Friday, July 30, 2021

Musical Comedies

No. 363 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 montage is dedicated to musical comedies – in this context, comedy should be taken in the Latin or Greek sense of a play, not necessarily as something humorous. I think I much prefer the appellation musical theatre.

Musical theatre is the combination of music (singing), acting and dancing and performers in this genre are commonly referred to as ‘triple threats’. It is also one of the easiest forms of theatre to introduce people to as an audience member, as there as so many possible points of engagement.

Looking at it from the music angle, musical theatre can be thought of in the vein of operetta – as light affairs – Gilbert and Sullivan rather than Wagner. One could argue, however, that some musicals have all the panache and structure e of opera – think of Show Boat or West Side Story, with complicated subjects and sometimes using the trappings of opera –duets transforming into trios and quartets…

The tracks that form this week’s montage are instrumental – some overtures, memorable numbers and medleys from musicals of the Broadway (and London) stage and yje Silver Screen. The possible exception here are the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story which sews together dance numbers from the musical into a coherent concert piece – which is something he did for some of the other musicals and film scores he collaborated on.

I think you will love this music too.

 

 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Brasil

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from August 9, 2019. It can be found in our archives at  https://archive.org/details/pcast319



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This week’s retro podcast is fairly recent (dating almost two years) and provides a musical travelog stop in Brazil.

The music of Brazil encompasses various regional musical styles influenced by African, American, European and Amerindian forms. Brazilian music developed some unique and original styles such as forró, repente, coco de roda, axé, sertanejo, samba, bossa nova and Brazilian versions of foreign musical styles, such as rock, soul, hip-hop, disco music, country music, ambient, industrial and psychedelic music, rap, classical music, fado, and gospel.

Samba has become the best form of Brazilian music worldwide, especially because of the country's carnival, although bossa nova, which had Antônio Carlos Jobim as one of its most acclaimed composers and performers, have received much attention abroad since the 1950s, when the song "Desafinado", interpreted by João Gilberto, was first released.

Instrumental music is also largely practiced in Brazil, with styles ranging from classical to popular and jazz influenced forms. Notable classical composers include Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Gomes and Cláudio Santoro.

As is usually the case in our travelog series, we have works today from Brazilian composers (the aforementioned Jobim and Villa-Lobos) as well as Brazil-inspired compositions by Respighi, Milhaud and Constant Lambert.

As filler, I found the complete 1964 Jazz collaboration between Stan Getz and João Gilberto. Getz/Gilberto is considered the record that popularized bossa nova worldwide and was one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, selling more than 2 million copies in 1964. It was included in Rolling Stone's and Vibe's lists of best albums of all time.


I think you will (still) love this music too

Friday, July 16, 2021

Antal Doráti (1906 –1988)

No. 362 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 montage pays tribute to a mainstay classical recording artist for several decades of the Twentieth Century, Hungarian-born conductor Antal Doráti.

Doráti made his conducting debut in 1924 with the Budapest Royal Opera. The closing work, Copland’s orchestral suite from Appalachian Spring, serves as a reminder that he has had a fine career as an opera and ballet conductor – most notably with the Ballets Russes (1937-41) and American Ballet Theatre (1941-45).

However, most of us know him for his many recordings - over the course of his career Doráti made over 600. With the Philharmonia Hungarica, Doráti was the second conductor to record the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn – two of which are featured in this podcast. He also recorded an unprecedented cycle of Joseph Haydn's operas and Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances, Suites 1, 2 and 3.

The opening track of the podcast, Respighi’s suite The Birds, is part of a good number of recordings he made of this composer’s music for the Mercury and Decca labels with several orchestras, most notably the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic.

He lived to make digital recordings, for English Decca Records (released in the U.S. on the London label), with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for Philips. We have featured some of these recordings – most notably that of Liszt’s Faust Symphony – in other montages.

I think you will love this music too.


Friday, July 9, 2021

Rivers

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from August 3rd, 2012. It can be found in our archives at  https://archive.org/details/Rivers_483



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This past Friday, we began programming montages from our musical passport series as daily podcasts. Today’s foray into the Podcast Vault features another selection from that series, with our 2012 look at rivers.

The montage features works inspired by rivers from birth the Old and New World: rhe Rhine, the Danube, the Nile, the St-Lawrence and the Mississippi are some of the well-known rivers illustrated here. The composers vary from the Romantic all the way to the modern.

When I went looking for filler material, I started thinking of other great rivers that may have inspired other classical works and in doing so, I stumbled onto this page. Some of the works overlap  with ours, but there were some from Russian composers that are worth honourable mention, From that page, I retained Dawn on the Moscow River which opens Mussorgsky’s unfinished opera Khovanshchina. The recording feaures Shostakovich’s orchestration of the passage, performed by the USSR State Academic Symphony Orchestra under Evgeni Svetlanov in a vintage Meloidiya recording.


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


Friday, July 2, 2021

Pack your bags

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from July 6, 2012. It can be found in our archives at  https://archive.org/details/PackYourBags



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This week’s selection from the Podcast Vault launches our look back at a series of montages that form what I will call our travelog series dedicated to music about places and countries we have often programmed during the summer months over the years.

Today’s montage doesn’t talk about a place but rather about a state of mind: the need to get away; for pleasure, for necessity, or for whatever reason. The triptych Escales by Jacques Ibert is indictive of the works that are part of this week’s montage, as well as a few “popular” tracks featuring the Beatles and Joe Cocker.

As filler, I chose a Canadian piece by composer Denis Gougeon simply called “A l’aventure” which, loosely translated would mean “Adventure Awaits”. Oto s a modern piece, woth all the trappings that come along with contemporary music, and conducted by Walter Boudreau, a specialist in that kind of repertoire.





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


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Etudes-Tableaux


No. 361 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montagesis this week's Tuesday Blog can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast361



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This week’s “Fifth Tuesday” quarterly podcast is dedicated to Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux, a curious mix of pianistic prowess and impressionism “à la sauce Russe”. There are 17 of these studies, eight in a set dating 1911, and nine in a later set from 1916-17. This latter set is presented today in its entirety.

To make my “impressionist” case, look no further than the five studies that Ottorino Respighi orchestrated and that are part of this week’s montage. Each one gets an evocative subtitle: “Red Riding Hood and the Wolf”, “Funeral March”, and so on. Four of the five pieces are taken from the same op. 39 set featured today.

In a Gramophone review, Bryce Morrison puts is quite plainly: ”Ferocious and tormenting in its demands, Op 39 is designed for those whose outsize technical command is complemented by a born feel for turbulence and upheaval.” Morrison’s survey of recordings of the corpus identify today’s performer, Nikolai Lugansky, “[at] his most audacious, willing to step outside convention and declaim Rachmaninov’s glory to the heavens.”

As a fitting homage to the composer, the montage opens with the old man himself in a vintage recording of a pair of the op. 33 studies. To close out the montage Mr. Lugansky returns with selections from Rachmaninov’s Moments Musicaux, a veiled homage to Schubert (in name only, I would argue) sophisticated works of longer duration, thicker textures, and greater virtuosic demands on the performer than any of Rachmaninoff's previous solo piano works.

I think you will love this music too.


Friday, June 25, 2021

Jean Sibelius – Symphonies No. 1 & 2

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from July 31, 2020. It can be found in our archives at  https://archive.org/details/pcast342



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For a second Friday, our podcast features the music of Jean Sibelius and, again, under the baton of a pair of Finnish conductors.

Born in Heinola, Finland, Jukka-Pekka Saraste began his career as a violinist before training as a conductor with Jorma Panula at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. An artist of exceptional versatility and breadth and renowned for his objective approach, he feels a special affinity with the sound and style of late Romantic music. He maintains a particularly strong connection to the works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Sibelius and is internationally celebrated for his interpretations of Mahler. We remember Saraste fondly here in Canada as the Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1994 to 2001. The later years of his tenure were marked by strife over the orchestra's financial difficulties, several musicians' strikes, and his unsuccessful efforts to improve the acoustics at Roy Thomson Hall. Saraste stepped down from his Toronto post in 2001, and has since returned to Toronto for several guest appearances.

Okko Kamu was born iin Helsinki  to a family of musicians. His father played double bass in the Helsinki Philharmonic. He began violin studies at age two and entered the Sibelius Academy at age six. He formed his own string quartet, the Suhonen, in 1964 where he played first violin. At age 20, he was appointed first solo violinist at the Finnish National Opera, and held this post until 1968. He then began to conduct, initially with the Finnish National Opera orchestra. Primarily self-taught, he became principal guest conductor of the Royal Swedish Opera in 1969, the same year as he won the first Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin. From 1971 to 1977, Kamu was principal conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In April 2009, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Kamu as its next chief conductor, as of the autumn of 2011 where he remained through the end of July 2016, at which time he concluded his tenure in Lahti.

As our filler piece, I chose Kamu in a live performance of the Sibelius tone poem The Wood Nymph with the Lahti Symphony.




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


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

PTB Classic: Artur Schnabel plays Beethoven sonatas


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


For the third and final installment in our abbreviated look at Beethoven piano sonatas, let’s turn to a pianist who made the first-ever recording of the entire corpus, and evaluate how well these interpretations have stood the test of time.

Artur Schnabel (1882 –1951) was an Austrian-born classical pianist, composer and pedagogue. Among the 20th century's most respected and important pianists, Schnabel has few equals, especially in the Austro-German classics, particularly the works of Beethoven and Schubert.

Schnabel was the first pianist to record all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas The recordings were made in Abbey Road Studios in London on a C. Bechstein grand piano between 932 and 1935, seven years after electrical recording was invented.

Although Schnabel had refused to make recordings for years, he agreed to take on the project. The Beethoven Society began distributing Schnabel's recordings of the sonatas in March 1932, issuing a total of twelve volumes through 1937.

The recordings continue to amass universal recognition and have received numerous honors. In 1937, Gramophone wrote of the recordings: "To [his] technical mastery Schnabel adds and fuses an intensely intelligent, not merely 'intellectual' mind ... The result is a perfectly blended interpretation of the music as a spiritual expression and as a musical organism."
In 2014, William Robin of The New Yorker wrote that Schnabel "remains the eminent Beethoven interpreter on record" when discussing his recordings of the piano sonatas. The recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975 and into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2018.

Read more here.

To my ear, you need to compare Schnabel to, say Wilhelm Kempff or Wilhelm Backhaus, near-contemporaries of his and certainly recognized Beethoven interpreters in the classic German style. Schnabel never resorts to “flash” in his performances – the music gets to take center stage, guided by a solid hand, never pretentious.

I was pleased to find the entire set on YouTube (link below), though I retained a few sonatas for your consideration, and posted them in a dedicated archive page.

Happy listening!



Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonatas:

  • No.13 in E-Flat Major, Op.27, No.1 ('Quasi una fantasia')
  • No.22 in F Major, Op.54
  • No.24 in F-Sharp Major, Op.78 ('For Therese')
  • No.25 in G Major, Op.79 ('Cuckoo')
  • No.26 in E-Flat Major, Op.81a ('Les Adieux')
  • No.27 in E Minor, Op.90


Artur Schnabel, piano


Warner Classics – 0190295975050
Format: 8 x CD, Compilation, Remastered, Mono
Recorded 1932-35 in No. 3 Studio, Abbey Road, London.
Remastered 2015-16

Discogs - https://www.discogs.com/Beethoven-Artur-Schnabel-The-Complete-Piano-Sonatas/release/8896381



Friday, June 18, 2021

Paavo Berglund conducts Sibelius

No. 360 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT eries of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast360



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This week’s new montage is an all-Sibelius program, under the direction of Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund. Berglund's conducting career began in 1949, when he founded his own chamber orchestra. In 1953, Berglund co-founded the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra and two years later was appointed Associate Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra He served as its chief conductor of the from 1962-71. Berglund became music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in 1975 and held the post for four seasons. In the UK, Berglund led Sibelius Centenary Concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1965, and became their principal conductor in 1972, concluding his tenure in Bournemouth in 1979.

Berglund was tireless in studying, preparing and rehearsing. He almost always came to the orchestra with his own materials he had corrected and bowed by his own hand. He would then mark highly detailed instructions on the sheet music of each individual musician.

To open the montage, I chose The Oceanides, a single-movement tone poem for orchestra written in 1913–14. The piece, which refers to the nymphs in Greek mythology who inhabited the Mediterranean Sea, is sometimes viewed as an example of Impressionism. Others have countered that Sibelius's active development of the two subjects, his sparing use of scales favored by Impressionists, and his prioritization of action and structure over ephemeral, atmospheric background distinguish the piece from quintessential examples, such as Debussy's La mer.

The third symphony is a good-natured, triumphal, and deceptively simple-sounding piece, laid out in three movements. It is dedicated to the British composer Granville Bantock an early champion of his work in the UK.

The remainder if the program features short pieces for violin and orchestra. Everyone agrees that the Six Humoresques are miniature masterpieces, but they are still very seldom played, and just as seldom recorded. Along with the two equally fine serenades, they would make perfect encore pieces after Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.

The humoresques are performed here by Heimo Haitto (1925 – 1999). A child prodigy, he was characterized as “Finland’s Jascha Heifetz”. The performances retained here are from Finnish radio, compiled in a 2013 CD.

Ida Haendel (1928 –2020) was a Polish-British-Canadian violinist. A child prodigy, her career spanned over seven decades. After performing the Sibelius concerto in Helsinki in 1949, she received a letter from the composer. "You played it masterfully in every respect," Sibelius wrote, adding: "I congratulate myself that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard." The Sibelius Society awarded her the Sibelius Medal in 1982. She is heard today with Berglund performing the two serenades.

I think you will love this music too.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Rachmnaninov Festival (Part 3 of 4)

  

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from August 9, 2013. It can be found in our archives at  https://archive.org/details/Pcast117



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All week, our daily podcasts revisited our Rachmaninov Festival first shared during the summer of 2013. The Podcast Vault selection is the third in that four-part set, featuring the Third piano concerto and the Symphonic Dances. The two works, discussed at length in the original commentary, come at two very different times in Rachmaninov’s career – the concerto at the height of the Russian phase of his career, the other as a late (and rare) composition in the American phase.

The concerto has been featured in other shares – in addition to this “live concert” performance by Evegny Kissin, we can point to Van Cliburn in a 2017 montage discussing the concerto’s early performance as a summit meeting between Rachmaninov and Gustav Mahler, and a vinyl share last year from a Melodiya North-American issue featuring Andrei Gavrilov. The Symphonic Dances were also part of a Vinyl share in late 2017. Previn’s performance today is on point, though the vinyl performance led by Svetlanov has more “Russian bite”.

All of these performances are available in our Archive [https://archive.org/details/@itywltmt?query=rachmaninov]

As a bonus track, I chose one of Rachmaninov’s tone poems. The Rock (or The Crag) is an early composition from the summer of 1893, dedicated to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The inspiration has a few likely storylines; a couplet from a poem by Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov, and a story by Anton Chekhov titled "Along the Way", in which a young girl meets an older man during a stormy, overnight stop at a roadside inn on Christmas Eve.

The YouTube clip features the Berlin Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel

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


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Walton / Nigel Kennedy / André Previn / RPO ‎– Violin & Viola Concertos

 


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


What do Maxim Vengerov, Sir Yehudi Mnuhon and Nigel Kennedy have in common? They are all renowned violinists who traded their violin for a viola in a recording of William Walton's viola concerto. Today’s Cover2Cover share, my last in that series before mu annual summer hiatus, is a 1987 coupling of Walton’s viola and violin concerti featuring Kennedy as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic under Andre Previn.

The pair of concertante works are workhorses of 20th-century British repertoire, and both were revised years after their creation. The viola concerto was created by none other than Paul Hindemith; the violin concerto by Jacha Heifitz.

Nigel Kennedy is a colourful personality in the musical world; his early career was primarily spent performing classical music with highly acclaimed recordings, and he has since expanded into jazz, klezmer, and other music genres. One could say his eclectic repertoire has dominated his records and performances for about three decades. This Walton recording, made in the early phase of his career, allows us to appreciate his unique brand of music making.

As stated earlier, Menuhin recorded both these works with Walton conducting. Not surprisingly, Kennedy's jazz sympathies give his playing a natural bite in the sharply syncopated passages so typical of Walton, matching Previn's similarly jazz-founded understanding.

Happy Listening!


Sir William Turner WALTON (1902 –1983)
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, C22
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, C37

Nigel Kennedy, viola (C22) and violin (C37)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Andre Previn, conducting
Recorded in No.1 Studio, Abbey Road, London 27 June and 9 September 1987

EMI – CDC 7 49628 2
Format: CD, Album
Released: 1987
Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Walton-Nigel...elease/2684691

Friday, June 4, 2021

0 & 00

No. 359 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT eries of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast359



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This week’s new podcast continues our revisit of “Music by the Numbers” with a look at a pair of numbers that are kind of unusual in musical numerology.

The numbers

Roulette is a casino game named after the French word meaning “little wheel” which was likely developed from the Italian game Biribi. In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number, various groupings of numbers, the colors red or black, whether the number is odd or even, or if the numbers are high (19–36) or low (1–18).


The pockets of the roulette wheel are numbered from 0 to 36. In number ranges from 1 to 10 and 19 to 28, odd numbers are red and even are black. In ranges from 11 to 18 and 29 to 36, odd numbers are black and even are red. There is a green pocket numbered 0 (zero). In American roulette, there is a second green pocket marked 00.

In clothing, size zero or size 0 is a women's clothing size in the US catalog sizes system. Size 0 and 00 were invented due to the changing of clothing sizes over time (referred to as vanity sizing or size inflation), which has caused the adoption of lower numbers.

The Music

It is unusual to have works numbered “0” – let alone “00” – but this is the case with the pair of early Bruckner symphonies featured today.

The Symphony in D minor, WAB 100, was composed in 1869 between Symphony No. 1 (1866) and Symphony No. 2 (1872). In 1895, when Bruckner reviewed his symphonies in order to have them published, he declared that this symphony "does not count" ("gilt nicht"). He wrote on the front page "annullirt" ("nullified") and replaced the original "Nr. 2" with the symbol "". The symbol "" was later interpreted as the numeral zero and the symphony got the nickname Die Nullte ("No. 0").

Bruckner's Symphony in F minor, WAB 99, was written in 1863, at the end of his study period in form and orchestration. Bruckner's F-minor symphony was initially designated “Symphony No. 1”, and, in a letter to his friend Rudolf Weinwurm dated 29 January 1865, Bruckner described the C-minor symphony he was working on at the time as his Symphony No. 2. Later Bruckner decided to leave the F-minor symphony unnumbered, and he called the C-minor symphony of 1865–66 his Symphony No. 1.

Criticism of the work led Bruckner to label the symphony "Schularbeit" (schoolwork) or Study Symphony; scholars at first believed that the next symphony Bruckner wrote was the so-called Symphony "No. 0", so that this symphony is sometimes called “Symphony No. 00”.

I think you will love this music too.




Friday, May 28, 2021

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

No. 358 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT eries of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast358




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This week, our new podcast focused on works by French composer Darius Milhaud. He was a member of Les Six, a group of composers that steered French music in the first four decades of the Twentieth Century.

As a prolific composer I his own right, his compositions are influenced by jazz and Brazilian music and make extensive use of polytonality. Two of the works on today’s program exemplify these influences most directly: La création du monde (a ballet for small orchestra with solo saxophone, influenced by jazz), and Scaramouche (a suite for two pianos later adapted for orchestra, also for alto saxophone or clarinet).

The Little (Chamber) Symphony No. 2, was written for chamber orchestra, consisting of flute, English horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Milhaud composed this piece in 1918, fairly early in his composing career, while he was still employed as a secretary to the French ambassador to Brazil. Milhaud wrote this short symphony at sea, during a return voyage to France. Influences of Latin American rhythms and references to South America’s picturesque landscape are present throughout the piece.

Milhaud was living in Brazil when he completed Les Choéphores (The Libation Bearers) in 1916. This work forms the middle part of Milhaud's Orestian trilogy, written in collaboration with the poet Paul Claudel. Les Choéphores is set for vocal soloists, chorus, orchestra, and a battery of percussion instruments; it is divided into seven scenes: As is the case with Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, the work is neither wholly opera nor cantata, but combines elements of both forms.

Milhaud composed his Concerto pour batterie et petit orchestre in Paris in 1929-30 —it was written as an examination piece for a Belgian music school. It is set for a single percussionist, using a vast array of instruments and accompanied by modest orchestral forces. Milhaud provided a map with the score, indicating the percussion components and their layout: the piece requires the soloist to be completely encircled by instruments, including four timpani, tom-toms, cymbals and suspended cymbals, a bass drum with a cymbal attachment on a foot pedal, castanets, ratchet, slapstick, triangle, cowbell, tambourine and wood block. The Concerto is remarkable not for the rhythmic virtuosity of its solo part, but rather for the demands it makes on the solo percussionist to simply navigate all of the instruments.

I think you will love this music too

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

PTB Classic - Glenn Gould Plays Beethoven Piano Sonatas nos. 12, 16 & 17

 


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


Today's PTB Classic post is the second set of Beethoven sonatas in out three part series, which we also trust to Glenn Gould. Last month, we considered five sonatas, this week three sonatas, recorded in 1973 and 1983, respectively.

The 1983 digital recording is that of the "Funeral March" sonata, amd the last two (from 1973) are two of the three sonatas from the op. 31 set.

As we discussed the aesthetic around Gould's approach on Beethoven as part of last month's post, I have nothing more to add. Simply enjoy the performances!

The YouTube link below incudes all of the works re-released and remastered under a single multiple-CD box. The three selections are also available on the included Internet Archive link.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No.12 in Ab, Op.26 ('Funeral March')
Piano Sonata No.16 in G, Op.31, No.1
Piano Sonata No.17 in D-, Op.31, No.2 ('Tempest')

Glenn Gould, piano

YouTubehttps://youtube.com/playlist?list=OL...-wykpszvirf70Y

Internet Archivehttps://archive.org/details/01-piano...12-i-andante-c

Friday, May 21, 2021

Tcahikovsky Festival, Part Two

 

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 20, 2011. It can be found in our archives at 
 http://archive.org/details/TcahikovskyFestivalPartTwo


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This week’s selection from the Podcast Vault is the second of a three-part series from the earliest days of our blog (almost exactly 10 years ago!), featuring the historic DG 1960 all-Mravinsky stereo recordings made withthe Leninngrad Philharmonic of Tchaikovsky’s last three “numbered” symphonies. These recordings were made in London, and showcase a true Russian rendition of these most Russian symphonies. The Fifth featured today stands out as one of my favourites among the ones I have in my collection – Karajan, Rostropovich, Maazel and Guido Cantelli.

Two other works are part of this montage; Stokowski conducts the fantasy overture inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and as final track, a singe movement from the Manfred Symphony, which we recently featured in its entirety in a montage that is still on the roster of our Podcasting channel.

It still made sense to me, as filler, to provide the complete performance by Riccardo Muti and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, available as part of the complete Mutiu cycle (link here  ) and as a single continuous track:



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

Friday, May 14, 2021

Not Always Opera

No. 357 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast357



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This week’s podcast features three works from three composers we normally associate with opera, not the concert hall.

Georges Bizet's earliest compositions, chiefly songs and keyboard pieces written as exercises, give early indications of his emergent power and his gifts as a melodist. From those student days, the Symphony in C has been warmly praised by later commentators who have made favourable comparisons with Mozart and Schubert.

After his early Symphony in C, Bizet's purely orchestral output is sparse and considered unremarkable. The work I chose to open the program, the overture Patrie, has been dismissed as: "an awful warning of the danger of confusing art with patriotism". For you to decide if you agree with that poor assessment.

Wagner composed his only symphony (also in C) in the brief space of six weeks at the beginning of the summer of 1832. The composition shows the influence of the symphonies of Beethoven and also of the late symphonies of Mozart; the orchestration is in the style of Weber and Beethoven. The work shows the composer's inexperience (he was less than 20 years old when writing it).

Early performances took place in November 1832, January 1833, and August 1833. The score was subsequently thought to have been lost, but the parts from the 1832 Prague performance were found in a trunk which had been left behind by Wagner when he fled Dresden in 1849. The work was performed again at Christmas 1882, two months before Wagner's death. Wagner later wrote (referring to himself in the third person…) "If there is anything at all in this work which shows the mark of Richard Wagner, it is the fact that it is not polluted by the hypocritical stance which was to appear later and which Germans find very difficult to get the better of, and the fact that, from the outset, he remained true to himself and was unwilling to be deflected from his proper course."

Gian Carlo Menotti wrote many operas but did pen some piano and orchestral works. He was a traditionalist and romanticist at a time when most western composers were preoccupied with new styles marked by the avant-garde experimental spirit and theoretical rigor; there was little room for traditional tonality and lyricism in the classical music world at the time.

Menotti’s profound interest in the voice and belief in connecting with his audience through accessible musical language is also tangible in his instrumental works. The Violin Concerto, rich with drama, lyrical melody, and orchestral color, is far more accessible that instrumental works by other composers of the time. The concerto was written in 1952 after a commission by the violinist Efrem Zibalist, who premiered the work with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall later that year. The premiere was a success, as can be read in a review by Louis Biancolli of New York World-Telegram & Sun: “It is a fresh and vigorous piece of music, overflowing with energy and melody and whatever else it takes to complete a three-movement concerto without becoming apologetic.” Yet, after the initial success, the work was largely neglected.

I think you will love this music too.



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 can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast356



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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 can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast355



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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