Where's Simon? Listening Recommendations

As part of our Where's Simon? digital activities, the London Symphony Orchestra musicians present some of their favourite pieces to play and listen to:

Listening Recommendations: LSO Strings

VIOLIN

Julián Gil Rodríguez (violin)

Recoveco Bicho y hecho 

Strauss An Alpine Symphony
Conductor: Bernard Haitink

Paganini Caprices
Performed by LSO Leader Roman Simovic

VIOLA

Carol Ella (viola)

My top top recordings are the box set of Shostakovich symphonies with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the conductor Bernard Haitink. I saved my pocket money forever and they were the first CDs I ever bought. So it was amazing to play on my first ever LSO Live recordings (circa 2004) – Shostakovich's Symphony No 5 with the conductor Rostropovich, and Haitink conducting the Brahms symphonies. (Shostakovich's Symphony No 8 opens with very rustic violas – one of my favourite parts of any piece).

Shostakovich Symphonies
Conductor: Bernard Haitink

Shostakovich Symphony No 5
Conductor: Mstislav Rostropovich

Shostakovich Symphony No 8
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda

Knussen Symphony No 3
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
I also love This Is Rattle on LSO Live. I love playing and listening to Olly Knussen’s music. He was such a legend – I really miss his conducting, but love that Simon is programming his music. An LSO Live Knussen disc would be a firm favourite. Just saying...

Mahler Symphonies
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
I love anything by Mahler. I find the LSO has a particular affinity for these rich and delicate sounds. Perhaps my favourite Mahler symphony is his Ninth. Or Sixth. Or actually, his Second! As a violist, I should say his Symphony No 10 (violists go and listen!). Also, the Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony is just a string players’ heaven. 

Eve-Marie Caravassilis (cello)

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet
Conductor: Valery Gergiev

Beethoven Around the World - The Complete String Quartets 
Performed by the Quatuor Ébène

Stravinsky The Firebird
Conductor: Valery Gergiev

DOUBLE BASS

Matthew Gibson (double bass)

Britten Peter Grimes
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Because Sir Colin Davis is a god and I had to include something of his, and this piece is just fantastically powerful in its dark brooding atmosphere.

Bernstein Wonderful Town
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
Memories of a simply joyous occasion!

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Because no one does Prokofiev like Gergiev. The whole series was perfect – every last note of it.

Listening Recommendations: LSO Woodwind

FLUTE

Gareth Davies (flute)

Ravel Daphnis and Chloe
Conductor: Valery Gergiev

Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Conductor: Valery Gergiev

Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night's Dream
Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner (or anything with Sir John Eliot Gardiner!)

It's all amazing music and sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s the same orchestra because of the different styles of the composers but also the way the two very different conductors work.

OBOE

Juliana Koch (oboe)

Mendelssohn Symphony No 2 'Lobgesang'
Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner
This interpretation is so touching, especially the 'sinfonia allegretto un poco agitato' part. I used to listen to it over and over again whenever I was travelling the world a bit too much and started to feel lost in time and space.

Shostakovich Symphony No 8
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
This was my first recording with the LSO (while I was still on trial). I have very vivid memories of the concerts and remember strongly the feeling of 'jumping off the cliff' to bring all the extreme emotions across, without sacrificing perfection for it.

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
I listened to this recording a lot in my 'former life', where I used to play in the orchestra pit underneath the stage. This recording was always so inspiring. I especially loved 'The Fight' and 'Dance of the Knights'. The music is so vivid! 

CLARINET

Chi-Yu Mo (clarinet)

Ravel Daphnis and Chloe
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
A great recording of LSO Principal Flute Gareth Davies in Daphnis and Chloe, and an important part for me personally.

Mozart Gran Partita
It was amazing to record this important piece of chamber music with my LSO colleagues. It brings back memories of touring this piece in Italy.

Bernstein Wonderful Town
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
This was a huge amount of fun from start to finish.

Another recording which should be mentioned is Vaughan Williams A London Symphony and Butterworth The Banks of Green Willow, conducted by Richard Hickox, which won a Gramophone Award, for the incredible sound and performance that Chandos managed to get in All Saints Church Tooting.

BASSOON

Daniel Jemison (bassoon)

Berlioz The Damnation of Faust
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Davis' 1973 recording is amazing and inspirational. Berlioz writes fabulously for four bassoons. 

John Williams Star Wars
This was the soundtrack of my childhood. Listening to my brother’s record was one of the main reasons I wanted to play in an orchestra. 

Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner
One of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved in. Fantastic (but tricky) fairy woodwind parts, and a thrilling recording. 

Listening Recommendations: LSO Brass

HORN

Angela Barnes (horn)

Brahms Symphonies 1 & 2 and Symphony 4 
Conductors: Bernard Haitink and Valery Gergiev
I’m a huge fan of anything written by Brahms, and there’s plenty to choose from in the LSO Live catalogue. Both Bernard Haitink and Valery Gergiev recorded complete Brahms cycles with the LSO (with the addition of various overtures, serenades, even A German Requiem). If I had to single out one disc from each it would be Gergiev's disc of Symphonies Nos 1 & 2, Tragic Overture, Variations on a Theme of Haydn and the recording of Symphony No 4  with Bernard Haitink. The horn writing is a complete joy to play, and I just adore the colours and harmonies that Brahms achieves.

Mahler Symphony No 6
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Mahler’s another great composer for horns, and of the Mahler cycle that we recorded with Gergiev, Mahler's Symphony No 6 is probably the one that I listen to the most (bringing back many happy memories of players past).

Schumann Symphonies Nos 1 & 3
Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Sir John Eliot Gardiner always generates a fantastic energy when he works with the Orchestra, and so I’d happily recommend any of the recordings we’ve made with him, although my current favourite is probably the Schumann Symphonies Nos 1 & 3.

Turnage Speranza and From the Wreckage
Conductor: Daniel Harding
Finally, my wild card suggestion is the Mark-Anthony Turnage disc that we recorded with Daniel Harding, including his trumpet concerto From the Wreckage and large-scale orchestral work Speranza. It’s not often that I find myself choosing to listen to anything written beyond about the middle of the 20th century (spoiler: I’m a real dinosaur), but I remember really liking Speranza when we performed it, and it really did spend a surprising amount of time spinning around in my CD player! 

TRUMPET

David Elton (trumpet)

Walton Symphony No 1 and Belshazzar's Feast
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis 

Mahler Symphony No 9
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
I loved listening to this recording while preparing for Mahler's Symphony No 9 while on trial as a potential member of the Orchestra when Bernard Haitink was conducting. 

Shostakovich Symphonies Nos 1 & 5
Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda

Prokofiev Symphonies
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
I listen to this box set from the '90s very regularly. 

TROMBONE

Paul Milner (trombone)

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Fantastic brass writing with the 'Montagues and Capulets' being great fun for the bass trombone!

Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night's Dream
Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner
A lovely story told so well within the music. The LSO and the Monteverdi Choir ... a match made in heaven!

Bernstein Wonderful Town
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
A completely different genre of music than we normally perform, again with great brass writing and good soloists.

TUBA

Ben Thomson (tuba)

Berlioz Symphonie fantastique
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
This was one of the pieces we played on my first major tour with the LSO where we travelled to Latin America. There is also the added luxury of two tuba players needed for this piece instead of just the one and there are some great moments where we feature heavily. Sir Colin Davis was one of the best conductors of Berlioz’s music and this recording really captures that brilliance.

Mahler Symphony No 8
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
I first played this piece as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain when I was about 16. It was at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall conducted by none other than the LSO’s Sir Simon Rattle. It’s a huge piece often called the 'Symphony of a Thousand' as it requires so many performers: a huge orchestra, offstage brass, vocal soloists and an enormous choir. The Royal Albert Hall really is the best venue for it.

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet
Conductor: Valery Gergiev
Before I joined the LSO I spent six years as the tuba player in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. We performed this piece accompanying the Royal Ballet on many occasions in that time and it instantly became one of my very favourite pieces. There is a scene called 'Dance of the Knights' which I’m sure you will have heard before, lots of fun to play on the tuba too.

Listening Recommendations: LSO Percussion

TIMPANI

Sam Walton (timpani)

Panufnik Legacies (any disc)
Conductor: François-Xavier Roth

Adès Asyla, Tevot, Polaris
Conductor: Thomas Adès

LSO Percussion Ensemble (any disc)

PERCUSSION

Neil Percy (percussion)

Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
Conductor: Claudio Abbado

Adès Asyla
Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle

Berlioz The Trojans
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis

Pieces referenced in Where's Simon?:

Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals
Tchaikovsky Swan Lake
Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf
Stravinsky The Firebird
Mozart The Marriage of Figaro

Where's Simon? credits:

Copyright © 2020
Created and written by Gareth Davies
Directed by Victor Craven and Gareth Davies
Animation, editing and design by Victor Craven