This Week At The Classical Station

Photo: Dale Marie Muller

This Week At The Classical Station

By Rob Kennedy

Sunday, July 12, 2020

This evening on Preview! violinist Augustin Hadelich plays music of Antonín Dvořák. Rob Kennedy speaks with pianist Garrick Ohlsson about his recording of the Elgar and Beach Piano Quintets with the Takács Quartet. Cellist Camille Thomas plays music of Max Bruch from her new release, Voice of Hope.

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

Photo: Garrick Ohlsson/Dario Acosta

This evening on Wavelengths, flutist Dieter Flury and pianist Ieva Osa play music of American composer Carl Vollrath. The London Symphony Percussion Ensemble performs a work by vibraphonist Joe Locke, and we’ll hear music of Danny Elfman.

Wavelengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music, Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Carl Vollrath/Navona Records

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Atlanta Sacred Chorale, the St. Olaf Choir, and the Zemel Choir. Also on the playlist is choral music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Everett Titcomb, and Felix Mendelssohn.

Great Sacred Music. Beautiful choral and organ music. Every Sunday morning. 8 a.m. eastern. Right after Sing For Joy. With Rob Kennedy.

Photo: 1710 Cliquot organ in the Chapel of Versailles, France

On July 12 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Anton Arensky (1861-1906), English composer George Butterworth (1885-1916), Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962), American pianist Van Cliburn (1934-2013), and American clarinetist Richard Stoltzman (1942-). Anton Stepanovich Arensky studied composition with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The other major influence on the young Russian was Pyotr Tchaikovsky. George Butterworth was killed in World War I during the Battle of the Somme. Ms. Flagstad was a highly regarded Wagnerian soprano. She made her Metropolitan opera debut in Die Walkure on February 2, 1935. Louisiana native Van Cliburn stunned the musical world when he won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1958. The competition was held every four years in Moscow. You can imagine the sensation an American made winning a Russian competition during the Cold War! Nebraska native Richard Stoltzman is a clarinetist who is acclaimed for his classical music playing. He is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory and Boston University.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

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 “WCPE Radio”.

On July 11 we observe the birthdays of Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017), and American conductor Herbert Blomstedt (1927-). Gedda made his debut at the age of 26 singing a role in Adolphe Adam’s opera “Le postillon de Lonjumeau” which has one of the most demanding parts for tenor ever written. Gedda tossed it off with great aplomb. He died earlier this year. The following sentence from Wikipedia illustrates what a remarkable conductor Maestro Blomstedt is. “Blomstedt is currently Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and Honorary Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Staatskapelle Dresden.” 

Photos: Nicolai Gedda/
Herbert Blomstedt/Micke Grönberg/Sveriges Radio

Friday, July 10, 2020

On July 10 we observe the birthdays of Polish violinist-composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1890), German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982), and German tenor Jonas Kaufmann (1969-). Henryk Wieniawski was honored posthumously with two stamps and a coin. The income from “Carmina Burana” which was first performed in 1937 was significant to Orff. Herr Kaufmann is considered one of the great tenors of our time. 

Photos: Jonas Kaufmann/Metropolitan Opera; Others/

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A spoiled teenager gets her just desserts, dying in a desert in this evening’s Thursday Night Opera House: Giacomo Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. The composer’s first commercially successful opera had its premiere in Turin, Italy, on February 1, 1893. The story is based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by Antoine François Prévost, better known as the Abbé Prévost. The libretto, while more faithful to Prévost than Jules Massenet’s Manon (1884), sentimentalizes Manon and Des Grieux.

The story begins in eighteenth-century France and ends a few years later in the Louisiana territory that President Thomas Jefferson would purchase for America. The teenaged Manon (soprano Mirella Freni), accompanied by her brother Lescaut (baritone Renato Bruson), is on her way to a convent. She meets and falls in love with the Chevalier des Grieux (tenor Plácido Domingo) and, taking the coach of the elderly Geronte (bass Kurt Rydl)—who had himself hoped to use it to abduct Manon—the couple go to Paris. After a while, Manon is seduced by the wealth offered by Geronte and leaves Des Grieux. They are later reunited and decide to go away together; but, before leaving, Manon stops to pick up her jewelry, the gift of Geronte. This delay leads to their arrest by agents hired by Geronte, and Manon is sentenced to deportation to New Orleans. Des Grieux gains permission to accompany her, helps Manon escape in America, and they go in search of an English colony. However, the now-ailing Manon loses her strength and dies in the wilderness.

Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in this 1984 DG recording. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Bob Chapman hosts.

Photo: 2019 Production of Manon by Metropolitan Opera/Marty Sohl

On July 9 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), American composer David Diamond (1915-2005), and American conductor David Zinman (1936-). 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 84th birthday, Maestro!

Photos: Respighi & Diamond/; David Zinman/Priska Ketterer

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Did you miss last Sunday’s Preview! interview? Not to worry, we have saved all of the interviews which air at approximately 7 p.m. Eastern during Preview! These brief conversations with musicians center on a recently-released CD, and also touch on the artists’ professional careers and lives as classical musicians. Fascinating!

On July 8 we observe the birthdays of Australian composer and arranger Percy Grainger (1882-1961) and English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor (1992-). 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 on Preview! with Rob Kennedy.

Photos: Percy Grainger/
Benjamin Grosvenor/Sophie Wright on Decca


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

On July 7 we observe the birthdays of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007), and Danish recorder player Michala Petri (1958-). 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; Others:

Monday, July 6, 2020

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Cleveland Orchestra. On the program is music of Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss, in performances led by Pierre Boulez, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and music director Franz Welser-Möst.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “Play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Roger Mastroianni

American lutenist Paul O’Dette is our guest on the July edition of My Life In Music. With over 120 recordings and numerous awards to his credit, O’Dette is Professor of Lute, Professor of Conducting & Ensembles, and Director of the Collegium Musicum at the Eastman School of Music. Join Dan McHugh for My Life In Music this evening at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: BEMF

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