Bebe Neuwirth is probably best known for her portrayal of Lilith Sternin-Crane in the TV sitcom Cheers, and more recently for co-starring in CBS TV series Madam Secretary. Yet, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, her roots are not in television or film, but on the Broadway stage.
After being featured on NPR's All Things Considered,Chad Lawson's CD, The Chopin Variations, shot to No. 1 on iTunes Classical before it was even released in September, 2014. Lawson's interpretation of Chopin's nocturnes, preludes, and waltzes involves a surprising reconfiguration of the piano, and offers a sense of intimacy with the music that is likely new to most listeners.
WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston learns about the power of simplicity in her conversation with pianist Chad Lawson.
A symphonic self portrait that premiered in 1830 has become one of the most-performed works in the orchestral repertoire. WRTI’s Susan Lewis discusses this epitome of romantic program music with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
Guest Conductor Vladimir Jurowski, a familiar presence on the podium here in Philadelphia, returned for a visit to Verizon Hall in late October, for a concert we hear broadcast on Sunday that continues three programming themes heard throughout this season: the 40/40 Project, the presentation of pieces that have not been performed on subscriptions concerts in at least the past 40 years, or ever; a month-long celebration of the “Art of the Pipe Organ,” featuring Verizon Hall’s majestic Fred J.
On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, December 6th, 5 to 6 pm. Does the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music have vocal works? It does now, although it didn’t originally. The Symphony Club had no singers, so it didn’t require vocal or choral music. But as its library expanded, became a part of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and began circulating to orchestras, the need to look beyond purely instrumental works increased. Requests came in for Handel’s Messiah, the Brahms German Requiem, a Schubert or Mozart Mass, opera arias here and there, and so by the late 1970s the Collection started purchasing some of the great voice with orchestra literature.
We'll wrap up our three-program excursion into the music of Johann Sebastian Bach with two of his works for voices. Last month we looked at concertos using harpsichords, which first saw the light of day in the 1730s at Zimmermann’s Coffee House in Leipzig, but the work most associated with that place, of course, is the Coffee Cantata. Bach wrote no operas, but this secular cantata is, in effect, a mini-opera.
“Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht” are the first words sung by the father Schlendrian to his daughter, and are a great beginning to any concert, as they mean, “Be quiet and stop yakking!” (more or less). Schlendrian, literally, “stick in the mud,” wishes to get his daughter out of the newly fashionable but addicting activity of coffee-drinking. She will not yield until he offers to get her—if she quits—a husband. She agrees, but lets us know that she’ll only marry a man who lets her drink coffee. And that’s the story, the libretto by a frequent collaborator of Bach’s, Christian Friedrich Henrici who wrote under the name “Picander.”
In 1716, Bach, at Weimar, composed the original version of Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, “Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life,” a cantata for one of the weeks leading up to Christmas. When Bach moved to Leipzig to become Kantor, or music director, of the prestigious St. Thomas Church, he started to compose cantatas for each week of the church year. He needed one for a July Sunday, the Visitation of the expectant mother Mary to her cousin Elizabeth (soon to be the mother of John the Baptist), and remembered his old Weimar cantata.
It was a studied choice. Because of differences in the observance of Advent between Weimar and Leipzig, the old cantata wasn’t useable for him anymore, so instead of letting it sit in a desk drawer, he took it out and revised it. About half of it worked perfectly—it was already Marian in nature—but he added more sections. The last movement of it, however, will be recognizable to anyone who has ever heard Bach.
Alon Goldstein performs Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, arranged for piano by Dame Myra Hess:
“Jesus bleibet meine Freude” means “Jesus remains my joy,” but we hear this music at weddings, at Christmas, at Easter, and all through the year in every kind of arrangement, as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (the words by English poet Robert Bridges, 1844–1930). The chorale melody, unadorned by Bach’s bubbling triplets, is by Johann Schop (c.1590–1667), reminding us that there really is no such thing as a “Bach chorale tune.” He excelled in these chorale movements at taking old Lutheran hymn melodies and, in settings of exquisite craftmanship, creating new works of genius. Vocal works with orchestra indeed have a place in the Fleisher Collection.
It's been said that when you hear the vocal group Anonymous 4 perform, you're listening to the music of angels or something that can't possibly come from our world. In a word, unearthly. Unfortunately, that sound won't be around much longer, as the group has decided to retire their angelic vocal cords with the 2015-2016 season.
from Carter Pann: The Piano’s 12 Sides, Irish Tune
Maybe Thanksgiving is making us burst at the seams on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 6th at 9 pm, but we're chock-full of music on this program. There's not even enough time to play all of Carter Pann's substantial work for solo piano, The Piano's 12 Sides. It comes in at over an hour, so we'll trim just a bit and give over the entire show to this one work.
Pann dedicated each of the movements to a separate pianist, and we hear distinct personalities throughout the work. What we hear in Carter Pann is a composer at ease with music; he breathes with music in the many styles he assembled in this piece from 2011-12. Silhouette, White Moon over Water, Classic Rock, Soirée Macabre, Grand Etude Fantasy, and Irish Tune are some of the movements. This isn't eclecticism (not that there's anything wrong with that) per se, but all the personalities are expressed by one big personality, unafraid of either plain speaking or lovely sound. Joel Hastings is the splendid performer.
Launched in 1931, the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday matinee broadcasts are the longest-running continuous classical music program in radio history.
The 84th broadcast season begins on Saturday, December 6th with Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, starring Isabel Leonard as Rosina, followed by Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg on December 13th, and Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro on December 20th.
Think of the rising of the sun...for the first time ever. Russian Conductor Vladimir Jurowski says it's an ingenious beginning to the tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra by German composer Richard Strauss, based on philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's novel of the same name.
Music from the popular symphonic piece played a memorable role in the 1968 Hollywood film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, those famous opening bars are only the beginning of a work that continues to engage and intrigue audiences.