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.

Only gods can live in endless bliss. Tannhäuser - minstrel and renegade - is lured into the erotic realm of the love goddess Venus. There he luxuriates in lust and a host of sinful pleasures. But finally it's all too much. He longs to return home, and does — to friends, rules of Christian conduct, and most of all, to Elisabeth, the warm but chaste young woman who loves him, despite the grief he's caused.

On this week's Crossover, we take to the stage to hear about the Philadelphia Theatre Company's new musical comedy, Murder for Two, running now through June 28 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Center City, Philadelphia.

With book and music by Joe Kinosian, book and lyrics by Kellen Blair, and direction by Scott Schwartz, the hilarious whodunit features a two-man cast, with one actor investigating the crime and the other playing all the suspects – and both playing the piano.

Even if you’re not familiar with the Broadway musical Carousel, you’re likely to have heard the uplifting message and melody of the song "You’ll Never Walk Alone."

Its roots in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical extend far beyond the story of love and loss. 

One of the largest musical instruments is also among the most public. WRTI’s Susan Lewis considers carillons and their bells, which are ringing out in summer concert series all over the greater Philadelphia region.   

Radio Script:

Susan Lewis: A carillon is a set of large cast bronze bells suspended on a frame, usually at the top of a tall partially enclosed tower. 

Janet Tebbel: I love being up here because of all these big bells.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday June 6th, 5 to 6 pm. Since his name is not Debussy or Ravel or Satie, and since his name was not in a group called “Les Six,” the overlooked French composer of the 20th century’s first half may well be Jacques Ibert. But since 2015 is the 125th anniversary of his birth, this is a good time for Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection to assess his music.

Critics have often called Jacques Ibert “eclectic,” but that may have more to do with their not being able to pigeon-hole him into one school of music or another. What stands out most of all about Ibert, though, is that he is a remarkably resourceful composer. His efficiently scored works are always beautiful, and more often than not have a theatrical flair.

He knew what he was doing from the beginning. He had already won the top prize, the Prix de Rome, at the Paris Conservatory, but then went into the French Navy during the First World War. Even through these years, however, his compositional gifts were percolating. He began a substantial orchestral work based on the Oscar Wilde poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” at this time. Wilde, who had been imprisoned at Reading, witnessed the hanging of a man who had murdered his wife. One line in the poem has become famous: “Each man kills the thing he loves.”

The 1922 premiere of The Ballad of Reading Gaol was conducted by fellow composer Gabriel Pierné, and was a success. Another success immediately followed it. Escales, or Ports of Call, is inspired by Ibert’s naval experiences in the Mediterranean. He salutes Rome and Palermo in the first movement, the Tunisian cities of Tunis and Nafta in the second, and gives over the final movement to the Spanish port of Valencia.

Ibert composed Divertissement as incidental music for a 1929 theatrical comedy, but within a year produced a concert version. It and Escales are his two most popular orchestral works, and along with Reading Gaol made a name for Ibert, opened doors to publishers, and eventually led to the directorship of the French Academy in Rome, where he spent much of his life as an ambassador in Italy for all things French. He composed operas, piano music, film music (even for Gene Kelly and Orson Welles), and much else.

His life was not without setback, however. World War II interrupted his stay in Italy, and then the Nazi-allied Vichy government ruling France banned his music. He ended up in Switzerland, but returned to France—and his beloved Italy—when peace returned to Europe.

So for the 125th anniversary of the birth of Jacques Ibert it’s two familiar works, and (because it’s Discoveries) something not so. All in all, it’s the hard-to-label but nevertheless gorgeous music of Jacques Ibert.

Leonard Bernstein often said: "Every author spends his entire life writing the same book." The same could apply to composers.

By the time our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast airs on Sunday, June 7th, the Orchestra will have just completed its European tour with a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London. WRTI will, however, continue to air Philadelphia Orchestra broadcasts of this season’s concerts through early July.

Todd Rosenberg

Get ready to hear some of the most beloved songs in musical theater - presented by one of the most beloved opera companies in America - "June is Bustin' Out All Over," "If I Loved You," You'll Never Walk Alone," and more! Saturday, June 13, 1 to 4 pm on WRTI.

Swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, captivates and marries the naive millworker, Julie Jordan. But all too soon, they fall on hard times and unbearable loss. Yet the power of love perseveres, as do the tuneful hits in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel!

Jill Pasternak and Peter Richard Conte broadcast Crossover live from the 20th annual Wanamaker Organ Day at Macy's in Center City, Philadelphia on June 6th. You're invited to join Jill and Peter, and organists Peter Krasinski, Rudolph Lucente, and Fred Haas.

WRTI's Mark Pinto, host of the Classical New Releases show, fills you in on the latest and the greatest classical music CDs every Saturday at 5 pm. Here are five newly released recordings he recommends:

Sokolov: The Salzburg Recital. Though celebrated for the breadth of his repertoire, epic interpretations, and boundless imagination, Russian-born pianist Grigory Sokolov has become something of a living legend and a well-kept secret in America. 

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