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Classical Music Discoveries
The World's #1 Classical Music Show
Category: Easy Listening
Location: Cedar City, UT
Proudly Sponsored by La Musica International Chamber Music Festival in Sarasota Florida
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November 13, 2018 11:46 AM PST

Dana Muller
Gary Steigerwalt

Acclaimed piano four-hand duo Dana Muller and Gary Steigerwalt come together once more for IN YOUR HEAD, a collection featuring the work of six composers that highlights both fresh compositional talents and earlier successful works. Each piece demonstrates the unique synergy between the two performers. With twice the hands, twice the talent, and twice the interpretation, the piano is pushed to dynamic and sonoric extremes.

Compositions on IN YOUR HEAD span over five decades, but each is brought to new life by the skilled hands of Muller and Steigerwalt. The duo, who have performed extensively across the Western Hemisphere, found inspiration for this compilation in the success of Lewis Spratlan's Dreamworlds, a piece which they had commissioned in 2015. Using the piano as a canvas, the two paint a psychological landscape exploring the mind within different people, scenarios, and even locations. Sometimes dissonant and flustered, as in Mind Games II. Panic, and other times eerie as in The Silent Hearth which captures the memories echoing like firing synapses inside a dilapidated concert hall, each piece resonates with the complexity of mental activity.

Throughout IN YOUR HEAD, Steigerwalt and Muller compel listeners to zero in on the thoughts of the panicked soul, the trapped bureaucrat, the obsessed dictator, and the mind control of the lucid dreamer. As you follow along, perhaps you’ll ask yourself - whose psyche most resonates with me?

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November 09, 2018 11:00 PM PST

Friedenstag (Peace Day) is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss, his Opus 81 and TrV 271, to a German libretto by Joseph Gregor. The opera was premiered at Munich on 24 July 1938 and dedicated to Viorica Ursuleac and her husband Clemens Krauss, the lead and conductor respectively. Strauss had intended Friedenstag as part of a double-bill, to be conducted by Karl Böhm in Dresden, that would include as the second part his next collaboration with Gregor, Daphne. The opera thematically expresses anti-war sentiments, which William Mann has described as "a determined counter to the militaristic policies of Nazi Germany". These caused the work to be shelved after the outbreak of World War II.

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November 09, 2018 01:11 PM PST

A Concert of Music by Members of
Connecticut Composers, Inc.

Elizabeth R. Austin
John Alan Rose
Juliana Hall
Ryan Jesperson
Frank Vasi
Nancy Tucker

SPECTRA 2 unveils the works of six composers, each of whom tells a unique, memorable story.

First up is Elizabeth R. Austin's B-A-C-HOMAGE, an intricately constructed tribute to the German Baroque composer. Based on Bach's name and his "Air on G" respectively, the first and second movement reflect upon the clarity of his work through the lens of Austin's decidedly modern tonal language.

John Alan Rose's Sleepy Hollow Suite for piano mesmerizes with a timeless appeal that bridges centuries: aesthetically gratifying and inventive all at once, Washington Irving could fittingly have imagined this as a soundtrack for his eponymous story. Rose empathetically retells this masterpiece of American literature with natural skill in a three-movement suite of tremendous re-listening potential.

Bells and Grass, composed by Juliana Hall, brings five poems by Walter de la Mare to life with only a soprano and an oboe. A courageously tender expansion of lied composition, the oboe does not just restrict itself to playing an accompaniment, but instead enters into a dialogue with the soprano like an intuitive, benevolent Socratic spirit.

A related theme could be discerned in Ryan Jesperson's Icarus, a riveting duo for alto saxophone and piano. Like the eponymous mythological character, it starts out soaring, but undergoes a considerable transformation, culminating in a spectacular fashion.

There is nothing random about Frank Vasi's saxophone quartet Random Thoughts: the four-movement work is so refreshingly tonal, as well as rhythmically and harmonically engaging, that it wouldn't be out of place in an upscale jazz venue. A stunning example of inspirations and musical craftsmanship, Vasi effortlessly toys with compositional difficulties throughout, such as the conflict between two contrasting time signatures in The Argument. The quirky Picasso's Rag sounds exactly how one would imagine it according to the title – only better.

Nancy Tucker brings the album to a close with two of her playful, upbeat compositions. Escape of the Slinkys imagines the life of named perennial childhood toy with bewildering depth of imagination. Grasshopper's Holiday, an unapologetically catchy guitar piece, evokes images of road trips and carefree summers with such cheerful drive that one might find it difficult to stop listening to it on repeat.

With its variegated selection, SPECTRA 2 packs a veritable punch in just about one hour of music – music composed in Connecticut, but with an artistic appeal that easily transcends the borders of the Constitution State.

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November 08, 2018 01:05 PM PST

The Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104, was a work of long gestation completed by Jean Sibelius in 1923. Although the score does not contain a key attribution, the symphony is usually described as being in D minor; much of it is in fact in the (modern) Dorian mode. A typical performance lasts about 25 minutes. The composer called the work "cold spring water" in opposition to many contemporary "cocktails"—a reference to the modernist gestures in post-war music. The symphony was premiered by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer, on 19 February 1923 and had other performances under his direction in the following months.

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1877, during a visit to Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Its composition was brief in comparison with the 21 years it took Brahms to complete his First Symphony.

The cheery and almost pastoral mood of the symphony often invites comparisons with Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, but, perhaps mischievously, Brahms wrote to his publisher on November 22, 1877, that the symphony "is so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it. I have never written anything so sad, and the score must come out in mourning."

The premiere was given in Vienna on 30 December 1877 by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Hans Richter; Walter Frisch notes that it had originally been scheduled for 9 December, but "in one of those little ironies of music history, it had to be postponed [because] the players were so preoccupied with learning Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner."

Conducted by Dominique Beaulieu
Performed by the CMD Paris Philharmonic in Orleans

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November 06, 2018 01:36 PM PST


John A. Carollo’s fourth Navona Records release, and follow up to 2017’s THE TRANSFIGURATION of GIOVANNI BAUDINO, is a wondrous musical journey through the world of desire. With MUSIC FROM THE ETHEREAL SIDE OF PARADISE, Carollo makes an impassioned plea for the power of romance.

From the opening tensions and mystery of “Awakenings for String Orchestra” through the surprising, amorous joy of “Romanzo!” “Splendido Affare,” and “La Tortura dell’ Amore,” Carollo’s compositions communicate what mere words cannot:the inner rapture, utter fulfillment, and yes, the torture, of being in love.

Shifting slightly, and perhaps more into the ethereal, “Metamorphosis No. 3 for Solo Violin” introduces a newer, more contemplative element. With short notes and runs, the violin first cries out with unanswered questions followed by furrowed introspection. Two Guitar Etudes follow, demonstrating both intimacy and technique, while maintaining an inquisitive tone throughout.

As the album continues, we arrive at a vocal suite with “Little Gems” to be discovered throughout.

T.S. Eliot wrote “…the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.”MUSIC FROM THE ETHEREAL SIDE OF PARADISE does just that. Concluding as we began with a sumptuous string orchestra, we arrive where we started – enlightened and wise from our journey.

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November 03, 2018 11:00 PM PDT

Jeff Morris

INTERFACES explores the different ways a computer can fit in a modern jazz ensemble and still be true to itself. Technology performer Jeff Morris is joined by free jazz icon Karl Berger on vibes and piano as well as innovative New York percussionist Joe Hertenstein. Morris takes sounds from his partners live in the moment and transforms them into his own musical voice with the DNA of acoustic sounds and the fingerprints of digital processing.

This live sampling improvisation results in expressively shifting quasi-loops and glitchy melodic gestures, drawn from music that just happened and influencing what the performers will do next. Call it a twenty-first century version of imitative counterpoint, as in J. S. Bach’s classic fugues.

Taking inspiration from, among others, free jazz legend Ornette Coleman and Brian Eno’s early rebellious sound, Morris builds different digital instruments and interactive environments to produce unique encounters with the jazz world. He uses every stutter, glitch, and clash as a chance to discover new kinds of beauty. The native voice of the technology sings freely instead of pretending to be other instruments or remixing classic recordings.

At times, INTERFACES can feel like an aural puzzle that challenges the mind as much as the ear. But if you’re up for a sonic adventure, you will find musical moments that are nothing short of revolutionary.

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November 03, 2018 12:45 AM PDT

Verdi's Rigoletto Explained
Written by Thomson Smillie
Narrated by David Timson

November 02, 2018 11:00 PM PDT

Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite serious initial problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the opera had a triumphant premiere at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851.

It is considered by many to be the first of the operatic masterpieces of Verdi's middle-to-late career. Its tragic story revolves around the licentious Duke of Mantua, his hunch-backed court jester Rigoletto and Rigoletto's beautiful daughter Gilda. The opera's original title, La maledizione (The Curse), refers to the curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke with Rigoletto's encouragement. The curse comes to fruition when Gilda likewise falls in love with the Duke and eventually sacrifices her life to save him from the assassins hired by her father.

Conducted by Rosalinda Betrucci
Performed by the CMD Grand Opera Company of Venice
Recorded by Classical Music Discoveries

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November 02, 2018 01:57 PM PDT

A detailed analysis of Mozart and "Don Giovanni."

Written by Thomson Smillie and narrated by David Timson

November 02, 2018 10:45 AM PDT

Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the National Theater (of Bohemia), now called the Estates Theatre, on 29 October 1787.

Da Ponte's libretto was billed as a dramma giocoso, a common designation of its time that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.

Conducted and Produced by Kathryn Cavanaugh
CMD Grand Opera Company of Venice

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