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Nobody has done more in recent years to promote the music of Ralph Vaughan-Williams in recent years than Albion Records, the record label of the Ralph Vaughan-Williams Society. So to celebrate the English composer's 150th birthday this year I asked John Francis, Vice-Chairman of the Ralph Vaughan-Williams Society to guide me through his life and mu…
 
Celebrating his 150th anniversary this year is the Russian composer, poet and visionary Alexander Scriabin who, in his short life undertook a compositional journey that took him from a frustrated piano virtuoso who idolized Chopin to a radical modernist who prophesized that a concert of his mystical music in Tibet would bring about the end of the w…
 
Undoubtedly one of the great orchestral success stories in recent years has been that of Sinfonia of London, formed by conductor John Wilson in 2019. Their albums have consistently received a whole host of awards, demonstrating the orchestra’s great virtuosity and versatility. Their latest recording sees them delving into one of my favourite genres…
 
As both a world-class performer and an advocate for her instrument, Sarah Willis is an inspiration to a generation of horn players, so I was somewhat star-struck to talk to her for this week's episode. Despite the unceasing travel difficulties and upheaval of the past two years, Sarah has been continuing to spend time in Cuba working with Cuban ins…
 
One of the most outstanding releases so far this year has been a remarkable collection of live recordings by the great Czech conductor Karel Ančerl, and I was delighted to be joined not only by regular guest Rob Cowan to discuss the set, but also by Matouš Vlčinský, who produced the set for Supraphon Records. The recordings, made between 1950 and 1…
 
The relationship between musicians' lives and the music they create is one the most discussed and debated aspects of music, and examinations of the lives of great musicians is almost as old as their music itself. Three authors who produced highly praised music biographies in 2020 were Philip Clark, on the Jazz great Dave Brubeck, Oliver Craske on t…
 
For this episode, we turn our attention to the violin, and the changing styles of playing that have been documented over the past hundred years since the advent of sound recording. I was delighted to be joined by Charlotte Gardner, a freelance writer, journalist, and critic who specialises in string playing for The Gramophone and The Strad magazine…
 
As you may well have seen on our site and social media channels lately, Presto Music is currently celebrating a double anniversary, as 2021 marks not only the 20th anniversary of the website launching, but also 35 years since the first Presto shop opened in Leamington Spa. So it seemed fitting that we invite the boss, Chris O'Reilly, onto the show …
 
My guests this week are the members of The Hermes Experiment, a contemporary music quartet made up of Heloise Werner (soprano and co-director), Oliver Pashley (clarinet), Anne Denholm (harp), Marianne Schofield (doube bass), and the group's co-director Hanna Grzeskiewicz. Having just releases their second album,*Song*, for Delphian Records, the gro…
 
German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) was one of the towering musical giants of the 20th century, a man whose near mythical reputation is arguably better known than his actual recordings. This year has seen a number of reissues of his recordings, the most signifcant of which is Warner Classics's 55 disc boxset featuring many previously u…
 
This week's topic concerns musicology and musicologists... what is it, who are they, and what exactly do they get paid to do? So who better to ask than one of them, Daniel Elphick, a musicologist and researcher who has recently started his own YouTube which sets out to demistify things for the layman. Daniel is currently working as a Teaching Fello…
 
The fascinating life and music of Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is the topic of this week's show, and we are delighted to welcome back Andrew Mellor to the Presto Music Podcast to take us through his humble childhood on the island of Funen through to the international acclaim he received as one of the most modernistic symphonic composers…
 
This week's guest is one Britain's most talented young organists Anna Lapwood. Anna joins me to chat about two great organ traditions, the music of J.S. Bach and the world of French Symphonic Organ and also about how she's reinventing the Organ with both the repertoire she's chosen for her new CD and her projects in the Organ community. Presto Musi…
 
Rainer Hersch is a comedian and musician who has performed on every major comedy stage in Britain and abroad. He has appeared thirteen times at the Edinburgh Festival, had numerous comedy-concert series at the South Bank in London, featured in comedy clubs all across Europe and in TV shows around the world. Rainer and his classical ‘Orkestra’ commu…
 
It's always a pleasure to catch up with friend-of-the-show Rob Cowan, especially when he comes armed with chunky historic boxsets from the golden age of conducting. This time we were listening to recently released collections of recordings by Artur Rodzinski in New York, Rafael Kubelik in Chicago, and Eugene Ormandy in Philadelphia. As ever it was …
 
This week in a special bonus episode of the Presto Music Podcast, Patricia Kopatchinskaja took time out from her busy schedule to record answers to some questions I had about her new Alpha recording of Schoenberg's *Pierrot Lunaire*, which finds the acclaimed violinist singing, or rather Sprechstimming, the titular role. Patricia tells us why the p…
 
This week I am joined by Professor Suzanne Aspden, an expert on both Handel, and the construction of identity through music, to trace the composer's journey from his youthful Italian Cantatas & Operas to his later English Oratorios, and the impact that his compositions have had on British culture and musical life from the Georgian era all the way t…
 
This week Paul is joined by British clarinettist Julian Bliss for a brief history of the the instrument, touching upon its earliest appearances in Mozart, through Krommer and Brahms, and its important role in the development of jazz in the first half of the 20th century. The episode includes not one but two "sneak peeks" of forthcoming recordings f…
 
We are delighted to be joined by Piers Burton-Page, author of Philharmonic Concerto: Life and Music of Malcolm Arnold, the first published biography of this complex character, and president of the Malcolm Arnold Society, to celebrate the life and work of one of the most distinctive British composers of the 20th century. Well-known for his Oscar win…
 
Bruckner and Mahler, those behemoths of the romantic symphony, have recently enjoyed lavish boxsets of their complete cycles, with the Münchner Philharmoniker and Valery Gergiev tackling Bruckner, and eight conductors with the Berliner Philharmoniker for Mahler. Peter Quantrill, who reviewed both of these sets in latest edition of Gramophone joins …
 
As Valentine's day is almost upon us, could there be a more apt topic than the art of Romantic Song? We welcome Natasha Loges on to the show, Head of Postgraduate Programmes and Reader in Musicology at the Royal College of Music, London, and author of several books on Brahms, including *Brahms and His Poets - A Handbook*, and editor of *German Song…
 
Harriet Smith returns to the show to discuss some of her favourite pianists, drawing upon 85 years of piano recordings from the earliest recorded ivory tinklers to the most recent trailblazers. Harriet is well know to readers of Gramophone Magazine and BBC Radio 3's Record Review, and her deep knowledge and passion for piano music brings insights i…
 
This week I held something of a cultural exchange programme with writer, vlogger, and musician David Hurwitz. Known to many from his reviews website *Classics Today*, the lockdown prompted David to start his very successful YouTube channel earlier this year, which has been gaining a global following ever since. On the show David chooses five of his…
 
As we approach the holiday season, who better to take us on a guided tour through the history of the English choral tradition than Presto's own resident choral music expert, David Smith. David has been a church musician since the age of 8, and is currently a lay clerk at St. Philip's Cathedral Birmingham and a member of the vocal ensemble Ex Cathed…
 
In the midst of the awards season for classical music recordings, this week I am joined by Marina Frolova-Walker, a Russian-born British musicologist and music historian, to discuss the subject of her 2016 book Stalin's Music Prize: Soviet Culture and Politics. Marina specialises in German Romanticism, Russian and Soviet music, and nationalism in m…
 
This week I am joined by Professor Laura Tunbridge, whose book Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces (published earlier this year by Viking Books) offers new perspectives on the man, the music and early nineteenth-century Vienna in this, the year of his 250th anniversary. Laura guides us through the nine works that she chose for the book, offering new p…
 
We are delighted to welcome back Rob Cowan, who was our inaugural guest back in June. Rob and Paul discuss several recent historical boxsets that collect together recordings by three American émigré artists; pianist Andor Földes, conductor Antal Dorati and violinist Isaac Stern. www.prestomusic.com/classical The recordings discussed in this episode…
 
This week our host Paul Thomas talks to saxophonist Jess Gillam about the motivations behind her new album "Time" and the effect that moving from the country to the metropolis has had on her. Hailing from Ulverston in Cumbria, Jess Gillam is blazing a trail in the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. In 2016 Jess was …
 
Paul Thomas is joined by guitarist, broadcaster and concert organiser Tom McKinney for a wide-ranging conversation about contemporary music. As well as discussing some recent new releases the discussion touches upon performances in unconventional venues and the art of commissioning new works. www.prestomusic.com The music discussed in the show: Hay…
 
Andrew Mellor has established himself as something of a British cultural attaché to Scandinavia since moving to Copenhagen in 2015. Well known for his contributions to BBC Radio 3's Record Review and the BBC Proms, he takes Paul on a guided tour of Denmark, Faroe, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, discussing some of the fascinating music that ha…
 
Paul talks to Harriet Smith about the pleasures and pitfalls that come with being a successful music critic, writing for, amongst others, Gramophone Magazine and making regular appearances as a guest on BBC Radio 3's Record Review. Paul asks Harriet to reappraise three albums that she reviewed in the past, right a wrong for a record she didn't revi…
 
Our host Paul Thomas is joined by broadcaster and critic Rob Cowan to discuss recent reissues and new releases, including a mammoth Barbirolli boxset from Warner, Robert Trevino's Beethoven symphony cycle, and Michael Tilson Thomas's moving From the Diary of Anne Frank. We also hear Rob's Confessions of a Bartók Salesman and delve into his extensiv…
 
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