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The Virginia Classical Music Blog
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Another holiday special at a special time: We ring out the old year and anticipate the new with our annual Habsburg Sock-Hop, a more expansive take on the traditional Viennese New Year waltz program, with dances from the many lands along the Danube in central and eastern Europe and the Balkans, once ruled by the Habsburg dynasty in its sprawling, multicultural Austro-Hungarian Empire.

We’ll hear waltzes, Ländler, polkas, mazurkas, furiants and other dances, as heard at their folk roots and through their varied classical branches.

Dec. 31
1-5 p.m. EST
1800-2200 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Past Masters:
Haydn: Symphony No. 36 in C major – I: Vivace
Philharmonia Hungarica/
Antál Doráti (Decca)
(recorded 1970)

Johann Strauss II: “Emperor” Waltz
London Philharmonic/
Franz Welser-Möst
(EMI Seraphim)

Past Masters:
Rossini: “The Thieving Magpie” Overture
Royal Philharmonic/
Colin Davis (EMI Classics)
(recorded 1961)

Josef Lanner: “Styrian Dances”
Josef Lanner: “New Viennese Ländler”
Johann Strauss I: “Court-Ball Dances”
trad.-Franz Gruber: “Dances of Old Vienna”
Willi Boskovsky Ensemble (Alto)

Liszt: “Mephisto” Waltz No. 1
Evgeny Kissin, piano (RCA Victor)

Suk: “Fantastické scherzo”
Buffalo Philharmonic/
JoAnn Falletta (Naxos)

trad. Czech:
“Wallachian Lament”
Apollo Chamber Players (Navona)

Dvorák: Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 90 (“Dumky”)
Eroica Trio (EMI Classics)

Smetana: “The Bartered Bride” – Polka, Furiant
Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi (London)

Gorécki: “Little Requiem for a Polka”
Schönberg Ensemble/Reinbert de Leeuw
(Newton Classics)

Chopin: Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53 (“Heroic”)
Maurizio Pollini, piano (Deutsche Grammophon)

Past Masters:
Szymanowski: Mazurkas,
Op. 50, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6
Arthur Rubinstein, piano (RCA Victor)
(recorded 1961)

Luka Sorkocevic:
Symphony No. 3 in D major
Salzburger Hofmusik/
Wolfgang Brunner (cpo)

Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25 –
IV: “Rondo alla zingarese”
(orchestration by Arnold Schoenberg)
Houston Symphony Orchestra/
Christoph Eschenbach (RCA Victor)

trad. Hungarian: “Maramaros dances”
Márta Sebestyén, vocalist
Muzsikás (Hannibal)

Bartók: “Dance Suite”
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Boulez (Deutsche Grammophon)

trad. Roma: Suite – Doina, Purtata, Hora “ka ka kaval”
Hesperion XXI/
Jordi Savall (AliaVox)

Ligeti: “Concert Romanesc”
Berlin Philharmonic/Jonathan Nott (Teldec)

Kodály: “Dances of Galanta”
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi (Chandos)
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A Christmas Eve special, at a special time.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” is the main attraction. We’ll hear it in its entirety, but not all three hours of it uninterrupted. Bach composed the oratorio as a sequence of six cantatas, each meant to be performed on a church feast day from Christmas Day to Epiphany.

We’ll exploit that portioning by placing among the cantatas complementary works of other composers: Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass and Christmas works by Respighi, Corelli, Claude Benigne Balbastre and Charles Theodore Pachelbel (Johann Pachelbel’s son, who lived and worked in Boston in the late 1700s.)

Dec. 24
1-5 p.m. EST
1800-2200 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

J.S. Bach: “Christmas Oratorio”
Dorothea Röschmann, soprano
Andreas Scholl, alto
Werner Güra, tenor
Klaus Häger, bass
RIAS Chamber Choir
Akademie für alte Musik Berlin/
René Jacobs
(Harmonia Mundi)

Corelli: Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 (“Christmas Concerto”)
London Baroque/
Charles Medlam

Claude Benigne Balbastre:
Noël, “Ah ma voisine es-tu fàchée”
René Saorgin, organ
(Harmonia Mundi)

Mozart: Mass in C major, K. 317 (“Coronation”)
Emma Kirkby, soprano
Catherine Robbin, contralto
John Mark Ainsley, tenor
Michael George, bass
Winchester Cathedral Choir
Winchester College Quiristers
Academy of Ancient Music/
Christopher Hogwood
(L’Oiseau Lyre)

Charles Theodore Pachelbel: “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”
The Columbus Consort (Channel Classics)

Respighi: “Lauda per
la Nativtà del Signore”
Yeree Suh, soprano (Angel)
Kristine Larissa Funkhauser,
mezzo-soprano (Mary)
Krystian Adam, baritone (Shepherd)
Berlin Radio Choir
Polyphonia Ensemble Berlin/Märis Sirmais
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Michele Zukovsky, who just retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic after 54 years, most of them as its principal clarinetist, talks with blogger CK Dexter Haven about the changes that orchestras have gone through in her career.

Symphonic performance has become more generic, she finds:

“I used to have a vast collection of [recordings of] Beethoven symphonies, and I put together my ideal Beethoven 9th, movement by movement. It was like Mengelberg, Furtwängler, and two others that were perfect.

“That tradition has been diluted through the years. You’re not looking necessarily at the way Brahms did it when he was alive, we’re not going to hear or feel the way Brahms did it in the 1890s. It’s not being passed down very much longer.

“Now, you’ve got these great young performers doing Vivaldi violin concertos where they’re making it a whole new thing. It’s like alive and they’re improvising. It doesn’t have to be the way Vivaldi did it, and they’re phenomenal and I can feel it. That’s the way we’re going now.

“Music can be very boring now when you’re just trying to repeat the same old thing over and over instead of making it your own. Now, even with the period instrument orchestras, they’re starting to all sound the same. I used to listen to [recordings] and could tell within the first three downbeats who the conductor was and where the orchestra was from. Now, not so much.”

Zukovsky’s full interview, in two parts:

Part 1: http://allisyar.com/2015/12/19/a-chat-with-michele-zukovsky-part-1-of-2-the-la-phils-outgoing-principal-clarinet-reflects-on-how-her-54-year-tenure-began-the-audition-process-and-more/

Part 2: http://allisyar.com/2015/12/20/a-chat-with-michele-zukovsky-part-2-of-2-on-german-clarinets-german-conductors-life-after-the-la-phil-and-more/
4 months ago | |
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The American composer and musical comedian Peter Schickele, who turned 80 this year, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his (in)famous P.D.Q. Bach concerts in New York with concerts on Dec. 28-29 at Town Hall.

“[S]o beloved is Mr. Schickele among musicians,” The New York Times’ James R. Oestreich reports, that to recruit his New York Pick-Up Ensemble of 35 players, “he needed to make only 36 phone calls.”


Schickele’s comic alter ego continues to produce unheard(-of) works, including a concerto for pianist Jeffrey Biegel, Oestreich writes. “[A]s Mr. Schickele pointed out, P. D. Q. is the only dead composer who still accepts commissions.”
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Kurt Masur, the most prominent German conductor of his generation, who as music director of the New York Philharmonic (1991-2002) was credited with refining the artistry of the orchestra and taming the egos of its musicians, has died at 88.

During his long tenure as chief conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig (1970-96), Masur maintained the stature of that venerable ensemble under the East German regime, and was one of the public figures instrumental in peacefully ending communist rule in 1989.

At the Gewandhaus, Masur made a practice of advocating composers, German and foreign-born, who had worked or studied in Leipzig.

In 1986, during a US tour with the Leipzigers, the conductor prolonged a visit to Richmond to hear Frederick Delius’ “Appalachia: Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus,” performed by the Richmond Symphony and Symphony Chorus, Peter Bay conducting. Taking the chance to fill a gap in his experience, Masur said – he had never heard “Appalachia,” and the English-born Delius was a prominent alumnus of the Leipzig Conservatory.

An obituary by The New York Times’ Margalit Fox:


ADDENDUM (Dec. 21): The British author and critic Norman Lebrecht, who knew Masur for more than 30 years, recalls “a Kapellmeister of the old school” who also was a moral force. Link to a BBC interview via:

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Music for Advent and Hanukkah: a reconstruction of a 17th-century Lutheran Advent service with pieces by Michael Praetorius and Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus.” 

Dec. 10
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Michel Corrette: “Symphonie de Noël” No. 4
La Fantasia/Rien Viskuilen
(Brilliant Classics)

“Awaiting the Messiah: a Lutheran Advent Service”
Michael Praetorius:
“Polyhymnia caduceatrix,”
“Musica Sionae,
Puericinium” &
“Terpsichore” (selections)
Apollo’s Singers
Apollo’s Musettes
Apollo’s Fire/Jeannette Sorrell (Avie)

Giovanni Gabrieli: Canzon X
Academy of Ancient Music/Paul Goodwin (Harmonia Mundi)

Handel: “Judas Maccabaeus”
Jamie McDougall, tenor
Emma Kirkby, soprano
Catherine Denley,
Michael George &
Simon Birchall, basses
James Bowman, countertenor
Choir of New College, Oxford/
Edward Higginbottom
The King’s Consort/Robert King (Hyperion)
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of this season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Richmond Symphony, Symphony Chorus and guest soloists:

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Tennessee’s Knoxville Opera advises its patrons: “Our annual gala event this Saturday is ‘The Prima Donna Ball,” not ‘The Pre-Madonna Ball.’ ”

(via www.slippedisc.com)
4 months ago | |
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of this season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Richmond Symphony, Symphony Chorus and guest soloists:

4 months ago | |
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