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Wednesday - Rob Cowan with Katie Mitchell

With Rob Cowan. Including Musical challenge; Music in Time: Scriabin's Prometheus: The Poem of Fire; Artist of the Week: William Christie, featured conducting music by Mozart.

Discover definitive recordings of classical music with your trusted guide, Rob Cowan. His guest is the stage director Katie Mitchell.

Rob sets the tone and mood of the day's programme with a range of music to intrigue, surprise and entertain.   

Take part in our daily musical challenge: can you identify the piece of music, played in reverse?

Rob's guest this week is the theatre and opera director, Katie Mitchell. Katie formed a theatre company whilst still at school and started working at the Royal Shakespeare Company in her early twenties, before holding positions at the Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre. Her productions of both well-known plays and brand new works have provoked strong reactions from critics, some branding her as a 'vandal', whilst others consider her one of the best directors in the world today. Katie's also a big presence in the world of opera, directing productions at Welsh National Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Aix-en-Provence Festival where she directed the world premiere of George Benjamin's Written on Skin. She's distilled her experiences into a book, The Director's Craft, and she is currently the Visiting Chair in Opera Studies at the University of Oxford. As well as discussing her work as a director and her life, Katie shares some of her favourite classical music.

Music in Time: Modern
Rob's in the Modern period exploring how composers translated colour into sound. He's chosen a piece by the synaesthetic composer Alexander Scriabin as an example: Prometheus, The Poem of Fire.

Artist of the Week: William Christie
Rob's Artist of the Week is the American-born conductor and harpsichordist, William Christie. After growing up and studying in America, Christie moved to France in the 1970s where he founded his award-winning vocal and instrumental ensemble, Les Arts Florissants. Together they've opened up the music of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France to a wider audience, in particular championing works by neglected composers such as Guillaume Bouzignac and André Campra. Christie is regarded as the uncontested master of opéra-ballet, such as Rameau's Les Indes Galantes, and tragédie-lyrique, such as Lully's Atys, and it was Christie's 1987 production of Atys that first earned him major public recognition. Ever since, he's been a leading figure in Baroque opera and vocal music, and throughout the week we'll hear Christie's recordings of works by Charpentier, Lully and Purcell, as well as Mozart. He's also a renowned keyboard player, and we'll hear him as a soloist, accompanist and duettist in music by Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer, Handel, and Couperin.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Act 2 quartet "Ach Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben!" 
Konstanze: Christine Schäfer (soprano)
Blonde: Patricia Petibon (soprano)
Belmonte: Ian Bostridge (tenor)
Pedrillo: Iain Paton (tenor)
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Franz Schubert

    Impromptu in E flat major, D.899 no.2

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida.
    • DECCA.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op.6 No.7

    Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Conductor: William Christie.
  • Arnold Bax

    Elegiac Trio

    Performer: Philippa Davies. Performer: Roger Chase. Performer: Skaila Kanga. Ensemble: Nash Ensemble.
  • Caroline Shaw

    Cant voi l'aube

    Singer: Anne Sofie von Otter. Ensemble: Brooklyn Rider.
    • NAÏVE.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Horn Concerto No.2 in E flat major, K.417

    Performer: Barry Tuckwell. Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra.
    • DECCA.
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Swan Lake: Finale

    Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Ernest Ansermet.
  • Katie Mitchell's First Choice

    • Franz Schubert

      Der Leiermann (Winterreise)

      Performer: Paul Lewis. Singer: Mark Padmore.
      • Schubert Winterreise: Mark Padmore - Paul Lewis.
      • Harmonia Mundi.
      • 24.
  • Katie Mitchell's Second Choice

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

      Violin Sonata in A major, Op 47, 'Kreutzer' (1st mvt)

      Performer: Gidon Kremer. Performer: Martha Argerich.
      • Beethoven: Violin Sonatas: Gidon Kremer/Martha Argerich.
      • Deutsche Grammophon.
      • 1.
  • Domenico Scarlatti

    Sonata in F minor, Kk 519

    Performer: Zuzana Růžičková.
  • Music in Time: Modern

    • Alexander Scriabin

      Prometheus, The Poem of Fire

      Orchestra: Mariinsky Orchestra. Conductor: Valery Gergiev.
      • PHILIPS.
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

    Sonata in E minor

    Performer: Dorothee Oberlinger, recorder. Ensemble: Ensemble 1700.
  • Artist of the Week: William Christie

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Act 2 quartet "Ach Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben"

      Singer: Christine Schäfer. Singer: Patricia Petibon. Singer: Ian Bostridge. Singer: Iain Paton. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
      • ERATO.
  • Nicolò Paganini

    Caprice in A, Op 1 No 21

    Performer: Erick Friedman, violin.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 56 ("Scottish")

    Orchestra: Kammerakademie Potsdam. Conductor: Antonello Manacorda.
    • Mendelssohn: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5.
    • SONY.
    • 1-4.

Musical Challenge: Recording Rewind

The piece of music we played in reverse was the Swan theme from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.


Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

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