This Week At The Classical Station

This Week At The Classical Station

By Rob Kennedy

Sunday, May 31, 2020

This evening on Preview! violinist Leonidas Kavakos plays music of Beethoven. Rob Kennedy speaks with Joanne Polk about her new CD, Louise Farrenc: Etudes & Variations for Solo Piano. Soprano Olga Mykytenko sings Verdi arias. And violinist Niv Ashkenazi performs on a restored instrument from the Holocaust, in the Violins of Hope program.

Preview! brings you the best in new classical recordings and arts news each Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern with David Jeffrey Smith.

Photo: Joanne Polk/

This evening on Wavelengths, the Jasper String Quartet performs a 2006 composition by American composer Judd Greenstein. We’ll also hear choral music by Ēriks Ešenvalds, and a concerto by Jonathan Leshnoff.

Wavelengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music every Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern with Ed Amend.

Photo: Jasper String Quartet/Dario Acosta

This week Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Choir of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C., Le Chœur Régional Nord-Pas de Calais, and the London Choral Society. Also on the playlist is choral music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Libby Larsen, and Sir Arthur Sullivan.

Great Sacred Music features beautiful choral and organ music. Every Sunday morning. 8 a.m. Eastern right after Sing For Joy with Rob Kennedy.

Photo: 1892 Willis organ in Hereford Cathedral/

On May 31 we observe the birthdays of French composer Marin Marais (1656-1728), French composer Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), English countertenor Alfred Deller (1912-1979), and American mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett (1931-2010). Marin Marais studied with Jean-Baptiste Lully. Louise Farrenc was a Professor at the Paris Conservatoire, as well as being a highly-regarded composer. Alfred Deller was instrumental in bringing back the countertenor voice in early music. Following a busy career singing in opera houses worldwide, Ms. Verrett was Professor of Voice and the James Earl Jones University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan.


Saturday, May 29, 2020

On May 30 we observe the birthdays of Dutch keyboardist and conductor Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012) and Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltán Kocsis (1952-2016). A harpsichordist and organist, Gustav Leonhardt was an early music specialist whose teaching and work influenced a generation of performers including Martin Pearlman, Davitt Monroney, Ton Koopman, Christopher Hogwood, and Jeanette Sorrell. A child prodigy, Zoltán Kocsis began conducting in his 30s and was responsible for transforming the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra into a world-class ensemble.


Friday, May 29, 2020

On May 29 we observe the birthdays of Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), Austrian-born American composer Erich Korngold (1897-1957), German conductor Karl Munchinger (1915-1990), and American conductor Helmut Rilling (1933-). Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual composed many piano pieces using themes from Spanish folk music. Erich Korngold won an Academy Award in 1938 for his score to The Adventures of Robin Hood. We have Herr Munchinger to thank for popularizing Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D which Munchinger first recorded in 1960. Herr Rilling is a renowned conductor of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He also founded the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart among several other ensembles.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Kurt Weill’s “American opera” Street Scene opened on Broadway on January 9, 1947. With a huge cast of singers and actors, it’s rarely been revived outside the opera house, since many of its roles require voices equally at home in Puccini or Verdi. Having been forced to leave his native Germany in the 1930s, the composer of Three Penny Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny reinvented himself on Broadway with Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady in the Dark, and One Touch of Venus before returning, albeit briefly, to grand opera.

Street Scene takes the inhabitants of a crowded tenement building during one particular oppressively hot summer day in New York City and lets us see them as individuals: the gossipy women who lean out of their windows to watch everyone passing by; Sam Kaplan (tenor Jerry Hadley) and Rose Maurrant (soprano Angelina Réaux), young and in love and frightened to death of what the future holds; Rose’s father, Frank (bass-baritone Samuel Ramey), who passionately loves his wife Anna (soprano Josephine Barstow) but knows she is having an affair with the milkman; the black janitor Henry (baritones Ben Holt and Bruce Hubbard), who lives in the apartment house with the white people, but has his own dreams as an outsider; Mrs. Buchanan and her nervous husband who are having a baby; Jenny, coming home from her graduation, et al.

John Mauceri conducts the Scottish Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this 1991 Decca/London recording. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m.  Eastern with your host Bob Chapman. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Scene from the original 1929 play Street Scene/

On May 28 we observe the birthdays of German baritone Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012), and Romanian-born Austrian composer György Sándor Ligeti (1923-2006). Herr Fischer-Dieskau was universally acclaimed as the greatest singer of lieder. His recordings of Schubert songs with Gerald Moore and Jorge Demus are acmes of the genre. Ligeti was considered one of the greatest avant-garde composers of the 20th century. Stanley Kubrick used Ligeti’s music in 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Wednesday, May 27

On May 27 we observe the birthdays of French composer Jacques Halévy (1799-1862), German-Swiss composer Joachim Raff (1822-1882) and Scottish composer Thea Musgrave (1928-). Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy had many notable students including Georges Bizet and Camille Saint-Saëns. Joseph Joachim Raff worked as Franz Liszt’s assistant for several years during which time he helped orchestrate several of the master’s works. Thea Musgrave has lived in the United States since 1972 and has been on the faculty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Queens College, City University of New York.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

On May 26 we observe the birthdays of Lithuanian-born French pianist Vlado Perlemuter (1904-2002), English conductor Sir Eugene Gossens (1893-1962), and American composer William Bolcom (1938-).

Vlado Perlemuter was renowned for his interpretation of the music of Maurice Ravel. Sir Eugene Aynsley Goossens came from a long line of distinguished musicians. William Bolcom won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his composition 12 New Etudes for Piano


Monday, May 25, 2020

Today The Classical Station observes Memorial Day. We honor the men and women who have given so much for our country. Our programming throughout the day features patriotic music. At 3 p.m. Eastern we will pause for a moment of reflection with the playing of Taps and America the Beautiful.

Bring your Memorial Day to a close with Monday Night at the Symphony which features the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. On the program is music of American composers Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, and Richard Hayman in performances led by André Previn, David Robertson, and Leonard Slatkin. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Saint Louis Symphony/