Afternoon Classical

Mon - Fri, 3pm - 4pm

Classical favorites personally selected by General Manager Gretchen Gondek.

Mozart's Serenade in D

Jun 30, 2015

Mozart's purpose for writing the Serenade in D, K 203, is up for debate. Either it was written for his patron's name day, or it was written for a graduation ceremony. Who knows? What we do know is that it is a light and flitting affair with three minuets for good dancing and celebration. It is played here by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and soloist Iona Brown. Sir Neville Marriner directs. 

Van Cliburn Foundation

As the Tchaikovsky Competition is now smack dab in the middle of its final round, we thought it fitting to play the recording made of Van Cliburn at Carnegie Hall shortly after his historic win of the very first Tchaikovsky Competition. Here he plays Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto, one of the most beloved and feared of the genre. Kiril Kondrashin, who conducted the orchestra in Moscow, was invited to conduct this concert as well. It was a truly warm moment during the Cold War. 

Young Beethoven had applied to and been accepted by Mozart as a pupil, but B learned of his mother's impending death on his way to join M, so the two never met. However, B's appreciation of M's genius can be heard especially in the early piano concertos. The Third Concerto marks the point at which B's voice emerges fully from M's influence. It is, as one would imagine, a beautiful metamorphosis.

Written between Verdi's Aida and Otello, the Four Sacred Pieces were the pursuits of a retiree. Each composed at leisure and without the thought of a cycle. Today, however, they are most commonly heard as a cycle. Such is life. We hear them performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Ernst-Senff-Chor. Carlo Maria Giulini directs. 

Yesterday we played Beethoven's Third, the work that more than any other established the modern idea of Symphony. Today we hear Bruckner's First (Linz version), the beginning (OK, well there is the No. 0) of an oeuvre that returned the form to fashion after the death of Schumann.

Sir George Solti directs the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 

Like all beginnings of greatness, new understandings, revelations, Beethoven's Third Symphony is steeped in myth. It is so powerful that it almost needs the attachment of these stories, from the the composer's tearing of the title page off the completed symphony for his sudden disgust of Napoleon to its being composed while Beethoven considered suicide while at the healing baths of Heilignestadt, for us to comprehend its depth. They certainly prime us to hear this piece, which is the beginning of Symphony as we think of it. 

Wikimedia Commons

To mark the beginning of summer, we turn to a lesser heard piece--not Vivaldi, not Tchaikovsky, but Glazunov. Glazunov's "The Seasons," a ballet, is expansive, like a nice day in the sun. Here it is performed by the Royal Phiharmonic. Vladimir Ashkenazy directs.

Pianist Martha Argerich: 

Indeed, Chopin was 20. He was leaving Poland, a country itself like a beautiful poisoned flower at the time. He would never return.

Charles Dutoit directs the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Jorge Bolet. 

Raff's Im Walde

Jun 18, 2015

"Im Walde," Joachim Raff's third symphony, established the composer as a symphonic master during his lifetime. Beginning with golden bursts of horn and honeyed birdsong, it contrasts sharply with the Orientalism of his fellow Russian composers. The Bamberg Symphony performs under the baton of Hans Stadlmair. 

We hear the First Symphony of Mily Balakirev, the founder of The Five. Eugueni Svetlonov, who was the first to direct a recorded performance of Balakirev's First, directs today's version. It is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.