What’s On Preview! | March 14, 2021

One of the things which make classical music programming so interesting is the wide variety of styles and periods represented in the genre. And so, on Preview! this evening we begin the program with an excerpt from a film score, Adventures on Earth from E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial by John Williams and follow that with a group of nuns singing some ancient plainchant. Music from 800 years ago juxtaposed with music of the 20th-century! For the record, John Williams had never conducted the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra until he made this recording, John Williams in Vienna, in 2020. The Poor Clares of Arundel are 23 women living in an English convent. Their CD Light For The World has topped the charts in the United Kingdom since its release late last year. We will hear two pieces: the ancient plainsong hymn Veni Creator Spiritus and Gaze, Consider, Contemplate, James Morgan and Juliette Pochin’s setting of a text by St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253).

Songs of Comfort & Hope is a CD that pianist Kathryn Stott and cellist Yo-Yo Ma released last year. We have played several tracks from it as both the music and the performances are a solace in these times of emotional need. This evening, the duo plays Solveig’s Song from the Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, Op. 55 by Edvard Grieg.

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

French teacher Nadia Boulanger influenced scores of American composers including Aaron Copland, David Diamond, John Eliot Gardiner, Philip Glass, Roy Harris, Quincy Jones, to name but a few. Much lesser-known but just as brilliant a musician was her younger sister Lilu who died at the tender age of 25. We hear her Nocturne played by cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Mari Kodama.

The London Haydn Quartet is not just a string quartet. It’s a period instrument string quartet which was founded in 2000. Given the explosion of knowledge and scholarship about what instruments were played in Haydn’s time, there’s a very good chance that their performance of Haydn’s String Quartet in C, Op. 76 No. 3 “Emperor” will sound pretty much as the composer might have heard it.

Interviewing distinguished musicians is one of the most enjoyable parts of my work at The Classical Station. Interviewing a distinguished musician you have admired for many years kicks it up several notches. So it is with an interview I did with the Chief Classical Music Critic of the New York Times, Anthony Tomassini. His insights into the way Virgil Thomson composed are nothing short of fascinating. If you miss the interview during Preview!, you can find it online here.

Fenwick Smith, flute and Sharan Leventhal, violin, play Virgil Thomson’s Serenade for Flute and Violin.

Dominic Fyfe, Label Director of Decca Classics and the producer of recordings by Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra’s since 2003, said,

We all wish Seiji the happiest of birthdays. While recent years have been challenging because of illness, his music-making has shone through with a determination and resilience which are apt for Beethoven and this most exhilarating of his symphonies.

Maestro Ozawa conducts the Saito Kinen Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Lenore Overture No. 3.

English pianist Benjamin Grosvenor tosses off Franz Liszt’s Three Sonnets of Petrarch from Years of Pilgrimage: The Second Year — Italy with great aplomb.

French musician Louise Farrenc taught at the Paris Conservatoire in the 19th-century one of the few women permitted to do so. We hear her Overture No. 1 in E minor, Op. 23 played by the European Soloists of Luxembourg conducted by Christoph Konig.

Hilary Hahn has a new CD out. From Paris we hear her perform Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Serenade for My Love. She’s accompanied by the Radio France Philharmonic conducted by Mikko Franck.

Rob Kennedy
March 13, 2021