This Week at The Classical Station

Photo: Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana

This Week at The Classical Station

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Manuel María Ponce, a prolific Mexican composer, is renowned for his contributions to the Mexican art music tradition. His Piano Concerto No. 1 “Romántico” remains one of his most celebrated works and is emblematic of his distinctive blend of Romantic expressiveness with Mexican nationalism.

Manuel Ponce
Photo on, Fair Use

Composed in 1910, the “Romántico” concerto coincided with the Mexican Revolution, a turbulent period that saw a profound transformation in Mexican cultural identity. While Ponce’s works often evoke traditional Mexican themes, this particular concerto is more heavily influenced by the European Romantic tradition. It was premiered by Ponce himself at the National Theater in Mexico City, garnering critical acclaim.

Structure and Style
The concerto unfolds in a traditional three-movement structure:

I. Allegro moderato: The first movement introduces the lyrical main theme, a rich and expressive melody. The orchestra and soloist engage in an intense dialogue, weaving together complexity and passion.

II. Andante: This movement provides a contemplative respite, characterized by its lush harmonies and delicate piano solos. Its tender melodies are a testament to Ponce’s mastery of emotional depth.

III. Allegro non troppo e serioso: The finale, both exuberant and introspective, showcases the pianist’s virtuosity and culminates in a triumphant resolution. Its rhythmic drive is intermingled with moments of serenity, reflecting Ponce’s ability to balance vigor and elegance.

Piano Concerto No. 1 “Romántico” by Manuel Ponce stands as a bridge between the European Romantic tradition and the emerging Mexican musical landscape. It’s a work that captures the zeitgeist of its era, filled with emotional resonance and national pride.

This evening’s performance during the 7 p.m. hour of Preview! invites you to immerse yourself in Ponce’s unique musical universe, where the intimate and the grandiose are intertwined in a timeless expression of human emotion.

This morning Great Sacred Music includes performances by Bach Collegium Japan, the Cologne Chamber Choir, and the Czech Philharmonic Chorus. You’ll hear works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and many more. Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. Right after Sing for Joy. With host Mick Anderson.

On August 13 we observe the birthdays of English composer John Ireland (1879-1962), French conductor Louis Frémaux (1921-2017), and American soprano Kathleen Battle (1948-).

Ireland wrote music in many forms, mainly in an impressionistic style. His students included Ernest John Moeran and Benjamin Britten. Frémaux was music director of several major orchestras including the Orchestra of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Battle is a GRAMMY Award-winning artist who is at home singing classical, jazz, and crossover works.

Photo: Kathleen Battle by Douglas Foulke


Saturday, August 12, 2023

On August 12 we observe the birthdays of Bohemian-Austrian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704) and English composers Maurice Greene (1696-1755), Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley (1825-1889), and Sir Joseph Barnby (1838-1896).

Herr von Biber was a brilliant composer and one of the finest violinists of his era. Maurice Greene was one of the most acclaimed musicians of his time. Eighteenth-Century English Music states that by the age of 40 “he was Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Organist and Composer to the Chapel Royal, Professor of Music at Cambridge University and Master of the King’s Musick.” Sir Frederick A. G. Ouseley was one of those brilliant musicians whose music is rarely heard these days. A prominent musician of the late 19th century, Barnby is best known by modern listeners for his hymn tunes Laudes Domini for “When morning gilds the skies” and O Perfect Love for the popular wedding hymn of the same name.

Photo: Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Paul Seel, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Friday, August 11, 2023

Classical music was his companion. That’s why, in 2010, pop star, Kid Rock, raised a million dollars in a benefit concert and saved the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The Classical Station is your companion, and you can have us with you everywhere you go. Just check out our app. We’re in your device’s store. Search for The Classical Station. When I built our first app in 2014, I knew it would make our Great Classical Music available anywhere there was WiFi or a cell phone signal. But I had no idea that we’d end up with over 15,000 downloads. Amazing!

Some of the things you can do on our app: submit a request for All Request Friday and the Saturday Evening Request Program; listen to our conversations with classical composers and performers; record a comment or suggestion; make a donation to The Classical Station, look at our playlists, and see what’s playing currently.

We’re always improving our app, so please do send us your suggestions. Thank you for your support. ~Rob

Photo: WCPE Photo Services

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Carl Maria von Weber’s opera “Der Freischütz” (“The Marksman” or “The Freeshooter”) is a seminal work in the German Romantic operatic tradition, first premiered in 1821. Here’s a synopsis of the opera:

Act I
Set in a forest in Bohemia during the 17th century, the opera opens with Max, a young assistant forester, in a state of despair. His love for Agathe, the daughter of the head forester Cuno, depends on winning a shooting competition. Having lost his skill in marksmanship, he fears losing Agathe to a rival.

Caspar, another forester, convinces Max to cast seven magic bullets to win the contest. Caspar, who has sold his soul to the devil, plans to win his freedom by ensnaring Max in his place.

Act II
Caspar and Max meet at the Wolf’s Glen at midnight. There, they invoke the demonic spirit Samiel to assist them in casting the magic bullets. Six bullets will hit anything Max aims for, while the seventh will be controlled by Samiel.

Agathe is worried about Max and has forebodings of doom. She and her companion Ännchen try to dispel these dark feelings.

During the shooting competition, Max performs extraordinarily well with the magic bullets. However, when he aims at a dove for his final shot, the bullet swerves and strikes Agathe. As Agathe falls, it is revealed that the dove was a transformed evil spirit, and Agathe is miraculously unharmed.

Caspar’s pact with the devil is revealed, and he is claimed by Samiel. The hermit, a wise holy man, intervenes, allowing Max to atone for his actions. He proclaims that trust in God is more potent than any dark magic. The opera concludes with a celebration of Max and Agathe’s union and a stern warning against trusting in supernatural powers.

Weber’s music in “Der Freischütz” is noted for its dramatic orchestration and innovative use of folk melodies, making it a cornerstone of the Romantic operatic repertoire. The opera’s blend of supernatural elements and human emotion continues to make it a popular choice for performance.

You can hear this opera this evening on the Thursday Evening Opera House beginning at 7 p.m.

On August 10 we observe the birthdays of German composer Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629), Russian composer Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936), English composer Cecil Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960), and French organist and teacher Marie-Claire Alain (1926-2013).

Herr Praetorius is remembered mostly for a collection of chorales or hymn tunes which became a standard musical form in church worship. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov taught Glazunov composition. Glazunov, in turn, taught Dmitri Shostakovich. Cecil Armstrong Gibbs was best known for his songs. Marie-Claire Alain recorded the complete organ works of Bach three times.

Photo: Alexander Glazunov, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Photo by Dayne Topkin

Classical music carries a kind of truth. It’s music with a purpose – music that reaches deep into our hearts and souls – music that connects directly with our most profound emotions. Whether it’s Bach or Beethoven, Mozart or Haydn, Chopin or Schubert… classical music lays its heart on the line. In the world of music, there’s nothing that carries that kind of power. But to keep it right here on The Classical Station requires your financial support.

The way our business model works is that nobody will tell you what to give. That’s entirely up to you. It’s been that way since 1978. Please give securely online, via our app, mail us a check to WCPE The Classical Station, P.O. Box 828, Wake Forest, NC 27588 or call 800-556-5178 anytime to speak with a member of staff.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

On August 8 we observe the birthdays of French composer Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944), Czech violinist and composer Josef Suk (1929-2011), and Italian-born American organist Pietro Yon (1886-1943). Of Cécile Louise Stéphanie Chaminade, French opera composer Ambroise Thomas said, “This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.” Josef Suk was the great-grandson of Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák. Pietro Alessandro Yon was the organist of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1928-1943. He is best known for his Christmas piece Gesù bambino.

Photo: Cecile Chaminade, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 7, 2023

Monday Night at the symphony (with 'Monday Night' in flowing script)This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra which was founded in 1911. The program includes music by Leo Delibes, Antonin Dvorak, and Ludwig van Beethoven conducted by Edo de Waart and Music Director Laureate Michael Tilson Thomas.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Our guest on the August edition of My Life In Music is Scott Metcalfe, one of North America’s leading specialists in music from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. My Life in Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Information about their programs is available at .

Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music this evening at 7 p.m.
On August 7 we observe the birthdays of English composer Sir Granville Bantock (1868-1946) and American guitarist Sharon Isbin (1956-).

Bantock was one of the founders of the City of Birmingham Orchestra which later became the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Besides being a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Ms. Isbin is the founding director of the Guitar Department at the Julliard School.

Photo: Sharon Isbin by J. Henry Fair