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Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2007

March 26, 2006
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 26 March 2007
070326
Today’s Selections:
1. Elliott Carter Four Lauds for Solo Violin 19’36
2. Lou Harrison Six Sonatas 20’34
3. Aaron Copland Concerto for Clarinet, Strings, Harp, and
Piano 18’03
4. Stefan Wolpe Encouragements for the Piano. 24’30
5. Roger Hannay Chanson sombre 10’50
Total time: 93’33
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 4-7: Elliott Carter (*1908, NYC) Four Lauds for Solo Violin (1884-2000): Rolf Schulte, violin: the Music of Elliott Carter, Volume Six , Bridge Records 9177 http://www.bridgerecords.com/
Malcolm MacDonald writes in his Liner Notes that accompany our first piece this afternoon: Rolf Schulte gives an impassioned performance of the series of solo violin pieces which [Elliott] Carter ha collected under the title Four Lauds (using ‘laud’ not in hits sense of a religious service, but in the sense of a song of praise) belong to the large number of short virtuosic instrumental works which he has composed since the 1970s as tributes to and presents for friends and colleagues. Though they may at first appear like ‘occasional’ works or chips from the workbench, these brief and variously capricious utterances are the reverse of ephemeral. Instead, . . . they must all be ranked among the most important new music for their various instruments of the past few decades: classics, in fact.
The four Lauds, written between 1999 and 2000, are arranged not in chronological order, but as follows: Statement – Remembering Aaron, which recalls Aaron Copeland, and was written in 1999); Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi, was written in 1984; Rhapsodic Musings, which was written as a gift to Robert Mann, 1st violinist of the Juilliard Quartet, on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2000; and Fantasy – Remembering Roger, which was written in 1999 for the violinist Rolf Schulte, whom we will hear in performance in a moment.
Time: 4. I Statement – Remembering Aaron 04’47
5. II Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi 06’36
6. III Rhapsodic Musings 03’09
7. IV Fantasy – Remembering Roger 05’04
Total time: 19’36
CD 2: Bands 19 – 24: Lou Harrison (1917, Portland OPR – 2003, en route to Cols. OH): Six Sonatas for harp and guitar (1943): John Schneider, guitar; Amy Shulman, harp; Arr. by John Schneider. Just West Coast, Bridge 9041 http://www.bridgerecords.com/
John Schneider, who arranged most of the music on this CD entitled Just West Coast, tells us that "Lou Harrison studied composition with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, though it is Harrison’s fascination with non-Western music that has certainly exercised the more profound influence over the composer. Well known as a performer, calligrapher, artist, ethnomusicologist, and instrument builder, Harrison . . . composed for practically every medium, including symphony orchestra, opera and the ballet, and such solo instruments as guitar and harpsichord. This rich musical background, coupled with his sensitivity and respect for music of the past is best summarized by his wonderful motto: ‘Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create.’
"The Six Sonatas (1943) were originally for pianoforte or cembalo, meaning the ‘plucking string keyboards.’ The composer tell us:
My Six Sonatas are Mission-style pieces. They were directly stimulated by my studies about and feelings for the land, peoples, and history of California. Indeed, they are part of the ‘Regionalist’ school of thought that was so prevalent and, for a young person, stimulating in the 1930s. these Six Sonatas reflect the romance and geometry of impassioned Spain, as well as the pastoral Indian imagery of native America in its Western life. The artistic model was, of course, Scarlatti and Manuel de Falla.’
We’ll hear John Schneider on the guitar and Amy Shulman playing the Celtic Harp.
Time: 19. Moderato (guitar solo) 02’36
20. Allegro 03’29
21. Moderato 05’23
22. Allegro 01’51
23. Moderato (guitar solo) 03’38
24. Allegro 03’37
Total time: 20’34
Running time: 40’10
CD 3: Band 1: Aaron Copland (1900, NY – 1990, North Tarrytown, NY): Concerto for Clarinet, Strings, Harp, and Piano (1947-8): Richard Stoltzman, clarinet; London Symphony Orchestra; Lawrence Leighton-Smith, conductor. (No other soloists listed) BMG Classics 09026-61360-2.
Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman writes in his liner notes,
Because Aaron Copland wrote his Clarinet Concerto (in 1947-48) to a commission from Benny Goodman, it was natural for Copland to turn to the jazz idiom. He once told Phillip Ramey that his decision to use jazz materials was "inspired by Goodman’s playing," but that "contrary to certain commentators, the jazz elements in the Clarinet Concerto have nothing to do with the ‘hot jazz’ improvisation for which Benny Goodman and his sextet were noted."
Goodman introduced the concerto with the NBC Orchestra conducted by Fritz Reiner on November 6, 1950, and it quickly established itself in the repertory. Its form is unusual: two movements joined by a lengthy cadenza. The ABA first movement is informed by a bittersweet lyricism personal to Copland. Jazz material first appears in the exhibitionistic cadenza and then dominates the rondo-like last movement. Copland noted that some of the material in this exuberant, playful finale is born of "an unconscious fashion of elements obviously related to North and South American popular music (for example, a phrase from a currently popular Brazilian tune, heard by me in Rio, became embedded in the secondary material)."
Copland does not name the Brazilian tune.
We’ll hear Richard Stoltzman on the clarinet. Lawrence Leighton-Smith conducts the London Symphony Orchestra. The two movements and the cadenza are not separated from each other.
Time: 1. Concerto for Clarinet, et al 18’03
Running time: 58’11
CD 4: Bands 7 – 13: Stefan Wolpe (1902, Berlin – 1972, NY): Encouragements for Piano. First Piece. Battle Piece (1943-1947): David Holzman, piano. Stefan Wolpe – Compositions for Piano (1920-1952). Bridge Records 9116 http://www.bridgerecords.com/
According to Austin Clarkson, who provides the liner notes for this superb Bridge Records CD, Stefan Wolpe was influenced by the "new music" of late Scriabin, early Schoenberg, Bartók, Satie, and others. His "instrument was the piano." Clarkson continues, "During the darkest days of the second World War, Wolpe planned a series of seven compositions for solo piano entitled Encouragements." It took Wolpe almost five years to complete the piece, which is divided into two parts, which he finally did, according to Clarkson, because he discovered that the themes of both parts "had a common basis in [the octatonic scale] that [Olivier]Messiaen described in his book Technique of My Musical Language. "Both [parts are] reminiscent of the anti-fascist songs and marches that Wolpe had composed a decade earlier in Berlin."
We’ll hear pianist David Holzman perform Stefan Wolpe’s Encouragements for Piano. First Piece. Battle Piece.
Time: 7. Quasi presto 03’30
8. Molto sostenuto 04’49
9. Con moto ma non troppo 02’11
10.Vivo 04’58
11.Moderato 01’17
12.Con brio 02’28
13.Allegro ma non troppo 04’27
Total time: 24’30
Running time: 82’41
CD 5: Bands 7: Roger Hannay (1930, Plattsburgh, NY – 2006 ?, Chapel Hill, NC): Chanson Sombre for flute, viola, and harp (1972). The Cleveland Reconnaissance ensemble. Selected chamber Music of Roger Hannay, Volume II. Modern Recordings, Chapel Hill, NC. American Historical Preservation Recordings. Recorded in performance, January, 29, 1982.
Roger Hannay and I became fast friends first by email and later during two live interviews I was privileged to conduct over the past decade. I became acquainted with Roger because his first cousin, Eleanor Hughs, and her husband Arnold and I had been close friends since 1970, when I moved to Sullivan County. Roger, who taught for many years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was a well known and highly regarded composer. The writer Nicholas Slonimsky described him as "an unprejudiced and liberal music maker." He was also a wag and a wit with a sense of humor that always kept him in stitches. His premature death occurred before I was able to travel to North Carolina to visit him. But, much as I wish I had met him in the flesh, I feel that he and I bonded both because our personalities meshed and our tastes in music were similar, although, of course, Roger Hannay’s grasp of this mysterious medium far outreached mine. Come to think of it, our politics were quite similar. I imagine that he is turning over in his grave quite frequently these days.
Let’s listen to his 1972 composition Chanson sombre for flute, viola, and harp, performed live by The Cleveland Reconnaissance Ensemble in 1972.
Time: 7. Chanson Sombre 10’50
Total running time: 93’33
We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Elliott Carter’s Four Lauds for Solo Violin; Aaron Copland’s Concerto for Clarinet, Strings, Harp, and Piano; Lou Harrison’s Six Sonatas; Stefan Wolpe’s Encouragement; and Roger Hannay’s Chanson sombre. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s selections and that you will tune in next week when our featured Elliott Carter composition will be his Three Occasions for Orchestra. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
:: :: ::

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 19, 2007
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 19 March 2007
070319a
Today’s Selections:
1. Elliott Carter Concerto for Piano and Orchestra 22’31
2. Volkmar Andreae Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola, and ‘Cello 14’17
3. Ottorino Respighi The Birds 18’29
4. Olivier Messiaen Couleurs de la Cité Céleste 16’54
5. Maurice Ravel Sonata for violin and ‘cello 21’32
Total time: 93’33
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, Band 7: Elliott Carter (*1908, NYC) concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1964-5): Ursula Oppens, piano; SWF (Südwestfunk) Symphony Orchestra, Michael Gielen, conductor. Arte Nova Classics CD ANO 277730 http://www.allegro-music.com/artnova
According to Stefan Lipka and William d. Tennant’s liner notes, [Elliott] Carter wrote his only piano concerto while in Berlin in the mid-1960s. He planned the work as an 85th birthday present for Igor Stravinsky, who had long been an Elliott Carter supporter."
David Schiff provides the historical background against which Carter wrote his piano concerto with some fascinating information: "Cold War tensions following the construction of the Berlin Wall left their mark 9on the Concerto. Carter remembers the constant sound of machine-gun fire from a US Army target range near his studio – a sound that echoes through the second movement. The isolation of Berlin and its hostile surrounding may have suggested the dramatic confrontation of piano and orchestra in the Concerto, although the Concerto may reflect other events in the recent German past as well."
Schiff then quotes Michael Sternberg, who reviewed the first performance of the Carter Piano Concerto, which took place in Boston under the baton of Erich Leinsdorf in 1967: "Sternberg wrote that ‘Carter’s Concerto established the most dramatic confrontation of solo and orchestra since Beethoven.’ [Schiff continues:] Carter set out to discover a new dramatic meaning for the concerto form. He chose to portray a conflict ‘between an individual off many changing moods and thoughts and an orchestra treated more or less monolithically – massed effects pitted against protean figures and expressions.’ The soloist ins not a hero but an anti-hero in an alien world. (Ursula Oppens . . . compares the piano soloist to an operatic heroine.) The Concerto is Carter’s most passionate and tragic composition." (253-4)
In a time warp where no continuous world view appears to exist, one wonders whether anyone under the age of 40 even remembers what the Berlin Wall was. Lack of familiarity with art forms that refer and relate to it, and other significant events, is just another price we pay for what will soon be our collective ignorance of the past.

In his excellent liner notes, David Schiff, who also wrote the definitive study of Elliott Carter, tells us that Carter’s Variations for Orchestra . . . are a summation of the works Carter wrote after . . . 1948. The listener will hear passages recalling the Eight Etudes and a Fantasy, [written in 1950, which we heard several weeks ago] and the Sonata for Flute, Oboe, ‘Cello, and Harpsichord [1952, which we have heard numerous times on this program]. But the eclecticism reaches far beyond Carter’s own music. Aaron Copland once remarked on Carter’s wide knowledge of the music of his time; the Variations are a monumental synthesis of many different kinds of modern music . . .Thee are not only surface resemblances to Schoenberg and Berg, but there is also Carter’s closest approach to serial technique." Many composers, Ives, Debussy, Nancarrow, Cowell, Harris, and others find their ways into the nine variations of this piece, which I hope you will enjoy even as your mind jumps around while it makes sense of this canonic work. Although Variations for Orchestra comprises an Introduction, a Theme, nine Variations, and a Finale, there are no breaks between the sections.
Time: 1. I 10’01
2. II 12’30
Total time: 22’31
CD 2: Bands 14-17: Volkmar Andreae (1879, Bern – 1962, Zürich): Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola, and ‘Cello (1942): Tessa Brinckman, flute; Daniel Rouslin, violin; Victoria Gunn Pich, viola; Lori Presthus, ‘cello. Glass Sky North Pacific Music NPM LD 021.
There don’t seem to be a great many Swiss composers, either pre- or post 1900; perhaps my ignorance is showing here. Volkmar Andreae, however, is one who, though his canon is rather slim, is a very interesting one. Today we offer his Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola, and ‘Cello, which he wrote in 1942. The anonymous liner notes argue that this "lush and tempestuous work reflects Swiss composer Andreae’s vast knowledge and love of late 19th and 20th century romantic, impressionistic, and neo-classical repertoire. Andreae . . . was a major conductor and personality in the musical world [who] was offered a conducting post with the New York Philharmonic upon [Gustav] Mahler’s death [and later became permanent guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra]. He was an advocate of Bruckner’s music, and supported contemporaries such as Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Honneger. Many of his compositions were in direct response to musicians and singers he worked with.
Time: 14. Molto vivace 01’36
15. Adagio, non troppo lento 02’45
16. Molto vivace 03’04
17. Molto lento – Molto vivace 06’41
Total time: 14’17
Running time: 36’48
CD 3: Bands 5-9: Ottorino Respighi (1879, Bologna – 1936, Rome): The Birds (1928?): BBC Philharmonic, Patrick Thomas, conductor: BBC Music, March 2007.
Ottorino Respighi composed his suite The Birds during the mid-1920s. The liner notes tell us that "the main melodic material is drawn from lute and harpsichord pieces by Rameau, Pasquini, Gallot, and an anonymous 17th century composer. To each movement Respighi gives a specific title, and the music is peppered with imitations of birdsong, against a backdrop of evocative alfresco atmospheres.
"In the central section of the ‘Prelude’ there are already the clear pre-echoes of the warbling to come later, as a busy woodwind section sketches initial strands of ornithological mimicry. ‘The Dove’ brings a cooing solo oboe to the fore, spinning a wistful cantilena; and in ‘The Hen.’ By contrast, strings peck and cluck insistently. ‘The Nightingale’ serenades on flute and horn, with chirruping piccolo and glistening celesta; while the incessant two-note interjections of congregated woodwind in ‘The Cuckoo’ is self-explanatory, cheerfully rounding off what has been justly termed ‘this delightful musical aviary.’
Time: 5. Prelude 03’05
6. The Dove 04’15
7. The Hen 02’48
8. The Nightingale 03’56
9. The Cuckoo 04’25
Total time: 18’29
Running time: 55’17
CD 4: Band 1: Olivier Messiaen (1908, Avignon – 1992, Clichy): Couleurs de la Cité Céleste (1963): Groupe Instrumental a percussion de Strasbourg; Orchestre du Domaine Musical; Yvonne Loriod, piano; Pierre Boulez, conductor. ERATO CD 4509-91706-2.
I decided to follow the Respighi suite with a 1963 composition by one of my very favorite 20th century composers, Olivier Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité Céleste, (The Colors of the Celestial City), because, as you probably are all aware of by now, Messiaen was enthralled by birdsong. Messiaen’s compositions invariable focus on religious themes – he was a committed Catholic, and his music reflects his beliefs in ways that to my pagan ears ring true. The piece originates, according to what I think are Messiaen’s liner notes, in five quotations from Revelation:
"A rainbow round about the throne" (4:3)
"And the seven angels which had seven trumpets" (8:6)
"A star . . . and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit" (9:1)
"That great city . . . and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (21:11)
"And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardony; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, Beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacynth; the twelfth, an amethyst." (21:19, 20)
"The form of this work is based entirely on colors. The melodic or rhythmic themes, the complexes of sounds and timbres, all develop as would colors. In their constantly renewed variations, there appear as if by analogy varying colors – warm, cold; complementary, each influencing its neighbor; colors blending to white; depressed by the proximity of black. Or one could compare these transformations to the characters acting on several stages, one above the other, and playing several different dramas simultaneously.
"All the musical material –plain-song hallelujahs, Indian or Greek rhythms, permutations of time-scales, bird-song of various countries – are accumulated and put to serve color, and the combinations of sound that represent and evoke it. . . .
"The bird-song of New Zealand (Tui-bird and bell-bird) is contrasted with the "bottomless pit," with the pedal notes of the trombones and the resonance of the tom-toms. With the cries of the araponga of brazil contrasts the ‘colored extasy’ of the fermata: the red of the sard-stone, red spattered with blue, orange, gold, milky-white, emerald green, violet amethyst, purple violet, and blue violet. The piece no more comes to an end than it had a beginning, but it turns round on itself like a rose window of flaming and invisible colors." (Liner notes)
Time: 1. Colors of the Celestial City 16’54
Running time: 72’11
CD 5: Bands 8-11: Maurice Ravel (1875, Ciboure – 1937, Paris): Sonata for Violin and ‘Cello (1920-22): Gautier Capuçon, ‘cello; Frank Braley, piano. Virgin Classics 7243 5 45492 2 9.
Maurice Ravel composed his Sonata for Violin and ‘Cello between 1920 and 1922 at least partly in reaction to the so called "Group of Six’s" reaction to the "pre-war ‘masters’," including Franck, Ravel, and "even Stravinsky." In short, against what the group thought of as pre-war Romanticism. Rather than become annoyed, according to Marcel Marnat (Transl. Hugh Graham), "[Ravel] simply played them at their own game, with more talent and certainly with more real daring. Thus was sketched out [today’s offering, his Sonata for Violin and ‘Cello. . . Here Ravel was suggesting a sequel to the three baroque sonatas undertaken by Debussy during the war. Spurred on by the new instrumental resources thus discovered, he followed up the experiment by adding a crackling Très vif and then returned to the attack with a passacaglia, before ending with a rondo in which he caricatured the Groupe des Six, conferring an unexpected ferocity on one of their sacrosanct ‘popular themes.’" (Liner Notes)
Whatever the motivation, the result is this superb chamber piece which we are about to hear!
Time: 8. Allegro 05’00
9. Très vif 03’18
10. Lent 07’10
11. Vif, avec entrain 05’54
Total time: 21’32
Total running time: 93’33
We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Elliott Carter’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Volkmar Andreae’s Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola, and ‘Cello; Ottorino Respighi’s The Birds; Olivier Messiaen’s Colors of the Celestial City; and Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and ‘Cello. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s selections and that you will tune in next week when our featured Elliott Carter composition will be his Four Lauds for Solo Violin. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
:: :: ::

Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007

070312 Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, WJFF Noon to 2:00PM
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 12 March 2007
070312
Today’s Selections:
1. Elliott Carter Variations for Orchestra 22’17
2. Alan Hovhaness Meditation on Orpheus 12’04
3. Karl Amadeus Hartmann Jazz Toccata and Fugue for Piano 09’02
4. Karel Husa Fantasies for Orchestra 19’31
5. Amy Beach Four Songs 10’46
6. Peter Lieberson Horn Concerto 17’44
Total time: 91’24
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.
Many thanks to all our loyal members who contributed to our pledge drive that ended officially last Thursday, right before we broadcast The Gumbo Shop. We missed out goal by a bit, but we know that those of you who were able to help us towards it did your best. Many, many thanks!
Today, I’m going to say "Hello" to a young friend of mine, Zac Blitz, who turned 15 last week and who is busy recuperating from a very long, arduous, complicated operation. Belated birthday greetings, Zac! You’ve always been courageous and gritty. I know that you will weather this temporary storm and return to your normal, daily routine very quickly. I send my love to you and your family – your folks, Kate and Matt and your sister Sarah Rose – and wish you all strength and fortitude and pleasant days ahead in the near future!
CD 1, Band 7: Elliott Carter (*1908, NYC) Variations for Orchestra (1954-5): Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Michael Gielen, conductor. New World Records CD NW 347-2.
In his excellent liner notes, David Schiff, who also wrote the definitive study of Elliott Carter, tells us that Carter’s Variations for Orchestra . . . are a summation of the works Carter wrote after . . . 1948. The listener will hear passages recalling the Eight Etudes and a Fantasy, [written in 1950, which we heard several weeks ago] and the Sonata for Flute, Oboe, ‘Cello, and Harpsichord [1952, which we have heard numerous times on this program]. But the eclecticism reaches far beyond Carter’s own music. Aaron Copland once remarked on Carter’s wide knowledge of the music of his time; the Variations are a monumental synthesis of many different kinds of modern music . . .Thee are not only surface resemblances to Schoenberg and Berg, but there is also Carter’s closest approach to serial technique." Many composers, Ives, Debussy, Nancarrow, Cowell, Harris, and others find their ways into the nine variations of this piece, which I hope you will enjoy even as your mind jumps around while it makes sense of this canonic work. Although Variations for Orchestra comprises an Introduction, a Theme, nine Variations, and a Finale, there are no breaks between the sections.
Time: 3. Variations entire 22’17
CD 2: Band 5: Alan Hovhaness (1911, Somerville, MA – 2000, Seattle) http://www.hovhaness.com/hovhaness.html: Meditation on Orpheus, Op. 155 (1958) Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, conductor. Delos DE 3168.
Alan Hovhaness, who was born in Somerville, MA, in 1911, and who died in Seattle in 2000, developed what the liner notes refer to as an "eclectic" interest in many different cultures and places, including his own ethnic background, which was Armenian, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese. He was also a New Englander to liked to take "long walks among the hills of New Hampshire [which] brought about curious meditative moods . . . accompanied by strong sensations of being both in a New England countryside and at the same time in some oriental country such as China or India, with mountains becoming giant melodies."
He was, according to Neil Stannard, "an admirer of the Greek nation and its mythology. Meditation on Orpheus . . . is a musical representation of that part of the Orpheus legend that describes the Greek hero’s descent into the underworld in search of his deceased wife, which results in his own death. The composer provides the following note: ‘The music is in the form of a fantasy-rondo, with interludes and accompaniments in free rhythm of planned chaos, sometimes murmuring mysteriously, sometimes rising to threatening climaxes of orchestral tornadoes. The symbolic love quest of lamenting Orpheus against the infernal wind of the land of Pluto brings disaster and devastation.’"
Meditation on Orpheus is, in my opinion, a moving, exciting piece of program music, a symphonic poem, as it were. In it, one hears a microcosm of much of 20th century music.

Time: 5. Meditation on Orpheus 12’04
Running time: 34’21
CD 3: Bands 6,7: Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905, Munich – 1963, Munich: Jazz Toccata and Fugue for Piano: Siegfried Mauser, piano. Virgin Classics CD VC 7 91170-2 261 257.
Michael Stewart writes in his liner notes that accompany our next offering: "There were few composers writing in the 1920s on whom Jazz did not, however fleetingly, exert its influence. [Karl Amadeus] Hartmann’s contribution came in the form of his Jazz Toccata and Fugue [for Piano] of 1928, in which Hindemith piano textures and neo-baroque forms play host to a variety of Jazz styles; the Toccata opens with a four note boogie in the bass, and the Fugue, marked ‘in a fast Jazz tempo,’ culminates in an energetic ‘Charleston.’ We’ll hear Siegfried Mauser perform this jewel on the piano.
Time: 6. Toccata 05’21
7. Fugue 03’41
Total time: 09’02
Running time: 43’23
CD 11: Bands 1-4: Karel Husa (*1921, Prague): Fantasies for Orchestra (1956): Orchestra des Soloistes de Paris, Karel Husa, conductor. Phoenix CD 128.
I thought it would be fun to listen to Karl Husa’s Fantasies for Orchestra, since we began our program with Elliott Carter’s Variations for Orchestra. Coincidentally, the two pieces were written within a year or so of each other; of course, Husa, who 85 last August, is still a kid compared to Carter, who turned 98 in December. Both are superb composers, giants of the 20th and 21st centuries, whose music remains practically unknown among American concert goers. Why?
The anonymous liner notes tell us that "[t]here are three Fantasies: the first is an aria, written in contrapuntal style mostly for the string body of the orchestra, with piano, winds, and percussion helping only in the climax of the piece. The immediately following Capriccio is a sort of ‘concertante’ for three trumpets, piano, percussion, and the group of wood-wind instruments (piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet), with strings often only in the background. . . . The third Fantasy, a Nocturne, treats equally all the groups of the orchestra. In this movement, new colors and other new possibilities in orchestrations have been explored."
Besides being a superb composer, Karel Husa is also a wonderful person to be with. His students at Cornell and Ithaca College were very fortunate to have studies with him, in my opinion.
Time: 5. Aria 05’58
6. Capriccio 06’34
7. Nocturne 06’59
Total time: 19’31
Running time: 62’54
CD 5: Bands 19-22: Amy Beach (1867, Henniker, NH – 1944, NY): Four Songs: "In the Twilight," Op. 85 (1922), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; "Mine Be the Lips" (1926)Op. 113, Leonora Speyer; "Dark Garden" (1932) Op. 131, Leonora Speyer; "I Shall Be Brave" (1932) Op. 143, Katherine Adams. Patrick Mason, baritone; Joanne Polk, piano. Songs of Amy Beach Bridge Records Bridge 9182 http://www.bridgerecords.com/.
Bridge Records has once again produced a superb CD, this time with an array of songs by Amy Beach that stretch from 1887 to 1932. According to the liner notes, Beach "was the first woman composer (in America surely, but also in the wider Western musical world) for writing successfully in so many of the large forms of the late nineteenth century: symphony, concerto, oratorio, and chamber music.
"After her death," continue the notes, "and until very recently, the accepted picture of Amy Beach was that of a great talent somewhat stifled, somewhat out of touch. Performances of her works, once common in recitals and concerts, are rare. Of her more than one hundred and twenty songs, only a few are known to the public. Yet Beach’s musical language, though Romantic, is not outdated. In her songs, as in all her work, we are witness to a brave, largely self-taught artist with a singular voice and ability to show how a composer with a thorough grasp of her craft can sing with a passion an emotional transparency many of her more famous male colleagues never achieved."
The notes end with a quotation from Amy Beach: "Remember that technique is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say – something which demands expression from the depths of your soul. If you feel deeply and know how to express what you feel, you make others feel."
We’ll hear four of her songs, "In the Twilight, written to a poem by Longfellow; "Mine Be the Lips," and "Dark Garden," set to poems by Leonora Speyer; and "I Shall Be Brave," written to a poem by Katherine Adams. The baritone is Patrick Mason; Joanne Polk is the pianist.
Time: 19. In the Twilight 03’32
20. Mine Be the Lips 02’24
21. Dark Garden 01’53
22. I Shall Be Brave 02’57
Total time: 10’46
Running time: 73’40
CD 6: Bands 12,13: Peter Lieberson (*1946, NY) http://209.218.170.3/composers/lieberson_bio.html: Horn Concerto (1998-9): Odense Symphony Orchestra, Donald Palma, conductor; William Purvis, horn. Peter Lieberson Bridge Records Bridge 9178 http://www.bridgerecords.com/
I first heard music by Peter Lieberson, believe it or not, on Performance Today, right before the Grammy Awards, if my memory does not fail me. I believe that Fred Child was interviewing David Starobin, of Bridge Records; and I thought perhaps that the Bridge CD, Peter Lieberson, might have been up for an award. However, I’ve never had the patience to sit through those events, and, try as I might, I cannot seem to Google the information I need to obtain this information. A young person, no doubt, would simply have looked at the Google link, smiled, and gone immediately to the correct page.
In any case, the CD is a gem. I thought we might end today’s program with Peter Lieberson’s 1998-9 Horn Concerto, which features horn player William Purvis and the Odense Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Donald Palma. The composer notes that the "Horn Concerto was commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for William Purvis." Lieberson continues, "I have always loved the French Horn. Like the viola, to me it is an instrument of the heart. In my concerto, I emphasize the lyrical qualities of the horn, but there are other moods, too, feisty, dance-like, and humorous." The Horn Concerto is written in two movements, though there is very little pause between them. They are called, simply, a quarter note = 108; and a quarter note = 96.
The piece is delightful. My heartfelt thanks go out to Bridge Records for fighting the good fight and publishing so many wonderful CDs filled with music written during the last hundred or so years.
Time: 12. I 08’31
13. II 09’13
Total time: 17’44
Total running time: 91’24



We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Elliott Carter’s Variations for Orchestra; Alan Hovhaness’s Meditation on Orpheus; Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s Jazz Toccata and Fugue for Piano; Karl Husa’s Fantasies for Orchestra; 4 songs by Amy Beach; and Peter Lieberson’s Horn Concerto. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s selections and that you will tune in next week when our Elliott Carter composition will be his Double Concerto. Until then, this is Gandalf, thanking you for listening and, once again wishing Zac Blitz, to whom I dedicated today’s program, a happy, if somewhat belated, 15th birthday; best wishes for a speedy recovery and a great year; and the joy of New Music to one and all!
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