Welcome to Classical Music Discoveries' Season 13!
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Our tribute to Memorial Day.
This is a MUSIC ONLY broadcast with NO commercial interruptions.
The Star Spangled Banner
Hands Across the Sea
Civil War Medley
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
This is My Country
Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
National Emblem March
America, My Country 'Tis of Thee
A Dirge for Two Veterans
The Ballad of the Green Berets
Navy Memorial March
Veterans of the USA
The American GI
America the Beautiful
A Letter from Mom
The United States Armed Forces Medley
God Bless America
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In this edition which we call “Symphonic Extravagance” we play for you 3 symphonies which were composed by Mozart when he was 16 years old between 2 tours of Italy by the Mozart family.
With the experimental compositions of the 3 previous symphonies now completed, Mozart applies what he has learned to the 3 symphonies in this broadcast. As with the previous minuets and divertimento, the compositions and orchestrations are very extravagant. They are rich in harmonic textures and lush in orchestrations.
The 3 symphonies are performed by the CMD Philharmonic of Paris and are conducted by Dominique Beaulieu. This recording is available now at ClassicalRecordings.co
Symphony 19 in E-flat Major is in 4 movements and is scored for 2 oboes, 4 horns and strings. The autograph page shows this symphony was composed in July 1772.
Symphony 20 in D Major is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 horns, 2 trumpets and strings. This music was composed for an unknown royal ceremony.
Symphony 21 in A Major, also in 4 movements, was composed specifically for the Mozart family tour of Italy in 1772.
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Global guitarist and composer Giovanni Piacentini’s talents as a dual-threat musician are on full display on CHIAROSCURO, his debut album. He wrote all these works themed around his instrument of choice, and his playing appears on two pieces – Miniatures, for guitar and chamber ensemble, and a solo guitar performance on the title track. Yet, even on the tracks where he does not perform, the composer’s voice remains ever-present, namely in each work’s reverberant use of space.
Piacentini describes himself as highly attuned to the “overall sound and impact” of classical guitar. The album’s three works affirm this assertion, and indicate this sensitivity also applies to pieces which pair guitar with an ensemble (Miniatures) as well as compositions written for a different set of instruments entirely (Chasing Shadows). Throughout CHIAROSCURO, the guitarist’s musical mindset as a solo performer remains a central influence on the album’s compositional personality.
The title track’s five movements feature a distinguished improvisatory style, which develops with enthralling spatial characteristics that blend the guitar’s various timbres with added reverberation. Under Piacentini’s virtuosic hands, Chiaroscuro beautifully mixes harmonics, tremolo, and other techniques that yield a detailed musical landscape rich with naturalistic imagery.
Miniatures expands the guitar-centric color palette of Chiaroscuro, with an accompanying ensemble accentuating the six-string’s timbres with flavors of bass clarinet, vibraphone, percussion, viola, and violin. At points, the strings and bass clarinet seemingly emerge from the sound of the guitar, illustrating the connection between Piacentini’s perspectives as a composer and performer. Chiaroscuro and Miniatures share similar structures; each work has multiple movements based on specific images – seasons and times of day in Chiaroscuro, and paintings in Miniatures – and tend to present musical snapshots more than transforming narratives.
In addition to its absence of guitar, Chasing Shadows – for violin, bass clarinet, vibraphone, and harp – is a distinct work on the album. Here, the violin is the primary soloist, and leads the listener on an exciting and beautiful musical journey. Accordingly, Piacentini designs an exquisite violin part that traverses a range of moods and energies, from determined athleticism to yearning lyricism.
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SPELLS, a new retrospective collection highlighting the music of poet and composer Juli Nunlist, marks a touching journey through the earnest, romantic, and dramatic sounds of the late artist’s compositional language. The album’s works demonstrate Nunlist’s appreciation for tradition and grandeur, and are driven by her remarkable gift for melody and clear fascination with instrumental texture.
Nunlist’s literary background seems to inform the potency of the album’s vocal works, including the intimate a cappella choral arrangement on the title track, a choral setting of six poems by the English poet Kathleen Raine; and the epic Six Chansons from Prières dans l’arches, for vocal soloists and orchestra. Though these pieces feature contrasting instrumentations, they both display the composer’s effortless text setting and brilliantly sensitive orchestration.
In each, her compelling writing brings the given text to life, and activates the nuance of its narrative and symbolism with intricate vocal and instrumental arrangements. To this end, Spells uses subtle melodic, harmonic, and textural recurrences to convey an enveloping and somewhat cyclical form.
The Six Chansons, on the other hand, build vast sonic wonderlands, imaged through Nunlist’s incredible command of orchestral space and density. Each of the Chansons pairs vocalists and a large instrumental ensemble, with some of the work’s most compelling moments arising from these unique and highly exposed pairings, such as solo mezzo-soprano and celeste.
The album’s romantic centerpiece arrives with Nunlist’s String Quartet, a piece which hearkens back to the genre’s seminal nineteenth century masterpieces with its captivating melodies and gripping subversions of functional harmony. Moreover, in a structural sense, Nunlist’s String Quartet is one of the most impressive works on SPELLS, especially in its dramatic closing movement.
In the final moments of the piece, the music refuses to repose, and, on the strength of a new theme, the quartet gains energy and determination. This surprising turn in the work’s formal trajectory is unquestionably meaningful, and seems to demonstrate a fearless quality in Nunlist’s compositional perspective.
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.