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Tuesday - Rob Cowan with Mike Figgis

With Rob Cowan. Including Musical challenge; Music on Location: New York; Artist of the Week: pianist Solomon Cutner, featured in Liszt's Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies.

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: can you work out which two composers are associated with a particular piece?

Rob's guest this week is the film director, writer, photographer and composer Mike Figgis. Mike is best known as the director of films such as Leaving Las Vegas and Internal Affairs, but he came to film after many years in music and theatre. He plays the piano, guitar and trumpet and has played and recorded with various bands in London and France, including a 'free jazz' group. For a decade Mike was a member of the People Show, a long-running experimental theatre group based in London, and has directed operas for the Manchester International Music Festival and English National Opera. As well as discussing his life and work, Mike shares some of his favourite classical music throughout the week by composers including Ives, Zelenka and Schubert.

Music on Location: New York
Rob explores music by Copland written as incidental music for a play set in New York. The play was a flop, but Copland reworked his contribution to create the chamber work Quiet City.

Double Take
Rob explores the nature of performance by highlighting the differences in style between two recordings of Chabrier's miniature orchestral masterpiece España, one conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and the other by Neeme Järvi.

Rob's featured artist is one of Britain's greatest pianists, Solomon Cutner - known to audiences simply as Solomon. He rose from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of his profession, and was en route to recording all of Beethoven's piano sonatas when tragedy struck; he suffered a severe stroke, and for the next 32 years Solomon the pianist was forced to become Solomon the concert-goer and listener. Solomon was a prime example of the notion that less is more; his reading of Beethoven's 'Waldstein' Sonata is perfectly proportioned, his Liszt and Chopin compelling but never sentimental, his Schubert abundantly lyrical, while in chamber music - especially with the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky - Solomon was the ideal duo partner. His performances are dignified and musically persuasive making his recordings well worth revisiting.

Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Melodies, S.123, for piano and orchestra
Solomon (piano)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Walter Susskind (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Hans Christian Lumbye

    Amelie waltz

    Orchestra: Odense Symfoniorkester. Conductor: Peter Guth.
    • ALTO.
  • Max Reger

    Palmsonntagmorgen, WoO VI/18

    Ensemble: The Hilliard Ensemble.
    • WARNER.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Sonata in C major for piano duet, K 19d

    Performer: Christoph Eschenbach. Performer: Justus Frantz.
    • Mozart: Music for Piano Duet: Justus Frantz, Christoph Eschenbach.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 1.
  • Hector Berlioz

    3 Pieces from The Damnation of Faust, Op.24

    Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Louis Frémaux.
    • WARNER.
  • Alexander von Zemlinsky

    Maiblumen blühten überall

    Performer: Jan Erik van Regteren Altena. Performer: Taco Kooistra. Singer: Susan Narucki. Ensemble: Schoenberg String Quartet.
    • Chandos CHAN 9772.
    • Chandos.
    • 1.
  • Mike Figgis's First Choice

    • Johann Sebastian Bach

      Two-part Invention in F minor, BWV 780 & Three-part Invention in F minor, BWV 795

      Performer: Glenn Gould.
      • SONY.
  • Mike Figgis's Second Choice

    • Jan Dismas Zelenka

      Miserere in C minor ZWV 57

      Ensemble: Balthasar‐Neumann‐Ensemble. Conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock.
      • DHM.
  • Music on Location: New York

    • Aaron Copland

      Quiet City

      Performer: Thomas Stacy. Performer: Philip Smith. Orchestra: New York Philharmonic. Conductor: Leonard Bernstein.
      • DG.
  • Double Take

    • Claude Debussy

      Preludes Book 2: XII. Feux d'artifices

      Performer: John Browning.
      • SONY.
    • Claude Debussy

      Preludes Book 2: XII. Feux d'artifices

      Performer: Jorge Bolet.
      • MARSTON.
  • William Byrd

    Quomodo cantabimus

    Choir: Gallicantus. Director: Gabriel Crouch.
    • SIGNUM.
  • Artist of the Week: Solomon

    • Franz Liszt

      Fantasy on Hungarian folk melodies for piano and orchestra, S 123

      Performer: Solomon. Orchestra: Philharmonia. Conductor: Walter Süsskind.
      • EMI.
  • Igor Stravinsky


    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Pierre Monteux.
    • RCA.
  • Joseph Canteloube

    La delaissado (Chants d'Auvergne - set 2 no 4)

    Singer: Netania Davrath. Conductor: Pierre de la Roche. Orchestra: Uncredited Orchestra.
    • ALTO.
    • ALC 1151.
    • 9.

Musical Challenge: By Association

The piece we played was Stravinsky's Greeting Prelude, composed as a birthday gift for Pierre Monteux. The two musicians we were looking for were therefore Stravinsky and Monteux.

Stravinsky had thought the 'Happy Birthday' tune to be a folk melody whereas it in fact appears to have been composed by Patty and Mildred Hill, though their authorship is not entirely certain.


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