Ludwig van Beethoven's Romance No. 2 in F Major, Op.50, performed by Takako Nishizaki, violin, with Kenneth Jean conducting the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, is featured on CD 1 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
This is the second of a pair of works written for solo violin and orchestra. A favorite with concert artists, it is pensive and beautifully melodic, highlighting the sonic qualities of the violin at its best and allowing the soloists a wide range of emotional options.
Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, performed by the Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison, conductor, is featured on CD 1 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
“O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the newborn Lord, lying in a manger. Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!” This text was first chanted by monks in the cold, pre-dawn hours before Christmas mornings centuries ago. Now, the mystical, soaring music of Morten Lauridsen warms millions worldwide.
Simple in structure and harmony, yet quietly overwhelming, the Lauridsen O Magnum Mysterium transcends style with its luminously expressive writing. Morten Lauridsen is one of the most-sung choral composers in America and around the world, and this work is a fine example why.
The Tragic Overture of Johannes Brahms, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conducting, is featured on CD 1 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
"One weeps, the other laughs." So Brahms remarked about his two, contrasting pair of concert overtures—the jovial Academic Festival Overture and the Tragic Overture. The complementary overtures are like the masks of the Greek dramas: Comedy facing one way, Tragedy the other.
Although Brahms read Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Goethe, in the musical tragedy he is not telling a specific story, but instead is invoking a mood, an emotional impression. Two hammer chords announce and reappear throughout the overture. It is a dark and stormy overture.
from Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde, Prelude and Liebestod
The Prelude and Liebestod from Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Johannes Wildner, conductor, is featured on CD 2 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
There are those who feel, quite frankly, that the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde is the greatest piece of music ever written. The final climax of the music drama probably inspired by Wagner’s affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, is certainly one of the peaks of the operatic repertory. Here, before our very ears, we experience the beginning of the move away from conventional harmony and tonality, and witness Wagner laying the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century as early as 1857!
The very first chord in the piece, the Tristan chord, is of great significance in the move away from traditional tonal harmony as it resolves to another dissonant chord! For me, the anticipation of final release in that last chord of the Liebestod is almost unbearable; but, when it finally comes, the lasting sense of ecstasy is as spine-tingling and blissful as anything in all art. I dissolve every time I hear it, and ask myself, “How could any human being have written this?”
We travel far and wide on Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 8th at 10 pm, starting with Another Fantastic Voyage, a piano concerto by Dmitri Tymoczko. With tongue in cheek, Tymoczko skillfully performs pop exegesis on generic myths—knights on a king’s mission, for instance, or a campy Night on Bald Mountain—where everything turns out horribly wrong.
David Toub wrote mf originally for brass, but then arranged it for string quartet, a far but convincing leap for this homage to Morton Feldman (mf), all played at mezzo-forte (mf). Insistent, Playful, and Doleful are the movements in Richard Wilson’s limber Affirmations, a colorful jaunt for a mixed chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.
The distinguished violinist Itzhak Perlman offers a glimpse into the classical Jewish Cantorial repertoire, and beloved liturgical and traditional works in new arrangements backed by chamber orchestra and Klezmer musicians. Mr. Perlman is joined by his dear friend and colleague, Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.
While rooted in the Cantorial-liturgical tradition of Jewish music, the ten tracks on Eternal Echoes: Songs And Dances For the Soul encompass a wide range of sonic modes and musical moods. The CD has just the right mixture of happy and sad, and laughter through tears.
Maybe this weekend you're traveling with Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 1st at 10 pm. We start with City Columns for orchestra by Shawn Crouch, and then go way, way out with Michael Daugherty's percussion concerto UFO. Evelyn Glennie solos, sometimes on unidentified pieces of metal, in the work that's all about Roswell and Area 51 and improvising in front of a large wind ensemble.
It's also the time of year for going back to school, and Matthew McCabe remembers his first music teacher in Everything Must Be Beautiful. The homage uses her voice, together with electronically processed sounds, in glorious, retro, two-channel tape. Whether you're here or far, far away (we stream online!), and whether you study, teach, work, or rest, have a great weekend!
American playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes on Crossover with Jill Pasternak, August 31, 2013
They say America is a country of immigrants. And it is that immigrant experience that we explore and celebrate on Crossover this week. A smash Broadway hit,In the Heightsdetails the life and survival of a family and their pursuit of happiness in the “promised land” of America. Set in the Washington Heights barrio of New York City, the characters wrestle with the heartache and the joys and the drama of “making it” in a country that is not their native land.
Guitarist Manuel Barrueco, on Crossover with Jill Pasternak, from 2010.
In the same vein, we reprise a conversation from 2010 with virtuoso guitarist Manuel Barrueco. A native of Cuba, he studied at the esteemed Esteban Salas Conservatory in Cuba, came to the United States as part of the Cuban exodus, enrolled in Baltimore’s, Peabody Institute, and in 1974 became the first classical guitarist to win the Concert Artists Guild award. He has recorded over a dozen albums for EMI and with every major orchestra along with Deep Purple and The Police.
Let's face it, for most people thoughts of brass conjure up either college football halftime bands or worse, the "sad tuba and trombone" music cues marking a game show loser (think The Price Is Right when the contestant gets the price wrong and doesn't win the car). Personally, the holidays are what comes to mind when I think of brass.
You might call these fantastic lullabies on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 25th at 10 pm. The birth of a friend's daughter inspired Rick Sowash's Lullabye for Kara for cello and piano. Steven Gerber's Violin Concerto is a rocking to sleep, of sorts, of a work he began as a student at Haverford College but never finished. One part of it, however, was born anew as this concerto's first movement.
From solo strings to more—but synthesized—is Carl Berky's The Synthelating Mariachi String Band. In Secret Geometry, James Primosch uses electronic tape with piano, and between explosive Variations and a brilliant Toccata is a Nocturne in the true spirit of night-music: the other side of a lullaby, perhaps. Phillip Lasser focuses on the singer of the lullaby rather more than the song itself, in Berceuse fantasque for violin and piano.