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Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005

14 February 2005, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday Noon to 2:00PM, streaming on line @ www.wjffradio.org
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 14 February 2005
050214

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.

Note: the following program is only approximate; whether we actually get to broadcast all of it depends upon how long our interview with Gerard Floriano takes and how much pledging we must do. Anything we do not broadcast this week we will no doubt broadcst next week.

We are very fortunate to have as our guest today Gerard Floriano, conductor and director of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, which will perform in concert at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz this Friday, February 18th, at 7:00PM in the Julien J. Studley Theatre. Mr. Floriano is visiting us by phone from Buffalo. Gerry, thanks for taking the time to be with us today. Let’s begin with a couple of basic questions:

First, where are you from and how did you become involved in music?

What brought you to Buffalo?

What exactly is the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra – who is in it and how are the members selected?

Approximately how many concerts does the Buffalo Youth Symphony Orchestra give every year, and where do you tend to perform geographically?

This Friday, February 18th, you and the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra will be performing a concert at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. If I understand correctly, this is a concert that is open to the public at no charge. Please tell us what will be on the program you are presenting.

Let’s go right to the first piece we’re going to broadcast this afternoon, the opening "Theme from Schindler’s List." When I was writing my notes for today’s program, I mentally assigned Steven Spielberg’s movie to the beginning of this century. When I checked up on the date to be sure I was correct, I was astonished to learn that the movie came out in 1993 – 13 years ago! I was not surprised to be reminded, however, that it won seven Oscars, including one for best original score, written, of course, by John Williams. What prompted you to select this particular piece for your performance this Friday at New Paltz?

CD 1: Band 1: John Williams (*1932, NY) http://www.johnwilliams.org/: "Theme from Schindler’s List," from the original motion picture soundtrack: Itzhak Perlman, violin: MCA Records, Inc. MCAD 10969.
Gerry, the recording I am going to broadcast features Itzhak Perlman playing the violin. Who will be playing that instrument during the performance of the Buffalo Youth Symphony Orchestra’s performance in New Paltz this Friday, February 18th? (Carole Cowan)

Time: 1. Theme 04’15

A reminder that our guest this morning is Gerard Floriano, director and conductor of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, which will be performing the selection we just heard, the "Theme from Schindler’s List" this Friday, February 18th, at 7:00PM at the Julien J. Studley Theatre at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. No wonder John Williams’s score won an Oscar for the 1993 movie picture Schindler’s List.

Pledge Break!

[The following script will be used only if the Buffalo Youth Symphony Orchestra stays with its original plan to broadcast two sections of Gustav Holst’s The Planets.] Gerry, How do you go about selecting the music the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra will perform at its concerts? Are there, for example, pedagogical reasons for your choices?
Let’s talk about the selections from Gustav Holst’s The Planets that the orchestra will perform on Friday at New Paltz. If I am correct, you plan to lead them in playing the "Venus, the Bringer of Peace," and "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity," movements. Why these?

Let’s listen to the 2nd movement of The Planets, by Gustav Holst, "Venus." Are there any solo parts in this section?
CD 2: Band 2: Gustav Holst (1874, Cheltenham – 1934, London) http://www.gustavholst.info/: The Planets, "Suite for Large Orchestra: "Venus" (1914-1916): The BBC Philharmonic, Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor. BBC Music CD Volume V, No. 1.

Time: 2. Venus 07’56

Running time of music: 12’09

There is, of course, something rather theatrical about The Planets, which we can easily hear in the selection we just broadcast. I wonder if Holst, had he begun his composing during, say, the 30s, might not have also composed film scores.

Pledge Break

A reminder that our guest this afternoon is Gerard Floriano, director and conductor of the Buffalo Youth Symphony Orchestra, which will be performing in concert this Friday, February 18, at New Paltz. There is no charge for admission to this concert, which begins at 7:00PM at the Julien J. Studley Theatre. The concert, which is sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz College, is a free concert. The doors open at 6:30PM.

Gerry, let’s talk for a moment about the next selection we’ll hear, the "Jupiter" movement from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. It’s interesting to note that the complete title of this section is "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity and that that the declension of the name "Jupiter" in Latin, quickly changes spelling and becomes forms of the name "Jove," which, of course, gives birth to the English word "jovial." In what (musical) ways, if any, does this movement suggest the idea of "jollity?"

CD 3: Band 4: Jupiter 07’54

Running time of music 20’01

Once again, we hear the theatrical, almost panoramic sweep of the Holst music. Although we’ve listened to two movements of Gustav Holst’s The Planets performed by the BBC Philharmonic under the direction of Yan Pascal Tortelier and, before them, the first movement of John Williams’s "Theme from Schindler’s List," our listeners can enjoy hearing them performed live on Friday, February 18th, at 7:00PM, at the Julien J. Studley Theatre at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz. For further information, you may call 845-257-3872. The theatre, by the way, is wheelchair accessible.

Gerry, before we say our farewells, is there anything you’d like to add to our discussion that we’ve neglected or perhaps given short shrift to? (I.e., mention of the Mendelssohn and the Johann Strauss selections?)
A reminder that our guest this afternoon on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf has been Gerard Floriano, Director and Conductor of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. The orchestra will perform the following works this coming Friday, February 18, at 7:00PM at the Julien J. Studley Theatre on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. Selections from Die Fledermauss, by Johann Strauss; "Venus and Jupiter, from The Planets, by Gustav Holst; Felix Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony, and the "Theme from Schindler’s List. The concert is open to the public at no charge. Further information may be obtained by calling 845-257-3872.

Gerry, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today. We all really appreciate your visit and wish you the best in your forthcoming and future concerts.
Pledge break


CD 4: Band 5: Haydn Reeder (*1944, Melbourne, Australia)http://www.amcoz.com.au/comp/r/hreede.htm: Lark 2, for saxophone and orchestra (1996): Ruse Philharmonic, Tsanko Delibozov conductor. Saxophonist not named. Vienna Modern Masters CD MMV 3037

Our next selection is a piece entitled Lark 2, for saxophone and orchestra, which the Australian composer Haydn Reeder wrote in 1996. Reeder has written some interesting notes about this relatively short piece: "Lark 2 for saxophone and orchestra is the third version of my composition Lark for mezzo-soprano and chamger ensemble from my song-cycle, Songs of Love and Terror., The second version, Lark 1, is for mezzo-soprano and orchestra; in Lark 2, the voice is replaced by saxophone. Despite the absence of the voice," continues Reeder, "knowledge of the text by the 12th century French poet, Bernart de Ventadorn, is crucial to appreciation of Lark 2." Here is that text in translation:

When I see the lark in joy rise on its wings in the rays of the sun and then, oblivious, let itself fall, because of the gladness that fills its heart, such great envy comes upon me to see it so joyful, I wonder then that I do not rave and that my heart does not melt with desire.

Time: 5. Lark 2 07’58

Running time of music 27’59

Pledge break

A few weeks ago, I featured a piece by Kevin George called Organ Suite, which Lucius Weathersby, who is a professor at Dillard University in New Orleans, performed on the "Father" Willis Organ in Great Torrington, Devon, England. Dr. Weathersby has contacted me – it seems that someone who was googling him came across my blog, and he has contacted me by phone. He informed me that he will be in the city this coming Sunday, February 20, at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York, to attend a concert that includes his piece, Three African Portraits. Dr. Weathersby will deliver a short lecture at 6:30 before the recital. The Tenri Cultural Institute of New York is at 43A West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues). The concert is billed as "an evening of clarinet music by black composers" presented by Stacy-Michelle Valentine, who is an NYU candidate for a Master of Arts. In addition to Dr. Weathersby’s composition, the recital will include David Baker’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano; Ed Bland’s For Clarinet, Dorothy Rudd Moore’s Night Fantasy, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, which we have broadcast on our program. I will be interviewing Lucius Weathersby on March 28th along with Italian composer Alberto Patron, whose piano cycle Dr. Weathersby is in the process of recording.

I also want to mention that on Thursday, February 17, at 8:00PM, members of the Simons’ Pond Ensemble will be performing at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The program, which will be a repeat of the concert held at Simons’ Pond Festival on February 6th, includes Chopin’s Polonaise Brilliante for ‘Cello and Piano; Chausson’s "Poeme for Violin and Piano; Stephen Mayer’s Sonata for ‘Cello and Piano: Rising Sun (premiere); and Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin: Kreutzer. Weill Recital Hall is at Carnegie Hall – 154 West 57th Street at 7th Avenue.

CD 5: Band 1: Isang Yun http://www.classical-composers.org/cgi-bin/ccd.cgi?comp=yun (1917, Tongyong, S. Korea – 1995, Berlin?): Gagok for Voice, Guitar, and Percussion (1972): Norma Enns, soprano; Michael Schröder, guitar; Matthias Kaul, percussion. CPO 999 118-2.

So wide was the worldview of Isang Yun, that he was equally at home composing music that had a distinctive western flavor and music that referred quite obviously to his Korean homeland. Gagok for voice, Guitar, and Percussion is an extraordinary composition whose title, Gagok or Kagok, according to Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer’s fine liner notes, means "song pieces" and "refers to a specific genre of art song characterized by a slow recital tempo with the drawing out and melismatic extension of textual syllabic units." In other words, in this piece, Yun "limits himself to phonemes, to East Asian sound syllables. . . . The old Korean gagok is based on tan’ga poetry, short poems of only three lines of fifteen syllables each." (Liner notes translated by Susan Marie Praeder). We’ll hear it performed by Norma Enns, soprano; Michael Schröder, guitarist; and Matthias Kaul, percussionist on CPO 999 118-2.

Time: 1. Gagok 09’18

Running time of music 37’27

CD 6: Band 1: Michael Daugherty (*1954, Cedar Rapids, IA) http://www.michaeldaugherty.net/bio.cfm: Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover (1992): Kronos Quartet: David Harrington and John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola; Joan Jeanrenaud, ‘cello http://www.kronosquartet.org/. Nonesuch 79372-2 http://www.nonesuch.com/.
In case any of our listeners needs a reminder of just why it is so important to support WJFF not just during our pledge drives but all year, consider the next selection we’ll play this afternoon, Michael Daugherty’s 1992 composition Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover, recorded in 1993 by the Kronos Quartet. Daugherty writes the following liner notes:
"Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover is about the man who directed the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation virtually unchallenged from 1924 until his death in 1972.

"My composition opens with one of Hoover’s favorite mottoes: ‘The FBI is as close to you as your nearest telephone.’ This ‘reassurance’ to the American public also served to authorize his systematic invasion of their privacy: for Hoover, the telephone became an instrument for playing out his lifetime obsession with collecting sensitive information for his so-called ‘secret files.’ Throughout his 48 years as director of the FBI, Hoover ordered the wiretapping of the telephones of movie stars, gangsters, presidents, civil rights activists, politicians, communist sympathizers, entertainers, and anyone who opposed his own political and moral agenda.

"I created this tape part by digitally sampling bits of actual historical speeches delivered by Hoover from 1941 to 1972, to such diverse audiences as the American Legion, Boys’ Club of America, and the FBI National Academy. I composed the quartet parts to ‘sing along’; with Hoover in order to convey my sense of Hoover’s grim, threatening, yet darkly comic personality. The part played by Kronos is also inspired by sounds associated with the FBI, such as sirens, American patriotic songs, and machine gun syncopations."

Time: 1. Sing Sing 10’40

Running time of music 48’07

Pledge break

CD 7: Band 2: Lee Hoiby (1926, Madison, WI) http://www.schirmer.com/composers/hoiby/bio.html: I Was There (1995) from a song cycle based on poems by Walt Whitman. Paul Stewart, baritone; Lee Hoiby, piano. Gay American Composers Cri 721.

Perhaps the best way to answer the J. Edgar Hoover voice in Michael Daugherty’s Sing Sing is to play one of the five songs Lee Hoiby composed to verses by Walt Whitman, "I Was There." I would like to play all five of these songs, but, unfortunately, I have only this one. I will try to get the others soon. If you live in our neighborhood, you undoubtedly are familiar with Lee Hoiby, who ranks as one of the truly great composers of the 20th and, now, 21st century. Like almost all such individuals, alas, he is underplayed, but not, I think, underappreciated by those who know his work. He is also a good friend and a fine fellow.

Time: 2. I Was There 03’03

Running time of music 51’10

CD 8: Band 3: Tom Nazziola(?): Walz for MJ (?). Private CD.

Tom Nazziola is a composer of great talent and accomplishment. He’s been kind enough to be our guest a couple of times, and I look forward to his next visit. He’s been busy writing, and co-writing, scores for movies and television including his score for the silent movie The Blue Angel. Today, let’s listen to a short piece of his, written somewhere around 2000, called Waltz for MJ. The pianist is not listed. The other parts are, I believe, scored electronically, although, with my ears, you never know!

The piece has a dreamy, rather eerie quality that I quite like.

Time: 3. Waltz for MJ 04’13

Running time for music 55’23

Pledge break

CD 9: Band 7: Erik Satie (1866, Honfleur – 1925, Paris): Sports et Divertissements (1913/14). Joao Paulo Santos, piano. Erik Satie – Pianoworks. Digital Concerto CCT 747.
There is so much about the piano music of Erik Satie that seems to me both post-modern and pre-20th century. That he was an enigma in is own time is taken for granted. Fritz de Haen writes in his liner notes, "A Genius or a joker? That is the question one tends to ask when Erik Satie is discussed. One biographer called him "the strangest musician of our times." (Liner notes) Well, perhaps his contemporaries were more easily shocked than we are – or perhaps they were just less blasé. Who can say? I will tell you this: When he is on, Satie grabs me by the throat and punches me in the heart while tickling me almost beyond bearing. Let’s hear Joao Paulo Santos play his 1913/4 piece Sports et Divertissements. No one else, I think, can have such fun in minor keys.

Time: 1. Sports et divertissements 13’30

Total running time of music: 68’53

Final Pledge Break

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have had as our guest Gerard Floriano, director and conductor of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, which will perform in a free concert at Julien J. Studley Theatre on the campus of SUNY New Paltz this Friday, February 18, at 7:00PM. For further information, please call 845- 257-3872. In anticipation of the concert, we have aired three pieces that the Greater Buffalo Youth Symphony will perform: John Williams’s "Theme from Schindler’s List" and Gustav Holst’s "Venus" and "Jupiter" from The Planets. We have also heard Haydn Reeder’s Lark 2; Isang Yun’s Gagok; Michael Daugherty’s Sing Sing; Lee Hoiby’s I Was There; Tom Nazziola’s Waltz for MJ; and Erik Satie’s Sports et Divertissements. I thank all of you who have phoned or sent in your pledges to help us reach our winter membership drive. Without you we not only have no station; we have no reason to have one. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed both the interview and our selections and that you will tune in next week for more great 20th and 21st century "classical" music. Until then, this is Gandalf wishing you all the joy of new music!
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Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005

07 February 2005, Monday Afternoon Classics with gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, streaming on line @ www.wjffradio.org
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 24 January 05
050124

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: 2nd CD, Bands 1-5: Alfred Schnittke http://www-personal.umich.edu/~cyoungk/schnittkebio.htm (1934, Engels, USSR – 1998, Moscow): String Quartet No. 4 (1989). Kronos Quartet http://www.kronosquartet.org/: David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Joan Jeanrenaud, ‘cello. The Complete String Quartets Nonesuch 79500-2 http://www.nonesuch.com/.

Alfred Schnittke, who died in 1998, composed four string quartets between 1966 and 1989, with a gap of 14 years between his first and second. Edgar Colon-Hernandez writes in the website provided above: "Schnittke's music is known for it powerful impact, attracting some, alienating others, but rarely leaving the listener neutral. It is marked by intense expressiveness, an unpredictable flow of ideas, an innate sense of drama, and a natural lyricism. His abandonment of the reigning dogma of post-war Europe was an inspiration to a whole generation that has sought freedom of action. Most of his music is characterized by polystylistic construction: radically different compositional styles, drawn from centuries of music history, coexist in the same composition. (It can be argued that the extraordinary dramatic power of his music, and its appeal to audiences, made polystylistic music something of a world-wide fad.)" Schnittke wrote his last quartet in 1989 in five movements. Let’s listen to the Kronos quartet perform this underplayed masterpiece of chamber music which always takes me on an emotional roller coaster.

Time: 2nd CD: 1. Lento 09’03
2. Allegro 07’00
3. Lento 05’51
4. Vivace 03’21
5. Lento 09’15

Total time: 34’43

The great Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina calls Schnittke’s music "post-classical": "that is [he takes] an approach that doesn’t believe that truth is immanent in the material [as does the classical composer], but arises only from the comparison between diverse types of material. This approach begins with a nucleus of thought that is capable of joining together [many] . . . different types of material. This type of consciousness, in my opinion," she continues, "belongs to a musician such as Alfred Schnittke, for example." (Composers on Music – Eight Centuries of Writings, ed. By Josiah Fisk, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 2nd Ed. 1997 (461).

CD2:Bands3-7: Sofia Gubaidulina (*1931, Chistopol, Tatar Republic, USSR)
http://www.schirmer.com/composers/gubaidulina_bio.html: Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings (1975): Valeri Popov, bassoon; Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Valeri Polyansky, musical director. Gubaidulina, Chandos http://www.chandos-records.com/ CHAN 9717.

Speaking of Sofia Gubaidulina, we haven’t heard any of her music for too long. Her 1975 Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings is a fine example of her penchant for creating works for combinations of instruments that are unusual to say the least. She wrote this extraordinary piece for bassoonist Valeri Popov, who premiered it in 1976 in Moscow. In his liner notes, Jonathan Powell writes, "Gubaidulina achieves a remarkable range of colour and expression despite the use of what could be considered a very dark palette; the remarkable sense of theatricality results from her baking structural use of the dramatic tension between the soloist and the strings." (Liner notes) Listen to the bassoonist wail in the 4th movement!

Time: 3. Movement I 10’18
4. Movement II 04’07
5. Movement III 06’12
6. Movement IV 03’17
7. Movement V 04’43

Total time: 28’43

Running time: 63’26

CD 3: Bands 1, 2: Kaija Saariaho http://www.saariaho.org/ (*1952, Helsinki): Du cristal¹ (1989-90) . . . à la fumée² (1990). Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor. Kaija Saariaho Ondine ODE 804-2.
¹for symphony orchestra ² for alto flute, ‘cello, and symphony orchestra. Petri Alanko, alto flute; Anssi Karttunen, ‘cello.

Our final selections today are two orchestral pieces by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho which she composed between 1989 and 1990, and, in fact, has lined together as a single orchestral work. Risto Nieminen has this to say in his liner notes:Du cristal . . . à la fumée –literally "From crystal into smoke"- is a two-part work in which both sections are written for large symphony orchestra. . . . there are no soloists in Du cristal, while in . . . à la fumée the orchestra is joined by two electronically modified solo instruments, alto flute and ‘cello. Nieminen quotes Saariaho: ‘To my way of thinking, Du cristal . . . à la fumée is a single work, two facets of the same image, but both independent.’" (Liner notes)

Saariaho, who, I think, lives in Paris, is a wonderful example of a composer who has managed to incorporate electronic and computer generated music into her works in ways that are imaginative, provocative, and certainly command my ear.

Time: 1. Du cristal 16’40
2. à la fumée 21’13

Total time: 37’53

Total running time: 101’19

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Alfred Schnittke’s String Quartet No. 4; Sofia Gubaidulina’s Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra; and Kaija Saariaho’s two-part symphony, Du cristal . . . à la fumée. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed to day’s program 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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