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1h. 13min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Frank Wakelkamp (Cello), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 9-12, & Wo0 5-8; Sonate A Quattro, Wo0 4 - Corelli: Sonat
2h. 42min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 1-8 - Corelli: Sonata No. 5 In B Flat, Op. 2
4h. 12min. atrás
Purcell Quartet - Corelli: Sonatas For Strings, Vol. 3 - Corelli: Sonata A 3 In B Minor, Op. 3, No. 4: Ii. Vivace, Iii. Adagio, Iv. Presto
5h. 44min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Mike Fentross (Guitar, Theorbo), Jaap Ter Linden (Cello) - Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op. 5, Nos. 7-11; Follia - Corelli: Sonata, Op. 5 No. 10 In F
7h. 15min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Organ), Albert Bruggen (Cello), Mike Fentoss (Theorbo), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1 - Corelli: Sonata No. 4 In A Minor, Op. 1
8h. 52min. atrás
Purcell Quartet - Corelli: Sonatas For Strings, Vol. 3 - Corelli: Sonata A 3 In G Major, Op. 3, No. 6: I. Vivace, Ii. Grave, Iii. Allegro
10h. 22min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Mike Fentross (Theorbo), Jaap Ter Linder (Cello) - Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op. 5, Nos. 1-6 - Corelli: Sonata, Op. 5 No. 5 In G Minor
11h. 53min. atrás
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13h. 23min. atrás
William Wroth (Trumpet), Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Frank Wakelkamp (Cello), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 9-12, & Wo0 5-8; Sonate A Quattr
14h. 53min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Frank Wakelkamp (Cello), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 9-12, & Wo0 5-8; Sonate A Quattro, Wo0 4 - Corelli: Sonat
16h. 24min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Frank Wakelkamp (Cello), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 2, Nos. 9-12, & Wo0 5-8; Sonate A Quattro, Wo0 4 - Corelli: Sonat
17h. 55min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Organ), Albert Bruggen (Cello), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 3, Nos. 1-9 - Corelli: Sonata No. 9 In F Minor, Op. 3
19h. 29min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Organ), Albert Bruggen (Cello), Mike Fentoss (Theorbo), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 1 - Corelli: Sonata No. 8 In C Minor, Op. 1
21h. 10min. atrás
Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder (Conductor, Harpsichord) - Corelli: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 - Corelli: Concerto, Op. 6 No. 7 In D
22h. 39min. atrás
Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder (Conductor, Harpsichord) - Corelli: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6, Nos. 8-12; Sinfonia, Wo0 1; Sonata A Quattro Wo0 2 - Corelli: Concerto, Op. 6 No. 9 In F
1d. 10min. atrás
Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder (Conductor, Harpsichord) - Corelli: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 - Corelli: Concerto, Op. 6 No. 5 In B-Flat
1d. 1h. 40min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpishord, Organ), Albert Bruggen (Cello), Mike Fentross (Theorbo), Frank Wakelkamp (Cello), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 4, Nos. 7-12, & Wo0 9-10 - Corelli: Sonata No. 8 In D Minor, Op
1d. 3h. 12min. atrás
Purcell Quartet - Corelli: Sonatas For Strings Vol. 1 (From Opp. 1 & 2) - Corelli: Sonate Da Camera A 3 In B Flat Major, Op. 2, No. 5: I. Preludio: Adagio, Ii. Allemande: Allegro, Iii Sarabande: Adagio
1d. 4h. 41min. atrás
Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder (Conductor, Harpsichord) - Corelli: Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 - Corelli: Concerto, Op. 6 No. 4 In D
1d. 6h. 11min. atrás
Remy Baudet (Violin), Pieter-Jan Belder (Harpsichord, Organ), Albert Bruggen (Cello), Mike Fentross (Theorbo), David Van Ooijen (Archlute), Sayuri Yamagata (Violin) - Corelli: Trio Sonatas, Op. 3, Nos. 10-12, & Op. 4, Nos. 1-6 - Corelli: Sonata No. 1 I
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  • A guide to Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg | Sun, 20 Oct 2019 09:00:42 +0000



    Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

    Composed: 1862-7
    Premiered: 21 June 1868, Munich

    In 16th-century Nuremberg, the goldsmith Pogner causes a stir by announcing that he is to hold a song contest with the hand of his daughter, Eva, as first prize. Walther, a young knight who is in love with Eva, decides to take part, despite not belonging to the town’s guild of mastersingers.

    His effort is ruled out on technical grounds by Beckmesser, who also has his eye on Eva. Beckmesser’s own song gets sabotaged by Hans Sachs, the most famous mastersinger of all, who then helps Walther to win the contest.



    With three unperformed and immense operas on his desk, Wagner decided, in the early 1860s, to write a comedy, a compact work which would immediately earn him some desperately needed cash. Although the end of his political ban had at last seen him move back to Germany, times had otherwise been hard and his financial situation perilous.

    Scarcely had he begun Die Meistersinger, though, his fortunes took a considerable upturn with the succession of Ludwig II to the throne of Bavaria – a major champion of his music, Ludwig also paid off Wagner’s debts at a stroke.

    And so, in 1867, emerged the longest score that had ever been published, a work which lasts four and a half hours. People are often surprised that Wagner wrote – could write – a comedy, but they ignore how much humour, usually sly, there is in most of his other works.



    Anyway, Die Meistersinger is not primarily a comedy. It concerns, once more, the relationship that might or can exist between an unusually demanding individual and the community of which he wants to become a part – so long as it accepts him for what he is. That gives Wagner the chance to celebrate the great German tradition of music from Bach through to Beethoven: there is ceaseless counterpoint and a general delight in musical showing-off in Die Meistersinger.



    The opera really has two heroes: the impetuous headstrong young knight Walther von Stolzing, who arrives in Nuremberg and upsets the Masters who legislate the rules of composition; and Hans Sachs, himself a Master, but the only one who realises that tradition needs constantly to be renewed if it is not to grow stale, so that the individual genius can make his fellows aware of fresh possibilities.

    Wagner’s plot – a brilliant one, and wholly of his own devising – plays this contrast out in terms of a song competition, with the heroine Eva’s hand as the prize. She is loved, or at least wanted, by Sachs, who has known her all her life; by Walther, who naturally fell in love with her at first sight; and by Beckmesser, the archetype of all pedants, who wants to woo her with a song which conforms to all the strictest rules. It is given to the townspeople of Nuremberg to adjudicate the winner, and it comes as no surprise that they pick Walther.  



    That is the surface of Die Meistersinger. Beneath that, in Sachs’s great monologue in Act III, we learn that the whole thing, the whole world, is illusion, and that the most we can settle for is choosing consoling illusions, such as love, over wretched ones. So Die Meistersinger, like all the greatest comedies, conceals a depressing view of things beneath laughter and celebration, all set to the most glorious music.


  • A guide to the music of Downton Abbey | Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:15:12 +0000


    We all know it. Accompanied by spasmodic strings and the occasional contrasting legato from a violin, a minimalistic tune made of just a few notes on the piano conjures up a nostalgic atmosphere. It’s the theme of ITV’s Downton Abbey.

    Written by Scottish composer John Lunn, this simple melody appears in all six seasons of the acclaimed series and also sets the tone in screenwriter Julian Fellowes’s full feature film. Alongside the original theme, Lunn incorporates elements of popular 1920s styles like upbeat jazz arrangements and contrasting waltz motifs, fitting the film’s setting in autumn 1927.

    When asked about his musical plans for the film, Lunn commented, ‘At first it was like discovering a long-lost friend, but gradually I realised that we’d never really been apart; by the end it was just such a joy to revisit this material and have the opportunity to take it to a whole new level.’




    The original music for the series earned Lunn two Primetime Emmy Awards (in 2012 and 2013) and an Emmy nomination in 2014, and two BAFTA nominations (2012 and 2016).

    In 2015, an album entitled ‘Downton Abbey - the ultimate collection’ was released, with the Chamber Orchestra of London playing Lunn’s score.



    Born in 1956, Lunn started his musical career as a member of the 80s systems music band Man Jumping. The seven-man band toured Britain and experienced relative success until splitting three years after its formation. 

    Lunn has since encountered more long-lasting success in the business of film and TV composition. Besides working as a music consultant for the 1994 cult romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, he scored BBC One’s murder mystery Shetland as well as The Last Kingdom.

    The composer has been particularly prolific in the field of period drama, with the music of the BBC’s reworks of Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2013), Little Dorrit (2008), nominated both for the BAFTA and the Emmy awards, and Bleak House (2006) all under his name.


  • Fifteen of the best Romantic composers | Fri, 18 Oct 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    The Romantic era was a time where composers embraced virtuosity and expression. Many composers during this era tackled themes such as nature, the supernatural and the sublime through ever-expanding forms, taking inspiration from art and literature. Let's take a look at 15 of the best composers from this era and their works.


    1. Clara Schumann

    Clara Schumann was a gifted composer at a time where the profession was highly male-dominated. Her career began as a child prodigy pianist, taught by her father Friedrich Wieck who insisted on spending time teaching her harmony and counterpoint so she could go on to perform her own works.

    Her talent earnt her a prestigious place at the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. Undoubtedly her marriage to Robert Schumann influenced her music. The couple were known for sharing musical ideas with each other, and their close friend Johannes Brahms


    Best works:

    Three Romances for Violin and Piano, 1853
    A display of sophisticated lyrical lines and daring complexity. 



    Piano Concerto, 1836
    This concerto was written when she was only 16. The bold first movement demonstrates her original voice.




    2. Franz Schubert 

    Schubert wrote over 600 songs in total, and was at the forefront of the Romantic Lieder tradition. He is also known for his thrilling orchestral and chamber works. Schubert had a gift for shaping a melody and creating beautiful themes. 


    Best works:

    Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’, 1822:
    The first phrase comes from the cellos and basses playing low in register and pianissimo. After a few bars, agitated shimmering strings enter alongside a more lyrical oboe and clarinet line. This dark introverted opening is unlike other symphonies of the time which often open with a bold statement.



    Gretchen am Spinnrade, 1814: 
    This song depicts a girl, Gretchen, spinning yarn and worrying about her feelings for her new lover, Faust. The right hand of the piano accompaniment is busy yet flowing, capturing the spinning wheel but also Gretchen’s agitation. Above floats a fluid vocal melody. 



    3. Richard Wagner 

    Wagner was a revolutionary operatic composer. He worked according to his theory that music, poetry and drama are inseparable. He used Leitmotifs throughout his music. Leitmotifs are musical phrases that represent specific characters so listeners can identify physical action in the music.



    Best works:

    De Ring de Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), 1876:
    An epic story of a magic ring spread across four full-length operas.

    WagnerThe Ring Cycle: Ride of the Valkyries



    Tristan und Isolde, 1865: 
    Based on a greek tragedy of two lovers, Isolde and Tristan mistakenly drink the elixir of love instead of death. This causes the pair huge trouble as Isolde is engaged to marry the King. 

    Wagner Tristan und Isolde, Prelude




    4. Johannes Brahms

    Brahms followed the principles of form and counterpoint that were familiar to composers of the Classical era. The spirit of his music is, however, much more Romantic. At times his music is intensely dark, and notoriously difficult to play.


    Best works:

    Violin Concerto, 1879: 
    This extremely virtuosic concerto, full of gypsy inflections, was written for violinist Joseph Joachim. Joachim advised Brahms while he composed the concerto, as Brahms had no experience of playing the violin. 

    Brahms Violin Concerto, 1st movement



    Ein Deutsches Requiem, 1868: 
    Written in response to his mother’s death, a full symphony orchestra plays with this setting of passages from the Lutheran bible. 

    Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem, 1st Movement 'Selig Sind'




    5. Giacomo Puccini

    Italian composer Puccini made his mark on opera. His music is effortlessly lyrical, influenced by Wagner and Verdi, and sharing similarities with more contemporary composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky


    Best works:

    La Bohème, 1895: 
    The tragic opera tells the story of a young poet who falls in love with a seamstress, but obstacles of poverty and illness get in their way.

    Puccini La Bohème, Musetta's Waltz



    Madam Butterfly, 1904:
    A story of unrequited love. The emotional score of Madam Butterfly reflects the heart breaking story of a young Japanese girl Cio-Cio San. 

    Puccini Madame Butterfly, Un bel di vedremo



    6. Hector Berlioz

    Berlioz’s music is often technically difficult. His use of harmony was seen at the time as unconventional. He treated harmony as a tool for expression rather than function. Other stylistic qualities are his use of irregular rhythms and long melodies, while still being clearly influenced by the Classical period. 


    Best works:

    Symphonie fantastique1830:
    Considered the first tone poem, the work's main theme is notably long, running for 30 bars. A tone poem is an orchestral form that was born in the Romantic era. It is a composition which is based around a story or programme, which the title usually alludes to.  

    Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, 4th Movement: 'March to the Scaffold'



    Les Nuits d’été, 1834-40:
    A song cycle set to the poetry of Gautier. Originally written for baritone and piano, it has also been arranged for soprano and orchestra. 

    Berlioz, Les nuits d'été, 'Le Spectre de la Rose'



    7. Antonin Dvořák

    Czech composer Dvořák was experimental in his early compositions. As his primary job was as a viola player, he did not rely on these works for an income. His style became more Classical as he became influenced by the works of Liszt and Brahms. His music from the mid 1870s has a more nationalistic feel, as heard in his Slavonic Dances


    Best Works:

    String Quartet in E minor, 1868-1869:
    The height of his experimental phase, this string quartet pushes Romantic tonality to its limits. 



    Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’, 1892-95:
    This symphony contains a range of memorable themes, hugely popular with audiences. Dvořák wrote this after taking the position as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York in 1892. The work incorporates influences from American music and culture. 

    Dvorak Symphony No. 9, 2nd Movement



    8. Jean Sibelius 

    When studying literature, the Finnish composer discovered Kalevala, a mythological epic about Finland. This influenced his composing as many of his tone poems are inspired by it, including the Lemminkäinen Suite. Sibelius’s music became very popular in Europe, and he received a salary from the government to allow him to live comfortably and keep composing. 


    Best works: 

    Violin Concerto, 1904:
    This work was one Sibelius wanted to play as he was a violinist himself. Sadly, he didn’t posess the technical ability to play it. 

    Sibelius Violin Concerto, 1st Movement



    Finlandia, 1899:
    A nationalistic tone poem calling for Russia to allow Finland to remain independent. Today, the piece is regarded as the country’s unofficial national anthem. 




    9. Felix Mendelssohn 

    Felix Mendelssohn was the most talented child prodigy of all time. At fifteen his teacher claimed Mendelssohn’s talents were equal to those of Bach, Haydn and Mozart. His music incorporates the elegance and balance of the Classical era, while still evoking the fantasy of the Romantic.


    Best Works:

    Piano Concerto No. 1, 1831: 
    The concerto was inspired by Mendelssohn’s trip to Italy (1830-31). The premiere of the work was a triumph, with Mendelssohn playing the piano himself. 



    Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, 1826:
    The music was written to accompany Shakespeare’s play, and its overture quickly became popular across Europe.




    10. Fanny Mendelssohn

    Fanny Mendelssohn was the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn. Despite often being overlooked, she composed around 500 brilliant works. As a woman, she was not encouraged to pursue music as a career in the way her brother was, so did not get the same opportunities of travelling and education. Nevertheless, her music contains the complex virtuosity exhibited by her male contemporaries. Her work is light and poised in character. 


    Best works:

    String Quartet, 1834: 
    The quartet begins with short phrases being passed around between players creating an echoing effect. The second movement is the most lively and shows baroque influences. The final movement is the most moving of the three. 



    Overture in C: 
    Fanny Mendelssohn's only orchestral work displays her characteristic gracefulness alongside virtuosic string parts. 




    11. Gustav Mahler 

    Mahler is best known for his nine complete symphonies. His contemporaries did not have a high opinion of him, accusing him of being morbid, self-indulgent and derivative. But Mahler is actually a synthesiser of music. He brings together folk music, military marches, waltzes, chorales and Lieder. 


    Best Works:

    Symphony No. 2, 1888-94: 
    The symphony tells the story of life. It is huge in scale - an hour and a half long. It is written for symphony orchestra, two vocal soloists and a chorus. 

    Mahler Symphony No. 2, 1st Movement



    Symphony No. 9, 1909:
    This was Mahler’s last completed symphony. It expresses complicated feelings of someone nearing the end of their life, and is particularly poignant as Mahler himself died soon after composing it. 

    Mahler Symphony No. 9, 4th Movement



    12. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky

    The Russian composer is known for his rich orchestration and tuneful melodies. He was hugely prolific, writing 7 symphonies, 11 operas and 3 ballets. He also wrote concertos and chamber music.  


    Best works:

    The Nutcracker, 1892:
    ’s third ballet is based on a story by the German fantasy writer ETA Hoffmann. The Nutcracker is innovative in terms of the sounds Tchaikovsky uses in the orchestra. In Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy he uses a celesta. Tchaikovsky had heard one in Paris in 1891 and asked his publisher to buy one, hoping to keep it a secret so that no other Russian would compose music for the instrument before him.

    Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker, 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'



    Piano Concerto No. 1, 1874-75:
    The opening chords of this concerto are some of the most famous in history. The first movement is highly virtuosic, while the second is more focused on interplay between the piano and orchestra. The final movement is a powerful rondo.

    Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, 1st Movement




    13. Robert Schumann

    German composer Robert Schumann was known for his piano music, Lieder and orchestral works. Before his marriage, Schumann was mostly seen as a miniaturist composer due to his fondness for writing short piano pieces and songs. Most of his music is inspired by literature and poems. 


    Best works:

    Piano Quintet in E flat, 1842:
    Schumann's quintet for piano and string quartet is famous for its instrumentation which was later made popular by composers like Brahms and Elgar



    Kreisleriana, 1838:
    A set of eight pieces for solo piano. Schumann dedicated these to Chopin and saw them as his best work. They were inspired by stories by Romantic writer ETA Hoffmann. 




    14. Fryderyk Chopin

    The Polish composer was a virtuoso pianist, child prodigy and master of Romantic composition. Most of his musical output was for piano, writing 59 mazurkas, 27 études, 27 preludes, 21 nocturnes and 20 waltzes.


    Best works:

    24 Preludes, Op. 28:
    Similarly to Bach’s The Well-Tempered ClavierChopin moves through every key in sequence. The pieces are very short, yet filled with character. 

    Chopin Prelude No 15, 'Raindrop'



    Polonaise-Fantaisie, 1846:
    The opening to this ten-minute piece has an improvisatory feel. The middle section is a lullaby, which then returns to the main theme. The piece ends with a bold flourish, which suddenly fades away finishing with a couple of trills.



    15. Giuseppe Verdi 

    Verdi is best known for his 25 celebrated operas, including La Traviata and Falstaff. His career really took off after his first opera, Obertowhich was put on at the La Scala opera house in Milan in 1839. The La Scala opera house offered him a contract to put on three more operas directly after.


    Best works:

    La Traviata, 1853:
    La Traviata was based on Alexandre Dumas' play The Lady of the Camellias, and remains Verdi’s most popular opera. 

    Verdi La Traviata, 'Brindisi' (The Drinking Song)



    Requiem, 1874:
    Milan's cathedral put on the first performance of Verdi's Requiem Mass. He composed it in tribute to the famous novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, who died in 1873. The Requiem demonstrates Verdi's composing abilities outside of the field of opera.

    Verdi Requiem, Dies Irae e Tuba Mirum

  • An introduction to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12 | Thu, 17 Oct 2019 09:00:17 +0000


    Symphony No. 12 ‘The Year 1917’ Op. 112 (1961)

    Premiered: Leningrad, 1961

    Symphony No. 12, like the 11th, was written for a revolutionary commemoration, dedicated to Lenin. Shostakovich was invited to attend the 22nd Congress as a new Party member, where it was performed.

    VASILY PETRENKO: The Twelfth is probably the most cryptic of them all, and a big discovery for me. It’s a hugely powerful piece, especially if you understand what’s behind it. He makes use of the traditional “People of Russia” from Musorgsky.

    There’s a three-note theme representing the people, while Lenin is heard in a two-note theme (I subscribe to the view that he denotes a brutal leader or anti-human force in two note themes, and “humanity” in three-note ones). You can hear how Lenin moves the people towards catastrophe in the first movement. He then follows Lenin to Razliv in Finland, where he reflects on his strategy. 

    We hear a theme from Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen in Tuonela which deals with the hero’s death, when he is cut into pieces and thrown in a river – later his mother pulls out the pieces and only by her tears is he restored again. The message is clear. It’s one of the most clever calculations he made: firstly, to quote Sibelius – the necessary people would understand the message – and to put in the revolutionary songs as a cover. You can sense how songs start with a clear intention but are altered and warped.

     In the final part, “the dawn of humanity”, he was raising a question for himself: if the 1905 revolution had been successful, would a parliamentary regime have 
been established?



    Vasily Petrenko is, like Shostakovich, a son of Leningrad/St Petersburg, and grew up singing the composer’s songs in its Capella Boys Music School. In 1997 he won first prize in the Shostakovich Choral Conducting Competition and was made chief conductor of the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, during which time he took on the principal conductorship of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

    On his arrival in the city in 2006, at just 30, he launched a project with Naxos to record all Shostakovich’s 15 symphonies. The series has drawn international acclaim and, as the final instalment is released, he looks back on his nine-year journey. ‘To work with an orchestra on one composer for so many years has meant we could build a style, an approach to his language,’ he says. ‘At first, it felt like an exhilarating challenge: there are huge demands. Now, we are of one mind.’ 



    Petrenko, born a year after the composer’s death, grew up in the Soviet Union. A beneficiary of its uniquely rigorous teaching system, he witnessed its dissolution when he was 15, the re-writing of history books, and even the emergence of a nostalgia for that dark era. He’s in touch with those who remember Shostakovich, and the times through which he lived, but has experienced the Western view of this controversial figure.

    ‘When I conduct these symphonies in Russia, there’s still an unspoken understanding of the songs, the messages. We talk more about the composer’s personal life. When I conduct in the West, it’s important to give the historical context. There’s still so much we don’t know; the family destroyed many letters when Shostakovich died. The State would probably have requisitioned them anyway.’ 

  • 6 of the Best: Beethoven's overlooked works | Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:23:03 +0000


    We explore Beethoven's revolutionary nine symphonies. But not every piece he wrote is that well known today. So here's our guide to six of the great German composer's overlooked works.


    Wellington’s Victory/The Battle Symphony, Op. 91

    This 15-minute orchestral piece was composed in 1813 to celebrate the defeat of Joseph Bonaparte, king of Spain and brother of Napoleon, by British troops led by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria.

    Beethoven's music dramatises the battle, splitting the orchestra into two and incorporating live cannon and musket fire for added excitement. Well-known national tunes represent the two sides with God Save the King and Rule Britannia for the British and Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre for the French.

    Today the piece is often seen as a novelty, but at the time of his death it was publically considered one of his best works.



    12 German Dances, WoO 8

    Beethoven wrote these 12 German Dances in 1795, at the age of just 25, for the Redoutensaal, a salon frequented by the Viennese upper classes. This is Beethoven on a small scale, displaying concise craftsmanship – not one of the dances breaks the two-minute mark.

    Though Beethoven originally orchestrated the dances, they became popular enough for him to make a piano arrangement to be played at home.



    British folk song arrangements

    Beethoven’s 179 settings of folk songs earned him a substantial amount of money. He was commissioned by publisher and folk-song collector George Thomson, who paid the composer four ducats per song – twice as much as Haydn initially received. Thomson had transcribed many of the melodies on his travels around Great Britain and he also commissioned great British poets like Robert Burns and Walter Scott to write new texts for existing folk songs. 

    A mixture of simple solo, duet, and trio arrangements, the songs were suitable for social use in the houses and salons of the Viennese middle-class. The songs range from the jolly (Put round the bright wine) to melancholy (On the Massacre of Glencoe). There is even a lively arrangement of Auld Lang Syne (below).



    Cantata On the Death of Emperor Joseph II, WoO 87

    When news of the Emperor’s death reached Bonn, the University began preparations for a memorial ceremony that would take place just a month later. Theology student Severin Anton Averdonk wrote a text, and an open invitation was extended to composers in Bonn to set it to music.

    19-year-old Beethoven leapt at the chance to prove his talent as a composer. Established composers were reluctant to attempt the work on such a tight deadline, so Beethoven won the job. However, for unknown reasons, the initial performance was cancelled and it was never performed in his lifetime.



    Three Equale for Four Trombones, WoO 30

    Beethoven wrote this set of 'equale' works for All Soul’s Day in Linz Cathedral, 1812. They were later performed at his own funeral in an arrangement for male voice choir, with the words of the Miserere added by Ignaz von Seyfried.

    'Equale' or 'Aequale' is a Latin musical term that means 'for equal parts,' or put simply, for the same instrument. Beethoven writes for his four trombones in long, homophonic phrases, creating a rich sombre tone throughout the set. 



    Italian songs

    Beethoven wrote a great number of Italian songs while studying composition with Antonio Salieri, often as exercises. Very few of his early works have survived, but those he composed or revisited in later life are far better preserved. 

    The songs have a very different mood from Beethoven's famous song-cycle An die ferne geliebte. Some of the songs, the brief, lyrical Ecco quel fiero istante (WoO 124) for example, could almost be by Mozart.

    In questa tomba oscura (WoO 133) is entirely different. Here we can see more dramatic elements and the accompaniment contributes to the development of the song as it transitions from calm, slow chords to thunderous quaver-movement and back again. 


  • Find out more >

    " rel="nofollow" target="_blank">The Royal Northern College of Music | Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:38:42 +0000

    0161 907 5200

    The Royal Northern College of Music is a leading international conservatoire located in the heart of Manchester with a reputation for attracting talented students, teachers, conductors and composers from all over the world.

    Founded in 1973 through the merger of the Royal Manchester College of Music and Northern School of Music, the RNCM is home to around 320 teaching staff and more than 800 students from 60 countries.

    read more

  • Best classical music inspired by autumn | Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:20:45 +0000


    Autumn, with its golden leaves and misty mornings, is here. To keep you company as the nights draw in, we present some of the best classical music inspired by the season.


    Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, 'Autumn' (1723)

    What seasonal playlist could fail to include Vivaldi? From the Allegro’s post-harvest celebrations in 'Autumn', Vivaldi’s programmatic music transports us to the somewhat less vibrant morning after, where slow moving suspensions come as close to a musical hangover as anything you’ve ever heard. In the stately final Allegro, ‘The Hunt’, a virtuosic violin solo represents the hunter’s fleeing quarry, which they eventually catch and kill. Not so fun for the quarry, but a jolly old time for all the hunters.



    BaxNovember Woods (1917)

    Though ostensibly inspired by nature, Bax’s November Woods also acts as a musical portrait of his turbulent love affair with pianist Harriet Cohen. An often unsettling work, the tone poem fluctuates between stormy drama and quiet ecstasy, yet fades to a quiet and unresolved finish.



    Fanny MendelssohnDas Jahr (1841)

    Fanny Mendelssohn wrote the piano cycle Das Jahr as a musical diary of the year she spent with her family in Rome. The 12 months are represented by 12 individual movements. In 'September' a flowing accompaniment overlays a dark melody in the left hand. 'October' is a brighter, march-like song, but 'November' returns to introspection and a minor key. She instructs the performer to play sadly.



    Richard StraussFour Last Songs, ‘September’

    Sometimes considered Strauss’s own musical epitaph, all of the Four Last Songs are themed around death. ‘September’ is a shimmering and uplifting work, which calmly compares the passing of the seasons with the passing of life. Strauss also includes a poignant and wistful solo for his father’s instrument: the French horn.  



    Imogen Holst – The Fall of the Leaf (1963)

    The Fall of the Leaf was written as a study piece for Holst's friend, the cellist and pianist Pamela Hind O’Malley. It is based on a tune by Martin Peerson that Holst found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (1572-1651). Unified by this melody, all six movements expand on it using a variety of different string techniques, from pizzicato to double-stopping. 



    Massenet – Pensée d’Automne (1887)

    ‘The year slips away like a flowing stream,’ mourns the soprano soloist in the opening lines of Massenet’s Pensée d’Automne (Thoughts of Autumn). Based on a poem by Armand Silvestre, the song perfectly expresses the melancholy that comes as the summer ends.



    Listen to our playlist of autumnal music here:

  • Six of the best... works by Kaija Saariaho | Wed, 16 Oct 2019 09:00:00 +0000


    Born in Helsinki in 1952, Kaija Saariaho did not come from a typically musical background. The daughter of a metal worker, her break into composition came after studying at the Sibelius Academy with Paavo Heininen, and later in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough. Her diverse repertoire includes operas, orchestral works and experimentation with electroacoustic music. Here’s our pick of six of her best pieces.


    L’Amour de loin 

    Saariaho’s first opera, L’Amour de loin tells the story of Jaufré Rudel, a troubadour longing for a ‘love from afar’. When a pilgrim tells him that such a love really exists in Tripoli, Jaufré begins his pursuit, becoming sick with anguish on the journey. A beautifully dark and brooding opera, L’Amour de loin received its premiere in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, a co-production with the Théatre du Chatelet, Paris and the Santa Fe Opera. 

    Recommended Recording:

    Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin 

    Ekhaterina Lekhina (soprano), Marie-Ange Todorovitch (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Belcher (tenor); Berlin Radio Chorus; Berlin Deutches Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano Harmonia Mundi HMC801937/38  


    Graal théâtre

    Written as a concerto for violin and orchestra in 1994 and arranged in 1997 for chamber orchestra, Graal théâtre takes its name from the book by Jacques Roubaud. According to Saariaho, ‘the title expresses the tension between the efforts of the composer when writing music and the theatrical aspect of a performance.’ The piece’s two movements are characterised by the gritty and sometimes aggressive sound of the solo violin, originally performed by Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, to whom the piece is also dedicated. 

    Recommended Recording:

    Kaija Saariaho: Graal théâtre Château de l'âme / Amers 

    Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Gidon Kremer (violin), Avanti!, BBC Symphony/Esa-Pekka Salonen Sony Classical G010001403109B




    This piece sees Saariaho experimenting with electroacoustic music by manipulating pre-recorded sounds on a tape, resulting in eerie textures. Verblendungen – commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company – was written in 1984 and used a tape produced in the GRM Digital Studio for treating sounds. Saariaho has created her own unique string orchestra by using two manipulated violin sounds which are layered over a chamber orchestra. 

    Recommended recording: 

    A Portrait of Kaija Saariaho

    Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen BIS - BISCD307




    This haunting orchestral piece is inspired by the titular figure in Greek mythology, the mortal son of Poseidon whom Zeus placed in the sky as a constellation after his death. Split into three movements – Memento MoriWinter Sky and Hunter – Orion immediately seems to evoke the vastness of space through its drawn-out ethereal strings and sudden passages of dramatic orchestral eruptions, all of which come to an abrupt finish with a closing triangle chime. Composed in 2002 for Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, it is Saariaho’s largest purely orchestral work to date.  

    Recommended recording:

    Saariaho: Notes on Light / Orion / Mirage 

    Karita Mattila (soprano), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach Ondine ODE11302  



    Petals – a 10-minute piece for solo cello and live electronics – is impressive, if a bit harsh on the ears. The performer utilises a whole range of different tones from airy harmonics to nail-bitingly rough bass notes, sharp tremolos and glissandos. Petals was composed in 1988 and is the natural stylistic successor to 1987’s Nymphea, a comparable work for string quartet and electronics. 

    Recommended recording: 

    Kaija Saariaho: Chamber Music 

    Scott Roller (cello), Thomas Neuhaus (electronics) Kairos KAI0012412


    Du Cristal … à la fumée 

    Du Cristal … à la fumée is a single orchestral diptych formed by two separately commissioned pieces – translated as ‘From crystal’ and ‘…into smoke’. The pieces can be played separately or together, with the closing cello trill of Du Cristal leading seamlessly into the introduction of its successorIn Saariaho’s own words, ‘to my way of thinking, Du Cristal … à la fumée is a single work, two facets of the same image, but both drawn in, living and independent.’ Du Cristal … à la fumée is deeply cinematic and, like other works such as Orion, is full of ghostly strings and sudden orchestral timpani-driven crescendos. 

    Recommended recording: 

    Saariaho: Du cristal - …à la fumée - 7 Papillons - Nymphéa 

    Anssi Karttunen (cello), Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen Ondine ODE1047-2 


    Words by Gareth Thomas 


  • Five uses of classical music in cartoons | Tue, 15 Oct 2019 09:53:09 +0000


    The Cat Concerto

    In this 1946 Academy-Award winning Tom and Jerry short film, Liszt’s virtuosic showpiece, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, provides the musical inspiration for a hilarious cat and mouse skirmish across the grand piano.



    What's Opera, Doc?

    Bugs Bunny meets Wagner in this six-and-a-half-minute cartoon from 1957 parodying the German composer’s operas. Rabbit-hunter Elmer Fudd singing the words ‘Kill the wabbit’ to the theme from the ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ is unmissable.




    With everything from elephants and ostriches dancing to Ponchielli’s The Dance of the Hours, the creation of the earth accompanied by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Mickey Mouse doing a turn as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Walt Disney’s 1940 full-length animated film has become a children’s classic.



    The Simpsons 

    When America’s favourite cartoon family head to Italy in The Italian Bob, they stumble across Krusty the Clown performing in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. You may recognise ‘Vesti la giubba’ as the aria sung to the words ‘No more Rice Krispies... we are out of Rice Krispies.'



    Peter and the Wolf 

    The first in Breakthru Films’s projected trilogy of classical music-inspired stop-motion animations (a technique made famous by Aardman Animations’s Wallace and Gromit) brings to life Prokofiev’s characterful orchestral score. With a soundtrack performed by the Philharmonia, Peter and the Wolf won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2008.


  • Free Download: Marais's Suite in A for viola da gamba | Tue, 15 Oct 2019 09:00:00 +0000

    'Smith has at his command a technique fully equal to Marais's sometimes challenging demands and an astonishingly wide range of colours and moods'

    This week's free download is the sixth movement, Fantaisie, from Marais's Suite in A, performed by Robert Smith on viola da gamba, theorbist Israel Golani and harpsichordist Olivier Fortham. It was recorded on the Resonus label and was awarded four stars for both performance and recording in the November issue of BBC Music Magazine.


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

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

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

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