Friday, April 1, 2011

Podcast #1 – Musical Alphabet, Part 1

(UPDATE 2011-07-02 - Commentaire français:

As an ice-breaker, I thought I would start off by offering you a taste of my collection under the theme of a “musical alphabet”. This week’s podcast is brought to you by the letters A through M.
This montage is no longer available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address

Detailed Playlist:

Podcast play list (details enclosed in the posted archive):
A. Albinoni Adagio
B. Blue Rondo a la Turk
C. Chanson” from the Coppelia suite
D. Donna Diana
E. Etude-Tableau by Rachmaninoff
F. Bernstein’s Fancy Free
G. Adam’s overture to Giralda
H. Hesitation, by Durieux
I. I Loves you Porgy”
J. Jupiter” from “The Planets”
K. Kaleidoscope
L. Kreisler’s Liebeslied
M. Méditation from Thais

In putting this play list together I wanted to provide a cross-section of musical genres, highlight some personal favourites and break the ice on our series of podcasts.
My target was to string together thirteen 5-minute tracks. Some of them are shorter, others are longer. There’s no set agenda or rhyme or reason here, and I’m sure you may have applied a different set of tracks to represents the letters of the alphabet…

In preparing this set of selections, I learned something new: did you know that Albinoni probably didn’t write the famous Adagio? Apparently, the musicologist who compiled his works used a section from an Albinoni sonata to concoct this gem, and attributed it to Albinoni.

I heard Dave Brubeck in concert at the Montreal Jazz Festival about 25 years ago, and hearing Bluie Rondo with full orchestra accompaniment was a special moment. I went and bought a CD copy of “Time Out” right away. I lent it to a friend, and it was lost when his appartment got broken into. In time, I re-acquired the CD, as well as the Brubeck anthology CD for the Ken Burns “Jazz” series on PBS – which featured Blie Rondo with the original quartet. A gem and a personal favoutite.

I have most of Rachmaninoff’s Etude-Tableaux in my collection (he has two sets). The one I chose is performed in recital by Murray Perahia. That recital CD also has some other great tracks, such as the Beethoven WoO 80 piano variations and Schumann’s “Vienna Carnival” I have lots of Perahia recordings in my collection, and I especially like his Beethoven concerto series (with Haitink and the Concertgebouw) and some of his Mozart concerto performances (most notably his series playing with and conducting the English Chamber Orchestra).

Hesitation is a find I made a few years ago on a CBC records CD entitled “Opportunity Knocks”. The CBC, in the 50’s, had an anthology radio series featuring short (3-minute or so) pieces by Canadian composers. At the time, many of them were starting out (such as Godfrey Ridout) or were in mid-career (such as Healy Willan and Murray Adaskin). This cute piece was written by a CBC Montreal-based arranger by the name of Maurice Durieux and is indicative of the pieces on the CD (which I think is, sadly, out of print though I did find an page for it). It features Symphony Nova Scotia. Maybe your local library has a copy?
Kaleidoscope is a standard piece of Canadian concert music, and is probably one of the few oft-recorded pieces by French-Canadian composer Pierre Mercure (I know of at least four recordings of it). The version I selected is the latest such recording, featuring Canada’s rising conducting star, Yannick Nezet-Seguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal.

Finally, I chose a flute and piano transcription of the Massenet Meditation from the opera Thais, to change from the violin and piano or orchestra version. Jean-Pierre Rampal (along with Sir James Galway) is the standard-bearer for the instrument in the latter half of the 20th Century, and this rendition does not disappoint. I have a few Rampal recordings in my collection, including some of the Jazz stuff he did with Claude Bolling.
Part 2 (N to Z) of the musical alphabet will be posted next week.

I think you will love this music too.

Let me know what you think either by commenting on the blog (please keep it clean!) or by e-mailing me (See my profile for the address).