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  • What was Tippett's compositional style? | Thu, 21 Feb 2019 10:00:50 +0000


    Madrigal rhythm

    As a student, Tippett decided that classical music in England was too much in thrall to the remnants of Romanticism. He found a way forward in the rhythmic invention of vocal part-writing in Tudor and Elizabethan madrigals.



    Tippett would surely have shunned the idea that his music connected with English ‘pastoralism’, but he loved the countryside, and aspects of its idealised musical tradition, including modes and drones, feature in his works.



    Melody and harmony

    Discussion of Tippett’s music generally focuses on its rhythmic counterpoint derived partly from the madrigal tradition, partly from Beethoven. But in the works up to the mid-1950s, there is an underrated gift for melody and an expressive harmonic sense.


    Wider musical worlds

    Tippett looked to draw on idioms from foreign cultures, particularly American blues. The Javanese gamelan sounds in his Piano Sonata No. 1, and the spirituals in A Child of Our Time are two further examples.

  • Six of the best moments from Widor's Symphonies | Thu, 21 Feb 2019 07:30:54 +0000


    Charles-Marie Widor (21 February 1844 – 12 March 1937), along with fellow composer-organist César Franck, transformed organ repertoire from dull liturgical servant to full-fledged symphonic machine. Helped along by the organ-building genius of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, Widor was able to make increasingly larger demands on the instrument and the player.

    His ten symphonies contain some superb music but, in truth, not all of their movements are of consistent quality, musically and aesthetically. So – here’s a quick guide to the six best movements to hunt out.

    1. Toccata from Symphony No. 5

    Let's begin with the French composer’s most famous piece, if not the most well-known piece in the whole organ repertoire. Symphony No. 5 is a beautifully constructed masterpiece, the opening movement a set of gorgeous variations, the second a charming, lyrical quasi-salon piece.

    But it’s the Toccata that steals the show with its moto perpetuo right-hand (sometimes left-hand) figuration and punchy accompaniment chords. And that descending pedal melody, simple as it is, leaves the listener breathless.



    2. Marche Pontificale from Symphony No. 1

    Back to the start of Widor’s Symphony cycle for our second choice. The Marche Pontificale is a processional piece par excellence. To our minds, it makes an even better wedding exit piece than the Toccata from Symphony No. 5 (see above).




    3. Marcia from Symphony No. 3

    Symphony No. 3 also contains an outrageous march – packed full of pomp and ceremony. It’s the definite highlight in a symphony where the first movement doesn’t quite take off, the second movement Minuetto rarely strays from the slightly fey and the finale is a bit of a damp squib. But hearken unto the Marcia, and it’ll bring a smile to your face. Our YouTube clip features Daniel Roth at the console of Widor’s organ at St Sulpice, Paris.




    4. & 5. Allegro and Intermezzo from Symphony No. 6

    Forgive us if we skip Symphony No. 4 and head straight to No. 6, a symphony that has few weak spots. The first and final movements of No. 6 are staggering in their technical demands and sheer impact, and the Intermezzo is a thrilling gem. So we’re going to go with the first and third movements of this glorious work. First, here’s Olivier Latry kicking things off with a brilliant performance of the first movement from St Joseph’s church in Bonn.

    And then we fly over to Michigan and hear Matthew Dempsey on the Skinner organ at the university’s Hall Auditorium for the Intermezzo.




    6. Andante sostenuto from Symphonie Gothique (No. 9)

    Finally, it’s to the Symphonie Gothique that we turn for a gorgeous slow movement – the Andante sostenuto. Gabriel Fauré could have written this, scored perhaps for piano and flute. It’s a wonderfully lilting, cantabile movement and, tantalisingly, its gorgeous hook near the start is never quite repeated. So – enjoy it while you can! Here’s Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard at the organ of St Eustache in Paris.




  • What is post-classical music? | Wed, 20 Feb 2019 10:00:00 +0000


    Defining ‘contemporary classical’ music is fraught with complications: should we include film music, for example, and what about music that uses amplification? From Adès to Zimmer, the canon is thrillingly diverse, and features various nooks and crannies within which exciting sounds emerge. It’s a soundworld that listeners are just as likely to encounter via curated streaming platforms as in major venues, on the small and silver screen, and in clubs as well as concert halls.

    Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (2012) is a key example of this collision of classical-electro-ambient music, a strange juxtaposition of old and new, high versus so-called ‘low’ art. It is akin to listening to a Cubist version of the Vivaldi classic, with fragmented melodies that are looped and overlaid, shared between laptop and strings. Richter is one of a new school of composers who combine multiple stylistic ideals.


    Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons


    Various names have been given to this particular branch of contemporary music: alternative classical, neo-classical, post-classical. In a digital world, life becomes easier if we can define a searchable genre. But when a style is in its infancy, this can be restrictive.



    ‘Generally I say that I write classical music using electronics,’ says Poppy Ackroyd, a pianist-composer based in Brighton. ‘It usually requires at least three sentences of explanation.’ Ackroyd recently signed to One Little Indian, a label founded 30 years ago by members of an anarchist punk band, and her current disc features violin, piano, flute, cello and clarinets. ‘I would be practising Kurtág and then listening to Aphex Twin,’ recalls Ackroyd of her musical development. ‘I wondered how these things would sound if I arranged them together.’


    Poppy Ackroyd


    Other descriptions of the music include ‘reimaginations’ and ‘recompositions’. ‘I like the term “reimaginations”,’ says Tomek Kolczynski, who looks after the electronic elements within chamber group bachSpace, which includes pianist Tamar Halperin and violinist Etienne Abelin, who is also a member of the renowned Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

    bachSpace blends Baroque with electronica. ‘I think of the electronic parts of bachSpace as contemporary commentary on Bach,’ explains Halperin. ‘All electronic sounds on the album are created from direct synthesis of the acoustic sounds of piano and violin. Ultimately, it’s a dialogue between two different centuries and cultures.’ Abelin suggests the label: ‘transbaroque’.



    Of course, using orchestral instruments or a classical motif doesn’t automatically make music classical; however, most post-classical – a catch-all term that will be used hereafter – music is firmly rooted in the traditional classical idiom. ‘I’m classically trained: I have a masters in piano performance,’ Ackroyd says, ‘but there’s as much non-classical influence as there is classical. How I make music – acoustic sounds via electronic means – isn’t typically classical. But every sound is created by instruments; nothing is artificial.’

    The members of bachSpace also combine a wealth of conservatoire experience with an ‘interest in urban sounds’. Halperin, who wrote her Juilliard dissertation on Bach, outlines her ‘unfathomable love’ for the music, along with a desire to share it not only with ‘classical music connoisseurs, but really everywhere, with everyone’. Like Ackroyd, Halperin, Abelin and Kolczynski seek connections. ‘Since I don’t feel whole when life experiences are fragmented, my mind intuitively looks for ways to integrate them,’ says Abelin. ‘So I feel most at home when my different worlds collide in a meaningful way. Meaning for me has more to do with coherent dramaturgy and less with coherence of a particular musical language.’





    Critics of this soundworld claim that many of the pieces are unimaginative pastiche. Writing in The Wire, Philip Clark asked ‘how you would feel if visiting Tate Modern you found the Rothkos, Matisses and Picassos had been replaced by Athena poster art’, in the context of Deutsche Grammophon’s decision to include the likes of Richter, Karl Jenkins and Ludovico Einaudi alongside its starry back catalogue of 20th-century composers. Perhaps it’s more that the gallery has added additional wings – the discerning visitor can pick and choose from established exhibits and the new collections.



    DG continues its commitment to this music with the recent re-release of Richter’s 2004 The Blue Notebooks, with words adapted from Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks, and the upcoming release of Recomposed by Peter Gregson: Bach – The Cello Suites, which follows in Richter’s footsteps.


    Recomposed by Peter Gregson: Bach - The Cello Suites


    Post-classical music attracts a broad audience, in part because the music is becoming so widely accessible. Composers such as Ólafur Arnalds, whose atmospheric solo albums sit alongside his screen writing (such as the soundtrack to TV series Broadchurch) are attracting an increasing listenership. The late Jóhann Jóhannsson found popularity with his soundtrack to The Theory of Everything and his disc Orphée (DG, 2016), as well as gaining fans for his more experimental music, including a suite for string orchestra and a retro IBM computer.



    Ólafur Arnalds's soundtrack to Broadchurch


    Another example is Dustin O’Halloran, who scored Amazon show Transparent, for which he won an Emmy Award. O’Halloran is also one half of duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen who performed at a BBC Prom co-curated with BBC Radio 6 Music in 2015 – another indication that boundaries are shifting.


    Dustin O'Halloran's soundtrack to Transparent


    There are cultural differences between post-classical and classical worlds, too. Straddling different industries means that post-classical artists have to be versatile. They also have to adapt to the differing language of various sectors: when Ackroyd is asked to recommend an entry-point for newcomers to her work, confusion ensues: ‘Do you mean which album?’ Music is referred to in tracks, not movements; performances are gigs, not recitals. (Incidentally, Ackroyd suggests her piano collection Sketches.)



    While historically post-classical music was the preserve of smaller, independent labels – such as FatCat and Erased Tapes – the last few years has seen greater interest from larger-scale organisations. In the spring, Sony Classical announced that it had signed German pianist-composer Volker Bertelmann – known to fans under the moniker Hauschka – with a collection of solo piano works in the pipeline. Hauschka is part of a group of performers who are re-energising interest in prepared piano, adding modern-day extras – ping-pong balls and pegs – to change timbres and bringing newcomers to the world of John Cage.




    In 2017, Decca Records launched Mercury KX, an imprint for post-classical music. ‘I felt that a new label, with no specific ties to any one genre, was the best way to achieve the best possible environment for these artists to thrive and to speak to their specific audience,’ says Alex Buhr, Mercury KX founder.



    The freedom encourages experimentation with technology in ways that artists may not have been able to with more traditional routes. Mercury KX artist Arnalds has just started working with his Stratus Pianos: two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos that are triggered by a central piano played by Arnalds himself, using custom-built software created by the composer and audio developer Halldór Eldjárn.


    Ólafur Arnalds and Halldór Eldjárn


    As well as Arnalds, Mercury KX has three further composer-pianists on its roster: Sebastian Plano, Luke Howard and German artist Lambert. The variety of approaches attracts a diverse audience. ‘You have classical music fans that approach this music as an extension of the classical music space,’ says Buhr. ‘But equally you have fans of other genres who come at this from a very different perspective. I think it will keep growing and I think we will see ever more diverse kinds of artists and music thriving in it.’



    Like any musical movement – particularly one so new – there is huge variation in styles and structure. And no one is more respectful of their musical foremothers than the musicians themselves. ‘We do not pretend to be a “new Bach” of any sort,’ says Abelin firmly. ‘Bach himself has done something similar with music by Vivaldi, for example. So we’re just being faithful to Bach’s own free spirit.’ This is the lynchpin of post-classical music: respecting the past while creating works for the future. 


    Words by Claire Jackson

  • Six of the best string quartets about life and death | Tue, 19 Feb 2019 10:00:45 +0000


    Beethoven String Quartet No. 15: III. Molto adagio. Andante

    This incredible movement bears the title ‘Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der Lydischen Tonart’, which translates to ‘Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode’.

    Beethoven composed this music after he battled with a terrible illness, fearing he would never recover. The music is both haunting and hopeful, and features faster sections marked ‘With new strength’ which repeatedly return to the profoundly moving chorale sections, sending the listener into an ever deeper emotional state. 




    Smetana’s String Quartet No. 1 ‘From My Life’

    Smetana completed the composition of this quartet after he became deaf. Each movement is a sketch of different moments in his life, giving glimpses into his past youth, conveying the emotion and transcendent power of love, and, tragically, his fast-developing hearing loss.




    Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 ‘Death and the Maiden’: II. Andante con moto

    This piece is named after a song composed by Schubert in 1817, with the song’s main theme forming the basis for the recurring motif in this movement of the quartet.

    The song is set to a poem by Matthias Claudius, in which the maiden begs the terrifying figure of death to stay away, allowing her to enjoy her life peacefully. ‘Death’ replies, asking her to allow him to take her into his arms, for he is a friend and wishes for her to take courage and finally come to rest. 




    Haydn’s ‘Seven Last Words of Christ’ arr. for string quartet

    Originally written for orchestra, Haydn arranged the ‘Seven Last Words of Christ’ for string quartet in 1787. Each movement is preceded by a sentence from the gospels of the story of the crucifixion.

    Haydn’s music is full of incredible expression and colour, and in this particular work he creates wonderful contrast between hope and light, and stark, barren grief. 




    Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro con brio

    The second movement of Beethoven’s First String Quartet is said to be inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, namely the scene in which Juliet awakens from her drugged slumber to find that Romeo has killed himself in order to be with her in the afterlife.

    Beethoven uses D minor to present the tragic story, opening with the three lower instruments pulsing as a heartbeat while the first violin sings a plaintive, desperate line. We get glimpses into happier times with a nostalgic waltz-like figure, but the desperation returns, and the movement ends with a final, tragic sigh. 




    Janáček’s String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’

    This quartet is based on a series of hundreds of letters that Janáček wrote to a much younger woman with whom he was madly in love – but the love was unrequited.

    The unbridled passion is audible in his writing, and the quartet is full of moments of touching tenderness as well as incredible frustration and anger. 




    The Jubilee Quartet's debut album of Haydn Quartets is released on 10 March 2019 on Rubicon.

  • The BBC Music Magazine Playlist | Mon, 18 Feb 2019 15:04:22 +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's Apple Music page


    This week's playlist:


    The listings for previous playlists are featured below.


    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)

  • Four of the best John Dowland recordings | Mon, 18 Feb 2019 10:00:58 +0000


    Dowland: The Collected Works

    The Consort of Musicke/Rooley
    Decca E452 5632

    A one-stop shop for Dowland’s major works in 12 authoritative discs.




    Complete Lute Music

    Nigel North (Lute)
    Naxos 8.504016

    Supple, sensitive and warmly recorded, North’s artful set is a steal at budget price.





    The Parley of Instruments
    Helios CDA55339

    The Parley of Instruments performs Lachrimae as a violin consort, giving the work a brighter edge.



    Lute Songs

    Mark Padmore (tenor), Elizabeth Kenny (lute), Craig Ogden (guitar)
    Hyperion CDA67648

    Mark Padmore’s judicious anthology comes with the added bonus of Britten’s guitar tribute to Dowland.


  • First-time concert-goers to get star treatment at the Southbank | Mon, 18 Feb 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    The Southbank Centre announced a new project today, in which newcomers to classical music will be able to attend a concert accompanied by a leading musician or composer, completely free of charge.

    Conductor Marin Alsop, percussionist Colin Currie, violinist Nicola Benedetti, pianist Stephen Hough and composers Mark-Anthony Turnage and Nico Muhly are among those who will be involved in this new ‘Encounters’ scheme.

    Hundreds of concert newcomers will be invited to attend one of the concerts at the Southbank Centre in its 2019/20 season. They will then, in turn, be asked to invite another concert newcomer with them to the next concert, also free of charge. And each of those second group of invitees will, it is hoped, then do likewise, thus opening the door to a whole new generation of concert 'first-timers'.

    The programme will initially be open to charities and local community groups, including Streetwise Opera, the Irene Taylor Trust and Coin Street Community Builders, as well as local businesses.

    ‘Classical music concerts so often seem like a close door (or several) to those who have never attended one,’ says pianist Stephen Hough. ‘A stuffy private club: elitist, pompous and inaccessible. Encounters is a brilliant, simple idea to destroy this perception and to fling those doors open.’ 



  • Five essential works by Chopin | Sun, 17 Feb 2019 10:14:12 +0000



    Poland’s national dance is a stately affair, but in Chopin’s hands, it become a passionate statement about his home country. Start with the A-major Polonaise.

    Recommended recording:
    Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Anatol Ugorski (piano) DG 477 5430



    Chopin’s two books of studies test and stretch a player’s advanced technique. But the music contains depth and feeling.

    Recommended recording:
    Murray Perahia (piano)
    Sony SK61885



    Singularly unimpressed with the Viennese ballroom scene, Chopin set about composing his own waltzes, published in 1819, which contain abandon, but a certain wistfulness too.

    Recommended recording:
    Ingrid Fliter (piano)
    EMI 698 3512


    Piano Concerto No. 1

    Composed shortly before he left Poland, Chopin shows his gift for long-arching melodic lines and filigree piano writing. The second movement, in particular, is ravishing.

    Recommended recording:
    Krystian Zimerman (piano), Polish Festival Orchestra
    DG 459 6842



    Chopin puts his heart and soul into these astonishingly powerful works. Don’t be fooled by the title ‘Ballade’ – all four of them contain music of extreme drama and energy, as well as tenderness and lyricism.

    Recommended recording:
    Evgeny Kissin (piano)
    RCA 09026632592

  • Work experience with BBC Music Magazine | Fri, 15 Feb 2019 11:32:59 +0000


    If you want to learn about the magazine industry and love classical music, why not apply for a work experience placement with us?

    We are looking for people interested in a career in music journalism. An in-depth knowledge of classical music and a flair for writing are essential for the role.

    During your placement in our Bristol office, you can expect to do research, write material for the website and undertake a host of other tasks. In return, you’ll get an invaluable insight into how a magazine is put together and a chance to see if magazine journalism is the career for you.*

    If you think a work experience placement with BBC Music Magazine is for you, please email with the following attachments:

    • A copy of your CV
    • A covering letter explaining why you are interested in the magazine and what you’d hope to gain from working with us. You should also highlight any relevant previous experience, and your availability in the coming months.

    *For legal reasons we are unable to accept applications from under 18s.

  • Glinka - A Life in Brief | Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:47:42 +0000


    Best known today for his opera Ruslan and Lyudmila, and particularly its infectiously vivacious overture, Glinka is often dubbed 'The Father of Russian Music' – forging his own dinstinctively Russian style, he was a profound influence on composers such as Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Musorgsky. Here is a brief snapshot of the great man's life:


    Glinka is born on 20 May (Russian calendar; or 1 June in the Western calendar) in Novopasskoye (now called Glinka!), in the Smolensk district, where his family are landowning petty aristocracy. For the first six years of his life he is brought up by his overprotective grandmother who rarely allows him out; mostly he is trapped in a stifling, overheated room from where he hears the peal of church bells, and folksongs sung to him by his nurse (bells and folksongs later feature heavily in his music; he also suffers from hyperchondria all his life).

    His grandmother dies and now back in the charge of his parents Glinka hears more mainstream Western music, mostly via his Uncle Afanasy’s serf orchestra. One of the orchestra’s violinists gives Glinka lessons.



    Glinka is sent to boarding school in St Petersburg where he has piano and violin lessons, including three lessons with John Field (the Irish composer who invented the Nocturne for piano and who settled in St Petersburg in 1804), and starts to compose.

    The securing of an undemanding job at the Council of Communications in St Petersburg leaves Glinka free to spend much of his time immersed in music: in the capital he goes to hear Italian opera and takes singing lessons with a singer, Belloli, while at home in Novopasskoye he studies theory and orchestration, and conducts his Uncle’s serf orchestra. His finest pieces so far are songs: Razocharovaniye (‘Disenchantment’ [very Russian]) and Golos s tovo sveta (‘A voice from the other world’).



    Glinka and a friend take an extended trip to Europe. He spends three years based in Milan where he meets Bellini and Donizetti and composes, in 1832, a chamber piece based on themes from Bellini’s La sonnambula (see TIMES 1830). In the winter of 1833-4 he studies counterpoint with Siegfried Dehn in Berlin.

    A year after Glinka marries Mariya Petrovna Ivanova (1835), his opera A Life for the Tsar is a stunning success at its first performance, and Glinka is instantly hailed as Russia’s leading composer and given the post of Choirmaster of the imperial chapel. (Though essentially Italian, the opera includes many Russian folksong melodies and its subject matter is entirely Russian.) However the marriage soon founders and Glinka starts an affair with Ekaterina Kern; shortly afterwards he and his wife separate.

    Glinka’s next opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, is not well received. (He conceived of setting Pushkin’s poem immediately after the success of A Life for the Tsar and sought the author’s collaboration but sadly Pushkin was killed in a duel in 1837; (see TIMES 1837). Ruslan falls into the gap between Italian lyric opera and German sung drama and is denigrated by both camps: it is soon dropped to make room for a fashionable Italian company and their repertory. Glinka is bitterly disappointed and depressed, and doesn’t write another opera for over a decade.



    After spending time in France (where he got on well with Berlioz), Spain and Smolensk he heads back to France but in Warsaw hears that his passport application has been rejected. Remaining in Warsaw he composes prolifically: the orchestral pieces Recuerdos de Castilla and Kamarinskaya and songs revealing the influence of Chopin.

    Now suffering from deteriorating health he manages to spend two years in France (1852-4) but in March 1854 war between France and Russia forces him to return to Russia. He puts together his Memoirs (1854) and a year later starts work on a third opera, Dvumuzhnitsa (‘The bigamist’). (In 1841 Glinka’s wife married bigamously prompting Glinka to arrange an official divorce.)

    Glinka visits Berlin in 1856 to study more counterpoint with Siegfried Dehn. He meets Meyerbeer who conducts the Trio from A Life for the Tsar at a concert in January. After the concert Glinka catches a cold and dies on 3 (or 15) February in Berlin. His body is buried there but later exhumed and carried back to St Petersburg.


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