This Week at The Classical Station
by Rob Kennedy
Photo: Ian Kennedy, Venice, Florida
by Rob Kennedy
Sunday, July 30, 2023
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 9 in E minor is a powerful and mature work by one of England’s most significant composers. Composed between 1956 and 1957, it represents the culmination of Vaughan Williams’ symphonic output and is remarkable for its novel use of instrumentation and profound thematic development.
The Ninth Symphony is organized in the traditional four-movement structure: Moderato, Andante sostenuto, Scherzo, and Andante tranquillo. Vaughan Williams demonstrates his unique, personal language throughout the work, employing a rich harmonic palette and a diverse range of instrumental colors. An interesting note about this symphony is the use of three saxophones – alto, tenor, and baritone – which was a relatively unconventional choice for symphonic music of that time.
The first movement (Moderato) opens with a melody in the lower strings, establishing a contemplative and somewhat foreboding atmosphere. This movement is characterized by its constant development and transformation of themes, a testament to Vaughan Williams’ masterful compositional technique.
The second movement (Andante sostenuto) is, in contrast, more serene and lyrical, displaying the composer’s gift for writing beautiful, expressive melodies. It provides a moment of calm before the more energetic movements that follow.
The third movement (Scherzo) is vibrant and rhythmic, providing a dramatic contrast to the previous movements. The syncopated rhythms, changing meters, and robust orchestration lend this movement an air of energy and unpredictability.
The finale (Andante tranquillo) concludes the symphony in a mood of profound introspection. It incorporates thematic material from the previous movements and evolves into an introspective and quiet end, making the symphony feel like a completed journey.
Vaughan Williams’ Ninth Symphony is an embodiment of the composer’s vast experiences and development throughout his career. It showcases his genius for thematic development, innovative orchestration, and emotional depth. Despite being composed in his later years, it is a testament to Vaughan Williams’ ceaseless creativity and inventiveness.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music on Preview! this evening during the 6 p.m. hour.
This week’s Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Choir of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York, the Oxford Camerata, and the Hungarian Radio-TV Chorus. Also on our playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Michael Haydn, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy.
Today we observe the birthday of English pianist Gerald Moore (1899-1987). Moore was highly regarded for his accompanying of many famous singers including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Victoria de los Ángeles, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Photo: Unknown Author, Fair Use, Wikimedia Commons
Saturday, July 29, 2023
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Friday, July 28, 2023
The beauty and inspiration that our great classical music offers are why so many people hold it so close to their hearts. Classical music is an experience with no boundaries. It’s an experience that exists to bring forth the passion and wonder around us and also the moments of pure joy that grace our lives every once in a while. This is music worth standing behind with your donation of support now. Keep it real for The Classical Station with your gift.
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Herr Bösendorfer founded his company in 1828. Oscar and Emmy award winner Carmen Dragon conducted the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and his own orchestra in the 30s and 40s. Maestro Muti was the Music Director of La Scala in Milan from 1986 -2005. He was also Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1980-1992 and since 2010 has been Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Photo: Riccardo Muti, Andreas Praefke, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Samson and Delilah is an opera composed by Camille Saint-Saëns in the late 19th century. Set in ancient biblical times, the opera revolves around the well-known story of the Israelite hero Samson and his fatal encounter with the seductive Philistine woman, Delilah.
Act 1 introduces the Israelites, who are enslaved by the Philistines. Samson, a strong and charismatic leader, seeks to inspire his people to rise against their oppressors. Delilah, a beautiful Philistine woman, discovers that Samson is the source of his people’s strength. She sees an opportunity to destroy him and gain favor with the Philistine ruler, Abimélech.
In Act 2, Delilah employs her allure to ensnare Samson, ultimately succeeding in extracting the secret of his strength – his long hair, which has been untouched as a symbol of his devotion to God. Delilah betrays Samson to the Philistines, leading to his capture and blinding. The once-mighty Samson is now powerless and humiliated.
Act 3 portrays Samson in captivity, forced to work as a slave for the Philistines. However, his faith remains unbroken, and he prays to God for one last surge of strength to avenge his people. During a lavish celebration held by the Philistines to mock Samson, he is brought to the temple. Delilah, now regretful of her actions, seeks to assist him, but he refuses her help, vowing to face his destiny.
In the final act, Samson, now guided by his faith, summons the last of his strength and prays to God, regaining his physical power. As the temple is filled with Philistine nobles and soldiers, Samson brings the building down upon them, sacrificing his life to vanquish his enemies. The opera concludes with a dramatic and powerful ending as the temple collapses, and Samson and the Philistines are engulfed in the wreckage.
Samson and Delilah is an opera that explores themes of faith, temptation, betrayal, and the power of love. Through its captivating music and emotional storytelling, it remains one of Camille Saint-Saëns’ most celebrated and enduring works.
You can hear this opera on the Thursday Night Opera House this evening beginning at 7 p.m.
On July 27 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and Spanish composer Enrique Granados (1867-1916). Mauro Giuseppe Sergio Pantaleo Giuliani was a virtuoso guitarist of the 19th century who knew Beethoven, Rossini and Hummel. While Goyescas is his most popular composition these days, Granados left us over one hundred compositions in a variety of forms.
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
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On July 26 we observe the birthday of John Field (1782-1837), the Irish pianist and composer. Field is perhaps best known for creating the musical form we know as the ‘nocturne’ or night song. Chopin, in turn, made the nocturne popular when he adopted the form as his own. John Field was a student of Muzio Clementi, another piano virtuoso and teacher.
Photo: Etching of John Field in the Gallica Library, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikipedia.org
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Composed around 1763, Symphony No. 12 in E major by Franz Joseph Haydn is a delightful and inventive work that exemplifies the composer’s early symphonic style. Although not as frequently performed as some of his later symphonies, this charming piece offers a glimpse into Haydn’s evolving musical language and showcases his creativity in crafting engaging orchestral music.
The symphony comprises three movements:
The first movement, marked Allegro, opens with a lively and buoyant theme introduced by the strings. Haydn’s inventive use of thematic material and playful interactions between the orchestra’s sections create a sense of excitement and joy. Throughout the movement, Haydn employs contrasting dynamics and melodic motifs, weaving a captivating musical narrative that keeps the audience engaged from beginning to end.
The second movement, Adagio, offers a contrasting interlude of serenity and introspection. With its graceful melodies and lush harmonies, this movement exudes a sense of tranquility and emotional depth. Haydn’s melodic gift shines through, and the music unfolds with a sense of elegant simplicity and refinement.
The final movement, Allegro, brings the symphony to a spirited and exhilarating conclusion. Full of rhythmic energy and lively themes, this movement demonstrates Haydn’s flair for creating music that is both delightful and exuberant. As the symphony hurtles toward its conclusion, the music sparkles with wit and playfulness, leaving the audience with a sense of joy and fulfillment.
Haydn’s Symphony No. 12 in E major, though written early in his career, displays the composer’s ingenuity and mastery in crafting engaging and delightful orchestral music. The work’s charming melodies, inventive themes, and engaging orchestrations exemplify Haydn’s role as a leading figure in the development of the classical symphonic form.
While Symphony No. 12 may not be as widely known as some of Haydn’s later symphonies, it stands as a testament to the composer’s genius and remains a delightful gem in the repertoire, providing a glimpse into the musical world of one of the most influential figures in classical music history.
You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music during the 1 p.m. hour of As You Like It this afternoon.
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Photo: Nick Youngson, CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
On July 25 we observe the birthday of Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester (1930-2010). A native of Montreal, Quebec, Ms. Forrester appeared on opera stages and recital halls worldwide during her long career from 1953-1983.
Photo: Unknown Author, Alchetron, Fair Use
Monday, July 24, 2023
This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the French National Orchestra which was founded in 1934. The program includes music by Edouard Lalo, Camille Saint-Saens, and Emmanuel Chabrier conducted by Daniele Gatti, Lorin Maazel, and Armin Jordan.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.
On July 24 we observe the birthdays of French composer Adolphe Adam (1803-1856), Swiss-born American composer Ernest Bloch (1880-1959), and American pianist Peter Serkin (1947-2020). Monsieur Adam was a prolific composer of operas and ballets. Ernest Bloch left us about one hundred works in several formats. Serkin studied at the Curtis Institute and was a champion of new music and contemporary composers.