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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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      Figaro at the cutting edge: the Barber through the ages

      Beaumarchais’ wily Barber of Seville is one of literature’s greatest creations, and it’s not only Mozart and Rossini who brought him to musical life. Ahead of Welsh National Opera’s trilogy, director Sam Brown ponders Figaro’s backstory

      The Barber of Seville – Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera masterpiece – opens in Cardiff on Saturday, nearly 200 years to the day since its premiere in Rome on 20 February 1816. Its first night was marred by a catalogue of fiascos which led to some of the loudest booing the 23-year-old Rossini had ever heard: Don Basilio tripped and broke his nose just before singing his aria, and a cat wandered onstage during the act one finale, refused to leave and was hurled into the wings by an irate singer. Despite a triumphant second performance, Rossini’s pride was too badly wounded to take a curtain call. Claiming sickness, he broke his contract with the theatre and refused to conduct any subsequent performances.

      Although, during his lifetime, Rossini’s Barber was considered inferior to Giovanni Paisiello’s earlier opera of the same name, it has since become one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire, and is today the eighth most played opera worldwide.

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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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      Brahms: Piano Trio & Quartet

      Harmonia Mundi HMC-902222

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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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