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  • BBC Proms announces the launch of BBC Proms Japan

    classical-music.com | Tue, 18 Dec 2018 10:46:15 +0000

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    The BBC Proms has announced that it will be adding Japan to its growing list of international tours, following Australia in 2016 and Dubai in 2017.

    Thomas Dausgaard will lead the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in concerts across the six-day festival in Tokyo and Osaka, in the orchestra’s first trip to Japan.

    As with BBC Proms Australia and Dubai, the festival will feature the traditional elements of the BBC Proms, including the First and Last Nights. The concerts will be recorded by BBC Radio 3 for BBC Sounds.

    The full programme will be announced in early 2019.

    ‘We are delighted to both be making our first trip to Japan in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s history and to represent the BBC Proms while we are there,’ says Dominic Parker, director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. ‘This tour comes at a time when the world will be focusing on the build-up to 2020 in Tokyo.’

  • 100 Years of King's Carols: A new BBC documentary

    classical-music.com | Tue, 18 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

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    For the first time, cameras have been allowed access to the Choir of King's College, Cambridge's annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. To celebrate ther service's 100th anniversary, BBC Two will be following the choir's rehearsal process and the preparations for the big day.

    The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols began 100 years ago in the wake of the First World War, as a reaction to the horrors of war and the need to unite the community in faith. 

    The BBC Two programme will be shown on 21 December at 7pm.

    This year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day on Radio 3 (with full organ voluntaries).

    Read more about the centenary of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in the Christmas 2018 issue of BBC Music Magazine.

     

    Stills from the documentary can be seen below:

     

     

     

  • Free Download: Quatuor Debussy performs a Debussy Prélude

    classical-music.com | Tue, 18 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

    'Tinged with jazz inflections'

    This week's free download is an arrangement of Debussy's Minstrels, one of his Préludes, performed by Quatuor Debussy and recorded on the Harmonia Mundi label. It was awarded four stars in the December issue of BBC Music Magazine. 

    DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

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

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

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

    read more

  • When are the 2019 BBC Proms?

    classical-music.com | Mon, 17 Dec 2018 14:33:20 +0000

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    The 2019 BBC Proms will run from Friday 19 July to Saturday 14 September.

    The details of all the 2019 BBC Proms will be available from Wednesday 17 April 2019.

    There will be two Proms with CBeebies on Sunday 21 and Monday 22 July. 

     

    This page will be updated with any news on the 2019 Proms when it becomes available.

  • The BBC Music Magazine Playlist

    classical-music.com | Mon, 17 Dec 2018 12:14:09 +0000

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    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 every playlist are featured below.

    Vol. 4

    Monday 17 December 2018

    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

    Monday 3 December 2018

    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:

    Monday 26 November 2018

    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: 

    Monday 19 November 2018

    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)

     

  • Download the score of our exclusive Christmas carol by composer Dobrinka Tabakova

    classical-music.com | Mon, 17 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

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    Every Christmas, we invite a leading composer to write a carol for our readers.

    This year's is written by composer Dobrinka Tabakova and you can download the score for the carol here

    We hope you'll include this carol in your service or concert. We'd love to hear your performances, so send any audio or video files or links to music@classical-music.com and we'll share them with our followers and readers on our website and social feeds. 

     

     

    A few words from composer Dobrinka Tabakova...

    When I was invited to write a carol for BBC Music Magazine, I had just completed one for the Truro Cathedral Nine Lessons and Carols service and had a previous advent work close to mind – my Alma Redemptoris Mater for the choir of Merton College, Oxford.

    Both of these works were conceived to be performed in a sacred context. In this new carol, I still wanted to retain some liturgical mystery, but add another, more playful element.

    While researching texts for the Truro carol, I came across Ralph Dunstan’s collection The Cornish Songbook and was drawn to one of the carols there: Heavenly sound.

    As well as the upbeat good wishes, it was probably the ‘Hark, hark’ which adds a percussive punctuation and lifts the words, and gave me the idea of a (gentle) clapping counterpoint.

    The image I had for the performance of my carol was more social – a Christmas sing-along at home or, perhaps, a slightly eccentric group of enthusiastic amateurs singing from smart-phones in a pub (I know a few of those).

    The general mood is that of a contemporary round. The words dictated the rhythm of the carol, which I initially wrote in a stream of changing time signatures.

    The ‘look’ of the carol didn’t quite sit with the more laid-back image I had of people singing it, so I thought either to dispense with bar lines or simply not have time signatures and leave the bar lines to give some structure to the melodies.

     

     

    Performance Notes

    One of the things I’ve noticed when people are faced with a page of different time signatures is that they make the music quite spiky and bouncy. That is not my intention here, and I hope that the lack of time signatures will put emphasis on phrasing rather than rhythm.

    In some places the melodies are quite long, so there will need to be stagger breathing – where each singer from the same line takes a breath at different times, creating the illusion that they are all singing one continuous melody with no break. Those places are marked with a broken slur where a natural breath would be taken.

    The clapping is also not compulsory – in fact it would be better to just have some singers clap – and it’s always the same pattern, which would ideally be learned by heart.

    The section from bar 77 (‘Let mortals catch…’) has a very low alto line, which may be welcomed by some, but it’s fine to have those who find it too low to sing the soprano line and add tenors to the alto line.

    I do hope my carol brings you joy. As much as the title ‘Good-will to men and peace on Earth’ may be a nod to past seasonal tunes, I couldn’t think of a better wish now and for the future.

  • Five essential works by Beethoven

    classical-music.com | Sun, 16 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

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    Symphony No. 5

    The opening four notes of Beethoven’s groundbreaking work are perhaps the most famous in music history. It’s a work of grand dimensions and limitless colour.

    Recommended recording:
    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlos Kleiber
    DG 471 6302

     

     

    Symphony No. 9

    Beethoven takes the listener from dark solemnity to the heights of exaltation. The finale setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy builds to an explosive climax.

    Recommended recording:
    Tomowa-Sintow, Baltsa, Schreier, Van Dam, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karajan DG 477 6325

     

     

    Piano Sonata No. 29 (Hammerklavier)

    Deemed unplayable when it was first published, Beethoven’s most technically difficult sonata covers more emotional ground than any of the other 31.

    Recommended recording:
    Stephen Kovacevich (piano)
    EMI Classics 965 9222

     

     

    Violin Concerto

    A serene, peaceful concerto that embraces a soaring first-movement theme and a rather mischievous, playful finale.

    Recommended recording:
    Hilary Hahn (violin), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Zinman
    Sony Classical SK 60584

     

     

    Piano Concerto No. 4

    The heart and soul of Beethoven’s astonishing five piano concertos with its expansive, stately first movement and an exuberant, joyful Rondo finale.

    Recommended recording:
    Till Fellner (piano), Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano
    ECM 476 3315

  • The best pieces of festive classical music

    classical-music.com | Sat, 15 Dec 2018 10:00:48 +0000

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    It’s officially the festive season, so we’re all finally permitted to don our finest reindeer jumpers, have mugs of mulled wine thrust upon us on entry into any room, and generally indulge in all things rich and fruity (that counts for food and music in equal measures).

    To coincide with our Christmas playlist on Apple Music (available here), the BBC Music Magazine team have chosen their favourite seasonal pieces. 

     

    ‘Troika’ from Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Prokofiev

    ‘Troika’ from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite conjures up a crisp, bell-filled wintry scene and fits this time of year perfectly. After a grand brass introduction, the famous fourth movement ‘Troika’ breezes along, creating the impression of a fast-moving sleigh. The music was written for a Soviet film in 1933 – when Prokofiev returned to his homeland after a ten-year residency in Paris – and charts the life of a fictional military officer. 

    Recommended recording: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Litton BIS BIS1994

     

     

    Tomorrow shall be my dancing day by John Gardner

    There seems to be a dearth of cheery Christmas choral works – most tend to be reflective rather than joyful (think Warlock, Howells, Michael Head, etc etc). But John Gardner’s sprightly two-minute burst of joy is inspired, its off-set rhythms and constantly changing time-signatures giving a wonderful sense of forward movement. Gardner, born in 1917, was a prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal and instrumental music, but it’s for this delightful Christmas miniature that he’s almost solely known today.

    Recommended recording: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers CORO COR16004

     

     

    ‘Hail Mary, Gracious!’ from El Niño by John Adams

    Adams’s nativity oratorio is one of the more unusual retellings of the Christmas story. The text is drawn from various biblical sources as well as a number of poems written by Latin American women, and the musical language is littered with inflections of Latin American folk music. Its theatrical writing is John Adams to a T, and the floating harmonies and unusual rhythms in this movement are warm and otherworldly. The trio of countertenors make this movement completely magical.

    Recommended recording: Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson, Dawn Upshaw, Willard White, German Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano Nonesuch 7559 79634-2

     

     

    A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten, particularly Interlude (Harp Solo)

    Amid all the choral hurly-burly of Britten’s wonderfully invigorating A Ceremony of Carols comes the moment of extraordinary stillness that is the Interlude for solo harp. Based on the plainchant that we hear at the beginning of the work, this is music that reminds me of a frozen, deserted landscape, in which the only movement is the occasional drip from a slowly melting icicle. It’s extraordinarily atmospheric, and an essential part of my festive listening each year.

    Recommended recording: James O’Donnell (organ), Sioned Williams (harp), Choir of Westminster Cathedral/David Hyperion CDA66220

     

     

    O come, O come Emmanuel

    If I haven't heard or sung O come, O come Emmanuel at least once over Christmas, even an extra mince pie won't stop me feeling short-changed on the festive front. This haunting hymn for Advent and Christmas has an ancient quality that I love. The text and tune developed separately through the centuries, and various versions exist, but the familiar words-and-music combination in English came into being in 1851. Rejoice, Rejoice!

    Recommended recording: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Sir David Willcocks Warner Classics 9992365032

     

  • Nine unexpected uses of Tchaikovsky's 'The Nutcracker'

    classical-music.com | Fri, 14 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

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    Fantasia (1940)

    As well as mop-wielding Mickey Mouse, Disney’s feature-length cartoon has a gorgeously animated section devoted to The Nutcracker, including music from the Sugar-Plum Fairy, the Arabian Dance, the Russian Trepak and the Waltz of the Flowers. 

     

     

    Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)

    Further cinematic Nutcracker delights, as a computer-animated Barbie embarks on a ballet adventure. It is, needless to say, all very pink, though our heroine does dance a neat little Sugar-Plum Fairy routine.

     

     

    The Simpsons Christmas Stories (2005)

    ‘I hope I never hear that God-awful Nutcracker music again,’ complains a typically grumpy Homer Simpson. And guess what comes next? Yup, the Simpsons cast sings a Christmas medley to the tune of the Act I March.

     

     

    Duke Ellington’s The Nutcracker Suite (1960)

    Few musicians have fused the worlds of classical and jazz as sublimely as The Duke, whose 1960 take on Tchaikovsky comes complete with natty titles such as ‘Sugar Rum Cherry’ and ‘Toot Toot Tootie Toot’.

     

     

    Nut Rocker (1962)

    Two years after Duke Ellington, American rockers B. Bumble & the Stingers were inspired to create their own high-octane arrangement of The Nutcracker’s March, a version that’s been covered by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, among others.  

     

     

    Nutcracker (1982)

    Joan Collins is in quintessentially sassy form in this splendidly awful British film about a Russian ballerina defecting to the west. Finola Hughes is the dancer in question.

     

     

    Cadbury's Fruit & Nut Advert (1976 etc)

    From Frank Muir pootling around in a punt in 1976 to a 1980s office worker being serenaded by a singing chocolate bar and her hunky-chunky almonds, Cadbury’s brilliant ad campaign had us all singing ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nut case’ to the Dance of the Reed Pipes.

     

     

    Tetris (1989)

    Block-dropping fun galore, as the Nintendo Gameboy version of this ultra-popular game was accompanied by The Nutcracker’s 'Trepak'.

     

     

    Hospital For Overacting (1970)

    Here’s one for sharp-eyed Nutcracker spotters, courtesy of Monty Python’s 1970 sketch. As Graham Chapman enters the Richard III Ward at the Royal Hospital for Overacting, a group of King Mice pass in the other direction.

  • Five of the best modern Christmas carols

    classical-music.com | Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:00:00 +0000

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    Listen to the playlist here.

     

    1. Bob Chilcott: The shepherd’s carol (2000)

    This was written for The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge to a lovely anonymous modern text – the author should step up and take credit. Chilcott’s music, of magical stillness and simplicity, brings a tear to the eye every time.

     

     

    2. Morten Lauridsen: O magnum mysterium (1994)

    Lauridsen’s first and maybe best essay in ‘sacred loveliness’ is one of few modern Christmas motets that don’t lose themselves in over-complexity.

     

     

    3. Arvo Pärt: Bogoróditse dyévo (1990)

    This is an Ave Maria setting of quirky jollity and excitement, unexpected from a composer generally associated with measured, sparse solemnity. It’s almost an Estonian ‘Jingle Bells’.

     

     

    4. John Tavener: Ex maria virgine (2005)

    Any of the ten movements of this Christmas choral cycle would be worth including. John Tavener deserves to be recognised as the heir to Warlock and Britten as master of the English carol.

     

     

    5. John David/Philip Lawson: Born on a new day (2000)

    This simple, touching carol came into being when King’s Singer Philip Lawson wrote a Christmas text to John David’s 1990 song ‘You are the new day’. With Peter Knight’s perfect choral arrangement, a new Christmas classic was born.

     

    John Rutter (2008)

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