Van Cliburn Playlist

After hearing of Van Cliburn’s passing today, I want to share a quick playlist for those wanting a quick overview of who he was as a pianist, and also the type of music he played.

Cliburn favored the Romantics. You won’t see Mozart on the list, or Bach. Liszt, however, is definitely on the list.

This is not a definitive collection, merely some of my personal favorite Van Cliburn recordings. Especially the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 that made him an international star.

Rest in peace, Van Cliburn.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Feb. 26 to March 6

Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Opera: Massenet’s Werther.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The Ancia Saxophone Quartet and Wayzata Symphony Orchestra play Philip Glass.

Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Music of Sibelius, Szymanowski, and Kodály.

Saturday, 11 am: Metropolitan Opera: Wagner’s Parsifal.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Thomas Trotter!

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The London Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Renée Fleming.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Dima Slobodeniuk leads music of Beethoven, Lindberg and Sibelius.

Wednesday, March 6, 7 pm: Carnegie Hall Live: Ensemble Matheus.

Requiem Aeternum, Marie-Claire Alain

Marie-Claire Alain

I have just received word (confirmed) that Marie-Claire Alain, the foremost French organist, teacher and recording artist, has died today at age 86. I cannot think of any single person who had a more profound impact on the organ world than M-C A.

She was the ‘little black sheep’ daughter, the late last of four children of a very musical family (her father Albert was an organist, composer, and amateur organ builder; her eldest brother Jehan an exceptional composer, who was killed early in WW2 at the age of 29; her second brother, Olivier, a musicologist; her sister Odile, also musical, also died young in a tragic skiing accident). Marie-Claire, encouraged by Jehan, showed remarkable talent, and went on to become the first French woman to record the complete works of Bach (several times), and enjoyed an international reputation for her numerous recordings and concert tours. The list of her students is a ‘whose-who’ of the present-day organ world.

Madame Alain’s performances are included in numerous PIPEDREAMS programs. Her commentary, in particular, is features in two special broadcasts:

Hers was a bubbly personality, a quick wit, an elegant turn of phrase (musically and verbally), and a virtuosic yet also deeply perceptive and expressive performance style, as attested to by her dozens of recordings.

Her health had been deteriorating in recent months.

She will be sorely missed.

Requiem Aeternum, Marie-Claire Alain.

Joshua Bell on working with Scarlett Johannson

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell, on participating on an Academy Award-nominated song with Scarlett Johansson. “Before My Time,” written by J. Ralph from the movie Chasing Ice. Nominated for Best Original Song.

“I participated in a song that’s been nominated for best song. I did a duet with Scarlett Johansson, singing quite beautifully, I thought. I had no idea she was a singer.”

“They asked me to participate in this song for a movie called chasing ice…And the song, written by Josh Ralph, a friend of mine in New York…he got nominated for best song for the Academy Awards. So it’ll be fun to watch and see…But it’s not something that I’d be taking home the Oscar for, unfortunately.”

“I love doing movie work. There’s often some…just great stuff. I think music in movies can be so powerful.”

Orchestras take on The Harlem Shake

If you live within 50 miles of this wacky thing called “The Internet,” good chance you’re aware of the latest meme, the Harlem Shake. (According to our friends at YouTube, as of last week about 4,000 Harlem Shake videos were being uploaded to their site…every day.) The videos are usually 33 seconds long, beginning with one crazy dancer who goes unnoticed by the rest of the crowd. At a particular moment in the song there is a sudden cut, and everybody is dancing wildly, often in costume. Several orchestras have contributed recently, including The Knights (a chamber orchestra based in New York):

Now watch it again, and notice…what appears to be Frieda Kahlo, sitting perfectly still in the lower left. (That’s flutist Alex Sopp, in full Kahlo regalia.)

How about an orchestra from Puerto Rico?

(again, with reference to a famous painting in the lower left!)

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Laura Eash, of Minnesota Green Corps.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Saxophonist Maneesh Apte, a winner in the Young Artist Solo Competition of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra

Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Osmo Vänskä leads music of Kernis, Beethoven, and Sibelius.

Saturday, 11:30 am: Metropolitan Opera: Bizet’s Carmen.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Passacaglia

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra play Liszt, Prokofiev, and Beethoven.

Monday, 7 pm: Roll Credits: Bill Morelock and Lynne Warfel talk movie music.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Baroque music, with pianist and conductor Christian Zacharias.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Feb. 12 to Feb. 19

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Stuart Pimsler, choreographer.

Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Ravel, Stravinsky, and Rachmaninoff; Mark Wigglesworth conducts.

Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Some American Classics

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Charles Dutoit leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Monday, 7 pm: Roll Credits: Bill Morelock and Lynne Warfel talk movie music.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Kabalevsky, Prokofiev, Schnittke, and Tchaikovsky.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: Cellist Dmitry Kouzov and the Minnesota Sinfonia play Haydn.

Friday, 8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Liszt, Richard Strauss, and Berlioz.

Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Donizetti’s Elixir of Love.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: In the Big Apple

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic.

Monday, 7 pm: Roll Credits: Bill Morelock and Lynne Warfel talk movie music.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Chamber music of Kagel, Ives, Piston, and Rorem.

Cantus' Tiny desk concert

Cantus

It’s a small desk, but it’s no matter — the 9 members of Cantus ably fit around it for an outstanding performance on a recent trip to NPR’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.

The nine-voice ensemble performed pieces from their latest album — the stellar Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: “Wanting Memories” (Ysaye Barnwell), “Zikr” (A.R. Rahman), “Ave Maria” (Franz Biebl).

For an in-depth account of their recording process, read the transcript of Val Kahler’s interview.

And of course, the tiny desk isn’t the first odd location for Cantus — Classical MPR took them on a “Sonic Architecture” adventure back in 2010/2011 when they were our Artists in Residence.