Lockdown Recommendations from Musicians: Conductor Andrew Nethsingha

The director of music at St John’s College, Cambridge guides us through the music that has been keeping him company throughout the coronavirus pandemic

Published: June 11, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Musical recommendations:

During the lockdown I’ve been listening to lots of Beethoven every day - the depth and extraordinary variety of his music could get me through a lifetime of isolation! And you never stop finding different performances that shed fresh light.


Belcea Quartet’s recordings of Beethoven’s String Quartets Op. 18

These recordings have been giving me particular sustenance. Of course, Beethoven wrote much of his music whilst suffering from the ultimate musical isolation of deafness.

Antje Weithaas, Christian Tetzlaff and Gunilla Süssmann playing Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio

I’m always exploring new repertoire, and this piece has been a recent find.

Gary Graffman playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra

I’ve had a particular love of George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra since I was a teenager. It was a treat to acquire the lavish boxed set of his complete Columbia Album Collection recently (106 CDs!).

There are so many highlights – I’ve been enjoying the Prokofiev 3rd piano concerto with Gary Graffman. The first movement is particularly stunning, with perfect style and that bright crystalline sound.

TV recommendations:

Away from music it’s been great to get into various TV series like The Crown. You need different things at different times, and with different configurations of the family. Sometimes Killing Eve, or sometimes it’s good to get back to classics like Shaun the Sheep – of which we also enjoy the Welsh version!

Radio recommendations:

What bliss to have repeats of great cricket on the radio! It’s hard to imagine life without Test Match Special. Reliving those Ashes contests from 2005 and 2019 takes you to a different time and place – they’re just so absorbing and entertaining! Whole days of cricket have been a great incentive to do housework and painting.

Book recommendations:

I’ve got various books on the go at present including Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence (particularly pertinent at this time), Stephen Hough’s wonderful Rough Ideas and PG Wodehouse as the ultimate escapism.

Rough Ideas - Stephen Hough

Other recommendations:

I have some new earphones, which have made jogging much more enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed lots of radio adaptations whilst running – George Eliot’s Middlemarch was wonderful. I’m currently listening to The 39 Steps.

We play a lot of family games: Confidence, Monopoly, Inclination, Perudo, Password.

Racing Demon is our favourite. Sadly, the time when I could consistently beat the children is now well in the past!


Andrew Nethsingha and the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge’s new album, ‘Pious Anthems and Voluntaries: Michael Finnissy’, is out on 14 August.

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