Friday 6 December 2013, 17:56
Jez Nelson introduces the artists in the next edition of Jazz on 3.
Monday 9 December 2013, 11:17
I’ve been chatting with our Brainteaser Boffins recently, and one or two of them expressed an interest in freeing themselves – if only for a moment - from the shackles of brainteasing to contribute to the Essential Classics blog. So, here it is: the first blog post from one of our beloved Brainteaser Boffins.
We brainteaser boffins (as Sarah Walker likes to call us) have been hard at work for well over two years now, searching the back corners of our CD shelves, catalogues, websites and grey matter for those quirky questions that keep Essential Classics listeners guessing. In a dusty room, far from the bright lights and primary colours of New Broadcasting House, our twisted minds dream up ever more fiendish tests of the musically oriented mind… So can you beat us? Possibly. Will you know the answer? Well, those questions are sometimes easier than you think. Will Wikipedia help you? Hmmm – that’s cheating (but who’s to know?)
9.30am is the time to sit, poised over your radio, computer or iPlayer Radio as Sarah or Rob delivers the daily Brainteaser. Go on… you know you want to. And tweet or text or email your answer while you’re at it. We...
Friday 6 December 2013, 17:56
My monthly Jazz in the Round event made a special appearance as part of the final weekend of the London Jazz Festival, on a special stage built in the foyer of London’s Royal Festival Hall.
A stunning line-up of four acts played to a packed audience of aficionados and passers-by who couldn’t believe their luck at bagging a free ringside seat for such great music, much of which you can hear on this week’s Jazz On 3.
We start with the invention of a whole new genre! ‘Acid-trad’ from British quartet Pigfoot led by trumpeter Chris Batchelor. The ‘trad’ bit means re-interpretations of the likes of Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller; the ‘acid’ a nod to the band’s at times irreverent, wonky approach. Actually, the tunes are very clearly laid out, but when Oren Marshall’s tuba is let off the leash, or Paul Clarvis’s kit explodes into life, things get a little more anarchic. There are quieter moments – check out Liam Noble’s beautiful pizzicato piano intro to Basin St. Blues – but mainly this gets the party off to a jaunty start.
Next up, the vocalist from the best band of another acid-related trend: Carleen Anderson sang with The Young Disciples in the early 90s and...
Monday 2 December 2013, 14:12
Around 20 minutes into tonight’s featured concert a shout of “play some piano” came from the audience. Strange, you might think, given Brad Mehldau’s name is synonymous with the instrument. But the heckler can’t have read the billing; this was a Mehliana gig. Mehldau is best known as one of the most influential pianists of the past 20 years, responsible for opening a generation’s ears to new possibilities in the art of the piano trio. But this new project takes him in a new direction, armed with a battery of retro synths and the precision beat-machine otherwise know as Mark Guiliana at the drum kit. Together under the Mehliana amalgam, their recent performance at the London Jazz Festival caused one of the biggest stirs of the season – and you can hear just why on this week's Jazz on 3. Cascading Fender Rhodes lines hovered over space-age synth washes and the squelchy bass lines of the Moog 'Little Phatty', while Mark Guiliana’s powerhouse rhythms drove the set with face-scrunching force. The drummer's penchant for electronic music and sampled sounds has significantly influenced his technique – his grooves are complex and impressively tight. Some fans of Mehldau...
Monday 2 December 2013, 11:59
Maida Vale Studios recently witnessed one of the biggest Family Orchestra and Chorus workshops we’ve ever had, with around 170 family members turning MV1 into a carnival of grooves, tunes, rhythms and singing! Under the leadership of Lincoln Abbotts (our former learning manager , now in a similar role at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) who jumped, danced and enthused his way through the day, we created a suite of brand new pieces, all based on the repertoire of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers in the 2013/14 season. This was a particularly special occasion as, for the...
Friday 29 November 2013, 10:04
Welcome to the Essential Classics Blog, where you can find out what’s coming up in the week ahead. We’ve got two very special Marias to delight your ear buds this week: a daily tribute to the incomparable Maria Callas; and our Artist of the Week is the Portuguese pianist, Maria João Pires.
Callas: 90th Anniversary
Maria Callas, 1958
Love her or loathe her, there can be no question that Maria Callas made one of the most dramatic impacts in the history of opera. While the voice itself continues to be a controversial topic even to this day (not least among Radio 3 staff), we couldn...
Wednesday 27 November 2013, 16:28
As the BBC Concert Orchestra prepares to explore the mixed-up, show-off world of the 1980s in a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall next Saturday, with Paul Morley and Anne Dudley, founder members of pioneering pop conceptualists Art of Noise, we asked composer Andrew Poppy, whose music will be performed in the concert, for some thoughts and memories of the 1980s.
Who were your musical influences in the 1980s?
Philip Glass: the patterns, the process, the attitude and energy.
Fela Kuti: the groove, the textures, attitude and energy.
How would you describe your music?
A dancing machine...
Tuesday 26 November 2013, 17:39
River and reed beds at Snape Maltings
BBC Symphony Orchestra sub-principal viola Phil Hall with the inside track on the orchestra's contribution to the Britten Centenary Weekend.
As part of the BBC's Britten 100 celebrations, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chorus travelled up to Suffolk to give two concerts in the Maltings Concert Hall, in the tiny village of Snape, four miles from Britten's home at Aldeburgh.
The main concert (on Friday, the actual anniversary), comprised Britten's Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes, his Spring Symphony, the Cantata Academica and a new...
Monday 25 November 2013, 13:20Martha Jane Pettway, Block and strip work-clothes quilt, 1940s [detail]. Â© Stephen Pitkin
There’s a road out of Selma, Alabama, that follows the Alabama River as it meanders through a flat landscape of cotton fields to embrace the small community of Gee’s Bend. There’s not much there except for houses and people, but they are responsible for some spectacular art. Going back to the days of slavery, the women of Gee’s Bend have made extraordinary quilts: bold, colourful creations pieced together from old work clothes and anything else to hand. And as they quilt, they sing hymns and...
Monday 25 November 2013, 10:07
Welcome to the Essential Classics Blog, where you can find out what’s coming up in the week ahead. This week we’ve got one of the very finest chamber ensembles as our Artists of the Week – the Quartetto Italiano – and our guest, amidst the Britten 100 celebrations, is an actor who has played the role of Britten on stage: Alex Jennings.
Artists of the Week
Remarkably, during its impressive 35-year span (1945-1980), three members of the Quartetto Italiano remained the same – only the violist changed (no viola jokes, thank you). The group’s repertoire is...
Monday 25 November 2013, 01:00
A tricky manoeuvre for the BBC SO truck at Snape Maltings Well, the microphones and cables have been stowed away, the equipment loaded, the last truck has executed the tight turns and left Snape Maltings, and Radio 3's presenters and their producers should be home by now. Not to mention the hundreds of musicians and audience members who have made their way to Snape, to Aldeburgh, to Southwold and to Lowestoft to make the Britten Centenary Weekend such an enlightening and absorbing celebration of the life and music of Benjamin Britten.
But we're not quite done yet: in a Britten 100 coda, you...