Semyon Bychkov turns 70 today…and in recognition of one of our finest living conductors, here is a link to watch this most erudite musician conducting the WDR-Sinfonieorchester Köln in William Walton’s First Symphony:
Here too is a playlist gathering together some of his finest recordings, from the early days with Philips to his most recent release, an account of Mahler’s Symphony no.5 with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for Pentatone. Along the way we hear excerpts or complete works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn, Dutilleux and Rachmaninoff. It is a wonderful listen, I’m sure you’ll agree!
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 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!
Yesterday marked the 80th birthday of the great pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim.
In celebration Arcana has compiled a playlist from just a fraction of his many, many recordings. There is so much from which to choose, as Barenboim’s discography runs from early days at EMI, and recordings with his late wife, cellist Jacqueline du Pré, through a substantial body of work for Warner Classics to his current ‘home’, Deutsche Grammophon.
Our small but perfectly formed playlist includes an extract from his most recent release of Schumann symphonies, with the Berlin Staatskapelle, but also some of those early recordings, including a Beethoven piano trio with du Pré and violinist Pinchas Zukerman:
Today marks the 80th birthday of the distinguished Russian cellist Natalia Gutman.
A pupil of Mstislav Rostropovich, Gutman has performed and recorded with legendary conductors Kirill Kondrashin, Yevgeny Svetlanov, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and Yuri Temirkanov among many others. Alfred Schnittke wrote a number of pieces for her, including his first Cello Concerto.
In the biography on her website, Elizabeth Wilson writes that ‘as an enthusiast of chamber music she formed an important musical relationship with the exceptional violinist Oleg Kagan, who became her husband. Together they formed a trio with Sviatoslav Richter, who also frequently acted as Natalia’s duo partner.
You can enjoy her artistry through the Spotify playlist below, including recordings of concertos by Shostakovich and that dedication from Schnittke: