Here are just a few highlights from a week of Fine Music classical music. You can explore all our Fine Music programs at Our Program Guide


Diversions in Fine Music and
Concert Hall

Afternoons & evenings of
Fine Music Classics
Thursday 29 September
Concert Hall
 with Ross Hayes
Tchaikovsky, P. Suite from The Nutcracker, op 71a(1892). Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan.
As evergreen favourites go, the Nutcracker Suite is hard to beat. And who better to hear it from than the Vienna Philharmonic, under von Karajan?

Tuesday 4 October
Diversions in Fine Music
with Stephen Matthews
Vaughan Williams, R.
The vagabond; Let beauty awake; The roadside fire, from Songs of Travel(1904). Bryn Terfel, bass-bar; Malcolm Martineau, pf.
Ralph Vaughan Williams had a peerless gift for matching verse to music. For his celebrated song cycle, Songs of Travel, he chose poetry of Robert Louis Stephenson to create some of the most memorable art songs in the English repertoire. This recording, by Welsh bass Bryn Terfel, has some claim to being the definitive performance.

Wednesday 5 October
Concert Hall with Sue Jowell
Elgar, E. Overture: In the South, op 50, Alassio (1903). BBC PO/Edward Downes.
Elgar had gone to Italy with his wife in the winter of 1903, intending to use the change of scenery to inspire a first symphony. When he got there, though, the Italian spirit so moved him that he got side-tracked, and wrote this delightful piece – called an overture, but really more of a tone poem.
Friday 30 September at 1pm …
in Wagner Off Stage, programmer Stephen Wilson has chosen works by Wagner intended for the concert hall, not the stage. There are a number of early works, including the overture Polonia, which incorporated “material conceived after a night of drinking with exiles from Poland”. Most charmingly, Stephen has included the Siegfried idyll, composed for his wife Cosima, and performed for her at the foot of the staircase leading to her room, as she was lying in for the birth of their son.

Saturday 24 September at 8:00pm… 
in The Life Of A Composer, programmer Jennifer Foong celebrates the 350th anniversary of the French composer Antoine Forqueray. For a virtuoso of the bass viol, Antoine made a bad husband and a worse father. The program also includes music by Couperin, Rameau, Duphly and Marais, who lauded – and emulated – Forqueray’s genius. 

Wednesday 5 October at 8pm …
in At The Opera, programmer Peter Poolehas chosen two one-act operas based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Rachmaninov’s “symphonic opera” Francesca da Rimini was first performed in Moscow in 1906, and features a notably melancholy cello. Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, concerning a character from the Comedy described as “imposter turned imp” was first performed in New York in 1918, and includes one of Puccini’s best-loved arias, “O mio babbino caro”.
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Thursday 22 September
Diversions in Fine Music with Ross Hayes
Bottesini, G. Fantasia on Beatrice di Tenda.
Thomas Martin, db; Anthony Halstead, pf.
The double-bass languishes even more than the viola in the shade of the violin and cello, so opportunities to hear it as a solo instrument are rare. Giovanni Bottesini was a double-bass virtuoso who wrote extensively for his instrument, and this fantasia on Bellini’s opera is a delightful example.

Monday 26 September
Concert Hall
with Stephen Matthews
Beethoven, L. Piano concerto no 3 in C minor, op 37(1804).
Christoph Eschenbach, pf; London SO/Hans Werner Henze.
A real treat for Beethoven lovers. In Beethoven’s piano concerti, his own pianistic brilliance and the growth of his heroic style came together to produce music of unsurpassed grandeur and passion.

Tuesday 27 September
Diversions in Fine Music with Neil McEwan
Buxtehude, D. Praeludium in E minor, BuxWV142.
Bine Bryndorf, org.
Diderik Buxtehude was known as ‘the Great Dane’ – a moniker that reflected his Danish birth and his stature both as a man – he stood well over six feet tall – and as a musician. So great was his fame that a young JS Bach walked the 400 km from Arnstadt to Lübeck, to hear the great man play and “to comprehend one thing and another about his art”.
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Thursday 22 September at 2pm
In Queensland Calling, programmer Ron Walledge continues a series focusing on Queensland orchestras. The Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra performs Mozart’s Haffner Symphony, while the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, together with soloists Roger Woodward and Simon Tedeschi, play compositions by Bach, Rachmaninov, Smetana and Tchaikovsky.

Saturday 24 September at 8pm
In The Life Of A Composer, programmer Jennifer Foong examines the 20th century Spanish composer Joaquin Turina, featuring his Piano trio no 1 and Sinfonia sevilliana, and including compositions by Moszkowski and de Falla.

Monday 26 September at 1pm
In French Influences On Czech Composers, programmer James Nightingale has chosen music by Erwin Schulhoff (Five pieces for string quartet and Symphony no 2) and Vitezslava Kapralova (April preludes), together with works by Debussy and Ravel.

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Thursday 15 September
Concert Hall 
with Peter Poole
Rachmaninov, S.
Piano concerto no 3 in D minor, op 30(1909).
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pf; London SO/Anatole Fistoulari. 
If Rachmaninov’s 3rd piano concerto is not quite as popular as ‘Rach 2’, that’s possibly because its formidable technical difficulty is a deterrent to its frequent performance. One pianist lamented that he had not learned it in his youth, when he was “still too young to know fear”. Here’s an opportunity to hear it in the hands of the fearless Ashkenazy.

Friday 16 September
Diversions in Fine Music 
with Stephen Matthews 
Piazzolla, A.
Café 1930; Bordel 1900, from Histoire du tango (1986; transcr. Krutzen for flute and harp).
Krutzen/McGhee Duo. 
Astor Piazzolla is the tango’s most fervent and prolific ambassador. It originated, of course, in the bordellos of 1880s Buenos Aires, then among the world’s richest cities. The movements of Pizzolla’s suite Histoire du tango trace its emergence from those unseemly beginnings to the highly stylised musical form we have today – to be listened to, as much as danced to.

Monday 19 September
Diversions in Fine Music 
with Tom Forrester-Paton
Hyde, M.
Clarinet sonata in F minor (1949).
Nigel Westlake, cl; David Bollard, pf. 
Born just before WW1, Miriam Hyde studied at the Royal College of Music under a scholarship. She achieved considerable success, performing her first piano concerto in 1934 with the LSO, but returned to Australia in her early twenties, for good. She wrote a great deal of chamber music, in a style that evoked the early 20th century pastoralism of Vaughan Williams and Finzi, and this sonata is a good example.
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Thursday 15 September at 8pm … in The World Of A Symphony, programmer David Brett continues our series celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vaughan Williams. This week, he focuses on the composer’s Symphony no 3. Its subtitle, Pastoral, is perhaps ironic, since it confronts the horrors of the First World War, in which Vaughan Williams had served as an ambulance orderly. Items by Ravel, Herbert Howells and Cecil Coles also attest to the shadow of war. Click on the banner at top of this page to see the full Anniversary Schedule. You can even Listen On Demand to any program you might have missed!

Friday 16 September at 10pm … in Baroque And Before, programmer Elaine Siversen commemorates the 250th anniversary of the death of Jean-Joseph de Mondonville. He was a violinist, composer and near-contemporary of Rameau who was involved with both the Chapelle royale and the Concert Spirituel.

Wednesday 21 September at 10:30pm … in Music Of The Night, programmer James Nightingale has selected music from the 20th and 21st centuries, ranging from Roussel’s symphonic prelude Résurrection, inspired by Tolstoy’s final novel, to Katy Abbott’s composition for percussion duo and cello, The empty quarter, evocative of the desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula.
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Thursday  8 September
Concert Hall 
with Ross Hayes
Tchaikovsky, P.
Symphony no 5 in E minor, op 64 (1888).
London SO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky
The least overtly programmatic of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies although some say it’s a musical manifestation of Tchaikovsky’s earnest attempt to escape from pessimism.

Monday 12 September
Diversions in Fine Music

with Nina FudalaMozart, W.
Serenade no 12 in C minor, K388 (1782).
Anthony Chesterman, ob; Hannah Cooper, ob; Lawrence Dobell, cl; Philip Arkinstall, cl; Peter Moore, bsn; Natasha Woodley, bsn; Darryl Poulsen, hn; James McCrow, hn
Here is Mozart composing a usually lighter style of Serenade in a minor key – very unusual –  it’s thought that perhaps Mozart was hoping to impress the Emperor Joseph II with his seriousness.

Wednesday 14 September
Diversions in Fine Music

with James Hunter
Chabrier, E.

Pastoral suite (1888).
Ulster O/Yan Pascal Tortelier.
A work that Poulenc later claimed as being as important an influence on French music as the Preludes of Debussy.

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Thursday 8 September at 8pm … in The World Of A Symphony, programmer Brian Drummond has chosen Liszt’s polarising A Dante symphony. George Bernard Shaw said that it could depict “a London house when the kitchen chimney is on fire”, but it has also been praised for its richly chromatic harmonic language, brilliant orchestration and innovative approach to symphonic form.

Saturday 10 September at 8pm … in The Life Of A Composer, programmer James Nightingale provides a comprehensive overview of the music of Cécile Chaminade. Featured compositions include Piano sonata in C minorPiano trio no 2 in A minor, and the technically challenging Flute concertino.

Wednesday 14 September at 2pm … in A Champion Of The English Renaissance, the continuing series of programs celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vaughan Williams, programmer Jennifer Foongfocuses on his Symphony no 7, ‘Sinfonia Antarctica’. This is a work which owes much to his score for the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic, and is notable for its unusual orchestral sonorities, including vibraphone, organ and wind machine.

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Thursday 1 September
Concert Hall with David Brett
Ives, C.

Symphony no 2 (1907-09).
Melbourne SO/Andrew Davis
Probably the most entertaining of Ives’s symphonies.

Friday 2 September
Diversions In Fine Music
with Neil McEwan
Weill, K.

Suite from The Threepenny Opera (1928; arr Ledger).
David Elton, tpt; Seraphim Trio with percussion.
There’s just something so quirky about the music of Kurt Weill.

Monday 5 September
Concert Hall with Mary Moran
Offenbach, J.

Cello concerto in G (1847).
Ofra Harnoy, vc; Cincinnati SO/Erich Kunzel.
Known for his tongue-in-cheek operas, here is Jacques Offenbach in a somewhat different genre.

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Thursday 1 September 1pm … in Rare Instruments, Rare Combinations, programmer Elaine Siversen has sought out some delightful obscurities, including a concerto for eight kettledrums and orchestra; a clarino concerto; music for clavicytherium; and a composition for the unlikely combination of flute and harmonium.

Friday 2 September at 8pm … in Evenings With The Orchestra, programmer Robert Small has chosen orchestral music inspired by Shakespeare. The earliest is Felix Mendelssohn’s Incidental music to A midsummer night’s dream, and the most recent a suite from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. The program also features music by Delius from his opera A village Romeo and Juliet

Wednesday 7 September at 2pm … in Ralph Vaughan Williams: English Folk Songs, one of a number of programs celebrating the composer’s 150th birthday, programmer Paul Cooke has brought together compositions which attest to his interest in, and promotion of, folk song. Works by Percy Grainger, Gustav Holst, George Butterworth and Patrick Hadley are also included.

Click Here for a full listing of programs in our Vaughan Williams 150 celebration
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Thursday 25 August
Diversions In Fine Music
with Peter Poole
Schumann, C.

Romance in C, op 3 (1833).
Veronica Jochum, pf.
A Romance by the 11 year old, then, Clara Wieck – she dedicated it to her adored friend “Herr Schumann.”

Friday 26 August
Concert Hall 
with Michael Field
Brahms, J. 

Symphony no 4 in E minor, op 98
Royal Concertgebouw O/Herbert Blomstedt
Brahms’ last symphony, provides with its serious tone, striking complexities, and inspired construction a fitting valedictory to his work in this genre. 

Wednesday 30 August
Diversions in Fine Music

with Christina Macguiness
Beethoven, L.

Piano trio in D, op 70 no 1 (1808).
Seraphim Trio.
Because of its strangely scored and undeniably eerie-sounding slow movement it was dubbed the “Ghost” Trio. The name has stuck with the work ever since. The ghostly music may have had its roots in sketches for a Macbeth opera that Beethoven was contemplating at the time.

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Thursday 25 August, 8pm
The World Of A Symphony, programmerDavid Brett has focused his attention on the American composer Alan Hovhaness and his Symphony no 2, op 132, Mysterious mountain, commissioned and premiered by the conductor Leopold Stokowski, and ‘notable for a pervasive sense of spiritual serenity’. Works by Sibelius, Bernstein and Howard Hanson are also included.

Saturday 27 August, 8pm 
The Life Of A Composer, programmer Jennifer Foong has profiled Mikhail Glinka, ‘father of Russian music’ and an influence on such successors as Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky. Included among other, more nationalistic, works is his Trio pathétique in D minor, composed for clarinet, bassoon and piano, and influenced by Italian opera composers of the time. 

Sunday 28 August, 3pm 
Sunday Special: A Proliferation Of Scarlatti, programmer James Nightingale has curated a collection of music which takes its cue from the Italian Baroque composer, ranging from Charles Avison’s Concerto grosso no 12 in D, after Domenico Scarlatti through to Salvatore Sciarrino’s beguiling and elegant Canzoniere da Scarlatti for saxophone quartet. The program is top-and-tailed by a couple of Scarlatti’s own inventive keyboard sonatas.

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