Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim & Mozart

This week's Tuesday Blog features no.. 340 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages. It  can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast340


This week’s podcast, closing out the second quarter of 2020, is one more in our series dedicated to Mozart’s piano concertos in sets of three, and follows a pattern we used in 2015 with a pair of pianists who each get one solo concerto and combine in a double concerto.

Unlike other montages in this series, with the benefit of about 7 of these if we include three Tuesday playlists from a Time Life compilation, we are considering three concerti we’ve programmed at least once in the past.

The two solo concerti – nos. 8 and 17 - were featured on a Tuesday Blog and on a Friday podcast respectively, and are being repackaged here (with new performances) for future daily podcasts. Concerto no. 10 (the concerto for two pianos, K. 365) was in another montage back in 2012, again with different soloists.

Vladimir Ashkenazy has been featured in this series already (January last year), and the two conceri in which he is featured are part of his complete Mozart set for Decca where all the “solo concerti” feature him conducting the Philharmonia orchestra from the keyboard. In the two “multiple keyboard” concertos in that set (concerto for 2 and 3 keyboards), Decca reused performances part of a separate one-time disk featuring him and Daniel Barenboim, with the latter conducting the English Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard; a third pianist, a Barenboim protégé from the time, sits at the third keyboard for the concerto for three pianos.

For the Lützkow concerto, I dug out a performance by Barenboim and the same orchestra. In the 1960s, while still in his twenties, Daniel Barenboim joined forces with the English Chamber Orchestra to record a groundbreaking set of the complete Mozart Piano Concertos, conducting from the keyboard. Later, he recorded them again with the Berlin Philharmonic, but the English Chamber Orchestra version still has the edge for its bite and beauty, operatic mellifluousness offset by apparently boundless energy and an atmosphere of inspired and intimate music-making from start to finish.

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from July 27, 2012. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/London_837


Before I get started today, I wanted to acknowledge a couple of missteps in managing our podcasting channel – a couple of times in the past week I posted some material and failed to pick the right date for the automatic publisher to activate the selections. As a result, my Wednesday and Friday posts were on line a few days ahead of schedule – which explains why I chose to “expedite” this week’s foray into the Podcast Vault. This is completely an error in my part but, since nobody seemed to be bothered by that programming snafu, it’s a reminder for me to be more focused and disciplined when I line up my publishing…

While I am mindful of avoiding “dated” programming, from time to time there are montages that don’t quite age well. It’s not to say that the program for this week is completely anachronous, I am obliged to remind listeners that this 2012 montage was published around the time of the London Summer Olympics, which explains how Vangelis found his way here. Overall, however, the podcast does keep to the overall theme of music written for or inspired by London and England.
The main work on the podcast is a nice performance by Sir Colin Davis of the last of Haydn’s London Symphonies (his no. 104) that completes our Project 366 survey of the complete set of 12. The nickname for that symphony aptly is “London”. Works by Bach, Elgar, Otto Nicolai and Gershwin feed this overall theme.

As our bonus track, another London-nicknamed symphony, this one by Ralph Vaughan Williams

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

Mendelssohn - Berliner Philharmoniker - Lorin Maazel ‎– Symphony No. 4 & 5

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

This week’s Vinyl’s Revenge – the last for the next few months as we embark into our summer schedule – shares an early recording by Lorin Maazel of two Mendelssohn symphonies.

Maazel’s conducting roots were as a wunderkind conductor. At the age of 13, Lorin Maazel took the podium at a pension fund concert at Public Hall in Cleveland on March 14, 1943. He conducted a selection of pieces that included the overture from Wagner’s opera Rienzi and Schubert’s “Unfinished” symphony. Earlier in his young career, Maazel had already guest conducted the NBC Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Pittsburgh Symphony.

At age 30, Maazel became the first American to conduct at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. He was chief conductor of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 1965 to 1971 and the RSO Berlin (formerly known as the Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra) from 1964 to 1975, succeeding its founding conductor, Ferenc Fricsay.

Today’s recording dates from that same early 1960’s period, this time conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Mendelssohn’s Italian and Reformation symphonies. This recording was part of a compilation reissue from 2004 “Complete Early Berlin Philharmonic Recordings 1957 — 1962” , though I acquired it originally as a vinyl reissue in the late 1970’s on the DG Resonance series.

This is a typical Maazel recording – a worthy recording, but not my favourite. All the notes are there, but the warmth doesn’t shine through. To boot, there are no repeats.

Tell me what you think!


Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 "Italian"
Symphony No. 5 in D major, Op. 107 "Reformation"

Berliner Philharmoniker
Lorin Maazel, conducting

Deutsche Grammophon Resonance – 2535 171
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Recorded April 1960 (op. 90) and January 1961 (op. 107)

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Mendelssohn-...elease/5050747

Internet Archive 


Friday, June 19, 2020

Clara Haskil & Mozart

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from July 24, 2015. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast206


This week’s throwback montage is from the Summer of 2015, when we featured modern and vintage performances of Mozart’s piano concertos. Many of these montages have ben featured this week on our daily podcasts.

In a 2013 interview, Pope Francis mentioned Romanian pianist Clara Haskil as one of his favorite musicians She was renowned as an interpreter of the classical and early romantic repertoire. She was particularly noted for her performances and recordings of Mozart, as well as Beethoven, Schumann, and Scarlatti.

Haskil studied in Amsterdam under Richard Robert (whose pupils also included Rudolf Serkin and George Szell) and briefly with Ferruccio Busoni. She later moved to France, where she studied with Gabriel Fauré's pupil Joseph Morpain, whom she always credited as one of her greatest influences. The same year she entered the Conservatoire de Paris, officially to study with Alfred Cortot although most of her instruction came from Lazare Lévy and Mme Giraud-Latarse, and graduated at age 15 with a Premier Prix in piano, violin and cello!

Her great talent was hampered by poor health and extreme stage fright, keeping her from critical or financial success. Most of her life was spent in abject poverty. It was only after World War II, during a series of concerts in the Netherlands in 1949, that she began to win acclaim. In 1951 she moved to Vevey in Switzerland. On top of her game, sShe died tragically 60 years ago from a fall in a Belgian train station at age 65.

An esteemed friend of Haskil, Charlie Chaplin, described her talent by saying "In my lifetime I have met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil I am not a trained musician but I can only say that her touch was exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary."

Featured on the montage is one of her most famous recordings as a soloist with orchestra. Her recording of Mozart's Piano Concertos No. 20 in D minor, K. 466 and No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, made in November 1960 (one month before her death) with the Orchestre Lamoureux conducted by Igor Markevitch is highly lyrical and yet, in some way, vigorous.

As our bonus track this week, here is Clara Haskil in a recital featuring aming others the piano music of Schumann, Debussy and Ravel.

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

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mozart "Number One" Montage

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from October 14, 2011. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/MozartnumberOneMontage


One of the earliest thematic arcs we explored in the early days of ITYWLTMT was something I called “My Number One Obsession”, and today’s throwback montage dusts off one of the programs from that arc, this one dedicated to Mozart “Firsts”.

On the dance card, we have his first piano sonata, his first piano concerto, his first symphony and his first violin concerto. Some of the performances I retained are part of “complete sets” I have in my personal collection, with the exception of the first divertimento for strings, which was part of a 2-CD set of Mozart chamber works and works for orchestra featuring Pinchas Zukerman and some of the principal chairs of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

As our bonus track, here is the first serenade for orchestra, performed by Chamber Orchestra Mannheim, under Jirí Malát

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Beethoven/Liszt: Symphonies nos. 4 & 5

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

For this month’s contribution to our #Beethoven2020 series, as promised last month, we continue with some piano works, but with a twist…

You will hear all of Beethoven’s nine symphonies several times over in the course of this anniversary year – including symphonies 1 and 3 so far in this series. Beethoven himself subtly introduced symphony number 2 into the series a few months ago as a transcription for piano trio. In the course of the next two installments, we will focus on the middle third of the corpus – symphonies 4, 5 and 6, but in a format less heard but I promise, just as enjoyable.

Beethoven was a formidable pianist in his day, so it should not be too surprising that his symphonies have a very “pianistic” character. Piano and Forte passages are rendered by different sections of the orchestra (brilliantly, you will agree) but subtle, sometimes lyrical passages remind us of Beethoven sitting at his piano, playing around with note combinations. There are certainly many study scores and piano reductions of these symphonies intended for orchestral preparation, but there exists only one set of transcriptions that fully exploit the full measure of the piano as a worthy platform to render these symphonies, and they are from another legendary pianist and composer – Franz Liszt.

Liszt was paid 8 francs per page by Breitkopf & Härtel, who first requested two symphonies to be transcribed. By 1837, Liszt appears to have completed the transcriptions of the fifth, sixth and seventh symphonies, of which the fifth and sixth were published by Breitkopf & Härtel. During his 1840 travels in Europe he might have given the transcribed symphonies some publicity by playing them at his concerts.

With three symphonies transcribed, Liszt set aside the work for another 23 years. It was not until 1863 that Breitkopf & Härtel suggested to Liszt that he transcribe the complete set for a future publication. He would note down the names of the orchestral instruments for the pianist to imitate, he would also add pedal marks and fingerings for amateurs and sight readers. The full set of transcriptions were finally published in 1865 and dedicated to Hans von Bülow. The original publication of the fifth and sixth symphonies had been dedicated to the painter and amateur violinist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

The transcriptions are among the greatest, and most technically demanding in the pianistic repertoire, however the Liszt Beethoven Symphony transcriptions are little known outside serious musical circles, and were in relative obscurity for over 100 years after their publication. It remains a mystery why none of Liszt's pupils performed or recorded these works. The first recording of any of them was not until 1967, when Glenn Gould recorded the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. İdil Biret became the first pianist to record the complete cycle, between July 1985 and April 1986. Subsequently, Cyprien Katsaris, Leslie Howard, Konstantin Scherbakov and Yury Martynov have also recorded all nine.

This week, I am sharing the fourth and fifth symphony transcriptions, as performed by French-Cypriot pianist Cyprien Katsaris. His complete set was reissued by Warner Classics in 2006 and available in their entirety on YouTube (see my link further down).

Happy listening!

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Piano transcriptions of Beethoven Symphonies, S. 464

Symphony No.4 in B Flat Major Op.60 [S.464/4]
Symphony No.5 in C Minor Op.67 [S.464/5]

Piano – Cyprien Katsaris

Teldec Classics ‎– 2564 60865-2 (CD #3 of 6)
Release: 1990

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Beethoven-Li...lease/12661211
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...oo5Fk3NiLhktBW
Internet Archive (CD #3 only) - https://archive.org/details/beethove...phony-no.-5-in

Friday, June 5, 2020

Pelléas et Mélisande

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from June 7, 2013. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/Pcast108


This week’s throwback montage dates back a few years, as the original commentary is in a bilingual format. The prevailing theme is music inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck‘s 1893 symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande  about the forbidden, doomed love of the title characters.

Maeterlinck had studied Pythagorean metaphysics and believed that human action was guided by Eros (love/sterility) and Anteros (revenge/chaos). The juxtaposition of these two forces brings about a never-ending cycle of calm followed by discord and then change. Pelléas and Mélisande are so much in love that they disregard the value of marriage, provoking the ire of Anteros, who brings revenge and death, which restores order.

The selections retained in this montage feature three specific musical settings – Debussy’s setting is a full-length opera, musical highlights of which Marius Constant repurposed as a symphony. Arnold Schoenberg proposes a tone poem reminiscent of how Liszt and Tchaikovsky conjured Shakespeare, Goethe and Dante to create narratives of light and darkness. This early tonal piece by Schoenberg is more cosely aligned to his Transfigured Night than with his later atonal output.
In 1898, Gabriel Fauré had written incidental music for performances of the play in London and asked Charles Koechlin to orchestrate it, from which he later extracted the suite featured this week.

Jean Sibelius also wrote incidental music for the play in 1905, which was featured in a separate montage. As filer this week, a performance of Sibelius’ suite from the incidental music, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

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