What’s On Preview! | August 8, 2021

Scottish-Italian violinist Nicola Benedetti (1987-) recently released an album on the Decca label featuring Baroque violin concerti. We’ll hear her play Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in E flat, RV 257, and then later in the program, Francesco Geminiani’s Concerto No. 12 in D minor, “La Follia.” The playing of both Ms. Benedetti and her band of early instrument players assembled for this recording is sprightly and thoroughly delightful.

‘one of the most promising young contemporary guitarists’ …Classical Guitar

Thibaut Garcia
Photo ⓒ Luis Castilla

Polish-French composer Alexandre Tansman (1897–1986) composed prolifically. French classical guitarist Thibaut Garcia has recorded Tansman’s tip of the musical hat to Baroque guitarist Robert de Visée with the National Orchestra of the Toulouse Capitole conducted by Ben Glassberg. This is a 2020 release on the Erato label.

Jean Sibelius conducted the first performance of his Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 105, on March 24, 1924, in Stockholm. This evening we hear it performed by the Kansas City Symphony conducted by Michael Stern. It’s on a CD entitled One Movement Symphonies on the Reference Recordings label.

Elizabeth Beilman
Photo: NCCMI

Our interview this evening features Elizabeth Beilman, Director of the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute. She speaks with Dan McHugh about the Institute’s work with young musicians.

We salute American guitarist Sharon Isbin, who celebrated her 65th birthday on August 7. She plays Antonio Lauro’s Natali, in an arrangement by Colin Davin.

Earlier this year the distinguished Harmonia Mundi label released Americans: Bernstein/Barber/Crawford/Ives. James Galligan conducts the Zurich Symphony Orchestra in that performance of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990).

Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax re-visit the Beethoven Cello Sonatas, having first recorded them together 40 years ago. They play the Cello Sonata in G minor. It’s available on the Sony Classical label.

While Maurice Ravel’s Sonate Posthume for Violin and Piano was completed in 1897, it was not published until 1975. Violinist Daniel Hope and pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips perform on the Deutsche Grammaphon label.

Orrin Howard, writing for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, states: “If the first Serenade was a bit conservative and what we might call unBrahmsian, the second had all the stuff of the real Brahms, revealing the characteristics that make the composer’s music immediately recognizable. The lilt, the warmth, the gracious melodies, and the enlivening cross rhythms that give distinction to a work that essentially fits the definition of a serenade as music strictly for easy listening. Essentially, but far from entirely, for the central third movement of the five-movement work casts a long gray shadow on the charming movements before and aft. Cast in the key of A minor, the piece begins with the low strings (all are low inasmuch as Brahms scored the work without violins) in bare octaves presenting a theme that has a kind of Bach-like seriousness. This two-measure motif is destined to be almost ever present, either in the bass or above. It is not the only melodic idea in the movement, but it becomes a rich source of the kind of thematic transformation that was a life-long technique of the master.

As if to make amends for the third movement’s departure into un-serenade sobriety, Brahms tears loose in a fifth movement that fairly dances, ingratiates with a lovable oboe theme, and enlivens with all manner of orchestral brilliance augmented by the bright voice of the piccolo. A very happy ending indeed.”  Iván Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra on a Channel Classics CD.

Rob Kennedy
August 8, 2021