Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Waltzes for orchestra

No. 329 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesady Blog. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast329


Our final montage for 2019, just in time for the New Year, features the Waltz, including some waltz collections and was built around the contents of an old Vanguard recording called "The Great Waltz Composers" featuring the Vienna State Opera Orchestra under Anton Paulik.

I added three "waltz collections" to the montage: Richard Rodgers' waltzes from his many Broadway musicals (arranged by Leroy Anderson for the Boston Pops), the set of waltzes composed by Richard Strauss for Der Rozenkavalier (arranged by Artur Rodzinski for the Cleveland Orchestra) and Ravel's own orchestration of his Valses Nobles et Sentimentales.

To close things out, Karajan's arrangement of Sibelius' Valse Triste.

I think you will love this music too!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Child's Play & Year In Review 2019

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from December 21, 2012. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/ChildsPlay_479


Normally, when we dig into the Podcast Vault on Fridays, I provide a fresh musing on a past montage, and provide a bonus track via YouTube. This week, however, I will not be doing that. If you wish to read my original take – assorted with a then-bonus clip, please use the hyperlink I provided at the top of the page.

This week, I will rather use the opportunity to provide my “Year In Review” and collected annual assemblage of assorted YouTube clips.

2019 was a busy year for us on ITYWLTMT. Among the highlights, we spent a lot of time this year on collections: Part Three of Project 366 proposed a good number of collections from Bach’s concertos to Stravinsky’s ballets, without forgetting Beethoven and Mozart. The latter two composers were also featured throughout the year in our Friday montages, where we completed our overall survey of their piano sonatas.

In September, we rebranded our Pod-O-Matic channel into a daily share portal, walking through old and new Listener Guides from Project 366. We are almost done with our first four months of daily podcasts, and will provide our next tranche in calendar form on or around New Year’s day.
We have continued with our bi-weekly Tuesday Blog, and are setting up for 2020’s “Beethoven Year” with fresh shares of some of our favourite Ludwig works – sonatas, concertos, symphonies and the Missa Solemnis, interspersed with other selections in our ongoing Cover 2 Cover and Vinyl’s Revenge series.

Our Friday programming for 2020 will continue to be somewhat sporadic as we intertwine Podcast Vault selections (per the Project 366 calendar) with new podcasts; by the end of 2020 we will have created fewer original montages than in past years. We are on track, however, to issue our 365th podcast in August 2021. (TEASER - in September 2020, we will embark into another cycle of daily shares – more on that as we get closer).

Among our new montages, you will get a good dose of Mozart, Bruckner and (inevitably) Beethoven. (I plan something special with our 2021 “daily programming” with Mozart, so I need to get more titles in the bank, as it were.)

One area I have neglected in the last few months are my posts on OperaLively. I will admit I feel quite overwhelmed with preparing the daily shares, much more than I originally thought, actually. As a result, I made the conscious decision to put Once or Twice a Fortnight on hiatus. My hope is to resume opera posts next fall, when I’m done with Project 366.

Before I forget: we are planning a trip to a warm spot in mid-January. I’ll do my best to queue up material, but if I don’t, I promise to catch up!

Always appreciate your comments and reactions on our many platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Jeep them coming!

Happy and Safe New Year to everyone! Please enjoy our “Video Favourites” for 2019.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Karajan Highlights

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

For our final Vinyl’s Revenge of 2019, I dug deep into my record collection to share a compilation of classical hits conducted by Hebert von Karajan

According to discogs, my go-ro source for recorded material (especially vinyl), Karajan has nearly 2000 titles to his credit, and nearly 400 of those fall under “compilations”. As I glanced through the titles, we can find Karajan compilation albums on many of the well-known labels, and quite a few on DG with the Berlin Philharmonic.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about today’s vinyl share, likely picked up nearly 40 years ago in a bargain bin…The four works featured were in some cases recorded several times throughout the years and the resulting album is quite satisfying. An appropriate Christmas present!

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Les Préludes, S.97
Hungarian Rhapsody in C Sharp minor, S.359 no. 2

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Capriccio Italien, Op, 45 [TH 47]

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
An der schönen, blauen Donau (The Beautiful Blue Danube), Op.314

Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan, conducting

Label: Deutsche Grammophon ‎– 2545 010
Format: Vinyl, LP, Compilation
Released: 1974

Details - https://www.discogs.com/Berlin-Philh...elease/3941329


Internet Archive -  https://archive.org/details/01lespreludess97

Friday, December 20, 2019

Ballet & Opera

No. 328 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast328


This week’s podcast explores ballet in the context of opera. Opera, as I’ve discussed in past musings, has to be viewed as the culmination of music, song and stage, so it should come as no surprise that dance episodes and numbers intended for a corps de ballet have a place in grand opera.

Of p[particular note, the Paris Opera Ballet had its origins in the earlier dance institutions, traditions and practices of the court of Louis XIV. Of particular importance were the series of comédies-ballets created by Molière with, among others, the choreographers and composers Pierre Beauchamps and Jean-Baptiste Lully. The 18th century saw the creation of an associated school, now referred to as the Paris Opera Ballet School (École de Danse de l’Opéra de Paris), which opened in 1713. The operas of Rameau, and later Gluck, raised standards for the dancers. Jean-Georges Noverre was a particularly influential ballet master from 1776 to 1781. He created the ballet Les petits riens in 1778 on Mozart's music.

Two selections in our podcast, from Massenet and Gounod, are elaborate ballet sequences inserted within the opera, specifically intended for the Paris Opera ballet. Selections from operas by Smetana, and Berlioz I consider more as dance episodes or dance interludes often heard in concert as stand alone “bonbons”.

Sometimes, ballet companies commission choreographies against opera music. For example, in the 1970’s, les Grands Ballets Canadiens toured internationally with their own vision of The Who’s rock opera Tommy. I think it’s in that context that we need to consider Les Patineurs (The Skaters) a ballet choreographed by Frederick Ashton to music composed by Giacomo Meyerbeer and arranged by Constant Lambert. It was first presented by the Vic-Wells Ballet at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, on 16 February 1937.

The inspiration for the work came from Constant Lambert, who was music director of the Vic-Wells Ballet during the 1930s and who exercised a major influence on the artistic as well as musical direction of the company. To create the score he chose vocal and dance numbers from two Meyerbeer operas, Le prophète and L'Étoile du Nord, and linked them into an irresistibly cheerful score.

I think you will love this music too.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Magyar rapszódiák

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from December 5, 2014. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast176


Today’s five year old podcast was the first of two dedicated to Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. The Hungarian Rhapsodies constitute a set of 19 piano pieces based on Hungarian folk themes, composed between 1846 and 1853, and later in 1882 and 1885. Liszt also arranged versions for orchestra, piano duet and piano trio.

Liszt incorporated many themes he had heard in his native western Hungary and which he believed to be folk music, though many were in fact contemporary tunes written by members of the Hungarian upper middle class, or by composers of the time, and performed publically by Roma (Gypsy) bands.
The large scale structure of each was influenced by the verbunkos, a Hungarian dance in several parts, each with a different tempo. Within this structure, Liszt preserved the two main structural elements of typical Gypsy improvisation—the lassan ("slow") and the friska ("fast"). At the same time, Liszt incorporated a number of effects unique to the sound of Gypsy bands, especially the pianistic equivalent of the cimbalom.

In their original piano form, the Hungarian Rhapsodies are noted for their difficulty. As is the norm for much of Liszt’s piano solo output, the thinking has to have been to use these works to showcase and display his legendary technique at the keyboard.

All nineteen rhapsodies will not fit our usual 75 to 90 minute podcast format, so I had to come up with a logical way of splitting them up over two podcasts… To do so, I chose to consider first the orchestral versions of the rhapsodies.(no. 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, and 14)  arranged by Franz Doppler, with revisions by Liszt himself.

As a bonus, here is the complete set for piano, thanks to YouTube and Brilliant Classics.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mozart: Symphonies 36 & 39, Lockhart/RPO

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

This week's Cover2Cover is a selection from the Royal Philharmonic's own label, from about 20 years ago. These CDs were distributed by third parties in North America and parts of Europe, and I happen to have acquired a few f them around 2005-06. I have a couple of those titles lined up next year in fact.

This Royal Philharmonic Masterworks Audiophile Collection disc features the RPO under the baton of James Lockhart in a selection of later Mozart works. Lockhartworked as an organist in Edinburgh and London, and then as an assistant conductor in German opera houses and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. He was director of opera at the Royal College of Music, London 1986–93, and of the London Schools' Vocal Faculty, from 1993.

The program begins with the overture to The Magic Flute, Mozart's final opera. Despite the large orchestra used in the performance, this track still manages to maintain a sense of lightness, spryness, and crisply executed articulations.

The main body of the disc includes two of Mozart's later symphonies: his 39th (one of the :big three") and his delightful Linz symphony.

Happy Listening!

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), K.620
Symphony No. 36 In C Major K. 425 'Linz'
Symphony No. 39 In E Flat Major K. 543

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
James Lockhart , conducting

Label: RPO Records ‎– 204438-201
Format: CD, Compilation
Year: 1996

Discogs - https://www.discogs.com/Mozart-The-R...master/1478241

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...e0ZrA2iFTMDzfQ

Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/06symphonieno.39enmibemolmaj 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Beethoven in Berlin

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from January 27, 2017. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast238


Today’s podcast, dug out of the Podcast Vault, is nearly three years old, dating January 2017. It was assembled, in part, to feed into our Trifecta chapter of Project 366, which is currently being explored in our daily shares these days. The montage takes new significance on this Beethoven year (though we are technically a year away from Beethoven’s actual 250th birthday, but who attention to those details!)

The original theme of the montage had works by Beethoven performed by Berlin-based orchestras. (The trifecta angle is our programming of the Triple Concerto and Third symphony).

Our bonus feature this week is a performance by a third Berlin-based orchestra. With a tradition reaching back to 1570, the Staatskapelle Berlin is one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Initially it performed exclusively for the Court. However, when Frederick the Great founded the Royal Court Opera in 1742 – today’s State Opera – and merged the Opera and Orchestra, the sphere of activity of the Staatskapelle was broadened and the success story began.

The Staatskapelle Berlin is an essential part of the State Opera: it undertakes the majority of the opera and ballet performances. In a series of concerts each season the Orchestra performs major symphonic works of the Classic, Romantic and Modern periods, commissioned works, and a broad variety of chamber music.

Over time famous conductors have contributed to the orchestra’s characteristic sound and musical interpretation. Daniel Barenboim was appointed general music director of the Staatskapelle in 1992.

The recording I chose for today’s bonus clip is a vintage DG recording of the Staatskapelle under Otto Klemperer

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Project 366 - Dates on the Musical Calendar for December 2019

Project 366 continues in 2019 with "Dates on the Musical Calendar". Read more here.

December is Holiday Season, as evidenced by most of the highlighted dates


  • December 22nd - FP of Beethoven's Symphonies 5 and 6 (Guide #180)
  • December 24 - Christmas Eve (Guide #50)
  • December 25 - Christmas Day (Guide # 318)
  • December 26 - Boxing Day (Guide # 227)
  • December 31 - New Year's Eve (Guide # 65)

As we work through Part 1 of the Project, we encounter “the trifecta” which is a good opportunity to add a few “threesomes” as filler guides (Guides 315 and 316) and provide complete Scott Slapin’s rendering of J.s S. Bach’s works for solo violin (and solo flute) performed on the viola (Guide #317). As a “bonus” holiday selections, we added Amahl and the Night Visitors (Guide #63) and Debussy’s delightful “Toy Box” (Guide #319). Finally, notice a few Beethoven Listener Guides, in keeping with the Beethoven Year.

Your Listener Guides

Listener Guide # 315 - Three Scandinavian Symphonies
Jean Sibelius wrote seven symphonies; and his Third Symphony represents a turning point in Sibelius's symphonic output. His First and Second symphonies are grandiose Romantic and patriotic works. The Third, however, is a good-natured, triumphal, and deceptively simple-sounding piece which hardly foreshadows the more austere complexity of his later symphonies. The Sibelius is flanked by a pair of symphonies by the early-romantic Swedish composer Franz Berwald. (Once Upon the Internet #55 – 17 January 2017)

Listener Guide # 316 - Afro-American Opera
If Porgy and Bess is without a doubt the most well-known opera that deals with African Americans, there are many other works that have African American subject matters in the stage repertoire, and I chose to assemble three of them in this Listener Guide. Works by Scott Joplin, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #209 - 11 Sep. 2015)


Listener Guide # 317 - J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Solo Violin
The complete set of solo violin works by J.S. Bach consists of three sonatas da Chiesa (or church sonatas), in four movements, and three partitas (or partias), which are “dance suites”. The set was completed by 1720, but was only published in 1802 by Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn. Even after publication, it was largely ignored until the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim started performing these works. Today, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas are an essential part of the violin repertoire, and they are frequently performed and recorded. (Once Upon theInternet #38 – 9 June 2015)

Listener Guide # 318 - Christmas
This Christmas playlist programs titles from both the French (Canadian) and English repertoires. Some of the "stand alone" classics come from Adolphe Adam (Minuit, Chrétiens, which is known in English as O Holy Night), Frederick Delius (his charming sleigh ride) and Corelli's Christmas Concerto. Bemjamin Britten and Ralph Vaighan-WIlliams both provide variations based on a pair of well-known carols: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Greensleeves. Marcel Dupre also adapted a well-known French carol for organ. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #212 - 25 Dec 2015)

Listener Guide # 319 – Child’s Play
Kids and Toys are what Christmas is about. This Listener Guide proposes some music that is appropriate for young (and young at heart) music lovers. There are three main ideas that intermingle in this montage: children, children’s tales and (of course) toys. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #85 - 21 Dec 2012)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Glenn Gould Plays J. S. Bach

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from June 21, 2014. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast161


This week’s Podcast Vault selection is from June of 2014, marking what was then the 60th anniversary of Glenn Gould’s first recorded performance of the Goldberg Variations – a broadcast performance from the CBC archives.

A year later, in 1955, Gould recorded the Goldberg Variations for Columbia records, his breakthrough work. Although there was some controversy at Columbia about the appropriateness of this "debut" piece, the record received phenomenal praise and was among the best-selling classical music albums of its era. Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many recitals. A new recording of the Goldberg Variations, made in 1981, would be among his last albums; the piece was one of only a few he recorded twice in the studio. The 1981 release was one of CBS Masterworks' first digital recordings. The 1955 interpretation is highly energetic and often frenetic; the later is slower and more deliberate —the 1954 CBC performance, I find, sits som ewhere between the two.

Gould revered J.S. Bach, stating that the Baroque composer was "first and last an architect, a constructor of sound, and what makes him so inestimably valuable to us is that he was beyond a doubt the greatest architect of sound who ever lived". He recorded most of Bach's other keyboard works, including both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Partitas, French Suites, English Suites, Inventions and Sinfonias, keyboard concertos, and a number of toccatas (which interested him least, being less polyphonic).

As our bonus filler, I chose his studio recording (1963-64) of the two and three-part inventions. We can compare these with tracks from the CBC broadcast.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Murray Perahia & Beethoven

No. 327 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT  series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast327


After more than a dozen Friday montages, we finally come to the end of a long thematic arc in which we will have programmed all 32 piano sonatas (some of them twice) and all six piano concertos (again, many of those twice, too).

Today’s featured artist, Murray Perahia, was at the keyboard (for the First piano concerto, along with Bernard Haitimk and the Concertgebouw orchestra) when we launched our original “Beethoven project” eight years ago, and he returns with the same orchestra and conductor this week for a performance of the Third concerto.

Beethoven did not publish all of his piano sonatas as individual opus numbers; some of these were “bundled” in sets of two or three sonatas under one opus number. In our May montage featuring Richard Goode, we shared two such bundles: his opp. 2 and 49. Today, we feature the op. 14 bundle – sonatas nos 9 and 10. The pair were dedicated to Baroness Josefa von Braun. These lesser-known early-period sonatas are less travelled but still exquisite. The F-major sonata was later arranged for string quartet by the composer in 1801.

The sonata no. 7 (along with sonatas 5 and 6) belong to the op. 10 set (Daniel Barenboim and Emil Gilels performed these sonatas in past podcasts).

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In Memoriam André Previn (1929-2019)

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

This month’s Vinyl’s Revenge is our final tribute to notable musicians who have left us in 2019. After a pair of Austrian pianists, we offer today a tip of the hat to the German-born American “triple threat” pianist, composer and conductor André Previn.

According to his obituary in the Guardian on line:

The conductor, composer and pianist André Previn, who has died aged 89, was not only among the most charismatic performers of his day, but also enjoyed one of the greatest classical-music lives since Berlioz and Liszt – and one that did not grow less eventful with old age. His pedigree was unique: no other Oscar-winning conductor-composer from the Hollywood film studios became equally successful in the strictly classical world of the London Symphony Orchestra – which Previn headed from 1968 to 1979 – while also maintaining a side career as a jazz pianist.

The obituary continues:
His London Symphony recordings are often his best, and they are numerous, thanks to such a congenial relationship with EMI that he could phone the company to say that a certain concert was shaping up unusually well, and have a recording team on hand by the end of the week.

From my vinyl collection, I chose to share this 1977 Previn/LSO recording of the “complete” incidental music Mendelssohn wrote for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with his youthful overtire (op. 21) and seminal tracks including the brisk scherzo and the oft-heard Wedding March.

There are a pair of sung tracks – featuring female soloists and children’s choir. The text is sung here in English rather than in German, making this something of a unique recording.

Happy Listening!

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
"A Midsummer Night's Dream", Overture, Op. 21
Incidental Music To "A Midsummer Night's Dream", Op. 61

Soprano Vocals – Lilian Watson
Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Delia Wallis
Finchley Children's Music Group
Chorus Master – Colin Howard
London Symphony Orchestra
André Previn, conducting
Angel Records ‎– S-37268
Format: Vinyl, LP, Stereo, Quadraphonic
Released: 1977

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Mendelssohn-...elease/1995109

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...IdWa3woWgCOIko

Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/01amidsummernightsdreamovertu

Friday, November 15, 2019

A suite at the Movies

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from September 2, 2011. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/ASuiteAtTheMovies


A little play on words, as we enjoy a “suite” at the movies – and orchestral suites by composers based on music they wrote for films. Music and film goes back to the days of silent films, where music played a large role in providing desired mood effects, and later in the Musicals of the 1940’s, only to name those. Composers as far back as Camille Saint-Saëns provided film music, and a great number of European composers (most noteworthy here being Franz Waxman and Erich Korngold) moved to Hollywood to score great epic films of the first half of the 20th century.

Our selections include music by Serge Prokofiev and Sir William Walton, best known for their more “serious” works, as well as George Gershwin (who briefly worked on Hollywood films before his early death in 1937) and Nino Rota and John Williams, who arebest known for their movie work and have been known to dabble in “serious compositions”.

Over the years, we've shared quite a bit of film music, especially from Mr. Williams. As a bonus this week, I thought I would share selections from one of my favourite Williams film scores. He collaborated on dozens of projects with director Steven Spielberg, but this gem isn't a Waxmanesque symphonic score, but rather a throwback to Williams' years as a jazz pianist. It is from the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, which starred Tom Hanks who plays a seasoned FBI agent pursuing Frank Abagnale Jr. ( Leonardo DiCaprio) who, before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars' worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor.

The performance is by a Polish  music academy.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Wilhelm Backhaus & Beethoven

No. 326 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast326

Wilhelm Backhaus  (1884 –1969), one of the pre-eminent Beethoven interpreters of his generation, is heard in today’s montage in a set of Ludwig’s sonatas and the Second concerto. Among Backhaus’ contemporaries, we count last week’s featured artist, Wilhelm Kempff, as well as other pianists we have explored in past posts – Walter Gieseking and Edwin Fischer. All of these musicians were at the height of their careers during or after World War II, yet they have seen their reputations tarnished through their association (tenuous or not) with the Nazis.

German musicians reacted to Nazism in many different ways. The pianist Elly Ney, for instance, was a rabid anti-Semite who idolized Hitler. Backhaus met Adolf Hitler by May 1933. That same year, he became executive advisor to the Nazi organization Kameradschaft der deutschen Künstler (Fellowship of German Artists). For the German elections 1936, Backhaus published a statement in the magazine Die Musikwoche which stated "Nobody loves German art, and especially German music, as glowingly as Adolf Hitler…" A month later, Hitler gave Backhaus a professorship, and invited him that September to attend the annual Nazi party's Nuremberg Rally. We note that Backhaus elected to live in Switzerland in the 1930 and never resided in Germany per se, not even during the Nazi period.

Born in Leipzig, Backhaus began learning piano at the age of four with his mother and enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory – at the urging of Arthur Nikisch, no less - where he studied from 1891 and 1899. He later perfected his training privately with Eugen d'Albert in Frankfurt. At the turn of the century, Backahuis launched into a career that would span nearly 70 years – he died in 1969 a few days before he was scheduled to perform in Austria. Even at 85 he still had the technical infallibility, which was praised by the jury of the "Anton Rubinstein Prize" when he won this once most coveted of all piano prizes (in a group that included Béla Bartók) in 1905. Back then, when the Liszt students and unrestrainedly romanticizing Beethoven interpreters Rubinstein and d'Albert set the tone, Backhaus was already a disciplined outsider, endeavoring to achieve a truly objective performance, without pomp and false solemnity.

One of the first pianists to make recordings, Backhaus had a long career not only on the concert stage but also in the studio. He recorded the complete piano sonatas and concertos of Beethoven and a large quantity of Mozart and Brahms. His recordings of the complete Beethoven sonatas, made in the 1950s and '60s, display exceptional technique for a man in his seventies. His live Beethoven recordings are in some ways even better, freer and more vivid (some of these are part of today’s montage, along with vintage recoirdings of Sonatas 22 and 28).

To complete the montage, I am featuring Backhaus’ 1952 recording of Beethoven’s Second Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic with Clemens Krauss. Backahus would record a few years later a “stereo” version of the same concerto as part of a complete cycle with the same orchestra under Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. Most aficionados prefer the latter performance (and set) as they feel the orchestra is more “committed” under the younger conductor and maybe the soloist is therefore more inspired. When I listen to this mono performance, I can still appreciate Backhaus’ approach and esthetic.

I think you will love this music too

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

In Memoriam Jörg Demus (1928-2019)

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

This week’s Once Upon the Internet playlist, like our last post on Paul Badura-Skoda, features assorted downloads (mainly from the old MP3.COM) of works featuring Jörg Demus, a fellow Austrian pianist oif the same generation who also passed away earlier this year. He has released over 350 LPs and over 200 CDs, focusing on German items such as Bach, Mozart and Schumann, and has received international acclaim.

He entered the Vienna Academy of Music at the age of 11, and received instruction from Walter Kelschbaumer, Hans Swarowsky, Josef Krips and Joseph Marx. After graduating in 1945, he studied with Yves Nat in Paris, Walter Gieseking at the Salzburg Conservatory, and master classes with Wilhelm Kempff, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Edwin Fischer, and other legendary masters. He won the Busoni International Competition in 1956, and has been active worldwide.

The opening paragraph of his Telegraph obituary is both telling and a bit snippy if you ask me: “Jörg Demus, who has died aged 90, was an old-school Austrian pianist best known for his sensitive accompaniment of singers such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elly Ameling and, above all, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; he made his name with the music of Vienna – Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven – and, according to one reviewer, often performed as if the 20th century had never happened.”

Like Badura-Skoda, Demus was featured on a good number of our past playlists and montages – in fact, some of this week’s tracks are re-used from at least two of our Friday montages – most notably nboth books of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier from 2013.


(All works featuring Jörg Demus, piano)

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Twelve Variations on“Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman” in C Major, K. 265
(Played on the Fortepiano)

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturne in E Major, op. 62, no. 2

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903

Robert SCHUMANN (1810 –1856)

Blumenstück in D-flat Major, Op. 19

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 –1809)
Keyboard Concerto in G major, Hob.XVIII:4
(conducting the Tokyo Chamber Players)

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 —1828)
Ganymed, D. 544
(with Elly Ameling, soprano)

Wanderer-fantasie, D. 760

Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/009wande...tasieop.15d760

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Project 366 - Dates on the Musical Calendar for November 2019

Project 366 continues in 2019 with "Dates on the Musical Calendar". Read more here.

A little late, but here you go...


  • November 1st – All Saints Day (Guide # 293
  • November 3rd – "Falling back" to Standard Time in North America (Guide # 86
  • November 11 – JRemebrance Day (AKA Veteran's Day or Armistice Day) (Guide # 311)
  • November 28 – Thanksgiving day (USA) (Guidee # 314)
Continuing our review of past listener guides from Part 1, including sung and stage works (that includes Don Giovanni, Guidess 312 & 313), and some selected themes, like "The Concert Experience" and " The Trufecta". Also, we feature the cmplete set of Tchaikovsky's orchestra suites.

Your Listener Guides
Listener Guide #311 – Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Europe and the Commonwealth countries to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty since World War I. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918; hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.  (ITYWLTMT Podcast #30 - 11 November 2011)

Listener Guides  #312 & 313 – Don Giovanni (Mozart)

Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore, (whom Giovanni killed) makes his appearance. He offers Giovanni one last chance to repent for his multitudinious improprieties. He will not change his ways So, he is sucked down into hell by evil spirits. High drama, hysterical comedy, magnificent music! (Once or Twice a Fortnight - February 26th, 2015) (L/G 312 Act 1, L/G 313 Act 2)

Listener Guide #314 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday. (ITYWLTMT Montage # 296 - 23 November 2018)

Friday, November 1, 2019

You're Killing Me

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from 1 November 2013. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/Pcast129


This week’s peek into the Podcast Vault revisits a post from 2013. The occasion, as is the case today, was All Saints Day, a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on 1 November ; the Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic Churches and Byzantine Lutheran Churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Oriental Orthodox churches of Chaldea and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints' Day on the first Friday after Easter.

In many traditions, All Saints' Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from 31 October to 2 November. On All Saints Day, it is common for families to attend church, as well as visit cemeteries in order to lay flowers and candles on the graves of their deceased loved ones.

(It goes without saying that we seem to observe the first night of that three-day season – Hallowe’en – more than the other two days, All Saints and All Souls days.)

In other montages, we listened to works that dwell on the topic of death – think of Berg’s Violin Concerto and Mahler’s Kindertottenlieder. Those works, if I may say so, tackle the subject and its companion, mourning, straight on. As I tried to say in the original musing that accompanied this montage, my thinking was to present music that alludes to death without trying to be morbid. The two “major” works on the montage – Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet and Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration provide opportunity to refkexct on mortality much mire in my mind than death itself, but that’s a personal opinion…

As a bonus, I selected a work by Franz Liszt who famously provided a piano transcrtiption of one of the tracks on our montage – the Danse Macabre. Some of the titles of Liszt’s pieces, such as Totentanz, Funérailles, La lugubre gondola and Pensée des morts, show the composer's fascination with death. Totentanz (lit. rrans. Dance of the Dead) is notable for being based on the Gregorian plainchant melody Dies Irae as well as for daring stylistic innovations. The video clip features American pianist Byron Janis.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Beethoven Transcriptions

No. 325 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast325

This week’s Friday montage continues an arc we started ten days or so ago with Beethoven’s “adaptation” of his violin concerto as a piano concerto. All the works on this week’s montage are by Beethoven, adapted in other forms by other composers/arrangers, and one by Beethoven himself.

A while ago, I discussed how opera transcriptions were, in some way, the precursor of recordings and radio. Not everybody could listen to elaborate pieces of music – like an opera – at the drop of a hat.; but if you had a piano in the house, you could enjoy an aria by simply playing a piano reduction. I like to think of Beethoven’s “Piano Trio in D Major after his Second Symphony” as another example of that idea. Not everybody could gather a small orchestra in their living room, but you probably could find a couple of willing friends to partake in a reduction of that symphony for piano, violin and cello. From an entrepreneurial perspective, I think that was a brilliant idea! Musically, Beethoven captures the essence of his symphony (and then some) in this ingenious device.

An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved) is considered to be the first example of a song cycle by a major composer, in many ways the precursor of a series of followers, including those of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Hugo Wolf. Here is a YouTuibe clip of the song cycle, as it was originally envisaged:

Franz Liszt, in the spirit of Mendelssohn’s Songs without words, adapted a good number of lieder as solo piano reductions without voice by Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Chopin, Lassen, and Mendelssohn. His adaptation of Beethoven’s song cycle is a fine example of of Liszt’s approach to the song without words.

Beethoven's String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, is commonly referred to as the "Serioso," stemming from his title "Quartett[o] Serioso" at the beginning and the tempo designation for the third movement. The historical picture of this time period helps to put the piece in context. Napoleon had invaded Vienna, and this upset Beethoven greatly. All of his aristocratic friends had fled Vienna, but Beethoven stayed and dramatically complained about the loud bombings.

It is one of the shortest and most compact of all the Beethoven quartets. In character and key, as well as in the presence of a final frenetic section in the parallel major, it is related to another composition of Beethoven's middle period — the overture for Goethe's drama Egmont, which he was composing in the same year he was working on this quartet. Again, a performance of the work as originally envisaged:

Gustav Mahler is known today through his music, but in his own time was equally known as a conductor and arranger. The music of JS Bach held a certain fascination for Mahler throughout his life, and he reimagined Bach's music for the early 20th century orchestra. Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 95 was also arranged by Mahler, who believed that it needed expanding to work in large concert halls, and the result offers an alternative perspective on the work. Mahler arranged this quartet for string orchestra, mostly by doubling some of the cello parts with double basses.

Closing this week’s podcast is a jazz-inspired version of Beethoven’s well-known piano bagatelle Für Elise expanding it with orchestral accompaniment.

I think you will love this music too