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Wednesday - Rob Cowan with James May

With Rob Cowan. Including Five Reasons to Love Orchestral Lollipops; Musical Challenge: Mystery Composer; Riccardo Muti; Rob's Essential Choice: String Quartet in C minor, Op 35.

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: Mystery Composer

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

String Quartet in C minor, op.35
Via Nova Quartet.

3 hours

Music Played

  • Arthur Sullivan

    The Mikado; 'Three Little Maids from School'

    Singer: Peggy Ann Jones. Singer: Valerie Masterson. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Royston Nash. Singer: Pauline Wales.
    • LONDON.
  • Hector Berlioz

    Le corsaire

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Munch.
    • SONY.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Blumine (2nd movement from Symphony no.1, original version)

    Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony. Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas.
    • SFS MEDIA.
  • CPE Bach

    Symphony in C, Wq 182/3

    Orchestra: Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Conductor: Hartmut Haenchen.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Nabucco; Pt 4, 'Dio di Giuda'

    Conductor: Riccardo Muti. Singer: Matteo Manuguerra. Choir: Ambrosian Opera Chorus. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Singer: Veriano Luchetti.
    • EMI.
  • Pyotr Tchaikovsky

    Nocturne, Op.19 No.4

    Performer: Mischa Maisky. Orchestra: Orchestre de Paris. Conductor: Semyon Bychkov.
    • DG.
  • Maurice Ravel

    Alborada del gracioso (Miroirs)

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Seiji Ozawa.
    • DG.
  • Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

    Stabat Mater; 1. Stabat Mater

    Singer: Emma Kirkby. Orchestra: Academy of Ancient Music. Singer: James Bowman. Conductor: Christopher Hogwood.
    • ARCHIV.
  • James May's Choice No. 1

    • Steve Reich

      Different trains, 3rd movement: ‘After the war’

      Ensemble: Kronos Quartet.
      • NONESUCH.
  • James May's Choice No. 2

    • Claude Debussy

      Feux d'artifice (Preludes, Book 2)

      Performer: Pascal Rogé.
      • ONYX.
  • Artist of the Week: Riccardo Muti

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Symphony No.33 in B flat, K319

      Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Riccardo Muti.
      • PHILIPS.
  • Juan de Araujo

    Ut queant laxis - hymn for baritone and 2 choirs

    Ensemble: Ex Cathedra Choir. Conductor: Jeffrey Skidmore.
    • New World Symphonies - Baroque Music from L:atin America: Ex Cathedra, Jeffrey S.
    • Hyperion.
  • Essential Choice

    • Ernest Chausson

      String Quartet in C minor, Op.35

      Ensemble: Via Nova Quartet.
      • WARNER.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Scherzo no. 4 in E op. 54

Mystery Composer



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