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Presto Music Podcast

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Conversations from the world of classical with Presto Music's editorial team. Visit us at www.prestomusic.com
18 Episodes
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It's always a pleasure to catch up with friend-of-the-show Rob Cowan, especially when he comes armed with chunky historic boxsets from the golden age of conducting. This time we were listening to recently released collections of recordings by Artur Rodzinski in New York, Rafael Kubelik in Chicago, and Eugene Ormandy in Philadelphia. As ever it was a delight to share in Rob's vast knowledge of recordings and pick out highlights from the sets.If you are enjoying the Presto Music Podcast please like and subscribe to it on your preferred platform, and maybe even give us a short review.  And we would love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future topics, and also guests who you would like us to talk to. Please email us at info@prestomusic.com
This week in a special bonus episode of the Presto Music Podcast, Patricia Kopatchinskaja took time out from her busy schedule to record answers to some questions I had about her new Alpha recording of Schoenberg's *Pierrot Lunaire*,  which finds the acclaimed violinist singing, or rather Sprechstimming, the titular role. Patricia tells us why the piece holds such an important place in her heart, and how she approaches this demanding modernist statement.You can listen to the podcast right here on this page, or click on the links in the player (via the symbol of the box with the arrow coming out of the top) to find it in Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and other popular podcast apps, where you will be able to subscribe and receive notifications when new episodes become available in the future.If you are enjoying the Presto Music Podcast please like and subscribe to it on your preferred platform, and maybe even give us a short review.  And we would love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future topics, and also guests who you would like us to talk to. Please email us at info@prestomusic.com
This week I am joined by Professor Suzanne Aspden, an expert on both Handel, and the construction of identity through music, to trace the composer's journey from his youthful Italian Cantatas & Operas to his later English Oratorios, and the impact that his compositions have had on British culture and musical life from the Georgian era all the way to the present day.You can listen to the podcast right here on this page, or click on the links in the player (via the symbol of the box with the arrow coming out of the top) to find it in Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and other popular podcast apps, where you will be able to subscribe and receive notifications when new episodes become available in the future.If you are enjoying the Presto Music Podcast please like and subscribe to it on your preferred platform, and maybe even give us a short review.  And we would love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future topics, and also guests who you would like us to talk to. Please email us at info@prestomusic.com
This week Paul is joined by British clarinettist Julian Bliss for a brief history of the the instrument, touching upon its earliest appearances in Mozart, through Krommer and Brahms, and its important role in the development of jazz in the first half of the 20th century. The episode includes not one but two "sneak peeks" of forthcoming recordings from Julian, one of which was recorded in Julian's home studio during lockdown.
We are delighted to be joined by Piers Burton-Page, author of Philharmonic Concerto: Life and Music of Malcolm Arnold, the first published biography of this complex character, and president of the Malcolm Arnold Society, to celebrate the life and work of one of the most distinctive British composers of the 20th century. Well-known for his Oscar winning score to David Lean's Bridge on the River Kwai, Piers has picked 9 nine pieces by Arnold to give an overview of a diverse compositional career that included symphonies, orchestral dances, concertos and chamber music, as well as film scores.
Bruckner and Mahler, those behemoths of the romantic symphony, have recently enjoyed lavish boxsets of their complete cycles, with the Münchner Philharmoniker and Valery Gergiev tackling Bruckner, and eight conductors with the Berliner Philharmoniker for Mahler. Peter Quantrill, who reviewed both of these sets in latest edition of Gramophone joins me this week to assess the relationship between these composers, as well as bringing his perspective on how performance practices, and his own personal relationship to these composers have changed over the years.Harriet Smith returns to the show to discuss some of her favourite pianists, drawing upon 85 years of piano recordings from the earliest recorded ivory tinklers to the most recent trailblazers. Harriet is well know to readers of Gramophone Magazine and BBC Radio 3's Record Review, and her deep knowledge and passion for piano music brings insights into the world of piano playing and pianists themselves to this weeks show.
As Valentine's day is almost upon us, could there be a more apt topic than the art of Romantic Song? We welcome Natasha Loges on to the show, Head of Postgraduate Programmes and Reader in Musicology at the Royal College of Music, London, and author of several books on Brahms, including *Brahms and His Poets - A Handbook*,  and editor of *German Song Onstage: Lieder Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries*.  In te programme we focus on the art of lieder as it moved from Vienna to Leipzig in the mid-19th century.
Harriet Smith returns to the show to discuss some of her favourite pianists, drawing upon 85 years of piano recordings from the earliest recorded ivory tinklers to the most recent trailblazers. Harriet is well know to readers of Gramophone Magazine and BBC Radio 3's Record Review, and her deep knowledge and passion for piano music brings insights into the world of piano playing and pianists themselves to this weeks show.
This week I held something of a cultural exchange programme with writer, vlogger, and musician David Hurwitz. Known to many from his reviews website *Classics Today*, the lockdown prompted David to start his very successful YouTube channel earlier this year, which has been gaining a global following ever since. On the show David chooses five of his favourite pieces of British music, I return the compliment with five American classics and we have a discussion peppered with David's inimitable no-nonsense approach and personal anecdotes. It's a highly entertaining show and a great way to end this first season of The Presto Music Podcast. Keep subscribed wherever you get your podcasts though, as we'll be back in the new year with more stimulating chat with the experts. Thankyou for listening to the first 10 episodes, and please do get in touch if there are any subjects or guests that you would like to suggest, at info@prestomusic.comYou can listen to the podcast right here on this page, or click on the links in the player (via the symbol of the box with the arrow coming out of the top) to find it in Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and other popular podcast apps, where you will be able to subscribe and receive notifications when new episodes become available in the future.
As we approach the holiday season, who better to take us on a guided tour through the history of the English choral tradition than Presto's own resident choral music expert, David Smith. David has been a church musician since the age of 8, and is currently a lay clerk at St. Philip's Cathedral Birmingham and a member of the vocal ensemble Ex Cathedra, as well as a writer for Early Music America.
In the midst of the awards season for classical music recordings, this week I am joined by Marina Frolova-Walker, a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian, to discuss the subject of her 2016 book Stalin's Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics. Marina specialises in German Romanticism, Russian and Soviet music, and nationalism in music, and is Professor of Music History and Director of Studies in Music at Clare College, Cambridge. Its a great chat, taking in some of the less well known Russian composers like Myaskovsky, Weinberg and Kabalevsky as well as the two titans, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.You can listen to the podcast right here on this page, or click on the links in the player (via the symbol of the box with the arrow coming out of the top) to find it in Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and other popular podcast apps, where you will be able to subscribe and receive notifications when new episodes become available in the future.We would love to hear your feedback and suggestions for future topics, and guests who you would like us to talk to. Please email us at info@prestomusic.com
This week I am joined by Professor Laura Tunbridge, whose book Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces (published earlier this year by Viking Books) offers new perspectives on the man, the music and early nineteenth-century Vienna in this, the year of his 250th anniversary. Laura guides us through the nine works that she chose for the book, offering new perspectives on some of the choices made by this complicated genius. www.prestomusic.com/classicalYou can buy Laura's book here:Beethoven: A Life in Nine PiecesLaura Tunbridgehttps://www.prestomusic.com/books/products/8719490--beethoven-a-life-in-nine-piecesThe recordings in this episode:Beethoven: Septet, Op. 20 & Clarinet Trio, Op. 11Berkeley EnsembleResonus Classics - RES10255https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8719600--beethoven-septet-op-20-clarinet-trio-op-11Beethoven: Spring & Kreutzer SonatasAnne-Sophie Mutter (violin) & Lambert Orkis (piano)DG -  4791679https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8031599--beethoven-spring-kreutzer-sonatasBeethoven – Complete Symphonies & ConcertosChamber Orchestra of Europe, Nikolaus HarnoncourtWarner Classics – 2564637792https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7951068--harnoncourt-beethovenBeethoven: Symphony No. 9 & Choral FantasyChristiane Karg (soprano), Sophie Harmsen (mezzo), Werner Güra (tenor), Florian Boesch (baritone), Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano)Freiburger Barockorchester, Zürcher Sing-Akademie, Pablo Heras-CasadoHarmonia Mundi - HMM90243132https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8784812--beethoven-symphony-no-9-choral-fantasyBeethoven: LiederMatthias Goerne (baritone), Jan Lisiecki (piano)DG – 4838351https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8736187--beethoven-liederJonas Kaufmann (Florestan), Nina Stemme (Leonore), Falk Struckmann (Pizarro), Lucerne Festival Orchestra & Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Claudio AbbadoDecca – 4782551https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7997601--beethoven-fidelio-op-72Beethoven - The late Piano SonatasMaurizio PolliniDG – 4497402https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7930708--beethoven-the-late-piano-sonatasBeethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass). Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & Monteverdi Choir, Sir John Eliot GardinerSDG - SDG718https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8034633--beethoven-missa-solemnis-in-d-major-op-123Beethoven - Late String QuartetsTakács QuartetDecca - 4708492https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/7933919--beethoven-late-string-quartets
We are delighted to welcome back Rob Cowan, who was our inaugural guest back in June. Rob and Paul discuss several recent historical boxsets that collect together recordings by three American émigré artists; pianist Andor Földes, conductor Antal Dorati and violinist Isaac Stern. www.prestomusic.com/classicalThe recordings discussed in this episode:Andor Foldes: Complete Deutsche Grammophon RecordingsEloquence - ELQ4841256https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8797738--andor-foldes-complete-deutsche-grammophon-recordingsMozart, Schubert: SymphoniesLondon Symphony Orchestra, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Walter Susskind, Antal DoratiEloquence - ELQ4840353https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8813389--mozart-schubert-symphoniesThe Mozart & Haydn Recordings On Mercury LivingAntal DoratiEloquence - ELQ4840385https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8813388--the-mozart-haydn-recordings-on-mercury-livingIsaac Stern - The Complete Columbia Analogue RecordingsSony - 19439724252https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8793248--isaac-stern-the-complete-columbia-analogue-recordings
This week our host Paul Thomas talks to saxophonist Jess Gillam about the motivations behind her new album "Time" and the effect that moving from the country to the metropolis has had on her. Hailing from Ulverston in Cumbria, Jess Gillam is blazing a trail in the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. In 2016 Jess was the first-ever saxophonist to reach the final of BBC Young Musician of the Year, and performed at the Last Night of the Proms in 2018, having her performance described as “the indisputable highlight” by BBC News. Jess is also the first saxophonist to be signed to Decca Classics and is about to release her second album following on the success of her debut "Rise", which was No.1 in UK Official Classical Chart. She is also a presenter on TV and Radio, becoming the youngest ever presenter for BBC Radio 3 and hosts her own weekly show called “This Classical Life”.www.prestomusic.comExcerpts from:Jess Gillam - TimeJess Gillam, Jess Gillam EnsembleDecca - 4851065https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8792134--jess-gillam-timeRiseJess Gillam (saxophones)Decca - 4834862https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8549147--rise
Paul Thomas is joined by guitarist, broadcaster and concert organiser Tom McKinney for a wide-ranging conversation about contemporary music. As well as discussing some recent new releases the discussion touches upon performances in unconventional venues and the art of commissioning new works.www.prestomusic.comThe music discussed in the show:Haydn: String Quartets Op. 76 Nos. 1 - 3Chiaroscuro QuartetBIS - BIS2348https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8777472--haydn-string-quartets-op-76-nos-1-3Vienne 1900 – Music by Mahler, Zemlinsky, Berg & SchoenbergEric Le Sage (piano), Zvi Plesser (cello), Daishin Kashimoto (violin), Paul Meyer (clarinet), Emmanuel Pahud (flute)ALPHA - ALPHA588https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8789365--vienne-1900Here We AreHéloïse Werner (soprano); The Hermes ExperimentDelphian - DCD34244https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8794320--here-we-areMessiaen: Quartet for the End of Time & Catlin Smith: Among the Tarnished StarsAnton Lukoszevieze (piano), Mira Benjamin (violin), Heather Roche (clarinet) & Philip Thomas (piano)Another Timbre - AT143https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8623053--messiaen-quartet-for-the-end-of-time-catlin-smith-among-the-tarnished-starsMorton Feldman PianoPhilip Thomas (piano)Another Timbre – AT144https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8676745--morton-feldman-pianoSpilled Out From TanglesJuliet Fraser (soprano)Huddersfield Contemporary Records - HCR23CDhttps://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8768008--spilled-out-from-tanglesMessiaen: Catalogue d'oiseaux Books 1-7Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)PENTATONE - PTC5186670https://www.prestomusic.com/classical/products/8404435--messiaen-catalogue-doiseaux-books-1-7
Andrew Mellor has established himself as something of a British cultural attaché to Scandinavia since moving to Copenhagen in 2015. Well known for his contributions to BBC Radio 3's Record Review and the BBC Proms, he takes Paul on a guided tour of Denmark, Faroe, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, discussing some of the fascinating music that has been inspiring him recently.www.prestomusic.comMusic discussed:Nielsen: Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (FS60) 'Sinfonia espansiva'Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Myung-Whun ChungBIS - BISCD321Sørensen, B: La mattinaLeif Ove Andsnes (piano); Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; Per Kristian SkalstadDacapo - 8.226095ConfessionsNico Muhly & Teitur with Holland BaroqueNonesuch - 7559794430Þorvaldsdóttir: DreamingRecurrence - ISO Project, Vol. 1Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Daníel BjarnasonDorian Sono Luminus - DSL92213Grieg - Choral MusicDet Norske Solistkor (The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir), Grete PedersenBIS - BISSACD1661Gunnar Idenstam: Songs For JukkasjärviSimon Marainen (yoik/vocals), Brita Stina Sjaggo (vocals), Sandra Marteleur (violin), Thorbjörn Jakobsson (saxophones), Jonas Sjöblom (percussion), Gunnar Idenstam (organ & pre-recorded sounds)BIS - BISSACD1868Outi Tarkiainen: The Earth, Spring's Daughter & SaivoVirpi Räisänen (mezzo-soprano), Jukka Perko (soprano saxophone), Lapland Chamber Orchestra, John StorgårdsOndine - ODE13532The Voice of SibeliusTom Nyman (tenor) & Tommi Hakala (baritone) YL Male Voice Choir & Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Hyökki (a cappella works) & Osmo Vänskä (accompanied works)BIS - BISCD1433
Paul talks to Harriet Smith about the pleasures and pitfalls that come with being a successful music critic, writing for, amongst others, Gramophone Magazine and making regular appearances as a guest on BBC Radio 3's Record Review. Paul asks Harriet to reappraise three albums that she reviewed in the past, right a wrong for a record she didn't review, and to take up the challenge of reviewing four albums in less than 24 hours.
Our host Paul Thomas is joined by broadcaster and critic Rob Cowan to discuss recent reissues and new releases, including a mammoth Barbirolli boxset from Warner, Robert Trevino's Beethoven symphony cycle, and Michael Tilson Thomas's moving From the Diary of Anne Frank. We also hear Rob's Confessions of a Bartók Salesman and delve into his extensive interview archive for a conversation with Finnish conductor and composer Leif Segerstam.
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