Oct. 15: Mahler's Mahler

By Brian McCreath   |   Friday, October 15, 2010
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In 1905, Gustav Mahler sat down at the piano in Leipzig and played through a few of his own compositions in piano reduction form, and everything was "recorded" on a piano roll.  It's the only recorded document of Mahler performing, and while he has a (ahem) charmingly casual approach to accuracy, the interpretive aspect can be revelatory.

These piano rolls have been issued on CD over the years, but earlier this year, I had the good fortune to be in Vienna and found a recent release that, for me, stands apart.  For this recording, the piano rolls were re-produced on the Blüthner piano Mahler owned when living in Vienna.  It's not as rounded and perfect a sound as a modern Steinway, and that lends it just that tiny extra bit of authenticity to my ear. 

So if you have a chance to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler's Fifth Symphony this week, either by going to Symphony Hall or by tuning in on Saturday night for our live broadcast, I hope you'll tune in today after 3:30 for Mahler's own performance of the piano reduction of the first movement of that piece. 

And for some perspective on Mahler's place in Vienna's history and the (now unfortunately ended) museum exhibit where I found this CD, visit Bloomberg's Norman Lebrecht.  Also, check out Brian Bell's audio tour of Mahler's Fifth below.

Wacky Warner Wevue

Thursday, October 14, 2010
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Remembering Al Vega

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
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Dec. 6, 2011

LISTEN: The Al Vega Trio plays live at WGBH's Fraser Performance Studio on Jun. 7, 2011.

Al Vega, a longtime Boston musician who played with some of nation's finest jazz talents through a 70-year career, died on Dec. 2 at the age of 90.

At WGBH, we knew him well. In fact we recorded his trio live at the Fraser Performance Center not six months ago.

Vega, born Aram Vagramian, was the house pianist at the Hi-Hat jazz club in the late 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, according to WGBH host Ron Della Chiesa. He played with many jazz greats including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. He later led his own trio, which performed live at WGBH’s Fraser Performance Studio on June 7, 2011.

Vega was, Della Chiesa said, a legendary musician and teacher, and a friend to generations of Massachusetts politicians, regardless of their party. Vega, a World War II veteran, was also a longtime Little League and Babe Ruth baseball coach in Everett, Mass., where a square was dedicated in his honor in October.

Boston Globe obituary

Washington Post obituary

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Ralph Peterson

Thursday, October 7, 2010
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Sept 25: Dominique Eade

Thursday, September 30, 2010
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Spotlight on John Coltrane

Thursday, September 30, 2010
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Brian McCreath Brian McCreath


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