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Tuesday - Rob Cowan with James May

With Rob Cowan. Including Five Reasons to Love Orchestral Lollipops; Musical Challenge: Relative Values; Riccardo Muti; Rob's Essential Choice: Bach: The Art of Fugue (excerpt).

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: Relative Values

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.

Essential Choice

The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 (extract)
Charles Rosen (piano).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080; Contrapunctus IX à 4 alla Duodecima

    Performer: Charles Rosen.
    • SONY.
  • Domenico Scarlatti

    Sonata in E, K380

    Performer: Yuja Wang.
    • DG.
  • 5 reasons to love... orchestral miniatures

    • Antonín Dvořák

      Legends, Op.59; No.6. Allegro con moto

      Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony. Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas.
      • SFS MEDIA.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Divertimento No 7 in G for 2 horns, 2 violins, baryton, viola, cello and violone

    Ensemble: Ricercar Consort. Director: Philippe Pierlot.
  • Artist of the week: Riccardo Muti

    • Sergei Prokofiev

      Ivan the Terrible, op.116; The Storming of Kazan

      Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Choir: Ambrosian Singers.
      • EMI.
  • Thomas Tallis

    Lamentations of Jeremiah II

    Ensemble: Tallis Scholars.
    • GIMELL.
  • James May's Choice No. 1

    • Thomas Robinson

      The Spanish Pavan

      Performer: Nigel North.
      • LINN.
  • James May's Choice No. 2

    • Walther von der Vogelweide

      Weide, Allerest lebe ich mir werde (Palastinalied)

      Performer: James Tyler. Singer: James Bowman. Performer: Christopher Hogwood.
      • DECCA.
  • James May's Choice No. 3

    • Isaac Albéniz

      Iberia Suite - El Puerto

      Performer: Alicia de Larrocha.
      • EMI.
  • Rameau

    La Pantomime (Pieces de clavecin en concerts)

    Performer: Pierre Hantai, Skip Sempe.
  • Artist of the week: Riccardo Muti

    • Robert Schumann

      Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO23

      Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Performer: Gidon Kremer. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra.
      • EMI.
  • Essential Choice

    • Johann Sebastian Bach

      The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080; Contrapunctus XIV (Fragment)

      Performer: Charles Rosen.
      • SONY.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Capriccio for piano and orchestra

    Performer: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. Orchestra: Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Yan Pascal Tortelier. Conductor: Yan Pascal Tortelier.
  • Mozart

    Symphony No. 17 in G, K.129

    Orchestra: Prague Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
  • Shostakovich

    The Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a (arr Steven Verharet)

    Orchestra: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductor: Ivan Meyemans.

Relative Values

The relationship was Teacher-Pupil: Schoenberg and Berg.


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