Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Schumann, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer – Symphony No. 3

 


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


To conclude our three-part look at Schumann’s symphonies, I chose my favorite of his, the Rheinish. It was composed in1850, the same year that he completed his Cello Concerto (which was published four years later).

Schumann was inspired to write the symphony after a trip to the Rhineland with his wife Clara. This journey was a happy and peaceful trip; he incorporated elements of the journey and portrayed other experiences from his life in the music.

There are two forces at work in the Symphony – an essential formal conservatism and an exuberant rhythmic and melodic inventiveness. These two forces combine to give the opening movement tremendous swagger and swing. The three central movements function as interludes, capturing different moods and suggesting different scenes, while simultaneously fulfilling the requirements of the symphony for a scherzo and a slow movement.

With the finale, the animation of the first movement returns. Here, Schumann emphasizes rhythm and clarity of articulation (much of the music is marked to be played staccato), giving the music a propulsive lightness that drives the Symphony to its exhilarating, noble close.

This vintage performance by Klemperer and his “new” Philharmonia is capped off with the overture Schumann wrote for what we should think of as a “Faust oratorio;”. Schumann's music suggests the struggle between good and evil at the heart of Goethe's work, as well as Faust's tumultuous search for enlightenment and peace.

Happy listening!


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3 In E Flat Major, Op. 97 ("Rhenish")
Overture To Goethe's "Faust", A3, no. 0

Orchestra – New Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor – Otto Klemperer

Angel Records – RL-32064
Format: Vinyl, LP, Reissue

DISCOGS - https://www.discogs.com/Schumann-New...lease/13714543


Friday, May 7, 2021

Musikalische Akademie der 7. Mai 1824

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 4, 2012. It can be found in our archives at 
http://archive.org/details/MusikalischeAkademieDer7.Mai1824 


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On this day in 1824 at Vienna’s Kärntnertortheater Beethoven premiered his Ninth Symphony. As I discussed in the original post, two more Beethoven works were also performed that night – three sections of his Missa Solemnis and an overture he wrote for a re-staging of Kotzebue’s The Ruins of Athens for the opening of Vienna's new Theater in der Josefstadt nearly two years earlier. Because the text that was used differed from the original, Beethoven wrote new music including the overture which we now know as The Consecration of the House Overture.

The Ninth symphony needs no introduction; its celebratory tone makes it a favourite at special concert events. The symphony is remarkable for several reasons; it is longer and more complex than any symphony to date and requires a larger orchestra. Beethoven’s inclusion of a chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement was a first as (presumably) nobody had done that in a symphony.

Beethoven composed more music after the Ninth, devoting his energies largely to composing his late string quartets, but no more symphonies. There are, however, symphony fragments in Beethiven’s many sketchbooks, all clearly intended for the same symphony, which would have followed the Ninth, since they appear together in several small groups, and there is consensus that Beethoven did intend to compose another symphony.

British musicologist Barry Cooper assembled the sketches into a coherent concert score first performed in 1988 by the Royal Philharmonic Society, London, to whom Beethoven himself had offered the new symphony in 1827.

As filler for today’s post, here is the combination of a lecture on the score by Dr. Cooper and a performance by the London Symphony under Wyn Morris.



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


Friday, April 30, 2021

For Your Listening Pleasure - May to August 2021

   


Below is our programming calendar for May, June, July and August. A few points of note 

  • Items that were part of Project 366 are identified, to help identify items that have not been "recycled" yet
  • Items with yellow marks are part of a thematic arc




Kirill Kondrashin (1914-1981)

No. 356 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. 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.


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This week’s new podcast features the Moscow Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor from 1960 to 1975, Kiril Kondrashiin.

Kondrashin was formed as a conductor at an early age, making his conducting debut at the Moscow Children’s Theatre in 1931, later working as assistant conductor at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre in 1934. For almost 25 years, including a stint at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as a member of the conducting staff in wartime until 1956, Kondrashin was mainly an opera and ballet conductor, though he did dabble in orchestral repertoire. Notably, his performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 attracted the composer's attention and led to the formation of a firm friendship.

After leaving the Bolshoi, Kirill Kondrashin concentrated on orchestral conducting, becoming highly thought of as a concerto accompanist and working with the country’s leading instrumentalists, such as Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh, Sviatoslav Richter and Rostropovich. In the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, Kondrashin was the conductor for Van Cliburn, who won the first prize. After the competition he toured the USA with Cliburn, being the first Russian conductor to visit America since the Cold War began. The performances and recordings with Van Cliburn helped to establish an international reputation for Kondrashin. He held numerous subsequent engagements in the America, the last being a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in February 1981.

The two works on the program today are Tchaikovsky’s Third orchestral suite – a work that requires little introduction, as it has been featured in past shares- and Shostakovich’s Sixth symphony.

Shostakovich had announced once in September 1938 that he was anxious to work on his Sixth Symphony, which would be a monumental composition for soloists, chorus and orchestra employing the poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin by Vladimir Mayakovsky, but the declamatory nature of the poem made it difficult to set. He later tried to incorporate other literature about Lenin in his new symphony, but without success. Finally, he settled on a purely instrumental symphony, completing it in September 1939.

On 21 November 1939, exactly two years after the premiere of the Symphony No. 5, the premiere of the Symphony No. 6 took place in the Large Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. The symphony had a successful premiere, however the work was later criticised for its ungainly structure and the jarring juxtaposition of moods. The fact that the symphony was performed during a 10-day festival of Soviet music which included patriotic works (by Prokofiev and Shaporin ) probably did not help. The third movement galop is the movement Shostakovich himself thought was most successful (at the premiere, the finale was encored).

I think you will love this music too.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Glenn Gould Plays Beethoven – Piano Sonatas 5-10

 


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


Today’s Cover2Cover post launches a three-part series of shares of Beethoven piano sonatas. I avoided programming Beethoven so far in 2021, simply because we had so much of it last year for the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. However, one area we did not dedicate much Tuesday Blog posts on last year was the vast corpus (32 in all) of his piano sonatas, spanning the whole arc of his career as a composer. Over this short set, we will consider almost half of those – 15 in fact – which reminds us that not all Beethoven sonatas are created equal, and that even the “short ones” pack a good punch!

Two of the posts planned in this short series feature Glenn Gould as the performing artist. The choice is no coincidence – we are entering our tenth year of Tuesday Blogs and Gould is a frequent guest around here… If you scan the Gould discography, you’ll find that after Bach, Beethoven is probably the composer Gould recorded the most, be it in his many years at Columbia/CBS or in some of the CBC archival broadcast recordings re-issued on their “Perspectives” series.
Gould recorded all the concerti, bagatelles, variations and of course most (not all) of the piano sonatas. In fact, Gould did something almost sacrilegious, issuing the triptych of the last three piano sonatas as his second release for Columbia in 1956! This was an interesting choice for a rather young pianist, when these mature Beethoven sonatas are usually left for mature artists to perform.

The two discs featured today – six sonatas in total – cover two complete sets (op. 10 and 14), plus the more familiar Pathétique sonata. Gould is in fine form (humming along, as usual), and his performance of the op. 10 set feels especially inspired. Beethoven composed these sonatas early on in his career and for himself as a touring pianist. Gould shows incredible dexterity and deftness – he plays the fast parts really fast, the slow parts lyrically (noteworthy for Gould who’s never sentimental…). His Pathétique is performed in “puritan” mode, where he scrupulously sticks to Beethoven’s indications with little to no ornamentation. The music speaks for itself, and it does so eloquently.

Happy Listening!



Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata No.5 in C Minor, Op.10, No.1
Piano Sonata No.6 in F Major, Op.10, No.2
Piano Sonata No.7 in D Major, Op.10, No.3

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Ul__6_IasGQ7Co



Piano Sonata No.8 in C Minor, Op.13 ('Pathétique')
Piano Sonata No.9 in E Major, Op.14, No.1
Piano Sonata No.10 in G Major, Op.14, No.2

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...LBmc_selkUIS5s

Friday, April 23, 2021

Invitation to the Dance

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from June 10, 2011. It can be found in our archives at 
http://archive.org/details/InvitationToTheDance


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For the past eight months, we’ve been going through all of our montages and I’m glad to revisit this quite early post from June 2011. Though I haven’t been reporting on this before, as I go through these montages I do from time to time recompile them – today’s montage had many “home digitized” tracks that I have later found properly digitized elsewhere and the resulting “revised” montage is of far better quality!

I remember that my younger daughter (fourteen at the time) was getting ready for her annual dance recital when I assembled this montage of dance favourites.

In classical music, we find dances in several forms – as pieces that exemplify specific dance styles (waltzes are a good example of that), as dance suites (such as, say, the Bach partitas), as national or folk dances and – of course – as dance numbers within larger stage works.

The selected works cover the entire spectrum, including a few “ballet selections” among which is the Sailor’s Dance from Reinholt Gliere’s 1920’s era ballet “The Red Poppy”. As our bonus piecem this week, here’s a suite of selections from the ballet performed by the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra conducted by Yuri Fayer.


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

Friday, April 16, 2021

Otto Klemperer & Haydn

No. 355 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Friday Blog and Podcast. 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.


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This week’s new podcast takes us back to a familiar place: Haydn’s London Symphonies. In the past, we assembled a triptych of three “even” London symphonies (nos. 94, 96 and 98) under one conductor and orchestra and today’s triptych completes the “even set” with symphoniesm100, 102 and 104.

We have also trusted one conductor, Otto Klemperer, with these three works but his forces are the “original” and “new” Philharmonia orchestras. Let me share the insights of James Weinman commenting on these performances for Maclean’s a dozen years ago:

Klemperer made [four Haydn symphony LPs] at various times in his career; two of those LPs are among the best things this prolific conductor ever recorded. […] These are the recordings he made in 1964-65, one LP of symphonies # 88 and 104 (Haydn’s last symphony) and another LP of symphonies # 100 and 102 […].

The British critics hated these discs, calling the performances charmless and heavy. […] Klemperer’s performances were among the few of the era that really took the music seriously, and really grasped how much Beethoven borrowed from Haydn: the sudden pauses, the weird shifts in tone within a movement, the complex development of seemingly simple melodies. Most conductors of the time tended to let the strings dominate in this kind of movement, but Klemperer keeps the woodwinds well forward […] and when Haydn writes a brass fanfare in the first movement of 104, you can hear it.

[…] While Klemperer has a reputation as a slow conductor, his tempos are not slow in these symphonies; not as fast as they would be today, and like many conductors he doesn’t seem to think Haydn means it when he marks his minuets (which aren’t really minuets at all) “allegro,” but these are not slow at all.

I think you will love this music too


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

PTB Classic: Robert Schumann


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


Today’s Tuesday Blog is the second of a three-part series where we consider the four symphonies of Robert Schumann. In this “PTB Classic” playlist, Sergiu Celibidache leads the Munich Philharmonic in a pair of live concert recordings featuring the second symphony and the piano concerto in A Minor.

In the year 1845, Schumann embarked into intensive study of counterpoint with his wife, Clara. He began to compose away from the piano, as he noted in his writing: “Not until the year 1845, when I began to conceive and work out everything in my head, did an entirely different manner of composition begin to develop”.

Schumann began to sketch his second symphony on December 12, 1845, and had a robust draft of the entire work by December 28 and spent most of the next year orchestrating it. The uplifting tone of the symphony is remarkable considering Schumann's health problems during the time of its composition — depression and poor health, including ringing in his ears.

Though begun a few years earlier, the composition of Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor drags into 1845 as well. The complete work was premiered in Dresden on December 4 of 1845. It is one of the most widely performed and recorded piano concertos from the Romantic period.

Today’s featured soloist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli is considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century and was perhaps the most reclusive, enigmatic and obsessive among the handful of the world's legendary pianists. Our conductor today, Sergiu Celibidache, considered Michelangeli the "greatest living artist" and saw in him a colleague, stating that “Michelangeli makes colors; he is a conductor."

Celibidache's career in music spanned over five decades, including tenures as principal conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Sicilian Symphony Orchestra and several other European orchestras. Celibidache frequently refused to release his performances on commercial recordings during his lifetime, claiming that a listener could not have a "transcendental experience" outside the concert hall. Many of the recordings of his performances were released posthumously. He has nonetheless earned international acclaim for his interpretations of the classical repertoire and was known for a spirited performance style informed by his study and experiences in Zen Buddhism.

Enjoy!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, piano
Live recording: 26 September 1992

Symphony No.2, in C Major, Op.61
Live recording, 29 November 1994

Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
Sergiu Celibidache, conducting

YouTube https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...3O_CyDJgXx9bM0

Friday, April 9, 2021

Digital Vinyl

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from April 29, 2011. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/DigitalVinyl


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Because we were busy last week with some Lenten/Easter programming, I didn’t bring up that on April 1st we marked our tenth anniversary of blogs and montages on ITYWLTMT, and that in a couple of months the same will be true of our other blogging and musical sharing platforms.

This coming weekend, we will be programing our “Musical Alphabet” montages which were our first and second installments. Today’s montage, the fourth in our ongoing series which counts today well 354, was made up entirely of selections from my vinyl collection, some were even digitized using homemade techniques – which were discussed on another contemporaneous post which discussed this in more specific terms. Since those days, I have since found digital copies of most (if not all) of the tracks on today’s montage, though for nostalgia sake, I have not re-edited the montage to replace some of my original handy work!

In the original post, I make specific reference to the album Saga by pianist and “pseudo-classical” composer André Gagnon (the quote is attributable to the performer, actually). I managed to fimnd the entire album (save for one track) as a playlist on the artists’s YouTube Topic page. I luckily found the missing track and created a more complete playlist that I share today as our bonus filler.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6swnss9F7SHB-WoR6y8w817uznoAM7gA

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


Friday, April 2, 2021

The Cross

 

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 29, 2013. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/Pcast098


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On this our tenth anniversary year, I think it should be pointed out that we’ve had a good number of posts dedicated to the Lenten Season and to the three-day period starting on Good Friday and ending with Easter Sunday Many of these posts were programmed over the past few days and weeks. Today’s post dedicated to the Way of the Cross was first shared eight years ago, and has remained in the Podcast Vault ever since.

The Stations or the Way of the Cross refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem which is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic.

Of note, in the classical repertoire, Franz Liszt wrote a Via Crucis for choir, soloists and keyboard (piano,  organ or harmonium) in 1879. In 1931, French organist Marcel Dupré improvised and transcribed musical meditations based on fourteen poems by Paul Claudel, one for each station. The latter is offered as a complete performance today.

Between stations 11 and 12 on the montage, I inserted a few of Haydn’s quartets inspired by the seven last words of Christ on the Cross. This set was the subject of a separate Tuesday Blog from 2018 featuring a complete version performed on period instruments. The version in the montage today is by the Emerson String Quartet, and we were fortunate to find the complete work on YouTube. It is presented here as filler.


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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Manfred


No. 354 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday Blog and  can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast354



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We may have skipped the last quarter of 2020, but we are back with a new quarterly Tuesday installment of our ongoing series of podcasts – number 354 and closing in on our 365th later this year.

The common thread between the two works featured today is Lord Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred. The title character is a Faustian noble living in the Bernese Alps. Internally tortured by some mysterious guilt, which has to do with the death of his most beloved, Astarte, he uses his mastery of language and spell-casting to summon seven spirits, from whom he seeks forgetfulness. The spirits, who rule the various components of the corporeal world, are unable to control past events and thus cannot grant Manfred's plea. For some time, fate prevents him from escaping his guilt through suicide.

At the end, Manfred dies, defying religious temptations of redemption from sin. Throughout the poem he succeeds in challenging all of the authoritative powers he faces, and chooses death over submitting to the powerful spirits. Manfred directs his final words to the Abbot, remarking, "Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die". "The unconquerable individual to the end, Manfred gives his soul to neither heaven nor hell, only to death."

Manfred was not originally intended for stage performance; it was written to be a dramatic poem or, as Byron called it, a "metaphysical" drama. Schumann’s rendering of Manfred is a work of incidental music consisting of an overture, an entracte, melodramas, and several solos and choruses. Music historian Peter Ostwald wrote that the Overture was written during a time when Schumann was facing "exquisite suffering" from "inner voices," or auditory hallucinations. The performance retained was filler to the Schumann symphony cycle I shared earlier this mnth by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic.

The idea for a symphony based on Manfred originated from Vladimir Stasov, who suggested the idea to Mily Balakirev and Hector Berlioz in 1867, although both composers declined to write the music. However, in 1882 Mily Balakirev returned to the idea and suggested the subject to Tchaikovsky. The work chronologically sits between his fourth and fifth symphonies. The version retained is an old vinyl performance by Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony.

I think you will live this music too.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Symphonic Organ – Orchestra Edition

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 31, 2020. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/pcast335


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Today’s Friday share is the second of three in a row featuring works for organ and orchestra, following yesterday’s trio of twentieth century works, today’s selections are also fairly modern, with Widor;s symphony no. 3 for organ and orchestra acting as the lone 19th century work on the docket.

The montage and commentary are barely a year old, so I will defer to that post for details on the three works featured today and instead spend a paragraph on the filler – a Handel organ concerto from a broadcast performance featuring Karl Richter as both soloist and conductor.

As I once discussed, Handel more or less invented the organ concerto as program filler for his many operas and oratorios. As such, it is not uncommon for the works to provide opportunities for organ “ad libium”. Richter viewed Baroque music as fundamentally impromptu, and believed that no work from that era should be performed the same way twice. His performances were known for their soul-searching, intense, and festive manner. While his interpretations may have been overshadowed by the historically informed performance practice movement, there is still much to be said about them. He recorded most of the Handel concertos for Decca with his own Chamber Orchestra in the late 1950’s; the videos available on YouTube date from the early 1970s. The work I kept for today is a complete performance of the Organ Concerto-Op.7, No.1.

 

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

 


Friday, March 19, 2021

Birds

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 16, 2012. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/Birds_63


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This week’s throwback montage dates back to our first Spring on the blog and is a set of works inspired by birds: larks, magpies, swallows, swans, nightingales, hens, seagulls and a piano suite dedicated to song birds by composer and amateur ornithologist, Olivier Messiaen.

As I often point out when we revisit old montages, I’m always pleasantly surprised how the original post does a good job setting up the montage, and I’ll simply refer you to the above link to read it. The post also included a filler – a complete performance of the entire Respighi suite Gli Ucelli in a vintage performance by the Chicago Symphony.

If you dare venture into the original “bilingual” section (in French), I inserted a concert performance of this week’s bonus track, Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques, a work from the mid-1950’s originally commissioned by Pierre Boulez and meant to feature Messiaen’s wife, Yvonne Loriod, as soloist.

The birds that inspired Messiaen in this piece are: the gracula of India, the golden-fronted verdin, the Baltimore Trouble, the greater prairie chicken, the prairie northern mockingbird, the cat bird, the Indian shama, the white-crested laughingthrush, the migratory blackbird, entrusted to the two clarinets, the swainson, the thrush hermit, the red-whiskered bulbul and the wood thrush.

The YouTube clip features Philippe Entremont as soloist, and the Cleveland Orchestra under Boulez’s direction.




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

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

PTB Classic: Victor Herbert (1859 – 1924)


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


This week's musing, another installment in our "Classic" series leveraging mash-up playlists as we did in the early days of the Tuesday Blog, was intended as an early St-Patrick's day present, featuring a composer of Irish descendance.

As it turns out, I was wrong - and so was the composer for the longest time, apparently.

According to my research, Victor Herbert's mother told him that he had been born in Dublin, and he believed this all his life, listing Ireland as his birthplace on his 1902 American naturalization petition and on his 1914 American passport application. It turns out that his mother's romantic life was, well, very complicated and that was born on the English channel island of Guernsey and baptized Freiburg, Baden, Germany. From 1853, Fanny was separated from her first husband, Frederic Muspratt, who divorced her in 1861 when he found out that she had conceived Herbert by another man.

Whether Herbert was Irish, English, French or German he certainly was a man of the world. Herbert and his mother lived with his maternal grandfather, the Irish novelist, playwright, poet and composer, Samuel Lover, from 1862 to 1866 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. Herbert joined his mother in Stuttgart, Germany in 1867, a year after she had married a German physician, Carl Theodor Schmid of Langenargen. In Stuttgart he received a strong liberal education at the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium, which included musical training. He studied the piano, flute and piccolo but ultimately settled on the cello. He then attended the Stuttgart Conservatory, studying cello, music theory and composition under Max Seifritz, Herbert graduated with a diploma in 1879.

Upon graduation, he worked steadily, joining the court orchestra in Stuttgart and in 1885 Herbert became romantically involved with Therese Förster (1861–1927), a soprano who had recently joined the court opera. After a year of courtship, the couple married on August 14, 1886. On October 24, 1886, they moved to the United States, as they both had been hired by Walter Damrosch and Anton Seidl to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Herbert was engaged as the opera orchestra's principal cellist, and Förster was engaged to sing principal roles with the Met.

Herbert had a long and successful career in the US as a cellist, composer for the stage and concert hall, and conductor, notably with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The works featured to day span his orchestral and chamber repertoire, with a prominent place to the cello, his instrument of predilection.

Happy Listening!

Victor August HERBERT (1859 – 1924)

Serenade for string orchestra, Op.12
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

Arrangement from Sam Dennison and Orchestrations by Lynn Harrell:
  • Yesterthoughts, Op.37
  • Puchinello, Op.38
  • La Ghazel: Improvisation (1900)
  • The Mountainbrook: Imitative (1900)


Lynn Harrell, cello
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Sir Neville Marriner, conducting

Three pieces (1900–1906)
Légende (1893)
The Little Red Lark (an arrangement of an old Irish melody)
Jerry Grossman, cello
William Hicks, piano

Three pieces for string orchestra (1912–1922)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

YouTube https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...3OsAps05bCOtNx

Friday, March 12, 2021

Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009)

No. 353 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast353



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I have two new montages planned for March – today’s and a “fifth Tuesday” montage in tandem with the Tuesday Blog. The late great Spanish pianist Alicia De Larrocha is our featured artist this week. She is a favourite of mine and as such has been featured in many of our past montages and Tuesday playlists.

Mrs DeLarrocha has a vast repertoire and varied discography as she was the leading Spanish pianist of her time, and widely considered the pre-eminent interpreter of two Spanish composers of the early 20th century: Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados; she had a natural advantage in native repertoire, since both her mother and her aunt had been pupils of Granados. Today;s podcast includes a complete performance of Albéniz’s Suite Española, movements of which are more often heard played on the guitar. Another Spanish composer De Larracha recorded extensively is Manuel de Falla, with his four Spanish pieces making the montage this week.

Falla, like so e other Spanish musicians spent time in Paris so to close the montage, I retained a short work for piano and orchestra from an all-French disc. Fauré’s Fantaisie was dedicated to Alfred Cortot, who had asked Fauré as far back as 1902 to write a concertante work for him. The first performance in Paris was given by Cortot on 14 May 1919 at a concert of the Société Nationale de Musique.

I think you will love this music too


Friday, March 5, 2021

Mendelssohn & Mahler Symphonies no. 4

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 16, 2014. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/pcast156


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All of this week on our podcasting channel, we surveyed Mendelssohn’s mature symphonies and today’s montage features his “Italian” Symphony (his #4), in a pairing with another fourth symphony from a composer/conductor, Gustav Mahler.

As the original post does a good job at introducing both, I thought I would spend some time discussing my “search” for another fourth symphony as my usual filler. I wanted to find anither symphony by a composer whose last name starts with “M”, avoiding Mozart’s fourth which (as many of his very early symphonies) is both short and of doubtful origin…

If you survey “fourth symphonies” you’ll hit all the usual suspects – Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven, Vaughan-Williams and even symphonies by less travelled composers like Lutosławski and the work I retained by American composer David Maslanka.

In the last two decades of the Twentieth Century, the wind band music of David Maslanka has become well known and widely performed. The roots of his Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. The hymn tune Old Hundred, several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales Only Trust in God to Guide You and Christ Who Makes Us Holy), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

The performance I retained is by the Eastman Wind Ensemble


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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Schumann - Berlin Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik – Symphonies No.1 & 4

 


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


I plan three posts for this five-Tuesday month, the first of which launches a three-part monthly set that will share all four of Robert Schumann's symphonies, beginning with the "Spring" symphony, as an early harbinger of the spring equinox a mere three weeks away.

By age 30, Robert Schumann was already a successful composer of chamber music, including piano music and lieder. But in order to be able to make a living from composing he needed to achieve success in what was then regarded as the epitome of the composer's art: the symphony. As a pianist, Schumann had little experience in this area, nor had he received the appropriate training.

He composed his first symphony in January 1841 in Leipzig, sketching it out in just four days. The Symphony No. 4 was first completed in 1841 as well. Schumann heavily revised the symphony in 1851, and it was this version that reached publication.

Clara Schumann, Robert's widow, later claimed that the symphony had merely been sketched in 1841 but was only fully orchestrated ("vollständig instrumentiert") in 1851. However, this was untrue, and Johannes Brahms, who greatly preferred the earlier version of the symphony, published that version in 1891 despite Clara's strenuous objections.

Today's album is part of an early-1960's complete cycle of the Schumann symphonies by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic. The YouTube playlist below has the complete set, though the album referenced below as the coupling of the first and fourth that I have in my vinyl collection.

Happy listening!


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No.1 In B Flat Major, Op. 38 "Spring Symphony"
Symphony No. 4 In D Minor, Op.120
Berliner Philharmoniker
Rafael Kubelik, conducting

Deutsche Grammophon Resonance 2535 116
Format – Vinyl LP
Year – 1974 (original issue 1963)

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Schum...elease/4351230


Friday, February 26, 2021

Two of a Kind

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from February 24, 2012. It can be found in our archives at 
http://archive.org/details/TwoOfAKind


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Today’s selection from the Podcast Vault takes us back to February 2012 – and our #3 Obsession – with “pairs” of works. Many of the examples are indeed limited to two, but as I pointed out in the original commentary, some of the pairs are extracted from later corpuses – such as  the first two marches for orchestra by Canadian composer Murray Adaskin - the complete set has three marches… Then, there are two of Lauro’s eight “Valses Venezolanos” for solo guitar.

As filler this week, here are all eight performed by Carlos Alberto Castro



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


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)


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


For our tenth anniversary year, I couldn't resist programming a Once Upon the Internet montage, featuring tracks I downloaded years ago from the now defunct Japanese site Public Domain Classic.

The site (as well as the still active Italian site LiberMusica) contained lots of old mono recordings from the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini, inclosing his complete 1949-52 Beethoven cycle - from which I chose the second symphony - and some other fine gems, including this Cherubini requiem captured from a live broadcast around the same time.

(The latter serves to fulfill our usual Lenten programming).

Happy listening!

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op.36
Recorded November 7, 1949, and October 5, 1951, in Carnegie Hall

Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Requiem Mass No.1 in C Minor (1816)
From NBC Broadcast of February 18, 1950
(with the Robert Shaw Chorale)

NBC Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Toscanini, conducting

Internet Archive - https://archive.org/details/2-01-bee...o.-2-toscanini:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Viktoria Postnikova & Tchaikovsky

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from February 22, 2019. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/pcast304


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This week’s visit to the Podcast Valut takes us back nearly two years, with a montage of Tchaikovsky’s music for piano solo, featuring his two piano sonatas from 1865 and 1878.

Our performer, Viktoria Postnikova, was a prizewinner at the 1965 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, and she captured second prize at the 1966 Leeds Competition. In 1969 she married famed conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and the following year won third prize at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

Postnikova has recorded the complete piano music of Tchaikovsky, Janáček, and Glinka for Erato records. She brings to every single piece a virtually ideal blend of affection, respect and intelligence, not to speak of virtuoso command. Not only does this give the textures the best possible chance to 'come off the page', she also has the instinct for inflexions which get us to the heart of Tchaikovsky's individual moods.

As our bonus track, from the same Erato collection by Viktoria Postnikova is The Potpourri on themes from Tchaikovsky's first opera The Voyevoda (TH 128), arranged by the composer himself in 1868, but published under a pseudonym.



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

Friday, February 12, 2021

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

No. 352 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast352



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February’s lone mintage is dedicated to Gioachino Rossini, who has the distinction of being born on Leap Day (February 29th) of 1792.

Born in Pesaro to parents who were both musicians (his father a trumpeter, his mother a singer), Rossini began to compose by the age of 12 and was educated at music school in Bologna. His first opera was performed in Venice in 1810 when he was 18 years old. In 1815 he was engaged to write operas and manage theatres in Naples. In the period 1810–1823 he wrote 34 operas for the Italian stage that were performed in Venice, Milan, Ferrara, Naples and elsewhere. Our montage features half a dozen opera overtures, spanning most of that period.

Rossini's withdrawal from opera for the last 40 years of his life has never been fully explained; contributory factors may have been ill-health, the wealth his success had brought him, and the rise of spectacular grand opera under composers such as Giacomo Meyerbeer. From the early 1830s to 1855, when he left Paris and was based in Bologna, Rossini wrote relatively little – mostly piano pieces for his own amusement. On his return to Paris in 1855 he became renowned for his musical salons on Saturdays, regularly attended by musicians and the artistic and fashionable circles of Paris, for which he wrote the entertaining pieces Péchés de vieillesse. Guests included Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Giuseppe Verdi, Meyerbeer and Joseph Joachim. He died in Paris in 1868

The latter half of the montage is occupied by ballet music written by Ottorino Respighi, principally based on some of the music Rossini wrote later in his life.

In Rome for a ballet season, Respighi brought the score of Rossini's Péchés de vieillesse to the Ballets Russes’ poobah, Serge Diaghilev. Diaghilev tasked his main choreographer, Leonide Massine, with the task of imagining a ballet to showcase this music along with disparate piano miniatures. The music could have no better advocate than Respighi, whose orchestral flair and Italianate bravura perfectly matched Rossini's lively tunes. One of the Ballets Russes’ most successful productions, La Boutique Fantasque was performed over 300 times between 1919 and 1929. 

I think you will love this music too!


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Unknown Richard Strauss, Piano Concertos For the Left Hand

 


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


In August of 2019, I wrote a post on my Blogspot Music Blog about music written specifically for the Left Hand. At that time I wrote the following:

[...] Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein [had] his right arm amputated during the First World War. He devised novel techniques, including pedal and hand-movement combinations that allowed him to play chords previously regarded as impossible for a five-fingered pianist.

A musician who enjoyed the company of several luminaries of the day during his youth (Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, Josef Labor, and Richard Strauss - with whom the young Paul played duets - among them), a determined Wittgenstein approached famous composers, asking them to write material for him to perform. Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith, Alexandre Tansman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Sergei Prokofiev, Karl Weigl, Franz Schmidt, Sergei Bortkiewicz, and Richard Strauss all produced pieces for him. Maurice Ravel wrote his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, which became more famous than any of the other compositions that Wittgenstein inspired.
Today's share showcases Richard Strauss’ fascinating, somewhat atypical concertante works for piano left hand composed for Wittgenstein . At times the slow-motion harmonic scansion and rhapsodic piano writing throughout the Paregon to the Symphonia Domestica evoke Scriabin’s misty muse. By contrast the Panathenäenzug, subtitled Symphonic Etudes in the form of a passacaglia, uses a time-honored baroque form to generate opulently scored, post-Wagnerian froth.

Happy Listening!


Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Parergon zur Sinfonia Domestica, for piano, left hand & orchestra, Op. 73 (TrV 209a)

Panathenäenzug (Symphonic Etudes in the form of a Passacaglia), for piano, left hand & orchestra, Op. 74 (TrV 254)

Anna Gourari, piano
Bamberger Symphoniker
Karl Anton Rickenbacher, conducting

Koch International 3-6571-2

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

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Second or Two

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from February 1, 2013. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/Pcast090 


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For a third week un a row, our daily podcasts exploited past thematic arcs to inform our posts, and this week we relied on two similar arcs – “Terrible Twos” (from 2012) and “My Number Two Obsession” from 2013. Today’s Podcast Vault selection comes from the 2013 set featuring “second works”, or "number twos" from Bach to Buczynski. The original post discusses the individual works in good detail, so I have nothing much to add.

Featured are a couple of "second rhapsodies". Both Debussy and Gershwin had their "first rhapsodies" featured in past montages. To keep the theme going, as filler, I thought I would share Béla Bartók’s second rhapsody for violin and piano. Rhapsody No. 2 was subsequently arranged with orchestra accompaniment - composed in 1928 and orchestrated in 1929. The orchestral version was revised in 1935, and the version with piano in 1945. It is dedicated to Hungarian violinist Zoltán Székely, who later became the first violinist of the Hungarian String Quartet in 1937, two years after the founding of the ensemble.

The performance here is if the version for violin and orchestra – Isaac Stern is soloist, Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic.



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

Friday, January 29, 2021

Frédéric

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from February 14, 2014. It can be found in our archives at 
https://archive.org/details/pcast143


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For the last three days, we shared past podcasts featuring works for piano and orchestra by Chopin. Today’s podcast vault selection is an all-Chopin montage, whose title comes from the classic song by Claude Léveillée – which closes the montage. The bulk of the montage contents were extracted from two albums.

Thomas May asked in a review “How can it be that a recording by one of today's indisputably unequaled pianists performing some of her prime repertory--made fresh within months of her triumph in the 1965 Warsaw International Chopin Competition--could languish for decades in the vaults before its official release?” Known as ”The Legendary 1965 Recording”, this rare performance sat in limbo for years for contractual reasons. To everyone’s delight it was finally released on CD in 1999, and to this day is still hot to the touch.

This is a unique piece of musical history. Much of the session done in one take including the demanding final movement of the the B- Sonata. Masterful performances full of raw energy from beginning to end define this CD and help dispell the myth that Chopin’s piano music is wistful and serves only as frilly background music.

The remaining Chopin tracks are from Vladimir Horowitz’s “Last Recording”, for Sony Classical, completed four days before his death and consisting of repertoire he had never previously recorded – including some of these Chopin gems. Horowitz had an autumnal last period in which he was constantly looking at new literature and playing it in a relaxed, charming manner. Gone were the neuroticism and outsize dynamics that could surge into his playing. In this kind of performance he gives the feeling that now he is no longer out to prove anything, that he is merely having a good time playing the piano.

As bonus tracks, here’s a YouTube playlist featuring the entire album.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6PHeC5f0TTctagwkme3VIv7TULYKVo6J

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