Another great, short piece, here’s the first of Joan Tower’s Fanfares celebrating risk-taking and adventurous women. This is both celebratory and substantial, plus a workout for brass and percussion. Listening time 8 mins (podcast 5.5′, music 2.5′)… Listen
A short podcast about the shortest of pieces, yet Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man still packs a punch and seems to point to big issues.
‘No taxation without representation’? Perhaps today’s call should be ‘No representatives (from the Head of State down) who don’t pay their taxes!’
Listening time c10 minutes (podcast 6′, music 3′)… Listen
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)
Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Cacophony ep.117) features the driving funky rhythms at the expense of the wit, poetry and driving funky rhythms of the song numbers… so this episode features four of my favourites. Listening time 22 mins.… Listen
I played this over a week ago and still the tunes dance around inside my head – it’s the jazz- and latin-fuelled brilliance of the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein’s smash hit musical, West Side Story – perhaps the greatest musical there is? What do you think? Listening time 34’… Listen
Comfortably crossing cultural boundaries, Reena Esmail draws on both western and Indian , composer Reena Esmail draws on both western and Indian traditions to write distinctive music that is at home in both. Darshan is a terrific solo violin piece which transports us to a timeless state ad may even offer a glimps of the divine! Listening time 21mins… Listen
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
One of the closest [classical] things to electronic dance music, John Adams’s Shaker Loops is one of my favourite things. Dreamy and reflective music mixed with thrilling dance music that leaves us ecstatic, maybe even transcendent! Listening time 32 mins (Podcast 7, Music 25′)… Listen