This Week at The Classical Station
by Rob Kennedy
The Staff and Volunteers of The Classical Station wish you a safe and happy July 4th.
by Rob Kennedy
Sunday, July 9, 2023
This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by Le Concert Spirituel, the Tallis Scholars, and The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir. Also on our playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jacob Obrecht, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy.
Jacob Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart stands as a testament to the composer’s mastery of Renaissance polyphony and his ability to create intricate and harmonically rich choral compositions. Composed around the late 15th century, this mass setting exemplifies Obrecht’s skill in combining sacred texts with complex musical structures.
The Missa Maria zart consists of five movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Each movement showcases Obrecht’s intricate counterpoint, meticulous attention to text setting, and exploration of various vocal textures. The Kyrie sets the tone with its graceful melodies and interweaving vocal lines, creating a sense of reverent contemplation.
As the mass progresses to the Gloria, Obrecht’s mastery of polyphony becomes apparent. The voices intertwine and overlap, creating a tapestry of harmonies that evoke both joy and solemnity. The Credo demonstrates Obrecht’s ability to navigate complex musical structures while conveying the profound religious conviction of the text.
The Sanctus brings a sense of ethereal beauty, with soaring melodies and cascading vocal lines that transport the listener to a celestial realm. Finally, the Agnus Dei offers a reflective and poignant conclusion to the mass, showcasing Obrecht’s sensitivity to the emotional nuances of the text.
Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart is characterized by its harmonic richness, contrapuntal complexity, and expressive depth. It showcases the composer’s innovative approach to vocal writing, blending various melodic lines to create a cohesive and engaging musical experience. The interplay of voices demonstrates Obrecht’s skill in balancing unity and diversity, creating moments of unity and clarity amidst the complexity of the polyphonic texture.
Despite its historical significance and musical brilliance, Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart is relatively less known compared to other Renaissance mass settings. However, its revival in recent years has allowed audiences to rediscover its inherent beauty and appreciate the artistry of Obrecht’s compositional techniques.
As the Missa Maria zart unfolds, listeners are transported to a world of intricate harmonies and spiritual contemplation. Obrecht’s meticulous craftsmanship and profound understanding of the sacred text combine to create a transformative musical experience that resonates with audiences even today, centuries after its composition.
You can hear this beautiful sacred choral work during the 10 a.m. hour of Great Sacred Music.
Besides being the creator of such orchestral masterpieces as Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome, and Roman Festivals, Signor Respighi was a musicologist. David Diamond was on the faculty of the Julliard School for many years. His notable students included Adolphus Hailstork and Eric Whitacre. Maestro Zinman was the conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich over the course of his career. Happy 87th birthday, Maestro!
Saturday, July 8, 2023
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Saverio Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E stands as a testament to the composer’s mastery of the bel canto style and his profound understanding of the flute as a solo instrument. Written in 1813 during the height of the Classical era, this concerto showcases Mercadante’s ability to combine technical brilliance with expressive lyricism, making it a cherished gem of the flute repertoire.
The concerto unfolds in three movements, adhering to the traditional fast-slow-fast structure. From the very beginning, the solo flute commands the listener’s attention with its virtuosic and nimble passages. Mercadante weaves together melodic elegance, dazzling ornamentation, and lively rhythmic patterns to create an engaging dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra.
The first movement marked Allegro maestoso, introduces the main theme with a flourish, propelling the music forward with its spirited energy. The solo flute showcases its agility and technical prowess through cascading runs, brilliant trills, and rapid-scale passages. The orchestra provides a solid foundation, with lively interjections and orchestral flourishes that enhance the overall excitement of the music.
In contrast, the second movement, marked Largo, transports us to a realm of serene beauty and heartfelt expressiveness. Here, Mercadante’s gift for lyrical writing shines through, as the flute weaves a tender and poignant melody accompanied by lush string harmonies. The soloist’s ability to shape each phrase with grace and sensitivity is crucial in bringing out the emotional depth of this movement.
The final movement marked Rondo Russo, brings the concerto to a vibrant and joyful conclusion. The flute’s exuberant and playful melodies dance above the spirited orchestral accompaniment, showcasing Mercadante’s skillful command of rhythmic drive and melodic invention. The soloist’s technical agility is once again put on display, with rapid-fire passages, sparkling arpeggios, and nimble fingerwork.
Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E is a testament to the composer’s ability to balance virtuosity with expressive depth. It demands both technical precision and an understanding of the bel canto style, characterized by a seamless legato, expressive phrasing, and an emphasis on vocal-like qualities. The concerto provides a showcase for the flutist’s versatility, requiring a range of techniques and a keen sense of musical interpretation.
Despite its historical significance and musical brilliance, Mercadante’s Flute Concerto in E has remained relatively lesser-known compared to other flute concertos of the time. However, its revival in recent years has allowed audiences to rediscover its inherent beauty and showcase the remarkable talent of flutists in bringing this work to life.
As the Flute Concerto in E unfolds, listeners are treated to a captivating display of technical prowess, lyrical sensitivity, and vibrant orchestration. Mercadante’s gift for melody and his understanding of the flute’s capabilities combine to create a work that is both enchanting and demanding, offering a delightful listening experience for audiences and a thrilling challenge for flutists seeking to explore the rich repertoire of the instrument.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the 1 p.m. hour of Weekend Classics.
Grainger moved to the United States in 1914 and spent the rest of his life here. He was friends with Frederick Delius and Edvard Grieg. Grosvenor played the Liszt Second Piano Concerto on Opening Night of the BBC Proms in 2011. He was the youngest soloist ever to play Opening Night at the Proms. Listen to Benjamin’s interview with Rob Kennedy.
Photos: Percy Grainger, Unknown Author, Wikimedia Commons; Benjamin Grosvenor, Sophie Wright on Decca
Friday, July 7, 2023
Vasily Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor is a magnificent work that stands as a testament to the composer’s immense talent and his deep connection to the Russian symphonic tradition. Composed in 1894, this symphony displays Kalinnikov’s melodic richness, lush orchestrations, and a profound sense of emotional depth.
Symphony No. 1 unfolds in four movements, each showcasing Kalinnikov’s masterful craftsmanship and his ability to create evocative musical landscapes. The opening movement, marked Allegro moderato, introduces a melancholic and introspective theme that sets the tone for the symphony. It is characterized by a poignant lyrical quality, with sweeping melodies and lush harmonies that tug at the heartstrings.
The second movement marked Andante commodamente, offers a serene and pastoral atmosphere. Kalinnikov presents a gentle and tender melody, beautifully woven into the orchestral fabric. The movement exudes a sense of tranquility, with the interplay between the strings, woodwinds, and brass creating a delicate and introspective mood.
In the third movement, marked Scherzo: Allegro non troppo, Kalinnikov showcases his rhythmic vigor and energetic writing. The music brims with vitality and exuberance, with lively melodies and spirited rhythms driving the movement forward. The contrasting middle section provides a moment of respite before the exuberant energy returns, leading to a thrilling conclusion.
The symphony culminates in the fourth movement, marked Allegro moderato. This grand finale is characterized by its soaring melodies, powerful climaxes, and a sense of triumphant resolution. Kalinnikov masterfully weaves together various themes from previous movements, creating a cohesive and emotionally charged conclusion.
Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor showcases his remarkable ability to create a symphonic landscape that is both deeply rooted in the Russian tradition and imbued with his own unique voice. The symphony’s emotional depth, melodic beauty, and rich orchestration make it a captivating and rewarding listening experience.
Despite his untimely death at the age of 34, Kalinnikov’s Symphony No. 1 stands as a testament to his undeniable talent and potential as a symphonic composer. It remains a cherished contribution to the Russian symphonic repertoire, captivating audiences with its expressive power and timeless beauty.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the 12 noon hour of Classical Cafe.
Mahler made his living as a conductor. Composing those monumental ten symphonies and his other works was a part-time activity. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Menotti wrote Amahl and the Night Visitors as well as ten other operas. Ms. Petri began playing the recorder at the age of 3. She has over thirty-four recordings to her credit.
Photos: Ms. Petri, Erik Klitgaard; Gustav Mahler, Moriz Nähr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons; Gian Carlo Menotti, Carl Van Vechten, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Thursday, July 6, 2023
This evening, the Thursday Night Opera House presents Johann Strauss’ delightful opera Der Fledermaus. Here is a synopsis of the story.
The opera Der Fledermaus takes place in 19th-century Vienna and revolves around the humorous misadventures of its characters. The story begins with Gabriel von Eisenstein, a wealthy man, receiving an invitation to a lavish ball from his friend Dr. Falke. However, Eisenstein is facing a short prison sentence and decides to postpone his arrival at the jail to attend the ball instead.
Meanwhile, Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde, receives a visit from Alfred, a tenor who is infatuated with her. Mistaking him for her husband, she plays along with the charade, much to Alfred’s delight. As the evening progresses, Rosalinde’s chambermaid, Adele, receives an invitation to the ball from her sister, Ida, who is a ballet dancer.
The scene shifts to the grand ball, where various characters arrive in elaborate disguises. Eisenstein appears dressed as a marquis, and to further complicate matters, Dr. Falke arrives wearing a bat costume, alluding to the title “Der Fledermaus” (The Bat). Eisenstein, unaware of Falke’s true identity, recounts a humorous anecdote of their past escapades involving a bat costume.
During the festivities, Eisenstein flirts with a mysterious Hungarian countess, who is, in fact, his own wife, Rosalinde, in disguise. Rosalinde tests her husband’s fidelity, and he falls into the trap, unknowingly trying to seduce his own wife. Meanwhile, Adele, disguised as an actress, captures the attention of Eisenstein’s friend, the prison governor, Frank.
The final act takes place in the prison, where Eisenstein has finally reported to serve his sentence. Dr. Falke, seeking revenge for the bat costume incident, orchestrates a series of comic twists and turns. Rosalinde arrives at the prison, accompanied by her maid Adele, pretending to be a Hungarian noblewoman seeking the release of her “husband,” Eisenstein.
In a series of mistaken identities and misunderstandings, the characters find themselves entangled in a web of comedic situations. The tensions rise until the truth is revealed, and the characters come together in a lighthearted reconciliation. In the end, all misunderstandings are resolved, and the opera concludes with a lively and joyful ensemble, celebrating the triumph of love and forgiveness.
Der Fledermaus is a sparkling and witty operetta that showcases Johann Strauss’ melodic brilliance and skillful orchestration. Through its delightful blend of mistaken identities, comic situations, and lively music, the opera offers a humorous commentary on social conventions and the pursuit of pleasure in 19th-century Viennese society.
The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern.
On July 6 we observe the birthday of Russian conductor and pianist Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy (1937-). Besides being a superb pianist, Ashkenazy has served as conductor of several major orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Photo: Keith Saunders
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
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Claude Debussy’s Dances Sacred and Profane is a captivating and ethereal work that showcases the unique timbral and expressive possibilities of the harp in combination with the orchestra. Composed in 1904, it stands as a testament to Debussy’s innovative musical language and his ability to evoke vivid imagery through his compositions.
The piece is divided into two contrasting sections, each exploring a different musical landscape. The Sacred Dance introduces us to a mystical and otherworldly realm, evoking a sense of spiritual contemplation and tranquility. Debussy employs lush, impressionistic harmonies and delicate orchestration to create an atmosphere of serenity, drawing the listener into a hushed and reverent space.
In contrast, the Profane Dance transports us to a more earthly and playful realm. This section showcases the harp’s virtuosic capabilities and its ability to create sparkling and rhythmic textures. The music becomes lively and spirited, brimming with energy and a sense of joyful abandon. Debussy’s orchestration, characterized by shimmering strings, colorful woodwind interjections, and percussive accents, adds to the dynamic and exuberant character of the dance.
One of the remarkable features of Dances Sacred and Profane is Debussy’s ingenious treatment of the harp. He explores the full range of the instrument’s expressive palette, from its delicate and ethereal qualities in the sacred dance to its vibrant and rhythmic capabilities in the profane dance. Debussy pushes the boundaries of traditional harp writing, experimenting with extended techniques, glissandi, and arpeggiated passages, which create a mesmerizing and evocative sonic tapestry.
Throughout the piece, Debussy’s use of harmonic color, his delicate orchestration, and his meticulous attention to detail combine to create a magical and evocative atmosphere. The seamless interplay between the harp and the orchestra, as well as the juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, give the composition a sense of dramatic tension and emotional depth.
Dances Sacred and Profane represents a significant contribution to the repertoire of harp music, as it showcases the instrument’s versatility and expressive range. Debussy’s imaginative and evocative approach to composition, combined with his masterful orchestration, creates a work that enchants and captivates the listener from the first note to the final chord.
With its juxtaposition of the mystical and the earthly, the sacred and the profane, Debussy’s Dances Sacred and Profane invites us on a journey through contrasting realms, offering a glimpse into the transformative power of music and the profound emotions it can evoke. You can hear it during the 4 p.m. hour of Allegro this afternoon.
Dr. Crotch was the first Principal of the Royal Academy of Music. Wanda Landowska popularized the harpsichord back in the 40s and 50s. Starker was Distinguished Professor in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University from 1958-2013.
Photo: William Crotch, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Ottorino Respighi’s Suite No. 3 for Ancient Airs & Dances, composed in 1932, is a captivating musical journey that pays homage to the rich tapestry of Renaissance lute music. As a master orchestrator and a passionate scholar of early music, Respighi artfully weaves together ancient melodies with his own vivid orchestral colors, creating a delightful fusion of past and present.
The Suite No. 3 is part of a larger collection of works by Respighi known as the “Ancient Airs & Dances,” which comprises three suites. While the suites were inspired by the original music composed for the lute, Respighi expands and enhances these melodies with his characteristic orchestrations, bringing them to life in a symphonic setting.
The third suite begins with the energetic and lively “Italiana,” based on a 16th-century dance tune. The piece bursts with exuberance, featuring spirited rhythms and vibrant orchestrations that transport the listener to the lively streets of Renaissance Italy. Respighi’s lush harmonies and inventive use of instrumental colors highlight his mastery as an orchestrator.
Next, the suite takes a more introspective turn with the “Arie di corte.” In this section, Respighi presents a delicate and melancholic melody reminiscent of courtly love songs. The music is characterized by its tender and lyrical qualities, expressed through the gentle interplay between the strings and woodwinds. The composer’s ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing is particularly evident in this movement.
The third movement, titled “Siciliana,” evokes the pastoral beauty of the Sicilian countryside. Respighi captures the essence of this idyllic landscape through a serene melody, which unfolds gracefully against a backdrop of shimmering strings. The music possesses a serene and contemplative quality, evoking images of rolling hills and gentle breezes.
The suite concludes with the vibrant and rhythmic “Passacaglia,” a form derived from the Baroque era. Respighi takes a traditional theme and transforms it into a tour de force of orchestral virtuosity. The movement is characterized by its intricate and complex variations, showcasing Respighi’s skill in developing thematic material while maintaining a pulsating energy throughout.
Respighi’s Suite No. 3 for Ancient Airs & Dances stands as a testament to the composer’s unique ability to breathe new life into ancient musical forms. Through his imaginative orchestrations and reverence for historical melodies, he creates a sonic tapestry that transports listeners to bygone eras while simultaneously capturing the spirit of his own time. This suite is a delightful exploration of the interplay between tradition and innovation, making it a cherished addition to the orchestral repertoire.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the 11 a.m. hour of Classical Cafe.
A very happy Independence Day from the staff and volunteers of The Classical Station! Our playlists today feature American composers and performers as we celebrate the 246th birthday of the United States of America. Listen on 89.7 FM in Central North Carolina, streaming everywhere on our apps and online here on our website.
Photo: United States Declaration of Independence. Facsimile on velum, one of 201 produced in 1823 by William J. Stone from a copper plate engraving of the original 1776 manuscript/Original by Thomas Jefferson et al.; Engraving & facsimile by William J. Stone (1798-1865)
Monday, July 3, 2023
This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Vienna Philharmonic which was founded in 1842. The program includes music by Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Ludwig van Beethoven conducted by Lorin Maazel, Leonard Bernstein, and Manfred Honeck.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Our guest on My Life In Music this month is English conductor Hilary Davan Wetton. He is an esteemed English conductor known for his exceptional musicality and expertise. With a distinguished career spanning several decades, he has led numerous orchestras and choirs worldwide. Wetton’s dynamic interpretations and commitment to artistic excellence have earned him widespread acclaim and admiration in the classical music community. My Life in Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle.
Join Naomi Lambert for My Life In Music this evening at 7 p.m.
On July 3 we observe the birthdays of Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928), Czech flute player and conductor Milan Munclinger (1923-1986), and German-born Austrian conductor Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004).
Janáček was one of several 20th-century composers who worked folk tunes into their compositions. Munclinger collaborated with French flute player Jean-Pierre Rampal on several highly-regarded recordings. Herr Kleiber was considered one of the 20th century’s finest conductors.