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Thursday - Rob Cowan with Mike Figgis

With Rob Cowan. Musical challenge; Music on Location: Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint; Artist of the Week: pianist Solomon Cutner, featured in Beethoven's Cello Sonata No 3.

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 person.

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 one of Steve Reich's best-loved compositions, New York Counterpoint, whose pulsating texture evokes the sounds and bustle of the city.

Double Take
Rob explores the nature of performance by highlighting the differences in style between two recordings of Debussy's Fireworks Prelude, by John Browning and Jorge Bolet.

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.

Cello Sonata No.3 in A major, Op.69
Gregor Piatigorsky (cello)
Solomon (piano).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Eduard Tubin


    Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • BIS.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Fugue in G minor for lute, BWV 1000

    Performer: Andrés Segovia. Music Arranger: Andrés Segovia.
    • DG.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Tapiola, Op.112

    Orchestra: Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Jukka‐Pekka Saraste.
    • RCA.
  • Giovanni Mossi

    Concerto in E minor, Op.4, No. 11

    Ensemble: Collegium Musicum 90. Conductor: Simon Standage.
    • Chandos.
  • Daniel François Esprit Auber

    La muette de Portici (Overture)

    Orchestra: Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux. Conductor: Igor Markevitch.
    • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique U.A..
    • DG.
    • 7.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Rückert Lieder: No.4, 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen'

    Singer: Kathleen Ferrier. Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Bruno Walter.
    • DECCA.
  • Mike Figgis's first choice

    • Charles Ives

      'Like a sick eagle', for voice and piano

      Singer: Jan DeGaetani. Performer: Gilbert Kalish.
      • NONESUCH.
  • Mike Figgis's second choice

    • Charles Ives

      Holidays Symphony: III. The Fourth of July

      Orchestra: New York Philharmonic. Conductor: Leonard Bernstein.
      • SONY.
  • Mike Figgis's third choice

    • Leonard Bernstein

      'Somewhere', from West Side Story

      Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim. Music Arranger: Quincy Jones. Singer: Aretha Franklin. Ensemble: Studio Musicians.
      • QWEST.
  • Mike Figgis's fourth choice

    • Miles Davis

      'Nuit sur les Champes Elysées' (take 3), from Lift to the Scaffold

      Performer: Miles Davis. Performer: René Urtreger. Performer: Pierre Michelot. Performer: Kenny Clarke.
      • FONTANA.
  • Music on Location: New York

    • Steve Reich

      New York Counterpoint

      Performer: Richard Stoltzman.
      • SONY.

    • Emmanuel Chabrier


      Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
      • DG.
    • Emmanuel Chabrier


      Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Ataúlfo Argenta.
      • DECCA.
  • David Bednall

    Te lucis ante terminum

    Choir: The Epiphoni Consort. Conductor: Tim Reader.

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

      Cello Sonata in A, Op.69

      Performer: Gregor Piatigorsky. Performer: Solomon.
      • TESTAMENT.
  • Franz Schubert

    Mignon, D 321

    Singer: Christa Ludwig. Performer: Irwin Gage.
    • DG.
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    Sinfonietta on Russian Themes Op.31

    Conductor: Evgengy Svetlanov. Orchestra: USSR State Academic Symphony Orchestra.

Musical Challenge: Recording Rewind

The reversed clip came from the opening of Mahler's Fifth Symphony.


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