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Going solo

From timpani to timbales, crotales to cow bells, Colin Currie conjures up a spectacular range of music for percussion.

Crash, bang, wallop?

No! Colin Currie suggests you think again as he embarks on a journey of sonic exploration. In this episode, percussion is truly set free as Colin chooses some of the most innovative, exquisite and powerful music written for percussion over the past century.

When thirteen percussionists lined up on stage in New York in 1933 to play Ionisation by Edgar Varèse, solo percussion music was firmly planted on the musical map. Composers and performers suddenly became aware of the huge expressive potential of a family of instruments that had previously been used primarily for rhythmic accompaniment and occasional sound effects.

In the decades that followed many more composers started writing for percussion ensembles and soloists, allowing musicians like Colin to thrive. He’ll be introducing a piece played on tuned metal pipes, music for huge multi-percussion set-ups, and the sound of one of the most beautiful and versatile of all percussion instruments, the marimba. Plus an entertaining solo from the jazz master Buddy Rich.

A Tandem Production for BBC Radio 3

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 21 Jul 2019 23:00

Music Played

  • David Lang

    The so called laws of nature - 2nd movement (excerpt)

    Ensemble: So Percussion.
  • Iannis Xenakis

    Rebonds B

    Performer: Pedro Carneiro.
  • Keiko Abe


    Performer: Sarah Mouradoglou.
  • Sir James MacMillan

    Veni, Veni, Emmanuel - Gaude

    Performer: Colin Currie. Orchestra: Radio Kamerorkest. Conductor: Sir James MacMillan.
  • Edgard Varèse


    Ensemble: Asko Ensemble. Conductor: Riccardo Chailly.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Prelude and Fugue No.21 in B flat major

    Performer: Leigh Howard Stevens.
  • John Cage

    Second Construction

    Performer: Amadinda Percussion Group.
  • Michael Daugherty

    Dreamachine - Electric Eels (excerpt)

    Performer: Evelyn Glennie. Orchestra: Albany Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: David Alan Miller.
  • Buddy Rich

    Solo 8 - live from Montreal 1976

    Performer: Buddy Rich.


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