Welcome to Classical Music Discoveries' Season 13!
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The greatest event for all mankind is yet to happen. That event will be the resurrection of the dead.
Every human being, that has ever lived, will have their eternal spirit united with an eternal and perfected body, never to be parted again.
The righteous will be resurrected first with the unrighteous being resurrected lastly after the millennium.
The 2nd symphony, or the Resurrection Symphony, of Gustav Mahler envisions man’s death, remembrance of his life and questioning if there is life after death, and culminates with the glorious event of the resurrection of all mankind.
Our performance, by the CMD German Opera Company of Berlin, conducted by Kenneth Hedgecock is fully orchestrated as follows:
4 flutes and 4 piccolos
4 oboes and 2 English horns
3 clarinets and a bass clarinet
3 E-flat clarinets
4 bassoons and contra-bassoon
10 french horns
5 snare drums
2 bass drums
2 pairs of cymbals
3 untuned bells
Mixed chorus of 255 voices
And 175 strings
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A potent representation of Australian composer Bruce Crossman’s music, LIVING COLOURS is inspired by his strong spirituality and eclectic, multicultural interests. Both overtly and subtly, Crossman’s music seems to embody the expansive geography of Oceania. To this end, the works on the album draw explicitly on the native music of other Asia-Pacific cultures – particularly the Philippines, Korea, and China – and feature vast musical spaces that seem to symbolize the great distances that separate Australia from its neighbors. In his own words, Crossman describes his desire to evoke a “resonance of space” with his music, which arises from a “deep-felt emotion and sensibility linking heaven and earth.”
Crossman’s works are probing and profound, offering listeners an array of unique, primal listening moments. The sense of space that so deeply characterizes his music is epitomized in the opening of Double Resonances, for piano and percussion. The work begins with an echoing, disembodied piano sound – one of a few special timbres Crossman uses in the piece – which is only responded to by the percussion after a few minutes have passed. Double Resonances also represents one way Crossman makes his music eclectic: the use of non-western instruments.
Here, in addition to more conventional items in the percussion battery, Crossman calls for kulintang – a set of pitched gongs originating from the Philippines – and the ching – a type of Korean Samul Nori flat-gong – among other indigenously Asian instruments. Crossman essentially builds a new musical voice with this enhanced set of percussion instruments, which are paired with the piano to explore resonance in this piece.
Both these instruments also appear in the song cycle Gentleness-Suddenness. The composition may be the most overtly spiritual work on the album, as part of its text is from the Bible. Crossman’s writing features a kaleidoscopic array of musical elements, from instrumental noise common to Western avant-garde music to melodic and rhythmic elements of various Southeast Asian, East Asian, and Cantonese traditions.
The work’s vocal part is similarly eclectic, and mixes Biblical verses in English with Chinese texts and other specialized vocal techniques. At points, the intensity of the variegated sonic palette in Gentleness-Suddenness is overwhelming, which shows Crossman’s uniquely constructed music can be as powerful as is can be meditative.
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In this edition which we call “Making a Living” we explore some dance party and outdoor social works by the 16-year old Mozart.
In today’s world, we turn on the radio or listen to Classical Music Discoveries on your smartphone using the Podomatic app or some other favorite app and we think nothing of it. Any type of music is just there to listen to while you work or play.
But in Mozart’s day, if you wanted to listen to music, the only option you had (for background music) was to hire musicians and maybe even a composer to write something special for your occasion.
So, in “Making a Living” we explore some of Mozart’s music-for-hire.
First, we will hear “6 Minuets, K. 164” which were composed for a noble’s dance party. While the guests at this party probably never paid too much attention to the music, other than to dance to, today we can appreciate the complexities of these works.
Now we will hear “Divertimento No. 2 in D Major, K. 131” which was composed for an unknown outdoor activity for a wealthy businessman in Salzburg. While people played, ate and networked, the music was nothing more than pleasant background noise for many of the guests.
However, Mozart’s composition is rich, full and a genuine masterwork worthy of the concert hall rather than a pleasant outdoor activity in which no one really listened to the music.
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Though “passage” is a word of numerous meanings, they all point back to a singular idea – the transition between two disparate entities. Whether it’s a passage of prose which moves along a narrative, a physical passageway connecting two points, or the continuous passing of time, all these snapshots help define our crucial moments within life’s movements. This theme threads the works on PASSAGE, the latest orchestral compilation from Navona featuring compositions from Sergio Cervetti, Daniel Crozier, Craig Morris, and Betty Wishart.
For his contribution to the album, Cervetti recalls a passage from the Book of Revelation, read to him in French by his grandfather while sitting in his lap, immobilized by terrified fascination. The resulting Concerto for Trumpet, Strings, and Timpani, Septem Tubae from Revelation 11:15 (“The seventh angel sounded the trumpet…”) is an awing and triumphant work of fittingly Biblical proportions. After a foreboding trumpet solo opens the composition, a tumultuous duet breaks out between timpani and trumpet. Once there’s calm on the battlefield, a final meditative section recalls the Voices of Heaven, with violas and cellos accompanying timpani and trumpet in an apocalyptic crescendo.
Morris’ piece A Child’s Day comes from a similarly personal place, with the music’s light, sweet themes reminding the composer of his grandchildren, who experience the fullness of each passing day as a “fresh new world.” The suite for string orchestra with percussion captures the moments within this daily experience, beginning with “Morning Smiles” and it’s airy string arrangement, which conjures the scene of a child slowly waking to the warm, loving faces of their parents in the morning. After a passage defined by energetic mallet percussion and a whimsical instrumental timbre on “Playtime,” the tired child drifts off to sleep on “Sweet Dreams” after an eventful day full of warm memories, captured by a slow-soaring micro suite with lighter percussive accents.
With her own mysterious passage on Concertante No. 1, “Journey into the Unknown,” Wishart composes based on the musing that “we may rest from the journey, but the effects of our encounters are still with us.” Written for strings, woodwinds, and French horn, the composer creates a journey for both the mind and heart, as logos-driven motives weave the different instruments in imitative, overlapping counterpoint, and the prominent use of minor seconds, tritones, and sevenths throughout capture the emotional apprehension and excitement of exploring the unknown. From the low opening double bass and cellos all the way through playful groups of sixteenth-notes and a climactic dialogue between the winds and the string, the composer explores highly contrapuntal and expressive motives.
Crozier contributes to PASSAGE with Ballade: A Tale After the Brothers Grimm, a similarly fantastical musical yarn. The composition throughout conjures storybook reveries of every persuasion, ranging from bouncing spring footsteps via a collective fluttering orchestra to an evil romp through the forest as thundering percussion propels a frantic string section. By the end, listeners will crave the visual representation of the tale Ballade creates with its musical narration.
In our 44th edition of La Musica Chamber Music Hour, we will be pleased to hear:
Keyboard Quartet in G Major, WB 66 by Johann Christian Bach
Divertimento for String Trio in E-flat Major, K. 563 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Quartet in D Major, Op. 23 by Antonin Dvorak
Cecilia Ziano, Federico Agostini and Claudio Cruz - violins
Daniel Avshalomov, Bruno Giuranna - violas
JeongHyoun Lee, Antonio Meneses - cellos
Derek Han - piano
This concert was recorded live on April 6, 2017.
We wish to thank the staff and musicians from La Musica International Chamber Music Festival for allowing us to broadcast this concert to our international audience.
When approaching his latest chamber album BLISS POINT, Polish-born violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk turned to a unique lens of inspiration – food science. His interpretation of a “bliss point” in the culinary sense embodies the technique’s saturation of a flavor just before the point of diminished potency. Of course, he trades in the contents of his spice cabinet in favor of diverse instrumental pairings, and in doing so, the composer explores the “saturation limits in the full spectrum of emotions, textures, and characters.” In doing so, Szewczyk is confident that the resulting collection of chamber works “covers the entire expressive range of my vocabulary and artistic sensitivity.”
Naturally, Szewczyk’s violin stylings are included in this spectrum, as he appears on nearly all the album’s compositions. He keeps true to his stated inspirations on BLISS POINT and exemplifies these goals on the title track. Accompanied by clarinet, cello, and piano, the violinist leads the quartet through a set of intertwined sections that starkly differ in their pacing. An ostinato bookend aids in structuring the piece, opening with a gentle pulsation and closing with tranquility after a midsection of contrasting instrumental textures.
Contrasting moods also appear on the album’s first two mixed ensemble pieces. The four short, ever-shifting movements of Twisted Dances are brought alive by oboe, violin, cello, and piano, and the scattered themes of Images from a Journey range from explorations of darkness to a similarly dance-inspired movement based on gypsy performers.
These ensembles are only a sample of Szewczyk’s use of contrast on the album, with a strong example arriving on Piano Trio No. 1’s bricolage of disparate movements. The composer cycles through passages of intense, rhythmic virtuosity; then meditative jazz piano obscured by melancholic tendencies; and lastly, an explosive finale with unbridled energy as its ignition.
His vibrant writing for strings echoes this trend as well, including the viscous, atonal sonorities of a string quartet in the octatonic scale on Half-Diminished Scherzo and the fury of a lively string trio on the appropriately titled Furioso.
These types of musical personification all exhibit the intense imagery of Szewczyk’s compositions. Even without knowing the title of Very Angry Birds, the way the violinist’s extended techniques glide over propulsive piano chords will prompt listeners to point their imaginations skyward. This tendency also holds true for the composer’s dialogue between instruments, such as the furious battle of violin and viola on Conundrum and the marital themes of Nimbus, which tests the polarity of wedding vows with passages full of both joy and bickering.
In this edition which we call “3 Symphonies and a Lost Vocal” we explore some quickly composed works by Mozart.
First, we will hear “Regina coeli”, or at least, what has survived of this once grand mass. While Mozart was considered to be the composer of this work, this was not proven until the lost title page was discovered in 1964. Only 3 movements of this work exist today. The remaining movements were destroyed in World War 2.
This performance is the by CMD Philharmonic and Chorus of Paris and conducted by Dominique Beaulieu. All of the performances in this broadcast are available now at ClassicalRecordings.co
Now we will hear 3 symphonies composed in rapid succession my Mozart in May of 1772. Music historians believe these symphonies were composed during the period when Mozart stayed in Salzburg between 2 trips to Italy. The autograph pages of these symphonies are preserved in the National Library of Berlin. All 3 symphonies are widely accepted to be inconsequential in Mozart’s compositional library and are often overlooked.
Here at Classical Music Discoveries, we like to differ. We believe, as Mozart was abandoning the Italian style of composing, that he used these symphonies to explore the German or Mannheim style of composing. If you listen carefully, you can hear subtle explorations into distorted harmonies and chord structures, which would not to be fully developed in much later works of Mozart.
First, we will hear Symphony 16 in C Major. This symphony is scored for 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings which is not Mozart’s full orchestra that he has used in the past. Evidence again, that these 3 symphonies were strictly for experimental purposes in composition. The 3 symphonies will be performed by the CMD Paris Philharmonic and conducted by Dominique Beauleau.
Symphony 17 in G Major is another experimental 3-movement symphony scored for 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings.
Symphony 18 in F Major is an experimental 4-movement symphony scored for 2 flutes, 4 horns and strings. Here Mozart not only experiments with the creation of musical harmonies, but he also experiments with instrumentation. There are no oboes in this symphony and for the first and second movements, a second pair of horns is used, which is a rare occurrence for Mozart.
Argentinian composer, conductor, and scholar Alicia Terzian’s new Navona release OFF THE EDGE is an incredible journey into the heart of the string orchestra. The four works on the album introduce listeners to Terzian’s captivating compositional perspective and enchanting treatment of this ensemble’s sonic potential. Her writing focuses heavily on the drama, nuance, and contrasts accessible through instrumental color, and OFF THE EDGE showcases numerous audacious textures involving the string orchestra, with different percussion instruments,chorus,soloists and voice.
To this end, Terzian’s work Tres Piezas para Orquesta de Cuerdas is the album’s simplest presentation of strings, as it is the only piece on the album to feature string orchestra by itself. Even so, this highly sectional piece demonstrates the ensemble’s considerable textural flexibility. As one might expect, the composer uses the orchestra as a conventional and singular melodic force with the accompaniment of solo violin and cello in the corresponding variations of the 2nd movement. More importantly, Tres Piezas is a work that exploits string instruments’ capacities to produce both compellingly powerful and delicate sounds.
The other works on OFF THE EDGE more commonly play to the extremes of the string orchestra’s sonic palette. This tendency is encapsulated in the first minutes of Carmen Criaturalis (1970), a concerto for horn, string orchestra, and percussion considered the beginning of "spectralism". Here, Terzian fuses the sounds of a rolling cymbal with trembling, sliding strings and the vibraphone, which give way to the solo horn’s anguished solo melody, a melody calling to mind a scream and then joining the orchestra in an emotional conclusion.
Canto a Mi Misma (1985) features an enthralling form, as well as rich, vivified string textures and is scored for string orchestra, a chorus reading the texts of 20 poems, and the tam-tam. Both thematically, and in actual performance, sound transformation is a key element of this composition. Spoken material is electronically manipulated and delayed around a performance space, an effect admirably captured in this recording. Through speaker placement and live sound manipulation, the listener perceives musical content and its ongoing transformation with a fluidity mirroring that of the material itself. While perhaps hard to visualize, the live performance of this piece utilizes a specially designed system of scattered speakers and stage microphones structured specifically by the composer for the transmission of this single composition.
Written in 1992, the album’s titular work combines strings, Chinese cymbals, choir, and bass soloist in a dramatic and expansive musical design.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is a music drama in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas commonly performed, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Bavarian State Opera, in Munich, on June 21, 1868. The conductor at the premiere was Hans von Bülow.
The story is set in Nuremberg in the mid-16th century. At the time, Nuremberg was a free imperial city and one of the centers of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The story revolves around the city's guild of Master Singers, an association of amateur poets and musicians who were primarily master craftsmen of various trades. The master singers had developed a craftsman like approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. The work draws much of its atmosphere from its depiction of the Nuremberg of the era and the traditions of the master-singer guild. One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, is based on a historical figure, Hans Sachs, the most famous of the master singers.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg occupies a unique place in Wagner's oeuvre. It is the only comedy among his mature operas, and is also unusual among his works in being set in a historically well-defined time and place rather than in a mythical or legendary setting. It is the only mature Wagner opera based on an entirely original story, devised by Wagner himself, and in which no supernatural or magical powers or events are in evidence. It incorporates all of the operatic conventions that Wagner had railed against in his essays on the theory of opera: rhymed verse, arias, choruses, a quintet, and even a ballet.
This performance by the CMD German Opera Company of Berlin and conducted by Dominique Beaulieu.