Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

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).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Béla Bartók

    Allegro Barbaro

    Performer: Zoltán Kocsis.
    • PHILIPS.
  • Hector Berlioz

    Trojan March (The Trojans)

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Thomas Beecham.
    • EMI CDM.
  • Tomaso Antonio Vitali

    Parte del Tomaso Vitalino

    Performer: Stephanie de Failly. Performer: Lionel Desmeules.
  • George Gershwin

    It Ain't Necessarily So (From Porgy and Bess)

    Performer: Louis Armstrong. Singer: Ella Fitzgerald.
    • VERVE.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Love in Bath arr Beecham (Hornpipe)

    Orchestrator: Thomas Beecham. Conductor: Thomas Beecham. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Handel: Solomon/Love in Bath: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham.
    • EMI.
    • 25.
  • Guillaume de Machaut

    Riches d'amour

    Singer: Rogers Covey‐Crump.
    • HELIOS.
  • Gioachino Rossini

    The Silken Ladder: Overture

    Orchestra: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
    • DG.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Organ Concerto in A minor BWV 593, after Vivaldi

    Performer: Ton Koopman.
    • NOVALIS.
  • Orlande de Lassus

    Se si alto pon gir mie stanche rime

    Ensemble: Singer Pur.
  • Reynaldo Hahn


    Performer: Gerald Moore. Singer: Maggie Teyte.
    • NAXOS.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Symphony No. 3 in A minor: II. Adagio ma non troppo

    Orchestra: The Philadelphia Orchestra. Conductor: Sergey Rachmaninov.
    • Naxos.
  • Béla Bartók

    String Quartet No.5

    Ensemble: Hagen Quartett.
    • DG.
  • Georges Bizet

    L'Arlésienne: Suite No.2

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Thomas Beecham.
    • EMI.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Sonata No.2 in A major BWV1015

    Performer: David Oistrakh. Performer: Hans Pischner.
    • DG.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Bassoon Concerto K191

    Performer: Gwydion Brooke. Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Thomas Beecham.
    • EMI.
  • Jules Massenet

    Papillons blancs

    Performer: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.
    • Debussy/Ravel: Works For Piano And Orchestra.
    • Chandos.

Musical Challenge: Recording Rewind

The reversed clip we played was from the first movement of J.S. Bach's Organ Concerto in A minor BWV593, after Vivaldi.


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.