Music Lists

Goldberg Week at NPR Music

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
0 Comments   0 comments.

The so-called Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach represent one of the high points of the composer's music. NPR Music explores the Goldbergs through performances, commentary, and articles.



  Listen to The Bach Channel

More from Goldberg Week:

"Beyond Glenn Gould: Five Great Goldberg Variations," by Benjamin K. Roe

"Why I Hate the Goldberg Variations," by Jeremy Denk


More Bach Month
New to Bach's delightfully intricate and huge keyboard piece? Read and listen to a brief Goldberg Variations FAQ, featuring Harvard University's Christoph Wolff, the world's pre-eminent Bach scholar and director of the Bach Archive in Leipzig, in conversation with Tom Huizenga of NPR Music.


What are the Goldberg Variations?

Around 1741, Bach published a long and complicated keyboard piece, calling it Aria with diverse variations for a harpsichord with two manuals (keyboards). Wolff says it was the final work in a much larger endeavor: "This is the capstone of a publication project which is called in German Clavier-Übung — in English perhaps best translated as Keyboard Practice — where he wanted to show what was possible at the keyboard in terms of technical development, technical, virtuosic finesse and compositional sophistication."

The music is constructed symmetrically, beginning with a beautifully tranquil and highly ornamented Aria, the bass line of which fuels the 30 variations that follow. There is something of a dividing line after variation 15, and the piece ends as it begins, with the return of the Aria. Every third variation is a canon — the melody of each is laid over itself, as in "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" — with the additional complication that the pitch difference between the melodies rises from a canon in unison up to the canon in ninths.

Why The Name Goldberg?

Legend has it that Bach wrote the music to sooth the sleepless nights of one Count Kaiserling, who asked his private harpsichordist, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, to perform the variations. Wolff maintains the legend isn't true.

"It is not true, at least not as a story that explains the origin of the work," Wolff says. "It may be related to the history of the work during Bach's time. When Bach wrote the variations, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg was 13 years of age. He apparently was a very gifted kid. He was a student of Bach's son, Wilhelm Friedemann in Dresden, but he also took lessons with J.S. Bach in Leipzig."

What Is The Source Of The Variations?

Although Bach published the Goldberg Variations around 1741, Wolff says he apparently came up with the opening Aria some years earlier.

"We do have a copy of just the Aria in the hand of Anna Magdalena Bach, Johann Sebastian's second wife, who was a singer," Wolff says. "She apparently wanted to play the piece, and it probably wasn't copied by her until the late 1730s."

"But I think the origin goes back to an idea Bach got from Handel. Handel, in 1733, published an aria with 64 variations. The variations are based on the same Aria bass, but it's only eight measures long. And Bach thought that 'This is a wonderful idea to have many variations on such a promising ground bass. But the bass is too short for me, I'll make it longer.' So instead of eight measures, he turned it into 32 measures."

Bach turned his set of 30 variations into a deeper, much more sophisticated showpiece that Handel's. It may have even been Bach's way of saying "I can do much better than you."

What Happened to the Goldbergs after Bach died?

There are many gaps in the story after Bach's death in 1750. "We do not know how widely disseminated the piece was," Wolff says, "but it clearly was printed in at least 100 copies, so it was circulating quite widely. But we have no specific record of any public performances of the work essentially until the late 19th and the 20th centuries."

Who were some of the first Goldberg champions?

Pianist Rudolf Serkin took up the Goldberg Variations in the late 1920s, but Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska was the first to record the Goldbergs in the early 1930s. She was a pioneer of the harpsichord revival who went on to teach in Berlin, Paris and the U.S. She made several recordings of the Goldbergs.

"I think they were really, absolutely crucial with respect to making the piece known across Europe, and then also in the United States, as a work for harpsichord, an instrument that was not very well known at the time," Wolff says.

Landowska played an instrument far from what Bach would have recognized. Her late 19th-century harpsichord, Wolff says, was made with Steinway technology. The Pleyel harpsichord had an iron frame, which meant that it held the tuning better but had a much thinner sound than wood-framed models from Bach's time.

What's Up With Glenn Gould?

In 1955, at age 22, Canadian pianist Glenn Gould signed a recording contract with Columbia Records and recorded the Goldberg Variations. At the time, the piece was considered esoteric and a risky choice for a debut recording. But Gould's Goldbergs exceeded all expectations, becoming a runaway bestseller and launching Gould's international career.

"After this Glenn Gould recording," Wolff says, "the Goldberg Variations really had become a household word."

Gould's recording is brilliantly fast, precise and transparent. He ignores Bach's repeat markings in the score, which shrinks the total time of the Goldbergs to less than 39 minutes, neatly fitting on two sides of an LP. Recordings today typically clock in between 60-80 minutes. Gould would record the Goldbergs again in 1981 with a vastly different, less flashy approach.

What Would Bach Think Of Gould's recording?

"He primarily would have enjoyed knowing that more than 200 years after the work originated, it was performed by modern musicians for modern audiences," Wolff says. As far as Gould's recording being on the modern day piano, Wolff believes that it may not have mattered to Bach, as he was interested in new sonorities all his life. Bach was asked to test-drive the latest technologies in keyboard manufacturing.

Piano vs. Harpsichord: What's Better?

"I wouldn't want to argue about it," Wolff says. "I think a good harpsichordist on a good instrument would present the piece just as well as a pianist thinking about the stylistic requirements, using very little pedal and so forth, but making the best out of the piano sound and creating the kind of transparency that Bach's polyphonic designs require. I think there is no aesthetic difference between the two."

"But I think for the listener it is a difference," Wolff concludes, "because the listener will hear things on the piano that he may not hear when the piece is performed on the harpsichord and vice versa. So I think it is a good experience to hear it both ways."

Beyond Glenn Gould: Five Great 'Goldberg Variations'

By Benjamin K. Roe   |   Tuesday, March 20, 2012
0 Comments   0 comments.

Its status as an icon of Bach recordings secure, Glenn Gould's 1955 account is also just the starting point for exploring a wealth of other performances.


Just as Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was one of those jazz albums you saw in the collections of people who otherwise didn't listen to jazz, Glenn Gould's 1955 LP of Bach's Goldberg Variations stuck out in record collections otherwise devoid of classical music.

Gould's Goldbergs introduced millions of Americans to a breathtakingly new sonic landscape. Davis achieved his unique sound by introducing ancient musical modes to the world of jazz. Gould, on the other hand, unlocked the hitherto unknown emotional depths of Bach's powerfully mathematical musical intellect.

In short, Glenn Gould gave Bach soul — and Bach gave Gould great source material. Picking five great recordings of the Goldberg Variations these days without mentioning Gould is a little like leaving Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band out of a list of greatest rock albums of all time.

Love Gould or hate him, without him we wouldn't be discussing this — or any other — list of recordings of what has been called the longest, most ambitious and most important solo keyboard work written before Beethoven. As you ponder that, consider what else Gould wrought: His was the first prominent album devoted to Bach's magisterial 32-movement work. The tally of recordings today is no fewer than 193. So, leaving Gould to his own category, here are some highly personal and subjective recommendations.
 

Busoni's Vision

Ferruccio Busoni, arguably the most ardent champion of Bach in his — or any — time, was the first to revive the Goldbergs in concert (1914), though characteristically he performed them in his decidedly personal and virtuosic style, lovingly recalled in this recording by German pianist Claudius Tanski. Busoni also decided that the entire piece was too long and unsuited for the concert hall; hence the Busoni Goldbergs omit 10 of the 30 variations and divide the rest into three parts. At least Busoni got the use of three parts right — some musicologists argue that Bach's choice to bookend his aria with 30 variations was a deliberate attempt to express "the trinity times ten fingers."

Purchase

Listen to Busoni's version of the Goldberg 'Aria' with pianist Claudius Tanski:


 

Landowska the Pioneer

Any survey of the Goldbergs has to include Wanda Landowska's original 1933 account — the first full recording of the Goldberg Variations. Much as in Glenn Gould's LP recording from 22 years later, you can hear the sound of history being made as Landowska carefully and somewhat quirkily charts the maiden voyage through the Goldberg archipelago on her sturdy (if wholly inauthentic) Pleyel harpsichord. Also noteworthy is the fact that Landowska was the first of a series of fiercely individual female keyboard artists (including Rosalyn Tureck, Angela Hewitt and more recently Simone Dinnerstein) who have made some of the most distinctive Goldbergs recordings around.

Purchase

Listen Landowska's Variation No. 5:


 

Perahia's Perfection

In the modern piano era, there are dozens of worthy candidates for a "straight ahead" version of the Goldbergs — clean, unhurried, technically unassailable yet emotionally rich performances. For my money — or, more to the point, your money — look no further than Murray Perahia. Critic David Hurwitz gets it right when he says these Goldbergs offer "incontestable evidence of Perahia's penetrating musical intellect, sensitivity to emotional nuance, and exceptional technical gifts." A can't-miss choice.

Purchase

Listen to Perahia's Variation No. 1:


 

Staier's Kaleidoscopic Harpsichord

You can't have a "Great Goldbergs" list without including at least one recording on the instrument for which it was intended: a two-manual (that is, two-keyboard) harpsichord. Point of fact is that playing the Goldbergs on a single keyboard instrument means that a pianist has to resort to tricks, compromises, fudging or outright studio chicanery to play all the notes as Bach wrote them. Happily, harpsichord recordings — and the quality of both the instruments and their performers — have long since evolved from being mere academic curiosities. Case in point is this 2010 recording by German harpsichordist Andreas Staier on a reproduction of a 1734 instrument "with so many stops with exotic colors and textures that suddenly the piano seems challenged," in the words of my WGBH colleague Brian McCreath. It comes with a fascinating bonus DVD for confirmed Goldberg geeks.

Purchase

Listen to Staier's Variation No. 20:


 

Sitkovetsky's Game Changer

From Glenn Gould in 1955 to Simone Dinnerstein's debut in 2005, every decade seems to have its game-changing Goldbergs. In the decade before Dinnerstein, it belonged to Russian-born violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky, who in 1995 made this transformative recording of his own string orchestra arrangement with the New European Strings. "Sitkovetsky has turned the Goldberg Variations into a tone poem," raved one critic. The sensitive, nuanced recording confirmed that the greatness of the Goldbergs could go far beyond the keyboard, opening the floodgates for new interpretative possibilities, which in recent years have included solo harp, string trio and even a band of Renaissance viols.

Purchase

Listen to Sitkovetsky's Variation No. 30:


Classical New England Holiday Channel Playlist

Thursday, December 1, 2011
3 Comments   3 comments.

Here is the complete playlist for the 2012 Holiday Music Channel from Classical New England. 

Please join us for our special holiday broadcasts

Happy Holidays!

Hour One, with Laura Carlo


Ding Dong Merrily
Baltimore Consort
Purchase

The Seven Joys of Mary
Andrew Parrott
Purchase

Bach - In Dulci Jubilo
Thomas Goeman, organ
Purchase

Reger - Aus Der Jugendzeit, Op. 17 - Aus Der Jugendzeit, Op. 17: No. 9. Weihnachtstraum
Jeffrey Biegel
Purchase

Holst - Lullay, My Liking, Op. 34/2, H 129
E. Power Biggs, Gregg Smith Singers
Purchase

The First Nowell
Dale Warland Singers
Purchase

Billings - A Virgin Unspotted
His Majestie's Clerkes
Purchase

Vivaldi - Concerto, RV 270, Per Il Santissimo Natale
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Holst - In The Bleak Midwinter
Lionheart
Purchase

Dancing Day
Toronto Children's Chorus
Purchase

Joy To The World
Trombones Under The Tree
Purchase

Once in Royal David's City
Choir of King's College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury, director
Purchase

Pez - Minuet-Trio
Les Violins Du Roy, Bernard Labadie, director
Purchase

Vaughan Williams - In Bethlehem City
Members Of The New London Chamber Choir, Members Of The Henrietta Barnett School Choir, Andrew Parrott, director
Purchase

Angel Tidings
Westminster Concert Bell Choir
Purchase

Howells - A Spotless Rose
Handel & Haydn Society Chorus, Grant Llewellyn, director
Purchase

Bach - Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
Angela Hewitt, piano
Purchase

We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Westminster Choir
Purchase

Hour Two, with Brian McCreath


Handel - For Unto Us A Child Is Born, from Messiah
Westminster Choir
Purchase

Gabriel's Message
Choir Of King's College Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury, director
Purchase

Tchaikovsky - Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy & Trepak, from The Nutcracker
Handbell Ensemble Sonos
Purchase

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
London Cello Sound With Choir Of Clare College
Purchase

Leontovych - Ukrainian Bell Carol
Gregg Miner
Purchase

Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow
Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano; Warren Jones, piano
Purchase

Greensleeves/Scottish Jig
A Scottish Christmas
Purchase

Torelli - Christmas Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 6
Collegium Mozart Salzburg, Jürgen Geise, director
Purchase

Mendelssohn - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Taverner Consort & Players, Andrew Parrott, director
Purchase

The Christmas Song
New England Brass Band

I Wonder As I Wander
Emily Van Evera; Taverner Consort & Players, Andrew Parrott, director
Purchase

The Cherry Tree Carol
Edward Flower
Purchase

Mary Had a Baby
Cantus
Purchase

Es Ist Ein Ros' entsprungen/Wir Singen Dir, Immanuel
Baltimore Consort
Purchase

What Sweeter Music
Bell Voce Women's Chorus of Vemont
Purchase

Deck The Halls
Camilli Quartet
Purchase

Angels We Have Heard On High
Chanticleer
Purchase
 

Hour Three, with Cathy Fuller


Go Tell It on the Mountain
Boston Boys Choir

Joulun Kellot (The Bells Of Christmas)
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Bring A Torch
Dale Warland Singers
Purchase

Fetes De Noel (Svyatki), Op. 41, No. 3: Chanteurs
Jeffrey Biegel
Purchase

Rutter - Nativity Carol
Richard Stoltzman, clarinet
Purchase

Johann Michael Bach - In dulci jubilo
Baltimore Consort
Purchase

Coventry Carol
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano; Coventry Cathedral Choir and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Robin Stapleton, director
Purchase

Corelli - Chistmas Concerto, Op. 6, No. 8
Musica da Camera, Robert King, director
Purchase

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
His Majestie's Clerkes, Paul Hillier, director
Purchase

Winter In Cairo
Turtle Island String Quartet
Purchase

Olatunji - Betelhemu
University Of Kansas Combined Choirs
Purchase

Joy to the World
E. Power Biggs, organ; Gregg Smith Singers
Purchase

Sussex Carol (On Christmas night all Christians sing)
Choir Of King's College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury, director
Purchase

A Suite of English Carols: The First Noel, Coventry Carol, Deck the Halls
Solid Brass
Purchase

 

Hour Four with James David Jacobs


Gloucestershire Wassail - Somerset Wassail
Western Wind Vocal Ensemble
Purchase

Wassailing Song
Arturo Delmoni and friends
Purchase

Patapan
E. Power Biggs, organ; Gregg Smith Singers
Purchase

Little Drummer Boy
Pittsburgh Symphony Brass
Purchase

Thomson - O My Deir Hert
Handel & Haydn Society Chorus, Grant Llewellyn, director
Purchase

Bach - Wachet Auf
Newman-Oltman Guitar Duo

Berlioz - Shepherds' Farewell
Westminster Choir
Purchase

Yon - Jesu Bambino
Jon Weber
Purchase

Gruber - Silent Night
Cantus
Purchase

O Come All Ye Faithful
Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Purchase

Manfredini - Concerto Grosso In G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8
Collegium Mozart Salzburg, Jürgen Geise, director
Purchase

Morten Lauridsen - O Magnum Mysterium
Handel & Haydn Society Chorus, Grant Llewellyn, director
Purchase

Holst/Liszt/Taylor - In The Bleak Midwinter/Etudes De Concert, No. 3, "Un Sospiro”
Jeffrey Biegel, piano
Purchase

Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella
Gregg Miner
Purchase

 

Hour Five with Benjamin K. Roe


Tchaikovsky – March, from The Nutcracker
Pittsburgh Symphony Brass
Purchase

Huron Carol Interlude
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Bach, arr. Lor - Sarabande, Cello Suite No. 1
Scott Kritzer
Purchase

Christmas Tidings
Sonos Handbell Ensemble, James Meredith, Scott Anderson
Purchase

Vivaldi – Concerto, RV 270, Per Il Santissimo Natale: I. Allegro
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Winter
Richard Stoltzman,Robert Salter
Purchase

Vivaldi – Concerto, RV 270, Per Il Santissimo Natale: II. Adagio
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Thin Ice
Turtle Island String Quartet
Purchase

Vivaldi – Concerto, RV 270, Per Il Santissimo Natale: III. Allegro
Angele Dubeau & La Pieta
Purchase

Christmas Day in da Mornin'
Baltimore Consort
Purchase

Calling the Children
Tony Trischka
Purchase

In Dulci Jubilo
Renaissonics
Purchase

Tchaikovsky - Les Saisons (The Seasons), Op. 37b: XII. December: Christmas
Jeffrey Biegel, piano
Purchase

What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)
Gregg Miner
Purchase

O Come, O Come, Emannuel
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Peter Breiner
Purchase

Corelli - Chistmas Concerto, Op. 6, No. 8
Ensemble Pantaleon
Purchase

Hour Six with Alan McLellan


O Come All Ye Faithful
Dale Warland Singers
Purchase

Bach - Sheep May Safely Graze
The Bach Choir Of Bethlehem
Purchase

Bach - Te Deum laudamus
Manfred Schuler Zither and Folk Music Ensemble
Purchase

Puer Natus Est
Abby Of Liguge
Purchase

Praetorius - Es Ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen
Dale Warland Singers
Purchase

Ding Dong! Merrily On High/Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring
Jeffrey Biegel, piano
Purchase

Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agreeable
Chanticleer
Purchase

Riu, riu, chiu
Choir Of King's College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury, director
Purchase

Humperdinck - Hansel and Gretel Prelude
Pittsburgh Symphony Brass
Purchase

Prokofiev - Troika
Sonos Handbell Ensemble, James Meredith, director
Purchase

Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
Baltimore Consort
Purchase

Good King Wenceslas
Westminster Choir
Purchase

Carol Of The Birds
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia, Peter Breiner
Purchase

Goss, arr. Willcocks - See Amid The Winter's Snow
Toronto Children's Chorus
Purchase

Praetorius - Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
Turtle Island String Quartet
Purchase

Bach - Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
David Russell, guitar
Purchase

Hour Seven, with Cheryl Willoughby


Trad. English - The Old Yeare Now Away is Fled
Sandra Simon and Apollo's Fire, Jeanette Sorrell, director
Purchase

David Cutforth - There is no rose
St. Martin's Chamber Choir of Denver
Purchase

Traditional Shaker Hymn - Simple Gifts
Christopher Parkening, guitar
Purchase

Francisco Guerrero - ¡Hombres, victoria, victoria!
The Rose Ensemble
Purchase

Traditional Austrian, arr. David Dusing - Da Droben Vom Berge (Lullaby)
Counterpoint Ensemble, Robert De Cormier, director
Purchase

Leroy Anderson - Sleigh Ride
Cleveland Orchestra
Purchase

Traditional French arr. Lawson - Noel Nouvelet
The King's Singers
Purchase

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on 'Greensleeves'
James Ehnes viola, Eduard Laurel, piano
Purchase

Traditional Irish - The Darkest Midnight in December
Meredith Hall, soprano; Sylvain Bergeron, lute;  La Nef
Purchase

John Playford (from the English Dancing Master, 1651) - Drive The Cold Winter Away
Sylvain Bergeron, lute;  La Nef
Purchase

Alf Houkom - The Rune of Hospitality
The Dale Warland Singers
Purchase

Handel (orch. Mozart) - Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Keith Lockhart, conductor
Purchase

Traditional French - Il est ne, le divin Enfant
Die Singphoniker
Purchase

Howad Blake - The Snowman
Richard Stoltzman & Friends
Purchase

Peter Niedmann - In The Ending Of The Year
Harvard University Choir
Purchase

Traditional Italian - Ballata di Gloria - La Rotta
Altramar Medieval Music Ensemble
Purchase

Prudence Houston - To All The Good Children, a Happy New Year
The Pro Arte Singers and Indiana University Children's Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier, director
Purchase

Traditional Scottish - Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace)/Auld Lang Syne
Chris Botti, trumpet;  Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Purchase

Hour Eight, with Brian McCreath

Emile Waldteufel - Les Patineurs (The Skater's Waltz)
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Felix Slatkin, conductor

Traditional French, arr. Gustav Holst - Masters In This Hall
The Sixteen, Harry Christophers, conductor
Purchase

Traditional Italian - Glory 'n Cielo
The Boston Camerata and The Sharq Arabic Music Ensemble, Joel Cohen, director
Purchase

Yakiv Yatsynevych - Bells Rang in Early Jerusalem
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier, director
Purchase

Leroy Anderson - Carol of the Bells
Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, Carmen Dragon, director
Purchase

Tomas Luis de Victoria - O Magnum Mysterium
Robert Shaw Festival Singers & Chamber Singers, Robert Shaw, director
Purchase

Ottorino Respighi - Three Botticelli Pictures: Adoration of the Magi
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, conductor
Purchase

Traditional arr. James Galway - Patapan
James Galway, flute;  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Purchase

Georg Friderich Handel - Judas Maccabaeus: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes, March, and Sing Unto God
U.C. Berkeley Chamber Chorus & Soloists and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Purchase

Traditional English - A "Wassail" Suite
The Waverly Consort, Michael Jaffee, director
Purchase

Poem written by Susan Cooper - The Shortest Day
Robert J. Lurtsema, narrator; The Revels, John Langstaff, director
Purchase

Peter Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Snowflakes, from The Nutcracker
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, conductor
Purchase

Francis Poulenc - Hodie Christus natus est
RIAS Chamber Choir, Marcus Creed, director
Purchase

Traditional - We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Pops, John Williams, conductor
Purchase

Hear Music From The Royal Wedding

Friday, April 29, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.


(photo:  AP)

England's Royal Wedding of 2011 for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge included stunning musical performances.  Hear them on demand:

Processional Sequence:

For Queen Elizabeth:  March from The Birds, by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
For the clergy:  Prelude on Rhosymedre, by Ralph Vaughan Williams
For the bride:  "I was Glad," by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry




Hymns:

"Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer," words by William Williams, translated by Peter Williams and others, and music by John Hughes
"Love Divine All Love Excelling," words by Charles Wesley and music by William Penfro Rowlands
"Jerusalem," by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, words by William Blake


 

"This is the day which the Lord hath made," by John Rutter, commissioned by Westminster Abbey as a wedding present and performed by both the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal Choir





"Ubi caritas," by Paul Mealor, a Welsh composer




"Blest pair of Sirens," words by John Milton from At a Solemn Musick, music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry




The National Anthem




Recessional Sequence:

"Valiant and Brave," after the motto of No. 22 Squadron (Search and Rescue Force), composed for the occasion by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs, Principal Director of Music in the Royal Air Force
Crown Imperial, by William Walton
Toccata, from Symphonie V, by Charles-Marie Widor
"Pomp and Circumstance March No. 5," by Edward Elgar


 

And if you missed any of Cathy Fuller's pre-wedding interview this week with conductor Christopher Warren-Green, you can hear it here.

Celebrating Bartók

Friday, March 11, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

During this 130th anniversary year of the birth of Béla Bartók (born March 25, 1881), 99.5 All Classical celebrates the groundbreaking Hungarian composer with a series of on demand performances and features.
 



New England Conservatory Philharmonia
The Concerto for Orchestra, one of Béla Bartók's most enduring and popular masterpieces, was commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Performed for the first time in December 1944, it remains a regular fixture on orchestra programs around the world, and on March 9, 2011, Benjamin Zander conducted a performance at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, with the NEC Philharmonia.
Listen On Demand



Discovery Ensemble
Courtney Lewis conducts one of Boston's most exciting orchestras, Discovery Ensemble, in Bartók's kaleidoscopic Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. 99.5 All Classical host Brian McCreath talks with Lewis about the piece, with a walk-through of each of the movements, all recorded in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio.

Listen On Demand
 



Duke Bluebeard's Castle
In 1911, Bartók completed a one-act opera based on Charle Perrault's French fairy tale "Bluebeard," further revising it before its first performance in Budapest in 1918. A dark, pyschologically rich piece, Brian Bell offers a guided tour.
(image:  Gustave Doré's Barbe Bleue, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Hear a guided tour at Backstage with Brian Bell

 


Takács Quartet, Muzsikás, and Márta Sebestyén
One of the premiere string quartets on today's concert stages joins forces with a legendary Hungarian folk ensemble and equally legendary Hungarian folk singer to explore the roots of Bartók's music.



Listen On Demand
 



Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Hung-Kuan Chen performs a piece that combines Bartók's fascination with folk music and his evolving perspective of the piano as a percussion instrument, the Out of Doors Suite, in a program that also includes music by Brahms and Ravel.

Listen On Demand

 

 


Violinist Augustin Hadelich
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Augustin Hadelich performs Bartók's Sonata for solo violin, Sz. 117.




Listen On Demand
 




Violinist Lara St. John and Pianist Anton Kuerti at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Recorded on May 14, 2009, at St. James Church during the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Lara St. John and Anton Kuerti perform Bartók's Rhapsody No. 2, Sz. 89, BB 96, written in 1928, part of a program that also includes music by Beethoven, Franck, Hindson, Ravel, and Liszt.

Listen On Demand
 

 

Mr. President: A Choral Tribute

By Brian McCreath   |   Sunday, February 20, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

Feb. 25

Earlier this week, on Presidents Day, we offered a new set of choral pieces that pay tribute to several US Presidents through the words they spoke or wrote.  They were from a project dreamed up by Judith Clurman, conductor of Essential Voices USA, who was inspired to commission the series as a result of her commitment to music, to politics, and to education.

As we talked through this project here at 99.5 All Classical, I couldn't help but be struck by the dichotomy of the character of these pieces and the character of our current political climate.  The words Clurman found and the music they inspired are reminders that, in the midst of bitter political battles playing out in Washington, D.C, Madison, Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Indiana, and many other places around the country, there are and have been extraordinary people who have approached politics as a way to improve lives and create a better society.

I was also reminded of a few amazing resources about specific presidents that I've found valuable in making their impact and legacy more tangible.  I've listed them below, along with five of the pieces that you can listen to on demand.  See what you think, and feel free to add your own comments and suggestions for learning more about presidents.

And to hear all 16 of the pieces included in the project, on demand, along with interviews with Clurman and several of the composers, visit NPR Music's Deceptive Cadence.


George Washington - “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.”
1st President: 1789-1797
Washington Round, by Michael Gilberston




John Adams - “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but the wise men ever rule under this roof.”
2nd President: 1797–1801
John Adams’ Prayer, by Jake Heggie



John Adams, David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Massachusetts's own John Adams, an incredible work in its own right, inspired HBO to create an equally incredible television biography of this vastly underrated president.  The series not only includes vivid portrayals of Adams and his wife Abigail by, respectively, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, it also gives you a sometimes difficult to watch picture of life in colonial America.  For more info, visit HBO's John Adams.


Abraham Lincoln - “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
16th President: 1861-1865
The ballet is stronger than the bullet, by Jason Robert Brown



Garry Wills's 1992 book, Lincoln at Gettysburg:  The Words That Remade America, is invaluable in many ways.  The 272-word Gettysburg Address is so ubiquitous as an item of history that it may occasionally lose its power, but this illuminating book reinforces the staggering work of genius the speech is by weaving in philosophy, history, and cultural practices of the time.  The number of words written about Lincoln over the decades is practically infinite, but for me, this one book is all that's needed to confirm him as our greatest president.


Dwight David Eisenhower - “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
33rd President: 1953-1961
Eisenhower Round, by Paul Moravec



A recent issue of The Atlantic featured an article entitled "The Tyranny of Defence Inc.," written by Andrew J. Bacevich, in which a sobering portrait is drawn of a Dwight D. Eisenhower as he left office.  More prophetic than even he himself knew, Eisenhower comes across as a man at once responsible for much of the dangerous state of our current geo-political situation, and wise enough to recognize that danger.  Ultimately, it's a complexity not often credited to Ike.


John Fitzgerald Kennedy - “The best road to progress is freedom’s road.”
35th President: 1961-1963
Freedom’s Road, by Robert Beaser


About the Authors
Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


RSS   RSS

To You It's general-donate-adlob


Vehicle donation (June 2012) 89.7

Topics

 
You are on page 1 of 4   |