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Andrew McGregor with Stephen Johnson and Sara Mohr-Pietsch

Andrew McGregor rounds up the best new and recent releases, and in Building a Library Stephen Johnson compares recordings of Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence, Op 70.

with Andrew McGregor.

Building a Library: Stephen Johnson listens to and compares some of the available recordings of Tchaikovsky's string sextet Souvenir de Florence, Op.70.

Tchaikovsky subtitled his String Sextet in D minor, Op.70, 'Souvenir de Florence' because he sketched one of the work's main themes during the 3-month visit he made to Florence in Italy in 1890 during which he mainly devoted his energy to composing his opera, The Queen of Spades. Despite its conception in Italy, the Souvenir de Florence is decidedly Russian in character. It's not a work that Tchaikovsky found easy to complete, partly because of the scoring for 2 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos, a texture that he found sometimes more orchestral than comprising 6 independent contrapuntal voices. Tchaikovsky composed the Sextet in 31 days and it received its first public performance in December 1890 at the St Petersburg Chamber Music Society, which had commissioned the work. Tchaikovsky was not entirely happy and revised the work during the following 2 years. Its final version was premiered in 1892 at the St Petersburg Imperial Russian Musical Society, by a sextet led by Leopold Auer.

In the run-up to International Women's Day, Sara Mohr-Pietsch reviews some of the most exciting new releases of the female composers.

Andrew chooses an outstanding new release as his Disc of the Week.

3 hours, 13 minutes

Music Played

  • Knudåge Riisager

    Etudes after Czerny

    Orchestra: Aarhus Symfoniorkester. Conductor: Andreas Delfs.
    • DaCapo.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony No.1 in E minor, Op.39: II. Andante

    Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
    • Alpha.
  • Johanna Senfter

    Violin Sonata in G minor, Op.32: III. Gemächlich

    Performer: Friedemann Eichhorn. Performer: Paul Rivinius.
    • Paladino Music.
  • Will Todd

    Songs of Renewal: Me renovare

    Choir: Bath Camerata. Director: Benjamin Goodson.
    • Somm Recordings.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Festive Overture, Op.96

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Andris Nelsons.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Joël Bons

    Nomaden: No.10, 'Duel'

    Performer: Jean‐Guihen Queyras. Performer: Wu Wei.
    • Joël Bons: Nomaden.
    • BIS.
    • 10.
  • Joël Bons

    Nomaden: No.11, 'Azertet'

    Ensemble: Atlas Ensemble. Conductor: Ed Spanjaard.
    • Joël Bons: Nomaden.
    • BIS.
    • 11.
  • Henry Purcell

    Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Z. 792: I. [Sans indication] . Adagio

    Ensemble: La Rêveuse. Conductor: Florence Bolton. Conductor: Benjamin Perrot.
    • Circa 1700: Purcell & his Generation.
    • Mirare.
    • 1.
  • Henry Purcell

    Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Z. 792: II. Canzona. [Allegro] - Adagio

    Ensemble: La Rêveuse. Conductor: Florence Bolton. Conductor: Benjamin Perrot.
    • Circa 1700: Purcell & his Generation.
    • Mirare.
    • 2.
  • Henry Purcell

    Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Z. 792: III. Poco largo. Allegro

    Ensemble: La Rêveuse. Conductor: Florence Bolton. Conductor: Benjamin Perrot.
    • Circa 1700: Purcell & his Generation.
    • Mirare.
    • 3.
  • Henry Purcell

    From silent shades (Bess of Bedlam Z.370)

    Performer: Richard Egarr. Performer: William Carter. Singer: Rowan Pierce. Ensemble: Academy of Ancient Music.
    • Linn.
  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir


    Ensemble: International Contemporary Ensemble. Conductor: Steven Schick.
    • Sono Luminus.
  • Dame Ethel Smyth

    Violin sonata Op.7: III. scherzo

    Performer: Tasmin Little. Performer: John Lenehan.
    • Chandos.
  • Charlotte Bray

    Invisible Cities: II. Unnerved, intimate

    Performer: Barbara Buntrock. Performer: Huw Watkins.
    • RTF Classical.
  • Cassandra Miller


    Ensemble: Quatuor Bozzini.
    • Another Timbre.
  • Elizabeth Maconchy

    String Quartet No.13 (Quartetto Corto, 1984)

    Ensemble: Mistry Quartet. Conductor: John Jeter.
    • Unicorn.
  • Florence Price

    Symphony No.4 in D minor: IV Scherzo

    Orchestra: Fort Smith Symphony. Conductor: John Jeter.
    • Naxos.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No. 3, Part I: No. 1. Kräftig. Entschieden

    Orchestra: Gürzenich-Orchester Köln. Conductor: François‐Xavier Roth.
    • Mahler: Symphony No. 3.
    • harmonia mundi.
    • 1.

Record Review


Knudage Riisager: Violin Concerto & Etudes for violin
Ian van Rensburg (violin)
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Andreas Delfs (conductor)
DaCapo 8.226145

Sibelius: Symphony No.1 & En Saga
Gothenburg Symphony
Santtu-Matias Rouvali (conductor)
Alpha 440

Johanna Senfter: Violin Sonata in G minor, Violin Sonata in A major, Two Suites for two violins, Op.91
Friedemann Eichhorn (violin)
Alexia Eichhorn (violin)
Paul Rivinius (piano)
Paladino Music PMR0101 (2 CDs)

‘Songs of Renewal’ – Jonathan Dove: The Passing Year; Will Todd: Songs of Renewal plus choral songs by Judith Weir, Tarik O’Regan, Cecilia McDowall, Huw Watkins & Roderick Williams
Bath Camerata (choir)
Benjamin Goodson (conductor)
Somm Recordings SOMMCD 0195


9.30am – Building a Library – Stephen Johnson on Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence

Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Reviewer: Stephen Johnson

Recommended Recording:

Borodin Quartet
Alto ALC1295

Other Recommended Recordings:

Chamber orchestra

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Iona Brown (conductor)
Chandos CHAN 9708


10.20am – New Releases

‘Dmitri Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow’ – Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos.6 & 7; Incidental music to ‘King Lear’; Festive Overture
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons (conductor)
Deutsche Grammophon 483 6728

Joël Bons: Nomaden
Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello)
Atlas Ensemble
Ed Spanjaard (conductor)
BIS-2073 (Hybrid SACD)

‘London (Circa 1700)’ – Instsrumental music by Purcell, Godfrey Finger, Giovanni Draghi, John Blow & William Croft
La Rêveuse (ensemble)
Benjamin Perrot (theorbo)
Florence Bolton (viola da gamba)
Mirare MIR368

‘The Cares of Lovers’ – Songs by Purcell
Rowan Pierce (soprano)
William Carter (lute/theorbo)
Richard Egarr (harpsichord)
Linn CKD592

10.50am – International Women’s Day composers with Sara Mohr-Pietsch

Anna Thorvaldsdottir: Aequa
International Contemporary Ensemble
Steven Schick (director)
Sono Luminus DSL-92227

Amy Beach: Violin Sonata in A minor, Romance in A major & Invocation; Clara Schumann: Three Romances; Smyth: Violin Sonata in A minor
Tasmin Little (violin)
John Lenehan (piano)
Chandos CHAN20030

Charlotte Bray: Chamber and Solo Works - ‘Zustande’ for piano quartet, ‘Beyond’ for solo violin, ‘Invisible Cities’ for violin and piano, ‘On the Other Shore’ for solo cello , ‘The Sun was Chasing Venus’ for String Quintet
Philipp Bohnen (violin)
Barbara Buntrock (viola)
Peter-Philipp Staemmler (cello)
Huw Watkins (piano)
Mariani Klavierquartett
Amaryllis Quartett
RTF Classical IBU 08

Cassandra Miller: ‘Just So, ‘Warblework’ About Bach & ‘Leaving’ for string quartet
Quatuor Bozzini
Another Timbre AT129

Elizabeth Maconchy: Complete String Quartets
Hanson String Quartet
Bingham String Quartet
Mistry Quartet
Unicorn DKPCD9080/2 (3 CDs)

Florence Price: Symphonies Nos.1 & 4
Fort Smith Symphony
John Jeter (conductor)
Naxos 8.559827

11.45am – Disc of the Week

Mahler: Symphony No.3
Gürzenich-Orchester Kölner
François-Xavier Roth (conductor)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 9053 1415 (2 CDs)!/albums/2496


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