The harp is one of the most beautiful sounding of all instruments. It has attracted composers since the times of Handel to write concertos for it. Across the centuries, Mozart, Dittersdorf, Boieldieu, and down to Joaquin Rodrigo have written alluring concerted works for it. We'll hear how great harpists of the past have played this music.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
The Minnesota Orchestra is in the headlines these days. It has just emerged from a long labor dispute, during which it lost its star conductor, Osmo Vanska. Earlier called the Minneapolis Symphony, it has over the decades been led by a series of fine conductors, from Eugene Ormandy in the 1930s down to recent years. We'll hear some of the orchestra's earlier recordings.
No composer writes only masterpieces. But Ottorino Respighi is a special case. A few of his works, like "Fountains of Rome," can be heard wherever classical music is played. But many of his compositions are rarely, if ever, played. So, if there is a problem, what is it? We'll play some of the "unknown Respighi."
In the early 20th century, the string quartet form was alive and well. Sibelius, who was famous for symphonies, wrote one entitled Intimate Voices, and Leon Janacek, famous for operas, wrote quartets with the titles, The Kreutzer Sonata, and Intimate Letters. We'll sample some of these quartets.
German conductor Kurt Masur survived 26 years as the conductor of Communist East Germany's premiere orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. After 11 years of improving the playing of the New York Philharmonic, he was forced out in 2002. Masur made many records, and his specialty was music of the Romantic Period. We'll hear his distinctive way with Mendelssohn and Schumann.
With the sad news of the passing of the great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, I am changing the subject of this week's program. Over the past half century, Abbado has made outstanding recordings of a large range of repertory, from Mozart to Mahler, from Rossini to Verdi and beyond. We'll play a representative sampling of his recordings.
Andrea Gabrieli and his nephew Giovanni were organists and music directors at the Cathedral of St. Mark in the days of Venice's glory, from the late 16th century to the early 17th century. They wrote multi-voiced compositions for the great cathedral in Venice, and over the past decades, performers have tried to record and duplicate the original sounds of their splendid pieces in the same cathedral or other locations. We'll hear some of these records.
Concertos for multiple instruments were very popular in the 18th century. But in the 19th century, the solo concerto became dominant, because of the rise of superstar performers. Brahms successfully bucked the trend with his Concerto for Violin and Cello, but Beethoven had one of his few failures with his Triple Concerto. But our century has reversed that judgment. We'll hear from both these works.
One of the orchestras to emerge on the national scene during the early years of the CD was the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. With Gerard Schwartz as conductor, this orchestra on Delos CDs issued a number of outstanding performances, especially of American composers such as Howard Hanson. This orchestra and label showed yet once more the power of recordings in establishing a national, if not international, reputation.
Most performing musicians have a store of encores to play after the serious music of the concert or recital is over. A good encore is usually short, has immediate appeal, and most of the time a change of pace and mood from what has gone before. We'll play some of the favorite encores of famous violinists, from the days of Fritz Kreisler, to the today of Gil Shaham.