Friday, August 28, 2020

Narciso Yepes (1927 –1997)


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from July 28, 2017. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast254


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We are inching closer and closer to the end of our musical alphabet, and the end of our year-lom=ng journey through the Western Classical repertoire we began four years ago. Today’s montage, part of Part 1 of that journey, dates back a little more than three years with a contribution to a chapter that looked at different instruments.

In a fine page from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website, we learn that the term Spanish guitar has been used differently across the centuries in different countries. Today it is often used interchangeably with the term classical guitar and is certainly not limited to instruments made in Spain. The recorded history of the guitar begins in the Renaissance, with the earliest written sources dating to the fourteenth century. The guitar emerged in Europe alongside musical traditions that came out of the Arabic world, among instruments like the lute and the viol . Johannes Tinctoris, writing in the fifteenth century, identifies Catalonia as the birthplace of the guitar, yet regardless of the instrument’s origin, the country of Spain has had an extraordinary impact on its development.

The same can be said about the rich tradition of music written for the instrument by Spanish composers (Sor, Tarrega, …) and of course its many, many fine virtuosi, chief among them today’s artist, Narciso Yepes.

As the original article does a good job of summarizing Yepes’ accomplishments, I will just introduce our bonus material, a fine early 1963 recording by Yepes of many Spanish guitar favourites, some of which overlap with today’s montage and an another one from this past January dedicated to Joaquin Rodrigo.

 


 

I think you will (still) love this music too.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Mozart at the keyboard

No. 343 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 weeks’ new montage ushers in a new set of Mozart shares that are on our plan between now and the end of this year. Most of them will be on Tuesdays, but this one on Mozart keyboard works is part of our Friday series.

There are two logical parts to this week’s montage – the first part proposes five sets of keyboard variations on various themes inspired by works of the day by a number of composers. Walter Gieseking performs all these tracks, taken from vintage mono recordings.

The latter half of the montage is dedicated to Mozart’s K. 107, which presents three keyboard concerti based on sonatas by Johann Christian Bach.

Mozart’s early concerti were studies based on sonatas by (among others) CPE Bach and Leontzi Honauer, so the set in K. 107 follows more that study pattern. Starting from the fifth concerto however, Mozart composes novel material. According to Mozart’s catalogue of piano concerti, these were published somewhere between his fourth (1767) and fifth (1773) “numbered” concerti. The performances on the montage are part of a set we sampled earlier on our Friday series, from early keyboard specialist Viviana Sofronitsky.

I think you will love this music too

 


Friday, August 14, 2020

Mendelssohn & Mendelssohn: Trios

 


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from January 9, 2015. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast180



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This week’s throwback montage is brought to you  by the letter “M” as in Mendelssohn – for the brother and sister duo of Felix and Fanny.

The works featured today are all piano trios – two by Felix, and one by Fanny.  Like her brother, Fanny received a thorough musical education from teachers including her mother, Ludwig Berger, and Carl Friedrich Zelter. Due to social conventions of the time about the roles of women, a number of her works were published under her brother's name in his Opus 8 and 9 collections. Some fifteen years after marrying the artist Wilhelm Hensel and despite the continuing ambivalence of her family towards her musical ambitions, Fanny Hensel published a collection of songs as her Opus 1. The next year, she suddenly died of a stroke. In all, she composed over 460 pieces of music, including over 125 pieces for the piano, and over 250 lieder, most of which went unpublished in her lifetime.

As our bonus material this week, I discovered a pair of Konzertstück (concert pieces) for the trio combination of clarinet, basset horn and piano by Felix Mendelssohn – his opus 113 and 114, respectively. These works are performed by local Paris artists.

Felix Mendelssohn: Konzertstück n°1 op. 113


Felix Mendelssohn: Konzertstück n°2 op. 114

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Beethoven - Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia ‎– Symphony No. 7 In A / Symphony No. 8 In F

 


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


For the last few installments of our #Beethoven2020 series, we considered Liszt’s transcriptions of Beethoven’s symphonies no. 4, 5 and 6. Today, we return to the orchestral versions of these symphonies, with Otto Klemperer’s renditions of the symphonies number 7 and 8.

According to the Penguin Guide, Klemperer recorded his first cycle of Beethoven symphonies for EMI with the Philharmonia orchestra from 1954 onwards, in mono. He made another series from 1961, recording in stereo. About a decade later, under the moniker of the “New Philharmonia” he had another crack at the symphonies. Because the mono recordings were remastered in Stereo and reissued in the 1980’s, based on the available recording dates, these would have been originally issued in Mono, but could have been recorded in Stereo or remastered.

Since Klemperer recorded these works, there have been several (shall we say) “as close to original” editions of the scores to Beethoven symphonies - Urtext editions by Jonathan Del Mar (published by Barenreiter) and Clive Brown (published by Breitkopf and Hartel). Klemperer’s vision is best expressed by that of his contemporaries (going as far back as Mahler, Mengelberg and Weingartner) who went for a “big orchestral sound”, which may not fare well with the more historically informed view of the more recent editions.

Enjoy!


Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770- 1827)
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92
(Recorded, 5.X, 19.XI & 3.XII.1960)

Symphony No. 8 in F Major, op. 93
(Recorded, 529 & 30.X.1957)

Philharmonia Orchestra
Otto Klemperer, conducting
Angel Records ‎– AE 34427

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Beethoven-Ot...elease/5415505

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Programming Update

In years past, we would use Labour Day as a signpost that summer is almost over and that we are into the final third of the year. In the days of COVID-19, it seems that the calendar doesn’t have the meaning that it once had.

I trust that you are all safe and doing well, in spite of the many public health measures we have come to accept.

I also hope that our musings and daily shares on our podcasting channel provide some form of respite and escape from the mundane that has become our everyday.

 I would normally take some time as we approach the end of the summer to “tease” some of the stuff we have in store for the remainder of the year, and let you in on some of the ideas we are working on for next year. Here we go…

For Your Listening Pleasure – Year Two

As I pointed out in a post August 1st, we have come to the end of Project 366. We used the final 12 months of the project to guide our daily programming on our Podcasting Channel. As of September 1st, we plan to begin a new 12 month cycle, this time guided by a different “project”.

Under the auspices of Project 366, we have revisited 217 of our ITYWLTMT montages – which as of now number 342. Over the next 12 months, we will be adding another 23, to bring the total up to 365, one for every day of the calendar year.

My plan is then to program all of them as daily shares on the channel. I will do my best to intersperse the remaining new montages at the rate of one or two a month, and will continue to dust off Podcast Vault features on Fridays we don’t have new montages to offer, much like I have done through the last year.

The programming will also revive some of our past “thematic arcs” – and in some cases, add new or recent montages under the arc umbrella. Also, where it makes sense, I plan to match up pairs of montages under the moniker For Your Listening Weekend.

I can tell you montage #365 will be a Quarterly Tuesday share on August 31st 2021  but keep you in suspense as to what that will be about. It will be the launching point to programming for Year Three, that is if we’re still doing this!

On September 1st, I will unveil our daily calendar for the remainder of 2020, which will include a lot of Beethoven in December, in itime for Ludwig’s 250th birthday.

Tuesday Blog

We cut back on Tuesday Blogs for the Summer, limiting ourselves to monthly #Beethoven2020 shares. We have a few more of these left for the Fall, as well as some Mozart Cover2Cover titles. We need to build up our Mozart collection, as it will be an important part of our overall 2020 programming – more on that in December when we do our Year In Review teaser.

What we plan on doing that will be different moving forward, is that our Tuesday Blogs will be “bonus” shares on the Podcasting Channel, whilst continuing – at least for the time being – our policy of having Tuesday Blogs matched to YouTube clips and playlists. We keep having more and more music lovers subscribing to our YouTube channel, so I don’t see that policy ending any time soon.

The Return of OTF

I’ve discretely resumed posting on OperaLively in July. Most of our posts are concentrated on a thread I call “OTF Short Stories”, which provide a quick blurb on operatic or lyrical shares on the Podcasting Channel.

As I scan the calendar I have developed so far, I think there’s still quite a bit of material we can flag as a Short Story. I plan to provide either “encore” shares or new opera material on OperaLively (as Short Stories or as “classic” OTF posts) as we move along. In the event material isn’t on the calendar (which, remember, will be limited to ITYWLTMT Montages), I will provide the material as “bonus” shares on the Podcasting Channel, same as the Tuesday Blog.

Friday, August 7, 2020

George Gershwin (1898-1937)


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from November 9, 2012. It can be found in our archives at http://archive.org/details/InMemoriamGeorgeGershwin



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Today's peek into the Podcast Vault feeds our ongoing Project 366 musical alphabet with an aliteration for the letter G, with the initials of today's featured composer, George Gershwin.

As I wrote in the original post from 2012, George Gershwin left us on July 11, 1937, two months shy of his 40th birthday. One can only speculate as to what great things Gershwin could have done had he lived 40 more years. He’d only spent a few years working in Hollywood, and had already one major opera under his belt. There probably would have been more films, possibly more music for the concert hall or the opera house…

The bulk of Gershwin’s output was for the theatre: well over 15 musicals, and hundreds of songs. This is where we will spend most of today’;s montage, exploring the many, many orchestral and jazz adaptations of many of these songs.

The montage closes with a studio rendition of his Rhapsody in Blue with a vintage piano roll cut by Gershwin himself serving as soloist.

As filler this week, I thought I would point you to a YouTUbe playlist which features a 1976 all-Gershwin piano album with Andre Watts as soloist.



I think you will (still) love this music too.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Project 366 - Dates on the musical calendar for August 2020

Project 366 continues in 2019 with "Dates on the Musical Calendar


This month makes the final installment of Project 366, a long-standing long-term project we began in April 2016 to mark what was then the fifth anniversary of our music blog. Today, we will share the last few listener guides in this series, and will discuss in a post later this month how we will program our daily podcasts for the foreseeable future - stay tunes.

Highlights

  • 10-Aug - Happy Birthday Marie-Claire Alain (*1929) [Guide #10
  • 13-Aug - Left-Handers Day [Guide # 362]
  • 15-Aug -  Happy Birthday Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (*1875) [Guide #363]
  • 18-Aug -  Happy Birthday Antonio Salieri (*1750) [Guide #146]
  • 22-Aug  -  Happy Birthday Claude Debussy (*1862) [Guide #84]
  • 31-Aug - FP of Weill's  Threepenny Opera (OTD 1928) [Guide #366]

If you recall, our very first listener guides were our two-part musical alphabet. As a fitting close to the project, and to fill the remaining dates on the calendar, we will revisit the musical alphabet therough a series of listener guides. Here is our "new" alphabet (noting some listener guides tackle more than one letter)




Your Listener Guides

Listener Guides #357 & 358 - A for Aida

Verdi composed his first opera (Oberto) in 1839 and from then on strung together great works achieving critical and popular success: Nabucco (1842), Rigoletto (1851), Il trovatore (1853), and the list goes on and on. Probably one of Opera’s most celebrated spectacles of excesses, Aida was a commission by the ruler (Khedive) of Egypt for the great opera house he’d inaugurated in Cairo in 1869. Versi’s Rigoletto was the first production put up at the opera house, and so Verdi was approached to create the spectacular stage work. [Once or Twice a Fortnight - August 15th, 2013]

[L/G 357 – Acts 1 & 2, L/G 358 – Acts 3 & 4]




Listener Guides #359 - E for Elgar

Elgar was at the height of his fame when the Philharmonic Society commissioned a violin concerto in 1909. The work was dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, the internationally famous violinist who was the soloist at its first performance. The work is long for a violin concerto and expansive in mood but nevertheless compelling and not overblown. It contains none of the pomposity and swagger found in many of Elgar's works which some commentators find disturbing and rather distasteful. The work is firmly established in the classical repertoire although not performed frequently. [ITYWLTMT Montage # 294 – October 30 2018]





Listener Guides #360 - J for Jongen

Joseph Jongen’s Symphonie Concertante of 1926 is a tour de force, considered by many to be among the greatest works ever written for organ and orchestra. The work was commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker for debut in the Grand Court of his palatial Philadelphia department store, Wanamaker's. Its intended use was for the re-dedication of the world's largest pipe organ there, the Wanamaker Organ. As part of a series of concerts Rodman Wanamaker funded with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Wanamaker's death in 1928 precluded the performance of the work at that time in the venue for which it was written, but it was finally performed for the first time with the Wanamaker Organ and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2008. [ITYWLTMT Montage #191 - March 27, 2015]





Listener Guides #361- K for Kabalevsky & Khachaturian

After a tenure with the Bolshoi Theatre (1943-56), Kirill Kondrashin concentrated on orchestral conducting, becoming sought after as a concerto accompanist and working with the country’s leading instrumentalists, such as Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and Rostropovich. In the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, Kondrashin was the conductor for Van Cliburn, who won the first prize. After the competition he toured the USA with Cliburn, being the first Russian conductor to visit America since the Cold War began. The two suites (Comedians and Masquerade) are taken from the same October 20, 1958 Manhattan Center recording by the RCA Symphony Orchestra (the likely remnants of the NBC Symphony/Symphony of the Air) under Kondrashin, a few months after the Cliburn sessions at Carnegie Hall.  [ITYWLTMT Montage #316 - July 12, 2019]





Listener Guides #362- The Left Hand
Pianists limited to the use of their left hands are not uncommon. As an example, in 1964, American pianist Fleisher lost the use of his right hand due to a condition that was eventually diagnosed as focal dystonia. Fleisher commenced performing and recording the left-handed repertoire while searching for a cure for his condition. In the 1990s, Fleisher was able to gradually overcome his focal dystonia symptoms after experimental botox injections to the point where he could play with both hands again. [ITYWLTMT Montage #320 - August 13, 2019]





Listener Guides #363- The Dark Continent
The Dark Continent has long been associated with adventure, immense deserts, fierce predators and a population that lives in the extremes of riches and poverty. Africa has also been the stage of colonial expansion, followed by self-governance and (often times, it seems) civil war, unrest and despots. [ITYWLTMT Montage #118 - August 16, 2013]





Listener Guides #364- O for Offenbach
Offenbach was born in Germany of a musician father, cantor of a synagogue. Early on, Jacob Offenbach showed himself adept at the cello, which convinced his father to send him to study in Paris. Offenbach joined the Conservatoire to become a soloist, but his clownish behavior saw him leaving after a year. Thanks to his talent, he still performs in concert - after having francized his given name - then joins the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique in which he plays while establishing himself as a composer. [ITYWLTMT Montage #299 - December 21, 2018]





Listener Guides #365 - P for the Planets

Written between 1914-1916 by British composer Gustav Holst, ‘The Planets’ is a suite of seven short tone poems, each representing one the known planets of the Solar System seen from Earth at the time, and their corresponding astrological character. [Vinyl’s Revenge #33 - December 12, 2017]






Listener Guides #366 - The Three-Penny Opera

A milestone of 20th century musical theatre, The Threepenny Opera rolls on unstoppably into the 21st. In their opera "by and for beggars", Weill and Brecht transformed old-fashioned opera and operetta forms, incorporating a sharp political perspective and the sound of 1920s Berlin dance bands and cabaret. Weill's acid harmonies and Brecht's biting texts created a revolutionary new musical theatre that inspired such subsequent hits as Cabaret, Chicago, and Urinetown. [Once or Twice a Fortnight - August 31st, 2013]