Heart songs: Elizabeth Llewellyn & Simon Lepper; Isata Kanneh-Mason

As soon as I read about ‘Heart and Hereafter’, Elizabeth Llewellyn’s debut recital album on Orchid Classics, I was excited and intrigued to hear it – for three main reasons. First, I had seen and heard her give a magnificent performance in the title role of Verdi’s ‘Luisa Miller’ for English National Opera back in…

Despax plays his dream concerto

Brahms always preferred to let his music do the talking rather than explain the origins of his work.  That said, it is certainly interesting to look at what was happening in Brahms’s life when he started to write his first large scale composition – his Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor.   By then he had…

Fullana’s Obsession with Bach

Most of us will have heard Johann Sebastian Bach’s exquisite Partita No. 3 in E major for Solo Violin. My knowledge of solo violin repertoire however stops there. I was therefore very keen to listen to violinist, Francisco Fullana’s new album, in which he explores Bach’s solo violin work and its musical legacy. Many legendary…

Lost in music: Daniel Bachman, ‘Axacan’

This is an extraordinary piece of work: a new suite of tracks from an artist previously new to me, which had me pressing my headphones to my ears on repeat plays, hungry for every morsel of sonic detail, and enveloping me in a shifting atmosphere of both delight and dread. Absolute required listening. * Daniel…

Brahms Third Symphony – a well-kept secret

Brahms wrote his Symphony no.3 in F major in 1883, at the height of his career. Though it was a great hit with nineteenth-century audiences, very little is known about the sources of this mature work today. We do know that the notoriously secretive composer wrote it in Wiesbaden, a picturesque Rhine resort, and that…

Lieder column: some recent art song releases

A slight change of pace for this piece. Blogging is a privilege that allows us – without any oppressive deadlines or word count restrictions – to immerse ourselves in individual releases when approaching each article. That said, it also makes me acutely aware of those times when there’s a run of discs I love, and…

Role players: Carolyn Sampson & Joseph Middleton, ‘Album für die Frau’

A great art song recital can be exactly that: top-notch performances of beautiful works. On this recording, we find Sampson in exquisite voice, Middleton’s playing as impeccable as ever, and the songs featured are a tribute to the duo’s ongoing flair for engaging, informative programming, live and on disc. However, this time round, the central…

Pastoral, personal, political: Sieben before, during and beyond lockdown

Matt Howden is a Sheffield-based singer, songwriter, composer, violinist, looping/sequencing technology expert, and teacher/practitioner of sound design and production. An independent, unstoppable musical force who somehow finds enough room under the radar to soar, he is always unpredictable, always reliable. One might have thought the restrictions imposed by the pandemic would slow him down a…