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Nov 30
Whatever the enigma is behind Sir Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations" - and we've had theories posited on "Performance Today" - it's still magnificent music, a grand showcase for an outstanding orchestra. Peter Oundjian will lead one, the Toronto Symphony, at a concert in Toronto.
Nov 28
Bruce Adolphe
Our weekly Piano Puzzler is on the way, as composer Bruce Adolphe takes up residence at the PT Piano. Bruce re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. A Performance Today listener calls in, tries to name the hidden tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking.
Nov 27
Andre Mathieu
Most people have never heard of Canadian composer Andre Mathieu. Mathieu was a rising star in the 1930s and 1940s. But he led a troubled life, dropped out of the music scene, and died in obscurity in 1968. Some call him the Canadian Mozart, although his style is closer to Rachmaninoff, who called Mathieu a genius. On today's show, Alain Lefevre performs Mathieu's fourth piano concerto with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.
Nov 26
Today just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without some turkey. We'll serve up some "Turkey in the Straw" and other great American fiddle tunes, courtesy of Time for Three, in concert in Athens, Georgia. Plus, an all-American favorite, Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. And we wrap up our week of cello concertos with the Schumann, performed by Maria Kliegel and the RTE National Symphony in Dublin.
Nov 25
Natalie Clein
Our festival of cello concertos continues with the PT debut of 32 year-old English cellist Natalie Clein. Clein was the BBC's "Young Musician of the Year" as a 16 year old, and had lucrative contract offers from managers and record companies. She could have cashed in as the next young classical darling, but chose to pursue 10 years of rigorous schooling in London and Vienna. She's now re-emerging as a soloist. We'll hear Natalie Clein in concert in Dublin, playing Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra.
Nov 24
ALBAN GERHARDT
Cellist Alban Gerhardt was having one of those days. Right before a live radio broadcast, he broke a string on his cello. He made a quick exit from the stage to get another string, only to find the door locked. Then he ran back across the stage to a different door. He later observed in his blog that his mad dashing about must have looked cartoonish, like the roadrunner. We'll hear Gerhardt on a calmer day, performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Nov 23
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a terrible composer. Or...so said a young rival of Bach's in the 1730s. Johann Scheibe wrote that Bach's compositions had a "bombastic and confused style" that "darkened their beauty." We'll compare, with a Bach Prelude and Fugue from the Aspen Festival, and a small symphony by Mr. Scheibe from the Schwetzingen Festival in Germany.
Nov 21
Lang Lang
This year, for the first time in his career, the young Chinese pianist Lang Lang is playing chamber music. He joined violinist David Chan (concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and cellist Hai-Ye Ni (principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra) to play the Piano Trio by Tchaikovsky at Carnegie Hall in New York. Right before that concert, the trio joined Fred Child at the studios of WQXR in New York, to talk about the Tchaikovsky Trio, and to play the dramatic opening movement.
Nov 20
Lang Lang
It's rare for the young Chinese pianist Lang Lang to play chamber music. But last month, he joined violinist David Chan (concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and cellist Hai-Ye Ni (principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra) to play the Piano Trio by Tchaikovsky at Carnegie Hall in New York. Right before that concert, the trio joined Fred Child at the studios of WQXR in New York, to talk about the Tchaikovsky Trio, and to play the dramatic opening movement.
Nov 19
Gustavo Dudamel
Every Thursday this month, Julie Amacher joins Fred to recommend a new classical CD. This week, Julie is in love with conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and the under-25 players in the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Plus, we'll meet Sammy, the tiny white fluffball of a dog who goes everywhere with American pianist Anne Marie McDermott.
Nov 18
Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and trumpeter Mark Hughes had some intensive one-on-one meetings as they got ready to play Shostakovich's wild Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and Strings with the Houston Symphony. They listened to an old recording with Shostakovich at the piano, and thought "there's no WAY to play it that fast!" But when the moment came...the adrenaline was flowing, and their performance had the same reckless abandon, and the same thrilling velocity as the one by the composer. We'll hear that astonishing concert performance at Jones Hall in Houston, Hans Graf conducting the Houston Symphony.
Nov 17
Daniel Barenboim
It was an epic Chopin evening in Berlin last month: Daniel Barenboim played both Chopin Piano Concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic. We heard No. 2 yesterday; No. 1 is on today's show. Ascher Fisch conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, Daniel Barenboim soloing, in concert at the Philharmonie in Berlin.
Nov 16
Daniel Barenboim
The term "busy as a bee" should be changed to "busy as a Barenboim." Pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim seems to work non-stop, performing at least 150 concerts a year. Today and tomorrow, we'll feature Barenboim in the two piano concertos by Frederic Chopin, from the same concert last month in Berlin. Asher Fisch conducts the Berlin Philharmonic.
Nov 14
Bruce Adolphe
Our weekly Piano Puzzler is on the way, as composer Bruce Adolphe takes up residence at the PT Piano. Bruce re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. A Performance Today listener calls in, tries to name the hidden tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. (This week's caller is from Columbia, South Carolina.)
Nov 13
Tchaikovsky
Those are the words to an old Russian folk song. Tchaikovsky heard a carpenter whistling the tune, and not long after that, it showed up in his String Quartet Number 1. The St. Petersburg String Quartet hails from Tchaikovsky's home town of St. Petersburg, Russia. They give a terrific performance of the string quartet, Vanya and all, on tour in New York City.
Nov 12
Andre Watts
Pianist Andre Watts talks about how he "felt like an idiot" at the beginning of his career, jetting to concerts around the world as a teenager. And how legendary pianist and teacher Leon Fleisher helped him overcome his self-doubts. We'll hear Andre Watts in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, playing the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Camille Saint Saens.
Nov 11
Bruce Adolphe
Our weekly Piano Puzzler is on the way, as composer Bruce Adolphe takes up residence at the PT Piano. Bruce re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. A Performance Today listener calls in, tries to name the hidden tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. (This week's caller is from Columbia, South Carolina.)
Nov 10
The Brandenburg Gate
The fall of the Berlin Wall was 20 years ago yesterday, and there was a big concert in Berlin last night, to cap a day full of celebration. Two orchestras, one from the former East Berlin, one from West, joined forces in a joyful concert, featuring the music of Schubert, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn. We'll bring you highlights from last night's big event.
Nov 9
The Brandenburg Gate
The fall of the Berlin Wall was 20 years ago today. Throughout the show today, we'll revisit those events from 1989, the music that surrounded them, and the lives of performers and composers affected by the Iron Curtain. From cellist Mstislav Rostropovich seated alone at the wall playing Bach, to the amassed forces of an international orchestra and chorus performing Beethoven's jubilant Ninth Symphony on Christmas Day 1989, be sure to join us for an extra-special Performance Today.
Nov 7
Bruce Adolphe
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to guess the tune, and the composer Bruce is mimicking. Even if you're not the one calling this week, play along! See if YOU can guess the tune and the composer, in our Piano Puzzler.
Nov 6
Ralph Vaughan Williams
A long-forgotten work by Ralph Vaughan Williams is on today's show. Vaughan Williams wrote "Heroic Elegy and Triumphal Epilogue" when he was 28 and a student at London's Royal College of Music. In what was perhaps the first performance of the work in over a century, Mark Elder and the Halle Orchestra performed it last month in Manchester, England. Tune in to the show today to hear that performance of Vaughan Williams' overlooked gem.
Nov 5
Vadim Repin, Mischa Maisky, Lang Lang
There is a flood of new classical recordings this fall, and to help us sort through them, Julie Amacher joins Fred today (and for the next three Thursdays) with "New Classical Tracks," her CD reviews and recommendations. Today Julie's pick is the new trio recording by three renowned soloists playing together for the first time: violinist Vadim Repin, cellist Mischa Maisky, and pianist Lang Lang.
Nov 4
Michael Tilson Thomas
Yesterday, we brought you Part I of Mahler's 8th Symphony, known as the Symphony of a Thousand. Today is the conclusion. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads the massed forces of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Tilson Thomas calls the work an "allegory of the distressed soul finding its way through trials to...blessedness."
Nov 3
Michael Tilson Thomas
Gustav Mahler's monumental Symphony Number 8 (the "Symphony of a Thousand") is ambitious in almost every way. Not just its size (intended for an amassed orchestra and chorus of 1,000 people), but in its emotional and intellectual content. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have just completed a massive recording project, recording all of the Mahler symphonies. We'll feature Tilson Thomas and San Francisco in part one of the Symphony of a Thousand in today's show. Look for part two on Wednesday.
Nov 2
Johannes Brahms
Divorcing couples often have to split up their friends as well as their assets. Johannes Brahms was great friends with violinist Joseph Joachim and his wife, until the couple divorced, and Brahms sided with Mrs. Joachim. Brahms wrote his double concerto for violin and cello as a sort of peace offering to Joseph Joachim, helping to heal the rift in their friendship. Violinist Baiba Skride and cellist Sol Gabetta are our soloists today, in Brahms' musical peace offering.