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Sound Frontiers: Wednesday - Rob Cowan with Lucian Msamati

Rob Cowan presents live from Southbank Centre. Including Music in Time: Poulenc: Concerto for Two Pianos; Artist of the Week: Michael Gielen, featured conducting Debussy's Jeux.

My favourite... Brahms Intermezzos. Such is his love of Brahms' piano music that Rob struggled to find his favourite intermezzos, but eventually chose a selection primarily from the Opp. 117-119 collections. They are performed by such varied Brahms interpreters as Steven Kovacevich, Clifford Curzon, Eugene Istomin, Evgeny Kissin and Glenn Gould, all of whom bring their unique, individual voices to the poetry of Brahms' piano-writing.

Take part in today's musical challenge: name two pieces, one layered on top of the other

Rob's guest is the actor Lucian Msamati. Best known for his role as Salladhor Saan in Game of Thrones, in 2015 Lucian he became the first black actor ever to play Iago in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Othello, alongside Hugh Quarshie as Othello. In the same year he made his directorial debut with Boi Boi Is Dead. His stage work includes Clybourne Park and the London riots play Little Revolution, while recent TV credits include The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Ashes to Ashes and Doctor Who. Throughout the week, Lucian shares his favourite pieces of classical music with Rob and on Friday he appears live in the Essential Classics pop-up studio at London's Southbank Centre.

Power of Three - the next episode in a 70-part daily series of pioneering sounds from the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 archives presented by David Hendy.

Followed by
Music in Time: Modern
Rob places Music in Time. Today, we are in the Modern period with music from a composer very much associated with the madcap world of early 20th century Paris: Poulenc. The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra draws on a variety of stylistic sources, borrowing from the hypnotic sounds of the Balinese gamelan in the first movement and then turning to the grace of a Mozart slow movement in the second, though Poulenc's own characteristic personal touches - above all his sense of fun - underlie the whole piece.

Rob's Artist of the Week is the German conductor and composer Michael Gielen who when he retired in 2014, left behind an extensive recorded legacy. He held conducting posts from Vienna and Stockholm to Cincinnati and London. Besides championing the music of contemporary composers, he also excelled in music of the classical and romantic eras, which Rob focuses on this week, with Mozart's 'Haffner' Symphony, Schubert's 'Great' C major Symphony, Debussy's tennis-themed ballet Jeux, Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 and the opening Adagio from Mahler's final, incomplete Symphony No. 10.

SWR-Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden
Michael Gielen (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played


    • Igor Stravinsky

      Agon: Prelude

      Orchestra: SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. Conductor: Michael Gielen.
      • HANSSLER.
  • Johann Theile

    Die Seele Christi heilige mich (cantata for soprano)

    Singer: Ingeborg Dalheim. Ensemble: Trondheim Barokk.
    • SIMAX.

    • Johannes Brahms

      Intermezzo in B flat minor, Op.117 No.2

      Performer: Eugene Istomin.
      • SONY.
  • Christian Sinding

    Suite for violin and orchestra in A minor

    Performer: Itzhak Perlman. Orchestra: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: André Previn.
    • EMI.
  • Frank Bridge


    Choir: Tenebrae. Conductor: Nigel Short.
    • SIGNUM.
  • César Franck

    Prelude, Choral et Fugue

    Performer: Benjamin Grosvenor.
    • DECCA.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Sonata for solo violin in G minor, BWV1001: I. Adagio

    Performer: Viktoria Mullova.
    • Bach: 6 Sonatas & Partitas.
    • Onyx.
    • 1.
  • Lucian Msamati's Choice No.1

    • Claude Debussy

      Arabesque No.1

      Performer: Walter Gieseking.
      • EMI.
  • Lucian Msamati's Choice No.2

    • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

      The Nutcracker, Act II: Pas de Deux

      Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Antal Doráti.
      • MERCURY.
  • Antonio Vivaldi

    Concerto for recorder in G, RV443

    Performer: Lucie Horsch (recorder). Ensemble: Amsterdam Vivaldi Players. Director: Candida Thompson.

    • Francis Poulenc

      Concerto for two pianos and orchestra

      Performer: François‐René Duchâble. Performer: Jean‐Philippe Collard. Orchestra: Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: James Conlon.
      • APEX.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    When thy sweet glances fall on me (Cypresses)

    Ensemble: Kvarteto města Prahy.
    • DG.

    • Joseph Haydn

      Mass in D minor Hob.XXII:11, 'Nelson Mass'

      Singer: Eva Lind. Singer: Ingeborg Danz. Singer: James Taylor. Singer: Reinhard Hagen. Choir: Europachorakademie. Orchestra: SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. Conductor: Michael Gielen.
  • Edward Elgar

    Introduction and Allegro

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Munch.
    • RCA.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Waltz in A flat major, Op.42

    Performer: Kathryn Stott.
    • Chappell.

Imperfect Harmony

The music played:

Dido & Aeneas: When I am laid in Earth 
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) 
Armonico Consort 
Christopher Monks (director) 

J.S. Bach 
Partita for solo violin in G minor, BWV1001: I. Adagio
Viktoria Mullova (violin) 


Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

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