Post any article championing women or calling for diversity in classical music on one of the various classical music groups on Facebook and you’ll likely get a slew of sexist comments and narrow minded conversations.
One common sexist argument is that no-one is actively avoiding programming music by women.
The classical recording retailer Presto’s Recording of the Week is a brilliant example of an active, conscious decision to do exactly that.
Guess what Presto Classical’s recording of the week is?
Yet another recording of Beethoven complete symphonies!
Seriously, how can this pass for the most exciting recording this week?
James Longstaffe at Presto who chose the recording said:
“With a plethora of recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies currently available, any new performance that wishes to stand out from the crowd must have something pretty special to bring to the table.”
At this point the only way to make a recording of Beethoven symphonies in any way pretty special is to have the flutes play the violin part, bassoon play the cello part, euphonium play the double bass part and vice versa.
Or screw it, why not just get the BBC Singers, divide them all up and get them to hum each part. At this point that is the only way you can get a recording of Beethoven’s complete symphonies worthy of being Recording of the Week.
Really James? You couldn’t find anything in the past decade, hell, even the past century that’s worth shouting about?
The Presto team also do a New Release Round up every week. This week they have: Mahler’s 4th, Wagner, Schumann, Schutz and Cavalli. Basically nothing composed in the past 70 years and everything composed is by a well known, well recorded white male composer.
In picking the Recording of the Week James Falstaffe would have looked through the exciting new releases featuring women, the cool contemporary music and deliberately ignored them all to feature the most well known classical music on the planet.
And they do this every single week. Every week there is a deliberate choice between exciting and perpetual, new and old, diverse or patriarchal, change versus stagnation, heard or unheard.
The recordings that caught my eye on Presto this week were:
- Piano Miniatures by Female Composers – Viviane Goergen. A brilliant cross section of piano music from the past 150 years. Everything from Mel Bonis and Marie Jaell in the 19th century, Germaine Tailleferre and Vitezslava Kapralova in the early 20th century to living composer Alicia Terzian. All immensely talented composers and stunning performance from Viviane Goergen.
- Kaleidoskop: Works for Contrabassoon – Hans Agreda. Contrabassoon is one of these instruments lost in the sea of violin repertoire. It has a gorgeous sound and is not performed enough. So exciting to see a great musician showcasing works for this underrated instrument.
There have been over 60 recordings of exclusively women composers released on Presto so far this year (pales in comparison to the number recorded by men but still), there’s been at least one new recording every week, sometimes many more (see week of 8th March). Many of these releases were world premiere recordings and all are absolutely brilliant. The only one Presto took any noice of was debut release by latest hotshot pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, she released a CD of Clara Schumann’s piano music.
There’s all this talk of classical music dying, orchestras getting shut down but what can we expect when the mainstream industry is entirely based on obsessively championing overplayed, over-recorded music from nearly 200 years ago?
There are legions of brilliant women composers from the past two centuries and more musicians than ever are championing these great women composers, creating many wonderful albums that are redefining our entire knowledge of classical music history. All these recordings are being completely ignored by the classical music establishment. You can check out all the amazing recordings made this year alone here.
Then there are hundreds of really amazing contemporary composers creating new music all the time and some people are willing to put it out there. NMC Recordings have been putting out great recordings of British contemporary music for 30 years, plus record labels Navona Records and Divine Art are putting out high quality recordings of amazing contemporary music all the time.
But what is going to happen to all these recordings if they aren’t talked about?
What’s the incentive for new composers to keep creating when all the music industry wants to talk about is the same few composers from the 18th century?
Composer Stephen Hough wrote a recent article in the Evening Standard talking about the Proms saying:
“The composers whose works we play were often radicals and outsiders”
Note the past tense. It’s so common for people to think of classical music as past, all the music got created long ago and it doesn’t exist anymore.
Mozart and Beethoven together make up just over one third of all classical performances (statistics from Bachtrack here). Add the next 4 most played composers – Bach, Brahms Schubert, Tchaikovsky and they make up 78% of classical performances. Over 400 years and hundreds of amazing composers but nearly 80% of all performances are of just 6 white male composers that all died over a century ago?!
Is the past tense any wonder if that’s the only music being performed?
There’s a current call for more audience diversity, and talk of dwindling ticket sales, people saying they should do things to attract new audiences but what’s the message you are sending them? Come and hear the same 6 dead male composers at every concert. There are almost no women composers, no black composers, hardly any living composers. It’s an entirely monochromatic experience of a stagnant art form.
That’s what is currently being shouted at through current programming.
If you want to attract new audiences, new people from all walks of life you will have to change the message.
Classical music is not just written by a handful of dead, white male composers. It never has been but that is the message that people are being sent.
So how do we change this?
Do we either need to get through the current gatekeepers or do we need to create new gates?
Elizabeth de Brito
Producer of the The Daffodil Perspective.
The Daffodil Perspective is pleased to be completely gender equal. On the show this year I’ve played 16 of these new releases of women composers as well as playing contemporary music every week. Also in 8 months of doing the show I’ve played Beethoven once, Mozart twice. Every week I make the choice to find as much exciting, varied, previously unheard music out there. Head to the Listen page to see the full tracklist. Classical music is alive and kicking on my show with a vibrant, diverse range of awesome music.
Excited to announce that The Daffodil Perspective is collaborating with Divine Art Recordings to bring you another monthly residency.
Every month on the album of the week section I’ll be featuring one of Divine Art Recordings fantastic albums of women composers.
It’ll be mostly contemporary music with a few historical composers as well. Including Nicola LeFanu, Galina Ustvolskaya, Helen Hobersham, Sadie Harrison and many more!
Fun starts 4th August!
|0||Ulysses Kay||Overture to Theater Set||Chicago Sinfonietta, Paul Freeman||African Heritage Symphonic Series Vol 2||Cedille||Presto|
|5.35||Elfrida Andree||Organ Symphony No.2 4th Mvt||Massingsensemble, Ralph Gustafsson, Ragnar Bohlin||Elfrida Andree Organ Works||Swedish Society||Presto|
|10.57||Norman||Symphony No. 1 3rd Mvt||National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa, Mika Eichenholz||Ludvig Norman: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3||Sterling||Presto|
|18.1||Elfrida Andree||Symphony No. 2 3rd Mvt||Stockholm Symphony Orchestra, Gustaf Sjökvist||Elfrida Andrée: Fritiof Suite & Symphony in A minor||Sterling||Presto|
|24.16||Stenhammar||String Quartet No. 3 2nd Mvt||Gotland Quartet||Stenhammar: String Quartets||Caprice||Presto|
|29.5||Alfven||Swedish Rhapsody No. 1 Midsommervaka||Orchestra Symphonique de Montreal, Charles Dutoit||Rhapsodies||Decca||Presto|
|42.37||Elfrida Andree||Fritiof’s Suite: Prelude||Stockholm Symphony Orchestra, Gustaf Sjökvist||Elfrida Andrée: Fritiof Suite & Symphony in A minor||Sterling||Presto|
|53.03||Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz||The Best of Both Worlds||Suzanne Newcombe, Steven Wedell||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1.05.22||Chen Yi||Spring Festival||Rutgers Wind Ensemble, Rutgers Symphonic Band, William Berz||Distinguished Music for the Developing Band, Vol. 10||Mark Records||Presto|
|1.08.30||Toshio Mashima||Naval Bleu||Showa Wind Symphony, Eugene Migliaro Corporon||Dancing Winds||Cafua Records||Presto|
|1.13.07||Catharina von Rennes||Vocal Quartets Op. 24 No. 5||Dufy String Quartet, Frans van Ruth, Christa Pfeiler, Irene Maessen||Six Dutch Female Composers||NM||Presto|
|1.15.39||Elisabeth Kuyper||6 Lieder, Op. 17 No. 5||Dufy String Quartet, Frans van Ruth, Christa Pfeiler, Irene Maessen||Six Dutch Female Composers||NM||Presto|
|1.18.52||Erika Fox||Malinconia Militaire 4th Mvt (Poem)||Goldfield Ensemble, Richard Uttley, Richard Baker||Paths||NMC Recordings||Presto|
|1.22.49||Lamothe||La Dangereuse||William Chapman Nyaho||Asa: Piano Music by Composers of African Descent Volume 2||MSR Classics||Presto|
|0||Marcello. A||Oboe Concerto in D Minor 1st Mvt||Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra||Festin Baroque||Analekta||Presto|
|5.16||Lucija Garuta||Prelude II in E Major||Reinis Zarins||Lucija Garuta: Music for Piano||SKANI||Presto|
|8.55||Vitols||Fantasy on Latvian Folk Tunes||Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Dmitri Yablonsky||Vitols: Orchestral Works||Marco Polo||Presto|
|16.32||Lucija Garuta||Lord, Thy Land is Burning, Our Father||State Choir Latvia and Maris Sirmais||Our Father, Lord Thy Land is Burning – Single||Estonian Record Productions||iTunes|
|21.38||Ivanovs||5th Symphony 3rd Mvt||Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Dmitri Yablonsky||Ivanovs: Symphonies 5 & 12||Marco Polo||Presto|
|28.44||Kalējs||Prayer||Iveta Apkalna||Light & Dark||Berlin Classics||Presto|
|36.48||Lucija Garuta||Piano Concerto 2nd Movement In Memoriam||Atvars Lakstīgala, Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, Reinis Zariņš||Lucija Garuta: Music for Piano||SKANI||Presto|
|46.58||Chihchun Chi-sun Lee||Quartet for Mallets||McCormick Percussion Group||Vanguards 1||Ravello Records||Presto|
|56.48||Florence Price||2nd Violin Concerto||Er-Gene Kahng, Janacek Philharmonic, Ryan Cockerham||Florence Price: Violin Concertos||Albany||Presto|
|1.11.38||Samuel Coleridge Taylor||Pilgrim’s Song||David Shaffer Gottschalk||COLERIDGE-TAYLOR, S.: 24 Negro Melodies (Shaffer-Gottschalk)||Albany||Presto|
|1.15.22||Camilla de Rossi||La Vita De Mare Ondoso from Sant Alessio||Agnieszka Kowalezyk (soprano) Daniela Dolci (harpsichord & direction) Musica Fiorita||Rossi, C: Sant‘ Alessio||Pan Classics||Presto|
|1.19.45||Mathilde Von Kralik||Komm Mit Mir/Come With Me||Donald George, Lucy Muaro||Komm mit mir! (Come with me!) Romantic Songs of Mathilde von Kralik (1857-1944)||Delos||Presto|
|1.22.43||Caroline Shaw||Valencia||Attacca Quartet||Orange||Nonesuch/NewAmsterdam||Presto|
|1.29.01||Gershwin||Prelude No. 3 in E Flat Major||Jean-Hisanori Sugitani (piano), Julien Herve (clarinet)||Waiting for Benny||Naxos||Presto|
|0||Sullivan||Yeomen of the Guard||Pro Arts Orchestra, Malcolm Sargent||Gilbert and Sullivan: The Yeomen of the Guard||Warner Classics||Presto|
|7.42||Amy Beach||Gaelic Symphony 1st Mvt||Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Kenneth Schmerhorn||Amy Beach: American Classics||Naxos||Presto|
|19.09||Chadwick||Symphonic Sketches 3rd Mvt Hobgoblin||Czech State Philharmonic, Jose Serebrier||Chadwick: Aphrodite etc||Reference Recordings||Presto|
|25.3||Macdowell||Woodland Sketches 1 and 3||Dario Mueller||Edward Macdowell: Piano Works||Dynamic||Presto|
|30.24||Amy Beach||Tyrolean Valse Fantasie||Kirsten Johnson||Amy Beach Piano Music Vol 4||Guild||Presto|
|40.17||Foote||Piano Trio in C Minor 2 nd Mvt||Arden Trio||Arthur Foote: Piano Trios Nos 1 and 2||Naxos||Presto|
|46.2||Amy Beach||Piano Trio in A Minor 2nd Mvt||Monte Piano Trio||Triptych||Genuin||Presto|
|53.15||Michiru Oshima||Memories||Hilary Hahn||In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores||DG||Presto|
|57.15||Copland||Fanfare for the Common Man||Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue||Copland 100||Reference Recordings||Presto|
|1.00.58||Joan Tower||Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1||Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin||RCA Red Seal Century Soloists and Conductors||RCA||Presto|
|1.04.26||Jeanine Rueff||Diptyque||Ana Oltean, Simon Bucher||Ladies First!||ARS Produktion||Presto|
|1.13.27||Caroline Charriere||Petite Suite 1. Contrastes||Ana Oltean, Simon Bucher||Ladies First!||ARS Produktion||Presto|
|1.17.55||Shanna Metallidi||Flute Concertino||Ana Oltean, Simon Bucher||Ladies First!||ARS Produktion||Presto|
|1.29.16||Kabalevsky||Galop from the Comedians||BBC Philharmonic, Vassily Sinaisky||Kabalevsky Piano Concertos Volume 1||Chandos||Presto|
|Airtime||Composer||Work||Performer||Album||Label||Link to Buy|
|0||Bernstein||Magnificent Seven Theme||All Souls Orchestra||Prom Praise – How Great Thou Art||Integrity Music||Amazon|
|6.28||Emilie Mayer||String Quartet 2nd Movt||Klenke Quartet||Emilie Mayer: Symphony No 4||Chandos||Presto|
|10.13||Loewe||Alpenfantasie||Linda Nicholson (piano)||Carl Loewe: Piano Music Volume 1||Toccata Classics||Presto|
|19.36||Emilie Mayer||Piano Concerto 3rd Movt||Neubrandenburg Philharmonie, Sebastian Tewinkel, Ewa Kupiec (piano)||Emilie Mayer: Symphony No 4||Chandos||Presto|
|29.07||Wagner||Lohengrin Prelude to Act 3||Philadelphia Orchestra, Christian Thielemann||Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, etc.||DG||Presto|
|32.38||Liszt||Piano Concerto No 1 1st Mvt||Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Kurt Masur, Michel Béroff (piano)||100 Best Liszt||Warner Classics||Presto|
|38.23||Emilie Mayer||Symphony 5(&) in F Minor||Kammersymphonie Berlin, Jurgen Bruns||Mayer: Symphony No. 5 / Hensel: Hero und Leander / Le Beau: Piano Concerto Op. 37||Dreyer Gaido||Amazon|
|50.21||Sarah Wallin Huff||Courage Triptych 1: A Garden Prayer||Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra,
Vit Mužik (violin), Lucie Kaucka (piano), Jakub Lâtal (violin), Jaroslav Kužela (soprano saxophone)
|Soul of the Machine: Sarah Wallin Huff||PARMA Recordings||Presto|
|55.34||Rosanna Scalfi Marcello||Cantata 3: Aria – Clori No Sempre Nel Core||Darryl Taylor (counter-tenor), Ann Marie Morgan (baroque cello), Deborah Fox (theorbo), Jory Vinikour (harpsichord)||Scalfi Marcello: Complete Solo Cantatas||Naxos||Presto|
|1.00.02||Scarlatti||Con Qual Cor Mi Chiedi Pace||Max Emanuel Cenčić (counter-tenor), Yasunori Imamura (theorbo), Aline Zylberajch (fortepiano), Maya Amrein (cello)||D Scarlatti: Cantatas||Capriccio||Presto|
|1.05.03||Jeanne Leleu||Suite Symphonique Pour Instruments A Vent Et Piano||Orchestre d’Harmonie du Conservatoire de Maastricht||Anthologie des musiques originales pour orchestre à vent au XXème siècle – Femmes Compositeurs, Vol. 5 (Anthology of wind band music 20th Century Women Composers Vol. 5)||Cristal Records||Amazon|
|1.08.04||Florence Collin||Les Catacombes De Pompei||Orchestre d’Harmonie du Conservatoire de Maastricht||Anthologie des musiques originales pour orchestre à vent au XXème siècle – Femmes Compositeurs, Vol. 5 (Anthology of wind band music 20th Century Women Composers Vol. 5)||Cristal Records||Amazon|
|1.15.53||Ida Gotkovsky||Concerto Pour Grand Orchestra Et Saxophone 3rd Mvt||Orchestre d’Harmonie du Conservatoire de Maastricht||Anthologie des musiques originales pour orchestre à vent au XXème siècle – Femmes Compositeurs, Vol. 5 (Anthology of wind band music 20th Century Women Composers Vol. 5)||Cristal Records||Amazon|
|1.27.07||Mayerl||Marigold||Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gary Carpenter||Billy Mayerl: Aquarium Suite and other works||Marco Polo||Presto|
|Airtime||Composer||Work||Performer||Album||Label||Link to Buy|
|0||Strauss Sr||Radetzky March||Philadelphia Orchestra
|Johann Strauss: Greatest Hits||Sony||Presto|
|4.42||Cheryl Frances-Hoad||Quark Dances||Paul Hoskins, Rambert Orchestra||Stolen Rhythm: Works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad||Champs Hill Records||Presto|
|17.27||Higgins||Atomic Cafe||Paul Hoskins, Rambert Orchestra||Flux: New Music – new dance||NMC||Presto|
|33.53||Cheryl Frances-Hoad||One Life Stand 1. Brief Encounter||Joseph Middleton, Jennifer Johnston||You promised me everything||Champs Hill Records||Presto|
|38.2||Wigglesworth||Augenlieder 1. Eurydice to Orpheus||Hallé Orchestra, Ryan Wigglesworth, Claire Booth (soprano)||Wigglesworth: Echo and Narcissus||NMC||Presto|
|41.45||Cheryl Frances-Hoad||The Ogre Lover||Lendvai String Trio||The Glory Tree||Champs Hill Records||Presto|
|50.38||Anne Dudley||Suite from Poldark||Anne Dudley
Chamber Orchestra of London, Chris Garrick (violin)
|Poldark (Deluxe Version)||Sony||Presto|
|56.25||David Arnold & Michael Price||Sherlocked||Michael Price, David Arnold||Sherlock – Series 2 (Soundtrack from the TV Series)||Silva Screen Records||Presto|
|1.00.22||Rachel Lee Guthrie||Nocturne||Dmitry Tavanets (piano)||Exploring the Heart||Ravello Records||Presto|
|1.07.00||Augusta Holmes||Fantaisie||Il Cenacolo della Chimera, Claudia Bracco, Luigi Magistrelli||Clarinet Repertoire of Women Composers||VDE-Gallo||Presto|
|1.13.38||Marie Grandval||Deux Pieces||Il Cenacolo della Chimera, Claudia Bracco, Luigi Magistrelli||Clarinet Repertoire of Women Composers||VDE-Gallo||Presto|
|1.21.47||Fanny Mendelssohn||Traum||Il Cenacolo della Chimera, Claudia Bracco, Luigi Magistrelli||Clarinet Repertoire of Women Composers||VDE-Gallo||Presto|
|1.25.02||Offenbach||Infernal Galop||Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Košice, Johannes Wildner||Cinema Classics Vol 11||Naxos||Presto|
So much exciting music on the show to share this week.
Composer Of The Week – Henriette Renie
Exploring her life and work along with friends Pierne and Grandjany.
Music from Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and wind band music from Nigel Hess
Fun With Florence
1st in a new monthly segment celebrating the life, work and legacy of Florence Price. This week featuring a very special recording by Samantha Ege.
This week showcasing brand new song cycle Cracked Voices by Jenni Pinnock.
Album Of The Week
Something new this week, instead of 1 album I have 3 amazing new releases, each of a single composer.