Wednesday - Rob Cowan with Simon Callow
With Rob Cowan. Including Music in Time: Bartok: String Quartet No 5; Artist of the Week: Thomas Beecham, featured conducting Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite No 2.
Rob sets the tone and mood of the day's programme with a range of music to intrigue, surprise and entertain.
Take part in today's musical challenge: identify a piece of music played backwards.
Rob's guest is the actor, writer and director Simon Callow. Sir Laurence Olivier gave Simon his first theatre job - in the box office of the National Theatre - and after that the young Callow soon found his way onto the stage, first coming to prominence playing Mozart in Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus. He has since become one of the UK's best-loved actors, not only on the stage, but in TV series such as Chance in a Million, and films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral. Simon is often referred to as a writer who acts, having produced not only books about his own life as an actor, but also biographies of Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Orson Welles and most recently Richard Wagner. During the week Simon discusses all this and more and chooses music by Sibelius, Grainger, Mozart and Wagner.
Music in Time: Modern
Rob places Music in Time. Today the spotlight is on the Modern Era, and perhaps the greatest quartet cycle since Beethoven. Bela Bartok composed his six string quartets at intervals spread throughout his career and the Fifth dates from the summer of 1934. Bartok constructed its five movements in a symmetrical arch form around a central scherzo inspired by Bulgarian folk style.
Artist of the Week: Sir Thomas Beecham
'The Beecham Touch' is an epithet for all that is stylish, delicate, mischievous and spontaneous in conducting. Sir Thomas was the living embodiment of charm, genuine authenticity (in that he conducted from the heart as well as from the head) and a sense of theatre that could leave an audience breathless with excitement. Rob's selection of Beecham recordings ranges from Handel and Haydn to Delius and Sibelius, all of them 'first-loves' for this most charismatic of conductors.
L'Arlésienne Suite No.2
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor).