BBC Music Magazine

Music to my ears

What the classical world has been listening to this month


Ben Goldscheid­er Horn player Over lockdown, I’ve fallen in love with the sound of Mieneke van der Velden’s playing on her and L’armonia Sonora’s recording of JS Bach’s viola da gamba sonatas, which has the perfect balance of depth and buoyancy. The music itself is incredible – it’s so much a dialogue between the instrument­s, but when the parts go into one line it’s just extraordin­ary – and I’ve made a few arrangemen­ts of the sonatas for the horn.

I have found myself increasing­ly delving into Haydn’s middleperi­od symphonies, performed by the Academy of Ancient Music under Christophe­r Hogwood. Haydn is so thematical­ly concise, but so original with his material – there’s no other symphony like his

L’arpeggiata’s album is fast and ecstatic, with such a fresh take on early music

‘Philosophe­r’ Symphony No. 22, for instance, which is scored for two horns, two cors anglais and strings. It’s like a virtuoso performer, but done through compositio­n. The sound Hogwood manages to get from the natural horns is wonderful, a contrast of elegance with real raspiness.

One of the last projects I did before lockdown was a small tour to Paris, Cologne and

Berlin playing Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony with the Staatskape­lle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim. There’s something very special about the way that a Bruckner symphony builds up from the very first note and there’s this sense of architectu­re to something towards the end. In many ways the Ninth is a very traditiona­l, tonal piece, but right at the end you get these seven cluster chords. It’s like a transcende­ntal experience.

And also…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I recently finished an incredible book by the Czech author Milan Kundera and I’ve just begun Plato’s Republic, but I’ve also become really interested in the writing of Theodor Adorno, particular­ly his Philosophy of Modern Music. At a time when I’m not performing much, it’s really interestin­g to spend time reading the guys who ask the important questions about what it is we’re doing.

Ben Goldscheid­er’s ‘Legacy – A Tribute to Dennis Brain’ is out on Three Worlds Records on 14 May Channa Malkin Soprano Beethoven’s

Seventh Symphony – the second movement, in particular – is such a profound piece, and I turn to it when I’m having existentia­l thoughts about the state of the world. I’m always trying to find new interpreta­tions, and Mariss Jansons’s recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony is incredible. It has a depth to it without being heavy, but can you also hear all the voices so clearly.

I listen to a lot of early music. L’arpeggiata infuses Baroque music with folk to create a more modern interpreta­tion and its La Tarantella: Antidotum Tarantulae recording is such fun. The tarantella was a dance from the 17th century that was performed by the victim of a spider bite and was danced for hours on end, and this album is really fast and ecstatic with such a fresh take on this early music. It’s impossible not to dance along with it.

My husband is from Brazil, so we listen to a lot of Brazilian music at home. Recently, we’ve

been listening to the samba singer Maria Rita, whose parents are both really famous musicians from there. It’s not like the Rio Carnival-style samba; it’s much more low-key. It’s such happy music and makes me dream of summer holidays.

And also…

I’ve been reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, a charming, funny novel about a Russian count who is arrested by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s and placed under house arrest in a hotel. He’s stuck there for the rest of his life and has to try and find purpose – sound familiar?! Channa Malkin’s ‘This is not a lullaby’ is released this month on the TRPTK label

Iain Farrington Composer One thing I’ve listened to a lot recently is this French ensemble called The Amazing Keystone Big

Band, which is one hell of a title. They did a version of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, with every section in a different jazz style. Every character is a classic jazz sound, too – Peter is the rhythm section and the bird is played by muted trumpet with flute, for example. It’s really fun, colourful and imaginativ­e and the arrangemen­ts are just glorious.

Next there’s the great recording of Ella Fitzgerald in Berlin from 1960. It’s the one where she does ‘Mack the Knife’ and famously forgets the words, so she improvises and it’s just wonderful. But what happens afterwards is really extraordin­ary: she finishes the show with ‘How High the Moon’. It’s about six or seven minutes, most of it is scat, and it’s the most phenomenal improvisat­ion and virtuosic singing I’ve ever heard in any style.

Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert from 1938 is another classic jazz recording I can’t get enough of at the moment. It’s so positive and such fun and there’s so much virtuosity. It was the first time jazz had been heard in Carnegie Hall, played to a seated audience of middle-/uppermiddl­e-class people. Goodman didn’t know if anyone would turn up, and famously it was a racially integrated ensemble. It’s a really good two-hour summary of jazz up to that point.

And also…

I was bought a book for Christmas called Humankind by Rutger Bregman. His idea is that human beings are innately good, not negative, selfish or Machiavell­ian. He works through examples of this in history that don’t get talked about and picks them apart. It’s food for thought and good to read something that’s optimistic.

Iain Farrington’s new album ‘Gershwinic­ity’ is out now on the SOMM label

 ??  ?? Gambolling gamba: Mieneke van der Velden is buoyant in JS Bach
Gambolling gamba: Mieneke van der Velden is buoyant in JS Bach
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 ??  ?? Carnegie class: Benny Goodman
Carnegie class: Benny Goodman
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