Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Igor Stravinsky, Neville Marriner, Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields – Pulcinella (Complete Ballet) / Suites Nos. 1 & 2 For Small Orchestra


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

This week’s Tuesday Blog is a new installment in our Vinyl’s Revenge series featuring works by Igos Stravinsky performed by the Academy of St-Martin-in-te-Fields, a pair of soloists, all under the direction of Sir Neville Marriner.

The main work on this Angel ADD release is Stravinsky’s one-act ballet ballet Pulcinella, one of two ballets inspired by the works of earlier composers. It is a based on an 18th-century play, Quatre Polichinelles semblables ("Four identical Pulcinellas"). The ballet premiered at the Paris Opera on 15 May 1920 under the baton of Ernest Ansermet. The dancer Léonide Massine created both the libretto and choreography, and Pablo Picasso designed the original costumes and sets. 

Pulcinella is a classical character that originated in commedia dell'arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry. Pulcinella's versatility in status and attitude has captivated audiences worldwide and kept the character popular in countless forms since his introduction to commedia dell'arte by Silvio Fiorillo in 1620. Many regional variants of Pulcinella were developed as the character diffused across Europe In many later adaptations, Pulcinella was portrayed as a puppet, as commedia dell'arte-style theatre did not continue to be popular throughout all of the continent over time. He was said to evolve into "Mr. Punch" in England. The key half of Punch and Judy, he is recognized as one of the most important British icons in history.

Not unlike The Fairy’s Kiss (1928) where Stravinsky elaborated several melodies from early piano pieces and songs by Tchaikovsky in his score, Diaghilev wanted a ballet based on an early 18th-century commedia dell'arte libretto and music then believed to have been composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. This attribution has since been proved to be spurious. Some of the music may have been by Domenico Gallo, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, Carlo Ignazio Monza and Alessandro Parisotti. Stravinsky adapted the older music to a more modern style by borrowing specific themes and textures, but interjecting his modern rhythms, cadences, and harmonies.

Pulcinella marked the beginning of Stravinsky's second phase as a composer, his neoclassical period.

As filler, the disk includes Stravinsky’s two suites for small orchestra. These enchanting, gently satirical Suites are orchestrations made by Stravinsky of the eight piano duets he had written for his children, Theodore and Mika, the first three in 1914-1915 and then five more in 1917. 
Note the YouTube link is to a compilation set of Stravinsky music. Clips 29-47 are the contents of today’s disc.

Happy listening!

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)

Pulcinella, Ballet with Song in One Act (1920)
Bass Vocals – Robert Lloyd 
Soprano Vocals – Yvonne Kenny 
Tenor Vocals – Robert Tear 

Two Suites (Nos. 1 and 2) for Small Orchestra (1921, 1926)

Academy Of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Neville Marriner, conducting
Angel Records Digital – DS-37899
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Released: 1982

Friday, May 13, 2022

Mendelssohn: Double Concerti

No. 385 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.


Over the last couple of weeks on our podcasting channel, we’ve spent time revisiting posts of music by Felix Mendelssohn. Today’s Friday podcast is the first in several months that doesn’t revisit Tuesday programs, ad proposes a pair of double concerti by Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn was considered by many of his time to be a prodigy comparable only to the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Besides being a brilliant piano virtuoso, his composition took a firm step forward in musical development. At the age of eleven, he had written a trio for strings, a violin and piano sonata, two piano sonatas and the beginning of a third, three more for four hands, four for organ, three songs (lieder), and a cantata. While aged 12 to 14, Mendelssohn composed twelve string symphonies; the two concerti proposed here today are contemporaneous to that period.

The Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Strings in D minor was written in 1823 when Mendelssohn was 14 years old. Mendelssohn composed the work to be performed for a private concert on May 25, 1823 at the Mendelssohn home in Berlin with his violin teacher and friend, Eduard Rietz. Following this private performance, Mendelssohn revised the scoring, adding winds and timpani and is possibly the first work in which Mendelssohn used winds and timpani in a large work. It remained unpublished during Mendelssohn's lifetime and it wasn't until 1999 when a critical edition of the piece was available. This concerto was previously paired with two Mozart double concerti in an early podcast, with different soloists and orchestra.

The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E Major (the first of two he composed for that combination in this early phase of his career) was written in the late summer and early fall of 1823. It was first performed in December 1823 with Felix and his sister Fanny Mendelssohn as the two soloists. Regarded as immature by the composer, the work remained unpublished during his lifetime, though he substantially revised it, perhaps a decade after the première, in which form the Leipziger Ausgabe der Werke Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy published it in 1961. The version I chose here is the world premiere recording of the concerto’s first movement restored to its original form thanks to research by musicologist Steve Lindeman. 

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

A LA CARTE #13 - Mendelssohn in London (Alternate Programme, M-273A)


We are repurposing the music from a Friday Blog and Podcast post of March 9, 2018 as a new montage in our ongoing A la Carte series on For Your Listening Pleasure. 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.

The following notes are an update. 

Don't you wish sometimes you could have a do-over, a Mulligan?

As we inch closer to our 400th ITYWLTMT Montage, I find there are quite a few playlists I wish I coukd do over, so that they would fit my overall programming better.Today is the first time I do just that, revisiting our montage #273.

As I stated  then, the United Kingdom and the city of London in particular is the home of several world-class ensembles, from chamber orchestras to large-scale Symphonies. Three of these are featured in today’s playlist which features three of Felix Mendelssohn’s ymphonic works.

Of the original montage, I kept Michael Rabin and the Philharmonia in Mendelssohn's E Minor violin concerto. The remaining works are symphonies.

To open the eponymous "London Festival Orchestra" performs Mendelssohn's first String symphony.From the same LSO/Abbado Mendelsohn symphony cycle I reached into in the original montage, I switched he third symphony with the first. As filler, I close with  an orcgestra setting of the Scherzo from the Octet, which Mendelssohn had envisaged originally as the scherzo for that same symphony.

Happy listening!


Sinfonia No.1 in C, for string orchestra , S1 no. 1

London Festival Orchestra

Ross People, conducting


Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64

Michael Rabin, Violin

Philharmonia Orchestra 

Adrian Boult, conducting


Symphony No.1 in C Minor, Op.11

Octet in E flat, Op.20 - III. Scherzo (Arr. for orchestra by the composer)

London Symphony Orchestra

Claudio Abbado, conducting


Archive Page - https://archive.org/details/alc-13

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte / Songs without Words


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

Our Cover2Cover share this month is taken from YouTube and Brilliant Classics. The following is from the official webpage:

Felix Mendelssohn was a virtuoso pianist, and it worth remembering that he was born in 1809, with his friend Schumann being born a year later in 1810, as was Chopin, and Liszt following in 1811. These composers were among the greatest pianists of the 19th century, and they were born at a time when the piano was a relatively modern instrument, and composers such as Hummel, Moscheles (Mendelssohn’s friend), Kalkbrenner and Ries were accorded adulation similar to pop stars today. Beethoven commenced his career in the 1790s as a virtuoso pianist.

No surprise then that the young Mendelssohn composed extensively for his chosen instrument from the outset. From early concertos and sonatas he quickly established his ‘mature’ style in works such as the Rondo capriccioso, and the Andante cantabile e Presto agitato. The masterpieces that followed include the famous Songs without Words. On this recording, these piano 'songs' are played by Dutch pianist Frank van der Laar.

We will deploy this share on our podcasting channel over 2 episodes, May 3rd and 4th). Happy Listening!


Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words) 

Songs without Words, Book 1, Op.19b
Songs without Words, Book 2, Op.30
Songs without Words, Book 3, Op.38
Songs without Words, Book 4, Op.53
Songs without Words, Book 5, Op.62
Songs without Words, Book 6, Op.67
Songs without Words, Book 7, Op.85 
Songs without Words, Book 8, Op.102 

Frank van de Laar, piano

Brilliant Classics 93833
Release November 2007