Playlist – Christophe Rousset & Les Talens Lyriques

by Ben Hogwood

Christophe Rousset is a long-admired exponent of music from the Baroque period – but as this playlist shows, he should not be pinned down to that one era!

This year marks 30 years of his pioneering group Les Talens Lyriques, and the playlist below draws on recordings made in that period for the famous Universal imprint L’Oiseau Lyre, Decca and more recently the Bru Zane and Aparté labels. For the former Rousset conducted a landmark recording of Gounod’s Faust, released in 2019, while the latter are releasing three new albums this autumn.

Excerpts from the trio can be heard below, along with a celebration of Rousset’s contribution both as conductor and harpsichordist. There is much to enjoy here!

In Appreciation – Ned Rorem

by Ben Hogwood

In the last week we have learned of the sad news of the death of Ned Rorem, albeit at the wonderful age of 99. The American composer was much loved for his insistence on sticking to a style of music that he ‘wanted to hear’, as this excellent obituary from Guy Rickards for The Guardian states.

The Indiana-born Rorem leaves us with a good deal of vocal and instrumental music, much of it in a short form and with over 500 songs. Yet he showed himself more than capable of mastering longer forms too, with three symphonies, numerous concertos and a number of stage works. The playlist below draws from all corners of his compositional output, showing his way with a tune, his ability as a fine orchestrator and the way he wrote so winsomely for the human voice. There are two concertos here – for violin and for mallet instruments, a recent concerto recording with Dame Evelyn Glennie as soloist. Hope you enjoy the music!

In Appreciation – Libor Pešek

by Ben Hogwood

Today we learned of the sad news that conductor Libor Pešek has died at the age of 89.

A tribute to him has been posted on social media by his management company IMG, while the artist page they held for him contains details on his conducting career.

Libor Pešek made some particularly fine recordings with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra when Virgin Classics was in the ascendancy in the 1990s. They include a cycle of the symphonies of Dvořák but also a rather wonderful disc introducing us to the music of Vítězslav Novák, and in particular his Slovak Suite. The recording became extremely popular with Classic FM listeners, and has led to something of a revival for the composer.

The playlist enclosed here is almost exclusively of Czech music, including works by Suk and Smetana, but we also include a nod to some extremely fine recordings of British music the conductor made, notably Britten’s Young Person’s Guide.

Any listener to classical music from the 1980s onwards will surely have encountered Libor Pešek’s art, and we can appreciate it here:

Switched On – Theo Parrish mixes the next instalment of !K7’s DJ Kicks series

by Ben Hogwood

DJ Kicks, the jewel in !K7’s crown, is one of the longest running series of mix compilations – and in the last year they have enjoyed stellar contributions from Disclosure, Jessy Lanza and Cinthie. However they are set to go one better than even that, with a rare guest appearance from Theo Parrish, who has carved a creative homage to his home city in the form of Detroit Forward.

Parrish himself says, “Detroit creates. But rarely imitates. Why? We hear and see many from other places do that with what we originate. No need to follow. Get it straight. In the Great Lakes there’s always more under the surface – more than what appears to penetrate the top layer of attention and recognition. What about those that defy tradition? Those that sidestep the inaccurate definitions often given from outside positions? This is that evidence. Enjoy.”

The 90-minute mix will include Ian Fink’s Moonlite, which you can hear below to get a flavour of the compilation:

DJ Kicks: Detroit Forward will be released on 28 October on !K7 – and you can be sure to read more about it on these pages! In the meantime, you can preorder your copy here:

Download / stream tracklist:

01: De’Sean Jones & Ideeyah – Pressure

02: Donald Roland II – Simba’s Theme

03: Meftah – When The Sun Falls

04: Theo Parrish & Duminie DePorres – Real Deal

05: Specter – The Upper Room

06: Deon Jamar – North End Funk

07: Ian Fink – Moonlite (Duality/Detroit Live Version)

08: John C & Meftah – Full

09: Monica Blaire – aGain (T’s Edit)

10: De’Sean Jones – Psalm 23

11: Raybone Jones – Green Funk

12: Jon Dixon – Wind Drifts (Instrumental)

13: Whodat – Don’t Know feat. Sophiyah E.

14: KESSWA – Chasing Delerium feat. Nova Zai

15: Raj Mahal – Hudsons

16: De’Sean Jones – Flash Spain

17: Jason Hogans – Surrounded By Trees

18: Howard Thomas – Experiment 10

19: Sterling Toles – Janis

2CD tracklist:

1/01: De’Sean Jones & Ideeyah – Pressure

1/02: Donald Lee Roland II – Simba’s Theme

1/03: Meftah – When The Sun Falls

1/04: Theo Parrish & Duminie DePorres – Real Deal

1/05: Specter – The Upper Room

1/06: Deon Jamar – North End Funk

1/07: Ian Fink – Moonlight (Duality/Detroit Live Version)

2/01: John C & Meftah – Full

2/02: mBtheLight – aGAIN (T’s Edit)

2/03: De’Sean Jones – Psalm 23

2/04: Raybone Jones – Green Funk

2/05: Jon Dixon – Wind Drifts (Instrumental)

2/06: Whodat & Sophiyah.e – Don’t Know

2/07: KESSWA – Chasing Delerium feat. Nova Zai

2/08: Raj Mahal – Hudsons

2/09: De’Sean Jones – Flash Spain

2/10: Jason Hogans – Surrounded By Trees

2/11: Howard Thomas – Experiment 10

2/12: Sterling Toles – Janis

Triple vinyl tracklist:

A1: De’Sean Jones & Ideeyah – Pressure

A2: Donald Lee Roland II – Simba’s Theme

A3: Jason Hogans – Surrounded By Trees

B1: John C & Meftah – Full

B2: Meftah – When The Sun Falls

B3: De’Sean Jones – Psalm 23

C1: Ian Fink – Moonlight (Duality/Detroit Live Version)

C2: KESSWA – Chasing Delerium feat. Nova Zai

D1: Specter – The Upper Room

D2: Raj Mahal – Hudsons

E1: Raybone Jones – Green Funk

E2: Whodat & Sophiyah.e – Don’t Know

F1: Howard Thomas – Experiment 10

F2: mBtheLight – aGAIN (T’s Edit)

F3: Sterling Toles – Janis

* All tracks exclusive to ‘DJ-Kicks: Detroit Forward’, aside from ‘Real Deal’ by Theo Parrish & Duminie DePorres

Leif Ove Andsnes records Dvořák’s Poetic Tone Pictures

Leif Ove Andsnes – picture (c) Gregor Hohenber

by Ben Hogwood

We all love a bit of Dvořák, don’t we?

That might be a bit of a sweeping statement – and don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him! – but the 19th-century Czech composer is much loved and admired for his winning way with a melody. His symphonies, concertos, chamber music and increasingly the vocal works are all part of the main body of classical repertoire.

Yet a part of Dvořák’s work is consistently overlooked, and that is his substantial body of piano music, that is hardly ever played. Leif Ove Andsnes, in a new album for Sony Classical, is looking to put that right. This is Dvořák’s Spring Song, taken from the 13-part cycle Poetic Tone Pictures, published in 1889:

The Poetic Tone Pictures are, as Leif explains briefly here, a ‘cycle of many stories’:

Happily we will be discovering much more of this music in the next month, from Leif himself. Stay tuned!