John Psathas

Our new All Stars playlist is here!

In this series, some of our - and your - favorite contemporary artists, composers, and musicians will let you take an exclusive sneak peek into their favorite musical works through specially curated playlists. This time around, we are proud to feature New Zealand-Greek composer John Psathas. Join us as the prolific musician fondly reflects on his varied inspirations - from Beethoven to Pärt.

Watch John Psathas introduce his favorites here!


Debussy - V. Pour l'égyptienne from Six Épigraphes

  • ConductorAndris Nelsons
  • OrchestraRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • LocationRoyal Concertgebouw

Debussy's sensuous and exotic piece.

Debussy's Six Épigraphes Antiques is a set of six short pieces originally composed for piano in 1914. These pieces were inspired by the Chansons de Bilitis, a collection of prose poems by French author Pierre Louÿs that tell the story of the fictional ancient Greek poetess Bilitis and her various love affairs. In 1977, the Dutch composer Rudolf Escher created an orchestral version of Debussy's Six épigraphes. This version was based on Debussy's original piano score, but with a series of orchestral alterations that broadened the colors and textures of the music. Escher's version was first performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam and has since become a popular alternative to the original piano version.


Pärt - Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten

  • ConductorPaavo Järvi
  • OrchestraTonhalle-Orchester Zürich
  • LocationTonhalle Zürich

A hypnotic rendition led by Paavo Järvi.

Arvo Pärt's 'Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten' pays homage to the revered English composer while offering a considerable showcase of Pärt's signature minimalist style. The short canon in a minor premiered in 1977, is a testament to Pärt's deep admiration for Britten. Utilizing his trademark tintinnabuli technique, Pärt crafts a mesmerizing atmosphere that resonates with both emotion and spiritual resonance. The work's transcendental quality has not gone unnoticed in popular culture, as it has found widespread use in film and television since. Its hypnotic melody, with its simplicity and repetition, draws listeners into a meditative state, inviting reflection.


Beethoven - IV. Allegro con brio from Symphony No. 7

  • ConductorIván Fischer
  • OrchestraRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • LocationRoyal Concertgebouw

One of Beethoven's most exceptional works.

Composed between 1811 and 1812 enjoyed immediate success since its premiere in Vienna in 1813. It is regarded as one of Beethoven's most exceptional works, showcasing his artistic brilliance and profound talent. The symphony's unique qualities, such as its rhythmic energy, vibrant melodies, and emotional depth, contributed to its instant popularity. Beethoven's ability to create music that resonated with audiences of his time and continues to captivate listeners to this day is a testament to his genius. Symphony No. 7 stands as a remarkable example of Beethoven's ability to combine innovative musical ideas with profound emotional expression. Its enduring appeal and status as a beloved masterpiece further solidify Beethoven's legacy as one of the greatest composers of all time.


Debussy - Claire de Lune

  • ConductorPaavo Järvi
  • OrchestraOrchestre de Paris
  • Location Salle Pleyel

One of the most beloved piano works ever.

Debussy's Clair de Lune is one of the most beloved piano works ever. Its third and most famous movement, from Suite bergamasque, features an ethereal arpeggiated left-hand accompaniment, with the signature melody taking the form of a lullaby. Its delicate melodic contours are filled with nostalgia and sensitivity, creating a dreamy atmosphere that truly showcases the impressionistic aesthetics of the period. Countless rearrangements and re-orchestrations of Debussy’s original work have been created in subsequent years by a diverse range of artists and musicians. A less classically oriented example of this can be found in the arrangement of Clair de Lune by American bluegrass band Punch Brothers used throughout their 2015 album ‘The Phosphorescent Blues’. In this 2012 performance, enjoy a moving performance of Debussy’s original work by the legendary Israeli-American pianist Menahem Pressler.


Rachmaninoff - II. Adagio sostenuto From Piano Concerto No. 2

  • ConductorStanislav Kochanovsky
  • OrchestraOrchestre de Paris
  • LocationPhilharmonie de Paris

Rachmaninoff emerges anew.

It is difficult to talk about the history of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 without reference to the personal troubles the composer experienced at the time of its composition – fallout mainly from the disastrous reception of his First Symphony, which premiered in 1897. Whilst continuing to conduct and perform after this incident, Rachmaninoff abstained from creating new music for three years, succumbing to a life of depression and heavy drinking. Nevertheless, after some tentative writing and a spot of financial aid from fellow composer Alexander Siloti, Rachmaninoff premiered his Second Piano Concerto in 1901 with the Moscow Philharmonic Society to much contrasting success. The second movement stands as the most renowned section, regarded as an epoch of sentimentality, the very pinnacle of emotional expression.


Liszt - Consolation

  • ConductorPierre Boulez
  • OrchestraStaatskapelle Berlin
  • LocationPhilharmonie Essen

Featuring piano virtuoso Daniel Barenboim.

For the very first time Daniel Barenboim tackled Franz Liszt’s two highly virtuosic piano concertos in a single concert. With Pierre Boulez, his friend and esteemed colleague of many years, conducting Barenboim’s own orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, they were showered with praise on their tour across Europe. For both musicians, Liszt was one of the most important pioneers of modern music, as composer, conductor and pianist. He influenced revolutionary contemporaries such as Robert Schumann and Richard Wagner. Two examples of the latter’s magnificent orchestral work round off this concert program celebrating Liszt’s bicentenary.


Ensemble Al-Kindi - Traditional Performance

    An enchanting performance by Syria's Al-Kindi ensemble.

    Formed in 1983 in the vibrant city of Aleppo, Syria by the visionary Julien Weiss, Ensemble Al-Kindi shares its name with the eminent ninth-century philosopher and music theorist of the Arab world. Rooted in a profound appreciation for Arab-Andalusian, Oriental, Turkish, and Iranian musical traditions, the ensemble has consistently sought to delve into the rich tapestry of cultural influences that shape its repertoire. In this performance taken from multi-faceted musician Bobby McFerrin’s 2002 ‘Spirits of Music’ concert with the Gewandhausorchester, the Al-Kindi ensemble deliver a traditional performance accompanied by dynamic and mesmerising choreography from the awe-inspiring Whirling Dervishes of Damascus.