This Week at The Classical Station
by Rob Kennedy
Photo: Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana
by Rob Kennedy
Sunday, July 2, 2023
You can hear Gerard Schwarz conduct the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra in a performance of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 this evening on Preview! This will be preceded by Caleb Gardner’s interview with Maestro Schwarz at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Preview! brings you new releases and local arts news every Sunday evening at 6 p.m.
Composed in the early 18th century during the Baroque period, George Frideric Handel’s Concerto No. 1 in B flat for Two Wind Ensembles and Strings stands as a captivating work that showcases the composer’s remarkable skill in crafting lively and engaging music. This concerto was written for a special occasion, reflecting Handel’s dedication to composing music for grand events and celebrations.
Handel composed the Concerto No. 1 in B flat for Two Wind Ensembles and Strings in honor of the festive coronation ceremony of King George II of Great Britain. The occasion, which took place on October 11, 1727, marked a significant milestone in the nation’s history, and Handel’s music played a vital role in enhancing the splendor of the event.
The concerto is scored for two distinct wind ensembles, each consisting of oboes, bassoons, and horns, accompanied by a rich and vibrant string section. Handel’s ingenious composition style shines through the piece, with the wind and string sections engaging in a delightful dialogue of melodies and harmonies. The contrasting timbres of the winds and the warmth of the strings create a captivating sonic tapestry that captures the essence of the grand celebration.
The Concerto No. 1 in B flat comprises three movements, following the traditional fast-slow-fast structure of the Baroque concerto. The opening Allegro presents a jubilant and energetic theme, featuring virtuosic passages for the wind instruments and intricate interplay with the strings. The central Largo showcases Handel’s ability to evoke deep emotion, as lyrical melodies unfold in a more introspective and contemplative atmosphere. The concerto concludes with a spirited and lively Allegro, displaying Handel’s penchant for vibrant rhythms and spirited dance-like motifs.
Since its first performance during the coronation ceremony, Handel’s Concerto No. 1 in B flat has remained a cherished and frequently performed work in the Baroque repertoire. Its combination of regal splendor, intricate counterpoint, and vibrant orchestration continues to captivate audiences, offering a glimpse into the majesty and elegance of Handel’s music during a time of great historical significance.
In our present day, this concerto serves as a testament to Handel’s remarkable craftsmanship and his ability to create music that transcends time, captivating listeners with its beauty and expressive power.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the 3 p.m. hour of Weekend Classics this afternoon.
This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Zamir Chorale of Boston, the Schola of St. Philip’s Cathedral, Atlanta, and The Saint Tikhon Choir. Also on our playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Randall Thompson, and John Knowles Paine.
Great Sacred Music. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy
Herr von Gluck learned his craft from the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini whilst in Milan. Dr. Fennell founded the renowned Eastman Wind Ensemble in 1952. Professor Kalish is widely acclaimed for his recordings of contemporary music.
Photo: Christoph Willibald von Gluck, Joseph Duplessis, Fair Use, Wikimedia Commons; Frederick Fennell, Unknown Author, Fair Use, Band Post; Gilbert Kalish, Unknown Author, Stony Brook University, Fair Use
Saturday, July 1, 2023
During Weekend Classics with Joyce Kidd this afternoon, you can hear Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, commonly known as the “Appassionata.” This work stands as a testament to Beethoven’s mastery and emotional depth as a composer. Composed between 1804 and 1805, the sonata represents a pivotal moment in Beethoven’s career, bridging the Classical and Romantic eras. This monumental work continues to captivate audiences with its passionate and profound musical expression.
The title “Appassionata” aptly describes the intense and fervent nature of the sonata. Beethoven himself reportedly referred to it as “one of his most passionate works.” Although it is uncertain who bestowed the title upon the sonata, it perfectly encapsulates the fiery and emotionally charged character that permeates its three movements.
The first movement, marked Allegro assai, immediately captivates the listener with its ominous and dramatic opening. Beethoven’s contemporary, the composer and pianist Carl Czerny, described this movement as “a wild, almost uncontrolled fantasy.” The restless energy and constant shifts in mood and dynamics create a sense of tension and urgency. The virtuosic passages demand technical brilliance from the performer while conveying a wide range of emotions, from stormy turbulence to moments of lyrical respite.
The second movement, Andante con moto, presents a stark contrast to the preceding movement. It unfolds as a serene and introspective set of variations, showcasing Beethoven’s gift for melodic inventiveness. The renowned music critic and composer ETA Hoffmann praised this movement, saying, “A stream of heavenly length flows through the sonata.”
As the final movement, the Allegro ma non troppo – Presto bristles with energy, propelling the sonata towards its thrilling conclusion. Beethoven’s contemporary, the composer and pianist Ignaz Moscheles, expressed his astonishment at the movement’s technical demands, stating, “I could not help wondering at the force of finger which enabled him to perform such marvels.”
The “Appassionata” Sonata represents a groundbreaking departure from the traditional Classical sonata form, with Beethoven pushing the boundaries of structure, dynamics, and emotional expression. The work’s boldness and intensity have left an indelible mark on the piano repertoire, inspiring generations of musicians and listeners alike.
In experiencing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23, the audience is invited to embark on a journey through the depths of human emotion. It is a testament to Beethoven’s unmatched ability to express profound inner turmoil, intense passion, and ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit. As Beethoven’s contemporary and friend Ferdinand Ries proclaimed, “It is music that expresses itself in the most forceful way, and only a master can master such a work.”
Happy Canada Day to all our listeners north of the border! You are probably familiar with some of Canada’s musicians such as pianists Glenn Gould, Angela Hewitt, and Jan Lisiecki, violinist Angèle Dubeau, cellist Ofra Harnoy, and conductors Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Alexander Shelley. But what about composers? Six Canadian Composers You Should Know is worth a read. If you’re listening to us north of the border, how about leaving a comment for us? Have a safe and happy Canada Day!
Friday, June 30, 2023
Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess (Pavane pour une infante défunte) is a delicate and introspective orchestral work that showcases the composer’s gift for creating evocative and emotionally resonant music. Written in 1899, the Pavane represents a pivotal moment in Ravel’s career, where he began to establish his unique voice and distinctive style.
Inspired by the elegance and refinement of the Baroque dance form, the pavane, Ravel crafted a musical tribute to a fictional princess of the past. The piece opens with a simple, mournful melody played by the solo horn, setting a solemn and nostalgic tone. The hauntingly beautiful melody unfolds gradually, supported by lush orchestral textures and rich harmonies that create an atmosphere of both melancholy and grace.
Ravel’s meticulous attention to detail is evident throughout the composition. He carefully balances the delicate interplay between various instrumental sections, allowing each voice to express its unique character while blending seamlessly with the others. The orchestration is masterful, with shimmering strings, expressive woodwind solos, and poignant brass accents, all contributing to the work’s enchanting ambiance.
The Pavane for a Dead Princess exemplifies Ravel’s fascination with evoking imagery and emotions through music. It captures a sense of timelessness, transporting listeners to a realm of nostalgia and faded grandeur. While the title may suggest a somber atmosphere, the work possesses a certain luminosity and ethereal beauty, as if the princess is remembered with both sadness and reverence.
This evocative piece has become one of Ravel’s most popular compositions, beloved for its elegant melodies, refined orchestration, and evocative atmosphere. Its enduring popularity is a testament to Ravel’s ability to connect deeply with listeners, touching their hearts and stimulating their imaginations through his music.
As the Pavane for a Dead Princess unfolds, it invites the listener on a journey of reflection and introspection, evoking emotions that resonate long after the final notes have faded away. Ravel’s exquisite craftsmanship and poetic sensibility combine to create a timeless work of art that continues to captivate audiences and remind us of the enduring power of music to evoke profound emotions and transport us to other realms.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the All Request Friday edition of As You Like It this afternoon.
Edward John Hopkins was Organist of London’s historic Temple Church from 1843-1898. Benda was a classical-era composer who wrote several operas in addition to many other forms of music. Maestro Salonen was Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra from 1992-2009. “He currently is Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Composer-In-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, Artistic Director and co-founder of the Baltic Sea Festival, and Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.” Source: Wikipedia.org
Thursday, June 29, 2023
This evening, the Thursday Night Opera House features Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata. A great favorite of opera lovers everywhere, La Traviata is a timeless masterpiece of Italian opera that delves into the themes of love, sacrifice, and societal constraints. Set in mid-19th century Paris, the opera revolves around the tragic story of Violetta Valéry, a glamorous and beloved courtesan. Despite her extravagant lifestyle, Violetta longs for true love and freedom from the societal expectations that confine her. However, her world is turned upside down when she meets Alfredo Germont, a young and ardent admirer.
Alfredo’s love for Violetta is genuine and passionate, and the couple embarks on a blissful romance. They retreat to the countryside, where they live in idyllic happiness away from the prying eyes of society. However, their joy is short-lived as Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, intervenes, urging Violetta to end the relationship to protect the Germont family’s reputation.
Despite her deep affection for Alfredo, Violetta selflessly agrees to sacrifice her love and leaves him, breaking his heart. Consumed by grief, Alfredo publicly humiliates Violetta at a lavish party, unaware of the noble sacrifice she has made. Overwhelmed by guilt and regret, Alfredo learns the truth about Violetta’s sacrifice and rushes to find her, but it is too late.
In the final act, Violetta, weakened by illness, resides in a small Parisian apartment, her health deteriorating rapidly. She is haunted by memories of her love for Alfredo and the happiness they briefly shared. Alfredo arrives, finally understanding the depth of Violetta’s sacrifice, and they reunite in a bittersweet and tender moment of forgiveness and love.
However, their reunion is tragically short-lived, as Violetta’s health rapidly declines, and she succumbs to her illness. As the opera concludes, Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms, surrounded by the remorseful and grief-stricken characters who witness the devastating consequences of societal conventions.
Verdi’s score for La Traviata is a true masterpiece, blending lyrical melodies, dramatic intensity, and poignant moments of reflection. The opera’s emotional journey, from the heights of love and joy to the depths of despair and sacrifice, resonates with audiences and showcases Verdi’s profound understanding of human emotions. La Traviata stands as a testament to the power of love, the struggles of societal expectations, and the fragility of life.
The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Leroy Anderson’s prowess as a composer of light orchestral music caught Arthur Fiedler’s eye. That in turn established Anderson’s reputation. Herrmann was a prolific composer who wrote over 50 film scores. The late Herbert Von Karajan gave Ms. Mutter an opportunity to play with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 13.
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Later this morning on Classical Cafe, we’ll embark on a musical journey that encapsulates the vibrant spirit and rich tapestry of Spanish culture. Maurice Ravel’s “Rapsodie espagnole” stands as a testament to the composer’s mastery of orchestration and his ability to evoke vivid imagery through music. With its fiery rhythms, colorful melodies, and intoxicating harmonies, this piece transports us to the heart of Spain, capturing its essence and allure.
Composed between 1907 and 1908, “Rapsodie espagnole” marked a pivotal point in Ravel’s career. Influenced by the works of Spanish composers such as Isaac Albéniz and Manuel de Falla, Ravel sought to capture the exotic flair and distinctive characteristics of Spanish music, while infusing it with his own unique style. The result is a captivating and evocative composition that showcases his consummate craftsmanship.
The Rapsodie is divided into four distinct movements, each offering a different facet of Spanish musical traditions:
I. Prélude à la nuit (Prelude to the Night):
The opening movement sets the stage for the journey ahead. Delicate and mysterious, it gradually unfolds with a sense of anticipation, painting an atmospheric picture of the Spanish night. The ethereal flute and harp introduce the main theme, which is later passed on to the strings. As the movement progresses, the music swells with lush harmonies, creating a dreamscape that enthralls the listener.
The Malagueña is a spirited dance originating from the region of Málaga in southern Spain. Ravel infuses this movement with an infectious rhythmic drive and a passionate melody. The orchestra unleashes a whirlwind of energy as the castanets, brass, and strings engage in a captivating dialogue. The vibrant colors and syncopated rhythms transport us to a bustling Spanish courtyard, where dancers move with fiery grace.
The sultry and sensuous Habanera takes its name from the Cuban dance that migrated to Spain and became immensely popular. Ravel’s adaptation captures the seductive essence of the dance form with its languid tempo and syncopated rhythms. The enchanting melody unfolds through various orchestral colors, including the prominent role of the French horn. The interplay between the instruments creates an air of both intimacy and allure.
The final movement, Feria, is a celebration of the festive atmosphere found in Spanish fairs. Ravel’s masterful orchestration shines brightly here, as he creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. The brass section blazes with fanfare-like motifs, while the woodwinds and strings interweave intricate melodies, reminiscent of folk tunes. The music builds in intensity, reaching a thrilling climax that transports us to the heart of a bustling Spanish carnival.
“Rapsodie espagnole” exemplifies Ravel’s ability to capture the essence of a culture and transform it into a musical tapestry that transcends borders. Through his intricate and imaginative orchestration, he invites us to experience the essence of Spain, its people, and its traditions. As we embark on this evocative musical journey, we find ourselves immersed in the vibrant world of Ravel’s “Rapsodie espagnole,” a testament to the enduring power of music to transport and inspire.
Our Daily Playlist shows you all the beautiful classical music we have in store for you today, tomorrow, and the next day. Your support of The Classical Station makes this programming possible.
On June 28 we observe the birthdays of Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache (1909-1996), Russian composer Nikolai Karetnikov (1912-1994), and American baritone Thomas Hampson (1955-). Maestro Celibidache was famous for not releasing recordings of his concerts. Nikolai Karetnikov was a member of an alternative composers group known as The Underground. Thomas Hampson has over 170 recordings to his credit.
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Our mission here at The Classical Station is to expand the community of classical music lovers by sharing accessible classical music with everyone, everywhere, at any time. We entertain, educate, and engage our audience with informative announcers, programs, and publications. We strive to make it easy to appreciate and enjoy Great Classical Music. And we have been doing all this since July 1978.
In addition to listening to our classical music on your radio, computer, or smart device, you can also listen to musicians talking about their lives in music, their art, their education, and much more. I remember seeing a five-year-old Angela Hewitt standing next to her father in Ottawa’s Christ Church Cathedral. Godfrey Hewitt was a distinguished organist and was giving a recital for our Royal Canadian College of Organists chapter. Sixty years later I had the opportunity to speak with Angela about her music.
On June 27 we observe the birthdays of American composer Mildred Hill (1859-1916), Italian conductor Gianandrea Gavezzeni (1909-1996), and American pianist Samuel Sanders (1937-1999). Ms. Hill composed the tune used for Happy Birthday to You! Maestro Gavezzeni was principal conductor of La Scala for almost fifty years. Mr. Sanders was the accompanist of choice for Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, to name just a few of his distinguished recital partners.
Monday, June 26, 2023
This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Berlin Philharmonic which was founded in 1882. The program includes music by Alexander Borodin, Peter Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Liszt, conducted by Claudio Abbado, Herbert von Karajan, Sir Simon Rattle, and current Principal Conductor Kirill Petrenko.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.
One of the featured works on Monday Night at The Symphony is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. This is a captivating masterpiece that showcases the composer’s exceptional genius and musical prowess. Often overshadowed by his more popular symphonies, the Eighth Symphony stands as a testament to Beethoven’s ability to infuse his compositions with innovation, vitality, and a touch of humor.
Composed in the early 19th century, Symphony No. 8 reflects a transitional period in Beethoven’s life, straddling the classical and romantic eras. It is characterized by its lightness, charm, and a sense of joy that permeates the entire work. The symphony consists of four movements, each distinct in its character and musical structure.
The opening movement, marked by its lively tempo, immediately captures the listener’s attention. It introduces a playful and energetic theme that sets the tone for the entire symphony. The second movement contrasts the exuberance of the first with a more introspective and lyrical melody, showcasing Beethoven’s ability to evoke profound emotion.
The third movement surprises the audience with its abrupt shift in dynamics and tempo, incorporating moments of drama and suspense. In contrast, the final movement returns to the spirited and jovial atmosphere, culminating in a grand finale that leaves the listener uplifted and exhilarated.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 may be seen as a hidden gem among his symphonic works, often overshadowed by the monumental achievements of his other symphonies. However, its vivacity, melodic inventiveness, and brilliant orchestration make it a captivating composition that deserves recognition and admiration in its own right. It serves as a testament to Beethoven’s artistic versatility and his ability to imbue even the most lighthearted music with depth and brilliance.
On June 26 we observe the birthdays of Czech composer Leopold Koželuh (1747-1818) and Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (1933-2014). Herr Koželuh preceded Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as music director of the Royal Court in Vienna. A piano virtuoso, he composed over 400 works, including thirty symphonies and over twenty piano concertos. Maestro Abbado was one of his generation’s finest conductors. He conducted most of the world’s great orchestras and made hundreds of recordings.