Afternoon Classical

Mon - Fri, 3pm - 4pm

Classical favorites personally selected by General Manager Gretchen Gondek.

Alfven's First Symphony

13 hours ago
Wikimedia Commons

Hugo Alfven's most quoted lines are these: 

All of his symphonies, excepting the Third, take the Swedish archipeligo as muse. We hear his First, today. The symphonic pictures he later painted would enter more deeply. But this is as good a launch into the Baltic as ever there was. 

Bartok composed the Concerto for Orchestra after emigrating to the United States. His time here was not happy. He had had to flee the European fascists, the Nazi's in particular, leaving behind the homeland where he had spent his life absorbed in music traditions and cultures. 

Aram Khachaturian completed the Violin Concerto in D-minor i​n 1940. He was, at the time, vice-president of the Union of Societ Composers, a union that included Porkofiev and Shostokvich. Though Khachaturian's style was more conservative than his contemporaries, he nonetheless enjoyed their respect.

1841 was a year of overflowing creativity and output for Robert Schumann. Life is indeed strange. Not much earlier, Schumann was contemplating giving up composition in order to take up his family's publishing business, which was left beleaguered upon his father's death. Amongst the works complete in this year was his second symphony, the Symphony in D-minor.  It would later be revised and known as his fourth. 

The nationalism that colored Jean Sibelius's early works, including his first two symphonies, had faded by the penning of his fourth. Quite unlike his European and Eurasian contemporaries, his musings had begun to turn both inward and upon the classical tradition of symphonic composition, leaving him to become ever more in solitude, which one can feel so powerfully as low strings rumble the Fourth to life.

Infamously, Nikolay Rubinstein dismissed Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto as unplayable and ill-composed. And this, to make the pill all the more bitter, was done directly after the composer had performed the freshly finished piece for the pianist. Rubinstein later apologized for his reaction and helped to cement the concerto's place in the repertoire by performing it himself. 

Tchaikovsky dedicated his Second Piano Concerto to Rubinstein, who was to premiere the work. Unfortunately the pianist died before completion.


Richard Strauss's vivid Don Quixote, Op 83, epitomizes the composer's poetic prowess. Here our hero, Don Quixote, and his frightfully faithful squire Sancho Panza rise from the orchestral page as the cello and the viola. James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Cellist Jerry Grossman is the soloist.

Antonin Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, B 155, was composed in 1888. Dvorak's fame had grown outside of his homeland, enough so that there was a steady demand for his work. To meet that demand, he began to revise some of his forgotten works, including the Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 5. Finding his new work on that piece to be much more intriguing than what he had previously done, Dvorak dismissed the relationship and published the piece as its own work.

Mozart's Serenade No. 10 in B Flat Major, K 361, "Gran Partita,"  was written in 1781, likely begun in Munich and completed in Vienna. It was one of his last serenades for wind ensemble, and in it he makes his greatest use of the insturments' ranges. Here it is performed by the Orchestra of the 18th Century. Frans Bruggen directs.

We feature Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 1, Op. 13, and Prelude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2