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Posted on Saturday, June 19, 2004

21 June 2004
On Monday, 21 Jun 04, Monday Afternoon Classics will have as its guest composer, playwright, author, librettist and Professor Emeritus Martin Halpern. Martin Halpern Dr, Halpern will appear live at our studio.

Professor Halpern is a widely published poet, a critic of literature and drama, and a widely produced playwright. He is also the composer of a large number of musical compositions, including chamber, vocal, orchestral, and operatic works.

Professor Halpern has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Brandeis University, where he taught playwriting and dramatic literature for 29 years, chairing the department for 9 of those years.

I am looking forward to sharing the mike with Dr. Halpern and to discussing, among other subjects, an opera he is working on now that will be produced at Symphony Space in the fall.

Professor Halpern's website is very much worth going to - it is remarkable as far as I am concerned in that it is not only informative, it is also focused, and it is user friendly. Three cheers!

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Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004

14 June 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Recorded: Monday, 24 May 04
Aired: Monday, 14 June 04

040614



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: Gunther Schuller (*1925, NYC): Fantasy Suite (1994). David Starobin, guitar. Bridge 9144.

Gunther Schuller Schuller Bio is far too important and successful a composer for me to have paid so little attention to him in the past. Fortunately, I have recently received a CD from Bridge Records that contains a wonderful piece by Schuller for solo guitar, which he wrote in 1994 for David Starobin, called Fantasy Suite. Schuller has also produced a fair number of books on music and has lectured on the subject extensively. He has articulated very strong opinions about 20th century and contemporary classical music. In a 1978 lecture he delivered at Goucher College, Schuller argued:

If there is one characteristic common to the great masterpieces of our Western musical tradition, it is that they use and coordinate all the elements of music fully. And innovators in the past, be they Monteverdi, Beethoven, or Wagner - moved forward on all fronts: harmony, melody, rhythm, form, and so on. That fullness, that richness of experience we associate with the great music of the past, an experience in which all of our listening and feeling faculties are involved - that is something we are given only in the rarest or circumstances today. When have we had music that gave you goosepimples, that made you choke, with emotion, that brought tears to your eyes. (Composers on Music: Eight Centuries of Writings. Ed. By Josiah Fisk. Northeastern University Press, 1997 (439))

Schuller is also known as a proponent of what he calls a "new classicism," which he says would "bring the past through renewal to the present, to translate that which is eternal in the past into our contemporary terms - to find the contemporary analogy to those past cumulative traditions, not only by discarding and omitting, but by rediscovering and truly adding . . ." (439)

Schuller wrote today's selection, Fantasy-Suite for guitar solo in 1994 for David Starobin, writing, in the liner notes, that the "composition - specifically writing for the guitar - was the most challenging creative effort I have ever faced as a composer . . . not because of any dearth of ideas for the intended work, but rather that many, many of the ideas I had were quite unrealizable on the guitar. This has primarily to do with the fact that A) I am a strongly harmonic composer . . . , B) I write in a full, richly 'chromatic' language - I prefer that term to 'atonal' - and C) the human hand (particularly the left hand) is limited in size, reach, and stretch. Time and again when I wanted a musical line to rise, without abandoning any underlying harmonizations, I more often than not ran out of fingers, so to speak."

Fantasy Suite comprises four movements: Sarabande, Fantasy Parodistica, Forlana, and Toccata.

Time: 16. Sarabande 04'37
17. Fantasia Parodistica 03'25
18. Forlana 04'09
19. Toccata 03'11

Total time: 15'22

CD 2: Valentin Silvestrov Silvestrov bio (*1937, Kiev): Requiem for Larissa (1997-9). National Choir of Ukraine "Dumka"; Yevhen Savchuk, choirmaster; National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine; Volodymyr Sirenki, conductor. ECM New Series 1778 B0002283-02.

Valentin Silvestrov is a Ukrainian composer who is probably better known in Europe than he is in the United States, but who, judging from the Requiem for Larissa, which he wrote between 1997 and 1999, deserves our full attention. Silvestrov wrote the Requiem following the sudden death of his wife, musicologist Larissa Bondarenko, in their home city of Kiev. Paul Griffiths tells us in his fine liner notes that, feeling that this might be his last work, Silvestrov "duly reflected on everything he had achieved, everything he and his wife had achieved together going back to his first symphony (1963), recalled in the second, Adagio movement, 'Tuba Mirum,' and coming forward to the last of his works she lived to hear: the piano piece The Messenger, which he arranged entire in the 'Agnus Dei.' After finishing the score in 1999, he wrote only minor pieces until 2003, when he returned to large-scale composition with his Seventh Symphony." (Liner Notes, 2).

The piece is hauntingly beautiful in a way that Eastern European choral music often is. It is a fine discovery, and I am grateful to ECM for providing us with a copy of it. There are some sustained pianissimos throughout the piece.

Time: 1. Largo 06'32
2. Adagio - Moderato - Allegro 09'10
3. Largo - Allegro moderato 09'52
4. Largo 05'36
5. Andante - Moderato 09'20
6. Largo 05'54
7. Allegro moderato 06'06

Total time: 52'30

Running time: 67'52

CD 3: Bands 3,4,5: Osvaldo Golijov Golijov Bio(*1960, La Plata, Argentina): Tara Helen O'Connor, flute; Todd palmer, clarinet; Mark Dresser, double bass; Barry Shiffman, 1st violin; Geoff Nuttall, violin obbligato. EMI Classics 7243 5 57356 2 1.

Osvaldo Golijov needs no introduction to our audience. A rising star in a generation of composers that has produced more than its share of brilliant composers, Golijov was born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1960, and, according to his bio page on the Holy Cross website, he was "immersed in chamber classical music, Jewish liturgical, and Klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla." We've played quite a bit of his music on this program, including his brilliant The Passion According to St. Mark, Yiddishbbuk, and The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind. Today we offer a short selection, Lullaby and Doina, about which Golijov writes,

This piece starts with a set of variations on a Yiddish lullaby that I composed for Sally Potter's film The Man Who Cried. These variations were designed to work in counterpoint to another important musical theme in the soundtrack, the aria 'Je crois entendre encore,' from Bizet's Pearl Fishers. In her evocative film, Sally explores the fate of Jews and Gypsies in the tragic mid-years between a young Jewish woman and a young Gypsy man. Accordingly, the theme of the lullaby here metamorphoses into a dense and dark doina (a Gypsy slow, rubato genre) featuring the lowest string of the viola. The piece ends in a fast gallop, boasting a theme that I stole from my friends of the wild gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks. The theme is presented in an almost canonical chase where the clarinet pursues the flute-violin combination flying away. (Liner Notes, 8)

The piece is short, just under 7 minutes, and contains three movements: Lullaby, Doina, and Gallop. It is pure Golijov.

Time: 3. Lullaby 01'55
4. Doina 03'14
5. Gallop 01'48

Total time: 06'47

Running time: 74'39

CD 4: Bands 1-9: Bela Bartok Bartok Bio(1881, Nagyszentmiklos - 1945, NYC): The Miraculous Mandarin, Op. 19 (Sz 73) (1918-9). The Philharmonia Orchestra, Hugo Wolff, conductor. Teldec 9031-76350-2

Let's end today's program with a piece Bela Bartok began when he was 37 years old, The Miraculous Mandarin. In an essay entitled "The Problem of the New Music," Bartok writes,

The music of our times strives decidedly toward atonality. Yet it does not seem to be right to interpret the principle of tonality as the absolute opposite to atonality. The latter is much more the consequence of a gradual development, originating from tonality, absolutely proceeding step by step - without any gaps or violent leaps. (Quoted in Liner Notes, 5-6)

Bartok proceeds to explain how The Miraculous Mandarin works in this context. A synopsis of the story of this suite for orchestra is provided by the writer of the liner notes, Elliott Antokoletz:

Three tramps force a girl to entice men up from the street with the aim of robbing them. The victim of the first such trap is a shabby old rake who has no money and who is thrown out on his ear. The girl's second victim is a shy young man, but he has no more to offer than his predecessor. The third attempt to lure a man into the room seems finally to bring the desired result: the mysterious mandarin enters. The girl dances in an effort to make her frighteningly motionless visitor relax. Exhausted, she sinks into the mandarin's lap. Trembling, he takes his seductress in his arms, but she shudders at his embrace and flees. After a desperate chase, he catches up with the girl.

Time: 1. 01'22
2. 01'12
3. 01'38
4. 02'12
5. 01'29
6. 01'45
7. 01'38
8. 05'27
9. 02'24

Total time: 19'06

Total running time: 93'45

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Gunther Schuller's Fantasy Suite; Valentin Silvestrov's Requiem for Larissa; Osvaldo Golijov's Lullaby and Doina; and Bartok's The Miraculous Mandarin. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's selections and that you will tune in next week when we will broadcast more wonderful 20th century and contemporary classical music. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music.


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Posted on Saturday, June 05, 2004

07 June 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Recorded: Monday, 24 May 04
Aired: Monday, 07 June 04

040607



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.

1: Entire: Evan Ziporyn Evan Ziporyn(*1959, Chicago): Shadow Bang (2000?). I Wayan Wija
I Wayan Wija, vocals, dialogue; Bang on a Can All-Stars: Robert Black, bass; Eduardo Leandro, percussion; Lisa Moor, keyboard; Mark Stewart, guitar; Wendy Sutter, 'cello; Evan Ziporyn, soprano Saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet. Cantaloupe Music CD CA 21015.

The piece we are about to broadcast, ShadowBang, is, according to compposer Evan Ziporyn's liner notes, "a theater piece combining aspects of Balinese traditional shadow puppetry with Western stage design and music. . . it is based on the Hindu epics, in this case a very tangential episode from the Ramayana. In keeping with tradition, Pak Wija embellishes and digresses, creating stories within stories and focusing on the Balinese folk characters who have been inserted into the original story overt the years. While the gods and heroes of hindu mythology sing and speak in stylized Kawi language, the Balinese characters - Twalen Merdah, Sangut, and Delam - speak in everyday language (in this case, English) and serve as a bridge between the cosmic and the mundane. This is a live recording, trimmed of sections that require dialogue or visuals to be enjoyed." (Evan Ziporyn, Liner Notes)

Evan Ziporynm Evan Ziporyn who is a professor at MIT in Cambridge, MA, provides the following synopsis of scenes:

Scene 1: The brothers Sangut and Delam philosophize and insult one another while waiting for their master, the demon Dundhubhi.

Angkat: Dunhdubhi's army goes forth, seeking suitable enemies to conquer.

Ocean: Arriving at water's edge, the brothers stand in awe, waiting for Dundhubhi to challenge the ocean itself to battle. Ocean declines the challenge: its liquid form and ebb-and-flow make it too passive. It suggests Mountain as a more worthy opponent, and the demon departs.

Meditasi/Pesta Raksasa: A hermit wanders atop the mountain, preparing to meditate. He is interrupted by the Dunhdubhi's army, who throw a party. Mountain also refuses battle, claiming immobility, and sends Dundhubhi to fight Subali, the Monkey King.

Frogs: Sounds of the forest, a solo chorus by Pak Wija.

Forest: Twalen and his son Merdah, servants to the Monkey King, cavort with various animals while waiting for Subali's arrival.

Tari Subali: Subali dances, and Dundhubhi challenges him to battle.

Quiet Battle/Loud Battle/Priest's Curse: The demon and monkey do battle in various incarnations; Subali finally vanquishes Dundhubhi, casting his body atop the sacred mountain. Priest Matanga, caretaker of the mountain, curses Subali for despoiling his land.

Tabuh Gari - The story ends, the puppets are purified and go home.

Time: 1. Head 1: 02'58
2. Head 2/Scene 1 11'31
3. Angkat 03'31
4. Ocean 05'12
5. Meditas/Pesta Raksasa 11'39
6. Frogs (I Wayan Wija) 02'12
7. Forest/Tari Sugali/Quiet Battle/Loud Battle/Priest's
Curse 17'47
8. Tabuh Gari 05'59

Total time: 60'53

ShadowBang will last for a bit more than an hour. It is well worth the listener's while to go to the various websites I have listed on my WJFF link.

2. Disc 2: Bands 1-6: Elliott Carter Elliott Carter(*1908, NY): String Quartet No. 3 (1971): Juilliard String Quartet: Robert Mann and Joel Smirnoff, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Joel Krosnick, 'cello. SONY Classical CD S2K 47229.

In the introduction to his superb book The Music of Elliott Carter, David Schiff writes, "A string quartet sits on stage - oddly. To the left, a violin and 'cello; to the right, a violin and viola. Between the two pairs a small, but unexpected space, perhaps six feet wide. The players eye each other nervously across this divide. The left-hand violinist gives a beat with his head; the right-hand violinist gives a beat with his head - a different beat. Suddenly all four begin scraping at their instruments furiously. After a few seconds you begin to notice that they are not following the same path - that their toes are tapping at different speeds. One pair becomes more spasmodic, their sounds come in erratic bursts; the other proceeds dogmatically in even notes - and then fades away, exposing the ornate filigree of the other duo to the harsh, judgmental glare of silence. For the next 20 minutes, this strange game of parallel play proceeds. Each 'team' jumps, at its own rate and with its own logic, from one idea to another and then back so that you hear a play of contrasts, fast against slow, mechanical playing against expressive playing, arco against pizzicato . . . Through all its changes the music never loses its rhythmic energy, a driving force that reminds a certain kind of listener of feverish mid-sixties jazz.. but the music doesn't sound like jazz (or like most classical music for that matter) and it doesn't have themes you can hang on to; it is nothing but color, gesture and motion - with so many notes flying around that it is hard to discern any tonal order. The music sounds overloaded and disorienting, but you may begin to notice that it is neither crazed nor relentless. It changes but it also returns to previous ideas, or at least hints at them so that, like a Beethoven quartet (another kind of listener begins to think), it seems to construct a sense of its own past, but without ever returning to the same place twice."

Schiff is referring to Carter's Quartet No. 3, which we are about to hear the Juilliard Quartet perform, a piece which, according to the author, "can stand, at least provisionally, for the whole of his works."

Carter may not be the easiest composer to get your ears around the first time you come up against his music, but he is surely one of the most worthwhile. Yes, this is music to think about before, during, and after a performance; but it is also music that moves the serious listeners to places they have never been before and from which they will never quite return.

Let's listen to : Elliott Carter's (*1908, NY): 6 movement String Quartet No. 3 (1971): Juilliard String Quartet: Robert Mann and Joel Smirnoff, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Joel Krosnick, 'cello. SONY Classical CD S2K 47229.

Time: 1. 04'18
2. 02'10
3. 02'46
4. 02'33
5. 05'21
6. 04'07

Total time: 21'45

Running time: 82'38

3. Band 6: William Ferris (*1937, Chicago): Modern Music (1988). William Ferris Choral; Composer Festival Orchestra; William Ferris Director. Albany Records CD Troy 386.

Keynote Arts Associates of New York commissioned composer William Ferris "to write a short work for a chorus and orchestra of young performers. The only condition stipulated was that the orchestra be 'Classical' in its layout and size so that the text could be clearly articulated and readily understood and enjoyed by the listeners. Ferris chose a poem by 18th century poet William Billings entitled 'Modern Music' as his text, expostulating, "The words are a composer's dream. The energy, color, and rhythmic vitality of the text as well as the endless opportunities it provided for word-painting with vocal, harmonic and orchestral effects made it a sheer joy to set to music." (Liner notes)

Time: 6. Modern Music 11'53

Running time: 94'31

A reminder that this Wednesday, June 9, at 8:00PM, The League of Composers International Society for Contemporary Music will present music by Edward T. Cone, Mark J. Stambaugh, Frank Retzel, Louis Karchin, and Arlene Zallman, with soprano Elizabeth Farnum and pianist Christopher Oldfather at Symphony Space Leonard Nimoy Thalia, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. For further information, you may email infor@league-iscm.org or go to or call 617-901-1677.
League of Composers Concert

Also, on Thursday, June 9, Friday, June 10, and Saturday, June 11, 2004, the New York Philharmonic, under the baton of Lorin Maazel, will premiere the third part of Poul Ruders' tryptich, The Final Nightshade. For further information, you may call the box office at 212-875-5656 or go to http://newyorkphilharmonic.com

The Weekend of Chamber Music will begin its 2004 summer season with its gala "Music in the Barn" on Saturday, June 12, 2004. For further information, please go to Weekend of Chamber Musicor call 845-932-8527 or 718-638-8962.

Bard College will host Aston Magna this summer. For further information, you may call 845-758-7425 or write to Aston Magna, the Bard center, POBox 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000.

The Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle has scheduled three concerts for the 2004 summer season. For further information, you may call 518-537-6665. These concerts will take place at Olin Hall, Bard Colletge, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504.

The West Kortright Centre's 2004 summer season has begun. For further information, you may go to West Kortright Centreor call 607-278-5454

Opera on the Edge will perform Grace, a new opera in English by Roger Rudenstein based on the award winning play by Edouard Langlois and John Carmichael. The production will take place at the Cambridge Family YMCA, 820 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, MA. Opening night is on Friday, June 18, 2004, at 7:00PM and will benefit the AIDS action committee of Massachusetts. Other performances are on Sunday, June 20, 2:00PM; Tuesday, June 22, Thursday, June 24, and Saturday, June 26 all at 8:00PM. The flyer warns, "Mature Audiences Only." You may call for further information: 1-617-661-9622. You may also go to
Grace Tickets

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Evan Ziporyn's ShadowBang; Elliott Carter's String Quartet No. 3; and William Ferris's Modern Music. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's selections and that you will tune in next week for more great 20th century and contemporary "classical music." Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!






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