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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer), Leopold Mozart (composer), Karl Bohm (conductor), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (orchestra) - Symphony No.19 In E Flat, K.132 - (addendum: Andantino Grazioso)
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Felix Mendelssohn-bartholdy (composer), Lev Markiz / Wolfgang Sawallisch (conductors), Amsterdam Sinfonietta ?orchestra (artist) - Symphony No. 2 In B Flat, Op. 52 'lobgesang' (hymn Of Praise) - 5. Ich Harrete Des Herrn
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Robert Schumann (composer), Various Artists (artist) - Schumann: Symphony No. 4 In D Minor, Op. 120: Iii. Scherzo
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London Symphony Orchestra, Yuri Botnari - Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition
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Franz Schubert (composer), Menuhin (conductor), Menuhin Festival Orchestra (orchestra) - Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 1 In D Major D82 (1998 Digital Remaster): Ii. Andante
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Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (composer), Valery Gergiev (conductor), St.petersburg Kirov Orchestra (orchestra) - Symphony 6 - 3. Allegro Molto Vivace
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Tchaikovsky (composer), Rozhdestvensky (artist) - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 In B Minor, Op. 74 'pathe?tique': Ii. Allegro Con Grazia
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Sergei Rachmaninoff (composer) - Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 1 In D Minor Op. 13: Ii. Allegro Animato
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Tchaikovsky (composer), Gibson (artist) - Tchaikovsky: 1812 Ouverture: Festival Overture In E Flat Op.49
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Tchaikovsky (composer), Yuri Simonov (conductor), The Philharmonia (orchestra) - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 17 little Russian: Iii. Scherzo: Allegro Molto Vivace
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Franz Schubert (composer), Menuhin (artist), Heger (artist) - Franz Schubert: Rosamunde: Choeur Des Patres: Hier Auf Den Fluren Mit Rosigen Wangen
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Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra Of Moscow Radio (orchestra), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (composer), Vladimir Fedoseev (conductor) - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3 In D, Op. 29 polish: Iv. Scherzo: Allegro Vivo
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Sergey Rachmaninov (composer), Valery Polyansky (conductor), Russian State Symphony Orchestra (orchestra), Olga Lutsiv-ternovskaya (performer) - Rachmaninoff: Kolokola (the Bells), Op. 35: Ii. Lento
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Johannes Brahms (composer), Herbert Von Karajan (conductor), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (orchestra) - Symphony No.1 In C Minor, Op.68 - 3. Un Poco Allegretto E Grazioso
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  • The BBC Music Magazine Awards Archive | Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:12:06 +0000


    Access the BBC Music Magazine Awards archive here

  • The best recordings of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring | Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:00:00 +0000


    The best recording

    Junge Deutsche Philharmonie/Péter Eötvös
    BMC CD1118

    To perform The Rite of Spring with any degree of conviction or accuracy demands total dedication. Of the many recordings available, most of the leading versions can claim at least that.

    However, the score for The Rite is too eventful for any one record to capture everything that’s going on. To gain a pretty comprehensive understanding of what The Rite of Spring really does sound like, it’s worth trying one choice, living with it for sixth months or so and then having a change.

    That top choice, at least for the moment, is the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Péter Ëotvös. Right from the expressive bassoon playing at the outset, this recording has imagination, it charts the various climaxes with energy but never a hint of vulgarity, and Ëotvös avoids what Stravinsky labelled self-glorification… his is the thoughtful, guiding approach of a genuinely creative mind.

    Notice how he traces the architecture of the ‘Dance of the Earth’ that closes Part I, plus the dark ominous thumping of bassoons, timpani and basses in the passage immediately before it, as the sage blesses the earth – Ëotvös keeps the heat in while letting us hear virtually everything. There is also considerable sensitivity in the Pagan Night that opens Part II while, in the next episode where the young girls mark a circle where the glorified one will dance, the line is always kept mobile and fluid.

    Above all, though, Ëotvös never lets us forget that The Rite of Spring is a ballet – but with a difference: this is dirty dancing.



    Three more great recordings

    Kirov Orchestra/Valery Gergiev
    Philips 468 0352

    Valery Gergiev is the conductor to choose if it’s raw primitivism you’re after and blow the detail. There’s plenty of red mist, and at times you can almost smell the sweat and tribal greasepaint, but it’s also unkempt in places and not for all moods.



    City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle
    EMI 749 6362

    Conversely, go for Rattle if it’s detail you’re after and blow the raw primitivism. Very texture-sensitive and atmospheric, for sure, but occasionally also rather indulgent.



    Philharmonia/Igor Markevitch
    Testament SBT 1076

    Even after almost 50 years, Igor Markevitch and the Philharmonia orchestra hit the spot, burning from the inside and sounding genuinely live. The downside, though, is the recorded sound which is showing its age just a little.

  • Free Download: Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A played by the Carducci Quartet and Julian Bliss | Tue, 15 Jan 2019 10:00:00 +0000

    'The whole reading has a pleasing impulse, balance and bloom'

    This week's free download is the third movement from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A, K581. It is performed by the Carducci Quartet with clarinettist Julian Bliss and recorded for Signum Records. 

    This is Mozart's only completed clarinet quintet and was written for the clarinettist Anton Stadler, who Mozart also wrote his Clarinet Concerto for. It was written at the end of Mozart's life, in 1789.


    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

  • Increase in classical music streams and sales in 2018 | Mon, 14 Jan 2019 16:52:26 +0000


    Classical music consumption in 2018 increased by more than a tenth on the previous year, as stated by the BPI in new figures released this week. Sales and streams of classical music have grown by 10 per cent in the past year, outperforming the overall 5.7 per cent rise in UK music consumption as a whole.

    The rise in classical music consumption was primarily driven by a 6.9 per cent increase in the sales of CDs, which account for nearly 60 per cent of the UK’s classical music. Streaming now accounts for 25.2 per cent of classical music consumption, which is an increase on previous years but is still lagging behind other musical genres. The BPI has suggested that this could be as a result of the difficulties in search functions on streaming platforms.

    The combined sales of the top-30 albums increased by 69 per cent on 2017, showcasing the wide-reaching success of albums including Andrea Bocelli’s Si and In Harmony by Aled Jones and Russell Watson, which were the two best-selling classical recordings this year.



    Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s appearance at the Royal Wedding helped put classical music on a wider stage, with his debut album Inspiration reaching the top of the classical charts for 14 weeks.

    Ludovico Einaudi was the most popular classical artist on streaming platforms, accounting for 8.6 per cent of all classical music streams. This was closely followed by a handful of film music composers. 


  • The BBC Music Magazine Playlist | Mon, 14 Jan 2019 14:05:46 +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. 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)

  • Five essential works by Brahms | Sun, 13 Jan 2019 17:00:29 +0000


    Symphony No. 3

    Brahms’s finest symphony may not have the fireworks of, say, the Violin Concerto, but its subtle drama and dark atmosphere are magical.

    Recommended recording:
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
    DG 477 7159



    Ein Deutsches Requiem

    Brahms employs full symphony orchestra and chorus for this majestic setting of passages from the Lutheran bible written in response to his mother’s death.

    Recommended recording:
    Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Thomas Quasthoff (baritone), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Radio Choir/Simon Rattle
    EMI 365 3932



    Piano Concerto No. 2

    This deeply humane concerto was written just after the Symphony No. 3. The slow movement’s use of cello as a ‘second’ solo instrument was innovative.

    Recommended recording:
    Emil Gilels (piano), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugen Jochum
    DG 447 4462



    Intermezzi Op. 117

    Brahms was a supreme pianist and his solo piano music has extraordinary range and variety. His late Intermezzi, however, are stunningly written miniatures.

    Recommended recording:
    Nicholas Angelich (piano)
    Virgin 379 3022



    Violin Concerto

    Full of gypsy inflections and wild virtuosity, the Violin Concerto, written in 1879 for Joseph Joachim, is one of the most popular in the repertoire.

    Recommended recording:
    Nikolaj Znaider (violin), Vienna Philharmonic/Valery Gergiev
    RCA 88697103362


  • The best recordings of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony | Wed, 09 Jan 2019 10:00:00 +0000


    ‘The awakening of joyful feelings upon arriving in the countryside’ 


    Beethoven’s sub-title for the opening movement of his Sixth Symphony must have been far from the thoughts of those Viennese citizens who had braved the winter weather on 22 December 1808 to attend a mammoth all-Beethoven concert in the Theatre an der Wien. 

    His warmest symphony was first heard in joyless conditions as the theatre’s heating had broken down. Whereas the Fifth, also premiered that day, epitomises the defiant side of Beethoven’s personality, the Sixth is its antithesis, both an expression of his love of Nature and a hymn of thanksgiving. 

    Musical imitations of rural life include the drone of a bagpipe, a babbling brook, the unlikely trio of nightingale, quail and cuckoo, a rustic dance, a summer thunderstorm and the carolling of a shepherd’s pipe.



    The best recording 


    Otto Klemperer 
    Philharmonia Orchestra 1957
    EMI 567 9652

    Otto Klemperer’s radiant recording of the Pastoral Symphony may be over 50 years old, but once the taste for it has been acquired, it’s addictive. 

    Yes, it has its idiosyncrasies. Take, for instance, his view of the Scherzo – his insistence that it’s a Ländler, a heavy footed Austrian dance, is possibly inherited from his mentor Gustav Mahler, who it is documented conducted this movement at a similarly easy-going tempo. 

    Never intended as fleet-footed Arcadians, Beethoven’s merrymaking peasants, as portrayed by Klemperer, even more resemble those grotesques found in the paintings of Flemish artist Pieter Breughel. But Klemperer’s tempo for the Allegro ma non troppo first movement strikes one as ideal, measured but purposeful. 

    In the Andante, the water in the brook flows naturally and the birdsong cadenza shows off the Philharmonia’s woodwind trio to charming effect. Taken at a quickish tempo, the Shepherd’s Hymn is a real Ode to Joy, both euphoric and strong. 

    There is no noticeable slowing for the Coda, no nostalgic glancing back; the symphony’s spell is finally broken with a peremptory ‘Amen’ from full orchestra. Klemperer, as always, divides his violins left and right, opening up the texture, and the 1957 stereo recording sounds better than it has any right to. 



    Three more great recordings 


    Alexander Rudin
    Musica Viva Moscow (2010)
    Fuga Libera Fug564

    Until the 1980s, Beethoven symphony performance was largely the preserve of the standard symphony orchestra. Next up was period instrument performance, removing excess varnish but sometimes risking damage to original paintwork. 

    But now hear what the 25 players of Musica Viva Moscow – a chamber-sized orchestra playing on modern instruments – can do. Suffice to say, they are a class act. The opening chord is struck rather than gently insinuated: this Pastoral is unique in being kick-started. 

    In the Thunderstorm of the fourth movement, cellist conductor Alexander Rudin keeps his brass and timpani in check – thus delivering more of a summer shower than an elemental deluge. 

    Throughout, there are countless wayside details to stop and admire, making this live, imaginative and finely recorded Pastoral, complete with violins divided either side of the orchestra, a hugely enjoyable one. 



    Giovanni Antonini
    Basel Chamber Orchestra (2010)
    Sony 88697648162

    Should the Pastoral Symphony be thrilling? This one certainly is. The sound that this young chamber orchestra produces is dazzling. With fresh, incisive string tone, wonderfully bucolic horns in the Scherzo, vibrant woodwind (the ravishing oboe playing in particular is deserving of a special mention), Giovanni Antonini’s Pastoral is a joy from start to finish. 

    For those attuned to the Old School of Beethoven Conducting, exemplified by the likes of Bruno Walter or Karl Böhm, Antonini’s tempo for the first movement may sound merely breathless; however, in context and on repeated hearing, it makes perfect sense. 

    Even without antiphonal violins, this beautifully recorded disc must feature on any shortlist.



    Paavo Järvi
    Bremen Chamber Philharmonic (2009)

    RCA 8869754542

    Like Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Warner Classics, 1992), Paavo Järvi opts for a medium-size ensemble playing on modern instruments. Interpretatively, they are quite similar and both can be warmly recommended, but Järvi’s decision to divide his Bremen Chamber Philharmonic violins ultimately gets him my vote of the two. 

    In addition, he offers beautifully judged tempos, transparent orchestral textures and a real sense of engagement with the score. This Pastoral really does seem to be lit from within. 

    Järvi’s marvellously played and recorded account, free of any interpretative quirks, is true both to the letter and spirit of Beethoven – though, ultimately, no single recording can tell us absolutely everything about this inexhaustible score.



    And one to avoid

    Herbert von Karajan made several recordings of the Pastoral. The earliest and best was in mono with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the 1950s – a beautifully played, invigorating performance with plenty of fresh air in its lungs. 

    However, his 1970s digital re-make is a dull run-through with a jumbo-size Berlin Philharmonic machine on autopilot. If you crave a BPO Pastoral, it must be André Cluytens’s wonderful 1960 recording.


  • Five essential works by Bizet | Sun, 06 Jan 2019 17:00:00 +0000


    Symphony in C

    Composed by Bizet when aged 17 and only rediscovered in 1935. Light and almost Schubertian in style, the slow movement includes a haunting oboe lament.

    Recommended recording:
    Les Siècles/François Xavier Roth
    Mirare MIR 036




    Bizet wrote his songs in the days before they had been elevated to ‘high art’, but they are unfailingly charming and include such classics as the sultry ‘Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe’.

    Recommended recording:
    Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
    Hyperion CDA 66976



    Jeux d’enfants

    Best-known in its orchestral guise, the two piano version gives a more complete collection of these affectionate vignettes of children at play. Great fun.

    Recommended recording:
    Tamara Granat, Daniel Propper
    Dux 0739




    Bizet’s incidental music to Daudet’s stage play, The Girl From Arles, perfectly captures its Provence setting; his imaginative orchestration includes an early pre-jazz use of saxophone.

    Recommended recording:
    Choeur de l’Opéra de Lyon; Les Musiciens du Louvre, Grenoble/Marc Minkowski
    Naïve V 5130




    Easily Bizet’s single most famous work, his deft characterisation and the sheer tunefulness of his opera sounds as fresh as ever.

    Recommended recording:
    Grace Bumbry, Jon Vickers; Orchestre de Paris/Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
    Classics for Pleasure 367 6962


  • Which is your favourite piece by Franz Liszt? | Fri, 04 Jan 2019 16:03:54 +0000


    Lang Lang

    Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6

    My favourite piece to perform by Liszt is the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6. I started to play this piece at a very early age (around 10 years old) and it really helped me to build confidence at the keyboard.

    It helped me enormously with my technique, especially because of the famous octaves, and is a good way of teaching students how to play rubato (in the middle section).

    I think it is extremely important for young artists to learn these skills, particularly when performing Liszt. It taught me a key and invaluable lesson – how to make a difficult piece feel and sound easy. This work has stayed with me for years and even after all this time, I never ever tire of it.



    Stephen Hough

    Sonata in B minor

    Liszt’s B minor Sonata is, I think, one of the greatest works of the 19th century, and probably the one work in which he completely fulfilled the potential of his youth. It’s an exploration of human experience, a mountain, an ocean. And yet it’s interesting that Liszt, who gave poetic titles to most of his music, simply calls this one ‘Sonata’.

    The work holds together so well that giving it a title would perhaps have limited it. Anybody can press the keys of the piano and make it sound, but this piece is difficult because you need to keep the tension of the architecture.

    A performance of it has to have two things: it has to sound like you’re improvising, but also feel like every single bar is inevitable. I can only compare it to a great novel or play, in which everything is a surprise but when you look back at the end, everything seems to fit.



    Khatia Buniatishvili

    Mephisto Waltz No. 1

    I would say the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 has most inspired me as a pianist. People often think it’s just about virtuosity, but actually he tells a strong story. That’s difficult to do in a ten-minute piece, but Liszt does it here.

    Based on Lenau’s Faust, it’s set in the Dorfschenke, a village inn where there’s a wedding. Mephisto plays the violin – a waltz – while Faust starts to dance with Gretchen. It’s an emotional, rather than erotic, love story, though there’s also this dark Mephistophelian side. Of course the piece is difficult to play but for me it’s all about emotion and telling a story.

    s a pianist, Liszt took a lot of risks and in his music there are always huge jumps between registers. But you have to play Liszt without fear, and with total freedom. With Liszt the power doesn’t come from totally clean, planned playing but from the crazy and diabolic.



    Jean-Yves Thibaudet

    Deux Légendes

    In general, the image people have of Liszt is loud, fast, bombastic, virtuosic and pyrotechnical. There is a lot of that, it’s true, but he was a much deeper composer than that.

    The Deux Légendes (St François d’Assise: la prédication aux oiseaux and St François de Paule marchant sur les flots) show Liszt as a poet and are incredibly powerful spiritually, too. When you play them in concert, you find that there is something completely magical that happens every time.

    For me, St François d’Assise is like time is completely stopping – plus you have all those incredibly beautifully written birdsongs and the trills and tremolos: very difficult to render, but incredibly touching and moving, and inspiring to play. St François de Paule is also very intense and very powerful.

    It also shows the orchestral side of Liszt on the piano – he had a mastery of transcribing the orchestra to the piano and you really find that here.



    Marc-André Hamelin

    Sonata in B minor

    I’d have to say the B minor Sonata has most inspired me, because it’s Liszt’s towering achievement, in any form. He broke so much ground with this piece; it’s a fantastic piece of architecture and the ideas have such quality and depth.

    There’s been so much debate as to whether it’s one, three or four movements, yet it’s incredibly cohesive. It seems, well, the best word I can come up with is ‘inevitable’. I like to think that, in a good performance, the listener should be aware, at least instinctively, of how long the piece will last and what’s likely to be said or expressed. It’s very much like telling a story.

    Some pianists, unfortunately, seem to treat it as a virtuoso vehicle first and foremost. Some listeners, too, I think. But to me thinking of it like that is like tearing a page off a Gutenberg Bible and using it to wrap carrot peelings.



    Martin Roscoe

    Sonata in B minor

    The B minor Sonata is Liszt’s most complete work for piano. You sometimes feel in other pieces that – inspired though they might be – there are slightly weaker passages or extraneous notes that don’t fulfil a genuine musical purpose, but no one could ever say that about the Sonata.

    As a player, it offers huge challenges: at almost 30 minutes without a break, there’s a lot of stamina needed; you have to try to keep an overview of the whole piece so you don’t lose its shape or narrative; and, of course, you have to display a spectrum of emotions that ranges from the spiritual to the demonic.

    It’s a work I’ve played for almost the length of my career. Recently, I played it at my own festival, and felt it was one of my best performances. It was great to know that, at 58, I can still play that piece!



    Louis Lortie

    Années de pèlerinage

    I’ve been studying and playing the Années de pèlerinage a lot this year. From the Troisième Année, the ‘Jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este’ has struck me as being so incredibly adventurous. This piece really heralded 20th-century pianism – all the pianistic ideas of Ravel, Debussy and Messiaen are already present here.

    The fluidity of the pianistic style of it didn’t exist before, and it also must have sounded almost shocking at the time as it has so little feeling of functional harmony. It is tonal, but even the relationships between dominant and tonic are blurred. Liszt loves to add so many tones – an added sixth, a seventh, a ninth – to the chords so they always sound suspended, which is one of the tricks of Impressionism.

    Technically it is challenging due to the fact that you have to barely touch the keys – on a modern piano it’s really difficult to get the fluidity and transparency that you want in all the tremolandos that accompany the main theme. It’s such a wonderful piece, though. I’m always in awe of it when I play it.


    Leslie Howard


    It’s an easy choice: Liszt’s oratorio Christus is simply the best piece of music he wrote. I get inspired as a musician, and then play the piano. Fortunately, though, he did arrange four numbers from it for solo piano, and I’ve been lucky enough to conduct the whole thing. I think it’s far and away the best Romantic oratorio, and it’s criminal that it’s little known here.

    Wagner went to the first performance, and he stole bits of it for Parsifal – he also used bits of Liszt’s The Bells of Strasbourg Cathedral. If I had to pick one inspirational piece from Christus as far as the piano goes, it’s the ‘March of the Three Holy Kings’.

    It’s kind of a symphonic poem in itself and the piano version is beautifully done. When Liszt does piano versions of orchestral pieces, like his Beethoven Symphony arrangements, he manages to get the spirit and sound absolutely right.



    A guide to Franz Liszt

    Review: Liszt Sonata in B Minor (Hamelin)

    Review: Liszt Piano Works (Hough)

  • Films with live orchestras: Our 2019 performance guide | Thu, 03 Jan 2019 11:19:27 +0000


    Following on from the successes of 2018’s live orchestral film screenings, we’ve compiled a list of the film, silent film and television performances of 2019, and where to find them. There’s sure to be something to suit everyone!



    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/ Dirk Brossé

    19th January- Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


    Get Out

    19th February- Bridgewater Hall, Manchester



    2nd April- Liverpool Echo Arena

    3rd April- Manchester Arena

    4th April- First Direct Arena, Leeds

    5th April- The SSE Hydro, Glasgow



    Back to the Future

    Czech National Symphony Orchestra/ Ben Palmer

    13th April- London’s Royal Festival Hall

    16th April- Symphony Hall, Birmingham

    17th April- Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

    18th April- Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

    19th April- Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

    21st April- Sage, Gateshead

    25th April- The Anvil, Basingstoke


    Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Neil Thompson

    24th May- Usher Hall, Edinburgh

    25th May- Glasgow Royal Concert Hall


    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    24th April- Bristol Hippodrome



    Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels- Featuring The Wrong Trousers

    The Picture House Orchestra

    16th May- Buxton Opera House

    17th May- Blackpool Pleasure Beach

    18th May- Blackpool Pleasure Beach

    19th May- Sheffield City Hall

    20th May- Victoria Hall, Stoke

    23rd May- De Montfort Hall, Leicester

    25th May- Liverpool Echo Arena

    26th May- Manchester Lowry

    27th May- London Barbican Hall

    29th May- Birmingham Symphony Hall

    31st May- The Forum, Bath

    1st June- St. David’s Hall, Cardiff

    2nd June- The Hexagon, Reading

    6th June- Sage, Gateshead

    8th June- Usher Hall, Edinburgh

    9th June- Glasgow Royal Concert Hall



    Silent film with live orchestra



    Philharmonia Orchestra/ Esa-Pekka Salonen

    13th June- Royal Festival Hall, London


    Television series with live orchestra


    Blue Planet II

    City of Prague Orchestra/ Matthew Freeman

    13th March- International Centre, Bournemouth

    14th March- Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

    15th March- Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham

    16th March- Genting Arena, Birmingham

    17th March- The O2 Arena, London

    19th March- First Direct Arena, Leeds

    20th March- Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

    21st March- The SSE Hydro, Glasgow

    23rd March- SSE Arena, Belfast

    24th March- 3Arena, Dublin

    26th March- Liverpool Echo Arena

    27th March- Manchester Arena

    28th March- FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield

    Click here to find out more about this concert tour

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