116. Uneasy listening. Scary music for modern times: Bartók, Music for strings, percussion and celesta

I’m no fan of horror films – too scary for me – but, in any case, nothing really scares us more than the thoughts in our heads! I do love scary music though and Béla Bartók wrote the best. Music for strings, percussion and celesta is unusual, gripping, terrifying and thrilling. It’s also brilliant at clearing my mind of any ‘unneccessary’ thinking. Listening time, 40 mins.… Listen

109. When personal pain becomes universal: Shostakovich String Quartet No.8

How is it that when an artist shares their pain we can all feel it? And how does listening to music full of suffering make us feel better? I don’t know how or why, but I know that it does. Dmitri Shostakovich knew all about war, loss, and suffering. His 8th string quartet is desperate but defiant and deeply moving, bleak but often beautiful and whilst it doesn’t provide any answers it somehow gives consolation to us all. Listening time 28 mins… Listen

107. Made in America: Florence Price, Symphony No.1

Individual, passionate, soulful music rooted in the southern states, Florence Price’s Symphony No.1 was the first by a black woman composer to be played by a major US orchestra back in the 1930s. A Moment of History, but those ‘twin handicaps’ [her words] meant that her music has hardly been played since and we’ve been missing out on great music from a distinctive voice – it’s time to put that right! (Listening time 47 mins: podcast 8′, music 39′)… Listen

96. Flights of Fancy: Debussy, Piano préludes

Freethinking, inventive – quiet and mysterious one moment, giddy and playful the next, Debussy’s préludes – short pieces for piano – are great escapes for your imagination! Listening time 26 mins (podcast 9′, music 17′) Music here with the excellent … Listen