Monday, August 31, 2015

Programming - September 2015



After taking (and enjoying!) a summer hiatus, I have decided to change my programming approach and will reduce the number of posts and montages, at least fir the foreseeable future.

Don't expect more than one new podcast every month.
I will cut back on my Tuesday blogging.

I wull, however, make an effort to make sure all of my posts are found on ITYWLTMT - even the PTB and OTF posts, though I will publish them there firt, a lot like I do on my French blog.

This month we will mark the 80th anniversary of the World Premiere of Gershwin's Folk Opera Porgy and Bess with a number of related posts.

Post Schedule

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Mozart & His Horny Friends

Our Summer 2015 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a ITYWLTMT Blog Post from September 28, 2012.

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.

No. 75 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.


For this final installment of our Summer-long look at the music of Mozart, I am recycling a vintage podcast from 2912 and turn to one of my favourite instruments – the French Horn. I don’t know about you, but the French Horn has a sound I simply love to hear. When it’s played well, the horn can sound just as melodious as any other instrument of the orchestra.

From the Mozart catalogue, I chose one of Mozart’s four horn concertos (the number 1), played so brilliantly in this vintage recording by England’s Dennis Brain. In a past Once Upon the Internet, I provided a pair of horn concertos, and below is the 2nd - and remaining -  concerto.

The next Mozart work on the montage is the Posthorn serenade.

The post horn (also posthorn, post-horn, or coach horn) is a valveless cylindrical brass or copper instrument with cupped mouthpiece, used to signal the arrival or departure of a post rider or mail coach. It was used especially by postilions (early mailmen) of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The instrument commonly had a circular or coiled shape with three turns of the tubing, though sometimes it was straight. It is therefore an example of a natural horn. The cornet was developed from the post horn by adding valves.

The first trio of the second minuet of the serenade (the sixth movement) features a solo flautino (or piccolo) played over strings. The second trio of the second minuet features a solo for the post horn. It is that solo which gives the serenade its nickname.

The recording I chose is a vintage performance by the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and the solo horn is provided by a real post horn (either that, or our horn player had a really bad day at the office…),

The Mozart works are bookended by a pair of fine horn works – the first is Carl Czerny’s Andante and polacca for horn and piano. Czerny's music was profoundly influenced by his teachers, Clementi, Hummel, Salieri and Beethoven. This small chamber work sounds very Beethoven-like, and the performance by Marsolais and Jalbert ois right on the mark.

As for Schumann’s Kozertstuck for four horns, it is a hair-raising delight! This is one of the composer's most neglected works in my opinion - this is unfortunate because it is an inventive, compelling work that rewards repeated hearings. It should not be compared to concertante works of the German repertoire, but rather  it should be discussed in terms of its lyric quality and harmonic ingenuity.

I think you will love this music too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Géza Anda & Mozart

No. 208 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

The debate over which is the best Mozart piano concerto cycle normally revolves around the following: Barenboim, Ashkenazy, Perahia and Brendel. In this short series, we sampled from two “complete cycles” so far – one by Mitzuko Uchida, and from the Perahia set. Today, I chose to share examples from another set, that of Hungarian pianist Géza Anda set down with the help of the Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum, in sessions from 1961 and 1969.

The set, which I shared in a Chronique Du Disque from 2012, skips the three concertos for multiple keyboards. Anda was a thoughtful and scholarly Mozartian, and indeed, this ground-breaking series established standards for “modern” Mozart concerto interpretation, laying down a path that Brendel, Perahia, and to a lesser degree Schiff have pursued.

I have used tracks from this set in past montages, including the K. 467 concerto in a post where I provide more notes on Mr. Anda. The concerti I chose today to complete this four montage series are from the middle period – concertos 16, 18 and 19.

Mozart composed the Concerto No. 16 for performance at a series of concerts at the Vienna venues of the Trattnerhof and the Burgtheater in the first quarter of 1784, where he was himself the soloist. No. 18 is nicknamed “Paradis” in reference to Maria Theresia Paradis (1759 –1824), an Austrian pianist and composer who lost her sight at an early age, and for whom Mozart may have written this Piano Concerto. As was the case for the “Jeune Homme” concerto we sampled earlier, Mozart’s personal papers lead some scholars to attribute this to unsubstantiated folklore.

In a montage from a few years back, I played another Anda performance, this time of the concerto no. 25 in D Majorm nicknamed "Coronation". This comes from his playing of the work at the time of the coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor in October 1790 in Frankfurt am Main. At the same concert, Mozart also played the Piano Concerto No. 19, K. 459. We know this because when Johann André of Offenbach published the first editions of both concertos in 1794, he identified them on their title pages as being performed on the occasion of Leopold's coronation. This is why concerto no. 19 is sometimes called the “second” coronation concerto.

I think you will love this music too

Friday, August 14, 2015

La chambre de Mozart

Our Summer 2015 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Tuesday Blog from July 26, 2011.

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

Today’s post was designed originally to reuse a Tuesday Blog from four summers ago – the Summer of the String Quartet is what I’d called it – where I proposed a pair of Mozart quartets. However, upon getting re-acquainted with the post, the discussion accompanied my then-original version of Mozart’s European Vacation (which was an encore a few weeks ago in this Mozart series) and used the opportunity to insert a pair of Czech quartets as a salute to Mozart’s last stop in Prague.

So, if you allow me, I will simply recast the post as “Intimate Mozart”, and rather than fish into YouTube, I will make use of the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum music library.

I won’t take time to introduce each piece individually – Mozart wrote substantial chamber works, for many settings and different combinations of instruments. To make things interesting, I retained four chamber works, for different groups of players. Three of the four feature the piano with string players, and the fourth is a string quartet. The first piece on the program is the only piece that I retained from the original playlist – Mozart’s “Hunt” quartet.

The piano is paired with three, two and finally one player – thus a piano quartet, a piano trio and a sonata for violin with piano. The last piece  segues nicely to a Tuesday port from February when I features several violin sonatas.

I think you will love this music too!

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
String Quartet No. 17 in B-flat major, "Hunt", K. 458
Performed by the Borromeo String Quartet

Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478
Performed by the Nash Ensemble

Piano Trio No. 3 in B-flat Major, K. 502
Performed by the Claremont Trio

Violin Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 454
Ani Kavafian, violin
André-Michel Schub, piano

Friday, August 7, 2015

Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia & Mozart

No. 207 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

This week’s installment of Mozart gets my GOAT is another podcast featuring a trio of Amadeus’ piano concertos, but this time featuring a pair of artists as soloists. Why two? Well, because I am featuring the second of two of Mozart’s concertos for more than one keyboard (we featured the concerto for two pianos in our February Podcast Vault selection).

In 1776, Mozart composed three piano concertos, one of which was the Concerto in F for Three Pianos and Orchestra ( his no. 7, K. 242). The concerto is often nicknamed "Lodron" because it was commissioned by Countess Antonia Lodron to be played with her two daughters Aloysia and Giuseppa.

He originally finished it in February 1776 for three pianos; however, when he eventually revised it for himself and another pianist in 1780 in Salzburg, he rearranged it for two pianos, and that is how the piece is performed in our podcast.

As I did for the concerto for two pianos, I chose the recording by Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia, who have recorded two discs together as a duet – the recording of the two concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, and a second of works for piano four-hands which I discussed in February.

Because I already provided some program notes on Mr. Lupu in another post (from our 2012 pianothon), I will limit my thoughts here to this: although he’s recorded extensively, Mr. Lupu has not left us many recordings of him playing Mozart concertos – other than his collaboration with Mr. Perahia, I found maybe a handful of discs, and one that seems to have been reissued a few times was his recording of a pair of concertos with Uri Segal and the ECO, from which Mr. Lupu’s solo performance today is taken.

Murray Perahia on the other hand, like Mitsuko Uchida a few weeks ago, has recorded the “complete cycle” (his first major recording project for Columbia records with the English Chamber Orchestra) and – like his fellow pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim, he serves as both pianist and conductor in these recordings.

I think you will love this music too.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)

Our Summer 2015 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Once or Twice a Fortnight from September 28, 2012.

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata (The Marriage of Figaro, or The Day of Madness), K. 492, is an opera buffa in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with a libretto in Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro.

The Marriage of Figaro is a continuation of the plot of TheBarber of Seville several years later, and recounts a single "day of madness" (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess; Dr. Bartolo is seeking revenge against Figaro for thwarting his plans to marry Rosina himself; and Count Almaviva has degenerated from the romantic youth of Barber into a scheming, bullying, skirt-chasing baritone. Having gratefully given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, he is now persistently trying to obtain the favors of Figaro's bride-to-be, Susanna. He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. He responds by trying to compel Figaro legally to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she is really his mother. Through Figaro's and Susanna's clever manipulations, the Count's love for his Countess is finally restored.

The opera was the first of three collaborations between Mozart and Da Ponte (with Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte). It was Mozart who originally selected Beaumarchais's play and brought it to Da Ponte, who turned it into a libretto in six weeks, rewriting it in poetic Italian and removing all of the original's political references - Although Beaumarchais's Marriage of Figaro was at first banned in Vienna because of its licentiousness, Mozart's librettist managed to get the libretto approved by the Emperor, Joseph II. In particular, Da Ponte replaced Figaro's climactic speech against inherited nobility with an equally angry aria against unfaithful wives.


The original OTF post featured a concert performance conducted by Hans Rosbaud - from the MQCD Musique Classique library of Public Domain recordings. For this week's post, I used a more recent studio version, under Sir Georg Solti. As is often the case in my opera posts, I edited this from one of Sean Bianco's oper apodcasts, keeping his spoken introductions.

I  think you will love this music too.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492
Opera buffa in four acts, libretto in Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Countess Almaviva)
Samuel Ramey (Figaro)
Lucia Popp (Susanna)
Frederica Von Stade (Cherubino)
Thomas Allen (Count Almaviva)
London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Opera Chorus under Sir Georg Solti 

Libretto -
Synopsis -