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Posted on Monday, December 27, 2004

27 December 2004, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, Streaming online @
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 13 December 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 classical 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.

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: End of interview with Peter Schickele . This includes discussion leading up to P.D.Q. Bach’s Oedipus Tex – dramatic oratorio for soloists, chorus, and orchestra: Newton Wayland, conductor; The Greater Hoople Area Off-Season Philharmonic and the Okay Chorale: Pamela South, soprano; Dana Krueger, mezzo-soprano; Frank Kelly, tenor; Prof. Peter Schickele, bass; Brice Andrus, horn. The Ill-Conceived P.D.Q. Bach Anthology. CD – 80520.

Time: 3. Introduction 00’13
4. Aria with chorus: “Howdy There” 05’32
5. Recitative: “It Wasn’t Long” 00’28
6. My Herart 04’02
7. Recitative: “When Oedipus Heard” 01’01
8. Chorale and Finale 04’02

Total time of music: 15’18

Total time of interview and music: 28’19

CD2:Bands 1,2: ArvoPärt

(*1935, Paide Estonia): “Bogoróditse Djéva” (1992) (“Rejoice, O Mother of God”) and “I Am the True Vine” (1996). Theatre of Voices and Pro Arte Singers, Paul Hillier, director. Arvo Pärt – I Am the True Vine. Harmonia Mundi CD HMU 907242

For the rest of today’s program, we will broadcast music by two extraordinarily devout composers who are, nevertheless, quite different in their approaches to composition. We begin with two pieces by Arvo Pärt, Bogoróditse Djéva (Rejoice, O Mother of God) and I Am the True Vine. Both pieces date from the 1990s, well after Pärt had pretty much abandoned his early “serial, aleatoric, and collage” techniques (Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians, 1021). Both pieces reflect the Pärt’s intense interest in Renaissance and Medieval music and, perhaps, the growth of his spiritual development. He wrote the first, quite short piece, Bogoróditse Djéva (Rejoice, O Mother of God) in 1992 [or 1990, the liner notes list both dates in different places] to fulfill a commission by the King’s Choir, Cambridge, for the annual carol service words are the Orthodox liturgical version of “Hail, Mary,” sung in Russian. . Pärt composed the second selection, and I Am the True Vine, in 1996. Sung in English, the words are taken from John 15:1-14. Both pieces are sung a capella. Personally, I wish more classical programs would pay attention to these pieces which are, in my opinion, every bit as appropriate to the Yule season if not more so.

Time: 1. Bogoróditse Djéva 01’11
2. I Am the True Vine 08’10

Total time: 09’21

Running time: 37’40

CD 3: Entire: Olivier Messiaen (1908, Avignon – 1992, Clichy, 1992): Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité (1969). Carol Beth Choate, organ. AFKA SK 532.

Our concluding piece consists of nine sections which comprise Olivier Messiaen’s extraordinary composition for solo organ, Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité, literally Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. It may seem a great deal to ask a listener to sit through an hour and thirteen minutes of organ music, but the rewards of listening to Messiaen’s organ music cannot easily be put into words. Here’s what Nigel Simeone writes in his essential essay in the Winter 2004 volume of The Musical Times
, an English publication that is worth its weight in gold:

“By his own prodigious standards, Messiaen was a late-starter on the organ. He had already been studying at the Paris Conservatoire for seven years when, at the age of almost 19, he joined Marcel Dupré’s preparatory organ class in Autumn 1927. He made extraordinarily rapid progress, moving into the senior class the following academic year and winning a premier prix for organ in the Summer 1929 concours. Dupré later recalled Messiaen’s arrival in his class, ending with a comment which sheds intriguing light on the relationship between Messiaen and his father at the time:

He joined my class in October 1927. When he came out to Meudon for the first time […] he sat stupefied in front of the keyboards of my organ. He had never seen an organ console before. After an hour of explanations and demonstrations, I gave him the Bach C minor Fantasia to learn. He came back a week later and played it to me by heart, perfectly; an astonishing feat! (The Musical Times, Vol. 145 No. 1889, 36)

Later in his essay, Simeone notes that Messiaen had been appointed to the position of organist at the Trinité Church in Paris in 1931 (45). Still later, Simeone writes:

Some of Messiaen’s improvisations were planned carefully in advance – though he resisted fiercely the idea that they ever amounted to ‘compositions’ – while others were entirely free. . . .
Only rarely were these improvisations reworked and subsequently concretised into finished pieces: . . . there are surviving sketches and manuscripts in the Messiaen Archives which reveal [this] process for the Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité (1969). This had its origins in a series of improvisations given 23 November 1967 to inaugurate the restored organ andelebrate the centenary of the Trinité. . . . (50).

The organist, Carol Beth Choate’s notes are worth noting, also:

If I were to try [to] introduce someone to the organ music of Olivier Messiaen, several words would come to my mind: mysterious, transforming, penetrating, and mystical. All of his organ music is influenced by the Mass, the Holy Scriptures, the writings of St. Thomas [of Aquinas], and the songs of birds from all over the world. This is Holy Music. it is noisy, harsh, vigorous, and passionate. It appears in sudden flashes and floods over you quickly, much like the waves of an ocean. It comes and goes. It is neither constant nor even. Messiaen uses the organ, an instrument he wrote for and was loyal to almost until his death . . . to penetrate the soul. He does this by holding different clusters of notes, sometimes inaudibly, and sometimes in full volume, for what seems like an eternity. In this eternal holding, I feel he is hoping that the listener will have some grasp of eternity and also know a little of the eternal longing God Himself has to hold us forever in HIS LOVE [sic].

Time: 1. “God the Father of the Stars” 07’25
2. “God is Holy. You alone are the Holy One, you alone
are The Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus
Christ.” 11’36
3. “The true relation in God is really identical to the
essence.” 02’22
‘I am, I am.’” 04’58
5. “God is immeasurable, God is Eternal, God is
unchanging.” 11’00
6. “In the Word was Life and that Life was the Light.” 07’29
7. “The Father and the Son love, through the Holy Spirit
(the Love which proceeds) Themselves and us.” 06’34
8. “O depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge
of God!” 10’45
9. “I am who I am.” 10’30

Total time: 73’15

Total running time: 110’45

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics. Today we have heard the last part of an interview with Peter Schickele and P.D.Q. Bach’s Oedipus Tex; Arvo Pärt’s Bogoróditse Djéva (Rejoice, O Mother of God); and Olivier Messiaen’s Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité. 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 and beyond. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking your for listening and wishing you all the joy of the holiday season and the pleasure of New Music.
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Posted on Monday, December 20, 2004

20 December 2004, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, streaming on line @
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 20 December 2004


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 interviews with occasional guests.

Today we broadcast the first part of an interview with Peter Schickele which I recorded sometime last summer. The program will feature the following pieces:

1. P.D.QW. Bach (1807 - 1742)?: Schleptet in E Flat Major (?), S. O.: I Virtuosi di Hoople, Prof. Peter Schickele, conductor. CD 1, Band 4. The Wurst of P.D.Q. Bach with Professor Peter Schickele. Vanguard Records VCD2-719 .

Larghissimo - Allegro boffo
Minuetto con Brio ma senza Trio
Adagio Saccharino
Yehudi Menuetto
Presto Hey Nonny Nonnio

Time: 08'33

2. Peter Schickele (*1935): Sextet: The Lark Quartet: Diane Pascal and Jennifer Orchard, violins; Anna Kruger, viola; Astrid Schwen, 'cello; Robert Rinehart, viola; Peter Schickele, piano. Schickele on a Lark, Arabesque CD Z6719 .


1. Moderately fast 06'47
2. Fast 01'23
3. Slow, still 05'15
4. Fast and Driving 03'39
5. Easy Going Waltz Tempo 03'09
6. Very Slow, Fast Intense 04'35

Total time: 24'48

Running time of music: 33'21

3. Peter Schickele (1935): The Emperor's New Clothes (?), Oboe, String trio, and piano: Robert Ingliss, oboe; Frank Almond, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; Daniel Rothmuller, 'cello; Constance Emmerich, piano; Peter Schickele, narrator. Peter Schickele Composer and Narrator, The Emperor's New Clothes. AS project of An Die Musik. Newport Classic CD NPD 85668 .


1. Fanfare 00'24
2. The Emperor's March 02'09
3. Oatmeal 01'31
4. The Emperor's March with Oatmeal 01'28
5. Magic Mirror 00'43
6. The Royal Tailors 03'44
7. At the Royal Palace 01'40
8. Making the Invisible Clothes 06'35
7. Parading the New Outfit 01'37
8. Running Home 00'30
9. Back to the Magic Mirror 00'42
10. Finale 02'20

Total time: 23'19

Running time of music 56'40

4. P.D.Q. Bach (1807-1742)?: "Unbegun" Symphony, IV, Andante-Allegro: CD 2. Band 1. Royal P.D.Q. Bach Festival Orchestra, Jorge Mester, conductor. The Wurst of P.D.Q. Bach. Vanguard CD VCD2-720 .

Time: 07'04

Total music running time: 63'44

We will conclude our interview with Peter Schickele on December 27, 2004. Our featured piece will be Oedipus Tex.

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Posted on Saturday, December 11, 2004

13 December 2004, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, streaming on line @
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 13 December 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 classical 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.

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: Isang Yun (1917, Tongyon, Korea [now Chungmu] – 1995, Berlin): Symphony II (1984): Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks); Georg Schmöhe, conductor. Composition of Isang Yun-10, Camerata 30CM-226.

The liner notes of Isang Yun’s Symphony II reveal that Yun composed the symphony during a five month period in 1984. “In this work, more so than in Yun’s other symphonies, the sound organization is conveyed in the mostly simultaneous overlapping of the rival sound levels. Here Yun is thinking of symbolic processes: the world of the strings represents positive forces, while the natural force of the percussion and brass instruments suggests demonic and destructive powers. The woodwinds form an indeterminate, oscillating sound block; they side with the oscillating brass instruments and the strings and thus take on mediating and neutralizing functions.

“In Symphony II, Yun views the earth from a very great distance, from an almost planetary remove. Here he is guided not so much by principles of transformation in the sense of an audible shift as by principles of transmutation. According to the Basel music historian and ethnologist Hans Oesch, in East Asian thought ‘transmutation’ involves ‘a cycle of phenomena in mutual succession and with an eventual return to their point of departure.’ Yun also involves features of the three movements of the European symphonic genre in this process.” (Liner Notes by Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer; Translation by Susan Marie Praeder) In other words, Yun’s overview is informed by time’s cycle rather than time’s arrow, at least in this symphony.

By now, my listeners know that I have begun an affaire de coeur with Isang Yun’s music. I find it intellectually stimulating, emotionally gratifying, thoroughly compelling. What do you think?

Time: 1. I 10’46
2. II 10’52
3. III 07’39

Total time: 28’17

Isang Yun’s Symphony II. I hope you enjoyed that composition as much as I do. I am on the look out for as much of Yun’s music as I can get my hands on; eventually, I hope to do a cycle of his works.

CD 2: Bands 6-16: Dmitri Schostakowitsch [sic] (1906, St. Petersburg – 1975, Moscow): From Jewish Folk Poetry (Aus Jüdische volkspoesie) (1948). Maria Croonen, soprano; Annelies Burmeister, alto; Peter Schrier, tenor; Berlin Symphony Orchestra; Kurt Sanderling, conductor. Jüdische Chronik – A Jewish Chronicle Berlin Classics 0090162BC.

Josiah Fiske’s preface to his entry for Dmitri Shostakovich aptly summarizes the great 20th composer’s difficulties with the Stalinist Soviet regime:

“To an extraordinary extent the story of Shostakovich’s life is the story of his interactions with the Soviet government, which recognized him as one of the country’s greatest artists, but feared and mistrusted his independence of mind. He could never be certain how his music would be viewed by the authorities, or what humiliations and punishments might lie in store for him. At the same time, he responded to official pressures with either a sullen indifference or a strictly superficial compliance, inwardly preserving a spirit of resistance.” (Composers on Music – Eight Centuries of Writings, Ed. By Josiah Fisk. Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1997 (354).

It is true that musicologists and Sovietologists are at odds to this day over whether Shostakovich was victim or stooge. My own attitude is that in his own brilliant way, Shostakovich thumbed his nose at the Soviet establishment in ways that they were, for the most part, too dense to appreciate or even comprehend. He wrote his song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry, in 1948, “the year,” as Hanns-Werner Heister tells us, ‘of the infamous Communist Party resolution condemning contemporary music trends. The work was doubtless intended as a subtle protest against anti-Semitic trends engendered by Stalin’s paranoia. It was not published or premiered until 1955.” Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili, aka Joseph Stalin, of course, died in 1953. There followed something of a thaw that perhaps made life a bit easier for artists in the Soviet Union.

Heister informs us that Shostakovich “drew on the Russian translation of Hebrew and Yiddish folk songs, which he had found in a collection without melodies. Here as in other works, he employed Jewish intonations, since he sensed an affinity between his own earthly experience and stance and that which forms the basis for this musical language, ‘It may appear joyful and yet in reality be profoundly tragic’ (Shostakovich quoted by Solomon Volkov).

The cycle comprises 11 short songs.

Time: 6. Toten klage (Dirge) 02’39
7. Wiegenlied (Lullaby) 01’46
8. Söhnchen (Fair Little Son) 03’08
9. Abschied (Parting) 03’04
10. Warnung (Warning) 01’19
11. Der verlassene Vater (The Forsaken Father) 02’02
12. Die grosse Not (The Great Misery) 01’25
13. Winter (Winter) 03’39
14. Das Schöne neue Leven (Brave New Life) 01’36
15. Lied der Hirtin (Song of the Shepherdess) 02’15
16. Das Glück (Luck) 01’28
Total time: 25’01

Running time: 53’18

CD 3: Bands 17, 18, 19: Béla Bartók (1881, Nagyszentmiklós – 1945, New York): Sonata for Piano (1926). Diane Walsh, piano. Sonatas and Preludes – Diane Walsh, piano. Bridge 9195

Not too long ago, I heard someone who, I think, should know better dismiss Béla Bartók (and just about all 20th century composers who wrote music for the piano) as being not difficult enough to warrant the attention of contemporary pianists. Fortunately, not everyone agrees, and there are plenty of excellent pianists who have gone out of their way to prove that Bartók is, in fact, well worth the whistle.

Diane Walsh is one such pianist. Her liner notes are instructive: “Béla Bartók premiered his Sonata for Piano in Budapest on December 8, 1926. He had been a sickly child, and as a conservatory student has been forced by ill health to interrupt his studies for a therapeutic trip to Italy to escape the harsh Hungarian winter. But he recovered his health enough to become a brilliant pianist, even performing the daunting Liszt Sonata in B minor at his debut recital. Power and endurance are certainly required in his own sonata as well."

I invite you to listen to this performance of the Bartók piano sonata and decide for yourself whether the world would have been better off had he not composed it.

Time: 17. I Allegro moderato 04’40
18. II Sostenuto e pesante 04’23
19. III Allegro molto 03’38

Total time: 13’03

Running time: 66’21

CD 4: Band 1: Alfred Schnittke (1934, Saratov – 1998, Moscow): Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979). Igor Khudolei, piano; Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky, conductor. Schnittke – Requiem – Piano Concerto Chandos Chan 9564.

Another favorite composer of mine, Alfred Schnittke composed his Concerto for Piano and Strings in 1979. Here are some comments by Alexander Ivashkin in his biography of Schnittke: “In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Schnittke probably received more commissions than any other living composer. Sometimes he worked on several scores at once. He worked intensively, getting up in the middle of the night if a new idea came to him, and that kind of schedule [was] habitual throughout his life. But even though his time was precious, he was always very keen to meet friends and . . . willing to help the hundreds of people who rang him, came to his place for consultation, or asked him for a reference. He never took his telephone off the hook. . . . He would talk in measured tones, in sentences of complex syntax, mistrusting the clichés of the spoken language. He composed rapidly, sitting in his Moscow study which faced a noisy and busy street. In the next room his son Andrey would be playing rock music, sometimes very loudly.” Alexander Ivashkin, Alfred Schnittke, Phaiden Press, Ltd., London, 1996 (167)

Ivashkin continues, “The concerto is Schnittke’s favourite type of composition, not only because he had been constantly asked to write concertos for his friends, famous Russian soloists, but because the musical language of all his concertos is indissolubly connected with the personalized and profoundly individual statement of the soloist, who stands in opposition to a featureless and satanic social situation.” (Schnittke, 168)

Time: 1. Concerto for Piano and Strings 24’27

Running time: 90’48

CD 5: Band 11: Edgar Colón-Hernández (?): Procesión Jíbera The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Jeffrey Maynard, Artistic Director. A Holiday Homecoming – Live at Carnegie Hall

A little over a week ago, I traveled to Kerhonkson to hear the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus perform in dress rehearsal its forthcoming concert at Carnegie Hall. The following piece appears on their CD called A Holiday Homecoming. It was recorded live at Carnegie Hall on December 17, 2002. I’ve selected a piece by Edgar Colón-Hernández called “Procesión Jíbera. The only information I can glean from the sparse liner notes is that the performance of the song was dedicated to Paul A. Ramsey. I attempted to google the composer without luck - or almost so. It appears that Edgar Colón-Hernández wrote a website biography for Alfred Schnittke. So it seems, as my aunt Lenore might say, that it was barshert that I air this short Christmas piece as we end our program today!

Time: 11. Procesión Jíbera 03’07

Total running time: 93’55

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Isang Yun’s Symphony II; Shostakovich’s From Jewish Folk Poetry; Bartók’s Sonata for Piano; Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings; and Edgar Colón-Hernández’s “Procesión Jíbera. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed these selections and that you will tune in next week when, if I am able to put the finishing touches on an interview I taped earlier with Peter Schickele, we’ll hear it! If not, we’ll hear it on the 27th. Until next week, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music. A Happy Hanukah to our friends who celebrate that holiday!

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Posted on Monday, December 06, 2004

06 December 2004, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, Streaming on line at
Our guest today is Beth Anderson, whose compositions during the past 30 or so years have established her as one of the pre-eminent composers of our time, and who is also a member of Broadcast Musicians, Inc., BMI; the American Composers' Forum; the International Alliance of Women in Music; the American Music Center; and Poets and Writers. She is also the current treasurer of New York Women Composers, and sheproduces Women's Work, a concert series for Greenwhich House Arts and New York Women Compoers, Inc.

CD 1: Band 1. Torrero Piece (1873): Marjorie Anderson, voice; Beth Anderson, phonemics. Peachy Keen-O, Pogus Productions CD POGUS P210 30-2. 07'55

CD 2: Band 8: Joan (1974,1977): Beth Anderson, piano. Peachy Keen-O Pogus Productions CD POGUS P210 30-2. 12'01

CD 3: Band 2: Penny Royale (1985): Rubio String Quartet: Dirk Van de Velde and Dirk Van den Hauwe, violins; Marc Sonnaert, viola; Ilia Laporev, 'cello. New World Records CD 80610-2. 09'41

CD 4: Band 3: New Mexico Swale (1995): Andrew Bolotowsky, flute/piccolo; Dirk Van den Hauwe, violin; Marc Sonnaert, viola; Ilia Laporev, 'cello; Davod Rozenblatt, percussion; Gary Schneider, conductor. Swales and Angels, New World Records CD 80610-2. 10'23

CD 5: Band 7: Piano Concerto (1997): Joseph Kubera, piano; Rubio STring Quartet; Darren Campbell, string bass; David Rozenblatt, marimba/percussion; Gary M. Schneider, conductor, Swales and Angelos, New World Records CD 80610-2. 13'30

CD 6: Band 6: Rosemary Swale (1986) Rubio Quartet, Swales and Angels, New World Records CD 80610-2. 07'45

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today's interview and our selections. One of the most interesting parts of preparing for this interview was making the discovery that Beth Anderson was familiar with Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate . Her composition Torrero Piece, the first one we broadcast this afternoon, is very much in the tradition of the Schwitters' composition; thus, it has not only intrinsic merit and interest, but also historical significance. Hooray for 20th century music!

Beth Anderson's newest CD, which we allude to in our program, has indeed been released. it is called Quilt Music and is put out by Albany Records.

An essay by Beth Anderson also appears at

I am working on an interview I did earlier this year with Peter Schickele; I will try to finish it in time for next week's program; however, I have discovered that now that I can do pinpoint editing, it takes me much longer to prepare an interview than it used to.

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