Exploring Music

Archive for November, 2010

Exploring Music: The French Symphonies

This week on Exploring Music, we continue our series on the Symphony with a focus on the Symphonies of French composers.

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Bill begins our week of French Symphonies in Paris.

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The Italian city of Rome was a place of fascination for two French composers.  We’ll hear part of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony in F Major, “Urbs Roma,” and Georges Bizet’s “Roma” Symphony in C.

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Bill explores the beginning of Édouard Lalo’s First Symphony in G minor.

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This story will make you think twice the next time you hop on your bike.  Bill tells us about Ernest Chausson, and we’ll listen to his Symphony No. 1.

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The French composer Paul Dukas is most well known for composing the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” made famous by Walt Disney with the help of Mickey Mouse.  Here, Bill introduces us to Dukas’ Symphony in C Major.

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Exploring Music: Families of Instruments

This week’s topic is “Families of Instruments.” Join us as Bill studies the instruments that make up the modern Western orchestra.

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Bill begins the study of instrument families with the woodwinds, going into detail on the mechanism of expression for the various members of the family.

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A branch of the orchestra that is close to Bill’s heart is the brass section. In this episode, we get a taste of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, as performed by modern Jazz and Classical star, Wynton Marsalis.

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Only recently have composers given the percussion family a fair shake. Bill plays pieces by Hindemith, Schwantner, and this Toccata for Percussion by Carlos Chávez.

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The fourth family Bill covers is the string section and we hear the unique Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 for soprano and 8 cellos by Heitor Villa-Lobos.

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In the final episode of our exploration into the families of instruments, Bill reunites the family as he plays some tuneful works by Bartók, Ravel and more.

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Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker article on Bill Evans

In our Triple Play week, Bill mentioned Adam Gopnik’s article that captures the essence of the Bill Evans Trio and the timelessness of its Village Vanguard recording.  Here it is in its entirety:

http://www.billevanswebpages.com/gopnik.html

Exploring Music: Triple Play

This week on Exploring Music:

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Bill explores the development of the fortepiano and its influence on the compositions of Joseph Haydn. We’ll also listen to Haydn’s Trio in E minor for Violin, Cello, and Fortepiano performed by the Kalichstein – Laredo – Robinson Trio.

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Tuesday’s show is dedicated entirely to Beethoven’s trio compositions.  In contrast to the grim tone of much of Beethoven’s work, this piece bubbles with optimism and ebullient sense of humor.  Emanuel Ax, Richard Stoltzman, and Yo-Yo Ma perform Beethoven’s Trio in B flat Major, Op. 11 for Piano, Clarinet, and Cello.

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In 1914, Ravel was in the process of composing his Piano Trio in A minor. Bill tells us about Ravel’s struggles with writer’s block.

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We are introduced to a special guest composer with a piece called Three Sketches for Three Winds composed for and performed by the Mariah Wind Trio.

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To complete our week of trios, Bill explores Appalachian Waltz by Mark O’Connor, Mozart’s Trio in Eb Major, K. 563, and I Loves You Porgy performed by the Bill Evans Trio, their last recorded performance with Scott LaFaro on bass.

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Exploring Music: Aaron Copland

For some, Aaron Copland conjures images of covered wagons and endless frontiers. For others, he evokes Olympic athletes, astronauts and fallen heroes. From waves of grain to stars and stripes, Aaron Copland defined the soundtrack to everything American. This week, we’ll trace his trek from the heart of Brooklyn to the heart of a nation.

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Like many successful composers, Copland showed a deep understanding of music from an early age, composing works before he reached his teen years. Bill gives us a taste of the type of music young Copland’s mentors urged him to shy away from.

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While Copland was still struggling to discover his voice, he takes a vacation to Mexico. The trip inspires him to compose one of his most successful early works, El salón México.

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Copland’s best-known masterpiece shows the composer’s gift of simplicity and use of hymn-like harmonies.

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Aaron Copland composed some of his most important works during World War II, including his Sonata for Violin and Piano, which he dedicated to a friend who fell in battle.

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In his Third Symphony, Copland returns to his popular Fanfare for the Common Man, incorporating elements of it into this ambitious work.

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Bill’s Keepers: “Carnival of the Animals” CD information

Wow! We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from our week on “Bill’s Keepers.” One of the more popular requests from our listeners has been for information regarding the recording of Carnival of the Animals as performed by Frederic Chiu and David Gonzalez. After a whole batch of e-mails and phone calls, we were finally been able to track down an online retailer and are happy to share the link with you here: www.skytoprecords.com

Exploring Music: Bill’s Keepers

This week on Exploring Music, Bill plays his favorite recordings, those that have found their way into his “Keepers Box.”  Consisting of mostly newer releases, Bill’s Keepers Box is full of upcoming stars as well as established masters.

The week begins with new variations on an old tune called La Folia, a melody and chord progression that was extremely popular in the baroque era, and invited improvisation.  La Folia’s popularity has extended far beyond the baroque; this set of variations was written by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and performed by Alexander Romanovsky.

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The Imani Winds collaborate with legendary jazz clarinetist and composer Paquito D’Rivera in Kites over Havana.

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The Chicago Symphony, conducted by Bernard Haitink, performs a tone poem written by a young Anton Webern, Im Sommerwind.

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Towards the end of his life, Isaac Albéniz wrote an impressionistic suite for piano evoking the sounds and scenes of his native Spain.  Extremely demanding, Albéniz sometimes uses three and even four staves in the piano partiture instead of the usual two.  Lang Lang performs Isaac Albéniz’ Iberia.

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Bill explores some intricacies of Bach’s Partita No. 1 in B-flat Major, and then lets keyboardist Murray Perahia take to the airwaves.

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