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Thursday - Rob Cowan with Simon Callow

With Rob Cowan. Including Musical challenge; Music in Time: Franck's Symphonic Variations; Artist of the Week: Thomas Beecham, featured conducting Schubert's Symphony No 5.

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: listen to the clues and identify a mystery musical personality.

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: Romantic
Rob places Music in Time, and travels back to the Romantic era. The composer, pianist and organist César Franck was renowned for his brilliance at improvising around sacred melodies. Rob explores how Franck's expertise in developing and transforming musical themes was channelled into his Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra.

Double Take
Rob explores the nature of performance by highlighting the differences in style between two recordings of the aria Ombra mai fù by Handel, sung by two favourite singers from different eras: the tenor Enrico Caruso and countertenor Andreas Scholl.

11am 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.

Symphony No.5 in B flat major
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • George Frideric Handel

    Flute Sonata in G: II. Allegro (arranged for trumpet and continuo)

    Performer: Paul Merkelo. Performer: Luc Beauséjour.
  • Simeon ten Holt

    Canto Ostinato: Section 95

    Performer: Jeroen can Veen.
  • Henry Purcell

    Bonduca: Sing ye Druids

    Director: Christopher Hogwood. Ensemble: Academy of Ancient Music. Choir: Taverner Choir. Singer: Elizabeth Lane. Singer: Prudence Lloyd.
    • DECCA.
  • Edward Elgar


    Narrator: Simon Callow. Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Ben Palmer.
    • SOMM.
  • César Franck


    Performer: Jean Guillou.
    • DORIAN.
  • Franz Schubert

    Der Vater mit dem Kind D906

    Singer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson. Performer: Graham Johnson.
  • Domenico Scarlatti

    Sonata in C minor K115

    Performer: Carole Cerasi.
    • Metronome Recordings.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Egmont Overture

    Orchestra: Filarmonica della Scala. Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini.
  • Larry Adler & George Gershwin

    Rhapsody in Blue (arranged for harmonica and piano)

    • DECCA.
  • Percy Grainger

    Shallow Brown

    Singer: John Shirley‐Quirk. Choir: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Benjamin Britten.
    • London.
  • Richard Wagner

    Das Liebesverbot (Overture)

    Performer: Thomas Zehetmair. Conductor: Wolfgang Sawallisch. Orchestra: The Philadelphia Orchestra.
    • Wagner: Overtures, Marches, Symphony in E, Siegfried Idyll: Sawallisch.
    • EMI Classics.
    • 1.
  • César Franck

    Symphonic Variations

    Performer: Bertrand Chamayou. Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conductor: Stéphane Denève.
    • NAÏVE.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Serse: Overture, 'Fondi tenere... Ombra mai fu'

    Singer: Andreas Scholl. Orchestra: Academy for Ancient Music Berlin.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Serse: 'Ombra mai fù'

    Singer: Enrico Caruso. Orchestra: Victor Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Boris Pasternak.
    • NIMBUS.
  • Fritz Kreisler

    Liebesleid (Old Viennese Dances)

    Performer: Joshua Bell. Performer: Paul Coker.
    • Kreisler: Liebesleid, Liebesfreud: Joshua Bell.
    • Decca.
    • 7.
  • Franz Schubert

    Symphony No.5 in B flat

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Thomas Beecham.
    • EMI.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    String Quartet No.7

    Ensemble: Atrium Quartet.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Bagatelle in A flat major, Op 33 No 7

    Performer: Steven Osborne.
    • Beethoven: Bagatelles: Steven Osborne - piano.
    • Hyperion.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Why do the nations so furiously rage together?

  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Let us break their bonds asunder

  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: He that dwelleth in heaven

  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah: Thou shalt break them

  • George Frideric Handel

    Messiah, Pt. 2 - Hallelujah

    Featured Artist: Gabrieli Consort & Players. Featured Artist: Paul McCreesh.

Musical Challenge: Mystery Person

The mystery person was the virtuoso harmonica player, Larry Adler.


Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

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