The BBC Music Magazine team’s current favourites
Oliver Condy Editor
Arrangements can shed an entirely new light on a piece of music. I recently listened to the Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson’s (pictured below) new disc, including August Stradal’s transcription of the Adagio from JS Bach’s Trio Sonata No. 4. It had me scrabbling around for the organ original and I’m now happily spending my mornings – bowl of cereal and cup of tea on the bench next to me – learning to play this very beautiful movement myself.
Jeremy Pound Deputy editor
Leonard Bernstein’s song ‘One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man’ has long been a favourite in my family (I really hope they’re not try to tell me something…), so we’ve all enjoyed hearing the new recording by the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle of Wonderful Town, the musical from which said song comes. Danielle de Niese and Alyssa Umphress make a superbly sassy pair of soloists – as the sisters Eileen and Ruth respectively – in what is a supremely vibrant performance from the whole cast and orchestra.
Rebecca Franks Managing editor
I had never heard an orchestra play one of French composer Lili Boulanger’s final works, D’un soir triste, until I had the pleasure of listening to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Thomas Søndergård perform it at this year’s BBC Proms. It’s a remarkably moving, sorrowful piece that deserves to be known better. Written in 1917, it can be heard as an elegy for a world at war and perhaps too as a personal reckoning with death – Boulanger tragically died the following year, at the age of only 24.
Michael Beek Reviews editor
I returned just recently from a visit to Tanglewood in Massachusetts, where I heard a Koussevitsky Shedload of Bernstein, and also thrilling performances of Mahler’s Third and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphonies. One of the highlights for me, though, was a new work by John Williams
– Highwood’s Ghost – which was inspired by his old friend Bernstein’s oft-shared feeling that Tanglewood’s Highwood Manor was haunted. Spine-tingling stuff.
Freya Parr Editorial assistant
After taking a summer hiatus from choral singing, I returned with a slightly off-key bang this month. Fortunately, I was greeted with Ravel’s Trois Chansons. It’s luscious, evocative and fabulously French. Inevitably though, the alto part is deceptively tricky and my car stereo is taking a real thrashing as I play it at full volume trying desperately to find my line. Wish me luck.