Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Friday - Rob Cowan with James May

With Rob Cowan. Including Five Reasons to Love Orchestral Lollipops; Mystery Composer; Riccardo Muti; Rob's Essential Choice: Tchaikovsky compl Semyon Bogatyrev: Symphony No 7.

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: Recording Rewind

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

Tchaikovsky (completed by Semyon Bogatyrev)
Symphony no.7 in E flat
Philadelphia Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Orchestra: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Rafael Kubelík.
  • Georg Philipp Telemann

    Ouverture, ‘La Bizarre’ – 1. Overture 4:44

    Performer: Academy for Ancient Music Berlin.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, op.21 11:40

    Performer: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Rafael Kubelik (conductor).
    • DG.
  • Beethoven

    Piano Sonata in E flat, op.31 no.3 19:50

    Performer: Maurizio Pollini (piano).
    • DG.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Piano Sonata in E Flat Op 31

    Performer: Maurizio Pollini.

Recording Rewind

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3


Our Classical Century

Our Classical Century

Radio 3 explores 100 key musical moments that shaped us, from 1918 to the present day.

Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough presents quirky tales gathered from the corners of history.