Sunday, November 19, 2017

Project 366 - Early Music Time Capsules

Project 366 continues in 2017-18 with "Time capsules through the Musical Eras - A Continued journey through the Western Classical Music Repertoire". Read more here.


According to Wikipedia, Early music refers to music, especially Western art music, composed prior to the Classical era. The term generally comprises Medieval music (500–1400) and Renaissance music (1400–1600). Whether it also encompasses Baroque music (1600–1760) is a matter of opinion in some learned circles. Further, the term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises, instruments and other contemporary evidence."

To begin our set of time capsules, I thought I’d begin with a pair of listener guides that illustrate Medieval and Renaissance Music:

Listener Guide # 123 “Anonymous” - Anonymous works are works of art or literature, that have an anonymous, undisclosed, or unknown creator or author. For the most part, works attributed to Anonymus pre-date the Baroque era, and can be thought of as being passed down following “oral” tradition (ITYWLTMT Montage #245 – 14 Apr. 2017)




Listener Guide # 124 “Robert Johnson: Lute Music” - Robert Johnson was the son of lutenist to Elizabeth I. Following the death of his father in 1594, Robert was taken under the care of Lord Hunsdon, later Lord Chamberlain to Elizabeth and the patron of the acting company later called The King’s Men of which Shakespeare was a member. This created a strong artistic influence on Johnson, who went on to write songs and music for this company including plays by Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Webster. Johnson's main claim to fame is that he composed the original settings for some of Shakespeare's lyrics, the best-known being probably those from The Tempest. (Cover2Cover #3 – 2 May 2017)

As general examples of baroque music, let me suggest the following pair of additional listener guides:



Listener Guide # 125 “Helmut Walcha - Organ Masters Before Bach” – This Guide provides an overview of compositions from the 16th to the 18th centuries that stands as a foundation for Bach’s great organ music. Bach walked a long distance to meet Buxtehude, and stayed with him for three months, absorbing much of his technique. Other composers represented include such well known names as Johann Pachelbel and Georg Böhm, as well as lesser known composers such as Nicolaus Bruhns, Samuel Scheidt and Vincent Lübeck. (Cover2Cover #2 – 4 April 2017)

More baroque organ can be found in earlier listener guides #7 and #10.

Listener Guide # 126 “Baroque Showcase” – Thius listener guide avoids the “usual suspects” – a few of whom we will focus on later - and provides a modest sampling of compositions by other baroque-era composers. (ITYWLTMT Montage #241 – 24 Feb. 2017)


  
Johann Sebastian Bach probably reigns supreme among Baroque composers – he will be the subject of his own chapter in December. Two other names deserve significant mention:


Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)

Antonio Vivaldi was one of the most renowned figures in European baroque music. Born in Venice, Vivaldi was ordained as a priest though he instead chose to follow his passion for music. A prolific composer who created hundreds of works, he became renowned for his concertos in Baroque style, becoming a highly influential innovator in form and pattern. He was also known for his operas, including Argippo and Bajazet.

Listener Guide # 127 “Vivaldi – Trio Sonatas op. 1” – Vivaldi published a collection of twelve trio sonatas (his opus one) in 1705. This edition has only partly survived; today's performers rely on a reprint by Estienne Roger of Amsterdam which dates from around 1715. (Cover2Cover #4 – 26 Sept. 2017)





Listener Guide # 128 “Vivaldi - New Philharmonia Orchestra - Leopold Stokowski ‎– Le Quattro Stagioni” – Perhaps the finest "big band" version of the Four Seasons comes from this oft-reissued Phase 4 recording which brims with the conductor's characteristic and highly personal tonal color, rescoring and inflection, but it's deeply heartfelt and thoroughly delightful. (Vinyl’s Revenge #11 #4 – 13 Oct. 2015)



Portrait of George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)

George Frideric Handel composed operas, oratorios and instrumentals. Handel was born in Halle, Germany, in 1685. In 1705 he made his debut as an opera composer with Almira. He produced several operas with the Royal Academy of Music in England before forming the New Royal Academy of Music in 1727. When Italian operas fell out of fashion, he started composing oratorios, including his most famous, Messiah [Listener Guides #50 and 51].
Listener Guide # 129 “George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)” – A modest sampling of works by Handel, including his music for the Royal Fireworks. (ITYWLTMT Montage #244 – 31 Match 2017)

  

Listener Guide # 130 “Shellac's Revenge” – The Handel organ concertos, composed in London between 1735 and 1751, were written as interludes for performances of his oratorios. They were the first works of their kind for organ with chamber orchestra accompaniment and served as a model for later composers. (Once Upon the Internet #56 – 28 Match 2017)



George Frederick Handel: Radamisto

Listener Guides #131 – 133 – “Handel: Radamisto” - [Opera in three acts]

Joyce DiDonato (Radamisto), Maite Beaumont (Zenobia), Zachary Stains (Tiridate), Patrizia Ciofi (Polissena), Carlo Lepore (Farasmane), Il Complesso Barocco under Alan Curtis (Once or Twice a Fortnight - 11 Mar 2014)

Synopsis @ https://www.operalogg.com/radamisto-opera-av-georg-friedrich-handel-synopsis/
Libretto @ http://www.haendel.it/composizioni/l...pdf/hwv_12.pdf

Friday, November 17, 2017

Project 366 - Time capsules through the Musical Eras

For Part One of Project 366, click here.

Part Two - Time capsules through the Musical Eras
A Continued journey through the Western Classical Music Repertoire

In Part One of Project 366, we launched a comprehensive look at the Classical Music repertoire through a series of thematic Listener Guides. So far, we have shared 122 of these, and launch in Part Two a second tranche of 122 guides following a long arc that will take us to the end of 2018.

Part One consisted of a series of chapters exploring different musical genres – from solo instrumental music, to Grand Opera and everything in between. In Part Two, we will start fresh, and intend to traverse the repertoire along a timeline that will feature musical eras, musical traditions and some of the great composers that marked these eras and traditions.

Layout of Part Two

500 years of Western Classical Music can be depicted along a simple timeline:


(Source: Hope of Detroit Music, http://hdamusic.com/archives/454)

There are four “great” classical music periods, which mirror the evolution of most art forms. The choice of the dates shown on the timeline is somewhat arbitrary; the dates 1600, 1750 and 1820 don’t represent anything specific or eventful as far as I can see. I view those as guide posts – call them timeposts – that allow us to provide a periodic context, nothing more. I will extend the Baroque to “the left” of the timeline by including renaissance and ancient music along with baroque under an “Early Music” era.

Each of the four main eras will be explored over several chapters, with a focus on four “significant” transitional and transformational figures: Johann Sebastian Bach (Early Music), Ludwig van Beethoven (classical), Peter Tchaikovsky (Romantic) and Igor Stravinsky (Modern) who will get chapters exclusively dedicated to them. We will meander more in the classical era, allowing us to showcase two of its significant architects – Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – to get significant airtime along with other contemporaries and pupils.

The final caveat I want to leave you with is that, though we will progress along the timeline methodically, I make no pretense to keep things in perfect chronological order (sometimes, music from other eras may intrude into some listener guides, for instance). I intend to keep to the spirit of this time-based approach, but not to the letter!


Early Music
Ealy Music Time capsules123-133
Bach Gets my GOAT134-143
Haydn, Mozart and the Classical Period
Time Capsules, Part 1144-153
Time Capsules, Part 2154-163
Time Capsules, Part 3164-173
Beethoven Floats my BOAT174-184
The Romantics
Time Capsules, Part 1185-194
Time Capsules, Part 2195-208
Time Capsules, Part 3209-217
Peter Tchaikovsky218-227
The Moderns
Contemporary Time Capsules228-237
Igor Stravinsky238-244





Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rachmaninov on Vinyl


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge considers two orchestral works by Sergey Rachmaninov, emanating from two different periods in his composing career.

Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 was written in 1906–07. The score is dedicated to Sergei Taneyev, a Russian composer, teacher, theorist, author, and pupil of Tchaikovsky. Alongside his second and third Piano Concertos, this symphony remains one Rachmaninov's best known compositions.

Parts of the third movement were used for pop singer Eric Carmen's 1976 song, "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again", which borrowed the introduction and main melody of the third movement as the song's chorus and bridge, respectively. The melody was also used by jazz pianist Danilo Pérez as the main theme of his tune "If I Ever Forget You" on his 2008 album Across the Crystal Sea.

The premiere was conducted by the composer himself in Saint Petersburg on 8 February 1908. Today’s performance is by Lorin Maazel and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Completed in 1940, the Symphonic Dances are Rachmaninov’s last composition. The work is fully representative of the composer's later style with its curious, shifting harmonies, the almost Prokofiev-like grotesquerie of the outer movements and the focus on individual instrumental tone colors throughout (highlighted by his use of an alto saxophone in the opening dance).

The Dances are an exercise in nostalgia for the Russia he had known; the opening three-note motif, introduced quietly but soon reinforced by heavily staccato chords and responsible for much of the movement's rhythmic vitality, is reminiscent of the Queen of Shemakha's theme in Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel, the only music by another composer that he had taken out of Russia with him in 1917.

They also effectively sum up his lifelong fascination with ecclesiastical chants. In the finale he quotes both the Dies Irae and the chant "Blessed be the Lord".

The version I retained – am old Melodiya recording by Evgenii Svetlaniv from the same ABC Classics reissue that contained Tchaikovsky’s Suite no. 4 shared earlier this year – has been posted on my YouTube channel for a while and (to my chagrin) misses the first few bars. I did remedy the situation by digging through my digital copies, and have rectified the situation in the Internet Archive (audio only) version.



Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Symphony No.2 in E Minor, Op.27
Berliner Philharmoniker
Lorin Maazel, conducting
Deutsche Grammophon ‎-- 2532 102 (ADD, Released: 1983)


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...j2MPR5iwPZ7VdL

Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
USSR Symphony Orchestra
Yevgeny Svetlanov conducting
ABC Classics AY 67032 (AAA, Recorded 1973)




Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/05RachmaninovSymphonicDancesFI

Friday, November 10, 2017

John Field (1782-1837)

No. 264 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.


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Before Liszt, before Chopin, there was John Field, probably Ireland’s most notable export before Guinness Stout. Field was very highly regarded by his contemporaries and his playing and compositions influenced many major composers, including Chopin, Liszt, Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann.

John Field was born in Dublin into a musical family, and received his early education there, in particular with the immigrant Tommaso Giordani. The Fields soon moved to London, where Field studied under Muzio Clementi. Under his tutelage, Field quickly became a famous and sought-after concert pianist. Together, master and pupil visited Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg.

Ambiguity surrounds Field's decision to remain in Russia from 1802 onwards, but it is likely that Field acted as a sales representative for the Clementi Pianos. Although little is known of Field in Russia, he undoubtedly contributed substantially to concerts and teaching, and to the development of the Russian piano school.

Field is best known as the instigator of the nocturne – 18 in total plus associated pieces such as Andante inedit, H 64. These works were some of the most influential music of the early Romantic period: they do not adhere to a strict formal scheme (such as the sonata form), and they create a mood without text or programme. A handful of these open today’s podcast.

Similarly influential were Field's early piano concertos, which occupy a central place in the development of the genre in the 19th century. One interesting trait of his piano concertos is their limited choice of keys: they all use either E-flat major or C major at some point (or both, in the last concerto's case). Composers such as Hummel, Kalkbrenner and Moscheles were influenced by these works, which are particularly notable for their central movements, frequently nocturne-like. I programmed his concerto no. 5 in today’s montage.

To close, I included an homage to Field by his fellow Irish countryman Hamilton Harty. Harty's career was mostly as a conductor, notably of the Halle Orchestra of Manchester, during which time he made it one of the best orchestras in Europe, and was part of the early rediscovery and promotion of Baroque music by creating orchestrations of Handel's music that were popular until the Period Instrument movement. Harty orchestrated some of Field's pieces to create a "John Field Suite" to promote the composer who had been mostly forgotten. Harty himself, however was an Edwardian composer who followed the example of contemporaries like Holst and Vaughan Williams and incorporated folk music into these pieces to make them practically the only Irish sounding works in the entire Classsical repertoire.


I think you will love this music too!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Symphonic Stravinsky

No. 263 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday Blog. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.


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Today’s “Fifth Tuesday” installment of the Tuesday Blog features one of our montages and this one is dedicated to the music of Igor Stravinsky, and specifically to three of his five symphonies.

To begin, we note that we’ve programmed in past montages his Symophony of Psalms and his Symphonies of Wind Instrukments – the latter being a sort of play on words; in the title of this piece, Stravinsky used the word "symphonies" (note the plural form) not to label the work as an essay in the symphonic form, but rather in the word's older, broader connotation, from the Greek, of "sounding together".

The remaining three symphonies are part of this week’s montage beginning with Stravinsky’s “Opus one”, a Symphony in E-flat major, composed in 1905–07 during his apprenticeship with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov; it is also his first composition for orchestra. Of classical 4-movement structure, it is broadly influenced by Rimsky-Korsakov, GlazunovTchaikovsky and Wagner. The score bears the dedication "To my dear teacher N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov". A private performance was given on 27 April 1907 by the St. Petersburg Court Orchestra . Stravinsky later recalled that both Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov considered the orchestration "too heavy”. A revised version was conducted by Ernest Ansermet on 2 April 1914.

The Symphony in C is representative of Stravinsky's neoclassical period, which had been launched by his ballet Pulcinella (1919–20), the opera Mavra (1921–22), and Octet for winds (1922–23). It was written between 1938 and 1940 on the heels of a turbulent period of the composer's life, marked by illness (tuberculosis) and deaths in his immediate family (Stravinsky's daughter Ludmilla and wife Catherine died of the illness). Stravinsky was still mourning the deaths of his family members when World War II forced him to leave Europe. He had written the symphony's first two movements in France and Switzerland. Stravinsky wrote the third movement in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the fourth movement in Hollywood, after his emigration to the United States. The symphony was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Stravinsky on November 7, 1940.

Unlike the prevous two symphonies that follow a traditional, four-movement structure our final symphony spans only three movements. Stravinsky wrote the Symphony in Three Movements from 1942–45 on commission by the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York and is considered Stravinsky's first major composition after emigrating to the United States. It uses material written by Stravinsky for aborted film projects. Stravinsky conducted its premiere with the New York Philharmonic on January 24, 1946.

Happy Listening!


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Project 366 - Moonlighting

To mark the fifth anniversary of ITYWLTMT, we are undertaking a long-term project that will introduce - and re-introduce - musical selections in the context of a larger thematic arc I am calling "A Journey of Musical Discovery". Read more here.



Today’s is the final chapter in Part One of our ongoing Project, and the last of our "journeys without specific purpose".

Moonlighting for some evokes images of Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. Here it isn't about sexual tension - it's about the common use of the term: people who hold more than one job.

When we think of musicians and their jobs, three terms come immediately to mind - performance, composition and education. (We could also add administration to the list, but let's stop at those three..)

Through the ages, the musicians we have come to know and love play in two, if not three of these roles - Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, and Sergei Rachmanino are three examples of pianist-composers. Vivaldi, Hummel and Salieri were "triple threats" as performers, composers and teachers.

The list goes on!

Today, let me single out five 20th century figures that we widely recognize as conductors who also have established themselves in other spheres.

André Previn (*1929)


A regular guest with the world’s major orchestras, both in concert and on recordings, conductor, composer and pianist André Previn has held chief artistic posts with such orchestras as the Houston Symphony, London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras. In 2009, André Previn was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

As a pianist, André Previn enjoys recording and performing song recitals, chamber music and jazz. He has given recitals with Renée Fleming at Lincoln Center and with Barbara Bonney at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He regularly gives chamber music concerts with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lynn Harrell, as well as with members of the Boston Symphony and London Symphony orchestras, and the Vienna Philharmonic.

André Previn has enjoyed a number of successes as a composer. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. Recent highlights include the premiere of his Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass for Anne-Sophie Mutter and Roman Patkoló, premiered by the Boston Symphony in 2007. His Harp Concerto commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony premiered in 2008; his work "Owls", was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2008; his second opera, "Brief Encounter", commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera premiered in 2009; and his double concerto for violin and viola, written for Anne-Sophie Mutter and Yuri Bashmet, received its premiere in 2009. [Source: Philadelphia Chamber Music Society]

Listener Guide #118 features composer, pianist and conductor André Previn. Selections include works by Previn, Mozart and Gershwin. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #257 - 29 Aug 2017)


Mstislav Rostropovich (1927 - 2007)

Mstislav Rostropovich (photo: Sasha Gusov/EMI Classics)

Mstislav Rostropovich was a Russian cellist, pianist, conductor, pedagogue and political figure whose international performances and public appearances symbolized the struggle of intellectuals against the rigid Soviet Communism. His teachers at Moscow Conservatory were Dmitri Shostakovich, and Sergei Prokofiev, and both became his main musical influences for life. In 1951 Rostropovich was awarded the State Stalin's Prize, after his numerous victories at international competitions and a growing stream of recognition and acclaim.

In 1969 Rostropovich saved his friend, dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from prosecution. At that time Solzhenitsyn needed a place to hide from the Soviet authorities. An arrangement was made for Solzhenitsyn to live secretly at Rostropovich's dacha, a summer cabin outside of Moscow. This angered the Soviet Communists, and Rostropovich was banned from international tours and royalties. His performances in the Soviet Union were also banned, his income was drastically reduced, and his musical activity was limited to teaching. The Soviet authorities put severe pressure on Rostropovich by restricting his communication with the world and by ignoring his numerous invitations to perform at international festivals and competitions.

In 1974, after years of struggle with the Soviet dictatorship, Rostropovich fled the Soviet Union with his wife and two daughters, Olga and Elena. He became a much more relaxed person in exile, living the artistic freedom he had so longed for, and did not want to go back until the fall of the oppressive Soviet regime. In 1977 Rostropovich was appointed Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) in Washington, DC, the post he kept for the next seventeen years. Soon after Rostropovich became employed in the USA, his Soviet citizenship was revoked by Leonid Brezhnev in 1978.  In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev restored his citizenship allowing Rostropovich to return back home. His return happened during the most dramatic events of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He returned to the new Russia and continued his career as a musician and public figure. He lived in his homes in Moscow and in St. Petersburg and remained active in cultural and political life. [Source: IMdB]

Listener Guide #119 showcase Mstislav Rostropovich as cello soloist and as conductor in two works composed by his mentor, Dimitri Shostakovich. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #260 - 29 Sep 2017)


René Leibowitz (1913–1972)


René Leibowitz was a noted Polish-born French composer, conductor, music theorist and teacher. His musical career began with the study of the violin at the age of 5. Between the ages of 9 and 13 he gave violin recitals in Warsaw, Prague, Vienna and Berlin, but his father decided to end his premature concert career, since he wanted his son to lead a normal life and not that of a child prodigy. On no account, however, did this diminish young Leibowitz's interest in music. His family sttled in Paaris in 1926. From 1930 to 1933 he studied composition in Berlin with Arnold Schoenberg and in Vienna with Anton Webern. He continued his daily practice and began to conduct as a young student in Berlin. Eventually he made Paris his home. There he studied composition and orchestration with Ravel (1933), and conducting with Pierre Monteux.

René Leibowitz made his debut as a conductor in 1937 with the Chamber Orchestra of the French Radio in Europe and the USA. René Leibowitz's repretoire as a conductor spanned virtually everything, including opera, from the Baroque to the most modern 20th century composers. Stamped by the spirit of the Viennese school, he considered faithfulness to the music as the highest standard of interpretation, a principle which must have collided head-on with the romantic ideals of contemporary concert practice. His achievements as a conductor were unique because of the uncompromisingness with which he expressed the modernity of the classical composers as well as the roots of modern composers in the traditions of the past. As condRuctor, Leibowitz was active in many recording projects. One of the most widely circulated and most notable is a set of the L.v. Beethoven symphonies made for Reader's Digest Recordings; it was apparently the first recording of the symphonies to follow L.v. Beethoven's original metronome markings. In choosing this approach, Leibowitz was influenced by his friend and colleague Rudolf Kolisch. Leibowitz likewise made many recordings for Reader's Digest in their various compilation albums.

As a composer, René Leibowitz adopted the 12-tone method of composition, becoming its foremost exponent in France. Many of the works of the Second Viennese School were first heard in France at the International Festival of Chamber Music established by Leibowitz in Paris in 1947. Leibowitz was highly influential in establishing the reputation of the Second Viennese School, both through activity as a teacher in Paris after World War II (in 1944 he taught composition and conducting to many pupils, including Pierre Boulez (composition only), Antoine Duhamel, and Vinko Globokar) and through his book Schoenberg et son ecole, published in 1947 and translated by Dika Newlin as Schoenberg and his School (USA and UK editions 1949). This was among the earliest theoretical treatises written on Schoenberg's 12-tone method of composition. Leibowitz's advocacy of the Schoenberg school was taken further by his two most gifted pupils, each taking different paths in promoting the musics of Schoenberg, Webern and the development of serialism, namely Pierre Boulez and Jacques-Louis Monod. His American students include the composers Will Ogdon, Janet Maguire, and the avant-garde film director-animator John Whitney. [Source: Bach Cantatas]


Listener Guide #120 showcases works composed by René Leibowitz, as well as one of his memorable Beethoven symphony recordings (ITYWLTMT Podcast #255 - 11 Aug 2017)


Igor Markevitch (1912-1983)


Igor Markevitch was a Ukrainian, Italian, and French composer and conductor. Born in Kiev, son of the pianist Boris Markevitch and Zoya Pokitonov, Markevitch moved with his family to Paris in 1914 and Switzerland in 1916. Alfred Cortot discovered his musical ability and took him to Paris in 1926 for training as a composer and pianist at the Ecole Normale , where he studied under Cortot and Nadia Boulanger.

Igor Markevitch gained recognition in 1929 when he was discovered by Serge Diaghilev, who commissioned a Piano Concerto from Markevitch and desired him to collaborate on a ballet with Boris Kochno. In a letter to the London Times Diaghilev hailed Markevitch as the man who would put an end to 'a scandalous period of music ... of cynical-sentimental simplicity'. The ballet project came to an end with Diaghilev's death on August 19, 1929, but Markevitch's works were accepted by the publisher Schott and he continued to produce at least one major work per year during the 1930’s, being rated among the leading contemporary composers. He started being hailed as "the second Igor" - the first Igor being Igor Stravinsky.

Igor Markevitch collaborated on a ballet, Rébus with Leonid Massine (1931) and another, L'envol d'Icare (1932) with Serge Lifar; neither was staged, though both scores were performed as concert works. L'envol d'Icare, based on the legend of the fall of Icarus, which Markevitch himself recorded in 1938 with the Belgian National Orchestra, was especially radical, introducing quarter-tones in both woodwind and strings. (In 1943 he recomposed the work under the title Icare, eliminating these, rescoring and simplifying the rhythms.).

Igor Markevitch continued composing as war approached but fell seriously ill. After recovering, he decided to give up composition and focus exclusively on conducting.

Igor Markevitch made his debut as a conductor at age 18 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. As a conductor, he was well-respected for his interpretations of the French and Russian repertory and of 20th-century music. He settled in Italy and became an Italian citizen. During World War II he was active with the partisan movement. He relocated again, to London in 1953, and then to Switzerland. Beginning in 1965 he worked for the Spanish RTVE Orchestra. [Source: Bach Cantatas]

Listener Guide #121 features works composed and contemporaneous works conducted by Igor Markevitch. (ITYWLTMT Montage #248 - 26 May 2017)



Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)


The prodgiously gifted American conductor, composer, pianist, and teacher, Leonard (actually, Louis) Bernstein, took piano lessons as a boy and attend ed the Garrison and Boston Latin Schools. At Harvard Universty, he studied with Walter Piston, Edward Burlingame-Hill, and A. Tillman Merritt, among others. Then at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, he studied piano with Isabella Vengerova, conducting with Fritz Reiner, and orchestration with Randall Thompson. In 1940, he studied at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's newly created summer institute, Tanglewood, with the orchestra's conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. Bernstein later became Serge Koussevitzky's conducting assistant.

In 1945 he was appointed Music Director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra, a post he held until 1947. After Serge Koussevitzky died in 1951, Bernstein headed the orchestral and conducting departments at Tanglewood, teaching there for many years.

In 1956 Leonard Bernstein was engaged as associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra with Dimitri Mitropoulos, and became his successor as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958. From then until 1969 he led more concerts with the orchestra than any previous conductor. He subsequently held the lifetime title of Laureate Conductor, making frequent guest appearances with the orchestra. More than half of Bernstein's 400-plus recordings were made with the New York Philharmonic.

Leonard Bernstein was a leading advocate of American composers, particularly Aaron Copland. The two remained close friends for life. As a young pianist, Bernstein performed Copland's Piano Variations so often he considered the composition his trademark. Bernstein programmed and recorded nearly all of the Copland orchestral works - many of them twice. He devoted several televised "Young People's Concerts" to Copland, and gave the premiere of Copland's Connotations, commissioned for the opening of Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center in 1962.

While Bernstein's conducting repertoire encompassed the standard literature, he may be best remembered for his performances and recordings of Haydn, L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Schumann, Sibelius and Gustav Mahler. Particularly notable were his performances of the G. Mahler symphonies with the New York Philharmonic in the 1960’s, sparking a renewed interest in the works of G. Mahler.

Inspired by his Jewish heritage, Leonard Bernstein completed his first large-scale work: Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah. (1943). The piece was first performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1944, conducted by the composer, and received the New York Music Critics' Award. Koussevitzky premiered Bernstein's Symphony No. 2: The Age of Anxiety with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Bernstein as piano soloist. His Symphony No. 3: Kaddish, composed in 1963, was premiered by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Kaddish is dedicated "To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy." He also wrote many other compositions for various combinations, including orchesral, choral, chamber and piano works, song cycles, operas, scores for movies, music for ballett, incidental music for plays, musicals, and more. [Source: Bach Cantatas]

Listener Guide #122 is a re-creation of the Tanglewood concert held on 19 August, 1990 - Leonard Bernstein's last public performance.  conducted his last concert. (ITYWLTMT Montage #18 - 19 Aug. 2011)


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Viviana Sofronitsky & Mozart

No. 262 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.


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** This episode was published on Pod-O-Matic ahead of schedule, so here's the accompanying blog post **

In recent weeks, I have dedicated a number of my posts and playlists to Mozart’s piano concertos – this is part of an ongoing arc I began in the summer of 2015 which should ultimately result with having programmed all 27 piano concerti in ITYWLTMT podcasts.

Today’s installment is a convergence of sorts – Mozart and “old keyboards”, the latter having been the subject of a montage earlier this year. Russian-born pianist Viviana Sofronitsky is the daughter of pianist Vladimir Sofronitsky. Born in Moscow, she began studying music at home before she was enrolled in the Central Music School. She advanced to the Moscow Conservatory, where she earned a DMA. While living in the Soviet Union, she pursued her interest in early music by working with such period ensembles as Madrigal and the Chamber Music Academy, appearing additionally as a soloist in Moscow, Leningrad, and other major cities.

Sofronitsky moved to the United States in 1989 to study early music at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, then moved to Toronto, where she participated in performances and recording sessions with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. She became a Canadian citizen in 1994.

In 1999, she received degrees in fortepiano, harpsichord, and early music performance from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. She has lived in the Czech Republic since 2001 with her husband, Paul McNulty, a manufacturer of fortepiano replicas that Sofronitsky collects and plays. She performs on a two-manual harpsichord by Yves Beaupré, a Viennese fortepiano by F. Teller, and copies of fortepianos by Stein, Walter, Graf, Pleyel, and Boisselot.

Her 2005-06 11CD box set with Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense constitutes the first-ever complete cycle of Mozart’s works for keyboard and orchestra performed on “original” instruments. The orchestra’s musical director Tadeusz Karolak carefully shapes the orchestra's performance, and expertly melds their performance to the soloists to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
In today’s montage I have retained four of these concerti; the first (no. 2) is performed on the harpsichord and the remaining three (nos. 5, 6 and 11) are performed on the fortepiano.

More selections from the set (YouTube) - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtAALrT5fq6WtXobepmmbhx6kcO2mS3zt

I think you will love this music too!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Four Bach Keyboard Suites


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


Today I dig through some old MP3.COM downloads for a Once Upon the Internet playlist o four keyboard suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach composed suites, partitas and overtures in the baroque dance suite format for solo instruments such as harpsichord, lute, violin, cello and flute, and for orchestra.

In Bach’s solo keyboard catalog, we typiocally focus on the following sets of 19 suites for keyboard, six English Suites, BWV 806–811, six French Suites, BWV 812–817, the six Partitas, BWV 825-830 and the Overture in the French style, BWV 831.

The nomenclature “English” and “French” isn’t necessarily attributed to Bach and his contemporary publisher - Suites were later given the name 'French' (first recorded usage by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg in 1762). Likewise, the English Suites received a later appellation.

Bach's biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel wrote in his 1802 biography of Bach, "One usually calls them French Suites because they are written in the French manner." This claim, however, is inaccurate: like Bach's other suites, they follow a largely Italian convention. The Courantes of the first (in D minor) and third (in B minor) suites are in the French style, the Courantes of the other four suites are all in the Italian style. Some of the manuscripts that have come down to us are titled "Suites Pour Le Clavecin", which is what probably led to the tradition of calling them "French" Suites.

Bach's English Suites display less affinity with Baroque English keyboard style than do the French Suites to French Baroque keyboard style; the name "English" is thought to date back to a claim that these works might have been composed for an English nobleman. It has also been suggested that the name is a tribute to Charles Dieupart, whose fame was greatest in England, and on whose Six Suittes de clavessin Bach's English Suites were in part based.

The six partitas for keyboard are the last set of suites that Bach composed and the most technically demanding of the three. Although each of the Partitas was published separately under the name Clavier-Übung (Keyboard Practice), they were subsequently collected into a single volume in 1731, with the same name, which Bach himself chose to label his Opus 1.

Happy listening!

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

English Suite No. 2 in A minor, BWV 807
Justine McIntyre, piano

English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808
French Suite No. 6 in E Major, BWV 817
Sonia Rubinsky, piano

Partita No.1 in B Flat Major, BWV 825
Elaine Lau, piano

Downloaded from MP3.COM (December 2002)



Friday, October 13, 2017

Antonio Salieri (1750-1825)

No. 261 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.


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Today’s Blog and Podcast features a montage of works by the Italian Classical master Antonio Salieri. Born in the northern Italian town of Legnano in 1750, Salieri came to Vienna aged 15, where he was introduced to his later mentor, Gluck, and to the emperor, Joseph II. Salieri was invited to join in chamber music sessions with the emperor, and soon found himself launched on a career in the imperial court.

In a Guardian article by Erica Jeal, she writes that it's hard to say which view of Antonio Salieri is more firmly embedded: that he was the tormentor who drove Mozart to an early grave or that he was a lousy composer. If Salieri wasn't the enviously wrathful schemer portrayed in the 1984 film Amadeus, who was he? What is certain is that by 1781, when the 25-year-old Mozart set up home in Vienna, Salieri, six years his senior, was an established star.

An ambitious young composer such as Mozart could conceivably have wished Salieri out of the way, but the other way round? Hardly. So what if Mozart collaborated on Le Nozze di Figaro with Beaumarchais, the doyen of the Paris stage? Salieri was already working on Tarare, to a libretto by Beaumarchais himself, a work that would be a hit in Paris.

And if Mozart's collaborations with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte bore greater fruit than Salieri's? Well, no matter - it was Salieri, after all, who could claim credit for bringing Da Ponte to Vienna. However, if what Mozart's wife Constanze reported was true, there was one incident that might conceivably have sparked a rivalry. She claimed that Salieri had been offered Da Ponte's libretto for Cosi Fan Tutte - and had rejected it as being not worth setting. When Mozart got his hands on it, a humiliated Salieri had to eat his words.

It was only after Mozart's demise that Salieri began to have any real reason to hate him. Unlike that of any before him, Mozart's music kept on being performed - he became the first composer whose cult of celebrity actually flourished after his death. Salieri, however, had outlived his talent. He wrote almost no music for the last two decades of his life.

He did have an impressive roster of pupils: Beethoven, Schubert, Meyerbeer and Liszt - not to mention Franz Xavier Mozart, his supposed adversary's young son. But the composer who had once been at the vanguard of new operatic ideas was not necessarily teaching his students to be similarly innovative; we can only be grateful that Schubert ignored his diatribes against the "intolerable" genre of Germanic lieder.

In somewhat ominous fashion, the montage starts with a piano piece by Mozart setting six variations on a theme on the Salieri aria "Mio caro Adone" from the Finale (Act II) of the Opera La fiera di Venezia. The young composer was still in his teens when he wrote this work and must have held some admiration for Salieri at the time.

This raises an inevitable yet perhaps unfair question: how does Salieri's work differ from Mozart's? One might say that Salieri’s music feels more mature and textured, whereas the latter very often placed a strong emphasis on melody. But it is best to simply evaluate Salieri's works based on this short sampling.

What makes Salieri's Variations on "La follia di spagna" noteworthy is that it is one of only very few sets of successful orchestral variations that was written before the late Romantic period, when the form became more popular after Brahms' 1873 Haydn Variations. Salieri's take on the famous Portuguese (not Spanish, as the title suggests) theme, the score calls for strings, woodwinds, brass, harp, percussion, and tambourine, all featured at some point over the 26 variations.
The montage next features a pair of concerti for groups of instruments and orchestra, reminiscent of the concerto grosso genre from the earlier baroque period.

One might hear echoes of Le Nozze di Figaro in the beginning of La Veneziana, where the strings play together wonderfully. Actually, perhaps it is more accurate to say that the spirit of The Marriage of Figaro drew on inspiration from the teacher.


I think you will love this music too.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ‎– The Late Piano Concertos


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


Mozart’s piano concertos are, in my opinion, the one genre of work where we can truly appreciate his growth as a composer, as he produced them continuously throughout his career. Concertos Nos 1–4 (K. 37, 39, 40 and 41) are orchestral and keyboard arrangements of sonata movements by other composers, leaving 23 “original” concerti (concertos nos. 7 and 10 are for three and two keyboards respectively).

I began sharing some of what we would call Mozart’s “late” Piano Concertos with concertos no. 17 and 21 recently featured. Today’s post shares music from a TIME-LIFE compilation set of 5 LP reissues from the early 1970’s and that I acquired many years ago at a second-hand store. I already featured Concerto no. 21 from that compilation set, and concerto no. 24 many years ago on a post about Sir Clifford Curzon. The three works presented today (nos. 18, 22 and 25) feature three different soloists and orchestras.

The concerti are discussed in a well-written Wikipedia synthesis article on the Mozart concertos. Mozart conceived a unique vision of the piano concerto that attempted to solve the ongoing problem of how thematic material is dealt with by the orchestra and piano, and most of his best examples are from later works.

Three concertos composed in 1784, K. 453 (No. 17), 456 (No. 18) and 459 (No. 19), can be considered to form a group, as they all share certain features, such as the same rhythm in the opening. K. 453 (featured in our recent Previn montage) was written for Barbara Ployer, and is famous in particular for its last movement. The next concerto in B flat, K. 456 (featured today) was, for a long time, believed to have been written for the blind pianist Maria Theresa von Paradis to play in Paris.

Next on our program, from 1785, K. 482 (no. 22 in E-flat) is slightly less popular, possibly because it lacks the striking themes featured in K. 467 (heard in our Ashkenazy share). To close this week’s share, we have the final work of the year 1786, No. 25, K. 503, one of the most expansive of all classical concertos, rivaling Beethoven’s Emperor concerto.

One final note – the clip of Barenboim playing and conducting no. 18 has been withdrawn from YouTube, but I do have it posted as an MP3 track on our Internet Archive version of today’s playlist.

Happy listening!



Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 18 In B Flat Major, K. 456
English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, piano & conducting

Piano Concerto No. 22 In E Flat Major, K. 482
Karl Engel, piano
Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Leopold Hager, conducting
YouTube - https://youtu.be/YFQf-05zfOk

Piano Concerto No. 25 In C Major, K. 503
Alicia De Larrocha, piano
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Georg Solti, conducting
YouTube - https://youtu.be/-XVrRB_wgPM

Label: Time Life Records ‎– STL M01
Format: 5 × Vinyl, LP, Compilation
Issued in 1973
More info - https://www.discogs.com/Wolfgang-Ama...elease/4295176



Sunday, October 1, 2017

Programming - October, November & December 2017

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Already the last quarter of 2017 - 13 more weeks to go. Sure flies by, doesn't it!3

On our radar for this final quarter is the end of the first tranche of Project 366, and the launch of Part 2 and a fresh set of 122 Listener Guides. More about Part 2 in November.

Friday Blog and Podcast:

  • October - Podcasts featuring Mozart (NEW PODCAST) and Salieri (NEW PODCAST)
  • November - An "IIn Memoriam" podcast featuring Sir Jeffrey Tate (NEW PODCAST) and the music of Ieland's John Field (NEW PODCAST)
  • December - a pair of piano legends in Edwin Fischer playing Bach  (NEW PODCAST) and Rudolf Serkin  playing Beethoven (NEW PODCAST)
  • Our last post in December will be our annual Year in Review featuring our compilation of YouTube favourites.
Tuesday Blog (TalkClassical):
  • Cover 2 Cover - Schubert Lieder with the late great Gundula Janowitz (PTB)
  • Once Upon the Internet - J. S. Bach Keyboard suites (MP3.COM, PTB) and Beethoven "Live" (LiberMusica, PTB)
  • Vinytl's Revenge - Mozart Piano Concertos (PTB), Rachmaninov's Second Symphony and Symphonic Dances (PTB) and Holst's Planets (PTB)
  • Bonus Montage for the 5th Tuesday (October) - Symphonic Stravinsky (PTB)
OperaLively:

The Flying Dutchman (Wagner, OTF). Other opera posts TBA, time permitting.

I will update this page if programming changes in the coming weeks, and also look for unannounced “repatriated” posts from our PTB and OTF series.

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All of our Tuesday, Friday and ad-hoc posts, as well as OTF and YouTube Channel updates get regularly mentioned (with links) on our Fan Page. If you are a user of Facebook, simply subscribe to get notified so you never miss anything we do!

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Rostropovich & Shostakovich

No. 260 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.




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This week’s Blog and podcast considers a pair of works by Dimitri Shostakovich featuring fellow-Russian artist Mstislav Rostropovich – in one instance as cello soloist and in the other as conductor.

Mstislav Rostropovich is internationally acclaimed and acknowledged as one of the world's greatest cellists of his generation. His repertoire includes more than 50 concertos, ranging from the baroque, through the classical and romantic periods, to the avant-garde. As a cellist, Rostropovich is noted for his commanding technique and intense, visionary playing.

Rostropovich was one of the world's most outspoken defenders of human and artistic freedoms. In 1974, after a period of four years during which the writer Solzhenitsyn resided in their home, Rostropovich and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya left the Soviet Union at their own request.
Rostropovich has also won outstanding acclaim as a conductor, appearing with most of the world's leading orchestras, including his long tenure as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington. Both on the cello and on the podium, Rostropovich is considered one of the leading interpreters of the music of Shostakovich (with whom he studied composition), Britten, and Prokofiev.

Opening the montage is the first western performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, composed in the spring of 1966 in the Crimea. It was written for Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave the premiere in Moscow at the composer's 60th birthday concert. On the montage, Coplin Davis conducts the BBC Symphony in a live broadcast..

In an interview by Tim Janof, Rostropovich talks about Shostakovich and Prokofiev:

Shostakovich was very shy and sensitive and he had a rich inner life that he kept to himself. He avoided confrontation and would fib to spare somebody's feelings. I remember him going up to somebody after a concert and praising their performance and predicting a great future career even though the performance was actually pretty bad. He generally kept his true thoughts and feelings to himself, though he did tend to open up a bit at parties.

While Prokofiev did a lot of his composing at the piano, Shostakovich worked out a lot of ideas in his head. [,,,] I took many walks with Shostakovich during which he would suddenly raise his head and become very quiet, which I understood to mean that he was composing. […]  Shostakovich liked the combination of cello and celeste in Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante [for cello and orchestra, a work dedicated to and premiered by Rostropovich], so that instrumentation appeared in Shostakovich's next work.

Today’s montage features Shostakovich’s Fifth symphony, which Rostropovich brings up in anecdote:

Prokofiev […] didn't seem to have an unexpressed thought. If he didn't like something, he never considered another person's feelings before he shared his opinion. As an example, Prokofiev once asked Shostakovich why he used so much tremolo in his Fifth Symphony, telling him that it sounded like Aida, which I gather was a bad thing. He could be quite acidic.

After the symphony had been performed in Moscow, Heinrich Neuhaus called the work "deep, meaningful, gripping music, classical in the integrity of its conception, perfect in form and the mastery of orchestral writing—music striking for its novelty and originality, but at the same time somehow hauntingly familiar, so truly and sincerely does it recount human feelings."


I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vivaldi: Trio Sonatas Op. 1


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


Brilliant Classics Cover 2 Cover
As I’m sure many of you do, I receive my fair share of YouTube “Spam” mailings. Though some can be irksome and annoying, I’m glad I received a notice about the Brilliant Classics YouTube channel, where the label posts many of its releases integrally. I find that, for the most part, interpretations are generally pretty good. I have slated a few of these albums – starting with this week’s share – for some upcoming Tuesday Blogs.

Vivaldi’s Chamber sonatas for two violins and continuo
Accoirding to an excellent review I found as I was doing my background research for this week’s post, in 1681 Arcangelo Corelli published his first collection of trio sonatas which were to be followed by three further sets of twelve sonatas each. They were enthusiastically embraced by the music lovers and amateur performers at the time. The influence of Corelli's sonatas was such that almost any composer of later generations felt obliged to show his skills in trio sonatas of his own. A set of trio sonatas was often a composer's first publication of music from his pen. Examples are the trio sonatas by AlbinoniBonporti and Caldara.

Vivaldi was another who decided that he should show the music world what he was capable of by publishing a collection of trio sonatas, publishing twelve trio sonatas his opus one in 1705. This edition has only partly survived; today's performers rely on a reprint by Estienne Roger of Amsterdam which dates from around 1715. However, it is assumed that the 1705 edition was in fact a reprint as well and that the first edition could have been from 1703 and may have been published shortly before Vivaldi had been appointed in his post at La Pieta in September of that year. Today’s share is a World premiere recording authorised and based on the Critical Edition of these 12 sonatas by Fabrizio Ammetto, Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice.

Scholars have noted that Vivaldi's trio sonatas show some immaturity. That could be the reason that in our time they are not that often performed and recorded. It seems that in Vivaldi's time they didn't find a wide dissemination. It has also been suggested that the composer himself didn't rate them very highly as he hardly ever borrowed from them. Maybe he even didn't like the very form of the trio sonata as after 1710 he seldom returned to it.

Whatever one may think of these trio sonatas they make for good listening for about 90 minutes or so, certainly if they are played so well as here by L'Arte dell'Arco. One of the features of L'Arte del'Arco's playing is a great rhythmic precision; if you love baroque string music and/or Vivaldi you should add this fine performance of the corpus to your collection.

Happy Listening


Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
12 Sonate da camera a tre, Op. 1
(Order on the recording)
No. 1 in G Minor, RV 73
No. 8 in D Minor, RV 64
No. 5 in F Major, RV 69
No. 10 in B-Flat Major, RV 78
No. 6 in D Major, RV 62
No. 12 in D Minor RV 63 “Follia”
No. 9 in A Major, RV 75
No. 7 in E-Flat Major, RV 65
No. 3 in C Major, RV 61
No. 4 in E Major, RV 66
No. 11 in B Minor, RV 79
No. 2 in E Minor, RV 67

L'Arte dell'Arco [Federico Guglielmo, Glauco Bertagnin, violin; Francesco Galligioni, cello; Ivano Zanenghi, theorbo; Roberto Loreggian, harpsichord, organ]

rec: March 12 -16, 2012, Carceri (PD), Abbazia di Santa Maria
Brilliant Classics - 94784BR
More info: http://www.brilliantclassics.com/art...io-sonatas-op1


Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/LArteDellArcoVivaldiTrioSonatasOp.1

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Old switch-a-roo

This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.


Many years ago, the CBC broadcasted an Edmonton Opera performance of the Marriage of Figaro sung in English.

Pause

That what I thought, exactly!

I won’t call it a cottage industry, but there are many operas that have had their libretti adapted or translated in other languages. Some of them by design – Dialogues des Carmélites was first performed in an Italian translation at its La Scala première before its Paris debut in the original French libretto by the composer.

In my record collection I have a fine version of Pagliacci sung in German (A Munich performance conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch) It takes some getting used to, but it kind of works.

All this to say that there’s something to be said for opera sung in the local language for local audiences. Maybe some of the “big staples” (like my example of Mozart’s Figaro) are harder to warm up to, but less traveled repertoire, and especially light opera or operetta work well. This is why this vintage performance I found on LiberMusica of Auber’s Fra Diavolo I think is worthwhile.

The opera was Auber's greatest success, one of the most popular works of the 19th century and was in the standard repertory in its original French as well as German and Italian versions. It is loosely based on the life of the Itrani guerrilla leader Michele Pezza, active in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806, who went under the name of Fra Diavolo ("Brother Devil").

Expanding and renaming the roles of Beppo and Giacomo (two accomplices of Fra Diavolo) Laurel and Hardy starred as "Stanlio" and "Ollio" in the 1933 feature film Fra Diavolo (sometimes titled as The Devil's Brother or Bogus Bandits) based on Auber's opera. There is not a great deal of singing in the film. Much of the chorus material is intact, and Diavolo has three numbers; however, Zerline gets to sing only the small bit necessary to the plot (singing when she undresses), Stanlio and Ollio only repeat songs heard by others, and no one else sings.

For comparison, a YouTube performance of the original French version can be found here.

The audio quality here is at times suspect, but once you get used to the sound, you'll like this!

Daniel François Esprit AUBER (1782 - 1871)
Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine, opéra comique in three acts (1830)
Original French libretto by Eugène Scribe; Italian translation by Manfredo Maggioni

PRINCIPAL ROLES
Fra Diavolo - Giuseppe Campora,
Zerline - Alda Noni,
Lord Cockburn - Gino Orlandini,
Lady Pamela - Mitì Truccato Pace,
Lorenzo - Nino Adami,
Giacomo - Fernando Corena,
Beppo - Giuseppe Nessi,
Mathéo - Pier Luigi Latinucci,

Coro della RAI di Milano (Roberto Benaglio, chorus master)
Orchestra sinfonica della RAI di Milano
Alfredo Simonetto, conducting
HOPE 237
Recorded : 5/3/1952

Synopsis - http://www.opera-arias.com/auber/fra-diavolo/synopsis/
Libretto - http://musicologia.unipv.it/collezio...f/ghisi097.pdf
LiberMusica URL - https://www.liberliber.it/online/aut...r/fra-diavolo/