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  • Free Download: Organist Stephen Farr plays JS Bach's 'Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen' | Tue, 25 Jun 2019 09:00:00 +0000

    'Indispensable, abetting perforamnces that are pre-eminently clear-sighted, articulate and inquisitive'

    This week’s free download is the tenth partita of JS Bach’s ‘Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen’ performed by organist Stephen Farr. It was awarded four stars for performance and five for recording in the May issue of BBC Music Magazine.


    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 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

  • The BBC Music Magazine Playlist | Mon, 24 Jun 2019 14:54:27 +0000


    Every Monday, the BBC Music Magazine team choose their favourite new recordings of the past week. The tracks are compiled into The Playlist, which can be accessed via the BBC Music Magazine Spotify page. An alternative version of The Playlist can be found on the BBC Music Magazine curator page on Apple Music.


    This week's playlist:


    The listings for previous playlists are featured below.


    Vol. 26

    Jonathan Dove Seek Him That Maketh the Seven Stars (Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha)

    Glière Horn Concerto: III. Moderato (Markus Maskuniitty, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo)

    Porpora David e Bersabea: Dolce è su queste alte mie logge a sera (Giueseppina Bridelli, Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu/Franck-Emmanuel Comte)

    Haydn Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, Hob. XX: I. Introduzione. Maestoso ed adagio (Ensemble Resonanz/Riccardo Minasi)

    Hindemith Violin Sonata Op. 11 No. 1: I. Frisch (Roman Mints, Alexander Kobrin)

    Schubert Rosamunde Op. 26: IIIa. Entr’acte No. 2 (Andante) (Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra/Lawrence Foster)

    Robert Schumann Liederkreis Op. 39: V. Mondnacht (arr. Clara Schumann) (Isata Kanneh-Mason)

    Debussy Préludes, Book 1: No. 8 La fille aux cheveux de lin (Lisa Friend, Rohan de Silva)

    Beethoven Triple Concerto: II. Largo (Laurence Equilbey, Alexandra Conunova, David Kadouch, Natalie Clein, Insula Orchestra)

    Clara Schumann 3 Romances, Op. 11: II. Andante – Allegro passionate – Andante (Eric Le Sage)


    Vol. 25

    Duruflé Messe ‘Cum Jubilo’ pour choeur de barytons et orgue, Op. 11: II. Gloria (Ken Cowan, Houston Chamber Choir/Robert Simpson)

    Mahler Symphony No. 10 (arr. Castelletti for chamber orchestra): II. Sherzo (Lapland Symphony Orchestra/John Storgårds)

    Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1: II. Intermezzo (Skride Piano Quartet)

    Tavener The Protecting Veil: I. The Protecting Veil (Matthew Barley, Sinfonietta Riga/Sukhvinder Singh Pinky)

    Gibbons The Silver Swan (Apollo5)

    Victoria Bond Instruments of Revelation: III. The Fool (Chicago Pro musica)

    Schumann Dichterliebe: VII. Ich grolle nicht (Stella Doufexis, Daniel Heide)

    Annie Lennox (Hesperiidae) (Annie Lennox)


    Vol. 24

    Offenbach Madame Favart: Overture (Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt/Howard Griffiths)

    JS Bach Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat: V. Bourée (trans. Rachel Podger for violin) (Rachel Podger)

    Björk Vespertine: Aurora (Live) (Women’s Choir of Nationaltheater Mannheim, Orchestra of Nationaltheater Mannheim)

    Gershwin Lullaby for String Quartet (Chiaroscuro)

    John Williams Hedwig’s Theme – from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Anne-Sophie Mutter, The Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles)

    Khachaturian Cello Concerto: III. Allegro battula (Torleif Thedéen, Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie/Daniel Raiskin)

    Debussy Chansons de Bilitis, L. 90: No. 1, La flute de Pan (Carolyn Sampson, Joseph Middleton)

    Weber Clarinet Concerto No. 1: II. Adagio ma non troppo (Andreas Ottensamer, Yuja Wang, Berlin Philharmonic/Mariss Jansons)

    Daniel Tarrab Prelude (Nester Marconi, Pablo Agri, Daniel Tarrab, Orquesta Filarmonica Nacional)



    Vol. 23

    Svante Henryson Black Run (Andrei Ionita)

    Schubert 4 Impromptus: No. 1 in C minor (Khatia Buniatishvili)

    Donizetti L’Ange de Nisida, Act 1: ‘Et vous Mesdames’ (Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Mark Elder)

    Beethoven Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’: II. Marcia funebre (London Philharmonic/Kurt Masur

    Richard Strauss Malven, TrV 297 (Arr. Rihm) (Lise Davidsen, Philharmonia Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen)

    Gounod Symphony No. 2: III. Scherzo (Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier)

    Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 22: I. In tempo d’un menuetto (Jonathan Biss)

    Weinberg Capriccio Op. 11 (Quatuor Capriccio)

    Ives Piano Sonata No. 1: IVb. Allegro – Presto (Tamara Stefanovich)

    Prokofiev Cello Sonata in C Op. 119: II. Moderato – Andante dolce (Mstislav Rostropovich) 

    JS Bach Fuge G-Moll BWV 578 (Olivier Latry)

    Beethoven String Quartet No. 10: III. Presto (Cuarteto Casals)

    Howells Lady Audrey’s Suite, Op. 19: I. The Four Sleepy Golliwogs’ Dance (Dante Quartet)


    Vol. 22

    JS Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor: I. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck)

    Messiaen Preludes for Piano: VII. Plainte calme (Alexandra Dariescu)

    Purcell Hear My Prayer, O Lord (Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh)

    Mahler Symphony No. 7: III. Scherzo, Schattenhaft (Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer)

    Arensky Piano Trio No. 1: III. Elegia (Smetana Trio)
    Brad Mehldau The Garden

    Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps, Pt 1: L’Adoration de la Terre: Rondes printanières (New York Philharmonic/Jaap van Zweden)

    Elgar Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, ‘Enigma’: XIV. Finale: Allegro Presto ‘E.D.U’ (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko)

    Massanet Le Poète et la Fantôme (Sandrine Piau, Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin)

    Esa-Pekka Salonen Cello Concerto: III. (Yo-Yo Ma, Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen)

    Britten 3 Divertimenti: II. Waltz. Allegretto (Doric String Quartet)


    Vol. 21

    Gesualdo O vos omnes (Monteverdi Choir/John Eliot Gardiner)

    William Alwyn 3 Winter Poems: No. 1, Winter Landscape (Tippett Quartet)

    JS Bach Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 (Transcribed by Rachel Podger for violin) (Rachel Podger)

    Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat: I. Allegro inquieto – Andantino (Martin James Bartlett)

    Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’: II. Moderato (poco allegretto) (Live at Symphony Hall, Boston) (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons)

    John Sheppard Missa Cantate: Gloria (The Sixteen/Harry Christophers)

    Busoni Piano Concerto: II. Pezzo giocoso (Live) (Kirill Gerstein, Boston Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo)

    JS Bach The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1: Fugue No. 15 in G (Steven Devine)

    Kaija Saariaho Petals (Wilhemina Smith, Kaija Saariaho)

    Mozart Piano Sonata No. 13 in B-flat ‘Linz’: I. Allegro (Lars Vogt)


    Vol. 20

    James MacMillan Saxophone Concerto: III. Jigs (Amy Dickson, Adelaide Symphony Orchetra/Nicholas Carter)

    Steve Reich Clapping Music (Live (Colin Currie, Steve Reich)

    Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrushka: II. Petrushka’s Room (Alexander Ullman)

    Raaf Hekkema Dido’s Lament (Eric Vloeimans, Calefax Reed Quintet, Jasper van Hulten, Gulli Gudmundsson)

    Gabriel Jackson The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: II. Anointing at Bethany (Emma Tring, Choir of Merton College, Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Sinfonia/Benjamin Nicholas)

    Poulenc Flute Sonata (arr. for flute and organ): I. Allegretto malincolico (Erica Nygård, Niels Burgmann)

    Roxanna Panufnik Love Abide – I. Love is the Master (Colla Voce Singers, London Mozart Players)

    Niels Rosing-Schow #ViolaSounds (Rafael Altino)

    Eric Whitacre Sainte-Chapelle (The Sixteen/Harry Christophers)

    Couperin Pièces de viole, deuxième Suite: III. La Pompoe funèbre (Christophe Rousset, Atsushi Sakaï, Marion Martineau)


    Vol. 19

    Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Finale. Presto scherzando (Kristian Bezuidenhout, Freiburger Braockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado

    Mahler Symphony No. 3: Part II, No. 5. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck (Sara Mingardo, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln/François-Xavier Roth)

    Bach BWV 974 – II Adagio (Rework) (Víkingur Ólafsson, Ryuichi Sakatmoto)

    Bach Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052R: III. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Bernhard Forck)

    Bruckner Locus iste (Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha)

    Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor: I. Molto allegro (Live) (NDR Radiophilharmonie/Andrew Manze)

    Myaskovsky Cello Sonata No. 1 in D, Op. 12: I. Adagio – Andante (Bruno Philippe, Jérôme Ducros)

    Falla La vida breve, Act 1: Ah, ande la tarea, que hay que trabajar! (Gustavo Pena, Cristina Faus, Spanish Radio and Television Chorus, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Juanjo Mena)

    Victoria Alma redemptoris mater (I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth)

    John Harle RANT! (Jess Gillam, BBC Concert Orchestra/Jessica Cottis)


    Vol. 18

    John Williams The Raiders March (from ‘Raiders of The Lost Ark’) (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)

    Robert Schumann Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70 (Richard Watkins, Julius Drake)

    Edmund Finnis The Air, Turning (BBS Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov

    Will Todd Songs of Renewal: I. Me renovare (Bath Camerata, Benjamin Goodson

    Rachmaninov String Quratet No. 1: I. Romance (Orava Quartet)

    Richard Barbieri Vibra (Richard Barbieri)

    Offenbach Les Bavards, Acte I Scène 3: Air d’Inès ‘Ce sont d’étranges personnages’ (Jodie Devos, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Laurent Campellone)

    Caroline Shaw Plan & Elevation: IV. The Orangery (Attacca Quartet)

    JS Bach Oboe Concerto in D minor (Performed on Recorder): I. Allegro (Lucie Horsch, The Academy of Ancient Music/Bojan Cicic)

    Berlioz L’Enfance du Christ, Pt. 3 ‘L’arrivée à Saïs’: Trio des Ismaélites (Prudence Davis, Sarah Beggs, Yinuo Mu, Andrew Davis)

    Henry Cowell Banshee (Wilhem Latchoumia)


    Vol. 17

    Sibelius Symphony No. 1: III. Scherzo (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Santtu-Matias Rouvali)

    Brahms Die schöne Magelone: Traun! Bogen und Pfeil sind gut für den Feind (John Chest, Marcelo Amaral)

    Danny Elfman Violin Concerto ‘Eleven Eleven’: III. Fantasma (John Mauceri, Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Sandy Cameron)

    Verdi Macbeth: Patria oppressa! (Live) (Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti)

    Camus Airs, à deux et trois parties: Laissez durer la nuit, impatiente Aurore (Anna Reinhold, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie)

    Schubert Piano Sonata in B, III. Scherzo Allegretto (Paul Lewis)

    Britten Five Flower Songs: IV. The Evening Primrose (RIAS Kammerchor/Justin Doyle)

    Schumann Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor ‘Concerto Without Orchestra’: IV. Prestissimo possibilie (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet)

    Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie: ‘Espoir, unique bien…’ (Karine Deshayes, Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet)

    Janáček String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’: I. Andante (Wihan Quartet)

    Lutosławski Partita: V. Presto (Maksim Štšura, Michael Foyle)


    Vol. 16

    Handel Concerto Grosso for Oboe and Strings in D minor: V. Allegro (Le Consort, Marta Paramo, Emilia Gliozzi, Johanne Maitre)

    Michael Nyman The Diary of Anne Frank (arr. Richard Boothby): If (Iestyn Davies, Fretwork)

    Reger Piano Concerto, Op. 114: III. Allegretto con spirito (Markus Becker, NDR Radiophilharmonie/ Joshua Weilerstein)

    Gabriel Jackson The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: VI. Crucifixion (Emma Tring, Guy Cutting, Choir of Merton College, Oxford)

    Karl Jenkins The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace: XII. Benedictus (Karl Jenkins)

    Liszt Sardanapalo: Sotto il tuo sguardo (Joyce El-Khoury, Airam Hernández, Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits)

    Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 10, The Great Gate of Kiev (London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda)

    Bruno Sanfilippo Doll (Bruno Sanfilippo)

    Liszt Ständchen (transc. From Schubert’s Schwanengesang No. 4) (Khatia Buniatishvili)

    John Williams The Imperial March (from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)


    Vol. 15

    Florence Price Symphony No. 1: IV. Finale (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Chopin Mazurka in B, Op. 56 No. 1 (Maurizio Pollini)

    Berlioz Le Carnaval Romain: Overture (Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Paul Paray)

    Reinecke Cello Sonata No. 1: III. Finale. Allegro molto ed appassionato (Martin Rummel, Roland Kruger)

    Mozart Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Presto (Peter Donohoe)

    Nils Frahm Sweet Little Lie (Nils Frahm)

    JS Bach Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor: I. Allegro (Isabelle Faust, Xenia Löffler, Bernhard Forck, Academy for Ancient Music)

    Zemlinsky Clarinet Trio in D minor (Version for Violin Cello & Piano): III. Allegro (Stefan Zweig Trio)

    Jean Français Imromptu for Flute and Strings: III. Scherzando (Ransom Wilson, BBC Concert Orchestra/Perry So)

    Robert Schumann Phantasiestücke, Op. 88: II. Humoreske. Lebhaft (Live) (Gautier Capuçon, Martha Argerich, Renaud Capuçon)

    Max Bruch Die Loreley, Op. 16, Act I: Ave Maria! (Michaela Kaune, Philharmonischer Chor Prag, Müncher Rundfunkorchester/Stefan Blunier)

    Anon Ther is No Rose of Swych Virtu (The Telling)


    Vol. 14

    Mozart Symphony No. 13: I. Allegro (Folkwang Kammerorchester Essen/Johannes Klumpp)

    Roxanna Panufnik The Sweet Spring (Blossom Street, Annabel Thwaite, Hilary Campbell)

    Robert Schumann Cello Concerto: III. Sehr lebhaft (Live) (Gautier Capuçon, Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Bernard Haitink)

    Weber Piano Sonata No. 2 in A-flat: II. Andante. Ben tenuto (Paul Lewis)

    Janáček String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’: II. Adagio – Vivace (Wihan Quartet)

    Sibelius Symphony No. 3: III. Moderato – Allegro (ma non tanto) (Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi)

    André Campra Achille et Déidamie: ‘Timbales et trompettes’ (Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet)

    Corelli Concerto grosso in F: IV. Allegro (Marco Scorticati, Estro cromatico/Sara Campobasso)

    Trio Tapestry Sparkle Lights (Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, Carmen Castaldi)


    Vol. 13

    Berlioz Symphonie fantastique: II. Un Bal (Transcribed for piano duet) (Jean-François Heisser, Marie-Josèphe Jude)

    Schubert Octet in F, III. Allegro vivace – Trio (OSM Chamber Soloists)

    Schumann Three Romances: I. Nicht Schnell (Stephen Waarts, Gabriele Carcano)

    Bernstein Mass: No. 2, Hymn & Psalm. A Simple Song (Arr. for voice, flute, electric guitar, harp and organ) (Anne Sofie von Otter, Sharon Bezaly, Fabian Fredriksson, Margareta Nilsson, Bengt Forsberg)

    Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga Médée: Hymen, viens dissiper une vaine frayeur (Berit Norbakken Solset, BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena)

    Rzewski Four North American Ballads: No. 1, Dreadful Memories (After Aunt Molly Jackson) (Adam Swayne)

    Johannes Ciconia O rosa bella, o dolce anima mia (The Telling)

    Liszt Sardanapalo: Vieni! Risplendono festive faci (Damen des Opernchores des Deutschen Nationaltheaters Weimar, Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits)

    Florence Price Symphony No. 4: IV. Scherzo (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Hoffmeister Double Bass Quartet No. 3 in D: I. Moderato (Niek De Groot, Minna Pensola, Antti Tikkanen, Tuomas Lehto)



    Vol. 12

    Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 2: III. Finale. Presto scherzando (Ronald Brautigam, Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens)

    Haydn Concerto per il Corno da caccia in D: I. Allegro (Premysl Vojta, Martin Petrák, Haydn Ensemble Prague)

    Dvořák Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’: III. Molto vivace (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Jakub Hrusa)

    Vivaldi Tito Manlio: ‘Combatta un gentil cor’ (Cecilia Bartoli, Serge Tizac, Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi)

    Giuseppe Sammartini Recorder Concerto in F: II. Siciliano (Lucie Horsch, The Academy of Ancient Music/Bojan Cicic)

    CPE Bach Solo in G: II. Allegro (Anaïs Gaudemard)

    Robert O’Dwyer Act I Scene I: An tráth a mbíonn an spéir fá scáil (Imelda Drumm, Irish National Opera Chorus, RTE National Symphony Orchestra/Fergus Sheil)

    Ami Maayani Toccata (Elisa Netzer)

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake: Act III. No. 17 Scène: Entrée des invites (Fanfares) et la valse (Allegro) (London Symphony Orchestra/Anatole Fistoulari)


    Vol. 11

    Piazzolla Tango para una ciudad (Quinteto Astor Piazzolla)

    Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor: II. Langsam (Sol Gabetta, Kammerorcheser Basel/Giovanni Antonini)

    Schumann Zwölf Gedichte, Op. 35 No. 5, Sehnsucht nach der Waldgegend (Christian Gerhaher, Gerold Huber)

    Bruch Concerto for Clarinet and Viola in E minor: III. Allegro molto (Dimitri Ashkenazy, Anton Kholodenko, Royal Baltic Festival Orchestra/Mats Liljefors)

    Schoenberg Drei Klavierstücke Op. 11 No. 1: ‘Mässige Virtel’ (Jeremy Denk)

    Verdi et al. Messa per Rossini: 11. Agnus Dei (Veronica Simeoni, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Riccardo Chailly)

    Ethel Smyth Violin Sonata in A minor: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace (Tasmin Little, John Lenehan)

    Berlioz Harold en Italie: 3. Sérénade d’un montagnard des Abbruzes à sa maîtresse (Tabea Zimmermann, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth)

    Xenakis Pléïades: IV. Mélanges (DeciBells, Domenico Melchiorre)

    Schubert Symphony No. 3: IV. Presto vivace (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner)



    Vol. 10 

    Vivaldi Il Giustino, Act II: Scene 1. Sento in seno ch’in pioggia di lagrime (Anastasio) (Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone, Silke Gäng)

    Gulda Concerto for Cello, Wind Orchestra and Band: I. Overture (Edgar Moreau, Raphaël Merlin, Les Forces Majeures)

    Roxanna Panufnik Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis: I. Magnificat (Richard Johnson, Exultate Singers/David Ogden)

    Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4: IV. Finale (London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda)

    Weber Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Menuetto capriccioso. Presto assai (Paul Lewis)

    Francis Lai Love Story – Theme (Arr. Campbell) (Jess Gillam, BBC Concert Orchestra/Ben Dawson)

    Berlioz Harold in Italy: II. Marche de pèlerins chantant la prière du soir (Tabea Zimmermann, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth)

    Arthur Lourié A Phoenix Park Nocturne (Vladimir Feltsman)

    Ramin Djawadi The Rains of Castamere (Arr. Lawson) (VOCES8)

    Philip Glass Etude No. 2 (Jeremy Denk)

    Tallis Suscipe quaeso Domine (prima pars) (The Gentlemen of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace/Carl Jackson)

    Debussy Livre I: II. Pour les tierces (Roger Muraro)



    Vol. 9

    Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor, Op. 23 No. 5 (Live at Philharmonie, Berlin) (Yuja Wang)

    Stravinsky The Firebird: Tableau II, XIX: Disparition du palais et des sortilèges de Kastchei, animation des chevaliers petrifies. Allegresse génerale (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

    Amy Beach Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 34: II. Scherzo. Molto vivace (Tasmin Little, John Lenehan)

    Hauscha Dew and Spiderwebs (Hauschka)

    Frank Horvat The Thailand HRDs: No. 5, Boonsom Nimnoi (Mivos Quartet)

    Trad. Deep River (Arr. Coleridge-Taylor, Kanneh-Mason) (Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Braimah Kanneh-Mason)

    Mendelssohn Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19: No. 6 in G minor (Andante sostenuto) ‘Venetian Gondola Song’ (Jan Lisiecki)

    Wim Henderickx Nostalgia (Boho Strings)

    Mozart Così fan tutte, Act 1: Aria ‘Come scoglio’ (Héloise Mas, Alexander Sprague, Nazan Fikret, Francesco Vultaggio, European Opera Centre, Biagio Pizzuti, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Laurent Pillot)

    Philip Glass Melodies for Saxophone (arr. for trumpet): No. 3 (Craig Morris)

    Giovanni Paisiello Partimento in F minor (Nicoleta Paraschievescu)

    Ramin Djawadi The Rains of Castamere (VOCES8)

    Triumphal Parade (Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Tommy Smith)


    Vol. 8

    Josquin Des Prez Miserere mei, Deus, IJ. 50: I. Miserere mei, Deus (Cappella Amsterdam/Daniel Reuss)

    Scriabin Sonata N. 10, Op. 70 (James Kreiling)

    Kaija Saariaho Cloud Trio: I. Calmo, meditato (Jennifer Koh, Hsin Yun Huang, Wilhelmina Smith)

    Dowland Flow, my tears (Stile Antico)

    JS Bach Keyboard Partita in D, BWV 828: VII. Gigue (Federico Colli)

    Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, III. Allegro ben marcato (Joseph Swensen, Scottish Chamber Orchestra)

    Bellini Norma: Casta Diva… Fine al rito (Orchestra E Coro Del Teatro Massimo Di Palermo, Jader Bignamini, Marina Rebeka)

    Lyatoshinsky Symphony No. 3 ‘To the 25th Anniversary of the October Revolution’: III. Allegro feroce (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Karabits)

    Handel Armida abbandonata, HWV 105: ‘Ah crudele! E pur ten’ vai’ (Emmanuelle Haïm, Le Concert d’Astrée, Sabine Devieilhe

    David Lang Mystery Sonatas: No. 1, Joy (Augustin Hadelich)

    Antheil Archipelago ‘Rhumba’ (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgards)


    Vol. 7

    Thea Musgrave Loch Ness (Daniel Trodden, BBC National Orchestra of Wales/William Boughton)

    Cheryl Frances-Hoad Love Bytes (Verity Wingate, Philip Smith, Beth Higham-Edwards, Anna Menzies, George Jackson)

    Lutosławski Symphony No. 1: III. Allegretto misterioso (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu)

    Purcell King Arthur, Z628, Act 1: ‘I Call, I Call’ (Stefanie True, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Finzi Violin Concerto: I. Allegro (Ning Feng, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlos Miguel Prieto)

    Brahms Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 No. 2 in G minor – Molto passionato, ma non troppo allegro (Charles Owen)

    Copland Letters from Home (Version for Chamber Orchestra) (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/John Wilson

    Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella in E minor, Op. 28: I. Nocturne (Jennifer Pike, Petr Limonov)

    Beethoven Fidelio, Op. 72: O welche Lust (James Gaffigan, Zürcher Sing-Akademie, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester)

    Liszt Études d’exécution transcendante d’après Paganini: No. 1 in G minor (Elisa Tomellini)

    Corelli Violin Sonata in C Op. 5 No. 3 (transcribed for viola da gamba): III. Adagio (Lucile Boulanger)

    Mozart String Quintet No. 5: IV. Allegro (Klenke Quartett, Harald Schoneweg)


    Vol. 6

    Saint-Saëns Ascanio, Acte I, Tableau 1: Scène 1 ‘Très bien!’ (Jean-François Lapointe, Joé Bertili, Chœrs de la Haute École de Musique de Genève/Guillaume Tourniaire

    Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 III. Allegro con fuoco (Xiayin Wang, Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Peter Oundjian

    Purcell Come Ye Sons of Art (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary): ‘Strike the Viol, Touch the Lute’ (Tim Mead, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien/François Lazarevitch)

    Aleksander Sedlar Savcho 3 (Nemanja Radulovic, Double Sense, Stéphanie Fontanarosa/Aleksander Sedlar)

    Barbara Strozzi Arie, Op. 8 No. 2: ‘Che si può fare’ (Emoke Baräth, Il Pomo d’Oro/Francesco Corti)

    Josef Suk 6 Piano Pieces, Op. 7: No. 1, Liebeslied (arr. for violin and orchestra) (Eldbjørg Hemsing, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra/Alan Buribayev)

    Scheidemann Pavana Lachrymae in D minor (Yoann Moulin)

    Beethoven String Quartet in E minor ‘Razumovsky’: III. Allegretto (Elias String Quartet)

    Mozart Violin Sonata in D Major, K306: III. Allegretto (Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov)

    Moteverdi Vespro della Beata Vergine: VIII. Paslmus 126. Nisi Dominus a dieci voci (Bruno Boterf, Ludus Modalis)


    Vol. 5

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Act 1 (1877 Version): No. 8, Danse des coupes. Tempo di polacca (State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’/Vladimir Jurowski

    John Harbison Requim, Pt. 1: II. Sequence I. Dies irae (Nashville Chorus, Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero)

    Richard Strauss 5 Lieder, Op. 41: No. 1, Wiegenlied (Arabella Steinbacher, WDR Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Foster)

    Parry English Lyrics, Set 12: No. 7, The Sound of Hidden Music (Sarah Fox, Andrew West)

    Andrzej Panufnik I Kwartet smyczkowy: III. Postlude (Apollon Musagete Quartett)

    Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2: II. Scherzo (Live) (Eric Lu)

    Szymanowski Nocturne & Tarantella in E minor, Op. 28: II. Tarantella (Jennifer Pike, Peter Limonov)

    Einaudi Life (Live) (Angèle Dubeau, La Pietà)

    Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli 6 Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, Op. 3: Sonata No. 2 ‘La Cesta’ (Elicia Silverstein, Mauro Valli)

    Dvořák Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor: II. Poco adagio (Christian Tetzlaff, Tanja Tetzlaff, Lars Vogt)

    Florence Price Symphony No. 4: III. Juba Dance (Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter)

    Mozart Piano Concerto No. 16: III. Allegro di molto (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Manchester Camerata, Gábor Takács-Nagy

    Haydn Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 30 No. 5: I. Allegro con brio (Roman Rabinovich)

    Johann Strauss I Radetzky-Marsch, Op. 228 (Christian Theilemann, Vienna Philharmonic


    Vol. 4

    Arvo Pärt Passacaglia (Victoria Mullova, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi)

    Michael Higgins The Angel Gabriel (Sonoro/Neil Ferris)

    Debussy Cello Sonata in D minor: I. Prologue. Lent. Sostenuto e molto risoluto (Jean-Guiden Queyras, Javier Perianes)

    Massanet Hérodiade, Act 1: ‘Celiu dont la parole efface… Il est doux, il est bon’ (Salomé) (Elsa Dreisig, Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie/Michael Schonwandt

    Poulenc Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor: I. Andante (Live) (James O’Donnell, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin)

    Schumann Fantasiestücke Op. 72: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Sol Gabetta, Bertrand Chamayou)

    Gurney Since I Believe in God the Father Almighty (Teberae/Nigel Short)

    Peter Gregson Bach: The Cello Suites: Recomposed by Peter Gregson – Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007: I. Prelude (Peter Gregson, Richard Harwood, Reinoud Ford, Tim Lowe, Ben Chappell, Katherine Jenkinson)

    JS Bach Concerto in D minor, BWV 974: III. Presto (Víkingur Ólafsson)

    Purcell King Arthur, Act 1: ‘Come If You Dare’ (Robert Buckland, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Messiaen La Nativité du Seigneur: V. Les enfants de Dieu (Richard Gowers)

    George Onslow String Quartet No. 29 in E-flat, Op. 73 Elan Quintet)

    Cécile Chaminade Arabesque No. 1, Op. 61 (Mark Viner)

    Enescu Strigoii, Pt. 3: Bătrânu-și pleacă geana și iar rămâne orb (Alin Anca, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Gabriel Bebeșelea)

    Max Richter Mary Queen of Scots: The Shores of Scotland

    Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Act II (1877 version): No. 13a, Danses des cygnes I. Tempo di valse



    Vol. 3

    Emilie Mayer Symphony No. 4: IV. Presto (Neubrandenburg Philharmonie/Stefan Malzew)

    Weber Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major: IV. Rondo - Allegro giocoso (Julian Bliss & Carducci String Quartet)

    John Hess Vous, qui passez sans me voir (Julien Behr, Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon/Pierre Bleuse)

    John Francis Wade Adeste fideles (arr. M Suzuki for Choir and Organ) (Bach Collegium Japan Chorus/Masato Suzuki & Masaaki Suzuki)

    Schumann Fantasiestücke: I. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Sol Gabetta, Bertrand Chamayou)

    Domenico Sarro Messa a 5 voci: 'Laudamus te' (Maxim Emelyanychev, Jakub Józef Orliński, Il Pomo d'Oro)

    Holst Invocation Op. 19 No. 2 (Guy Johnston, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Davis)

    Dowland Come, Heavy Sleep (Grace Davidson, David Miller)

    Schumann Humoreske Op. 20: II. Hastig (William Youn)

    RO Morris Love Came Down at Christmas (arr. Stephen Cleobury) (Stephen Cleobury, Henry Websdale, Choir of King's College, Cambridge)

    Tchaikovsky The Seasons Op. 37a: XII. December. Christmas (Barry Douglas)

    Berlioz Roméo et Juliette: Pt. 3, Finale - Oath of Reconciliation (San Francisco Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Michael Tilson Thomas)

    Elgar Chanson de nuit (Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder)

    James Burton Tomorrow Shalle Be My Dancing Day (Jack Hawkins, Michael Bell, James Adams, Joseph Wicks, Choir of St John's College, Cambridge)


    Vol. 2

    Julian Anderson Heaven is Shy of Earth: III. Gloria (With Bird) (Susan Bickley, BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Oliver Knussen)

    Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1: III. Rondo. Allegro (Live) (William Caballero, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck)

    Derek Bermel Murmurations: I. Gathering at Gretna Green (ROCO)

    Frank Martin Ballade for Flute & Piano (Bridget Bolliger, Andrew West)

    Debussy Violin Sonata in G minor: III. Finale. Très animé (Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov)

    Anonymous Now May We Singen (ORA Singers/Suzi Didby)

    Rachmaninov Prelude in G minor Op. 23 No. 5 (Live at Philharmonie, Berlin/2018) (Yuja Wang)

    James Newton Howard Violin Concerto: II. Andante semplice (James Ehnes, Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Cristian Măcelaru)

    Sally Beamish In the Stillness (Sonoro/Neil Ferris)

    Parry Suite moderne (arr. J Dibble for Orchestra): III. Romanza. Lento (BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Rumon Gamba)

    Jonathan Dove A Brief History of Creation: X. Whales Return to the Sea (Hallé Children's Choir, Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder)

    Purcell King Arthur, Act 1: 'Come if You Dare' (Robert Buckland, Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier)

    Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 4 (Live at Kimmel Center, Philadelphia) (Daniil Trifonov, The Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin)

    Fagerlund Höstsonaten, Act 1: charlotte Andergast! Vilken konstnär! (Krista Kujala, Mari Sares, Jere Martikainen, Jarmo Ojala, Finnish National Opera Chorus, Finnish National Opera Orchestra/John Storgards


    Vol. 1

    Julian Anderson Heaven is Shy of Earth: III. Gloria (With Bird) (Susan Bickley, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen)

    Zemlinsky Albumblatt (Erinnerung aus Wien) (William Youn)

    Schreker The Birthday of the Infanta: Suite I. Reigen (Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta)

    Mozart Violin Concerto No. 1 K.207: III. Presto (Nikolaj Znaider, London Symphony Orchestra)

    Tchaikovsky The Seasons, Op. 37a, TH 135: XII. December. Christmas (Barry Douglas)

    Holst In the Bleak Midwinter (Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Isata Kanneh-Mason)

    Glazunov The Seasons ‘L’été: No. 9, Scène de l’été (Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitri Kitayenko

    JS Bach Prelude & Fugue BVW 855a: Prelude No. 10 in B minor (Vikingur Ólafsson)

    Magnus Lindberg Tempus fugit Pt. 1 (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu)

    Gurney Since I Believe in God the Father Almighty (Tenebrae/Nigel Short)

    Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Act 1: No. 6 Clara and the Nutcracker (Los Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel)

    Ravel Ma mère l’Oye Suite, M. 60: V. Le jardin féerique (Prague Philharmonia/Emmanuel Villaume)

    Eric Whitacre Deep Field: Earth Choir (Eric Whitacre Singers, Virtual Choir 5, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Eric Whitacre)

  • Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach wins BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 | Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:16:15 +0000


    Andrei Kymach was crowned


In a first for the competition, Kymach will also be offered a recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre as part of his prize.


Mingjie Lei, winner of the Song Prize

Kymach competed with four other finalists, including tenor Mingjie Lei, who was awarded the Song Prize earlier in the week. The Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize was won by Katie Bray from England, and was dedicated to the memory of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the late baritone who won the competition back in 1989. 


Katie Bray, winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize

  • The best recordings of Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet | Thu, 20 Jun 2019 09:00:12 +0000


    Given the work’s many evident qualities, surprisingly few recordings have been made of Fanny Mendelssohn’s String Quartet. Interestingly, too, those that have been made nearly all date from the last decade or so.


    The best recording 


    Quatuor Ebène
    Erato 464 5462

    For a full-blooded, musically insightful and vividly captured account, look no further than this 2012 recording from the Quatuor Ebène, a young group who, having met as conservatoire students in Paris at the turn of the 21st century, have gone on to place themselves firmly among today’s most revered chamber ensembles.

    It is performances such as this that have put them there, as the Ebènes extract the maximum degree of colour and imagination from Fanny Mendelssohn’s music. The first movement sets the scene with some wonderfully nuanced phrasing that revels in the score’s more audacious harmonic twists. Their chosen tempo here is slightly more deliberate than on some other recordings, but this allows sufficient space for the melodic lines to breathe, particularly at the magical moment where the home key of E flat major is firmly established for the first time.



    In the Scherzo, the Quatuor Ebène projects the music’s fervent activity with some strikingly articulated accents, and the Trio is delivered with superbly energetic, rhythmic dynamism. Pierre Colombet, the Quatuor Ebène’s never-less-than-elegant first violinist, is marvellously expressive in shaping the soaring melody of the Romanze, and the agitated middle section provides unexpectedly urgent contrast with some extremely powerful sonorities in the lower strings. And of all the recordings that have been made of this work, no ensemble conveys the joyous exhilaration and carefree abandon of the Finale as convincingly as the Quatour Ebène, whose lightness of touch and transparency of articulation are a delight to behold.   

    One further advantage of this excellent release is its imaginative programming. Although it may seem to be something of a gamble to place Fanny’s quartet as the centre-piece in a recital that also includes the musically substantial A minor and F minor Quartets by her famous younger brother, in no sense is Fanny’s achievement dwarfed by these monumental works. On the contrary, the Quatuor Ebène revels in the boldness and expressivity of this quartet, injecting the music with the same degree of passion and commitment as in their performances of its much better known companions.



    Three other great recordings


    Erato Quartett Basel
    CPO 999 6792

    The Erato Quartett places Fanny Mendelssohn’s Quartet as its main work in a hugely enterprising progamme of quartets by women composers from the 18th and 19th centuries. Like the Ebènes, this Swiss quartet delivers a full-blooded and intensely expressive account accentuated by a richly resonant recording. What perhaps is missing is a similar variety of timbre and nuance. Nonetheless, those wishing to explore Fanny Mendelssohn’s work in the context of other undeservedly neglected repertory will not be disappointed.




    Lafayette String Quartet 
    CBC MVCD1149

    This Canadian group offers a more introverted approach to the first and third movements than the Erato Quartett and Quatuor Ebène, with purer timbres and less intense vibrato. On the other hand, the playing in the Scherzo and Finale is every bit as energetic and exuberant. Once again, they are edged out by the Ebènes in terms of vision and technical virtuosity, but programming the work alongside Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet is inspired.



    Cavaleri Quartet
    Champs Hill Records CHRCD085

    This youthful British quartet delivers a fresh and incisive account as part of an enjoyable boxed set of Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn’s works for string quartet. There are some awkward tempo fluctuations in the second movement, which suggests the possibility that two different takes of the Scherzo were spliced together. But setting this aside, the performance more than holds its own, even if it is not quite as imaginatively shaped as in the recording from the Quatuor Ebène. 




    And one to avoid…


    Fanny Mendelssohn String Quartet

    The Munich-based Fanny Mendelssohn Quartet deserves enormous credit for making the first commercial recording of this work (in 1994) and coupling it with the equally fascinating Piano Quartet. But its performance proves to be something of a disappointment, being rather tentative and cautious in expression. Rather than celebrate the boldness of Fanny Mendelssohn’s ideas, the players are far too respectful, smoothing over contrasts, understating the passion and intensity of the Romanze and being insufficiently light-hearted in the Finale. A shame.



  • Who is competing in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019? | Wed, 19 Jun 2019 09:38:21 +0000


    This year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition features 20 singers from 15 countries, and for the first time the line-up includes a singer from Guatemala. The 20 singers will compete for the Main Prize, Song Prize and Audience Prize, the latter of which will be dedicated to the memory of baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who died in 2017 and won the competition in 1989.


    Guadalupe Barrientos
    32 years old 



    Lauren Fagan
    31 years old


    Camila Titinger 
    29 years old



    Mingjie Lei
    31 years old


    Katie Bray
    32 years old



    Adriana Gonzalez
    27 years old



    Jorge Espino
    27 years old


    Julien Van Mellaerts
    New Zealand
    31 years old



    Luis Gomes
    32 years old



    Roman Arndt
    30 years old


    Karina Kherunts 
    32 years old



    Yulia Mennibaeva
    31 years old



    Owen Metsileng
    South Africa
    31 years old


    Leonardo Lee
    South Korea
    31 years old



    Sooyeon Lee
    South Korea
    30 years old



    Lena Belkina
    31 years old


    Andrei Kymach
    31 years old


    Patrick Guetti 
    31 years old



    Richard Ollarsaba 
    31 years old


    Angharad Lyddon
    30 years old


    BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is taking place from 15-22 June 2019. 

  • How to get tickets for Proms in the Park 2019 | Wed, 19 Jun 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    The Last Night of the Proms and Proms in the Park are taking place on Saturday 14 September 2019. 


    Barry Manilow leads a line-up of artists including Chrissie Hynde, Jack Savoretti, Lighthouse Family and Gabrielle. 

    The BBC Concert Orchestra under Richard Balcombe will join later in the evening, alongside presenter Michael Ball. The Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall will then be streamed live to Hyde Park for the usual singalong fare. 


    Gates open: 3pm
    Music from: 4pm
    Event ends: 10.30pm


    You can buy tickets here via SEE Tickets or here via Ticketmaster.



    Ticket types:

    General admission: £46 (+ booking fee)

    Park Lane Garden: £90 (+ booking fee)
    This is a new exclusive area of the park, situated behind the main stage (so you cannot see the stage from the garden). Admission includes exclusive bar access, dedicated luxury toilets, comfortable seating and covered areas. 

    VIP Hospitality Package: £439 (+booking fee)
    Complimentary bar (serving wines, beers, prosecco and soft drinks), three-course meal, waiter service and access to exclusive terrace with stage views.


  • Six of the best sci-fi movie soundtracks | Wed, 19 Jun 2019 06:00:00 +0000


    On 13 September 1959 the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 spacecraft crash-landed on the Moon. Almost ten years later, on 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 successfully landed with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, who became the first humans to step onto the Moon’s surface.

    To commemorate those two extraordinary events, here are six outstanding scores which reflect how – even before and since these events - the popular imagination has been haunted by outer space and what distant worlds might be discovered there. 


    Things to Come (1936: Arthur Bliss)

    With a script by HG Wells, the father of much of today’s science fiction, this is in theory an intriguing landmark in British cinema history. In practice it is a frightfully stilted, mannered and – at least by today’s standard – slow moving drama, which takes its time to reach the technological wonders of the future, including the first manned flight around the moon.

    The most vibrant feature of the film is in fact Arthur Bliss’s splendid score, its grimly triumphal ‘March’ being its most famous cue. Bliss himself made an excellent recording of the Things to Come suite with the London Symphony Orchestra (Heritage HTGCD220), and there is a modern recording of the complete score by Rumon Gamba conducting the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos CHAN 9896).



    The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951: Bernard Herrmann)

    Here, by contrast, is a film which has stood the test of time, not least due to its still eerie-sounding score by Bernard Herrmann (and helped by some fine acting, plus special effects which have not dated as badly as one might expect). Already established through scoring several Orson Welles pictures, including Citizen Kane, Herrmann was yet to form his legendary partnership with Hitchcock.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still was his first Hollywood score after he had moved from New York, and he was clearly keen to make an impression. His unusual line of instruments included electric violin, cello and bass; two theremins; two Hammond organs; an array of percussion; and 11 brass instruments (one horn, three each of trumpets and trombones, and four tubas). The theremins in particular dominate the music’s soundworld, most memorably the scenes involving the alien spacecraft.



    Solaris (1972: music by Eduard Artemyev)

    This Soviet film, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is said to have been produced in response to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unlike Kubrick, who famously ditched the commissioned score in favour of his eclectic temp track which successfully mixed Richard Strauss, Ligeti et al, Tarkovsky used a remarkable new score almost entirely (but for a Bach chorale prelude) composed by Eduard Artemyev.

    Though subsequently more widely known and loved for his late-Romantic style scores for such international hits as Burnt by the Sun, Artemyev was in fact a relatively early pioneer of electronic music within the Soviet Union, and had composed music in the Experimental Studio of Electronic Music which opened in Scriabin’s former Moscow apartment in 1966. It is Artemyev’s strange and unearthly music, above all, which makes one believe the disconcerting ‘alien’ quality of the scientific research station Solaris.



    Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977: John Williams)

    The five note pentatonic theme with which the scientists of Earth communicate with the visiting UFO from space was, of course, created by Spielberg’s legendary ‘in-house’ composer John Williams. Simple as it sounds, it was just one of over three hundred possible permutations of a five note theme that Williams composed, from which Spielberg selected the one which became for a long time a instantly recognisable motif, used in endless spoofs about extraterrestrial visitations. But just when we were on the point of being seduced with the idea of friendly aliens…




    Alien (1979: Jerry Goldsmith)

    The soft screeches, eerie moanings and echoey knocks with which Alien opens sets the tone of disquiet and fear that became so much part of the film’s identity. Remarkably, that title sequence was created in some haste by Jerry Goldsmith when the director, Ridley Scott, objected to his original all-too-conventional neo-Romantic title sequence. Other parts of Goldsmith’s score were also jettisoned in preference to temp tracks, which to his annoyance included music he had written for an entirely different film, and the music for the film’s final sequence is taken from Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 (Romantic).

    Yet it has to be said that the film became all the more effective for those changes, and – as Scott admitted – a good deal of the film’s success still came down to Goldsmith’s music. Not least, Goldsmith had the inspired idea to add to his large orchestra an ensemble of the antique wind instrument, the serpent, to evoke the alien’s menace: though much of its music was excised from the film, the instrument’s blood-curdling rasp can be heard in the final twist when the heroine discovers the alien creature aboard the shuttle in which she intended to escape from the mothership.



    Under the Skin (2013: Mica Levi)

    Finally, another fine example of an original film score which unapologetically uses modernist sounds and so creates a disconcerting and nerve wracking atmosphere. Mica Levi – also known by her stage name Micachu, in which guise she performs with her group Micachu and the Shapes – was trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While a student, she had the experience of writing a work performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra; she subsequently became an artist-in-residence at the Southbank in 2010.

    She was just 26 when she was approached by film director Jonathan Glazer to write her first film score for his film Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson as an extraterrestrial who in human guise entices various men. Using a small ensemble of strings, flute and percussion combined with electronic music, Levi’s score creates its effect through a minimal number of musical themes embedded in a ‘beehive’ like sound, using scratchy string playing and microtonal tuning.


    Listen to our playlist of the best sci-fi movie soundtracks here:

  • A guide to Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 6 | Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    Writing for the screen brings an intriguing new flavour to the composer’s writing, which includes touches of jazz.


    Composed: 1944-7 (Scherzo revised in 1950)
    Premiere: 21st April 1948, Royal Albert Hall, London. BBC Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Boult  


    Like No. 5, the Sixth Symphony begins with a question: again, what key am I in? But instead of hazy ambiguity, all here is turbulence, clashing harmonies, skirling woodwind and surging strings. After this arresting opening, the Symphony goes on getting more and more original – through a bleak march-haunted Moderato and a vicious, frenetic Scherzo to a finale marked sempre pp e senza crescendo (‘always very quiet and without rise or fall’). In the end, two string chords swing slowly back and forward, fading into silence. Anything less like the calm of the Fifth Symphony is hard to imagine.


    A new life...

    How many people discover an important new skill in their seventies? As the British film industry geared itself up for major wartime spirit-raising, directors turned to well-known British composers to provide suitably stirring scores. Vaughan Williams discovered a new enthusiasm for this kind of work, despite its many restrictions. A colleague remembers him grumbling as he set to work on yet another battle scene: ‘I’ve had enough of all these crashes and bangs. Why can’t I write some pretty nurse music?’

    As the war reached its end, VW was approached to provide something festive to mark the final triumph. The most significant result was Thanksgiving for Victory (1944) – unmistakably patriotic, but not quite the bombastic feast of flag-raising that the title might lead one to expect.



    Far more important is the work that occupied him during 1944-7 – the Sixth Symphony – which draws on the wartime cinematic experience, not just in its reworking of two ideas originally intended for the film Flemish Farm (a story of resistance in occupied Belgium), but also in the way its musical narrative unfolds. The appearance of the very English ‘Big Tune’ in the first movement, amid so much turbulence and unease, is like a surprise cut from rubble and smoke to a peaceful pastoral scene.



    War clearly left its mark on the Sixth Symphony (the saxophone theme in the Scherzo was apparently VW’s reaction to the killing of a black jazz musician in a Luftwaffe air raid), but the composer denied that this was what the symphony was ‘about’. He liked it when a friend described the eerily still finale as ‘The agnostic’s Paradisum’.

    Could the Sixth Symphony have been the agnostic response to the Fifth’s apparently religious serenity – as though these two
    great symphonies were the opposing panels of a very singular diptych? In 1951, VW produced three fine unaccompanied choral pieces: Three Shakespeare Songs. One is a setting of Prospero’s speech from Act IV of The Tempest: ‘We are such stuff as dreams
    are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ The setting ends with the same two chords with which the finale of the
    Sixth fades out.



    The Sixth Symphony dominates Vaughan Williams’s output in the immediate post-war years. Apart from one big film score, The Loves of Joanna Godden (1946), there were few significant distractions. Perhaps the composer needed to concentrate as much energy as possible on this extraordinary work – after all, as some would have observed, he was now well into his seventies. Now, perhaps, he could allow himself a much-needed rest.

    But another film project, begun in the year that VW finished the Sixth Symphony, was to lead him in a surprising new direction.


    Recommended recording:

    LSO/Richard Hickox

    Chandos CHAN 10103






  • Six of the best… works by Stravinsky | Fri, 14 Jun 2019 11:33:40 +0000


    The inventive and influential Igor Stravinsky wrote some of the 20th-century's most important scores, pieces that redefined music and broke new ground. The Russian composer is still widely known by only a handful of pieces, particularly the ballets he composed for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris in the years leading up to World War I. Yet beyond the celebrated works are also lesser known masterpieces. Such is the richness of his compositional legacy that we can't pretend to offer the full Stravinsky experience in just half a dozen works, but we can at least offer six suggested starting points for exploring his rich legacy.


    Rite of Spring (1913)

    All three of Stravinsky's pre-World War I ballets are wonderful works, but start with the greatest masterpiece of the three: The Rite of Spring. It remains one of the most violent, visceral yet exciting pieces of music ever composed, let alone performed on the ballet stage.

    The scandal which attended its premiere was largely caused by Vaslav Nijinsky's grotesque and revolutionary choreography - such was the resulting hubbub that Stravinsky's music could hardly be heard. When it was performed in concert the audience's reaction was ecstatic and Stravinsky was carried shoulder high on the streets of Paris.


    The Soldier's Tale (1918)

    Stravinsky originally intended this to be an easy-to-stage quasi-folktale 'to be read, played and danced'. In choosing his instrumental ensemble - which includes a fiddler, clarinettist, cornet player, double bassist and a percussionist playing a prototype drum kit - Stravinsky took elements from the gypsy ensemble, klezmer band and jazz.

    He transmuted all this into a soundworld that was very much his own, subsequently much imitated by various composers, both in France where he settled after the War, and much later in Hollywood.


    • 8 inspiring composer quotes

    • Lost work by Stravinsky restored


    Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920; rev. 1947)

    Stravinsky wrote this piece in a fairly piecemeal fashion, writing its concluding chorale first for a piano piece commissioned to commemorate Claude Debussy. Even in its final polished form, scored for an ensemble of woodwind and brass instruments, it sounds quite fragmentary on first encounter.

    Yet the Symphonies of Wind Instruments is now rightly recognised as one of Stravinsky's great modernist masterpieces. Cool and dispassionate, with only a few brief bursts of dance-like excitement towards its end, the effect of hearing it is like encountering abstract, monumental and quite separate sculptures in a garden; only gradually does one sense how they relate to one another as one walks around them.


    Symphony of Psalms (1930)

    The neo-classical movement Stravinsky spearheaded after World War I was sometimes flippantly known as 'back to Bach'. Some grist to that mill may be found in this very unique work which Stravinsky composed to a commission to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

    For all his revolutionary credentials, Stravinsky had a particular fondness for old-fashioned counterpoint and fugue, and as such had the greatest admiration for JS Bach which he demonstrates to the full in this work.

    Essentially a choral work accompanied by an unusually constituted orchestra - there are no clarinets, and the strings consist only of cellos and basses - the colours appear to range from charcoal black through steely grey to a pearly iridescence. Against this stark background, the chorus sing a masterful double fugue in the second movement, and in the finale one of Stravinsky's most sublime stretches of music.


    • The best recordings of Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations

    •  The best recordings of Vaughan Williams's Pastoral Symphony


    The Rake's Progress (1947-51)

    Stravinsky's sole full-length opera was inspired by the so-named series of paintings by William Hogarth. Indeed, he was so taken by the subject that he embarked on composing it even without a commission.

    Stravinsky was fortunate in his librettist, WH Auden, who not only had a fluent technique able to match his musical demands but who also himself was a great lover of opera and shared Stravinsky's relish of Mozart.

    Much of the opera is light and brittle in manner, with some burlesque in the form of the bearded Baba the Turk, whom Tom Rakewell marries at the suggestion of the diabolical Nick Shadow. It is Tom's scenes with Nick in particular which give a dark edge to the opera, and when they play cards in the graveyard scene the stakes - Tom literally playing for his soul - appear very real.


    Requiem Canticles (1965-66)

    Bells held a particular fascination and significance for Stravinsky (as indeed they do for many Russians). They were most openly celebrated in his ballet scored for four pianos and an array of percussion, Les noces (1923), and it is bells which cast their magical spell in the final part of this, his very last completed work.

    Under the influence of Robert Craft, Stravinsky famously made a volte face and converted to the cause of serial composition. This had followed something of an arid period, and the tough gristle of the discipline required for serial composition did not immediately bear attractive fruit.

    But by the time he came to compose the Requiem Canticles Stravinsky had rediscovered his 'voice' and favoured sonorities, and the result is music that intrigues and even enchants the ear.

  • The history of the saxophone | Fri, 14 Jun 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    With their sleekly modern good looks, extraordinary expressive range, and inextricable relationship with jazz, the instruments of the saxophone family have become quintessentially associated with some of the most exciting musical developments of the 20th century.


    Yet, by the time early jazz musicians first seriously got their hands on them in the 1920s, these instruments had already been in existence for around eight decades – and in the classical arena had suffered a prolonged, painful neglect orchestrated by influential figures who should have known better.


    When he unleashed his new invention onto the Parisian scene in the early 1840s, Adolphe Sax immediately ran up against opposition from the manufacturers of orthodox wind instruments. Wagner hated it and infamously declared that it sounded like the made-up word Reckankreuzungsklankewerkzeuge.



    Legal challenges, insolvency and the occasional death threat were some of the more serious consequences endured by Sax at the hands of his conservative opponents. And those who preferred not to sue, bankrupt or threaten to kill him plagiarised his designs, fully aware of their potential significance in the longer term.


    As today, high-profile performers of traditional winds endorsed models made by their favourite manufacturers, and had the power to prevent the introduction of saxophones into established orchestras. Sax had designed one set specifically for use in classical orchestral music, and another (in different keys) with an eye towards their potential adoption by military bands.


    It was the latter which came temporarily to his rescue when the French Government reformed its provision of military music in 1845 and the nation’s bands adopted saxophones into their ranks; but even then a powerful musical trade union attempted to prevent Sax from being granted a patent for his designs.



    Helped by the patronage of Napoleon III, Sax established a saxophone class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1857, and this encouraged classical musicians to take it seriously. But the venture folded in 1870 after France was defeated by Prussia, and it was not until 1942 that the class resumed under the leadership of saxophonist Marcel Mule.


    When (composed) ragtime fused with the (improvised) blues to create early jazz in the 1910s, the instrumentation of marching bands became crucial to the dissemination of the new music. Cornets, clarinets and trombones could all be cheaply acquired owing to a huge surplus of second-hand military instruments in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War in 1898; the saxophone fell into the same category, but was slower to establish itself as a leading voice in jazz, starting to come into its own in dance bands during the 1920s.



    This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of BBC Music Magazine. 

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