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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108. A short break for bread and Beethoven

We’ve all got pieces of music that instantly remind us of special times and places in our lives. What are yours I wonder? (Tell me!) We’re in Sri Lanka at the moment and, bizarrely, the piece of music we’ve heard more than any other in the last few months has been Beethoven’s perfect little piano piece, Für Elise, but perhaps not as we’re used to hearing it… Here’s the story of why, and how it’s in the ears of everyone Sri Lanka. (Listening time 8 mins: podcast 5′, music 3′)… 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

73. Time for a short break? 3 perfect Intermezzos by Brahms

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