On Air Now
Classic FM Drive with John Brunning 5pm - 7pm
Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, and a soundtrack including music by film composer Dario Marianelli alongside some of the best opera music ever composed - hold on to your hats and experience life at Beecham House in our track by track album guide...
A suitably lively drinking song gives us a clue as to the tone of this often mischievous film, as we're shown around the spacious grounds of the luxury retirement home, Beecham House.
We meet twinkly-eyed tenor, Wilf Bond, played by Billy Connolly, as we explore the grounds of Beecham House. The first track by Dario Marianelli is steady and measured, whilst remaining cheeky and good-humoured - much like Wilf himself.
A spirited performance of Schubert's beautiful love song from two musical greats: German baritone Hermann Prey and pianist Karl Engel. The German words are translated from Act IV of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona.
An instrumental version of the Duke of Mantua's canzone from the beginning of Act III of Verdi's opera, detailing the ever-changing nature of women - perhaps hinting at the antics of soprano Jean Horton in the film, played by Maggie Smith.
Classic British actors, opera singers and musicians star in the film itself, but the soundtrack also features some musical legends. Valérie Masterson, Peggy Ann Jones, Colin Wright, John Reed, Kenneth Sandford, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royston Nash perform this brilliantly flighty song from the Gilbert & Sullivan classic, The Mikado.
Another offering from Dario Marianelli, this time, a mournful piece marking soprano Jean Horton's departure from her home into the retirement home, Beecham House. Little does she know that things will almost certainly pick up when she arrives...
Reggie, played by Tom Courtenay, retreats to his room to play his cello after receiving a bit of a shock. The music is actually played by Christopher van Kampen, Pascal Rogé, Cristina Ortiz, the London Sinfonietta and Charles Dutoit, and it's simply beautiful.
The bright, light-hearted spirit of the songs from The Mikado sums up the energy of the residents at Beecham House. A lively recording from Valerie Masterson, Pauline Wales, Peggy Ann Jones, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Elegant, regal, and just a little cheeky, it can only be Boccherini's brilliant String Quintet. There's a reason this is one of the composer's most famous works, which is as catchy as it is beautiful.
Dario Marianelli weaves his trademark film music in with the well-loved music from the classical canon to great effect. Not Upset is no exception, with reflective piano notes delicately placed over a bed of hushed strings.
The minuet from one of Haydn's 'London' Symphonies making a special appearance on the soundtrack. Its nickname 'Military' derives from the second movement with its loud trumpets and drums, but the Menuet is thankfully more sedate!
Another fantastic piece of music from Haydn, this time, the quartet nicknamed 'Sunrise' thanks to the beautiful rising theme at the beginning of this movement.
Played by the Takács Quartet, the second movement of Haydn's beautiful quartet is a real treat. Rather than being a simple violin tune accompanied by the cello and viola, all four players in the string quartet have a turn at playing the gentle lines of the second movement.
Fun-filled and sprightly, the twists and turns of Haydn's Menuetto play tricks on the ear throughout. Dark broody passages are followed with hops, skips and jumps from the violins.
Coming to the end of this epic Haydn string quartet, the Takács Quartet keep us on our toes until the very end. It's one of Haydn's latest quartets, where he experiments with styles and musical forms throughout - and the spiky finale is no exception.
"On a tree by a river a little tom-tit Sang Willow, titwillow, titwillow!" It's more than likely you'll know the words to this gem of a song from The Mikado. This recording features Gilbert & Sullivan legend John Reed, performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
If you've come to see this film as a Verdi fan, never fear - this is a flawless performance from Romanian soprano Ileana Cotrubas with the Vienna State Opera and Chorus, injecting a touch of operatic glamour in amongst the wonderful string quartets on the album.
Taken from Rossini's comic opera, The Barber of Seville, this duet between Rosina and the Count (with interjections from Figaro) tells of the couple's love for each other as they prepare to be wed. It's another operatic smash hit from the talented soprano Gianna D'Angelo, baritone Renato Capecchi, and tenor Nicola Monti.
Acting and musical legends Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Léon Charles and Ronnie Hughes come together for a lively rendition of this jazzy ditty. And with lyrics like 'before you're old and grey, still okay, have a little fun, son,' it would be almost rude not to heed their advice...
The final piece by Dario Marianelli on the soundtrack, this track features relaxed piano music and a gentle tune on the oboe. Will Jean Horton sing the final duet with her three ex-quartet members?
Nothing ramps up the tension like an orchestral arrangement of Bach's thundering Toccata and Fugue. As the action of the film comes to a head and the residents prepare to perform in the final concert, the heavy music reminds us of the heartache and stress behind the scenes.
Who knew it was possible to capture some of the world's most famous musicians all on the same recording? This brilliant version of Libiamo, Verdi's drinking song, features Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti and Richard Bonynge conducting the London Opera Chorus.
Taking to the stage, opera star Kiri Te Kanawa, the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti perform this peaceful aria from Puccini's opera Tosca. The title is translated as 'I lived for art, I lived for love' - fitting, in the context of Beecham House and its talented residents.
The world's biggest opera stars showing us how it's done once more in the Act III quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto. Sherrill Milnes, Huguette Tourangeau, Dame Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti are the voices of the four singers played by Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, and Billy Connolly.
Pavarotti's amazing voice, coupled with Verdi's unrivalled operatic genius, singing one of the best known arias of all time? As we approach the end of the album, this is certainly one track that needs no introduction.
Performed in the gala concert at the end of the film, this amusing song is made all the funnier by its elderly singers, who may not look like little maids from school, but certainly feel like them.
A rough-around-the edges jazzy performance from Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Léon Charles and Ronnie Hughes once more - it's not all about operatic quartets at Beecham House!
A haunting jazz version of Verdi's Bella Figlia Dell'amore to end the album, played by trumpeter Ronnie Hughes. The music, despite having the same tune as the vocal version, is almost completely unrecognisable as a smooth jazz tune, but it still sounds brilliant.