere of the Symphony No. 4 at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival. He edited volume 2 of the collected works, including Symphonies 3 & 4. He brings a hypnotic focus to the phantasmagorical Fourth in this recording from 1984 of the soon-to-be-dismantled USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 4
USSR Ministry of Culture SO/Rozhdestvensky Olympia/Melodiya MCD 156

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2Yb3rtN
via IFTTT

Freya Parr Five of the best Shostakovich conductors

Rating: 
0

Yevgeny Mravinsky (1903-88)

Mravinsky gave world premieres of seven of Shostakovich’s symphonies: 5, 6, 8 (which was dedicated to him) 9, 10, 11 and 12. Though the composer’s favourite interpreter for many years, his refusal 
to conduct Symphony 
No. 13 ‘Babi Yar’ caused 
a permanent rift. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 8 
Leningrad Philharmonic/MravinskyAlto ALC1150

 

 

Kirill Kondrashin (1914-81)

When Mravinsky refused to conduct the Symphony No. 13, Kirill Kondrashin stepped in, though his recording has the sanitised text that Yevtushenko was forced to rewrite. Kondrashin’s performances of Shostakovich were famously harrowing, although all his Soviet recordings were withdrawn when he defected to the West in 1975. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 13 ‘Babi Yar’ Vitaly Gromadsky (bass); Yurlov Choir, Moscow Philharmonic/Kondrashin
Praga DSD350089

 

 

Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

Shostakovich admired Barshai, originally violist of the Borodin Quartet. On hearing his conducting of the ‘Eroica’ Symphony he is reported to have said, ‘We haven’t heard Beethoven like that since Klemperer.’ Barshai conducted the premiere of Symphony No. 14 in 1969. He founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and made the famous arrangement of Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 for 
string orchestra. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 10 
WDR Sinfonie Orchester/Barshai (from complete symphony set)
Brilliant Classics 6324

 

 

Leonard Bernstein (1918-90)

Bernstein was a passionate advocate for Shostakovich’s music at a time when he was deeply unfashionable among the Western avant-garde. He approached the music as a great Mahlerian, creating indelible interpretations which breathe a very different air than those of his Russian contemporaries. No. 7 with the Chicago Symphony contains perhaps the most shattering slow movement committed to disc. 

Recommended recording:
Symphonies 1 & 7 Chicago Symphony/Bernstein
DG 427 6322

 

 

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1931-2018)

Rozhdestvensky conducted many works of the composer, perhaps most memorably the Western premiere of the Symphony No. 4 at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival. He edited volume 2 of the collected works, including Symphonies 3 & 4. He brings a hypnotic focus to the phantasmagorical Fourth in this recording from 1984 of the soon-to-be-dismantled USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra. 

Recommended recording:
Symphony No. 4
USSR Ministry of Culture SO/Rozhdestvensky Olympia/Melodiya MCD 156

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2Yb3rtN
via IFTTT

Music Freelance A guide to Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 9

Rating: 
0

 

The finale to Vaughan Williams’s life returns at times to the pastoral, but in darker, dramatic moments, reflects the trauma of his wartime experiences. 

 

Composed: 1956-7
Premiere: 2 April, 1958, Royal Festival Hall, London, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent

Vaughan Williams was 83 when he began the Ninth, which shows the composer to have been still at the height of his powers. He was also working on the cantata Epithalamion, he later wrote the Ten Blake Songs and began a three-act opera, Thomas the Rhymer. In another 1957 work, Variations for Brass Band, he was much taken with the flugelhorn, which he included in the score of the symphony together with three saxophones. He described it as a ‘beautiful and neglected instrument not usually allowed in the select circles of the orchestra, and banished to the brass band, where it is allowed to indulge in the bad habit of vibrato to its heart’s content. While in the orchestra it will be obliged to sit up and play straight’. The saxophones and flugelhorn impart a special dark tone-colour to the score. 

 

 

Influences

Another contributory factor, as it had been in the Eighth Symphony, was Bach's St Matthew Passion, which he conducted every year at the Leith Hill Music Festival in Dorking. The principal subject of the first movement, first heard on trombones and tuba, occurred to him after playing some of the organ part of the opening of the Passion.

Another important starting point for the Ninth was the idea of a symphony about Salisbury and Hardy’s Wessex, particularly the association with Tess of the D’Urbervilles and her arrest at Stonehenge for murdering her seducer. Although this programme was abandoned, it did not disappear entirely.

The second movement in particular is the Stonehenge scene. But Vaughan Williams moved away from a literal depiction of Hardy’s idea of the gods killing Tess for sport to a wider consideration of sacrifice generally. His experiences in WWI seemed again to be haunting him. He had seen another world war since then, and the near-hopelessness of the human condition must have troubled such a sensitive artist, whose humanity is the focal point of his work.

 

 

The Ninth's Style 

Vaughan Williams was not a believer in a religious sense, but he believed in the human spirit. The mood of the Ninth Symphony is ambiguous and enigmatic. It is on an ample scale, it looks back and it looks forward. One of its themes is derived from an early and abandoned tone poem and it also occurs as the ‘limitless heaving breast’ of A Sea Symphony. Clearly it had some special significance for him. The work contains wistful pastoral episodes, but there is savagery too, and a darkness that has been interpreted as pessimism.

It seems more likely that Vaughan Williams feared the worst for mankind but hoped against hope for the best. He loved Arnold’s poem Thyrsis and could easily have prefaced this finale with the words: ‘The light we sought is shining still’ – dimly, perhaps. When the Ninth was first performed, many failed to recognise it as one of his deepest and finest works. After 50 years, that has changed.

 

Reception and Death 

On August 25, 1958, during the night before he was to attend Sir Adrian Boult’s recording sessions of the Ninth, Ralph Vaughan Williams died suddenly and peacefully from a coronary thrombosis. His ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey near to Purcell and Stanford. 

Symphony No. 9, dedicated to the Royal Philharmonic Society and arguably the hardest of the symphonies, was first played through on 21 March, 1958, after which Vaughan Williams cut and revised the finale. Asked for his reaction to the cool critical reception, he replied: ‘I don’t think they can quite forgive me for still being able to do it at my age.’

 

Recommended Recording:
Leopold Stokowski & His Symphony Orchestra
Cala CACD 0539

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2LVHMiQ
via IFTTT

Freya Parr Free Download: Jonathan Biss performs Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8

'Rarely is pianistic virtuosity put to the service of such refined artistry'

This week’s free download is the first movement, Grave, from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 ‘Pathétique’, performed by Jonathan Biss. It was recorded on JB Recordings and was the Instrumental Choice in the June issue of BBC Music Magazine.

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.

read more

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2k0DpYm
via IFTTT

Michael_Beek Discover James MacMillan

Rating: 
0

One of the UK's most prolific and prominent composers, Sir James MacMillan's creative voice spans all genres. Though, perhaps, most keenly associated with choral works, his vast writing output also includes chamber works and symphonies.

 

 

His fifth symphony will be premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August, where his life and music will be celebrated during a week of events to mark his 60th birthday (16 July).

Don't forget to tune into Radio 3 throughout the week (15-19 July) as James is 'Composer of the Week'.

If you'd like to discover some of his music, why not have a listen to our playlist below? And look out for two new books: A Scot's Song by the man himself (Birlinn 978-1-780-27617-5, £7.99) and The Music of James MacMillan by Philip A. Cooke (Boydell Press 978-1-783-27370-6, £30).

 

 

 

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2LnC7m8
via IFTTT

Freya Parr The best recordings of Handel’s Water Music

Rating: 
0

It was a long and lavish night out; an exercise in PR, power and politics, and a very public private entertainment. On the balmy evening of 17 July 1717, at a cost of ‘a hundred and fifty pounds for the musicians alone’, King George I stepped into the Royal Barge at Whitehall and sailed in a flotilla of courtiers and diplomats to the Chelsea home of Lord Ranelagh, where he took supper.

His ear tickled by three orchestral suites that synthesized French, Italian and native styles with novel instrumentation (it is thought that the softer-edged G major Suite may have been played indoors) the King so much enjoyed Handel’s creation that he called for it to be played a second and third time.

The party ended back in Whitehall at 3am and Handel’s status as England’s leading composer was secured. As with many of his compositions for royal occasions, he had built on the legacy of Purcell’s theatre music, creating dances of immediate and lasting appeal. Yet the first complete edition of the ‘famous Water Musick’ was not published until almost 30 years after his death.

 

The best recording

Hervé Niquet (conductor)
Le Concert Spirituel (2002)
Glossa GCDSA921616

On disc and online, there is a wide choice of historically informed performances: Christopher Hogwood’s 1978 L’Oiseau Lyre recording with the Academy of Ancient Music remains outstanding for even-temperedness; Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s account of the Suite in F with the European Union Baroque Orchestra for Estonian Record Productions boasts a dynamic bass line; there’s a pleasing pithiness to Nicholas McGegan’s interpretation with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and great panache from Ensemble Zefiro directed by Alfredo Bernardini.

From questions of scale and ordering to speeds, dynamics and instrumentation, the variety is remarkable, but from a shortlist of 16, I found myself drawn to those discs with a distinctive, even radical character. We think of the 18th century as a quieter place, but audibility would have been a factor on the Thames (think of Canaletto’s busy riverscapes).

Then there’s the laugh-out-loud shock of hearing hunting horns with an orchestra for the first time. For this reason, Hervé Niquet’s 2002 Glossa disc took first place, with nine horns as pungently tuned as those of the Bohemian players engaged by Handel himself. There are vast choirs of Stanesby oboes and bassoons, kettledrums, and a Jingling Johnny in the final Gigue. It’s packed with humour and sensuality, as hedonistic as a tequila slammer and absurdly enjoyable.

 

 

 

Three more great recordings

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (2016)
Harmonia Mundi HMC902216

No conductor, a single pair of oboes, two house-trained horns, a brace of gleaming natural trumpets and a band of musicians who really listen to each other. With 13 fewer players than Handel’s band of 50 and less than half of Hervé Niquet’s forces, Akademie für Alte Musik’s delicately drawn 2016 recording is exquisitely recorded to reflect the different colours in the writing, and is beautifully blended throughout.

There are some daringly slow tempos, a wide dynamic range, and touching intimacy in the minuet of the second suite, where lutenist Björn Colell shines. Where Niquet offers spectacle, the Berliners offer inventive articulation from the violas, playful trills from contrabassoon and double bass, and a soundworld perhaps better suited to the king’s Chelsea supper than the hurly-burly 
of the Thames.

 

 

 

Jordi Savall (conductor)
Le Concert des Nations (1993)
Alia Vox AVSA9860

Jordi Savall’s 1993 performance of the Water Music on Alia Vox boasts the warmest toned oboes, bassoons and horns and beautifully direct string playing in the unusually reverberant acoustic of Cardona Castle in Catalonia. It’s honeyed and poised playing, with sensitively pointed continuo accompaniment from Pierre Hantaï on harpsichord and Paula Chateaneuf on theorbo. Savall has played with the ordering of the D and G major dances, crafting them into one persuasive suite of similar length to the F major Suite. 

The decoration is French in flavour and underlines how cleverly Handel built on Purcell’s legacy. While there is little sense of the outdoors, there is a great sense of theatre.

 

 

 

John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)
English Baroque Soloists (1983)
Philips 434 1542

There’s a haughty, ceremonial beauty to Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s 1983 performance with the English Baroque Soloists. Though the tone is a little thin by modern standards in the sections for single strings and solo oboe, the muscularity of the tutti trills is thrilling and the horns would make any monarch proud. No corner has escaped unexamined and the engagement of the cellos and double basses is unflagging.

The Adagio e staccato of the F major Suite is sculpted without cloying sentiment and the Andante is suavely balanced. What is lacking in tenderness in the birdlike and dewy dances of the G major Suite is compensated for by the athleticism of the D major Suite, a tart flavour to the final Bourrée, and a lovely round tone to the timpani.

 

 

 

This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of BBC Music Magazine, written by Anna Picard.

 

from Classical-Music.com https://ift.tt/2JEWMis
via IFTTT

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: