Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing


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Free Concert Webcast:  Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and More!

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On Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 EST (GMT-5) the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a free live webcast of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4.  John Storgårds will conduct.  The webcast will also feature violinist Pekka Kuusisto.  The webcast can be seen at https://www.dso.org/live.  Here’s the program.

George AntheilOver the Plains

Daniel Bjarnason: Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

 

By the way, you should really read George Antheil’s bio.  It’s rare to find a composer who developed a radio guidance system for torpedoes (with actress Hedy Lamarr, no less; I am not making this up), and who was a friend of the poet Ezra Pound.

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Emanuel Ax Plays Beethoven:  Live Webcast Today

Today, November 9, 2018 at 8 PM EST (GMT -5), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a live webcast featuring pianist Emanuel Ax playing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto.  Cristian Măcelaru will conduct.  You can see the concert at www.dso.org/live.  Here’s the program:

DvořákCarnival Overture

BeethovenPiano Concerto No. 1

Andrew NormanPlay


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Free Concert Webcast: Sibelius and Grieg

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The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will present a free live concert webcast on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 8:00PM (GMT -4).  Santtu-Matias Rouvali will conduct, and the program will feature pianist Víkingur ÓlafssonYou can see the program at dso.org/live.  Here is the program:

SibeliusLemminkäinen’s Return

GriegConcerto for Piano

Sibelius: Symphony No 5

 

Enjoy!


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Live Concert Webcast: Beethoven, Haydn, and More

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

On Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 9PM EDT (GMT-4) the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will present a live concert on its website.  It is also viewable on the SPCO’s app for Apple and Android.  Conductor Thomas Zehetmair and the orchestra will present the following program:

Ludwig van BeethovenRomance No. 1 for Violin (Eunice Kim, violin)

Jean-Féry Rebel: The Elements (this take on the creation of the world includes a movement, Chaos, which is strikingly modern even though it was written in 1737).

Claude Vivier: Zipangu

Franz Joseph HaydnSymphony No. 95 in C Minor

Here’s the link to watch the concert.

The concert will be added to the on-demand concert library thereafter (great collection, check it out), which is available on the website or via the SPCO app.


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Two Live Concert Webcasts Tonight!

Broadcast tower topped by music note, globe in background

Decisions, decisions!  There are two live concert webcasts tonight.  Which will you pick?

Tonight, April 7, 2018, at 8PM EDT (GMT-4) the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), conducted by Leonard Slatkin, and violinist Yoonshin Song will present Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2.  There will be a pre-concert interview with composer Steven Bryant at 7PM.  You can view the DSO concert here.  Here’s the full program:

Steven Bryant: Zeal (world premiere!)

Béla BartókViolin Concerto No. 2

Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll

Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks

At 9PM EDT (GMT-4) The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and violinist Maureen Nelson will present Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark AscendingYou can view the SPCO concert here.  Here’s the full program:

Charles Gounod: Petite symphonie for Wind Instruments

Lembit BeecherThe Conference of the Birds

Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Antonín Dvořák: Serenade for Strings

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has a free app available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch so you can enjoy their live concert webcasts and concert library wherever you go.  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has a free DSO To Go app which is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

What if you can’t make either concert?  The SPCO has a free concert library that you can watch on demand.  The DSO has their Replay performance archive, which is available for a year with a $50 donation to the DSO.

I hope you will enjoy the concerts!


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Bach and Awe

J. S. Bach

Every now and then, I listen to Bach, and as the music starts, and I start to hear the melody lines interweave, I think, “You know, I think I’m starting to get this.” And then Bach throws in three more lines, ramps up the speed, and I realize something:

I’m not even close.

It’s very much the same feeling you might get when you’re learning a foreign language, and you decide to test your newfound skill with a native speaker.  And your methodical elementary-school-level bid is met joyfully with a flood of fluency, the torrent of a mountain stream, water flowing over and around rocks, streams combining in ways that leave one wondering where one begins and another ends.  Itisveryhardtounderstandwhenyoudon’tknowwherethewordsactuallyend.

The same goes for Bach.  When those melodic lines start to intertwine, you can try to follow them, and you catch a glimpse of one every now and then as it goes by, but it is really tough to grasp everything that is going on.

I was listening to Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 (BWV 1052), and immediately had to listen to it again to try to figure out what was going on, it was so good.  The first movement begins simply enough as Bach states his theme.  Ah, but then, the keyboard and orchestra begin stating the theme individually, and the keyboard adds a rippling line, and here the water image is particularly apt, as the strings and keyboard take turns surging forward then receding.  If you want to hear it and follow the score, you can do so here.

This video provides a balanced, and amazingly fast, performance of the first movement.

Another fascinating video puts the keyboard in a more prominent role, this time with Glenn Gould at piano and Leonard Bernstein conducting.  The performance begins at 5:08, but Bernstein’s introductory remarks about the performance of music that bears few interpretative markings may be of interest as well.

Ok, so now we reach the second movement.  And one would expect the same sort of interplay of instruments and lines.  You know, predicting, because you’re starting to get this.

Not even close.

Bach pulls the rug out from under your feet, beginning the second movement with an extended statement, everyone playing the same note (within the particular octave their instrument plays).  It then develops into a thought-filled, deeply expressive, one might even say somber, melody.

The liveliness of the first movement returns in the third movement, and it is classic Bach.

And yet.

There are moments, something in the strings, that seems to reach forward in time toward the Classical era.

And that’s the stunning thing with Bach.  Every now and then, you come across a phrase, and there is foreshadowing of music yet to come.  It’s there, little glimpses of the future, and yet, it’s undeniably Bach.

One more thing.  Here’s the kicker about the keyboard concerto.  Most experts say that he put it together from earlier works, probably a violin concerto, judging by the violin-like features, and there’s some direct copying from earlier cantatas.

As stunning as it is, it’s just a reworking of stuff he already wrote.

And that’s the Bach and awe of it all.

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References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_concertos_by_Johann_Sebastian_Bach

https://www.laphil.com/philpedia/music/keyboard-concerto-d-minor-bwv-1052-johann-sebastian-bach


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New Free Online Concert Resource

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The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra has announced the addition of video to their collection of audio concert recordings.  The recordings are free and available on demand.  A series of live-stream concert webcasts will begin in September.

At the moment there are only a few video recordings available, but they are outstanding.  There are performances by pianist Jeremy Denk (Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue –wow!), as well as a performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s  Symphony No. 4 “Italian”, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.  You can check out their library of recordings here.  Videos are indicated by a small camera icon, and clicking on a hyperlinked performer name will give you a list of performances by the artist available on the site.

With selections from John Adams to Hugo Wolf, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy!