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Posted on Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Noon - 2:00PM, WJFF, 90.5fm, Jeffersonville, NY
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 11 December 2006
061211

Today’s Selections:
1. Gadi Kaplan Three Songs 05’45
2. Gadi Kaplan To My Love (folk version) 03’12
(jazz version) 03’22
3. Gadi Kaplan Liturgical Music 04’01
4. Gadi Kaplan from Songs of Wisdom and Praise 06’51
5. Gadi Kaplan Leyad Hamizbe’ach 13’44
6. Claude Debussy Nocturnes: Sirenes 08'56
Total time: 36’55 plus any (Ravel: TBA)

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 today’s program which features composer and poet Gadi Kaplan, 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.

It is a great privilege and pleasure to welcome Dr. Gadi Kaplan to WJFF today. Dr. Kaplan, who lives in the city, spent a good part of his working life as Senior Technical Editor of a technology publication, and we will soon discover just how long he has been composing music and how he became involved in this art form. Gadi, welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Thank you for taking the time to be with us this afternoon!

1. Gadi, let’s find out something about you: where were you born, where did you grow up, and where were you educated?

2. The Program Notes to a 2005 concert put on by the Astoria Music Society as one of the Manhattan Concert Series, mention that before you retired, you were professionally engaged as Senior Technical Editor of a technology publication. Tell us a bit about that, if you don’t mind!

3. It is certainly not unheard of for composers, poets, artists to work in non-artistic professions. How did you get involved in music and poetry? (Did you study composition, for example?
)
4. Gadi, the first three songs of yours that we will play, Three Songs, are sung in Hebrew. Do you see yourself as coming out of a particular musical tradition when you write songs with Hebrew Lyrics? (Explain, if you will.)

5. As I indicated a bit earlier, the first of your compositions that we will broadcast are Three Songs, whose melodies are extraordinarily tender, even haunting, yet definitely 20th century. Perhaps you would introduce these songs, so that I don’t butcher their names! What do the titles of the first and third songs mean? And what are the songs about?

6. The second song, “Madrigal” is set to a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca. What drew you to the great early 20th century poet and dramatist?

7. Lorca wrote several Madrigals. Alas, I do not understand Hebrew well enough to make out which one you have set to music here, and I wonder if you’d mind enlightening me!

CD 1: Entire: Gadi Kaplan: (Date and place of birth?): Three Songs: “Im Ha’lay’la Ha’ze,” lyrics by Le’a Goldberg; “Madrigal,” words by Federico Garcia Lorca; Hebrew translation by Refa’el Eli’az; “Ahava,” lyrics by Dalia Rabikovich. Naomi Kaplan, alto; Gadi Kaplan, piano. Originally recorded on a tape in 1971. Private CD.

Time: 1. Im Ha’Lay’la Ha’ze 01’43
2. Madrigal 02’52
3. Ahava 01’10
Total time: 05’45

8. Three wonderfully composed and sung songs by our guest today, Gadi Kaplan. Gadi, the music you have written here is understated and in some ways almost delicate; yet it commands my attention immediately, and I find myself rapt in the sounds of both the music and the words. Do you compose quickly? Or do you labor over your works?

9. I’m assuming that the singer of these three lovely song was your late wife, Naomi. Was she a professional singer?

A reminder that our guest today on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf is Gadi Kaplan, who studied music in Re’ali High School in Haifa, Israel, and with Professor Leo Edwards, of Mannes College.

10. Gadi, I note that you served in an entertainment unit of the Israel Defense Force. What were your responsibilities in that capacity, and did you do any composing for any of the performances you were responsible for?

11. Gadi, How difficult is it to get a composition performed, and how have you gone about arranging performances? What about recordings?

12. When you write lyrics, Gadi, do you write in Hebrew first and then translate into English? Or do you write in whatever language you decide is appropriate for the music?

13. A reminder that our guest today on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf is Gadi Kaplan, retired Senior Technical Editor of a technology publication and composer of some truly beautiful songs and lyrics.

14. Gadi, tell us something about your professional life as a Senior Technical Editor. What subjects did your publication focus on, and what were your specific responsibilities?

15. I’d like to move on to the next selections we are going to broadcast, “To My Love,” a song which you’ve composed in two versions, a folk version and a jazz version. Please tell us something about the background of this song, and explain what motivated you to write it in two different styles?

16. I see that you do not play the piano on this recording. Do you prefer to perform your own music, or are you just as happy, or happier, to listen to someone else interpret your music?

17. Who is the soprano, Magda Fishman, whom we will hear in just a moment?

18. Let’s listen to two versions of “To My Love,” music and lyrics by our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan.

CD 2: Entire: Gadi Kaplan (Date of birth, place): “To My Love,” folk version and jazz version. Magda Fishman, soprano; Yuval Cohen, piano. Private CD.

Time: 1. Folk Version 03’12
2. Jazz Version 03’22
Total time: 06’34
Running time: 12’19

19. We have just heard two version of “To My Love,” by our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan, performed by soprano Magda Fishman and pianist Yuval Cohen.

20. I notice, Gadi, that the pianist, Yuval Cohen, is listed on the CD as the arranger. Exactly what does that mean here?

21. Our guest today on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf is composer and lyricist Gadi Kaplan.

22. Gadi, let’s move on to our next selections, two short pieces of liturgical music, prayers, I gather, which you were commissioned by the Park Avenue synagogue to compose. Would you fill our listeners in on the background of these two pieces, please! (also, please explain if the 2nd piece, Kadosh and Baruch Kevod, is made up of two different prayers that are meant to be sung without break.)

23. Are these pieces sung as part of a service?

24. The music of these two pieces, to my ears, comes very definitely out of the cantatorial tradition of Jewish Liturgy. Are there certain forms or concepts that you consciously followed in composing these two prayers?

25. Who are the performers?

26. Let’s listen to our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan’s liturgical pieces, which he composed in 1982 (?): Tsur Yisrael and Kadosh and Baruch Kevod.

CD 3: Entire: Gadi Kaplan (1935, Haifa): Liturgical Music, Tsur Yisra’el and Kadosh/Baruch Kevod (1982). Cantor David Lefkowitz, tenor; Camerata Singers; Neil Robinson, organ; Abraham Kaplan, conductor. Have I got the names and functions correct? Recorded on 3 April 1982. Private CD.

Time: 1. Tsur Yisra’el 01’48
2. Kadosh/Baruch Kevod 02’13
Total time: 04’01
Running time: 16’20

27. We’ve just heard two beautiful liturgical pieces by our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan, Tsur Yisra’el and Kadosh/Baruch Kevod, performed by cantor David Lefkowitz, the Camerata Singers, organist Neil Robinson, who were conducted by Abraham Kaplan. Gadi, is Abraham Kaplan a relative?

28. Let’s move on, Gadi to the your three songs (out of seven) from your collection Songs of Wisdom and Praise. Tell us something about the provenance of these songs, which had their world premiere in December of 2005.

29. What prompted you to set these particular psalms and proverbs to music?
30, Would you go into the texts of the three selections we are about to broadcast, please, Gadi!

31. Let’ss listen to three selections from our guest, Gadi Kaplan’s Songs of Wisdom and Praise: “Ashrey Ha’ish” (Psalm 1/1,3); “Ad Ana Adonay,” Psalm 13, 2-5; “Kene Chochma, Kene Vina,” (Proverbs 4/5-12).

CD 4. Gadi Kaplan (1935, Haifa): Three selections from Songs of Wisdom and Praise: “Ashrei Ha’ish,” “Ad Ana Adonay,” “Kene Chochman, Kene Vina” (2005). Private CD.

Time: 1. Ashrei Ha’ish 02’01
2. Ada Ana Adonay 02’23
3. Kene chochman, Kene Vina 02’27
Total time: 06’51
Running time: 23’11

32.We have just heard three selections by our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan, from Songs of Wisdom and Praise: “Ashrei Ha’ish,” “Ad Ana Adonay,” and “Kene Chochma, Kene Vina.”
33. Gadi, I’m interested in finding out what prompted you to write the first and third of these selections ad a capella pieces.

34. A reminder that composer Gadi Kaplan is our guest today.

35. Gadi, we come now to the piece that I mentioned at the beginning of the program, Leyad Hamizbe’ach (“At the Altar”) which you dedicated to the memory of your wife, Naomi. The genesis of the piece is a fascinating one, which you recount in the program notes of the 9/11 Memorial Concert at which it was featured on Saturday, September 10, 2005. Would you mind taking some time now to tell us the story of this piece? (Including how you arrived at the name.)

36. The music you’ve composed for Leyad Hamizbe’ach is a bit different from the other pieces we’ve broadcast. It has an eerie quality to it, for example, at least to my ears, that, while it is not surprising, given the context, is certainly arresting!

37. In plotting this composition, you made reference, according to the notes, to the numerical values of Hebrew letters. Would you explain how this worked for you?

38. Let’s listen to our guest, Dr. Gadi Kaplan’s Leyad Hamizbe’ach (“At the Altar”).

CD 5: Gadi Kaplan (1935, Haifa): Leyad Hamizbe’ach (2001): Rebecca Dimmick, contralto; Kate Kammeyer, English Horn; Garrett Eucker, soprano; Jessica Eucker, soprano. Private CD.

Time: 1. Leyad Hamisbe’ach 03’15
2. Neyrot 04’46
3. Tefilah 05’43
Total time: 13’44
Running time: 36’55

40. We’ve just heard the world premiere of our guest, Gadi Kaplan’s Leyad Hamizbe’ach (“At the Altar”). Gadi, I am not stretching the truth when I tell you that I weep every time I listen to this composition. It is truly a marvel, and I hope that many other audiences will have the opportunity to listen to it.

41. At this point, alas, Gadi, we have run out of your recorded music, and I can only express my disappointment. I would so like to hear A Song and Variations, which you wrote when your granddaughter was born in 2003, as well as your string quartet, Textures. Has either of these been performed in public?

42. How many other gems are waiting to be performed where your fans can hear them?

43. I know that you have been connected through your mentor, Professor Leo Edwards, with Mannes College in Manhattan. Mannes is one of the gems of those institutions devoted to music, and I have had the pleasure of meeting and even interviewing some of the composers and performers who are also associated with it. How important have your connections with various music departments been to your composing career?

44. Gadi, what are you busy working on now?

45. CD 6: Claude Debussy: Nocturnes: Sirenes. Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Eduard van Beinum, conductor. EPIC LP BC 1020.


46. Gadi Kaplan, I wish we could continue our conversation and listen to more of your music. Perhaps sometime in the not too distant future, both my wishes will be granted. Meanwhile, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing us with such beautiful music and for taking the time to visit with our listeners today! I wish you and your family a happy holiday season and a good year to come.
We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have visited with composer and lyricist Gadi Kaplan, and we have heard a number of songs, some liturgical music, and two versions, folk and jazz, of his piece To My Love. WE have also heard Debussy's Nocturne "Sirenes." I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed both our conversation and the music, and that you will tune in next week when Al Gallodoro will be our guest. 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, December 03, 2006

Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Noon -2:00PM Eastern Time: 061204: WJFF 90.5fm, Jeffersonville, NY www.wjffradio.org
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 04 December 2006

061204

Today’s Selections:

1. Elliott Carter In Sleep, In Thunder 20’31
2. György Kurtág Signs, games, and Messages 26’59
3. Witold Lutosławski Symphony No. 1 25’15
4. Peter Schat On Escalation 19’01

Total time: 91’38

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, Disc 2: Bands 11 - 16: Elliott Carter (*1908, NYC): In Sleep, In Thunder (1981)
http://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/composer/composer_main.asp?composerid=2790: Speculum Musicae; Jon Garrison, tenor; Robert Black, conductor: Bridge Records 9014. http://www.bridgerecords.com/
Elliott Carter dedicated today’s composition, In Sleep, In Thunder, to his friend, Robert Lowell, who had died in 1978, four years before what Lloyd Schwartz refers to as “Carter’s ‘musical portrait’ of him for tenor and fourteen instruments.” Schwartz adds: “Carter chose six of Lowell’s ‘American Sonnets’ for his cycle: ‘three primarily about the poet’s personal relationships, and three about his crises of religious belief.’” (Liner Notes)

“’What attracted me about these texts,’” according to Carter, “’were their rapid, controlled changes from passion to tenderness, to humor, and to a sense of loss. The music reflects these very human qualities and their constantly shifting qualities. . . . I have tried to write music of continuous but coherent change, which to me is the most evocative kind.’” (Liner Notes)

The six Lowell poems Carter selected to write his song cycle for are “Dolphin,” “Across the Yard: La Ignota,” “Harriet,” “Dies Irae,” “Careless Night,” “ and “In Genesis.” The term “La Ignota” in the title of the second song means “the stranger,” or “the unknown person.” In my opinion, the music works the poems beautifully, and both are worthy of very careful attention. The mind must be awake during the experience.

Time: 11. Dolphin 03’04
12. Across the Yard: La Ignota 03’15
13. Harriet 03’34
14. Dies Irae 03’16
15. Careless Night 04’30
16. In Genesis 02’30

Total time: 20’31

CD 2: Bands 7 – 25: György Kurtág http://www.universaledition.com/truman/en_templates/view.php3?f_id=145&spr=en ! (*1926, Logoj, Romania): Signs, Games, and Messages for strings (1989- in progress): Orlando Trio: Hiromi Kikuchi, violin; Ken Hakii, viola; Stefan Metz, ‘cello. ECM New Series 1730 B00000212-02 BK02. http://www.ecmrecords.com/(*

In this week’s New Yorker, Alex Ross writes a brilliant review of the recent premiere of John Adams opera A Flowering Tree and of one of the concerts dedicated to the works of György Kurtág in Vienna on the occasion of the great composer’s 80th birthday. Here are a few of the words Ross writes about Kurtág: “György Kurtág . . . at the age of eighty, is among the last survivors of the original avant-garde generation. He is a composer of neither/nor – neither ruthlessly new in his methods nor remotely traditional, neither atonal nor tonal. Every description of his work has to be qualified and qualified again: it is compressed but not dense, lyrical but not sweet, dark but not dismal, quiet but not calm. At first hearing it suggests a cloistered, hermetic space, yet it is ventilated with many hidden influences, and has deep roots in the folk music of the Balkans.” (The New Yorker, December 4, 2006, p.103)

Kurtág’s Signs, Games, and Messages for strings, which he began to compose in 1989 and which, as far as I know, is still “in progress,” comprises 19 relatively short pieces for string trio. Thomas Bösche (transl. by Eileen Walliser-Schwartzbart) has this to say in his liner notes: Signs, Games, and Messages for strings . . . contains solo compositions for violin, viola, and ‘cello; duos and trios in various combinations; and even a string sextet. The pieces are diary-like in character, but . . . the fact that they are personal messages and ‘in memoriam compositions’ is more than a superficial trait; it says something about the nature of these signs and games, and equally about their creator.”

Time: 7. Virágaz ember, Mijakónak trio 01’31
8. Im Volkston (Népdalféle) vl 00’55
9. Hommage à J. S. B. trio 01’16
10. Zank – Kromatisch vl 01’08
11. The Carenza Jig vl 00’49
12. Ligatura Y trio 02’50
13. Jelek (Signs) I vla 00’50
14. Jelek Signs) II vla 00’36
15. Klagendes Lied vla 02’12
16. Jelek (Signs) III trio 00’47
17. Eine Blume für Zsigmondy trio 03’06
18. In memoriam Tamás Blum vla 02’13
19. Perpetuum mobile A vl 00’50
20. Perpetuum mobile B trio 01’22
21. Hommage à John Cage ‘c 01’52
22. Schatten ‘c 00’45
23. Jelek (Signs) I ‘c 00’59
24. János Pilinszky: Gérard de Nerval ‘c 01’28
25. Virág as ember, Mijakónak trio 01’30

Total time: 26’59

Running time: 47’22

CD 3: Bands 1-4: Witold Lutosławski (1913, Warsaw – 1994, Warsaw) http:hhtp://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/lutoslawski.html : Symphony No.1 (1941- 47): Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra; Antoni Wit, conductor. Naxos CD 8.554283. http://www.naxos.com/naxos/uk/naxos_uk.htm


Witold Lutosławski began his Symphony No.1 in 1941, during very turbulent times in Warsaw. It took him until 1944 to complete that movement and until 1947 to finish the other three. His Symphony No. 1 “is scored for a full orchestra that includes a large percussion section, with tam-tam, tubular bells, xylophone and celesta, a harp, and a piano . . . Lutosławski regarded this symphony as marking a closing stage in his career in a musical language that seemed [to him] unlikely to lead anywhere.” [Liner Notes] There is no reason we should not enjoy it, however. Be forewarned: the opening bars will certainly wake you up if you have been dozing!

Time: 1. Allegro giusto 05’31
2. Poco adagio 09’51
3. Allegretto misterioso 04’31
4. Allegro vivace 05’18

Total time: 25’15

Running time: 72’37

CD 4: Band1: Peter Schat http://www.peterschat.nl/ http://www.andante.com/article/article.cfm?id=199161935, Utrecht – 2003, Amsterdam (?): On Escalation, Op.18 (1968) for 6 solo percussion players and orchestra: Residentie Orkest, Richard Dufallo, conductor: Peter Schat – Complete Works Boxed set : NM Classics NM 92133. http://www2.rnw.nl/mu/catalog/musiccds/classical/NM91233

Peter Schat dedicated our final selection today to Che Guevara. “He composed On Escalation in 1968 for six solo percussionists and twenty-six instrumentalists . . . [it] is explicitly political in tone and subject matter. Schat borrowed the title from a book by the American physicist Herman Kahn on the possibility of nuclear war. Schat’s composition also centers on war, but he places the phenomenon of ‘conflict’ arising from an unhealthy balance of power in a musical frame. On Escalation was a Communist piece,’ Schat later said. ‘The musicians usurp the conductor’s authority.’ The coup is staged as follows: The twenty-six instrumentalists’ score, which is notated and conventionally conducted, is gradually undermined by the controlled improvisations of the six percussionists. An ‘escalating’ climax on the theme of Ravel’s Bolero swells in the orchestra, which despite its great strength in number is no match for the percussionists, who take over the conductor on page 18 of the score ('Conductor dismissed,’ ‘percussionists conducting’) . . . [I]t is the political dimension that is most compelling. The work was premiered at a ‘political demonstration and experimental concert’ at the Royal Carré Theater in Amsterdam in 1968. Fearing riots, some 200 police officers cordoned off the theater as a precautionary measure.” (Liner Notes by Bas van Putten, 23-24)

Time: 1. On Escalation 19’01

Total running time: 91’38

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Elliott Carter’s In Sleep, In Thunder; György Kurtág’s Signs, Games, and Messages, Witold Lutosławki’s Symphony No.1; and Peter Schat’s On Escalation. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s program and that you will tune in next week when our telephone guest will be composer Gadi Kaplan. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
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