Sometimes the best things happen by accident! Allegri’s ‘Miserere’ is famously beautiful, ethereal and transports us out of ourselves – or maybe deeper within. But the ‘best bit’, when one of the singers soars high above the others, wasn’t actually composed at all – could it be music’s greatest mistake? How did it happen…? (Listening time 20 mins: podcast 8′, Music 10-12′)… Listen
I’m always a bit surprised to find myself humming bits of Ma Vlast – My Country by one of the Czech’s favourite sons. I guess I must really love it!
Feared by the Nazis, loved by the Czechs, this is the acceptable face of nationalism, and its full of great tunes and causes deep satisfaction.
Listening time 32mins
American composer Amy Beach was so popular that her followers held ‘Beach Clubs’ to play and listen to her music!
Her Quartet for strings is lean and powerful, as well as being a great jump-off to the world of string quartets: a place fraught with danger for the players, where composers go to bare their souls. Take a listen and join the Beach Club! (21 mins)… Listen
What’s in a name? Not much it seems. An ‘Intermezzo’ is often a short piece that breaks up something bigger… but Brahms used it as his go to name for any short piano pieces where nothing else came to mind! In any case, these three Intermezzos for solo piano from late in Brahms’s life are beautiful, wistful, dreamy and give us a perfect break from whatever you’ve got going on… Like all Brahms pieces they’re musically perfect too. [21′]… Listen
Delicate, sparkling and perhaps surprisingly touching, here are three short diversions from the various trials of modern life – written 300 years ago by Couperin and brilliantly rewritten in 2006 by Thomas Adès who takes delight in the sound of music. Listening time 20mins… Listen
Great music to mark the US Presidential hand-over! Raucous fun alongside the deep and meaningful, Three Places in New England is challenging, confusing, complex, silly and surprising music that leaves me baffled but smiling and moved too! A hundred years old but way ahead of its time from one of America’s first great composers, Charles Ives. Listening time 28mins.… Listen
If you’ve got any new year sluggishness, sweep all that away with a blast of Respighi’s Roman Festivals – four vivid musical pictures featuring love songs and folk dances, wine, religion and state-sponsored violence (lions eating Christians)! Listening time c32 mins [8′ podcast, 24′ music]… Listen