On the Air This Week

Highlights from April 30 to May 7

Tuesday, 8 pm: Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, with the St. Olaf Orchestra, St. Olaf Chapel Choir, Magnum Chorum, Anima and soloists.

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Grace Tangjerd Schmitt of Guild Incorporated.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The St. Olaf Band.

Friday,8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski leads Bruckner’s Eighth.

Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: French Sweets.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Philadelphia Orchestra plays at Carnegie Hall under Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Music of Wagner, Beethoven, Veress and Haydn, with soprano Christine Brewer.

Tuesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Varsity Showcase Artists Concert.

New Classical Tracks Extra: Lara Downes

So, what does it really mean to be an exile? That’s a question pianist Lara Downes tries to answer with her latest recording. Exiles’ Café is a collection of 19th and 20th century solo piano works written by composers in exile, composers longing for home, and composers reflecting on their respective journeys. This is what Downes has to say about the recording:

Listen

[apmaudio id=minnesota/classical/programs/new_classical_tracks/2013/04/30/new_classical_tracks_lara_downes_extra_20130430_128]Featured Audio[/apmaudio]

There’s more to the story, though, as there often is. Lara Downes wants to hear the stories of other exiles — contemporary exiles — and she wants to share those experiences with as many people as possible. The Exiles Project is an interactive micro-site designed to collect and share individual stories of exile.

Visit the site and submit your own experiences or reminiscences of exile, displacement and discovery. Be a part of The Exiles Project — a way to explore the narratives of exile on both universal and personal levels. Submit your story here.

Music in the Background

A recent article in the Pacific Standard highlights a study regarding bullying on playgrounds.

Play relaxing music during recess, and kids are bullied less.

Researchers played music from this yoga CD.

I immediately thought of the Lake Street station for the light rail in the Twin Cities. Did you catch this last year? The Metropolitan Transit decided to play classical music at the station to discourage loitering.

One of the most frequent comments we receive here at Classical MPR is that our music is soothing. Calming. Relaxing.

And that’s because it is.

Can you imagine going to the pharmacy and hearing Bach instead of Bieber? It would remove an unnecessary layer of pain and distress from that particular errand.

What would life be like if we heard more classical music in the background everywhere, if there is to be music in the background at all?

I think it’d be pretty soothing.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from April 23 to 30

Tuesday, 8 pm: The Choir of Clare College Choir, recorded in St. Paul.

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Pete and Carol Parshall.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, and the Bach Society of Minnesota.

Friday,8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Mark Wigglesworth leading music of Berkeley and Ravel.

Saturday, noon: Metropolitan Opera: Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Museum Pieces Revisited.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays Debussy and Stravinsky.

Sunday, 5 pm: Minnesota Varsity Showcase Concert, live from the Fitzgerald Theater.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Dennehy’s If He Died, What Then (with Dawn Upshaw); also, works of Tippett, Britten, and Beethoven.

Tuesday, 8 pm: Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, with the St. Olaf Orchestra, St. Olaf Chapel Choir, Magnum Chorum, Anima and soloists.

An annotated guide to building a classical library for $100

100 dollar bill

So you like classical music. So you listen to Classical MPR and, generally, enjoy the music you hear. So you have a favorite instrument – maybe even a favorite piece of music, the one that always makes you crank the volume on your radio or computer or iPod or etc. way, way up.

This is all well and good. And this is why we have radio: to learn about and experience new kinds of music. But have you ever wanted to create your own classical music library – and you just don’t know how? It can be daunting – all those recordings, all those musicians…not to mention all those composers. Where in the world do you start?

Enter a recent article in Forbes – “How to Build a Top Quality Classical Music Library for $100.” The authors picked through piles of CDs, records and .mp3s and came up with their top choices – recordings meant to introduce the classical newbie to the world of classical music while at the same time delighting classical music aficionados. A challenge, to be sure.

Here’s their list “in order of suggested listening.” (Take a look at the full article on Forbes if you want the reasons why the authors chose these recordings. Agree? Disagree? What would YOUR list include?

  1. Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Martha Argerich and the RSO Berlin/Riccardo Chailly; Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No. 1 with Argerich and the Bavarian RSO/Kirill Kondrashin
  2. Bach – Concertos Italiens with pianist Alexandre Tharaud
  3. Schubert/Hummel – Piano Quintets with the Wanderer Trio, violist Christophe Gaugé and Stéphane Logerot (bass)
  4. Mozart – Symphonies 28, 33, 35, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” with the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor George Szell
  5. Vivaldi – The French Connection with La Serenissima and conductor Adrian Chandler – by the way, Julie Amacher featured this recording on New Classical Tracks back in 2009. You can listen to the feature here.
  6. Dvorak – Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan
  7. Haydn – Symphonies 82, 88, 95 with the Heidelberg SO and conductor Thomas Fey
  8. Bach – Sonata & Partita No. 1 for solo violin; Stravinsky’s Duo Concertante and Suite Italienne with violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Péter Nagy
  9. Richard Strauss – Four Last Songs, Orchestral Songs with soprano Jessye Norman, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and conductor Kurt Masur
  10. Beethoven – Symphonies 4 and 5 with the Minnesota Orchestra (!) and conductor Osmo Vänskä

I have to admit, I’m surprised by a couple of these choices. Besides that – where in the world are the woodwinds? The brass instruments? Personally, I think if you’re going to create your very own classical music library, you ought to have a few more instruments represented. So, my additions would be:

  1. Mozart – Concertos for Clarinet, Flute, and Flute and Harp with clarinetist Sabine Meyer, flutist Emmanuel Pahud, harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet, the Berlin Philharmonic and Claudio Abbado (Mozart Flute Concerto from ArkivMusic)
  2. Richard Strauss – The Concertos with horn soloist Barry Tuckwell and various other soloists, including clarinetist Dmitri Ashkenazy, with the Berlin Radio SO and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy (Strauss: The Concertos from ArkivMusic)

And then, just because I happen to love these recordings:

  1. Brahms – Complete Symphonies with the Seattle Symphony and Gerard Schwarz ( Brahms: The Complete Symphonies from Amazon)
  2. Various – The French Album with pianist Stephen Hough (The French Album from ArkivMusic)
  3. Eric Whitacre – Cloudburst with Polyphony and conductor Stephen Layton (Cloudburst from ArkivMusic)

Alongside Performers

I stumbled across this post from Norman Lebrecht this morning; it seems cellist Ian Maksin played for the cabin and crew while flying to Fort Lauderdale (he’s playing “Gabriel’s Oboe” from Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to The Mission).

It reminded me how much I love watching people play instruments. When the Minnesota Orchestra is performing, I go to Orchestra Hall in the days leading up to their Friday night performances to interview Osmo Vanska (or the guest conductor), and the guest soloist for the week.

Under most circumstances, the guest soloist and I will chat on stage, and he or she will play for me. At risk of sounding strange, it’s wonderful to sit so close to musicians during any kind of performance.

In the case of string players, I love to hear them breathe. It’s fascinating how important the breath is for an instrument that requires none. And being close enough to a string player to hear the bow push and pull across the strings… it’s magical.

For pianists, I’m amazed at how world-class pianists can sit down to a foreign instrument and treat it like an old friend. Pianists don’t have the luxury to carry their horn around.

Flute players – how can you do this without passing out? Oboe, seriously? Brass players – you’re crushing metal against your face and making beautiful sounds.

Watching musicians can be just as fulfilling as listening to them, I am in awe of them all.

If spring chooses to bestow its gifts upon us this year, I encourage you to go see musicians do what they tend to do best: put on a show.

Check out classical events in your part of Minnesota at our Events Calendar.

On the Air This Week

Highlights from April 16 to 23

Tuesday, 8 pm: The Choir of St. Thomas Church (New York), recorded in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Bob Oganovic, who sings in the Minnesota Chorale and at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: The St. Olaf Choir.

Friday,7 pm: Carnegie Hall Live: Dresden Staatskapelle.

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

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: April Love.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Paul Goodwin conducts performances which include a sonata by Muffat and a serenade by Brahms.

Tuesday, 8 pm: The Choir of Clare College Choir, recorded in St. Paul.

Bud Herseth: Farewell

Bud Herseth died Saturday, age 91. He spent 53 of those years as first trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When Bud retired from the CSO in 2001, I spoke to him about his career for NPR’s Morning Edition. Hear the amazing life story of this legendary musician from Lake Park, Minnesota:

On the Air This Week

Highlights from April 9 to 16

Tuesday, 8 pm: The Westminster Cathedral Choir, recorded in Collegeville.

Wednesday, noon hour: Music with Minnesotans: Gayle Ober, of the George Family Foundation.

Wednesday, 8 pm: Minnesota Opera: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

Thursday, 3 pm hour: Regional Spotlight: VocalEssence and From Age to Age.

Friday,8 pm: Minnesota Orchestra: Ginastera, Stephenson (his Violin Concerto, with Jennifer Frautschi), and Beethoven.

Saturday, 11 am Metropolitan Opera: Wagner’s Die Walküre.

Sunday, 6 am: Pipedreams: Sounds from Sweden.

Sunday, noon: From the Top.

Sunday, 1 pm: SymphonyCast: The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Monday, 8 pm: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra: Chamber music of Kurtág and Mozart.

Tuesday, 8 pm: The Choir of St. Thomas Church (New York), recorded in Minneapolis.