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      12 Polish Composers You Should Know (Who Aren’t Chopin)

      Everyone loves the music of Fryderyk Chopin, Poland’s most well-known composer. But, how many other Polish composers do you know? Learn more about Poland’s best composers from one of Poland’s best composers: Marta Ptaszyńska more...

      QUIZ: Match the Film to the Score

      How well do you know movie music? Listen to the excerpts from the following famous film scores, and see if you can match the music to the correct movie. more...

      Classical Music’s Most Memorable Moments on Sesame Street

      Whether teaching the ABCs or addressing decidedly more grown-up topics, Sesame Street has expanded children's minds and hearts since its debut nearly fifty years ago. Many musicians have visited Sesame Street, introducing people of all ages to great music. There have been many inspiring musical moments on Sesame Street, but here are some of WFMT's favorites! more...

      These Photoshopped Pictures of Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde Will Make You Literally LOL

      Christine Goerke has set the world on fire with what the Wall Street Journal described as her “big, blazing soprano.” Recently she’s set the internet ablaze not with her voice, but with her sense of humor. When Goerke posted a production photo from the Canadian Opera Company (COC) Siegfried, in which she plays the role more... more...

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      Philharmonia/Hruša review – ravishing textures and self-conscious languor

      Royal Festival Hall, London
      Mahler’s metaphysical Third Symphony is arguably his most ambitious and Jakub Hrůša’s reading was remarkable

      Jakub Hrůša’s considerable reputation rests primarily on his interpretations of Mozart and of his native Czech repertory. He has now turned to Mahler for a performance of the Third Symphony with the Philharmonia that began with moments of uncertainty but grew in stature and force as it progressed.

      Attempting a comprehensive depiction of the cosmos as a metaphysical chain of being that progresses from raw matter to the purity of spiritual love, this is arguably the most ambitious of the composer’s symphonies and the most difficult to realise. The immense first movement pushes at the boundaries of coherence, and Hrůša revealed that as yet, he has not quite mastered it. The opening was superbly done, the sullen brass and rumbling low woodwind eerily suggesting some primal force in the process of germination. Thereafter, as life heaves into being, things felt a bit over-controlled: speeds were at times exaggerated; the music’s grandeur was occasionally emphasised at the expense of its Dionysiac fire.

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      Halle/Elder review – a fateful journey with Shostakovich

      Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
      Mark Elder makes the composer’s life flash before the audience’s eyes in a disquieting yet compelling programme that dwells on mortality, with outstanding support from Mahler and Roderick Williams

      After a long career of elusive, enigmatic symphonies, Shostakovich saved the most elusive and enigmatic until last. Why is the Fifteenth Symphony so full of operatic quotations, including Wagner’s Tristan chord, the fate motif from the Ring and, most tellingly, the galloping motif of Rossini’s most famous overture? The composer remained characteristically oblique about these appropriations, explaining in a tortuous string of triple negatives: “I could not, could not, not include them.” Yet Rossini’s William Tell theme is so naturally embedded in the jangling palpitations of the first movement you could almost consider it an early example of sampling.

      Related: My hero: Dmitri Shostakovich by Julian Barnes

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      Harvey, Poppe, Saariaho, Nunes: Scherben CD review – love, light and spiky austerity

      Ensemble Musikfabrik
      (Wergo)

      It’s hard to imagine the Cologne contemporary music collective Ensemble Musikfabrik deliberately timing a release for Valentine’s Day, so let’s just call it a coincidence that love and light are the themes behind this latest programme from their excellent Westdeutscher Rundfunk radio concert series. The playing is as committed, frank and business-like as ever. Jonathan Harvey’s Sringara Chaconne glows and shimmers in a graceful exploration of Hindu notions of erotic love. Nimble solo lines from cellist Dirk Wietheger work like a flashlight darting about a vast frescoed cathedral, illuminating glittering dark corners in Kaija Saariaho’s cello concerto Notes on Light. The title track is Nonne Poppe’s Scherben – the German word for “shards”, describing a spasmodic musical prism of clinking little fragments. It’s a spiky listen, but it works. The last work on the disc is Emmanuel Nunes’s Chessed I, an austere 20-minute score from 1979 that lacks the sensual magnetism of the rest of the programme. The performance is impressive, though, particularly the fearless grit of the string playing.

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      new releases

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      Beethoven: Overtures & Triple Concerto

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      Images from the South

      Naxos 8.573442

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      John Rutter: The Gift of Life

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      Downton Abbey: The Ultimate Collection

      Decca B0024411-02

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