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Posted on Sunday, July 18, 2004

19 July 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf Monday, 19 July 04


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 music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let’s hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar, which always assumes a special significance during the summer, when there are so many important events occurring in our listening area.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.

It is a great pleasure to welcome ‘cellist Paul Tobias to Monday Afternoon Classics today. Albany Records has recently released a CD entitled The American Cello that contains three American ‘cello concertos by Chen Yi, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Samuel Barber all performed by our guest, Paul Tobias. We’ll listen to as much of the music as we can manage today as we also visit with our guest and hear what he has to say about these pieces and about the state of "classical" music performance in general these days.

We'll be listening to Chen Yi's Eleanor's Gift, concerto for 'cello and orchestra
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf

I am having some difficulties with my computer today, and I'm not sure whether the links I've listed below will actually take you anywhere. I'll update this as soon as possible.

Friday night, July 16, I had the great pleasure of attending a both a rehearsal and a performance of Archangelo Corelli's Sonata da Camera, Opus 4, No. 4, by members of the Monticello High School Chamber group: Jeungen Lee played the piano; Taryn Lounsbury the violin; Andrew Trombley the contrabass, and Judith Pearce, filling in for Amanda Owens, who was ailing, played the flute. The performance was beyond superb, and I am, if anything, understating the case. This ensemble would have gotten raves in any concert hall.

Following this gem, flutist Judith Pearce, pianist Tannis Gibson, and contrabassist Kurt Muroki rehearsed Gyorgy Kurtag's playful Six Bagatelles, Op. 14/D. I benefited greatly from both the explanations and the rehearsal of these musical games, which were performed on . . .

. . . Saturday night, July 17, by The Weekend of Chamber Music, as part of their concert, which also included Mozart's Quartet in D Major, K.V. 285; Four Pieces for Solo Piano, by Claude Debussy; and, after the intermission, Franz Schubert's Quintet in A Major, D. 667, also known as The Trout. The concert hall was filled to capacity.

It is no exaggeration to report that the concert itself would have drawn prolonged applause on any concert stage in the world. The quality of performance was non-pareil. Tannis Gibson was simply superb at the piano. She performed the Debussy pieces as well as I will ever hear them played. I cannot praise violinist Marck Rush, 'cellist Nancy Green, contrabassist Kurt Muroki, flutist Judith Pearce, and violist Dawn Harms enough. They performed ensemble as if they played together all year. Dawn Harms demonstrated to the audience, especially the young student performers, how to keep cool when a string breaks, as one of hers did just after the beginning of the second movement of the Trout. Nothing stopped this fine chamber group from performing at the top of their bent. Kudos, also, to Judith Pearce's unerring ability to select the perfect pieces for the concert. The Kurtag, of course, refers to and reflects on the Debussy which preceded it. The Mozart and the Schubert were just right as "bookends" for the concert.

On Friday, July 23, at 8:00PM, The Weekend of Chamber Music will present an open rehearsal that focuses on Peter Maxwell Davies' solo flute music and Brahms' String Quintet, OP. 111. This will take place at the Presbyterian Church in Hortonville.

On Saturday, July 24th, the Weekend of Chamber Music will feature a performance of Ottorino Respighi's Il Tramonto, by the great mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who also happens to have grown up in Mongaup Valley and graduated from Monticello High School and who has already built a superb, international reputation. Sharing the stage with Stephanie will be violinists Sunghae Anna Lim and Mark Rush; violists Dawn Harms and Tholmas Rosenthal; 'cellist Alberto Parrini; and flutist Judith Pearce. Besides the Respighi piece, rarely heard in concert, The Weekend of Chamber Music will also perform Arthur Foote's A Night Piece for flute and string quartet; Peter Maxwell Davies' Nocturne for alto flute and Solita for flute and music box. The second half of the program will be devoted to Johannes Brahms magnificent Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 for two biolins, two violas, and 'cello.

Given the intense interest in this concert, I advise those is interested in attending it to reserve seats in advance by calling 845-932-8527.

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Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004

12 July 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 12 July 04


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 music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let's hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar, which always assumes a special significance during the summer, when there are so many important events occurring in our listening area.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.

CD 1, Bands 9-13: Gyorgy Ligety (*1923, Transylvania) Gyorgy Ligeti: String Quartet No. 2 (1968): The Arditti String Quartet: Irvine Arditti and David Alberman, violins; Garth Knox, viola; Rohan de Saram, 'cello Arditti Quartet. SONY Classical SK 62306 SONY

Gyorgy Ligeti is without doubt one of the outstanding composers of the middle/late 20th century and beyond. David Dubal, in his essential book The Essential Cannon of Classical Music, reminds us that his 1961 composition, Atmospheres, was used by Stanley Kubrick in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. (687)

Ligeti writes in the liner notes: "My second string quartet dates from 1968 . . . The only stylistic characteristic to survive from my first quartet was the use of total chromaticism. In the fifteen years that separate the two works, my whole life and way of thinking as a composer had turned 180 degrees. I had gone to Cologne in February, 1957, where I got to know about electronic techniques . . . Among the influences on this work was Cezanne's method of painting: how, I asked myself, can color replace contours, how can contrasting volumes and weights create form?" (Liner Notes, 11) Well, we shall soon find out. It may be useful to remember that in a 1978 interview with Peter Varnai, Ligeti remarked, "Music should not be normal, well-bred, with its tie all neat." (Composers on Music: Eight Centuries of Writings, Ed. By Josiah Fisk. Northeastern University Press, 1997 (407) There are some quite soft parts in this 5 movement quartet..

Time: 9. Allegro nervoso 04'46
10. Sostenuto, molto calmo 04'32
11. Come un meccanismo di precisione 03'04
12. Presto furioso, brutale, tumultuoso 02'03
13, Allegro con delicatezza 05'37

Total time: 20'02

CD 2, Bands 3,4,5: Arnold Schoenberg (1874, Vienna - 1951, Los Angeles) Arnold Schoenberg: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 36 (1934-6). West German Radio Orchestra of Cologne, Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor; Louis Krasner, violin.

Arnold Schoenberg wrote his Violin Concerto between 1934 and 1936. It was not premiered until 1940, when Leopold Stokowski conducted the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and Louis Krasner palyed the violin. Here is an interested letter written by Schoenberg to Krasner 11 days after the premiere (17 Dec 40):

Dear Mr. Krasner:

It is a great pleasure to me to thank you for your great achievement: to play my Violin Concerto in such a perfect and convincing manner so shortly after it has been written and so shortly after it has been called unplayable. You must know yourself that you have achieved something which must be called "a historical fact," whether my music will survive in any case and you will be called their first conqueror.

Hearty congratulations!

Many thanks also for the very enlightening reports you made during the rehearsal and after the performance. Will you believe that none of my friends and relatives, and also nobody from my publishers, wrote me one single word about this first performance of an important work of mine? Don't be too disappointed: friends are [like that].

Let us hope that I might have also one the opportunity to play this work with you; or, at least, to hear it.

Many cordial greetings, also to Mrs. Krasner and also from Mrs. Schoenberg. And we hope to see you sometimes in Los Angeles.

Faithfully yours,

Arnold Schoenberg (Arnold Schoenberg, Letters, Ed. By Erwin Stein. University of California Press, 1987 (211-12)

I do not, alas, have a recording of that first performance; the one I do have, however, features the original violinist, Louis Krasner, was recorded in a live performance on July 16, 1954, and is quite good, I think. (I apologize for not being able to find a website for Louis Krasner. He is listed, but no biography appears.)

Time: 5. Poco Allegro 12'30
6. Andante Grazioso 08'13
7. Finale - Allegro 11'06

Total time: 32'02

Running time: 52'02

CD 3, Bands 1-4: Lou Harrison (1917, Portland, OR - 2003, en route to Columbus, OH) Lou Harrison Piano Concerto (1985): New Japan Philharmonic, Naoto Otomo, conductor; Keith Jarrett, piano Keith Jarrett. New World Records 80366-2.

In an essay titled "Reflections of Surrealism in Postmodern Musics," which appears as Chapter 3 in Post Modern Music/Post Modern Thought, edited by Judy Lochhead and Joseph Auner, Anne LeBaron recounts this wonderful anecdote about Lou Harrison:

"Moving closer to the spirit of disruption , the American composers John Cage, Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, and Virgil Thomson, all mutual friends, took part in the creation of "sonorous corpses" around the middle of the 1940s. Lou Harrison, in the preface to the collaborative score, Party Pieces, explains their procedures, directly derived from the surrealist game. 'Each composer present would write a measure, fold the paper at the barline, and, on the new fresh sheet, put only two notes to guide the next composer in his connection. The next composer would write a bar, fold at the barline, and leave two more black spots and so on. It seems to me that we would begin simultaneously and pass them along in rotation in a sort of surrealist assembly line and eagerly await the often incredible outcome.' The twenty published pieces display varying degrees of abrupt shifts in motivic and tonal consistency, while projecting a lighthearted, irresistible charm." (Routlage, NY, 2002, 48)

LeBaron has more to say about this game, which most elementary school children would recognize in a different context, and we will quote her further when next we air a piece by John Zorn.

Harrison composed his Piano Concerto some 40 years after the reference in the anecdote. By this time, he had discovered non-Western music, which he credits to Henry Cowell. Let's listen to the superb Keith Jarrett and the New Japan Philharmonic under the baton of Naoto Otomo perform Lou Harrison’s Piano Concerto on this New World Records CD.

Time: 1. Allegro 11'45
2. Stampede 09'43
3. Largo 08'37
4. Allegro moderato 03'10

Total time: 33'14

Running time: 85'16

CD 4, and 1: Philip Glass (*1937, Baltimore) Philip Glass: "Changing Opinion" (from Liquid Days, 1986). Collaboration by Philip Glass and Paul Simon; Bernard Fowler, vocals; Michael Riesman, piano; Paul Dunkel, flute. CBS MK 39564.

Philip Glass begins his liner notes to this CD called Songs from Liquid Days with these words: "Songs are perhaps our most basic musical expression. Though I have worked widely in the fields of opera and music theater, I had not until this last year (1986) worked with the song form as such."

We have time only for the first song of this cycle, "Changing Opinion," but the cut should at least give us a pretty good idea of how adept Glass is at writing songs. I'll play the entire cycle at a later date.

Time: 1. Changing Opinion 09'57

Total running time: 95'13

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have listened to Gyorgy Ligeti's String Quartet No. 2; Arnold Schoenberg's Violin Concerto; Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto; and Philip Glass's "Changing Opinion" from his song cycle Liquid Days. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's selections and that you will tune in next week when we will have as our guest in the studio 'cellist Paul Tobias. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!

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Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004

040808 Summer Notes from Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Mondays, Noon to 2:00PM. Streaming online at
1. On Tuesday, 03 August, 2004, Allen Yueh, our guest on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf on Monday, 02 August 04, electrified the audience at Shandelee with a concert that would daunt many a veteran pianist. Allen, who is 12 1/2 years old and who hails from Bridgewsater, NJ, performed Georg Benda's (1722-1795)Sonatina in G Minor, which Allen transcribed (i.e., just about rewrote); Bach's (1685-1750) Partita No 1 in B Flat Major, BWV 903; three of Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) Songs without Words, E Major, Op. 19, No. 1, "Spinning Song" in C Major, Op. 76, No. 4, and "Song of Venetian Gondolier." After the intermission, Allen played Beethoven's (1770-1827) Sonata Op 10, No. 2 in F Major; Chopin's (1810-1849) Nocturne, Op. 27, No. 1 in C Sharp Minor and Three Etudes. He ended the announced program with Robert Schuman's Arabesque, Op. 18, and his Variations on A-B-E-G-G, Op. 1. Following tumultuous applause, Allen Yueh provided several encores of works by Chopin.

2. On Sunday, 08 August, 2004, bass Eric Barsness and pianist Joe Hannan teamed up at the Delaware Valley Opera's Gloria Kraus Recital Hall in Narrowsburg, NY, to provide a very appreciative audience with songs by Henry Purcell (1659-1695), Franz Schubert (1797-1828); Paul Bowles (1910-1999); and Charles Ives (1874-1954). He delighted his listeners with encores by Samuel Barber and Jill Kroesen.

3. Tuesday, August 10th at 7:30PM, The West
Kortright Centre presents Vusi Mahlasela <>,
South African
songwriter, musician, peace activist, and poet.
Born near Pretoria,Vusi taught himself to play on a home-made guitar, an
instrument made of tin cans and fishing line. From his youth his songs
addressed political and social causes with a message of peaceful
activism. During the anti-apartheid struggle, his freedom songs
were about hope and the possibilities of a post-apartheid future.
After performing at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994 he
released his second album, “Wisdom of Forgiveness,” and his
music has since been concerned with the healing of the South
African nation. Vusi’s songs embrace traditional African music,
reggae, folk, and even rock. Dave Matthews, a fellow South African
who helped put Vusi’s music on the world stage, says he is “a
combination Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan of South Africa.”
Nadine Gordimer, the Noble Prize-winning South African author,
has written, “Vusi Mahlasela sings as a songbird does: in total
response to being alive. Music was at the heart of the struggle for
freedom; Vusi was there. Music is at the heart of reconstruction;
Vusi’s music is here to stir and delight us. He is a national
Tickets for Vusi Mahlasela are $17, $14 West Kortright Centre
members, and $8 under 18 (includes dance lessons). To
purchase tickets or for more information, call 607-278-5454, write
to The West Kortright Center, 49 W. Kortright Church Road, East
Meredith NY, 13757, or visit the website at
The West Kortright Centre is funded in part by its members, the
New York State Council on the Arts, the O’Connor,
Robinson-Broadhurst, Arthur, and Dewar foundations, and
numerous regional businesses. The Centre is an active member
of New York State Multi-Arts Centers Consortium, which receives
funding from the New York State Council on the Arts and the J.P.
Morgan Chase Foundation.

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Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004

05 July 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 05 July 04


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 music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let's hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar, which always assumes a special significance during the summer, when there are so many important events occurring in our listening area.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.

CD 1: Bands 3,4,5: Lukas Foss (*1922, Berlin) Lukas Foss: American Landscapes for Guitar and Orchestra (1989): Sharon Isbin, guitar; The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Hugh Wolff, conductor. Virgin Classics CDC 7243 5 55083 2 4.

Today marks the official celebration of yesterday on a calendar that has less to do with tradition, let alone ritual, and more to do with convenience. Nevertheless, the commemoration of our country's founding invites us to revisit an extremely interesting piece by German born, American composer Lukas Foss, whose American Landscapes for Guitar and Orchestra may delight us even as it urges us to consider its interesting take on traditional American folk melodies. The piece contains three movements, Part I: Slow and Free; Andante - Allegro vivace - Andante; Part II: Variations on 'The Wayfaring Stranger'; and Part III: Allegro. American Landscapes also gives Sharon Isbin an opportunity to demonstrate her superb guitar mastery.

Time: 3. Part I 08'12
4. Part II 10'17
5. Part III 09'00

Total time: 27'29

CD 2: Bands 6, 11: Toru Takemitsu (1930, Tokyo - 1996, Tokyo?)Toru Takemitsu: Rain Tree Sketch (1982) (1992): Megumi Fujita, piano. ASV CD DCA 1120

The incomparable Toru Takemitsu wrote Rain Tree Sketch for piano in 1982 and Rain Tree Sketch II for piano 10 years later. The first piece, as Malcolm MacDonald tells us in his excellent liner notes, is one of Takemitsu's best known piano pieces. The title of the piece is "often attributed to a description in a novel by Kenzaburo Oe of a tree with foliage so abundant that after the night's shower the drops would continue to fall from it until mid-day." Takemitsu is also known to have said that, "in fact, 'Rain Tree' was the brand name he had seen on some American shaving cream": he liked it because he had parallel series of works in progress named for aspects of trees or of rain. MacDonald draws attention to the "Messiaen-like harmonies - plashing, plangent, subtly perfumed - [that are] here entirely subsumed into the poetry of Takemitsu's pianistic vision." (Liner Notes)

Takemitsu was, of course, an ardent admirer of Oliver Messiaen; he composed Rain Tree Sketch II in memory of the great French composer. MacDonald calls it "one of Takemitsu's tenderest masterpieces." (Liner Notes)

We'll hear both pieces played by Megumi Fujita, a member of the Fujita Piano Trio.

Time: 6. Rain Tree Sketch 03'55
11. Rain Tree Sketch II 03'38

Total time: 07'33

Running time: 35'02

CD 3 (Disc 2): Bands 4,5,6,7: Olivier Messiaen (1908, Avignon - 1992, Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine): L'ascension (1933): Polish National Radio Symphony, Antoni Wit, conductor. NAXOS 8.554478-79 NAXOS

Speaking of Olivier Messiaen, I have begun a more thoroughly intense discovery of this astonishing French composer's works, and I am determined to sample as many of them as I can get my hands on. Messiaen composed today's offering, L'ascencion, in 1932, when the composer was only 24 years old. Despite his youth - or perhaps because of it - orchestral piece is a superb example of his younger days and, according to Isabelle Battioni's liner notes (translated by Wil Gowans), "is still one of the most played. Taking their inspiration from Scripture, the four pieces of 'true music,[. . . ] spiritual, [and] speaking of every subject whilst never ceasing to speak of God,' are not at all the movements of a symphony, but, rather, are 'meditations.'" Messiaen was a deeply religious man whose music reflects the depth of his commitment and belief in ways that are unmistakably contemporaneous. Nigel Simeone has a superb article in the Summer 2004 issue of The Musical Times on Messiaen's La Transfiguration, which I will broadcast sometime in the near future.

Meanwhile, I invite you to listen to and enjoy this incredible piece, L'ascension, played with verve and evident enjoyment by The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra led by Antoni Wit.

Please note: I am unable to include accent marks, etc., because they do not transfer properly to the blog I am using. As a result, titles such as the following appear incorrectly typed. Eventually, I hope to work out a way to include such nuances without destroying the transferred text.

Time: 4. Majeste du Christ demandant sa gloire a son Pere 05'35
5. Alleluias sereings d'une ame qui desire le ciel 06'09
6. Alleluia sur la trompette, Alleluia su la cymbale 05'46
7. Priere du Christ montant vers son Pere 08'58

Total time: 26'30

Running time: 61'32

CD 4: Band 2: Stephan Micus (*?, Germany) Stephan Micus Stephan Micus 2: For Wis and Ramin (?). Instruments played by Stephan Micus. (ECM) JAPO 60026 513 786-2.

Several years ago, I interviewed Stephan Micus by telephone. Born in Germany, he has lived in Mallorca for many years, travelling around the world, studying traditional music in India and Japan. If you happen to recall the interview, you remember that he is not afraid of experimenting and has written music for stones, among other instruments. Today, I thought it might be interesting to listen to his composition for guitar, zither, and vocal entitled For Wis and Ramin. I am, of course, grateful to ECM Records for recording so much of Micus's work. I wish, however, that they believed in liner notes - at least in chronologies. However, they don't. I know only that For Wis and Ramin, which appears on a CD entitled Till the End of Time, was recorded in 1978. I have no information regarding the title - I assume Wis and Ramin are names, but I'm by no means certain. I do not know when Stephan Micus was born or even where in Germany. I know. I should simply find the mini-disc which contains the interview, but I'm simply not that well organized. Eventually, I'll locate it, listen to it, and discover what the liner notes should tell me. Equally frustrating is the fact that not one of the websites I've visited provide any biographical information that is very useful.

Wis and Ramin is, in fact, an interesting piece that deserves more air time. We hear the composer perform it vocally and on the guitar and zither.
Time: 2. For Wis and Ramin 18'06

Running time: 79'36

CD 5: Bands 13-19: Per Norgard (*1932, Copenhagen) Per Norgard: Af Tue Bentsons viser, op. 27 (1960). Lars Thodberg Bertelsen, baritone; Per Norgard, piano. Dacapo Records 8.224170 DaCapo Records

Just about a year ago I broadcast some songs by the Danish composer Per Norgard which appear on a wonderful CD that contains some 27 of his songs. I thought it might be pleasant to revisit Per Norgard and to listen to a short song cycle called Tue Bentson's Songs (I won't even try to pronounce the Danish title!). The seven songs that make up the cycle are clearly, as the liner notes suggest, "from a time of personal upheaval and crisis," (Liner Notes, Ivan Hansen). The titles are as follows:

Time: 13. Remove the Wine, You Foolish Boy 00'36
14. The Evening is Drawing on 01'24
15. No, My Fingers Are Too Stiff 01'16
16. Sleep Soundly, Little Lyre 01'46
17. Do You Remember the Little Foot 01'20
18. My Knife Was Gone 00'32
19. Boy! Love Twenty Thousand! 01'34

Total time: 08'42

Running time: 88'18

CD 6, Band 5: Ornette Coleman (*1930, Fort Worth): Ornette Coleman Lonely Woman (1959; arr. Mel Graves, 1984). Kronos Quartet: David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Jean Jeanrenaud, 'cello Kronos Quartet. Elektra Nonesuch 9 79163-2.

Let's end today's program with a short piece that was written by the great Ornette Coleman and arranged by Mel Graves for the Kronos Quartet. The piece, which you will surely recognize, is called Lonely Woman. Coleman wrote it in 1959. More, I cannot tell you, because Kronos, like ECM and John Zorn, rarely produces liner notes that contain much information that I consider to be useful. Don't get me wrong: I am a devout fan of Kronos. They have done more to promote contemporary music than any other group I know of. I just wish . . .

Time: 5. Lonely Woman 03'08

Total running time: 91'26

Before I sign off, I want to remind our listeners that The Weekend of Chamber Music is in full swing again, if I may mix my metaphor, and will perform this summer as follows::

July 4 - 3 PM at La Polt Park, Liberty
July 4 - 4PM at Liberty Museum & Arts Center

July 9 - 8 PM "Informal Fridays" concert, Hortonville Presbyterian Church, free.
July 10 - 8 PM "The Harpsichord in Mixed Company" at the Hortonville Presbyterian Church.

July 16 - 8 PM "Informal Fridays" concert, Hortonville Presbyterian Church, free.
July 17 - 8 PM "Trout in the Brook, Cathedral in the Sea," Hortonville Presbyterian Church.

July 23 - 8 PM "Informal Fridays" Concert, Hortonville Presbyterian Church, free.
July 24 - 8 PM "Sunset, Brahms in his Twilight, Night," Hortonville Presbyterian Church.

The Weekend of Chamber Music celebrates its 10th season with some of the finest musicians in the world, including our own Stephanie Blythe, one of the truly great mezzos in the world today; Matthew Sullivan, one of the finest oboists you will ever hear; Kenneth Hamrick, an equally fine harpsichordist; Tannis Gibson, a superb pianist, and Mark Rush, a wonderful violinist who happens to be married to Tannis. These concerts are usually sold out! You can obtain further information by going to the website listed above.

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Lukas Foss's American Landscapes for Guitar and Orchestra; Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch and Rain Tree Sketch II; Messiaen's L'ascension; Stephan Micus's For Wis and Ramin; Per Norgard's Tue Bentson's Songs; and Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman, arranged for the Kronos Quartet. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's selections and that you will tune in next week for some 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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28 June 2004
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 28 June 04


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 music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let's hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar, which always assumes a special significance during the summer, when there are so many important events occurring in our listening area.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.

CD 1, Bands 1,2,3:Terry Riley (*1935, Colfax, CA)Terry Riley: Requiem for Adam (1998): Kronos Quartet, David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Jennifer Culp, 'cello. Nonesuch Records CD 79639-2
Kronos Quartet.

When a community suffers the sudden, unexpected, tragic losses of even one young person, it gropes for ways to explain and express that loss to itself and to find ways to offer comfort to the young person's family. Recently, our community suffered the loss of three young people who perished in a horrible car accident. I cannot imagine any words I might utter that would be effective as expressions of consolation, empathy, and sorrow. Terry Riley, some of you may remember from an earlier program, wrote a piece he calls Requiem for Adam in memory of Adam Harrington, the son of Kronos founder and first violinist David Harrington, and a close friend of Terry Riley and his family. Adam died suddenly at age 16 in 1995 while walking with his family on Mt. Diablo. His death resulted from a blood clot in his coronary artery.

Requiem for Adam is not a piece that will put anyone at ease; rather, it is a composition that takes us into the heart of the tragedy of the death of a young person way before his time. It is a wounded cry that reminds us, I hope, not only of the unspeakable loss of youth, but equally of the marvel, the wonder of life itself and of our need to cherish our daughters, our sons, our families, our neighbors, and all those about whom we know only that they, too, are part of the human family. Humbly, I dedicate this piece today to the memories of Sierra Lynn Cerrone, Maximilian Gonzalez, and Ashley Lynn Morgan.

Requiem for Adam is comprised of three movements: "Ascending the Heaven Ladder"; "Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diable"; and "Requiem for Adam."

Time: 1. Ascending the Heaven Ladder 13'24
2. Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo 07'05
3. Requiem for Adam 21'18

Total time: 41'49

CD 2, Band 10: Samuel Barber (1910, West Chester, PA - 1981, NY) Samuel Barber: Summer Music (1955-6). Galliard Ensemble, Kathryn Thomas, flute; Owen Dennis, oboe; Katherine Spencer, clarinet; Richard Bayliss, horn; Helen Simmons, bassoon. BBC Music July 2004 CD Vol 12, No. 11.

Any time BBC Music Magazine rediscovers anything close to music composed during the last 100 years and actually records it is a time for some rejoicing. Not that BBC has discovered much post-modern music, but its July, 2004, CD does include woodwind compositions by Carl Nielson (1865-1931), Gyorgy Ligeti (*1923); Samuel Barber (1910-1981); and Jean Françaix (1912-1997). Well, this is a bit of progress.

The Liner Notes tell us that Samuel barber wrote Summer Music in 1955-65 in fulfillment of "a commission from Detroit [no mention of who the commissioning party was], though he had worked fairly closely with the New York woodwind quintet over its composition." The piece is relatively short, but compelling in the familiar fashion of the composer - I doubt anyone would mistake the piece for another composer's. The Galliard Ensemble performs it with wonderful tone and a good feeling for the rhythms and plaintive form of the piece.

Time: 10. Summer Music 11'45

Running time: 53'34

CD 3 Band 7: Richard Strauss (1864, Munich - 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen)
Richard Strauss: Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings (1945). BB Orchestra, Walter Weller, conductor. BBC Music June 2004, Vol 12, No. 10.

When it comes to 20th century "classical" music, BBC Music Magazine feels much more comfortable, I suspect (after a subscription that goes back 7 or more years), with Richard Strauss. Its penultimate issue is a CD of works by the great opera composer who, in so many ways, is really much more a 19th century composer than a 20th century one. The liner notes labels this piece Strauss's "anguished elegy to a culture in ruins." Here are some words of wisdom from Strauss essay "Timely Notes on Music Education" that are suprisingly modern in my opinion:

Our humanistic culture still bases itself on disciplines, the study of which was an indispensable condition of higher intellectual learning before the invention of our music. It is today still burdened with the unessential studies of higher mathematics, rudiments of chemistry and physics, which we can certainly leave to those in the universities and technical schools who wish to dedicate themselves to these professions. The study of music in our high schools, till now altogether neglected, is a requisite of higher general education. This means the study of at least harmony, form, counterpoint up to the understanding of a Bach fugue, the study of scores to the full comprehension of the contrapuntal soul struggle in the third act of Tristan, the architecture and thematic development of a Beethoven symphonic movement, construction of an act of the Nibelungen Ring. Composers on Music: Eight Centuries of Writings. Josiah Fisk, ed. Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1997 (211)

Well, nothing ante-deluvian about that sentiment. Wonder what Strauss would say about today's high school curriculum in the west?!

Time: 7. Metamorphosen 25'30

Running time: 79'04

CD 4, Band 2: Matthijs Vermeulen [No Home Page available] 1888, Helmond, Netherlands - 1967, Laren, Netherlands): Passacaile et Cortege from De Vliegende Hollander (1930). The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Live Recordings Vol. 2, 1950-1960. Eduard van Beinum, conductor. Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Boxed Set MCCL 97018: CD 11
Radio Netherlands.

The liner notes to the excellent, boxed set tell us that the piece we are going to end our program with today, Passacaille et Cortege, is a fragment from Matthijs Vermeulen's . . . music to the stage play De Vliegende Hollander by Martinus Nijhoff . . . This 'water feast play' was written on the occasion of the 355th anniversary of Leiden University. The principal motif of the Passacaille is the sea. According to the composer's programme [sic] notes, this is the only real connection between the play and the music. The theme expresses the endlessly rolling wave, 'mirror to man who beholds in it his soul.' The melody is played fifty-eight times, each time in the bass, at various pitches, but always with the same rhythm. 'Above, a series of moods develop from that unconscious, giving rise to twenty-six variations. Each has its own melodic shape and separate expression derived from peace and struggle, the dual experience of every heart.

'Towards the end of the Passacaille, the sound scatters in ruction and tumult. When order returns, the sea theme becomes a sailor refrain, and the first variation on the theme a hymn-like chorale. The Cortege then begins in which the Queen of some legend enters grandly from the distance, coming gradually forward in the full morning light.' (Liner Notes, 23. It is not clear to me who is responsible for these liner notes. Perhaps Lodewijk Collette, the Producer of Radio Netherlands Music is.)

Time: 2. Passacaille et Cortege 15'57

Total running time: 96'01

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Terry Riley's Requiem for Adam; Samuel Barber's Summer Music; Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen; and Matthijs Vermeulen's Passacaille et Cortege. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed these selections and that you will tune in next week when we will broadcast 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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