Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Music at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

As I review the podcasts and posts I have provided so far at ITYWLTMT, I haven’t spent much time exploring chamber music. I plan to fix that this week, with a Chamber Music posting, with Internet links rather than creating a montage (like I did a few weeks back for my Easter Vigil post).

I do have a decent collection of chamber music, but I also have a secret: I have pillaged a particular site over the years for chamber (and solo piano) music. When I spent about a month in Australia a few years back, I looked for some musical companionship on the Web, and came across the music library of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston:

Until recently, the museum hosted its regular concerts in its “tapestry room”. The museum is doing some major renovations, which includes building a new concert venue. In the meantime, the concert series continues in nearby venues, and as its website says:

“[…] The Gardner Museum honors this musical legacy by welcoming world-renowned musicians and exciting emerging artists to perform classical masterpieces, new music, and jazz on Sunday afternoons and select Thursday evenings. The museum’s rich musical program is also available to listeners across the globe through concert videos, audio recordings, and a free classical music podcast.“

The web feed for the podcasts: http://www.gardnermuseum.org/rss.xml

The Gardner’s music library provides notable performances of piano sonatas by Beethoven and Schubert, an impressive cross-section of duet, trio, quartet and small ensemble works from the baroque to the contemporary, and even some jazz.

Some of the noteworthy artists that I have found on this site are Cecile Licad and her teacher at Julliard, Seymour Lipkin, Canadian violinist Corey Cerovcek and the Lincoln Centre chamber players – only to name a few. The quality of the recordings is very good, and the performances are, for the most part, top notch.

The best part – this is all FREE and designed to be sampled and shared.

I highly recommend this site to satisfy your chamber music cravings. This site, and some others, are featured on this coming Friday’s music post.

[Because we are not managing third-party web content, ITYWLTMT does not guarantee the currency of the link – all we can guarantee is that the link worked “as advertised” at the time of the original blog post.]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coming in June on ITYWLTMT

I have planned a series of four "themed" posts on Fridays for June. I may also have some additional goodies on my mid-week posts.

Here's the schedule:

03-Jun-11     Internet Chamber Recital
10-Jun-11     Podcast Montage #9  "Invitation to the dance"
17-Jun-11     Podcast Montage #10  "Father's Day" *** Note the change ***
24-Jun-11     Podcast Montage #11 "Summer"

As of today, I still have not gotten any feedback on my blog, podcast and YouTube channel. If you are sampling some of my musings and music, please let me know! Cyberspace can be a lonely place sometimes...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Podcast #8 – Tchaikovsky Festival, Part 3

This week, we are concluding our three-part Tchaikovsky festival with the following line-up:

  • Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture, TH 42
  • Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, “Pathétique”
  • More works based on Romeo and Juliet

This montage is no longer available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address

The many Settings of Romeo and Juliet

In the early 1970’s, Seiji Ozawa and the San Francisco Symphony released a couple of albums on Deutsche Grammophon themes around Romeo and Juliet. The selections were:

  • Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy-Overture
  • Excerpts from Berlioz’s Dramatic Symphony
  • Excerpts from Prokofiev’s ballet
  • Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story”, a musical re-staging Shakespeare’s play in the context of the Gangs of New York.
As it turns out, many a composer in major concert works, ballets, incidental music to the play, opera and film set Shakespeare’s drama to music; Ozawa’s selections represent a small sampling of these. Film alone has explored Romeo several times: a quick search on the Internet Movie database (IMDb) return 84 hits!

No doubt that Tchaikovsky’s setting is the most famous of the bunch, performed frequently in concert and us an easy recognized, “go-to” piece of music when television and film need a backdrop for a love scene – comedic or dramatic.

Interestingly, Tchaikovsky never assigned an opus number to the work – it was revised twice before it finally came to the 1880 version we all hear today. The piece is dedicated to Mily Balakirev (1837–1910) who talked (and coached) Tchaikovsky through the 10-plus year effort that it took to produce the work.

In addition to the Ozawa version (and the Barchai version I chose for the podcast), I own versions by Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado (in a rare recording with the Boston Symphony) and Sir Colin Davis (that one coupled with a flawless execution of the 1812 Overture with chorus).

Later in the podcast, I do include selections from Berlioz’s Dramatic Symphony on Romeo and Juliet (The Queen Mab scherzo), Prokofiev (in a piano-solo setting of one passage from his ballet) and Charles Gounod’s opera (in a vintage Met performance featuring Jussi Björling).

Tchaikovsky’s Sixth

Tchaikovsky’s last symphony, and last complete work, is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Time wise, the work was written between February and the end of August 1893 (thirteen years after Romeo, and five years after the Fifth). The composer led the first performance in Saint Petersburg on October 28 of that year, nine days before his death.

Where the fourth and filth symphonies try and make use of recurring themes in sewing together a programmatic vision, the Sixth does not – that doesn’t mean, however, that the work isn’t programmatic in nature. And there lies the mystery of the piece: the Pathétique has been the subject of a number of theories as to a hidden program. This goes back to the first performance of the work, when fellow composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov asked Tchaikovsky whether there was a program to the new symphony, and Tchaikovsky asserted that there was, but would not divulge it.

The Russian title of the symphony, “Patetičeskaja”, means "passionate" or "emotional", not "arousing pity." Tchaikovsky considered calling it “Programmnaja” or "Programme Symphony" but realised that would encourage curiosity about the programme, which he did not want to reveal. According to his brother Modest, he suggested the Pathétique title, which was used in early editions of the symphony; there are conflicting accounts about whether Tchaikovsky liked the title, but in any event his publisher chose to keep it and the title remained. Its French translation Pathétique is generally used in French, Spanish, English, German and other languages.

Set in the usual 4 movement template, the opening movement is very much in line with the mood of his preceding two symphonies: dark, ominous. Following a lovely adagio central theme, a loud and sudden shift in musical tome occurs 2/3 of the way through, creating the utter sense of chaos and doom that is forever associated with the work.

The second movement, with its odd 5/4 meter, presents a cute, yet unsettling waltz subject The third movement strikes me as the odd-duck: it is a fiery, almost triumphant march. Nowhere near the mood that is set for the finale movement, which returns to the dark, sorrowful tone of the first movement.

Tchaikovsky had many personal demons – his homosexuality being the most noteworthy. It is unclear if Tchaikovsky’s death due to cholera complications (from having drunk tainted water) is a case of neglgence, suicide or (as conspiracy theorists suggest) an outcome prompted by emissaries of the Tsar’s court (as it is purported Tchaikovsly had a romantic liaison with a member of the Tsar’s entourage). All this fuels the mystery behind the symphony’s hidden program.

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is there a Tchaikovsky Seventh Symphony?

As we enter the final week of our Tchaikovsky festival, we ask the question: is there another Tchaikovsky symphony that comes after the Pathétique? The answer to this is both yes and no.

The site http://www.tchaikovsky-research.net/ provides a one-stop shop when it comes to all things Tchaikovsky. When we look at the symphony page of this site, we discover that Tchaikovsky is credited with two more symphonies.

He worked on a Symphony in B-flat major (around the time of The Tempest), which the first theme was later reworked for piano in the Capriccioso—No. 5 from the Six Pieces, Op. 19.

A second, more substantial Symphony in E-flat dates May–November 1892 and was abandoned with only part of the first movement orchestrated. This makes it a work that precedes the Pathétique. In 1893 Tchaikovsky reworked movements I, II and IV for piano and orchestra as the Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 75 and the Andante & Finale, Op. 79; the Scherzo was arranged for solo piano as Scherzo-Fantasie—No. 10 of the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72In the 1950s the symphony was reconstructed from the manuscript sources and completed by Semen Bogatyrev (1890-1960) and is sometimes wrongly listed as "Symphony No. 7".

More about the history and reconstruction is provided at http://www.tchaikovsky-research.net/en/Works/Unfinished/TH238/index.html 

I found a recording of the symphony on YouTube, and posted it on the ITYWLTMT YouTube Channel. The link to the YouTube playlist is: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?p=PL224D83D97100993B 

The recording (re-issued on CD with the "Rococo variations") is by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

You decide if it is a worthy addition to the Tchaikovsky catalogue.

More on May 27, with the final installment of the Mravinsky cycle.

[ITYWLTMT wishes to remind that embedded links and their content are provided here for musical enjoyment, and can be experienced on your PC without downloading required if you have access to the Internet. (Downloading files for use on your personal digital companion is generally possible, depending on the site.) Because we are not managing third-party web content, ITYWLTMT does not guarantee the currency of the link – all we can guarantee is that the link worked “as advertised” at the time of the original blog post. Please enjoy!]

Friday, May 20, 2011

Podcast #7 – Tcahikovsky Festival, Part Two

For our second installment of the ITYWLTMT Tchaikovsky festival, I prepared the following menu:
·         Hamlet, fantasy overture in F minor, op. 67a (1889)
·          Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64 (1888)
·         Third movement from the Manfred Symphony in B minor, op. 58 (1885)

Eleven years separate the Fourth and the Fifth symphonies – and the works I chose all were composed within the same three-year period.
Hamlet, op. 67a
The idea of a Hamlet overture had first occurred to Tchaikovsky in 1876. However, in 1888 the actor Lucien Guitry asked him to write some incidental music for a production of Shakespeare's play, to which Tchaikovsky agreed. The planned performance was cancelled, but Tchaikovsky decided to finish what he had started, in the form of a concert overture.
There is no musical enactment of the events of the play, or even a presentation of the key characters. The work adopts the same scheme he used in his other Shakespeare pieces, the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet (1869, revised 1870 and 1880) and the symphonic fantasy The Tempest (1873), in using certain characteristics or emotional situations within the play. The essence of the work is the brooding atmosphere depicting Elsinore, but there is an obvious love theme, and a plaintive melody on the oboe can be seen to represent Ophelia.
I only have one version of Hamlet in my collection, and it features Leopold Stokowski conducting the “Stadium Symphony of New York” – which I take to be the New York Philharmonic in concert at Lewisohn Stadium (on the campus of the City College of New York). The overture is, coupled with Francesca da Rimini on this recording.
Lewisohn Stadium was a summer concert venue for the Philharmonic all the way back to the 1930’s (for example, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture was premiered at that venue). At the time of the Stokowski recording, the Philharmonic and their Principal Conductor were recording exclusively for Columbia records. The re-branding allowed the orchestra to be featured under different conductors.
Symphony No. 5, op. 64
Like the Fourth, the Fifth is a cyclical symphony, with a recurring main theme. Unlike the Fourth, however, the theme is heard in all four movements, a feature Tchaikovsky had first used in the Manfred Symphony, which was completed less than two years before the Fifth.
The theme itself is derived from a passage in Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar—significantly, a passage using the words "turn not into sorrow". The theme has a funereal character in the first movement, but gradually transforms into a triumphant march, which dominates the final movement. Tchaikovsky was attracted to this particular theme because the topic of the Fifth Symphony is Providence, according to the composer's notebook page dated 15 April 1888, which was about one month before he began composition of the symphony. The composer stated, in describing the introduction, "a complete resignation before fate, which is the same as the inscrutable predestination of fate." The changing character of the motto over the course of the symphony seems to imply that Tchaikovsky is expressing optimism with regard to providence, an outlook that would not return in his Sixth Symphony.
To Complete this Podcast
I wanted to complete this podcast with a taste of the Manfred Symphony, which precedes the composition of the Fifth by almost three years.
It is based on the poem "Manfred" written by Lord Byron in 1817. Like Romeo, Tchaikovsky wrote the Manfred Symphony at the behest of nationalist composer Mily Balakirev, who provided a program written by critic Vladimir Stasov. Stasov had sent the program to Balakirev in 1868, hoping that Balakirev would write a symphony based on it. Balakirev did not feel capable of carrying out this project and sent the program to French composer Hector Berlioz (who had written a major composition based on another Byron work, Harold In Italy). Berlioz turned down the project, claiming old age and ill health, and returned the program to Balakirev. Balakirev kept the program until he reestablished contact with Tchaikovsky in the early 1880s.
The Manfred Symphony is the only programmatic symphonic work by Tchaikovsky in more than one movement. He initially considered the work one of his best, and in a typical reversal of opinion later considered destroying all but the opening movement. The symphony was greeted with mixed reviews, some finding much to laud in it, and others feeling that its programmatic aspects only weakened it. Manfred remained rarely performed for many years, probably due to its length and complexity. It has been recorded with increasing frequency but is still seldom heard in the concert hall.
I own two versions of the Symphony: a vinyl recording by Michael Tilson-Thomas and the London Symphony, and this one by Riccardo Muti and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

This montage is no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guido Cantelli’s Tchaikovsky Set

As we prepare our remaining two installments of the Tchaikovsky festival begun last week, I wanted to provide a point of comparison between the Mravinsky “definitive” performances and a separate set, which you can sample for free on Public Domain Classic.
The Italian conductor, Guido Cantelli (1920-1956), was both the youngest and shortest-lived of the world-class conductors born between 1908 and 1920, a remarkable group that includes Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti, Erich Leinsdorf, Carlo Maria Giulini, and Leonard Bernstein.
You can read Cantelli's biography here.
Guido Cantelli had a stellar but brief career as a conductor, championed by Toscanini who had begun looking for a younger associate to keep the NBC Symphony Orchestra (created for him in 1938) on course during his absences. He arranged for the young conductor's immediate NBC debut on January 15, 1949. Afterwards, Time magazine featured a profile likening him physically to Frank Sinatra, but musically to Arturo Toscanini. Until NBC disbanded the orchestra in 1954, Cantelli conducted there annually, beginning with four but expanding to eight programs. In 1951 he made the first of five annual appearances as a regular guest-conductor of the New York Philharmonic along with Bruno Walter and George Szell.
Such was his reputation that he was set to take over the New York Philharmonic at the end of Dimitri Mitropoulos’ tenure. La Scala formally named him music director in November 1956. One week later, a Lineo Aereo Italiano plane from Milan to NYC crashed following a stopover at Orly Airport near Paris. Guido Cantelli was not among the survivors. His untimely death opened the door for another rising star, Leonard Bernstein, to take over the New York Philharmonic. Arturo Toscanini died two months later without being told of Cantelli's death.
Among the few surviving documents of his short career is a set of the Tchaikovsky symphonies recorded “in concert” at Carnegie Hall with the NBC Symphony. (http://www.archive.org/details/PeterIlijcTchaikovskyTheLastThreeSymphonies, embedded player below - all 12 tracks)

I must say that I quite enjoy his readings of the Symphonies. Yes, the recording technology and the “russianness” of the Mravinsky set are far superior, but we have here a genuine interpreter, who understands the darkness and pathos that Tchaikovsky brings to these works. In 2009, Keith Bennett writes this about Cantelli’s recording of the Pathetique symphony:

There are instances when the tragedy of Cantelli’s brief career registers with overwhelming force and this is one of them. Cantelli performed this symphony on just six occasions and it is worth a moment’s thought that Karajan made more commercial recordings of this symphony (seven) than Cantelli gave actual performances. Cantelli first conducted the symphony on 27 July 1945 at an open air concert during his first appearance with the Orchestra della Scala and his last was this performance with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on 21 February 1953 […].Cantelli fully understands the emotional implications of the score which he conveys without resorting to exaggerations: the demands of expressiveness are met without hysteria, tempi are well-judged in all four movements, and the harrowing despair of the final movement is admirably portrayed. All this is true of the live performance with the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
I think these are well-worth listening to, and comparing to the Mravuinsky set I chose. If you are "budget conscious" (read: looking to get free music), this set fits the bill rather nicely.

[ITYWLTMT wishes to remind that embedded links and their content are provided here for musical enjoyment, and can be experienced on your PC without downloading required if you have access to the Internet. (Downloading files for use on your personal digital companion is generally possible, depending on the site.) Because we are not managing third-party web content, ITYWLTMT does not guarantee the currency of the link – all we can guarantee is that the link worked “as advertised” at the time of the original blog post. Please enjoy!]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Podcast #6 – Tchaikovsky Festival, Part One

(UPDATE 2011-06-12 En français - http://itywltmt.blogspot.com/2011/07/un-festival-tchaikovski-premier-volet.html)

For our first of three podcasts, I propose the following menu:
·         The Tempest, Symphonic Fantasia after Shakespeare, Op. 18 (1873)
·         Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 (1877-78)
·         Assorted music about storms

This montage is no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:

The Tempest, op. 18
From a timeline perspective, The Tempest is a contemporary of his Second symphony (op. 17). As the title suggests, it is based on the play by William Shakespeare. Similar in structure to Tchaikovsky's better-known Romeo and Juliet fantasy-overture, it contains themes depicting the stillness of the ship at sea, the grotesque nature of Caliban, and the love between Ferdinand and Miranda. The love music is particularly strong, being reminiscent of the love music from Romeo.
I own two versions: one “broadcast” performance by Toscanini and the NBC Symphony and the one I chose, by the Bamberg Symphony conducted by José Serebrier. Serebrier was an assistant under Stokowski, and he certainly has inherited his mentor’s flair for the dramatic and interpretation,as the performance will attest.
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth symphonies have this in common: they are programmatic, and make use of recurring themes and thematic evocations that help “unify” the symphony. The opening fanfare of the symphony’s first movement are found to open the “coda” of the Finale, for example.
Tchaikovsky found that with a loose symphonic-poem type of structure pioneered by Franz Liszt, he could combine large-scale orchestral writing with emotions and instrumental colors toward which he gravitated naturally. The result was a symphonic hybrid, a cross between the primarily architectural form of the symphony and the primarily "literary" or "poetic" form of the symphonic poem.
In letters to his patron, Mme Von Meck, Tchaikovsky proposes a program for his symphony and offers insight on the work's musical architecture. Assertions to the effect that "the first movement represents Fate" are oversimplifications: according to a letter the composer wrote to Madame Von Meck in 1878, it is actually the fanfare first heard at the opening ("the kernel, the quintessence, the chief thought of the whole symphony") that stands for "Fate", with this being "the fatal power which prevents one from attaining the goal of happiness ... There is nothing to be done but to submit to it and lament in vain". As the composer explained it, the programme of the first movement is—"roughly"—that "all life is an unbroken alternation of hard reality with swiftly passing dreams and visions of happiness ...". He went on: "No haven exists ... Drift upon that sea until it engulfs and submerges you in its depths".
The narrative suggested by Tchaikovsky reveals his state of mind at the time, in which he has just ended an unhappy marriage and – no doubt – struggles with his own homosexuality and the despair associated with these events.
The middle movements provide interesting highlights as well. The second movement is introduced by the melancholy melody of the oboe. The music's impassioned climax is a reminder of the grieving phrases that dominated the opening movement. The scherzo incorporates the use of pizzicato strings and a lovely trio.
To Complete this Podcast
Building on The Tempest, I chose a few pieces that continue on the idea of storms.
John Estacio’s opera Filumena is the romanticized version of a real event that occurred in Southern Alberta during prohibition. The main character, who married a much older man, falls in love with the son of a bootlegger. The story eventually depicts the murder of an RCMP constable, and Filumena’s last moments, just before her judicial hanging. One “recurring aria” in the opera is about how Filumena loves the mood and electricity of a storm. The aria occurs several times in the opera – here taken just at the end of Filumena’s wedding in the first scene of the opera.
Antonio Vivaldi wrote twelve concerti in his op. 8, the most famous of which are the first four - “The Four Seasons”. The fifth, La Tempesta di Mare (The Sea Storm) is just as good as its more famous partner concerti. The performance I chose is a vintage recording by Louis Kaufman, the violinist who “rediscovered” the remaining op. 8 concerti and provides here its first ever recording.
Johann Strauss Jr’s “Thunder and Lightning” Polka is a fine way to end our podcast – in a brisk, fun high note.
I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

*** BEGINNING THIS WEEK *** Three-Week Tchaikovsky Festival

[CALGARY, AB] On the road on business this week, but have prepared a new podcast/montage for you.

(UPDATE 2011-06-12 En français - http://itywltmt.blogspot.com/2011/07/un-festival-tchaikovski-premier-volet.html)
I am planning a 3-part series devoted to the Tchaikovsky “final three” symphonies, and his set of Shakespeare-inspired orchestral fantasies.The “planned” portion of each podcast lasts about 60 minutes, and I will add some selections as “filler”, which I will discuss in individual blog postings.
About the Symphonies
In all, Tchaikovsky wrote seven symphonies, six are “numbered” and the seventh symphony (“Manfred”) chronologically sits between his 4th and 5th symphonies.
The output can really be divided into two distinct sections: the first three symphonies are very early romantic/late classical in nature, not unlike those of other Tchaikovsky Russian contemporaries – Rimsky-Korsakiov, Glazounov and Borodin most notably. They adhere to the usual four-movement formula and, though they each have a nickname, they can be viewed as thematic or not – in fact the nicknames of the second (Little Russian) and third (Polish) really refer to the style of the specific movements, evocations of Ukrainian folk motifs and use of a Polonaise, respectively. The first (Winter Dreams) is programmatic (the movements have subtitles that suggest that), but without the introduction of recurring themes uniting them.
In contrast, the last three are clearly late-romantic and more comparable to, say, Brahms’ symphonic output because of their expansive nature. They have deeper sense of darkness and despair in them making the comparison to Brahms somewhat unfair – Tchaikovsky’s later symphonies have nothing German in them, they are truly Russian, but they are more ambitious than anything his Russian counterparts ever tried to write. Finally, though they have darkness in them, there are still parts of the symphonies that suggest hope, and some movements are timeless (the Andante cantabile movement of the Fifth comes to mind).
About the Performances
When looking at the Tchaikovsky symphony discography, the set of three symphonies numbered 4 to 6 are often grouped together and only one version stands out in my mind: the legendary September and November 1960 recording of these symphonies by the Leningrad Philharmonic, under Evgenii Mravinsly, during their tour of Great Britain and Austria. I own vinyl re-issues (under the DG “Resonance” series) since my junior college days, and was so glad to find them re-issued on CD.
NPR’s Ted Libbey writes:

“[Mravinsky’s readings of the symphonies are] of hair-raising intensity--the finale of the Fourth is marked allegro con fuoco, and if you want to know what con fuoco means, all you have to do is listen for a moment. No one else has ever had the nerve, or the ability, to play the music this way. The treatment is very Russian: the extremes are more extreme, the passions more feverish, the melancholy darker, the climaxes louder. In that department, the development section of the first movement of the Pathètique has to be heard to be believed. The sound is remarkably good for the time, a little edgy in the loudest pages but wonderfully present, just like the performances themselves.”
My first installment will come this Friday with the Fourth coupled with the fantasy Tchaikovsky wrote on "The Tempest".
Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic’s partnership began in 1931, and he took over as its principal conductor in October 1938, a post he was to hold for 50 years (until his death in 1988). Under Mravinsky, the Leningrad Philharmonic gained a legendary reputation, particularly in Russian music such as Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Mravinsky made commercial studio recordings from 1938 to 1961. His issued recordings from after 1961 were taken from live concerts.

UPDATE (2011-10-30) Here is a list of the Tcahikovsky festival montages and posts:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Podcast #5 – A Gift of Flowers for Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother’s Day in North America, and I thought I would give you something to add to your Hallmark card, chocolates and flowers this year…

This montage is no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / Ce montage n'est plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

Two Opera selections about Mothers

I chose two, very different, pieces to begin and end the montage. The first is my favourite duet from Bizet’s Carmen, and does not involve the main female lead but, rather, Micaëla, Don José’s girlfriend, visiting him at the garrison in Act One of the opera. In this duet, Micaëla talks about being a messenger from José’s mother, bringing him a few pesetas, a letter and something special from her. José returns the favour, asking Micaëla to bring something special from him to his mother.

From Pussini’s Suor Angelica, a very famous (kind of sad) aria where the main character, acknowledging having had a child in the past, sings about the fate of her child (now deceased) and how the child grew up without a mother’s love. Connie Francis did a popularized version of this song (it was the B-side to her 1960 single Many Tears Ago), which was re-jigged more as an ode to a long gone mother. A beautiful aria.

Flowers and the Gardens of Spain

Enough tears.\

I have put together music from several composers revolving around “flowers”: Chrysanthemums, lilacs, sunflowers, and just plain flowers. You will recognize a couple of nice ones in there, including Delibe’ Flower Duet from Lakme among them.

As a feature work, I chose Angela Chang and the Calgary Philharmonic in their fine rendition of “Nights in the Gardens of Spain”. Three symphonic "impressions" about gardens and the mood of the composer as he walks through them with the listener. These are very lush pieces for piano and orchestra, that I'm sure Mum will love!

I Think You Will Love This Music, too.

And happy Mother's Day to all Mothers out there!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coming This Month on ITYWLTMT

A few words about my plans for the month of May:

  • A Mother’s Day montage (May 6)
  • A Tchaikovsky Festival, featuring his 4th, 5th and 6th symphonies (May 13, 20 and 27)

As part of the Tchaikovsky series, I will be blogging about available recording “sets” of the Tchaikovsky symphonies, and talk about the works and what makes them so distinctive.

One month blogging, and nobody seems to be reading, or listening...

If you are reading these posts and listening to the montages, please leave me some comments or messages so I know I'm not just talking to myself!

Watch for my next post on Friday!