Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I drop the name Sarah Willis as though everyone will know who she is. For those who don't know Ms. Willis, she made history in September 2001 by becoming the first female brass player ever to win a position in the Berlin Philharmonic. Since then, she has become heavily involved in Zukunft@BerlinPhil, the Berlin Phil's Education Project. Sarah also does some of the intermission interviews for the Orchestra's Digital Concert Hall, while still finding time to play horn quartets with her colleagues in the orchestra.
The latest recorded venture of the Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet is called Four Corners! This could well be the Berlin Phil's heavy touring schedule in microcosm. Following Sarah's activities through her highly engaging internet photo albums makes my head spin. It seems the orchestra is ever with bags packed, going somewhere within the bounds of the mythical "four corners of the world". In fact, the album Four Corners! is a musical travelogue.
I was surprised, and delighted, to hear music of America in tracks one and two. With a bang, we find ourselves in the midst of a Western movie with the song Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, from High Noon. The playing and the arrangements are outstanding throughout. By the way, that's Sarah Willis on the low 4th horn part, every bit as virtuosic as the high playing of Stefan Dohr and her other two collaborators, Fergus McWilliam and Klaus Wallendorf. The bottom line throughout Four Corners! is fun, complete with various vocalizations and sound effects. I won't give them away, but will only say that they made me smile, groan at the occasional musical joke, and almost jump out of my seat with a musical surprise more vivid than Papa Haydn's "surprise" could ever be.
Four Corners! is published by the horn maker Gebr. Alexander, Mainz. The horn section of the Berlin Philharmonic has traditionally played instruments made by Alexander, and such is the case with this recording. Four Corners! is available as an MP3 download from iTunes or Amazon.com. If you can track down the CD, perhaps from Pope Instrument Repair or Amazon in Germany, the liner notes provide numerous photos and more of the tongue-in-cheek cheer of the disc. Highly recommended!
James Baker, KPAC
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
NPR breaks the London Philharmonic playing the Angry Birds theme!
Performance Today has Christmas Around the Country:
Frank Oteri impersonates some famous composers.
It's Rob Kapilow's birthday:
For all those music theory geeks:
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
This is the Cypress Quartet in the finale of Beethoven's last string quartet:
Tonight, KLRN will air a special with the San Antonio Symphony about the Beethoven Festival:
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
This was a great period for the composer, through massive amounts of talent and hard work Liszt was becoming a creature of his own invention and the freshness and audacity of his new approach to piano music shows in his Années de pèlerinage: Suisse.
host, Randy Anderson
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Earlier this fall, TPR’s Nathan Cone traveled to New York to experience the hall for himself, and took along his trusty hand-held microphone recorder. As you read on below, click the hyperlinked text for audio from his tour, and more links.
Despite having visited New York on a number of occasions, I had never been to a Carnegie Hall performance before attending the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique on November 16. Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner led the ensemble in an all-Beethoven program with the Egmont Overture offering a taste of grand things to come—the Seventh and Fifth symphonies of Beethoven followed.
Gardiner’s handling of the Seventh was terrific; the final Allegro movement almost had me leaping out of my seat! Never have I heard such energy in a live performance. Furthermore, individual parts in the ensemble were easily discernable to the ear. It gave me a deeper appreciation for Beethoven’s mastery. Gardiner also breathed new life into the Fifth Symphony, emphasizing its rhythmic propulsion. If you missed it, you can listen to the whole concert at this link, and read a full review online from the New York Times.
Following the concert, I spoke to many audience members who remarked on the sound of the hall. The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique easily filled the 2,804 seat auditorium with their performance.
Later that night, I visited for a short time with Fred Child (at left, APM) and Jeff Spurgeon (WQXR), co-hosts of the broadcast. Their broadcast booth is a tiny room up a winding staircase on the opposite side of the recital hall. Their monitor? A 13-inch closed-circuit television feed. But the sound mix is great!
The next morning, our tour guide, Elliot Kaback, a college librarian, singer, and longtime supporter of Carnegie Hall, enthusiastically shared the history of Carnegie Hall with our group. He recounted how he used to come hear concerts at Carnegie Hall as a young man, and how there used to be storefronts along the lower level at one time, alongside the entrances to the hall.
The main hall that everyone knows simply as “Carnegie Hall” is just one of three recital halls at the 120-year-old venue. Weill Recital Hall is a 268 seat auditorium that often features debut performances by musicians just finishing their schooling at Julliard or other music schools. Zankel Hall was actually the first hall to open to the public in 1891, but was converted into a movie theater in the 1950s. In the late 1990s, that operation was shuttered, and now the 599-seat hall offers cutting edge performances. According to Kaback, the hall always sells out its bookings, because New Yorkers love new ideas. But Zankel is also wired as an online classroom, and students from around the globe can experience lectures and performances live from Zankel.
Carnegie Hall is unique in its construction. It’s one of the last large buildings built in New York to use masonry construction, and there is very little wood in the hall itself. The structure is all iron and steel, because Andrew Carnegie was a steel tycoon, and “this was all his stuff,” as Kaback noted. Carnegie was also futuristic; in the 1880s, he had the foresight to place his hall in between 56th and 57th streets in Manhattan. Although you might have seen animals wandering the streets in the early days of the hall, less than a decade after it was built, Carnegie Hall was in literally in the center of New York, an area we now know as Midtown. The two towers on top of the hall used to be rented out to artists, musicians, and teachers; now they are being renovated into rehearsal and administrative space.
The Main Hall was designed by a man named William Tuthill, an architect and cellist whose assignment by Carnegie was to study the great concert halls of Europe. What Tuthill did was to basically take the European halls he saw, and – in an eminently American move – super-size it. Carnegie Hall’s Main Hall holds 2,804 patrons, and though its height can seem intimidating, it still feels intimate inside.
Incidentally, although we can thank Andrew Carnegie for footing the bill for Carnegie Hall, it was actually a family of German immigrants, the Damrosch family, who initiated the idea of a permanent concert hall. Walter Damrosch conducted the first performance at the hall on May 5, 1891.
One auspicious debut performance at Carnegie Hall came in 1943, when Leonard Bernstein stepped in to conduct the New York Philharmonic after Bruno Walter came down with the flu. Bernstein, who had been up partying the night before, was asked by the musicians to simply keep time and let them do the work, but they – and the audience – soon realized they were in the presence of greatness.
Carnegie Hall has played host to a variety of performers over the years, including the Beatles, Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman, and countless classical premieres. I could really feel the history in the hall while visiting. It is our pleasure to share the Carnegie Hall Live series in this special 120th anniversary season with you on KPAC 88.3 FM and KTXI 90.1 FM. Live broadcasts are an important part of radio history in the making, and we hope you’ll join us!
Future Carnegie Hall Live concerts on KPAC 88.3 FM:
Saturday, December 10, 2011, 7pm: Karita Mattila, soprano
Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 7pm: Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Saturday, February 25, 2012, 7pm: Berlin Philharmonic, piano
Saturday, March 3, 2012, 7pm: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Thursday, March 15, 2012, TBA: L’Arpeggiata
Sunday, March 25, 2012, 1pm: Les Violins du Roy
Friday, April 27, 2012, TBA: Pavel Haas Quartet
Wednesday, May 23, 2012: Cleveland Orchestra
Tuesday, May 29, 2012: Lang Lang, piano
Monday, December 5, 2011
Some of Pope’s music has a churning, buoyant urban restlessness that indicates things are happening on screen. But over time, that sound becomes a little tiresome. I preferred Pope’s quieter, more melodic cues that feature either woodwind soloists playing longer lines, or the aforementioned piano theme by Desplat. One of my favorite tracks is “Arthur’s Notebook.” Arthur, in this case, refers to playwright Arthur Miller, Monroe’s new husband in 1956. He had to leave for work while the two were on honeymoon in England, and Marilyn was left alone.
The soundtrack also includes a few period hits of the time, including Nat King Cole and Dean Martin, and features Michelle Williams vocals on “When Love Goes Wrong, Nothin’ Goes Right,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “I Found A Dream,” by Richard Addinsell (known for his ‘Warsaw Concerto.’). Although no one can match Monroe’s unique voice, Williams holds her own. I suspect the effect works even better on screen!
Friday, December 2, 2011
On the Piano this Sunday Claude Debussy's Preludes, not quite with the original artist, but with a great pianist who studied these light and elusive works with the composer himself.
Hear Debussy, one step removed on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.
host, Randy Anderson