This Week at The Classical Station

Photo by Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana

This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, June 25, 2023

This evening, Preview! begins with a performance of Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52 performed by the Oslo Philharmonic under the direction of Klaus Mäkelä. This symphony is a work of profound beauty and artistic mastery that showcases the composer’s unique musical language. Written in 1907, this symphony marks a significant turning point in Sibelius’ career, as he sought to break away from the traditional symphonic form and embrace a more concise and organic structure.

The symphony opens with a gentle, almost hesitant melody introduced by the strings. It immediately sets a contemplative and introspective mood, inviting the listener to embark on a musical journey filled with emotional depth. Sibelius demonstrates his keen ability to evoke a sense of longing and nostalgia through his use of hauntingly beautiful melodies and rich harmonic textures.

Throughout the symphony, Sibelius skillfully crafts a delicate balance between darkness and light, tension and release. The second movement, marked “Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto,” is a prime example of this. It begins with a melancholic theme presented by the woodwinds, which gradually unfolds into a more animated and spirited section. Sibelius showcases his remarkable orchestration skills, with the various sections of the orchestra engaging in a dialogue that ebbs and flows with a sense of purpose.

In the third movement, Sibelius surprises the listener with a lively and playful Scherzo. Here, he demonstrates his mastery of rhythmic intricacy and the art of orchestral color. The music dances with energy and vitality, as if reflecting the sheer joy of life itself. Yet, even in this exuberant section, Sibelius manages to infuse moments of introspection, reminding us that beneath the surface, there is always a hint of the deeper human experience.

The final movement brings the symphony to a powerful and triumphant conclusion. Sibelius builds upon the themes introduced earlier, intertwining them in a grand tapestry of sound. The music soars and swells, reaching heights of emotional intensity. It is a testament to Sibelius’ ability to create a sense of vastness and awe, transporting the listener to new emotional landscapes.

In Symphony No. 3, Sibelius showcases his remarkable ability to communicate profound emotions through music. The symphony is characterized by its introspective and contemplative nature, allowing the listener to engage in a personal and reflective experience. With its impeccable craftsmanship, poignant melodies, and a sense of musical exploration, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 3 in C, Op. 52, stands as a testament to the composer’s genius and enduring legacy.

This morning, Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Choir of St. Thomas Church, New York, the Mexico City Chorus, and the Gesualdo Six. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Franz Schubert.

Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

This evening on the Saturday Evening Request Program, you can hear Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, K. 626. Composed in 1791, the Requiem in D minor stands as one of the most captivating and enigmatic choral masterpieces of all time. This monumental work, shrouded in mystery and tragedy, showcases Mozart’s extraordinary genius and profound musicality. Though unfinished at the time of the composer’s untimely death, the Requiem remains a testament to his immense talent and unyielding devotion to his craft.

The Requiem was commissioned by an anonymous nobleman, who approached Mozart with a request for a solemn mass for the dead. However, this nobleman’s identity remains uncertain, adding to the aura of intrigue that surrounds the composition. Mozart, in failing health and sensing the weight of his own mortality, embarked on this composition with a heightened sense of introspection and spiritual depth.

The opening movement, the Introitus, immediately envelops the listener in a world of solemnity and profound contemplation. The mournful and majestic choral lines intertwine with the somber orchestral accompaniment, painting a vivid picture of grief and sorrow. From this point, the Requiem embarks on a journey through the various sections of the Catholic Mass for the Dead, each one showcasing Mozart’s unparalleled compositional mastery.

In the Dies Irae, Mozart unleashes a torrent of musical drama and emotional intensity. The thundering timpani, blazing brass, and frenzied strings create an overwhelming sense of judgment and fear, capturing the terror and awe of the Day of Wrath. The juxtaposition of this section with moments of sublime beauty and serene contemplation, such as the ethereal Lacrimosa, showcases Mozart’s ability to seamlessly navigate between contrasting emotional states.

Mozart’s gift for melodic invention shines throughout the Requiem. The soaring vocal lines, particularly in the solo movements, such as the poignant alto solo in the Recordare, exhibit his uncanny ability to convey deep emotion through melody. The Sanctus and Benedictus, with their exultant and uplifting character, serve as moments of respite and transcendence amidst the pervasive atmosphere of mourning.

It is worth noting that Mozart’s Requiem was left incomplete at the time of his death, adding an air of intrigue to the work’s legacy. Following Mozart’s passing, his devoted student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr, undertook the task of completing the composition based on Mozart’s sketches and instructions. Süssmayr’s contributions, though debated by scholars, maintain a remarkable stylistic continuity with Mozart’s original vision, allowing us to experience the Requiem as an awe-inspiring whole.

The Requiem‘s enduring popularity and significance lie not only in its musical brilliance but also in the layers of emotional depth it conveys. Through this monumental work, Mozart delves into the profound themes of mortality, spirituality, and the human experience, inviting us to confront our own mortality and contemplate the mysteries of life and death.

As we embark on this musical journey with Mozart’s Requiem, we are reminded of the fragility of existence and the power of music to touch the deepest recesses of our souls. It stands as a testament to the extraordinary talent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a visionary composer whose genius continues to captivate and inspire generations of musicians and listeners alike.

Our performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D minor airs at approximately 9:05 p.m. and features the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles.

On June 24 we observe the birthdays of French cellist Pierre Fournier (1906-1986) and German composer Hugo Distler (1908-1942). Monsieur Fournier counted Julian Lloyd Webber among his pupils. Herr Distler is now mainly remembered for his sacred choral music.

Photos: Pierre Fournier, Manxruler, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons; Hugo Distler, Sebjarod, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons;

Friday, June 23, 2023

At approximately 11:45 this morning you can hear Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor. This is a poignant and cherished piece. Composed between 1901 and 1902, it is a slow, intimate movement for strings and harp. Often performed separately, it is regarded as a love letter from Mahler to his wife, Alma. The melodies convey longing and deep emotion, gradually building in intensity. The interplay between strings and harp creates an ethereal sound. The Adagietto resonates universally, evoking beauty, introspection, and the bittersweet nature of human experience. Its enduring popularity attests to its ability to evoke profound emotions and touch the soul.

Thank you to James in Chapel Hill for requesting this beautiful piece on All Request Friday. What beautiful piece of classical music can we play for you next Friday? Send us your request by clicking on Request Music here on our website. You can also send in requests via our app. Or call 919-556-0123 and tell the announcer what you’d like us to play.

On June 23 we observe the birthday of German composer Carl Reinecke (1824-1910). Herr Reinecke was one of the most influential musicians of his time. He taught Edvard Grieg and Sir Arthur Sullivan, among others, and conducted the premiere of Brahms’ A German Requiem.

Photo: Carl Reinecke, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons


Thursday, June 22, 2023

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents  Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy. Pelléas et Mélisande was composed by Claude Debussy, with a libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck. Set in a mythical kingdom, the opera tells a tragic tale of love, betrayal, and fate. The story revolves around three central characters: Pelléas, Mélisande, and Golaud.

The opera begins when Golaud discovers Mélisande, a mysterious young woman, alone in the forest. He marries her and brings her to his family’s castle. Pelléas, Golaud’s half-brother, becomes infatuated with Mélisande, and they develop a deep but forbidden love for each other.

As the story unfolds, tension grows within the family. Golaud suspects his wife’s infidelity and becomes consumed by jealousy. Meanwhile, Mélisande becomes increasingly withdrawn and melancholic, adding to the atmosphere of unease. The complex relationships between the characters are further complicated by the presence of an ominous and symbolic ring, which serves as a catalyst for tragedy.

Ultimately, the opera reaches its climax when Golaud confronts Pelléas and Mélisande in a dark underground vault. In a fit of rage and desperation, Golaud kills Pelléas. Mélisande, now gravely ill, dies shortly after giving birth to a daughter. The opera concludes with Golaud’s remorse and the realization that their fate was sealed from the beginning.

Pelléas et Mélisande is celebrated for its innovative and impressionistic musical language, characterized by ethereal melodies, shimmering harmonies, and subtle orchestrations. Debussy’s score captures the poetic atmosphere of Maeterlinck’s play, immersing the audience in a dreamlike world of symbolism and emotional depth.

The opera premiered in 1902 and is regarded as one of the most influential and important works in the French opera repertoire. It showcases Debussy’s mastery of musical storytelling and his departure from the conventional operatic traditions of the time, paving the way for new possibilities in the genre.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Go the last mile with your used vehicle. If your automobile (truck, boat, motorcycle, RV, or aircraft) is no longer of use to you, it can still go a long way as a donation in support of the programs you enjoy here on The Classical Station. It’s also a great opportunity for you to reduce your taxable income when itemizing taxes.

Here’s how it works:

Center for Car Donations (CFCD), manages the donations on our behalf. Call them at 877-927-3872 for more information and to begin the car donation process. (Don’t forget to mention that WCPE is the recipient of your donation.)

A CFCD representative will schedule a pickup that’s convenient for you, and provide you with confirmation of your donation. We will mail you a confirmation that states how much your vehicle sold at auction. This amount is what you can claim on your itemized tax return.

You will also receive a one-year subscription to Quarter Notes.

On June 21 we observe the birthdays of German composer Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795) and Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili (1987-).

J.C.F. Bach was the fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Ms. Buniatishvili records on the Sony Label.

Photos: Khatia Buniatishvili by J.L. Clendenin; J.C.F. Bach, Georg David Matthieu, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The world of classical music is a unique body of work – spanning centuries, continents, cultures, and communities. It’s marked by both great traditions and great changes. Classical music is listened to, played, and loved on every continent, in almost every country. Just as the symphonies and musicians who give us their performances have been supported by their audiences, the stations that are devoted to classical music are also supported by listeners, by people like you. Your support is unique!

Please do your part today and donate to The Classical Station. You can give securely online, on our app, via the United States Postal Service at The Classical Station, PO Box 828, Wake Forest, NC 27588, or by calling 800-556-5178 anytime. Thank you for your support.

On June 20 we observe the birthdays of French composer Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), Austrian pianist Ingrid Haebler (1929-), American composer Arthur Battelle Whiting (1861-1936), and American pianist André Watts (1946-).

Monsieur Offenbach is best known for his operettas of which he wrote one hundred or so. Ms. Haebler was highly regarded for her recordings of Mozart and Schubert. She celebrates her 94th birthday today. Arthur Whiting studied with Joseph Rheinberger. André Watts teaches at Indiana University where he holds the Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music.

Photo of André Watts ⓒ Steve Sherman

Monday, June 19, 2023

This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 1972. The program includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Antonín Dvořák, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Sir Edward Elgar. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

On June 19, we observe the birthday of Czech composer Johann Stamitz (1717-1757). Jan Václav Antonín Stamitz was a composer who straddled the Baroque and Classical eras.

Photo: Unknown Author, Fair Use, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons