125. Ain’t no mountain high enough: Strauss, Alpine Symphony

With the wonders of our imagination and some great music to help, all things are possible – so let’s enjoy the views from the top of a mountain: leaving the house (or even getting out of bed) is entirely optional. Richard Strauss takes us over the top (in every sense) in his epic, excessive, exuberant Alpine Symphony, with great views and plenty of thrills but also moments that inspire deeper contemplation on the glories of nature. It’s a trip you don’t want to miss. Listening time 62mins.… Listen

124. Heading North by Southwest with Willie Ruff: Strayhorn, Suite for The Duo

Brilliant and meaningful, North by Southwest may have been the initial name for Billy Strayhorn’s Suite for The Duo, a brilliant, late work for horn and piano: it’s a title that suggests confusion and conflicting ideas about the dying composers direction of travel. It’s a great piece: virtuosic but raw and written with a total understanding of both horn and piano and what they can do.
It’s a longer episode than normal because (amazingly) I was able to speak with Willie Ruff, the horn play for whom it was written. Willie, now in his nineties, joined me from his home in Alabama and he talked about his life and career, the Mitchell-Ruff duo, Strayhorn and how Suite for The Duo came to life. (37 mins)
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115. A superstar symphony, but not a miracle: Haydn, Symphony No.96

n Haydn came to London he was treated like a superstar: wined and dined by the great and good, and his concerts were the hottest ticket in town. The ‘Miracle’ Symphony, no.96, was Haydn’s first written for Londoners and is designed to win us over with its charms. Music to put a smile on our faces and a spring in our step! Listening time c32 (music 22′, podcast 10′)… Listen