This Week at The Classical Station
by Rob Kennedy
Photo: Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana
by Rob Kennedy
Sunday, January 14, 2024
The Arion Baroque Orchestra conducted by Matthieu Lussier performs Les Fetes de Polymnie (The Festivals of Polymnia) by French Baroque composer Jean Philippe Rameau on Preview! this evening. Violinist Noemy Gagnon-Lafrenais talks about Ensemble Spinoza‘s recording of the Trio Sonatas of Dietrich Buxtehude.
Preview! brings you the latest releases and local arts news every Sunday at 6 p.m.
This morning Great Sacred Music honors African-American voices. To celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend you’ll hear performances by Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, Jubilant Sykes, and Leontyne Price. You’ll also hear compositions by Adolphus Hailstork as well as a host of African-American spirituals. Plus, you’ll still hear the weekly Bach cantata in the 9 a.m. hour.
Great Sacred Music. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing for Joy. With Mick Anderson.
On January 14 we observe the birthdays of early music specialist Nicholas McGegan (1950-), Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons (1943-2019), English violinist Andrew Manze (1965-), and Canadian tenor Ben Heppner (1956-).
A highly-regarded early music specialist, Nicholas McGegan has over 100 recordings to his credit. You can listen to an interview with him on our Conversations With Conductors page. A protégé of Herbert von Karajan, Mariss Jansons conducted most of the world’s top orchestras. A Baroque violin virtuoso, Andrew Manze also enjoys a fine reputation as a conductor. Now retired from his singing career, Ben Heppner has embarked on a new role as a broadcaster with the CBC.
Today is also the birthday of Ludwig Ritter von Köchel, the Austrian musicologist who cataloged Mozart’s compositions.
Photos: Nicholas McGegan by Steve Sherman; Mariss Jansons on Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Manze by Chris Christodoulou; Ben Heppner in The Canadian Encyclopedia
Saturday, January 13, 2024
The Metropolitan Opera’s 2023-24 season of Saturday matinee broadcasts continues with Puccini’s beloved opera about the passion – and pain – of young love: La Bohème. Soprano Elena Stikhina and tenor Stephen Costello star as Mimì and Rodolfo, an idealistic couple facing a precarious future. Kristina Mkhitaryan and Adam Plachetka are Musetta and Marcello, grappling with their own stormy relationship, and Krzysztof Bączyk and Rodion Pogossov are their bohemian pals Colline and Schaunard. Maestro Marco Armiliato conducts the Met orchestra and chorus in Puccini’s enduring favorite. Intermission features will include backstage interviews with the stars and the Opera Quiz.
The curtain goes up at 12:30 p.m.. Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station.”
Herr Graupner lived at the same time as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, and George Frideric Handel. Graupner had to turn down the post of Cantor at Leipzig. The runner-up, a musician by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach, got the position instead. Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov managed to compose approximately 40 works including 2 symphonies before he died at age 35 of tuberculosis. Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, written for the film Dangerous Moonlight (1941), has been recorded over one hundred times and has sold over a million copies.
Photos: No image of Christoph Graupner available. Portrait of Graupner’s patron, Ernest Louis, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, Public Domain on Wikipedia.org; Photo of Vasily Kalinnikov, Public Domain on Wikipedia.org; Photo of Richard Addinsell from the estate of Kenneth Hughes in the National Portrait Gallery, London
Friday, January 12, 2024
On January 12 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) and American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987).
Although he wrote 13 operas, Signor Wolf-Ferrari is probably best known for the opera Il Gioiello della Madonna. Like his contemporary John Cage, Morton Feldman wrote indeterminate music.
Photos: Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Public Domain, on Wikipedia.org; Morton Feldman, Rob Bogaerts, CC0 on Wikipedia.org
Thursday, January 11, 2024
This evening the Thursday Night Opera House presents Giacomo Puccini’s much-loved opera, Madame Butterfly. Madama Butterfly is an operatic masterpiece by Giacomo Puccini, first premiered in 1904. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, the opera tells the heart-wrenching story of Cio-Cio-San, a young Japanese geisha, and Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, a U.S. Navy officer. Pinkerton’s intentions are not sincere, as he marries Cio-Cio-San with the knowledge that he plans to return to America, leaving her behind.
Cio-Cio-San’s love for Pinkerton is genuine and unwavering. She converts to Christianity and renounces her family for him. Despite the disapproval of her relatives and the marriage broker, Goro, Cio-Cio-San waits patiently for Pinkerton’s return, even after three years of silence. Her unyielding faith is symbolized by the recurring theme of her prized possession, a small, fragile, paper-thin parasol.
Tragedy unfolds when Pinkerton finally returns to Japan with his American wife, Kate. Cio-Cio-San’s heartbreak and despair are palpable as she realizes the truth. She makes an ultimate sacrifice to secure a better future for her child and takes her own life, leaving the audience in a state of profound sorrow.
Madama Butterfly is a poignant exploration of love, betrayal, cultural clash, and the devastating consequences of deception. Puccini’s exquisite score, infused with Japanese melodies, enhances the emotional depth of this opera, making it one of the most moving and enduring works in the repertoire.
The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Tell your smart device to “Play The Classical Station.”
Born in Kiev, Reinhold Moritzevich Glière was a student of Sergei Taneyev, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, and Anton Arensky. Besides composing he taught at the Moscow Gnesin School of Music and the Moscow Conservatory. Trained as an organist, Maurice Duruflé was Louis Vierne’s assistant at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He also held the post of organist at St-Étienne-du-Mont, and taught harmony at the Conservatoire. Duruflé was highly critical of his compositions and consequently allowed very few to be published.
Photos: Reinhold Glière, Unknown author, Public Domain, Wikipedia.org; Maurice Duruflé, Unknown author, CC BY 2.5, Wikipedia.org
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
On January 10 we observe the birthdays of Swedish composer Tor Aulin (1866-1914), French conductor Jean Martinon (1910-1976), American baritone Sherrill Milnes (1935-), American bass-baritone James Morris (1947-), Latvian-born Israeli cellist Mischa Maisky (1948-), and American violinist Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg (1961-).
Although he was a violinist, Tor Aulin was also the conductor of the Stockholm and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestras. 20th-century conductor, Monsieur Martinon conducted many of the world’s great orchestras and was associated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1963-1968. Considered one of the great Verdi baritones, Sherrill Milnes has appeared with most of the world’s opera companies. He also has recorded extensively with more than 135 recordings to his credit. You can listen to our conversation with Sherrill Milnes on our Conversations With Singers page. Baltimore native James Morris is perhaps best remembered for his role as Wotan in Die Walkure. A student of the great cellists Mstislav Rostropovich and Gregor Piatigorsky, Mischa Maisky has over 50 recordings to his credit. After studying at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras.
Photos: Tor Aulin, Public Domain on Wikipedia.org; Jean Martinon, Author Unknown; Sherrill Milnes by Dario Acosta; Mischa Maisky by Yeugene on Wikipedia.org, CC SA-3.0; Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg/WWNO
Tuesday, January 9, 2024
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On January 9 we observe the birthday of American composer John Knowles Paine (1839-1906).
Known for his contributions to the late 19th-century American music scene, Paine’s compositions bridged the gap between European Romanticism and American musical traditions. He was a trailblazer in the United States, serving as a music professor at Harvard University and founding the first American symphony orchestra in Boston. Paine’s notable works include symphonies, chamber music, and choral compositions, which continue to be celebrated for their rich harmonies and emotional depth. His legacy endures as a pioneer in establishing a distinctly American classical music identity.
From Louis C. Elsen, The History of American Music. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1904, plate XII, facing p. 339. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: ML200.E46
Monday, January 8, 2024
This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra, which was founded in 1960. The program includes music by Franz Danzi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Josef Haydn, and more, conducted by Jorg Faerber in performances featuring flute soloists James Galway and Robert Dohn.
Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station” at 8 p.m. Eastern.
On January 8 we observe the birthday of American composer and banker, Lowell Mason (1792–1872).
Dr. Mason wrote over 1,600 hymn tunes including the much-loved tune to which we sing the text “Nearer, My God, To Thee.”
Photo: What WE Hear in Music, Anne S. Faulkner, Victor Talking Machine Co., 1913, Wikipedia.org, Public Domain, Fair Use