Mahler (1860-1911) was famous in his day as an opera conductor and secured the respect of Germanic Europe in his mid-20s by conducting a Wagner Ring Cycle and completing an unfinished opera of Carl Maria von Weber, Die drei Pintos.
I’ve been luxuriating in the heavy cream sauce of pianist Stephen Hough’s new French Album, hot off the press from Hyperion. My first sighting of turning leaves at the end of a particularly nice last weekend of summer made me want to listen to Hough playing Francis Poulenc’s Mélancolie a couple more times.
The viola organista looks like a harpsichord. But rather than hitting the strings with a hammer, or plucking them with a plectrum (as is the case with a harpsichord), the viola organista’s keys actuate a mechanism that bows the strings with a series of wheels turned via a pedal-operated crankshaft.
Our guide is Thomson’s Richard Neale, a retired oboe player from the Orchestra of Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket, who, with the help of his “spectral players,” a.k.a. Tafelmusik, survey the pan-European collection of composers and styles that comprised musical life in Britain’s capital.