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Dec 31
Does wine taste better when you're listening to classical music? A study by a Scottish scientist argued that it does. We decided to put this theory to the test in a special broadcast, a Performance Today music listening and wine tasting party. Jason Kallsen, founder and owner of Twin Cities Wine Education, provided some wine recommendations to accompany our playlist.
Dec 30
Christoph Eschenbach
The lush sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra is an ideal fit for Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. We'll go to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia to hear Christoph Eschenbach conduct the final three movements of this emotionally turbulent masterpiece.
Dec 29
Andre Mathieu
Was he the most talented unknown composer of the 20th century? Some called him the "Canadian Mozart." Andre Mathieu was an astonishing prodigy as a composer and pianist. He played his own compositions at Carnegie Hall when he was 11, he beat the young Leonard Bernstein in a composition competition when he was 13. But he was also deeply troubled. He withdrew from public life before his 20s, and died, already forgotten, at age 39 in 1968. We'll hear the Tucson Symphony in concert, playing a set of Ballet Scenes by Andre Mathieu.
Dec 28
Heimbach power plant
Most classical music concerts take place inside the concert hall, essentially a glorified box. Many of those boxes are rightly revered and cherished for their history, architecture, and acoustics. But today, we'll go outside the box. The first hour of today's show features performances from unusual locations, including a barge, a night club, and a former power plant.
Dec 26
An hour of folk-flavored fare reaches a climax with a fiery performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto. At a concert at Budapest's Palace of Arts, Pieter Wispelwey performs one of the great works for his instrument, in the company of conductor Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.
Dec 25
snow winter
To this day in Italy, shepherds come down from the hills at Christmas time and play their bagpipes in front of nativity scenes, reenacting the devotion of the shepherds at the birth of Christ. We'll hear a tribute to that ancient custom in Arcangelo Corelli's Christmas Concerto, performed in a place that rarely sees shepherds, New York City. Plus, we'll visit Christmas celebrations around the country and around the world, to hear great holiday performances.
Dec 24
Music for Christmas Eve, from concerts across the country and around the world. Including what may be the most beautiful Christmas song of the 20th century, the Ave Maria, by Franz Biebl. The men of Chanticleer are in concert at Stanford University, in Palo Alto. Also, two contemplative settings of the ancient Latin text "O Magnum Mysterium." One from 1572 by Tomas Luis de Victoria, another from 1994 by American composer Morton Lauridsen. And...a choral curiosity. The Tokyo FM Boys Choir sings "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in Japanese.
Dec 23
Anonymous 4
Today, the four women of Anonymous 4 join Fred Child for music and conversation. They tell the Christmas story of the Cherry Tree, a bit of a marital tiff between Joseph and Mary. They'll also sing selected English and American carols. Also in the show, Bruce Adolphe with the Piano Puzzler, and the hauntingly beautiful "Pastorales de Noel," by Andre Jolivet.
Dec 22
Cantus
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1914, German and British soldiers in Belgium had their own informal cease-fire, sang Christmas songs together, and even traded gifts. We'll remember the remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914, as the male vocal ensemble "Cantus" sings highlights from their show "All is Calm."
Dec 21
Handel
For many people, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a performance of Handel's "Messiah." We'll bring you one of the best, a recent concert by Boston's Handel and Haydn Society Chorus and Orchestra, with Harry Christophers conducting. Handel's "Messiah" has been a hit ever since it premiered in Dublin in 1742. So much so that, in early performances, ladies were asked not to wear hoop skirts and men were advised to leave their swords at home, in order to accommodate more concertgoers in the hall.
Dec 19
Bruce Adolphe
"Time for another Piano Puzzler!" Every Wednesday, composer Bruce Adolphe tickles the PT ivories with one of his keyboard conundrums. Bruce re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. One of our listeners calls in and tries to guess the tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is imitating.
Dec 18
Franz Joseph Haydn
There's some debate about whether to clap between movements or not. But everyone agrees you should applaud at the end of a piece of music. Trouble is, how do you know when it's over? Haydn put several false endings into his Symphony Number 90, just to fool us. We'll hear a London audience fall for the joke in a performance by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Dec 17
Johann Georg Albrechtsberger
Several musical highlights today, among them: an elegant performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 2 from the 2009 Aspen Music Festival. Gil Shaham solos, David Zinman conducts the Aspen Festival Orchestra. An athletic performance of Three Movements from Petrushka, the finger-twister for pianists by Igor Stravinsky. Alexei Volodin in concert at the Ernen Festival in Switzerland. And the Georgia Guitar Quartet plays their version of Vince Guaraldi's Christmas classic, "Linus and Lucy," in concert in their hometown of Athens, Georgia. Fred also throws in a quick examination of the bizarre "Jews Harp" concertos, by Johann Albrechtsberger.
Dec 16
Bruce Adolphe
"Time for another Piano Puzzler!" Every Wednesday, composer Bruce Adolphe tickles the PT ivories with one of his keyboard conundrums. Bruce re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. One of our listeners calls in and tries to guess the tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is imitating.
Dec 15
Quartet New Generation
The PT debut of an innovative recorder quartet from Germany: "Quartet New Generation." They proudly proclaim that the recorder is suitable for *any* kind of music, from Renaissance madrigals to Euro techno dance music. We'll hear "QNG" play a smoky tango on four of their biggest (and lowest) recorders, in concert at the 2009 Ojai Festival. We'll follow that with a tango for trumpet and orchestra, from soloist Tine Thing Helseth and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra in Oslo, as they play Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion."
Dec 14
Dallas Wind Symphony
Aside from a roaring lion, what is a "lion's roar"? It's an unusual percussion instrument, and it roars in Patrick Dunnigan's bold arrangement of Renaissance dances. Fred Child explains what makes the lion roar, and we'll hear a full-throttle performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony, with drummers and brass players unleashed, and...the roaring lion.
Dec 12
Bernstein 2
Can an Austrian orchestra swing? We explore that question, as the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz, Austria, gives a performance of the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." Bernstein's music is jazzy, raucous, not the least bit tidy or controlled. We'll see if the Austrians can get into the American spirit of the music, in this performance from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Plus, a new Piano Puzzler with Bruce Adolphe.
Dec 11
Lang Lang
Yesterday, the young Chinese pianist Lang Lang played at the Nobel Peace Price Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway. We have Lang Lang's performances of a Chopin Etude, and "Liebestraum" by Franz Liszt. And Lang Lang talks about the honor of being invited to perform at the ceremony, and why he chose these two pieces.
Dec 10
Paul Galbraith is quietly revolutionizing the classical guitar world. He plays with his guitar held upright, like a cello. His specially-designed instrument even has an endpin in it, just like the cello. It's got eight strings, as opposed to the normal six. But more importantly, his sound is warm and expansive, and he plays with depth and artistry. Part one of Fred Child's conversation with Paul Galbraith is today. Tune in Friday for part two.
Dec 9
Bernstein 2
Can an Austrian orchestra swing? We explore that question, as the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz, Austria, gives a performance of the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." Bernstein's music is jazzy, raucous, not the least bit tidy or controlled. We'll see if the Austrians can get into the American spirit of the music, in this performance from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Plus, a new Piano Puzzler with Bruce Adolphe.
Dec 8
Guy Vivien
French pianist Francois Guy loves to play Beethoven. Just a few weeks ago in Washington, he accomplished a pianist's equivalent of an Iron Man. He played all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, 9 concerts in 9 days. Today, he'll make his PT debut, playing Beethoven's fourth piano concerto, from a recent concert in Paris.
Dec 7
Prometheus brings Fire to Mankind
Prometheus took fire from the gods and gave it to mortals. We got warmth and light, knowledge and culture. But Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock for all eternity, where a giant eagle pecked out his liver each day. Hour one is a look at music inspired by the Prometheus legend, including music by Barber, Schubert, Beethoven, and Glazunov.
Dec 5
Johann Sebastian Bach
Outside, there is a great view of the Manhattan skyline. Inside, there is a cozy concert space with 130 seats. So what if the concert hall rocks when a ship goes by? Bargemusic is a concert space inside a barge moored below the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York City. From the cozy confines of Bargemusic, we'll hear a small-scale but spirited version of the Concerto for Two Violins, by Bach. And as a follow-up, a high-octane 2-minute version of the same piece, infused with bluegrass and jazz, from the trio "Time for Three."
Dec 4
Turtle Island Quartet
Every Friday, PT features 21st century music. Today, the Turtle Island Quartet joins Fred in the studio to play a new piece called "Tree of Life," by Turtle Island violinist David Balakrishnan. Members of the quartet demonstrate their unusual string techniques (the chop, the shuffle bow, the bow slap, walking bass on the cello, etc.), and play Balakrishnan's exuberant new piece, which draws on a wide range of styles: classical, bluegrass, swing, Indian classical, and more.
Dec 3
Tchaikovsky
Peter Tchaikovsky loved to visit Florence, Italy, especially in the winter. After one trip to the warm, sunny Tuscan city, he returned home with the idea for a new work. "Souvenir of Florence" was born of that winter getaway. Douglas Boyd leads the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in concert, on a chilly January evening in St. Paul.
Dec 2
Johann Sebastian Bach
Outside, there is a great view of the Manhattan skyline. Inside, there is a cozy concert space with 130 seats. So what if the concert hall rocks when a ship goes by? Bargemusic is a concert space inside a barge moored below the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York City. From the cozy confines of Bargemusic, we'll hear a small-scale but spirited version of the Concerto for Two Violins, by Bach. And as a follow-up, a high-octane 2-minute version of the same piece, infused with bluegrass and jazz, from the trio "Time for Three."
Dec 1
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff once said he had neither the ability nor the desire to write a symphony. Not long after saying that, he wrote an epic: his Symphony No. 2, full of grand romance. We'll go to a concert in Gothenburg, Sweden to hear Mark Wigglesworth conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Plus: the most famous tango ever written: "La Cumparsita." Even if you don't know it by name, you'll recognize the tune, and you might have a hard time NOT singing along. The Cuarteto Latinoamericano played La Cumparsita in concert at the Strings Music Festival, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.