What’s On Preview! | February 21, 2021

It’s hard to think of a living American composer more iconic than John Williams. The composer of much-loved music for Star Wars, Juraissic Park, to name but a few of his superb film scores. His music enjoys tremendous popularity worldwide. But John had never conducted a European orchestra until the Vienna Philharmonic invited him to conduct concerts of his own music on October 18 and 19, 2020 a month or so before the pandemic put an end to live concerts.

Pete Williams writes in Feast of Music: “Williams admitted he’d been unsure how the Vienna Philharmonic would adapt to playing his music.

‘I couldn’t have been more happily surprised,’ he said after their concerts. ‘I have to compliment the orchestra on their great virtuosity and fantastic ability to perform all styles of music.'”

On Preview! this week we shall enjoy John Williams’ conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in a performance of the composer’s Devil’s Dance from The Witches of Eastwick.

Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe is one of those quiet, unassuming but exceedingly talented young musicians active today. I interviewed him in June 2020 when his CD of music by Johann Sebastian Bach was released. This week we shall hear Sean play Bach’s Prelude, Fugue & Allegro, BWV 998.

Classical music appeals to people worldwide. It is a lingua franca, a universal language. This is delightfully exemplified in Mexican-born (and Chicago resident) pianist Jorge Federico Osorio’s disc The French Album. He plays The Sunken Cathedral from Claude Debussy’s Preludes, Book I.

An estimated 50 million viewers worldwide watched this year’s virtual New Years Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic. Riccardo Muti conducts the orchestra in a performance of a listener favorite, Franz von Suppé’s Overture to Poet and Peasant.

“Songs are little time capsules of emotions: they can contain long-lost dreams and desires, and feelings of great spirit, optimism, and unity,”

Yo-Yo Ma and Katherine Stott write of Songs of Comfort and Hope, their CD released in 2020. They play Jerome Kern’s Ol’ Man River for us.

“François-Xavier Roth is one of today’s most charismatic and enterprising conductors. With a reputation for enterprising programming, his incisive approach and inspiring leadership are valued around the world.”…Maestro Arts  Maestro Roth conducts the orchestra which he founded in 2003, Les Siècles, in a performance of Maurice Ravel’s La Valse.

In another of our weekly interviews with a distinguished musician, Elizabeth Elliott speaks with violinist and Kennedy Center honoree Midori Goto about her career. Then Midori plays Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61.

From their CD Songs of Comfort & Hope, Kathryn Stott and Yo-Yo Ma play Rain Falling from the Roof by Chinese composer Wu Tong.

One of the things we are able to do on The Classical Station thanks to the generous support of our listeners is playing full-length symphonies without interruption. This evening we shall hear Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra apparently found impossible to perform at its first rehearsal. Andris Nelsons conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in a performance recorded on a Deutsche Grammophon CD.

Rob Kennedy
February 19, 2021