Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Daniel Barenboim, ECO - Dvořák & Tchaikovsky Serenades For Strings

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

This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge considers another EMI re-edition from my personal vinyl collection.

As was the case with the Klemperer disc I shared in March, and the Muti/Tchaikovsky disc I shared last year, today’s recording was part of the Angel “Red Label” series of reissues I purchased in the early 1980’s. A fourth disc – Giulini’s recording of the Brahms First Symphony – made it to a Brahms montage on my Friday Podcast series in 2013. Those three discs all had in common the Philharmonia orchestra. Today’s disc features a different orchestra – the English Chamber Orchestra – in a pairing of the Tchaikovsky and Dvorak serenades for strings.

Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are contemporaries, and though we freely associate Brahms and Dvorak through their well-documented mutual admiration, we should not overlook that Dvorak and Tchaikovsky share a Slavic heritage and so this coupling of works highlights that connection, as well as a more “spiritual” one. Read on the Internet in an Amazon review of the Karajan coupling of these two serenades:

Isn't there a desire in each of us to lead a more sacred life? To shed materiality and concupiscence, leaving one's face "close to the points of a star"? The string serenades of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky give voice to this aspiration. There is a purity to both works which refreshes the spirit. Transfiguration looms.

If one takes the time to search, one finds a great number of recordings that pair the two serenades – Karajan, Marriner, Colin Davis, Paavo Berglund, and many “manufactured” pairings on a single disc from re-issued performances featuring two orchestras and conductors. The 1974 pairing featured today is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, so dating from an early time where he was equally heard as either a piano recitalist or as a conductor.

In my mind, Barenboim is more at ease in the Germanic repertoire conductor, so this pairing is slightly off the beaten path for him. That having been said, he does provide a proper holistic sense of these works as a pair, and his charges have the required virtuosity to convey the more difficult passages, as well as the contrast in moods between the movements.

I think you will enjoy these!

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Serenade for Strings in E Major, B. 52 [op. 22]

Pyotr Ilich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Serenade for Strings in C Major, TH 48 [op. 48]

English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conducting

Angel Records ‎– S-37045
Released: 1974

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

No. 220 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast220


(Late posting - home netwirk problems this week and I fell behind!)

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Although first celebrated infrequently, Earth Day is now an annual event, celebrated on April 22, when events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.

There is no doubt that contemporary society recognizes the fragility of our planet: phenomena such as Global Warming and the ongoing focus on conservation of our natural resources and ecosystems have contributed to our awareness. Earth Day is bout one moment, once a year, where we takje pause and reflect on that reality that is too often relegated to lower priorities in our every day lives or in our socio-economical discourse.

There are many songs that are performed on Earth Day, that generally fall into two categories. Popular songs by contemporary artists – folk artists and others - or new lyrics adapted to children's songs. UNESCO has termed Indian poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar's idea of an official Earth Anthem as a creative and inspiring thought that would contribute to bringing the world together. The two works I have programmed may well be worthy contenders in the unfulfilled search for a consensus “Earth Anthem”.

The opening work of our Earth Day podcast is one of two works dedicated to the Earth by Jean Sibelius. His Op. 95 cantata Maan virsi (Hymn of the Earth), with words by Eino Leino was first performance in Helsinki in a performance by the choir Suomen Laulu, 4th April 1920. The critic Bis thought the work was a translation of Jordens Sång, (Sibelius’s Swedish Song of the Earth, op. 93) and since then many people have made the same mistake.

The larger work on the podcast is Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde), a work that has symphonic proportions, and chronologically sits between his 9th and 9th symphonies. In fact, some have theorized that Das Lied was meant to be his ninth symphony – burt well aware of the so-called “curse of the Ninth”, Mahler was reluctant to call it a symphony… Maybe he was right, since Mahler did complete a ninth, and dies while still composing his tenth…

In a recent post, I discussed the Mahler annus horribilis of 1907 - "With one stroke," he wrote to his friend Bruno Walter, "I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and have to learn my first steps again like a newborn".

The following year (1908) saw the publication of Hans Bethge's Die chinesische Flöte, a volume of ancient Chinese poetry rendered into German. Mahler was very taken by the vision of earthly beauty and transience expressed in these verses and chose seven of the poems to set to music as Das Lied, completing the work in 1909, less than 2 years before his untimely death.

Four of the songs -- Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde, Von der Jugend, Von der Schönheit and Der Trunkene im Frühling, were derived from poems written by Li Bai, the wandering poet of the Tang dynasty. Der Einsame im Herbst is based on a poem by Qian Qi, another poet of the Tang Dynasty. Der Abschied combines poems by Tang Dynasty poets Meng Haoran and Wang Wei, with several additional lines by Mahler himself.

The performance of Das Lied I retained also has special significance – it serves as tribute to the passing of the legendary composer, conductor and author Pierre Boulez, who left us in January. A contemporary music mover and shaker, Boulez was particularly known for his polished interpretations of twentieth-century classics: Alban Berg, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Anton Webern and Edgard Varèse, as well as for numerous performances of contemporary music. In 1984 he collaborated with Frank Zappa, conducting the Ensemble Intercontemporain in three of Zappa's pieces. In 2010, he completed his 18-year, multi-orchestra Mahler cycle for Deutsche Grammophon with the release of Des Knaben Wunderhorn and the Adagio from Mahler's uncompleted Tenth Symphony performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. Our Das Lied, recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic, is part pof that large Mahler cycle.

Happy Earth Day!

I think you will ove this music too!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Project 366 - Bare Bones

To mark the fifth anniversary of ITYWLTMT, we are undertaking a long-term project that will introduce - and re-introduce - musical selections in the context of a larger thematic arc I am calling "A Journey of Musical Discovery". Read more here.

The next few installments of the Project explore aspects of what we have coined “Intimate Music”, that is music performed by one or a few (typically, less than five, but sometimes more) musicians. This post considers “naked” music, music in its simplest form, performed by a single musician, alone with the music.

What is a Sonata?

Before we get to the music, let’s take a few paragraphs to talk about a term that comes up very often in Classical Music. If you were to break music down to its “bare bones”, you would find that there are really two types of music – music either has singing or it doesn’t.

Etymology tells us that the word “sonata” comes from the Latin and Italian sonare, "to sound". In music, the term literally means a piece played as opposed to a piece sung (which is a cantata, from the Latin and Italian cantare, "to sing").

So, in the most general of terms, any piece of instrumental music is a sonata. Of course, composers choose to give them special or unique names – preludes, etudes, dances of all sorts, and sometimes pretty evocative names like arabesques,  gymnopedies or caprices.

However, like many “technical terms”, the term sonata has evolved, and has become “overloaded”, that is to say it has many meanings.

One of the important contributions made during the Classical period is the introduction of a more regimented approach to compositions, and the development of the sonata with a distinct formula is one of those things. I should say, though sonatas were composed in the Baroque period (Domenico Scarlatti and Johann Sebastian Bach wrote several), these sonatas didn’t necessarily adhere to the “classical” sonata formula of a large set piece made up of three (or four) movements of alternating character: Fast – Slow – Fast, or Fast – Slow - Fast – Faster…

A great example of a sonata that follows that formula is one of the 18 composed for solo keyboard by Mozart. This is how his Turkish Rondo sonata (No.11 in A Major, K. 331) is laid out: Again, let’s take this opportunity to put some meat on the bare bones of the terminology…

Each movement is assigned a tempo indication, providing the performer with a basic indication of how the section is played. In the case of the first movement, the tempo indication is Andante grazioso which loosely translates to mean "at walking pace, graceful". The movement consists of a theme with six variations.

A theme is the most basic element of any piece of music – it is a complete musical idea, the musical equivalent of a sentence in literature. Sentences can be simple (“I like chocolate”) or complex (“That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”) containing internal structure, clauses, etc. Same goes with musical themes – they can be really simple, or more elaborate.

The theme in this first movement is developed – wait for it – in sonata form. Here’s that word again, and again it has a special meaning. In the simplest of terms, sonata form implicates three distinct parts: “exposition”, “development” and “recapitulation”, sometimes denoted as “A-B-A” or “three-part” form, like the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How we wonder what you are. [Exposition]
Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky. [Development]
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How we wonder what you are. [Recapitulation]

Now this is a very basic explanation, and there are a number of wrinkles and emphasizing concepts that can be applied here, such as the use of changing tonal keys, or the introduction of additional themes or successive developments. Sonata form can be, for example, “A-B-C-A”, or “A-B-A-C-A”. The possibilities are endless!

So Mozart, in this very simple sonata, kicks off a “theme and variations” movement with a three-part theme in sonata form, followed by six variations (do-overs of the musical idea with twists) that are also in three-part form. That’s pretty rich!

The second movement, Menuetto is a minuet with a middle trio. It is customary for sonatas to provide a second movement that is different in character from the first, and one of the popular devices that composers have used in sonatas is a “dance movement”. The minuet is a 17th century courtly dance step that is slender, small (in French “menu”). Composers in the late Baroque and early Classical period would add a middle section to the minuet that was played by a trio of instruments (say, two oboes and a bassoon), with a slightly contrasting tempo to the minuet itself. Though this sonata is meant for a solo keyboard, it remains customary to call this middle section that intrudes into the minuet a trio.

Finally, the third movement, Allegretto, is a Rondo played Alla Turca that is to say “played in the Turkish style”. The final movement of a sonata is usually a “fast movement”, and a Rondo is a “Round”, a piece whose theme (refrain) is repeated many times over, interspersed by episodes we in French call “couplets”. The musical idea of the refrain, one of Mozart’s most famous, is meant to be played with exotic flavour.

Big Bones and Small Bones

Enough with music theory, and let’s consider a trend – some instruments have more of the lion’s share of solo repertoire than others. Why is that?

The answer is, well, basic Physics. Not all instruments are created equal – some have big bones, some have small bones, and they provide a broader range of textures than others. Here’s a simple graphic to help illustrate:

The human ear responds to sounds between – roughly – 20 and 20,000 hertz (a hertz is a unit of frequency). The higher the frequency, the higher the “pitch” of the sound. The graphic lays out a sampling of instruments and illustrates that the guitar and piano are two instruments that cover a broad range of frequencies (pitches), and therefore gives more colours for the composer to play with than, say, the flute.

Bowed instruments, like the violin, don’t offer as broad a frequency range, but do provide a range of playing techniques (how hard, how intricate, whether you use a bow at all) that provide colours that are equally interesting to explore. Nicolo Paganini, the 19th Century showman and master of the guitar and violin, showcases the incredible range of expression a violin can convey in his set of 21 caprices for solo violin, an amazing blend of tonal colours and of “virtuoso” colours. 

So, to summarize, solo instruments may at first glance offer a very limited palette of colours, but the addition of virtuosity and dynamics (that is, tempo and other nuances of play) provide interesting elements a composer - especially one who happens to be a great performer himself - can exploit.

Exploring the solo repertoire - Some Listener Guides

Listener Guide #3 - "Sonatas for Solo Instrument": Let’s begin with sonatas for solo instruments other than the piano – the guitar, violin and organ. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #201 - 5 June 2015)

Listener Guide #4 - "Four Mozart Piano Sonatas": Four sonatas for solo piano by Mozart, including the "Turkish Rondo" sonata. (Once Upon the Internet #22, Jan 21, 2014)

Listener Guide #5 - "The Fleet Fingers of Ruggerio Ricci": The 1950 MONO recording of Paganini's Caprices for Solo Violin by Ruggerio Ricci (Once Upon the Internet #23, Feb 11, 2014)

Listener Guide #6 - "Waltzes for Piano":  A collection of waltzes for solo piano. Works by Chopin and many others.  (ITYWLTMT Podcast #219 - 15 Apr, 2016 )

Friday, April 15, 2016

Waltzes for Piano

No. 219 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast219

This week’s Blog and Podcast considers the waltz, not necessarily the dance but rather the music, as performed on the piano.

Much can be said about the waltz. Consider:

Waltz: from the old German word walzen to roll, turn, or to glide.
Waltz: to move or glide in a lively or conspicuous manner (to advance easily and successfully).
Waltz: a ballroom dance in 3/4 time with strong accent on the first beat and a basic pattern of step-step-close.

As early as the seventeenth century, waltzes were played in the ballrooms of the Hapsburg court. The weller, or turning dances, were danced by peasants of Bavaria, Tyrol, and Styria even before that time. Many of the familiar waltz tunes can be traced back to simple peasant yodeling melodies.
During the middle of the eighteenth century, the allemande form of the waltz was very popular in France. Originally danced as one of the figures in the contredanse, with arms intertwining at shoulder level, it soon became an independent dance and the close-hold was introduced. By the end of the eighteenth century, this old Austrian peasant dance had been accepted by high society, and three-quarter rhythm was here to stay.

As a dance that requires closeness one can only imagine that some would find it, well, scandalous. In July of 1816, the waltz was included in a ball given in London by the Prince Regent. A blistering editorial in The Times a few days later stated:

"We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last ... it is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion." (Source: The Times of London, 16th July 1816)

Today, we view the Waltz as a display of elegance, leaving, shall we say, more overt displays of sensuality to other forms of ballroom dancing…
Classical composers traditionally supplied music for dancing when required, and Franz Schubert's waltzes (including the Valses Sentimentales and Valses Nobles) were written for household dancing, without any pretense at being art music. However, Frédéric Chopin's surviving 18 waltzes (five he wrote as a child), along with his mazurkas and polonaises, were clearly not intended for dance. They marked the adoption of the waltz and other dance forms as serious composition genres. Other notable contributions to the waltz genre in classical music include 16 by Johannes Brahms (originally for piano duet), and Maurice Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales for piano.
Today’s podcast proposes a number of piano waltzes, from the Romantic era all the way to recent times. The times change, yet the time signature doesn’t and this short sampling of waltzes highlights moments of musical character and ingenuity. Whether they are from the pen of great pianist-composers (Chopin, Debussy and Rubenstein) or that of a master of song like Billy Joel, you never get tired of listening to these lilting melodies!

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Once Upon... The Airwaves

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

For this month's Once Upon the Internet, I chose to share a rather recent discovery, and one that brought back lots of personal memories.

About 30 years ago, I was in Graduate School and I was still doing a lot of Classical Music Radio listening. One of the shows I listened to regularly was a CBC Stereo program whose name has changed many times over the years - I think it was then called In Performance.

The program, weeknights at 8 PM, regularly featured live concerts, recitals and orchestral programs, from across Canada, but mainly from Toronto. What was unique about the night in question was that it featured the Montreal Symphony, and I took the extra step of recording the conceit for my musical collection - I still have the cassette in the basement, which explains why I have detailed recollections, substantiated by my notes and the performance!

In doing some research for upcoming posts, I stumbled onto a digital recording of that very same concert, though it was repackaged for an International audience, and it is that version that I am sharing with you today..

The host for this performance is a voice that brings back a ton of memories: Henri Bergeron was for many, many years the main TV announcer for the French Rado Canada television service, and host of Les Beaux Dimanches the main Sunday evening showcase of cultural programming for the network. Mr. Begeron is originally from Manitoba (thus, from a region of the country where French is the minority language) yet was seen by all as the prototypical French-speaking announcer. His accent comes through in his Eglish presentation, giving it a unique - and dare I say distinguished - flavour.

The orchestra is guest-conducted by Gunther Herbig, and features Italian violinist Salvatore Accardo. The MSO is not renowned for a German sound, but you must admit they sound quite the part in a quintessentially German piece...


The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal in Concert (27 May 1986)
Gunther Herbig, guest conducting

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony no. 95, in C Minor, Hob.I:95

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Violin Concerto in D Major (1931)
Salvatore Accardo, vioin

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Tzigane, MR 76
Salvatore Accardo, violin

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony no. 5, in C Minor, op. 67

Original Hyperlink - http://pastdaily.com/2015/11/04/salvatore-accardo-with-gunther-herbig-and-orchestre-symphonique-de-montreal-1986-past-daily-mid-week-concert/

Friday, April 1, 2016

Project 366 - Starting with the ABC’s

This Friday Blog and Podcast is an "Encore" of nos. 1 and 2 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages. 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.

Blogger's Note: To mark the fifth anniversary of ITYWLTMT, we begin a long-term project that will introduce - and re-introduce - musical selections in the context of a larger thematic arc I am calling "A Journey of Musical Discovery". Read more here.


On April 1st 2011, I began a personal journey into the Blogosphere, sharing my thoughts on and passion for Classical Music. This endeavor gave rise to I Think You Will Love This Music Too, my personal platform and The Tuesday Blog, a platform I have been sharing on the Classical Music Forum TalkClassical.

Part of this initiative has had me gather music to illustrate some of my musings, and to date we have well over 200 music montages and dozens of playlists containing individual MP3 files, all of them posted on the Internet Archive for music lovers to stream and download.

Today, we launch into a new long-term project that will explore the Classical Music repertoire in a way I hope you will find informative and enjoyable. It is fitting that we start this project with our first two montages, dusted-up and posted on our Pod-O-Matic channel for your listening pleasure.

If you care to join me, let's begin our journey of musical discovery.

To begin our music exploration, I wanted to propose a way to cut a swath through the Classical (and not-so-classical) repertoire in order to sample as much of it as we can, and do so in a fairly condensed amount of time. Think of it as thumbing through travel brochures at the Travel Agent, and figuring out what kind of places you’d like to visit.

I have selected 26 works that last about 5 minutes each. The time investment is going to be about two and a half hours, but at the end, you will have sampled almost every genre and almost every musical era. From that point, we can steer you to the right category of like works which we’ve organized into anthological posts we will feature on a regular basis.
At least, that’s the plan.

Before we talk about our two playlists, I think we need to take some time to look at the “basics”, and I mean here primarily two specific contexts we should consider when it comes to Classical Music.

Musical Eras

One way of classifying works of music is to consider the time period when they were composed, as many of the trends and fashions we associate with the Western Classical Music “code” evolve through the years, and composers of a specific period compose using those trends and fashions.

The historic periods we typically associate with all art forms (literary, visual arts and music) share these common period names. All we are doing here is provide a rough “time box” and some reference information you might find useful.

The following chart proposes very broad definitions of the eras and the composers associated with them. Many composers are transitional, meaning that they were trained and produced music in one era but were instrumental in moving those traditions into the next. Examples of transitional composers include Beethoven and Mahler, only to name those.

Sometimes, it is even appropriate to further subdivide eras, as trends morphed significantly during the period to create a bona fide movement. For example, it is not uncommon to divide the Romantic era into the Early and Late Romantic, and to consider impressionism or nationalism as specific trends. Further, musical traditions – German, Italian, French, British, Russian and Eastern – also have their own twists and wrinkles throughout these eras,

Musical Settings and Genres

Another way of organizing music is to look at how they are used and performed. Again, here is another chart that provides some markers you may find useful.

Of course, a work may “fit” into more than one category (for example, ballet music qualifies as a stage work and can also be orchestral) and some categories may naturally subdivide into more specialized groups. This chart is highly subjective, but is really intended to provide you with some context in order to find “like” works.

About the Playlists

I have listed here the works “in order of appearance”, with their titles and composers. A later chart assigns them to the periods and categories we just discussed. Most of the works proposed fall either in the Romantic or Contemporary periods (you will notice that, though I was a bit sneaky in my presentation, there aren’t any works from the Classical period – something I will remedy with our first follow-on installment later this month). I don’t think this was done on purpose, though it may tip my hand a bit when it comes to my personal tastes.

As for the genre, most of the works (almost 2-to-1) are orchestral in nature vs intimate, and many of them are either vocal or stage works.

Some insight on the Music

Our “A” selection is commonly known as “Albinoni’s Adagio” as it was long-attributed to the Italian Baroque master Tomaso Albinoni. It was actually composed by the 20th-century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto, purportedly based on the discovery of a manuscript fragment by Albinoni. It isn’t uncommon for composers of a later era to compose in an older style. For instance, modern composers like Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók and even Heitor Villa-Lobos are known to have written works in the baroque style – you might call it neo-baroque.

Letters “B” and “P” come from the Jazz repertoire. Dave Brubeck was a mostly self-taught, “play it by ear” jazz pianist who, later in life, decided to study music “seriously”, even taking lessons from the French composer Darius Milhaud (who spent some time in California after WWII). Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo” is half-jazz, half-tribute to Mozart, though his use of very peculiar rhythms would have perplexed Amadeus. Juan Tizol was a Puerto Rican trombonist and composer who also happens to have been a member of Duke Ellington's band. He’s credited with many jazz standards performed by Ellington (like Billy Strayhorn) - "Caravan", "Pyramid" and my choice, "Perdido".

Ballet music makes the list under “C” and “F”. Léo Delibes is one of the more prolific French composers of the mid- to late Romantic – along with Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet). Among the works he’s most remembered for is the famous “Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé, and his two ballets Sylvia and Coppélia. “C” is an excerpt from the latter. Leonard Bernstein is a triple (if not a quadruple) threat - conductor, music educator, and also a great composer, both for the concert hall and the stage. His 1944 ballet Fancy Free (which is – I believe – the inspiration for the movie musical “On the Town” which he also composed the music for) has an interesting “dance competition” sequence which is sometimes performed as “Three Dance Episodes”.

Because we brought up Massenet just now, he’s implicated under “M” and “O”. Massenet is mostly remembered for his many operas (including Manon), and the two tracks I chose are excerpts from two of his other operas. Le Cid (after Corneille’s depiction of the Spanish hero) has a beautiful tenor aria that is the perfect “O” for this musical alphabet. The second track is a “transcription” by Japanese composer Akio Yashiro of the haunting “Méditation” from the opera Thaïs, usually set for solo violin but played here by the legendary Jean-Pierre Rampal at the flute.

We have a few more transcriptions on our list: Sir Malcolm Sargent orchestrated the Nocturne-Andante movement from Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet no. 2 (“N”) and American bandmaster Victor Grabel transcribed the overture to Richard Wagner’s Rienzi for wind band (“R”). Another American bandmaster, Donald Hunsberger of the Eastman Wind Ensemble, adapted Aaron Copland’s soothing Quiet City, featuring Wynton Marsalis as solo trumpet (“Q”).

Speaking of opera overtures, we have “D” and “G: Emil von Reznicek’s Donna Diana and Adolphe Adam’s Giralda. As for opera arias, the stirring “Vissi d’arte” from Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (“V”), and “I Wants to Stay Here (a.k.a. I Loves You, Porgy)” from George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess (in a jazz adaptation featuring Ella Fitzgerald, “I”).

On the solo instrument front, we have one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Schuller Chorals for organ  (Sleeper’s Awake, or in German Wachet auf! ruft uns die Stimme, thus “W”), one of the many Etudes-Tableaux for piano by Sergey Rachmaninov (“E”), and an organ adaptation of the Largo from George Frederic Handel’s Xerxes (often played at weddings…, “X”). Our lone chamber work is Fritz Kreisler’s violin showpiece, “Love’s Sorrow” (Liebesleid, “L”).

Next, we have a pair of Canadian compositions. Pierre Mercure’s Kaleidoscope (“K”) is one of the mainstays of the Canadian orchestral repertoire, an avant-garde piece that has a very brisk and catchy tune. Equally catchy is Hésitation, a short orchestral bonbon by French-Canadian violinist and arranger Maurice Durieux (“H”). If you like bonbons, then you will certainly like Leroy Anderson’s delightful use of a now obsolete office appliance, The Typewriter (“T”).

Closing off the “pure” orchestral selections on our list, we have Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter” (“J”) from his famous suite The Planets, and the short Scandinavian tone poem Saga Dream by Denmark’s Carl Nielsen (“S”).

And finally, some songs of different kinds: Gustav Mahler’s ethereal “Primal Light” (in German, Urlicht, “U”), is featured both in his Second symphony and as part of his song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a collection of at times naïve and child-like songs about youth and its wonders. Hector Berlioz hits the right exotic-romantic mix in his Zaïde, and finally Lennon-McCratney’s classic Yesterday (“Z” and “Y” respectively).

Listener's Guides

Listener Guide #1 - "Musical Alphabet" (Part I, A-M): As an ice-breaker, I thought I would start off by offering you a taste of my collection under the theme of a "musical alphabet". This first podcast is brought to you by the letters A through M. English commentary (ITYWLTMT Podcast #1- April 1, 2011).

Listener Guide #2 - "Musical Alphabet" (Part II, N-Z): Continuing our musical alphabet, we will explore the letters N to Z.. Read the English (ITYWLTMT Podcast @2 - April 7, 2011)

I think you will love this music too!