BBC Record Review 23 January 2016 playlist

Here’s the playlist for BBC Radio 3’s Record Review of 23 January 2016. At the time of broadcast, only four recordings were available in Apple Music although most of the artists have extensive presence there, which suggests a lot of what’s missing will arrive eventually – particularly if the recording hasn’t actually been released yet. […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 6: Bartok Violin Concerto No.1

Bela Bartok (1881-1945) wrote two violin concertos, both great pieces. However the first violin concerto was only published in 1959 after his death . Why? Therein lies a sorry tale, and part of the reason why I find this piece so moving and why I count it as particularly ‘inspirational’. Bartok was in love. With a […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 5: Mozart Don Giovanni – Commendatore scene

Some Mozart today – and what to choose? Despite dying in his early 30s he left behind a wealth of music, some of it trivial and trite it has to be said, but more masterpieces than is decent. The piece that keeps coming to mind is a single scene from one of his late operas, […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 4: Berlioz Symphonie funèbre et triomphale

I was going through my CDs when I got to Berlioz and suddenly thought about this. It’s a piece that’s not widely known and I only encountered it as a filler on, I think, the Berlioz Te Deum (which is another contender for this slot). So if you read my first three posts and thought my […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 3: Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius

Elgar wrote The Dream of Gerontius in 1899/1900, a setting of the poem by Cardinal (now Saint) Newman. By the time he wrote it, Elgar had gained something of a reputation internationally, especially for his choral works, and this was a commission for the Birmingham Triennial Festival. It was completed only three months before the […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 2: Vaughan Williams – Tallis Fantasia

Today’s inspiring piece is rather well-known: The Tallis Fantasia by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It’s based on a theme by the Tudor composer Thomas Tallis and was written with Gloucester Cathedral in mind, where it was premiered in 1910. There are three string sections, a full-sized string orchestra, a single desk from each […]

Ten inspiring pieces of music 1: Mahler’s 2nd Symphony

I’ve been asked on Facebook to nominate a piece of ‘inspirational’ music each day for ten days. I’d been thinking about doing something like this here anyway so here goes. My first piece is the finale from Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, ‘The Resurrection’. The symphony as a whole is an hour and a half long and […]

A-level music to include female composers after student’s campaign

Jessy McCabe, 17, noticed that Edexcel’s A-level music syllabus featured 63 male composers and no female ones. She contacted Edexcel to make it aware of the situation, but despite the board’s insistence that the music course aims to let students “engage in and extend the appreciation of the diverse and dynamic heritage of music”, its […]

Forget the mad genius composer myth: music is good for the mind

The truth is that there is no more a link between star sign and intelligence than there is between madness and creativity. That a link has been drawn between the two is, however, under–standable. How else can we explain the outrageous creative power of a Mozart or a Beethoven without resorting to some kind of […]

Back to the future: I’m in the Moog again

WWendy Carlos’s 1968 record Switched On Bach unleashed the Moog synthesiser on the general public in a spectacular way. She created her groundbreaking albums using a multitrack recorder in the studio, allowing one person to layer up all the parts, one at a time. I was listening to it recently, and found myself wondering if […]