Saturday, February 28, 2015

Programming - March 2015


Monthly Theme

This month, in addition to our continuing arc around concertos and our yearly Lenten Organ series, I will have a Tuesday arc dedicated to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, which will be augmented in my monthly “Classical Hubub” with past Bach posts..

Pierre’s Tuesday Blog

Once or Twice a Fortnight

This month I am only programming one OTF post, mid-march, dedicated to Jules Massenet’s opera Hérodiade

NOTE: Since OTF posts do not get published on set dates, make sure to visit OperaLively regularly or …

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Vivaldi, Vivaldi (Part 2)

No. 187 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


Part two of our look at the double concertos of Antonio Vivaldi places a premium on concertos for violin and one wind instrument as soloists. There are tons of baroque concerti that are for 2 violins, or violin & oboe – Bach’s concerto BWV 1060 (originally for two keyboards) is best known in its transcription for violin and oboe, for example. I retained a fine concertos for that very same combination of instruments to begin this week’s podcast.

As was pointed out somewhere, concertos for "two treble instruments" can have one of the parts adapted for the flute, and works by Telemann and Vivaldi often get that treatment. 

The bulk of today’s podcast considers six such concertos, played by Jean-Pierre Rampal and Isaac Stern as solists. This is not their first recordings of some of these, as I own an earlier analog recording they made of two of these with the Jerusalem Music Centre orchestra.

Finally, a concerto for cello and bassoon matches two “deep” instruments as soloists. This concerto comes from the excellent compilation of Vivaldi cello concertos by Ofra Harnoy, who contributed a pair of double concertos to last week’s montage.

I think you will love this music too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

OTF - Don Giovanni

This is my post from a past Once or Twice a Fortnight.

According to the Encyclopedia BritannicaDon Juan is a fictitious character who is a symbol of libertinism. Originating in popular legend, he was first given literary personality in the tragic drama El burlador de Sevilla (1630; “The Seducer of Seville,” translated in The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest), attributed to the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina. Through Tirso’s tragedy, Don Juan became a universal character, as familiar as Don Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust.

The legend of Don Juan tells how, at the height of his licentious career, he seduced a girl of noble family and killed her father, who had tried to avenge her. Later, seeing a commemorative effigy on the father’s tomb, he flippantly invited it to dine with him, and the stone ghost duly arrived for dinner as a harbinger of Don Juan’s death. In the end he refuses to repent and is eternally damned.

(In their opera, Mozart and Da Ponte do not dispatch the father, but the statue of an old nobleman does visit Don Giovanni in the climactic ending…)

In the 17th century the Don Juan story became known to strolling Italian players, some of whom traveled to France with this theme in their repertoire of pantomime, and by the 19th century many foreign versions of the Don Juan legend existed. Along with Mozart’s opera, other famous non-Spanish versions are Molière’s play Dom Juan, ou le festin de pierre (first performed 1665; “Don Juan, or, The Stone Feast”), based on earlier French arrangements; and two works dealing with a similar but different Don Juan, Prosper Mérimée’s uncharacteristic short story “Les Âmes du Purgatoire” (1834; “Souls in Purgatory”) and the drama Don Juan de Marana (1836) by Alexandre Dumas père. Early English versions include Lord Byron’s long satiric poem Don Juan (1819–24) and in George Bernard Shaw’s drama Man and Superman (1903). Later Spanish versions retain Don Juan’s likable qualities and avoid the calculated cynicism of certain foreign versions.

The highly popular Don Juan Tenorio (1844) of José Zorrilla y Moral, still traditionally performed in Spain on the eve of All Soul’s Day (Halloween), borrowed lavishly from French sources. Zorrilla’s play is said to sentimentalize the legend by furnishing a pious heroine and a serious love interest and by procuring Don Juan’s repentance and salvation.

The city of Prague was known for having staged operas based on the Don Juan legend; the first eighteenth-century Don Juan opera produced in Europe was La pravità castigata (Prague, 1730), and the second one was Vincenzo Righini’s Il convitato di pietra (Prague, 1776). Some believe that Mozart chose Don Juan as the subject of this enduring work precisely because it had been commissioned by the Teatro di Praga. Da Ponte's libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.


Franz Welser-Möst has led annual opera performances during his ongoing (13-year) tenure in Cleveland, re-establishing the Orchestra as an important operatic ensemble. Following six seasons of opera-in-concert presentations, he brought fully staged opera back to Severance Hall with a three-season cycle of Zurich Opera productions of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas ('Le Nozze di Figaro,' 'Don Giovanni,' and 'Cosi fan tutte').This podcast provided by WCLV in Cleveland, and features spoken introductions by Cleveland Orchestra radio hosrt Robert Conrad.
Baritone Simon Keenlyside sings the title role in his first American performance of the part, and other cast members are Eva Mei as Donna Anna; Malin Hartelius as Donna Elvira; and Ruben Drole as Leporello.

More on this performance -

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, K. 527
opera in two acts, Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte


Don Giovanni: Simon Keenlyside
Leporello: Ruben Drole
Donna Anna: Eva Mei
Donna Elvira: Malin Hartelius
Ottavio: Shawn Mathey
Commendatore: Alfred Muff
Zerlina Martina Janková
Masetto: Reinhard Mayr

Cleveland Orchestra
Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
Severence Hall, Cleveland, 27 March 2011

Synopsis -
Libretto –
Performance URL -

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vivaldi, Vivaldi (Part 1)

No. 186 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

This week’s podcast complies to our “Double, Double” formula in more ways than one – it is the first of two podcasts dedicated to the concertos of Antonio Vivaldi, and all the concertos in this two-part series are double concertos, or concertos that require two soloists.

This short two-part series also launches a longer arc, spanning most of the next 10 weeks, where we will explore several aspects (and different flavors) of concertos.

Two of this week’s selections come from a large collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins written in 1711 by the Red Priest known as “L’Estro Armonico” (translates as Harmonic Inspiration). The L’Estro concerti are often called concerti grossi in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists (the concertino) and full orchestra (the ripieno or concerto grosso).

The concerto, like many forms of classical music, has undergone significant transformation over 500 years of Western Classical Music evolution. Concerti grossi, which were an extremely popular form in the baroque era, has given way to “solo concertos” in the late Baroque and Classical eras. In the solo concerto formula, we are more likely to encounter this “friendly face-off” between soloist and orchestra which we have come to associate with concerti. What makes L’Estro special is that even in the case of the concerti with many soloists, the concertino group does have their moments where they have this friendly rivalry with the larger ensemble.

This trait extends to the vast majority of Vivaldi’s double concertos, whether they feature two similar instruments (thus, playing in the same range), or with two different instruments. Our podcast, for example, features two concertos for cello and violin (thus, two instruments playing at different ranges), that play against each other, and against the orchestra, generally to great effect.

Noteworthy in our podcast are two of Vivaldi’s better-known double concertos, for two mandolins and two trumpets, as well as the usual set for stringed soloists. I also added a unique transcription of one of the L’Estro concertos for two horn soloists.

I think you will love this music too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mozart, Mozart (... and Barylli & Badura-Skoda)

This is a past Tuesday Blog from Feb-17-2015. 

Once Upon the Internet this week takes us back to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for another post in our “Double, Double” series, this time with some pieces for a pair of performers – violinist Walter Barylli and pianist Paul Badura-Skoda.

Badura-Skoda is not in his first visit on our OUTI posts, being part of our very first one (almost three years ago!) and later in more Mozart, as a recitalist in a trio of Mozart piano sonatas. This is, however, Mr. Barylli’s first time here and this merits a few words of introduction.

Walter Barylli is an Austrian violinist who had a distinguished career based in his native Vienna, as concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1938 to 1972, founder and leader of the Barylli string quartet, and Professor of violin at the Vienna City Academy. He studied at the Vienna Music Academy with the Philharmonic Konzertmeister Franz Mairecker and in Munich with Florizel von Reuter.

Barylli gave his first public performance in Munich at age 15 (1936), and over the next two years he made an international career as a soloist: but realizing the difficulty of a career as a travelling soloist in the turmoil of the late 1930s he instead won a place at the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he became Konzertmeister in 1939. Barylli retired from the orchestra in 1973 and taught at the City of Vienna Conservatory from 1969 until 1986. 

Barylli assembled a quartet with leading members of the Vienna Philharmonic, during the war, which morphed into the Barylli quartet, considered as the 'house' quartet of the Vienna Musikverein in the 1950’s. 

When considering Mozart’s violin sonata output, scholars are quick to distinguish his “childhood” sonatas (K 6-15 and K 26-31) from his “mature” sonatas (numbered 17 to 36), composed in the decade spanning 1778 and 1788. As we know, Mozart was adept at both the violin and piano and, if he was writing these to his level of prowess at the instrument, we have to ask ourselves (as Leonard Bernstein might have, borrowing from one of his famous questions) , who’s the boss in the Mozart sonatas for violin and piano – the violinist or the pianist?

The answer is probably a little bit of both, since these sonatas don’t necessarily identify one or the other as the “marquee” instrument. These aren’t sonatas for violin with piano, or for piano with violin… This is a balancing act that can only be repeated decades later by Beethoven in his set of 10 or so sonatas for the same duo combination.

What I truly love about these vintage performances is exactly how this balance is achieved, as tantôt Mr. Badura-Skoda takes the lead, and tantôt Mr. Barylli takes over. Fort these sonatas to work, you need two virtuosi of equal capability, who have the same commitment to the piece. To that end, you will be hard-pressed to find a better performance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Sonata No. 18 in G major, K. 301
Violin Sonata No. 22 in A major, K. 305
Violin Sonata No. 24 in F major, K. 376
Violin Sonata No. 25 in F major, K. 377
Violin Sonata No. 33 in E-flat major, K. 481

Walter Baylli, violin
Paul Badura-Skoda, piano
Downloaded from Public Domain Classic, January 2011

Friday, February 13, 2015

Aria, Aria

No. 185 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


As we continue our “Double, Double” series of podcasts, we cannot forget to program some duets, especially as tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day… The montage will propose not only some tender moments between flirtatious protagonists, but also some duets for two guys ar two gals, but I promise, nothing sinister! In this montage, I tried to program works in French, German and Italian…

Our collection of love duets begins with a song from a Franz Lehar opera that is not The Merry Widow…Wer hat die Liebe uns ins Herz gesenkt? (Who Has Planted Love in Our Hearts?), is a duet between Prince Sou-Chong and his love interest, Lisa from "Das Land des Lächelns" (The Land of Similes). The title of the operetta refers to the Chinese custom of smiling, whatever happens in life.

The circumstances of Act 4 of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots aren’t quite as happy… This grand duo closes the act - the St-Bartholomew Massacre is the backdrop for this intensely long duet between the Protestant Huguenot Raoul and the Catholic Valentine. .

From Mascagni’s second best-known opera L’Amico Fritz, I retained the “Cherry Duet” between Fritz and the young Suzel. Richard Strauss was enamoured of the female voice, and Der Rosenkavalier is famed for the beautiful music of the three female-voice roles which comprise its protagonists: Sophie, Octavian, and the Marschallin. My selection is from the scene when Octavian arrives with great pomp, dressed all in silver, to present the silver rose to Sophie in an elaborate ceremony. Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde is full of love music, and in this duet Tristan decries the realm of daylight which is false, unreal, and keeps the lovers apart. It is only in night, he claims, that they can truly be together and only in the long night of death can they be eternally united ("O sink' hernieder, Nacht der Liebe").

From the closing scene of the first act of Massenet’s Manon, Manon and Des Grieux plot to leave and start a life together in Paris.

Duets for two male voice retained in our montage include the stirring Au fond du temple saint from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, the final scene from Acrt 2 od Bellini’s I Puritani when Giorgio, then Riccardo, then together sing  Suoni la tromba! From Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, the comic duet Cheti, cheti, immantinente, which to our benefit was a late addition to the libretto.

To close the montage, a selection from popular repertoire, engineered as a duet by Canadian producer David Foster, where he creates a duet between Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie on one of Nat’s most famous ballads. Unforgettable!

I think you will love this music too

Friday, February 6, 2015

Piano, Piano

No. 184 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


To launch our "Double, Double" series, it is appropriate to listen to some work requiring  two performers, and in this case, two pianists.

When speaking of pino duos, according to the Grove Dictionary, we may mean two pianists playing on a single instrument (what we call "piano four-hands) or on two instruments (more commonly known as two pianos). Easy enough...

Interestugly, there seems to be more works for piano four-hands ghen for two pianos. I guess that may be because most households only have one keybord and more than one keyboardist. Just saying!

The piano duo becomes more popular as a compositional genre in the mid- to late- 18th century. We know Mozart would play piano duets with his sister, and write sonatas for that combination, so did Schubert write extensively for duets. Brahms' Hungarian dances, Dvořák's Slavonic dances, Liszt's reductions of the Beethoven symphonies... All piano duets!

Later, GriegDebussyStravinsky and Bartók. The French also -  Jeux d'enfants by BizetDolly by Fauré, two sonatas by Poulenc and Ma mère l'oye by Ravel.

Many of the above composers found their way on our podcast - Mozart via Busoni's transcription of a fantasy originally intended for a Flötenuhr (tthat is, a musical clock), and one of the two piano duet suites byArensky.

At the keyboard, well-known duos, all-star duos, and journeymen of the genre.

I think you will love this music too!