Works for string duo and trio, performed by Musicians from Marlboro.
It’s difficult to discuss Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály without, in the same breath, mentioning his longtime musical compatriot Béla Bartók. Despite their close association, Kodály had a distinct musical voice of his own, which certainly comes across in this program. First, we’ll hear Musicians from Marlboro play Kodály’s Serenade for two violins and viola. Kodály wrote a lot of vocal music, and his proclivity for melody comes through in this piece. Like many of his works, it incorporates scales and folk dance rhythms borrowed from his extensive studies of traditional Hungarian music. Next, we’ll hear violinist Augustin Hadelich and cellist Peter Stumpf of Musicians from Marlboro perform Kodály’s Duo for violin and cello. It, too, exhibits a profusion of passionate melodies and a harmonic language tinged with Eastern European folk scales.
Works for voice and violin with piano, performed by Jeanine De Bique, soprano; Warren Jones, piano; Timothy Fain, violin; and Jeremy Denk, piano.
The repertoire on today’s podcast—spirituals paired with a modern violin sonata—might at first glance, and even first listen, seem a bit odd. But we think Charles Ives, the composer of the sonata in question, wouldn’t find it strange in the slightest. Ives often used musical quotation in his works, borrowing and stitching together snippets of tunes, often from traditional American sources like hymns and folk songs, to achieve a layered, patchwork effect. The sonata you’ll hear today, his third for violin and piano, has some wonderful moments, in particular its imaginative interweaving of hymn and gospel tunes. We’ll begin back at the source, with a selection of spirituals arranged for soprano and piano.
Works for solo piano performed by Paavali Jumppanen.
On this program, we’ll hear two piano sonatas by Mozart, composed back-to-back on a trip he took throughout Europe with his mother in 1777 and 1778. Mozart wrote today’s first piece, his Piano Sonata No. 7 in C Major, in the court at Mannheim, where he hoped to secure a respectable position. After an unsuccessful stay in Mannheim, Mozart and his mother headed to Paris, where she fell seriously ill. Around that time, Mozart completed the eighth sonata in A minor, one of just two piano sonatas Mozart composed in a minor key over the course of his life. These back-to-back sonatas are an interesting time capsule, capturing the composer at a critical juncture in his maturation from child prodigy to young adult.
Works for violin and keyboard performed by Caroline Goulding, violin, and Shuai Wang, piano and harpsichord.
The idea of the virtuoso—often a musician who possesses not just exceptional skill, but also great precocity—has been part of the culture of classical music for centuries. Violinist Caroline Goulding fits the profile. An astonishing young musician, Goulding began playing the violin at age 3 ½ and earned a Grammy nomination for her first CD, recorded at age 16. In her Boston debut recital at the Gardner Museum, she took her violin, the General Kyd Stradivarius, through its paces, performing a wide variety of works.
Works for violin and piano duo and string quartet performed by violinist Bella Hristova, pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, and the Belcea Quartet.
The two chamber works on this podcast showcase a somewhat more jovial side of Beethoven. We begin with the perky eighth sonata in G Major for violin and piano, one of the pieces composed in Beethoven's surprisingly productive period following the Heiligenstadt Testament. Although written during the time that Beethoven began to seriously recognize his worsening hearing, the eighth sonata doesn't give any hint of inner turmoil. Next, we'll hear Beethoven's sixth string quartet, Opus 18, number 6, another mostly lighthearted chamber piece that also owes a great debt to Haydn.
Works for voice and piano and piano solo, performed by soprano Jeanine De Bique, and pianists Warren Jones and Cecile Licad.
Today's podcast is for the unabashed romantic. We begin with songs by the Catalan composer Fernando Obradors. Written between 1921 and 1942, Obradors' songs capture the spirit of the classic Spanish poetry with a freshness and immediacy that has made them an enduring hit, with both singers and audiences. Then we move on to one of the great Romantic piano works: Rachmaninoff's second piano sonata. Just as Obradors' songs seem to have an essential Spanish-ness, Rachmaninoff's sonata has often been called uniquely Russian in its fierce passion and brooding expressiveness.
Works for piano performed by pianists Paavali Jumppanen and Elaine Hou.
Mozart began his musical life as a keyboard prodigy, touring the European courts and performing alongside his sister, both of them encouraged and shepherded from town to town by their father. At age 19, when he penned his first keyboard sonata, he had already written 8 operas and at least 30 symphonies. It's quite likely that the reason for the delay in his keyboard output was at least partly technical: though the earliest pianos had been built decades earlier, it wasn't until the 1770's that the instrument began to achieve a quality and consistency of tone that made it such an attractive option for ambitious solo composition. On this podcast, we'll sample a wide range of Mozart's sonatas: one of his first, one of his last, and a unique sonata for two pianos.
Works for chamber orchestra and string quartet performed by A Far Cry and the Orion String Quartet.
There is something uniquely intimate about chamber music for strings. At times, the ensemble can sound like one enormous instrument, resonating together; at others, the effect is of independent voices, the differences in timbre and register emphasized. Indeed, many composers seem to use the string quartet as a sort of musical depiction of internal struggles, of the life of the mind.
Work for solo piano, performed by pianist Jeremy Denk.
There are few works in the classical canon as mythologized as Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The story goes that this incredible set of keyboard variations were in fact commissioned by Count Keyserlingk as a sleep aid, something that his court musicians could play for him on the harpsichord when he had difficulty falling asleep. The score, like many Baroque works, lacks much of any tempo and dynamic markings, leaving ample room for interpretation by the performer. The wide range of possibilities has inspired passionate debate, often dividing those who prefer a more historically-informed approach and those who embrace more audacious contemporary readings.
for string quartet, and voice and piano, performed by the Borromeo String
Quartet, soprano Jeanine De Bique, and pianist Warren Jones.
A prolific opera composer, Mozart was an expert dramatist, and his knack
for keeping an audience’s attention and tugging at their emotions extended to
his works for the concert hall. At the end of our program today, we’ll hear one
of the composer’s concert arias, a sort of opera in miniature. In this aria, the
character Fluvia is racked by grief over her father’s treachery, driven so far
as to wish for death, begging heaven to send down a thunderbolt to end her
suffering. But first we begin with a less narrative but no less captivating
instrumental piece. The quartet’s nickname, “The Hunt,” seems irresistibly apt,
given the galloping rhythm and hornlike motives in the opening movement. A
rollicking finale follows two less rustic inner movements, a lilting minuet and
a beautiful adagio.
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