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Monday - Rob Cowan with James May

With Rob Cowan. Including Five Reasons to Love Orchestral Lollipops; Musical Challenge: Mapping the Music; conductor Riccardo Muti; Rob's Essential Choice: Schubert: Symphony No 8.

Discover definitive recordings of the greatest classical music with your trusted guide, Rob Cowan. His guest is journalist and presenter of BBC's Top Gear programme, James May.

A selection of music including '5 Reasons to Love... orchestral lollipops'. Throughout the week Rob welcomes in the New Year with a selection of orchestral lollipops recalling the tradition of Thomas Beecham's orchestral bons-bons. The San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas play familiar favourites include Rachmaninov's Vocalise, Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, Schubert's Entracte No.3 from Rosamunde and Litolff's celebrated Scherzo.

Musical challenge: Mapping the Music

Rob's guest this week, sharing his favourite classical music every day at 10am, is James May. Best known as co-presenter of the BBC's Top Gear programme, the Renaissance man of motoring takes off his driving gloves and returns to Essential Classics to dig deeper into another of his great passions. A former chorister and occasional flautist, May is a classical music enthusiast with a particular love of the keyboard.

This week Rob's featured artist is the eminent Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, whose performances combine probing intelligence and an intense conviction. Rob will feature benchmark recordings throughout the week from his prestigious career with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic and from his tenure as music director at La Scala, Milan. Not forgetting his memorable New Year's Day Concert of 2000.

Today's Essential Choice is taken from the Building a Library recommendation from last Saturday's CD Review.

Symphony no.8 in B minor, D759 ('Unfinished').

3 hours

Music Played

  • Thomas Morley

    Now is the Month of Maying

    Director: Anthony Rooley. Ensemble: The King’s Singers. Ensemble: The Consort of Musicke.
    • EMI.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Fantasia in C, Hob XVII:4

    Performer: Sir András Schiff.
    • WARNER.
  • 5 reasons to love... orchestral miniatures

    • Gabriel Fauré

      Pavane, Op.50

      Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas. Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony.
      • SFS MEDIA.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Organ Concerto in B flat, Op.7 No.6

    Conductor: Jaap Schröder. Performer: Daniel Chorzempa. Orchestra: Concerto Amsterdam.
    • PHILIPS.
  • Artist of the week: Riccardo Muti

    • Luigi Cherubini

      Requiem Mass in C minor; Agnus Dei

      Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Ensemble: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra.
      • EMI.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    The Creatures of Prometheus, Op.43

    Conductor: Otto Klemperer. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra.
    • EMI.
  • James May's Choice No. 1

    • John Cage

      Sonata 1 for Prepared Piano

      Performer: Boris Berman.
      • NAXOS.
  • James May's Choice No. 2

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Sonata 4 (E flat) K282 – Adagio

      Performer: Sir András Schiff.
      • DECCA.
  • Thomas Tallis


    Ensemble: Chapelle du Roi. Conductor: Alistair Dixon.
  • Artist of the week: Riccardo Muti

    • Béla Bartók

      Two Pictures for Orchestra, Op.10

      Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Orchestra: Filarmonica della Scala.
      • SONY.
  • Georg Philipp Telemann

    Paris Quartet No. 4 (Sonata Seconda)

    Performer: Barthold Kuijken. Performer: Wieland Kuijken. Performer: Sigiswald Kuijken. Performer: Gustav Leonhardt.
  • The Building a library recommendation from last Saturday's CD Review

    • Franz Schubert

      Symphony No.8 in B minor, D759

      Orchestra: The London Classical Players. Conductor: Sir Roger Norrington.
      • EMI.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Sonata for Piano and Violin in G. Op 96

    Performer: Pamela Frank. Performer: Claude Frank.
  • Edward Elgar

    Bavarian Dance No 1

    Orchestra: Bournemouth Sinfonietta. Conductor: Norman Del Mar.
    • Elgar: Favourites: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Del Mar/Hurst.
    • Chandos.
    • 12.

Mapping the Music

The location was Pest, Hungary:

The music played:


Hungarian Rhapsody no.9 in E flat, S244/9    

Roberto Szidon (piano)

DG 477 9525


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