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Wednesday - Rob Cowan with Nicholas Hytner

Discover definitive recordings of classical music with your trusted guide, Rob Cowan. His guest is highly acclaimed theatre, opera and film director Nicholas Hytner.

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 remember the television show or film that featured this piece of classical music?

Rob's guest this week is the highly acclaimed theatre, opera and film director Nicholas Hytner. Until recently Nicholas was Director of the National Theatre, a role he held for nearly 12 years. He began his directing career in the opera house as an assistant at English National Opera, where he went on to lead productions of Wagner, Handel and Mozart. In 1989 he directed the first production of Miss Saigon in the West End and soon afterwards began his long association with the National Theatre. At the National, Nicholas directed the original theatre production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys before directing the much-loved film adaptation. This was by no means his first or last collaboration with Bennett; he directed both the stage and film productions of Bennett's The Madness of George III and The Lady in the Van. As well as discussing his work as a director, Nicholas shares his passion for classical music, choosing a selection of his favourite works by composers including Monteverdi, Sibelius and Britten.

Music on Location: Rome
Rob explores the 'sweet life' of Rome through Nino Rota's score for the 1960 film, La Dolce Vita.

Rob's Proms Artist of the Week is the Scottish pianist Steven Osborne. Osborne is publicly acknowledged as one of the great pianists of his generation; in 2013 he was named Instrumentalist of the Year by The Royal Philharmonic Society and he is the recipient of two Gramophone awards. Osborne has given concerto performances and recitals around the world and is a regular at the BBC Proms; this year he is giving the premiere of a new piano concerto by Julian Anderson with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBCSSO). Osborne has a long-term relationship with the BBCSSO and this week Rob has chosen their recordings of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major, Britten's Piano Concerto in D major, Stravinsky's Concerto for piano and wind instruments, and Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain. We'll also hear Osborne's award-winning recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

Piano Concerto in D major, Op.13
Steven Osborne (piano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Ilan Volkov (conductor)


3 hours

Music Played

  • William Walton

    Henry V Suite: 5. Agincourt Song

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: William Walton.
    • EMI.
  • Georg Philipp Telemann

    Concerto in D Major, TWV.54:D3

    Ensemble: Academy for Ancient Music Berlin.
    • Telemann: Concerti per molti stromenti.
    • harmonia mundi.
    • 1 - 4.
  • Robert Schumann

    Genoveva: Overture

    Orchestra: Orchestra Mozart. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG.
  • Dobrinka Tabakova

    Alma Redemptoris Mater for chorus

    Choir: Choir of Merton College, Oxford. Conductor: Benjamin Nicholas.
  • Antonio Bertali

    Sonata a 3

    Ensemble: Caecilia-Concert.
  • Franz Schubert

    Adagio in E flat major for piano trio, D.897 'Notturno'

    Ensemble: Beaux Arts Trio.
    • PHILIPS.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Leave me, loathsome light (Semele)

    Singer: Christopher Purves. Ensemble: Arcangelo. Conductor: Jonathan Cohen.
  • Nicholas Hytner's First Choice

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Die Zauberflöte, Act I: Quintet "Hm! hm! hm! hm!"

      Singer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson. Singer: Andreas Schmidt. Singer: Nancy Argenta. Singer: Eirian James. Singer: Catherine Denley. Orchestra: London Classical Players. Conductor: Sir Roger Norrington.
      • EMI.
  • Nicholas Hytner's Second Choice

    • Leos Janáček

      Cunning Little Vixen, Act II: conclusion

      Singer: Eva Zigmundová. Singer: Gertude Jahn. Singer: Lucia Popp. Singer: Eva Randová. Singer: Ivana Mixová. Choir: Chor der Wiener Staatsoper. Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
      • DECCA.
  • Nicholas Hytner's Third Choice

    • Benjamin Britten

      Peter Grimes, Act 2: "Fool to let it come to this!; People!... No I will speak!"

      Singer: Jean Watson. Singer: Geraint Evans. Singer: Raymond Nilsson. Singer: Lauris Elms. Singer: James Pease. Singer: John Lanigan. Singer: Claire Watson. Singer: Marion Studholme. Singer: Iris Kells. Singer: Owen Brannigan. Choir: Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Conductor: Benjamin Britten.
      • DECCA.
  • John Dowland

    The Shoemaker's Wife

    Performer: Paul O’Dette.
    • Dowland: Musicke for the Lute.
    • Astree.
    • 1.
  • Music on Location: Rome

    • Nino Rota

      La Dolce Vita: opening credits

      Orchestra: Orchestra. Conductor: Carlo Savina.
      • CAM.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Fantasy in C minor, K 475

    Performer: Alfred Brendel.
    • Philips.
  • Reinhold Moritzevich Glière

    Holiday at Ferghana, Op 75

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vassily Sinaisky.
    • Chandos.
  • Proms Artist of the Week: Steven Osborne

    • Benjamin Britten

      Piano  Concerto in D major, Op.13 

      Performer: Steven Osborne. Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Ilan Volkov.
      • HYPERION.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Leonore Overture No 3, Op 72b

    Orchestra: Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard.
    • Beethoven: Symphony no.6/Leonore overtures: Swedish Chamber Orch/Dausgaard.
    • Simax.
    • 8.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Water Music: Suite No.2 in D major, HWV349

    Orchestra: Les Musiciens du Louvre. Conductor: Marc Minkowski.
    • NAÏVE.

Musical Challenge: Heard on Screen

The music was the Hornpipe from Handel's 2nd Water Music Suite, which was featured in 'The Madness of King George (1994)', written by Alan Bennett & directed by our guest, Nicholas Hytner.


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