Friday, January 29, 2021


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from February 14, 2014. It can be found in our archives at


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.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

PTB Classic – Gustav Mahler


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

To mark the Tuesday Blog’s Tenth Anniversary year, I intend to bring back throughout the year an old post format – which I have dubbed PTB Classic – that threads together works off a YouTube playlist to mark a theme (today, a pair of works from one composer) that may not fit any of our recurring series.

The main work today is Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, the last of the so-called Wunderhorm symphonies as it is inspired from that very collection of poems, and repurposes one of the texts Mahler set to music within that larger 1890’s encyclical, "Das himmlische Leben", that presents a child's vision of Heaven. It is sung by a soprano in the work's fourth and final movement.

I own several versions of this symphony, and the one I retained as my selection this week is something of a rarity. Back in 1958, when this recording was made, Mahler's greatness as a composer was not the foregone conclusion that it is today. Fritz Reiner himself had gone on a figurative voyage of discovery before realizing that this was music worth conducting and recording. He made two Mahler LPs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: this, and Das Lied von der Erde. Both have stood the test of time well.

Mahler began work on a Piano Quartet in A minor towards the end of his first year at the Vienna Conservatory, when he was around 15 or 16 years of age. The piece had its first performance on July 10, 1876, at the conservatory with Mahler at the piano, but it is unclear from surviving documentation whether the quartet was complete at this time. Following this performance the work was performed at the home of Dr. Theodor Billroth, who was a close friend of Johannes Brahms.

Following the rediscovery of the manuscript by Mahler's widow Alma Mahler in the 1960s, the work was premiered in the United States on February 12, 1964, at the Philharmonic Hall in New York City by Peter Serkin and the Galimir Quartet.
The performance retained is a live performance from the Lugano Festival in 2012.

Happy Listening!

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)

Piano Quartet Movement in A Minor (ca. 1876)
Sascha Maisky - violin
Lyda Chen – viola
Mischa Maisky - cello
Lily Maisky - piano

Symphony No.4 in G Major (1899-1900)
Lisa della Casa, Soprano
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Fritz Reiner, conducting

YouTube -

Friday, January 22, 2021

Brahms Symphony no. 4


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from January 25, 2013. It can be found in our archives at


Throughout the week, I programmed our Brahms Cycle podcasts from January 2013 in sequence, culminating today with a Podcast Vault share featuring Brahms’ Symphony no. 4.

In his Classical Net review of Eugen Jochum’s Brahms cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic reissued on CD, Brian Wingman makes an audacious claim, given the high standard the Berlin orchestra has maintained in the German repertoire under luminaries like Furtwangler, Karajan, Abbado and even more recently Simon Rattle: this is the finest Brahms cycle to ever come out of Berlin. More than simply having the Berlin Philharmonic sounding splendid for 1952, Jochum is also able to bring out enormous amounts of detail through his careful attention to the winds and brass - freewheeling, but always musical.

Ignoring monophonic recordings is a dangerous gamble that causes you to miss out on exceptionally great musicianship. Jochum was nothing if not a great musician, and his Brahms recordings happily stand the test of time. Jochum did record these pieces later in stereo, with the London Philharmonic on EMI. Those readings (available on YouTube here) are wonderful, and the best Brahms with that particular ensemble.

Completing the original montage, a lively interpretation  of Brahms’ Serenade no. 1 by Raffi Armenian and his then orchestra in Kitchener-Waterloo.

As our bonus share, another recording by Jochuim and a London orchestra (this time, the LSO) in Brahms’ Haydn Variations (we heard the two-piano version this past Tuesday), coupled with Elgar’s Enigma Variations

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



Friday, January 15, 2021

Quatuor pour la fin du temps

No. 351 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at

January 15 marks the 80th anniversary of the first performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet For the End of Time) for cello, piano, clarinet, and violin. The work was composed in a POW camp in Nazi-controlled Silesia.

Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered World War II. He was captured by the German army in June 1940. Not surprisingly, some of Messiaen’s fellow detainees were professional musicians; clarinetist Henri Akoka, violinist Jean le Boulaire  and cellist Étienne Pasquier. He managed to befriend a sympathetic guard and obtain some paper and a small pencil. Messiaen wrote at first a short trio for them; this piece developed into the Quatuor for the same trio with himself at the piano. The combination of instruments was unusual at the time, but not without precedent: Walter Rabl had composed for it in 1896, as had Paul Hindemith in 1938.

This is how the composer recalled its premiere in early 1941: 'The Stalag was buried in snow.  We were 30,000 prisoners (French for the most part, with a few Poles and Belgians).  The four musicians played on broken instruments … the keys on my upright piano remained lowered when depressed … it’s on this piano, with my three fellow musicians, dressed in the oddest way … completely tattered, and wooden clogs large enough for the blood to circulate despite the snow underfoot … that I played my quartet.'

This recollection has been challenged by many, including the other members of the quartet: while Messiaen remembers thousands in the audience, the camp hall could hold at most 500; his piano was not as imperfect as he describes; and his insistence that the cellist only performed with three strings has been repeatedly denied by the cellist himself.  Nonetheless, few dispute the significance of the work itself, one of the most important to be produced in the 20th century.

Messiaen and Etienne Pasquier (cellist at the initial premiere) later recorded the quartet on LP for Club Français du Disque (1956), together with Jean Pasquier (violin) and André Vacellier (clarinet).

Two other works complete the montage. Cantéyodjayâ is a work for piano written in 1949.The work's compositional bases are the Hindu rhythms often found in Messiaen's work. The composer's research into Hindu rhythms was based partly on the 120 rhythms listed in the thirteenth-century Sangita Ratnakara of Sarangadeva. The score includes names that are taken from this work, and also from Carnatic musical theory.

The five rechants form the last part of the "Trilogy of Tristan" after Harawi and the Turangalîla-Symphonie . The title of this work refers to the Printemps by Claude Le Jeune , “a masterpiece of choral writing and a masterpiece of rhythm” according to Messiaen. As in this work, verses (songs) and refrains (rechants) alternate. The melody has its source in the harawi or yaravi , a folk love song from Peru , and in the alba , a dawn song from the Middle Ages.

I think you will love this music too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Riccardo Muti - Felix Mendelssohn - New Philharmonia Orchestra ‎– Symphony No. 3


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

We restart our bi-monthly Tuesday Blog shares with Vinyl’s Revenge, and an old all-Mendelssohn EMI recording featuring Riccardo Muti and the Philharmonia.

From the late 1950s to the early 1970s the Philharmonia Orchestra's chief conductor was Otto Klemperer, with whom the orchestra gave many concerts and made numerous recordings of the core orchestral repertoire.

In 1972, Klemperer announced his retirement from the directorship of the orchestra (briefly known as the New Philharmonia). The orchestra recognised that a strong chief conductor was needed to restore its standards and finances, but there was no immediately obvious candidate. The EMI executive Walter Legge no longer had any stake in the orchestra, though he watched its progress benevolently, and having spotted the potential of Riccardo Muti he recommended him to the New Philharmonia's general manager, Terence McDonald. Other potential candidates were considered, but Muti was appointed as the orchestra's chief conductor from 1973.

Muti, although he disclaimed such a description, was a firm disciplinarian, and under his conductorship the orchestra restored its standards. Critics at the time commented on the orchestra's "superb performance", "immense virtuosity", its "astoundingly delicate" string playing and "woodwind phrasing even more magical than their Berlin colleagues".
With Muti the orchestra recorded opera (Aida, 1974; Un ballo in maschera, 1975; Nabucco, 1977; I puritani, 1979; Cavalleria rusticana, 1979; La traviata, 1980; Orfeo ed Euridice, 1981; and Don Pasquale, 1982); a wide range of the symphonic repertoire including Schumann and Tchaikovsky cycles; concertos with soloists including Sviatoslav Richter, Andrei Gavrilov, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Gidon Kremer; and choral music by Cherubini and Vivaldi.

During Muti's tenure, the orchestra recovered its original title, after prolonged and complex negotiations From September 1977 the "New" was dropped, and the orchestra has been the Philharmonia since then.

One of our earliest shares in the Vinyl’s Revenge series was taken from the Muti/Philharmonia Tchaikovsky cycle, and today’s share is part of a partial Mendelssohn set (reissued and featured as a two-disk set per our YouTube link below). The specific LP in my collection includes the Scottish Symphony and the Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage overture.

Fine performances all around.

Happy Listening!

Symphony No. 3 In A Minor, Op.56 "Scotch"
Overture, "Calm Sea And Prosperous Voyage" Op. 27
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Riccardo Muti, conducting

Label: Angel Records ‎– S-37168
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Quadraphonic
Released: 1976



Friday, January 8, 2021

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from January 3, 2020. It can be found in our archives at


Our first foray into the Podcast Vault for the New Year is barely a year old, as we originally posted this as the first Friday post for 2020. Hard for me to propose a fresh take here, but here are some interesting tidbits taken from the composer’s official website

At the beginning of the 1920s Joaquín Rodrigo was already an excellent pianist and composition student familiar with the most important contemporary trends in the arts. His first compositions were written in small musical forms, and his first work for large orchestra, Juglares, was successfully premiered by the Valencia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Enrique Izquierdo in 1924. Rodrigo decided to move to France in 1927, since the French capital had been from the beginning of the century an important cultural centre for Spanish writers, painters and musicians. It was to be expected, therefore, that the young Joaquín Rodrigo would want to follow in the footsteps of Albéniz, Falla and Turina. By the end of the decade Joaquín was studying with his French master Paul Dukas in the École Normale de Musique in Paris.

In the spring of 1938 Joaquín Rodrigo and his wife had moved to Germany and was invited to teach on the summer courses at the University of Santander, which had just opened. The Rodrigos were thus able to renew their contacts with Spanish cultural life, in spite of the difficulties caused by the Civil War. A very significant encounter took place on the return journey to Paris, when during a lunch with the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza and the Marqués de Bolarque Joaquín enthusiastically agreed to the idea of writing a concerto for guitar. This work would be the Concierto de Aranjuez. During their last year of residence in the French capital Rodrigo gave piano recitals, undertook various orchestrations which were commissioned from him, and composed a number of songs in light-music style. But when winter arrived the Rodrigos began to consider a permanent return to Spain, once the country was finally at peace. Joaquín and Victoria finally returned to Spain on the 1st September 1939, two days before the outbreak of the Second World War, carrying with them in a suitcase the manuscript of the Concierto de Aranjuez.

During all these years the composer received many honours both in Spain and from abroad in recognition of his work. He was named Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 1960 and member of the Légion d'honneur in 1963 by the French government, Doctor of Music honoris causa by the University of Salamanca in 1964, and in 1966 he received the Gran Cruz del Mérito Civil and the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en el Trabajo. In 1963 he travelled to Puerto Rico to teach a course in the History of Music at the University of Río Piedras, where he remained until February 1964.

Our filler piece is one of five works Rodrigo composed for guitar and orchestra, his Concierto para una fiesta from 1982, premiered the following year at the Ridglea Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas (USA) by Pepe Romero and the Texas Little Symphony. Romero is featured here with The Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields with Sir Neville Marriner.

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

Friday, January 1, 2021


No. 350 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


Happy New Year!

This week's montage, our first for 2021 is an extended podcast - exceeding our self-imposed 90 minute limit by over 13 minutes.

New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester in Austria. It’s the Roman Catholic feast day of the same-named pope and saint, who died on December 31st, AD 335. None of which has any relevance, though, to how Vienna celebrates the turn of the year.

At midnight, the giant Pummerin bell of Vienna’s St Stephen’s cathedral rings in the New Year with the chimes broadcast across TV and radio. Once the last echoes of the Pummerin fade away, all hell breaks loose as fireworks across the city burst into action.

Broadcasters then switch to the Blue Danube waltz and everyone dances in the New Year as lights explode across the night sky.

All of the works featured today carry Vienna in their title - most of them by Austrian composers, including members of the \Strauss family. The lone exception is the final work - Ravel\s masterpiece La valse,

The idea of La valse began first with the title "Vienne", then Wien (French and German for "Vienna", respectively) as early as 1906, where Ravel intended to orchestrate a piece in tribute to the waltz form and to Johann Strauss II.  After his service in the French Army, Ravel returned to his original idea of the symphonic poem Wien, choosing to retile the work as anything German-sounding after the Great War had lost favour with audiences.

As Ravel would later put it,  "Whether or not it was intended as a metaphor for the predicament of European civilization in the aftermath of the Great War, its one-movement design plots the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz."

I think you will love this music too.