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Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2004

31 May 2004
Good Afternoon, Lovers of Fine Music and welsome to Monday afternoon Classics with Gandalf.

We devote our entire program today to an interview with Danish Composer Poul Ruders, Poul Ruders, whose composition "Final Nightshade" will be premiered by the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Loren Maazel on June 10, 11, 12, 2004. New York Philharmonic

The first piece we will air is "Nightshade," (09'11) Bridge Records 9037 Bridge Records, which Poul Ruders composed in 1986 for ten instruments. He has since composed two companion pieces, forming a tryptich, as it were: "The Second Nightshade" and "Final Nightshade."

The second piece is "Concerto in Pieces," (17'14)(1994-5), Bridge 9143 and BCD 9098.

The third piece is "Paganini Variations: Guitar Concerto No. 2" (17,56) (1999-2000), Bridge 9192.

The final piece is "Fairytale," (10'05)(1999), Bridge 9143.


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Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004

24 May 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 24 May 04

040524



Good Afternoon, Lovers of Fine Music, and welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, where we will hear the best of 20th and 21st century classical music and beyond as well as occasional interviews with composers and performers. Before we begin today's program, let's hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on the Arts and Culture Calendar.

As always, thank you, Liberty, for producing this important addition to our listeners' local information list of events. We really appreciate your time and effort.

CD 1: Bands 4-7: Phil Kline (?, Pittsburgh): The Blue Room and Other Stories (2002). Ethel: Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell, violins; Ralph Ferris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, 'cello. Cantaloupe Music CD CA21017. Phil Kline

Phil Kline, who was born in Pittsburgh but grew up in Akron, OH, is one of a number of young composers who have found a home with Cantaloupe Music, which was created by the founders of Bang on a Can, two of whom, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon, we interviewed last year. Website notes tell us that he is "the author of a rock-influenced art music that turns towards transcendence and ecstasy, often saturating the senses with layers of sound, while still retaining an ear for harmony and melodic beauty in the midst of its strangeness." His music is truly post-modern in that it moves seamlessly between and across various genres from "classical" to what the notes call "ambient electronica." The third movement of today’s selection reflects on the kind of Americana that we often relate to Copland, I think. The final movement features some fine fiddlin'. The Blue Room and Other Stories, played by the superb string quartet that calls itself Ethel ETHEL , provides us with an excellent introduction to his music. It is written in four movements: The River, March, The blue Room, and Tarantella.

Time: 4. The River 05'33
5. March 05'12
6. The Blue Room 05'20
7. Tarantella 04'04

Total time: 20'08


CD 2: Bands 4-6: Anthon Van Der Horst (1899, Amsterdam - 1965, Hilversum): Symphony No, 1 (1935-9). The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Eduard van Beinum, conductor. Live radio broadcast recording: 511018. Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vol. II, 1950-1960. MCCL 97018.

Our next selection, Anthon Van Der Horst's Symphony No. 1, dates from between 1935 and 1939 and reflects, as the liner notes point out, "growing unrest in world affairs and the oppressive political climate." Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra The performance appears on the second of six projected boxed sets of live radio performances given at various times 1935-2000 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. It makes a wonderful addition to any 20th century music lover's collection. The symphony is written in three movements: Vehemente, molto adagio (Notturno), and Presto tumultuoso - Tema con variazioni. Because this is a live radio recording that was made in 1951, there is some surface noise, which may please those listeners who prefer a dose of ambient reality in their recordings.

Time: 4. Vehemente 07'52
5. Molto adagio 10'23
6. Presto tumultuoso 13'26

Total time: 31'41

Running time: 51'49

CD 3: Bands 3-7: John Corigliano John Corigliano(*1938, NYC): Etude Fantasy (1976): James Tocco, piano. SONY CD SK 60747.

John Corigliano composed his Etude Fantasy in 1976 as a commission from the Kennedy Center in celebration of our bicentennial and at the specific request of pianist James Tocca, whom we will hear perform the work in a moment. Corigliano explains that he had always wondered why such composers as Ravel, Britten, Prokofiev, and Strauss "have favored the left hand." He continues: "That curiosity . . . led me to the idea of my own left hand étude, which taught me why the left hand is really better for solo work than the right." Realizing that there is a limit to how long one can play with the left hand without stopping, he decided to write "a suite of études in the form of a fantasy, of which the left-hand study would be the first and germinal." The result we shall now hear, beautifully performed by James Tocca.

Time: 3. I. For the Left Hand Alone 04'14
4. II. Legato 02'21
5. III. Fifths to Thirds 02'47
6. IV. Ornaments 04'11
7. V. Melody 05'00

Total time: 18'33

Running time: 70'22

CD 4: Bands 11, 12: Roberto Sierra Roberto Sierra(*1953, Vega Baja, PR): Dos tonos de verde (1991): Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia, Glen Cortese, conductor. MMC Recordings CD 2018.

We interviewed Roberto Sierra a year or so ago and enjoyed his conversation immensely. A native of Puerto Rico, he teaches composition at Cornell; his music is performed frequently throughout the world. Here's what Sierra says of today's offering, De tonos de verde (Tones of Green), which appears on an MMC CD called Quintet of the Americas: "The first part, Al claro de luna (Under the Moonlight) evokes the surrealistic and fantastic nights of my childhood in rural Puerto Rico. I still remember vividly the smooth air, the starry skies, and the nighttime sounds of tropical animals. Bajo el sol ardiente (Under the Burning Sun) captures the vibrant rhythms of the urban Caribbean - the city’s colors and fast pace, and the traffic noises that mix with the popular music floating from a radio."

Time: 11. Al claro de luna 05'32
12. Il Bajo el sol ardiente 04'49

Total time: 10'21

Running time: 80'43

CD 5: Band 9: Beth Anderson Beth Anderson (*Kentucky): Minnesota Swale (1994): Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava, Joel Eric Suben, conductor: Opus One CD 156.

Beth Anderson, who served on the faculty of Greenwich House Music School when these liner notes were written some years back, and who may do so still, has written a number of pieces which she calls "swales," a word that means meadows or marshes that feature many different wild plants growing together. According to the liner notes, Anderson "discovered the word when a horse named Swale won the Kentucky Derby" and decided to use the name because her work consists primarily of "collages of newly composed musical swatches." Her music definitely has an Neo-Romantic American feel to it; perhaps I will be able to interview her one of these days.

Time: 9: Minnesota Swale 10'11

Total running time: 91'53

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Phil Kline's The Blue Room; Anthon Van Der Horst's Symphony No. 1; John Corigliano's Etude Fantasy; Roberto Sierra's De tonos verde; and Beth Anderson's Minnesota Swale. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's selections and that you will tune in next week when our guest will be Poul Ruders, a composer from Denmark whose latest work, The Final Nightshade will be receive its premiere performances on June 19, 11, and 12 at Avery Fischer Hall by the New York Philharmonic, Loren Maazel conducting. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking your for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!


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Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004

17 May 04
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 17 May 04

040517



Good Afternoon, Lovers of Fine Music, and welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, where we will hear the best of 20th and 21st century classical music and beyond as well as occasional interviews with composers and performers. Before we begin today's program, let's hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on the Arts and Culture Calendar.

As always, thank you, Liberty, for producing this important addition to our listeners' local information list of events. We really appreciate your time and effort.

CD 1: Bands 2-6: Charles Fussell (*1938, Winston-Salem, NC): Specimen Days (1992). Cantata Singers, David Hoose, conductor; Sanford Sylvan, baritone. Koch CD 3-7338-2-H1.

A very close friend of mine who also happens to be a college classmate has long been a member of a premier, Boston-based choral group that calls itself the Cantata Singers Cantata Singers. I had the privilege of attending a performance of Stravinsky's Rake's Progress last year, a most impressive concert to say the least. During a recent visit, my friend presented me with a couple of recent Cantata Singers issue CDs. Today I thought we'd begin by broadcasting their recording of Charles Fussell's Fussell interview coro allegro 1992 Specimen Days Specimen Days.

Born in Winston-Salem in 1938, Charles Fussell was, when the CD was published in 1997, professor of Composition at Boston University. He was also Artistic Director of New Music Harvest, Boston's first city-wide festival of contemporary music and Co-Founder and Director of the New England Composer's Orchestra.

Specimen Days is a cantata for Baritone Solo, Chorus and Orchestra whose text was adapted from the poetry and prose writings of Walt Whitman, compiled and adapted by Will Graham, who also wrote original text. Fussell tells us in his liner notes that in Specimen Days, he and Graham "tried to touch on the major themes of Walt Whitman's life and work. Thus, Part I, the orchestral Prelude to 'Aerial Voices' presents him as an antenna for the world of the spirit, an antenna in his own time receiving messges from the past, as well as signals for the future."

Part II of this 5 part cantata, "Calmus Voices," "begins with a recitative for baritone solo" which leads into "a fiddling hoedown played by chamber orchestra, with baritone, based on lists Whitman kept of former lovers."

Part III, "Irretrievable Voices," addresses the poet's "experience of loss during his hospital visitations . . . and concludes with the terrible loss of Lincoln. . ."

Part IV, "Earth Voices," is a lament sung by both baritone and alto solos . . . [and concludes with the ] chorale text beginning 'Word over all, beautiful as the sky . . .'

Part V, "Heavenly Voices," "brings Walt to the end of his life, saying farewell, taking off into the unknown. . . .He had reached the end with a sense of fullness, completion, and acceptance." Fussell adds, "The line 'I travel . . . I sail. . .' brings to mind my old old friend Virgil Thomson, who, when asked in his last days how he felt, would answer: 'I sleep a lot, and every time I go to sleep I try to take off.'"

This beautiful piece may help us take off for a short period of time from the trials of tribulations we have to live through now.

Let's listen to Charles Fussell's (*1938, Winston-Salem, NC): Specimen Days (1992). Cantata Singers, David Hoose, conductor; Sanford Sylvan, baritone. Koch CD 3-7338-2-H1.

Time:
2. Prelude - Aerial Voices 07'20
3. Calamus Voices 05'32
4. Irretrievable Voices 09'46
5. Earth Voices 05'54
6. Heavenly Voices 09'14

Total time: 37'36

CD 2. Entire: Ernst Krenek (1900, Vienna - 1991, Palm Springs, CA): Symphony No. 2, Op. 12. (1922). Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Lothar Zagrosek, conductor. London Entartete Musik CD 452 479-2.

Our next and final selection today is one which I doubt many of our listeners have ever heard, either in part or in its entirety. Ernst Krenek Krenek composed his second symphony in 1922 and dedicated the score to his future wife, Alma Mahler. Anne Schneider, in her excellent liner notes, translated by Julia Rushworth, points out that "it is possible that Krenek already had some knowledge of Mahler's fragmentary Tenth Symphony (the completion of which was later entrusted to him by Alma Mahler) so that certain similarities between the two works may not be simply coincidental."

The symphony is long by any standards - over 64 minutes - and is written in three movements. Krenek, himself, in notes he prepared for the American premiere of the symphony in 1943, with Dmnitri Mitropoulos conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, writes, "If any historian ever should care to attach epithets to works of mine, I like to imagine that he would call this composition my 'Tragic Symphony,' if by 'tragic' we understand the fateful conflict of opposed principles."

All sorts of influences suggest themselves to me, at least, including Mahler, Stravinsky, and even Brahms, as well as some more contemporaneous ones, including some rather jazzy moments. The piece is big, Romantic in conception, and well worth listening to, I think. Krenek, of course, escaped the Third Reich and emigrated to America, where he lived out his 91 years composing. He is probably best known for his 1927 jazz opera, Jonny spielt auf, which enjoyed great popularity during the final days of Weimar and then disappeared, the object of intense hatred by the Nazi powers that once were. But that's another story!

Here is Ernst Krenek's (1900, Vienna ? 1991, Palm Springs, CA): Symphony No. 2, Op. 12. (1922). Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; Lothar Zagrosek, conductor. London Entartete Musik CD 452 479-2.

Time: 1. I 25'27
2. II 12'02
3. III 26'57

Total time: 64'20

Total running time: 102'06


We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Charles Fussell's Specimen Days and Ernst K?enek?s Symphony No. 2. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today?s selections and that you will tune in next week for more great 20th and 21st century "classical" music. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
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