Saturday Classics

Saturday, 6 to 11 am

Wake up to a great variety of classical music every Saturday morning with host Rolf Charlston. You'll hear works ranging from Baroque to contemporary--from a gentle waltz to a bright tango--from old favorites to something new.

Composer ID: 
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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI
9:13 am
Sun December 7, 2014

It's Julian Anderson, Mozart, and Richard Strauss with The Philadelphians, Dec. 7 at 1 PM on WRTI

Vladimir Jurowski conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in a concert recorded in October, 2014.

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.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
10:17 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Bach Secular and Sacred

The Visitation, Rogier van der Weyden, 1445. Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig

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.

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Crossover
4:27 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Anonymous 4: Almost Ready to Retire Their Angelic Vocal Chords

The a cappella quartet Anonymous 4 has been singing mostly medieval music together for more than a quarter of a century.

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.  

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The Metropolitan Opera on WRTI
12:00 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

A New Met Opera Season Begins on WRTI! December 6th at 1 PM

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings Rosina in The Met Opera's The Barber of Seville.

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.

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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI
1:22 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Alan Gilbert Conducts Janacek's Glagolitic Mass with The Philadelphians: Nov. 30 at 1 PM on WRTI

Conductor Alan Gilbert is music director of the New York Philharmonic, and guest conductor of this Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on WRTI.

In the late 19th century, prominent composers began to emerge from countries that had not been center stage in international musical life. Among these leading figures were Jean Sibelius in Finland, and Antonín Dvořák and Leoš Janáček in the Czech lands.

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WRTI Spotlight
1:49 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Rossini Opera Festival on WRTI: Saturday, Nov. 29 at 1 PM

Rossini's ARMIDA

Listen to Rossini's ARMIDA on WRTI, Saturday, November 29th at 1 pm. The Rossini Opera Festival is an international opera festival entirely devoted to Gioachino Rossini and takes place in his hometown of Pesaro, Italy along the Adriatic Sea. It was founded in 1980, using funds donated to Pesaro by Rossini himself when he died in the 1869. Its mission is to revive, to perform on stage and to study the musical heritage connected with the composer.

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The Crossing Chamber Choir on WRTI
12:07 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Kile Smith's The Consolation of Apollo: The Crossing Choir on WRTI, Nov. 23 at 3 PM

Composer Kile Smith

Join us on Sunday, November 23rd at 3 pm for a concert broadcast by The Crossing chamber choir, led by Music Director Donald Nally, and recorded in October at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
4:27 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago

Ela Stein Weissberger joins the cast of Brundibár for a final song.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 7:53 pm

Brundibár, a children's opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.

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Philadelphia Music Makers on WRTI, Nov. 23, 5 PM
2:50 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Hear More from Seymour

Cellist Tessa Seymour is on the road to star status.

Tessa Seymour is in her final year at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she was selected out of hundreds to fill the only spot for a cellist the year she applied. In addition to an unparalleled legacy of greatness, Curtis also offered her the personalized instruction she craved that a large r conservatory could never have offered.

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Latest Jazz from NPR Music
4:47 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Uncovering The Heart Of Chopin — Literally

Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, who died in 1849.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

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