Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanängen makes records and plays shows under the enigmatic name of Loney dear. In the early 2000s, in his Stockholm apartment studio, Svanängen made a name for himself by creating homemade CDRs with a minidisk microphone and a home computer, self-releasing albums which by 2007 had pricked Sub Pop’s ears and they released Loney Noir. Two more albums - Dear John and Hall Music - followed, as did glowing reviews in The Guardian, BBC, Drowned in Sound, Pitchfork and earlier this year the Line of Best Fit went as far as calling him a "brilliant genius".
Roller Trio are James Mainwairing tenor sax and electronics, Luke Wynter guitar and Luke Reddin-Williams on drums, still in their early ‘20s they met whilst studying at Leeds College of Music. Influenced by a wide range of music from Tim Berne, Chris Potter and Anthony Braxton to Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Slum Village, J Dilla and Flying Lotus as well as the vibrant Leeds scene.
Remembering, written in memory of Evan Scofield, is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s response to the young man’s premature death from cancer in 2013, at the age of 26. Turnage knew Evan as the son of family friends, the jazz guitarist John Scofield and his wife Susan, and the sister of Jeannie, the partner of Ursula. A boy whose quirky but deep rooted enthusiasms – for cinema, axes, hyacinths, friends – reflected a readiness to take on life in all its fullness, a young man whose ways of seeing seemed so good, so full of promise and possibility. Such early deaths strike us less like personal tragedies and more like cosmic catastrophes. What kind of a world is it that allows such things to happen?
Shostakovich’s atmospheric Eleventh Symphony recounts the events surrounding the First Russian Revolution of 1905, while reflecting on the brutality of the later Soviet regime. Its cinematic depiction of winter cold and military might is utterly compelling, and never more so than under the baton of the composer’s friend Mstislav Rostropovich.
Shostakovich wrote his Eighth Symphony (from a total of fifteen) in the summer of 1943, across a period of around ten weeks. It was given its first performance on 4 November that year by the USSR Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky, to whom the work is dedicated. Expectations were high, for Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, associated with the siege of Leningrad, had been adopted both in Russia and the West as a symbol of resistance to the Nazis. It was hoped that the Eighth would follow in its patriotic footsteps – earlier that year the German Sixth army had been annihilated at Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad has been lifted, and the Nazis were in retreat.
In October 2016, to bring his acclaimed Mendelssohn symphonies cycle to a rousing conclusion, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra – accompanied by Lucy Crowe, Jurgita Adamonytė, Michael Spyres and the Monteverdi Choir – gave two performances of the composer’s symphony-cantata, ‘Lobgesang’. Also known as ‘Hymn of Praise’, it sits slightly uneasily with Mendelssohn’s four other symphonies, with its extended last movement involving soloists and chorus. However, the idea was not without precedent – the work has its roots in both Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (‘Choral’), and Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette.
Based on Sophocles' famous tragedy, Stravinsky's grippingly powerful Oedipus Rex represents the pinnacle of his neo-classical style, using the chorus and aria structure of that earlier period to great dramatic effect. Similarly drwing inspiration from classical antiquity, the ballet Apollom musagete evokes the grand French tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries, its two tableaux displaying rich string harmonies and textures that are pleasantly mesmerising, expressive and calmly indulgent.
A flow of modern compositions inspired by personal spiritual explorations. The majority of this 6 piece work, Jnana-Vijnana was inspired by an event, in 2012, shortly after I attended a Self-realization seminar with a guru from India, Pujyashree Deepakbhai. That year I had been investigating Schopenhauer vis a vis Wagner and Zen philosophy, eventually leading to regular practice of Yoga and meditation. I had a very strong experience at the seminar, and that culmination yielded the composition and first track entitled Transfigured.