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Mar 31
We began March with a tribute to Frederic Chopin on his 200th birthday, and we've been bringing you great Chopin (and Chopin-inspired) performances all month. Today, we wrap up the celebration. Pianist Rafal Blechacz performs Chopin's second piano concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw, Poland. And pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays the first concerto at a gala concert on Chopin's birthday in Warsaw.
Mar 30
Chopin
We've been celebrating Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday all month with great performances of his music. In the first hour, nothing by Chopin himself, but a full hour of music inspired by him. Plus, the Pittsburgh Symphony got rave reviews for their performances on a recent European tour. We'll hear them in Dvorak's 8th Symphony, from Bonn, Germany. Manfred Honeck conducts.
Mar 29
Murray Perahia
Pianist Murray Perahia's playing has been described using words like "flawless" and "transcendent." In today's show, Perahia joins host Fred Child for an in-studio conversation about Bach and Chopin. He shares his thoughts on Bach's music ("full of emotions, but not Romantic"), and the ways that Bach influenced Chopin. He'll play part of a Bach partita and two Chopin works.
Mar 27
Simon Rattle
Simon Rattle has been Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002. Despite some ups and downs in his relationship with the orchestra, the players recently voted to extend his contract through 2018. The Berlin Philharmonic is sounding as lush and sweet as ever under Rattle, as we'll hear from a concert they gave last month in Berlin. Rattle conducts the Symphony No. 3 by Jean Sibelius. Also: Bruce Adolphe has a brand new Piano Puzzler. This week's caller is from San Antonio, Texas.
Mar 26
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."
Mar 25
Gustav Mahler
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 Friday.
Mar 24
Simon Rattle
Simon Rattle has been Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic since 2002. Despite some ups and downs in his relationship with the orchestra, the players recently voted to extend his contract through 2018. The Berlin Philharmonic is sounding as lush and sweet as ever under Rattle, as we'll hear from a concert they gave last month in Berlin. Rattle conducts the Symphony No. 3 by Jean Sibelius. Also: Bruce Adolphe has a brand new Piano Puzzler. This week's caller is from San Antonio, Texas.
Mar 23
Domenico Scarlatti
Is it true? Well...it's a great story. Domenico Scarlatti's "Cat's Fugue" got the name because the strange rising six-note theme was plunked out by his cat, Pulcinella, walking up the keyboard of his harpsichord. The Georgia Guitar Quartet plays the Cat's Fugue, in concert in Athens, Georgia. Plus, violinist Nikolaj Znaider on the passion expressed, and the passion repressed, in Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto. (Znaider thinks the restrained passion is more interesting.) Znaider joins the Cleveland Orchestra for a concert in Miami.
Mar 22
Rafal Blechacz
The Chopin Piano Competition happens once every five years, and hadn't had a winner in 15 years. But in 2005, a young Polish pianist walked away with every prize the jury had to give. Rafal Blechacz was just 20 when his life changed forever. On today's show, he joins host Fred Child to talk about, and play, music of Chopin and Mozart.
Mar 20
Mozart
There is a lovely Bavarian town called Traunstein. The Alps rise majestically on one side, lakes glimmer on the other. A monastery was founded in the town center in 1685. Now it's used as an art gallery and performance space. From that former monastery in Bavaria, we'll hear a sparkling performance of Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. Also: Samuel Barber was a great American composer, but as his friend Lee Hoiby recalls, Barber was not always a model of decorum. Hoiby tells a story about Barber kicking his way through patrons at a concert one evening.
Mar 19
David Teie
This week's 21st century music feature highlights a composer who doesn't limit his audience to humans. David Teie also writes music for cats to enjoy. His cat music incorporates sounds of purring and bird chirps. His human music features more conventional sounds. On today's show, we'll hear Teie's concerto for viola and cello, with the composer himself playing the cello solo.
Mar 18
Jonathan Biss
Flying at night is no big deal these days. It was a huge deal during World War II. Weather reports were sketchy, maps were occasionally correct. Cockpit instruments were unreliable. Not to mention the existential anxiety of getting shot at. American composer Samuel Barber was in the Army Air Force during World War Two. His piece "Night Flight" is evocative of the inky darkness, but also the beautiful calm of being above it all. We'll hear Barber's Night Flight played by the London Symphony Orchestra. Also: "Playing and hearing music by Chopin, you learn not only what the piano can do, you learn about its soul." American pianist Jonathan Biss joins us to talk about, and play, music by Chopin and Schumann.
Mar 17
Chatham Baroque
Irish poet William Butler Yeats tried to "reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village, who sings them to herself." That inspired his poem, "The Salley Gardens," which has been set to music by at least half a dozen composers. We'll hear Benjamin Britten's version, sung by Sarah Connolly, in concert last week at Wigmore Hall in London. Also, Chatham Baroque plays a set of Irish jigs in concert in Pittsburgh. Two great Irish orchestras in concert in Dublin. And Bruce Adolphe has a brand new Piano Puzzler.
Mar 16
John Browning, piano
In 1962, pianist John Browning was set to give the premiere of Samuel Barber's new piano concerto. There was just one problem. Two weeks before the premiere, Barber still hadn't written the third movement. In today's show, Browning tells the story behind that premiere, involving himself, Barber, and the interventions of Aaron Copland and Vladimir Horowitz. And pianist Meng-Chieh Liu performs it with Barber's alma mater orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia.
Mar 15
Mozart
There is a lovely Bavarian town called Traunstein. The Alps rise majestically on one side, lakes glimmer on the other. A monastery was founded in the town center in 1685. Now it's used as an art gallery and performance space. From that former monastery in Bavaria, we'll hear a sparkling performance of Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. Also: Samuel Barber was a great American composer, but as his friend Lee Hoiby recalls, Barber was not always a model of decorum. Hoiby tells a story about Barber kicking his way through patrons at a concert one evening.
Mar 13
Nicholas McGegan
We're continuing to focus on the music of Samuel Barber, in honor of his 100th birthday. In today's show, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," set to the words of James Agee. Agee's words describe a deliciously languid summer evening in Tennessee, with everyone gathered under the trees to stay cool. Barber's music adds just the right quality of amazement, according to conductor Nicholas McGegan. McGegan conducts the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and soprano Carolyn Sampson in a performance.
Mar 12
Samuel Barber
Samuel Barber's greatest hit was his Adagio for Strings. It began its life as the slow movement of a string quartet, heard on yesterday's show. Today, it occupies a special place in our consciousness. Used at state funerals and solemn occasions. When he wrote it, it's unlikely the 26-year-old Barber could have imagined it would take on such a life of its own. The Barber Adagio, in several different arrangements, today on PT.
Mar 11
garrick ohlsson
"Chopin's very good for you, he's a good gym composer...he really gets you in shape!" So says pianist Garrick Ohlsson in our PT interview. But that's only one side of Chopin's appeal for Ohlsson. He also says "there is an uninhibited emotionality about Chopin...he evokes on the piano an emotional state of consciousness, alive and flickering and varying moment to moment." Garrick Ohlsson joins us to talk about the art of playing Chopin. And Ohlsson plays a pair of Chopin Etudes, the Ballade No. 1, and a meltingly beautiful Nocturne.
Mar 10
Nicholas McGegan
We're continuing to focus on the music of Samuel Barber, one day after his 100th birthday. In today's show, "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," set to the words of James Agee. Agee's words describe a deliciously languid summer evening in Tennessee, with everyone gathered under the trees to stay cool. Barber's music adds just the right quality of amazement, according to conductor Nicholas McGegan. McGegan conducts the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and soprano Carolyn Sampson in a performance.
Mar 9
Samuel Barber
Samuel Osborne Barber II was born 100 years ago today. We'll be highlighting some of Barber's greatest hits in the coming weeks. In today's show, Barber friend and fellow composer Lee Hoiby shares stories of his friend, including one involving his overture to "The School for Scandal." Details in the show, but the moral of the story: don't snub the oboist's wife. Music by one of America's greatest composers, all this week on Performance Today.
Mar 8
There are two versions of Robert Schumann's fourth symphony. There's the original version from 1841, which his young friend Johannes Brahms preferred. Then there was the revised version from 10 years later, that Schumann's wife Clara liked. When Schumann died, Johannes and Clara quarreled over which version to publish. Clara won. In this hour, we'll hear the original version that Brahms was partial to, performed by the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra.
Mar 6
The Parker Quartet
PT's Artists in Residence, the Parker Quartet, return to our studios. They'll talk about the experience of playing the prized matching Strads owned by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. They'll settle for their own instruments in our studio, and play Haydn's String Quartet No. 25.
Mar 5
Yundi Li
This past Monday night, there was a gala all-Chopin concert at the Grand Theater in downtown Warsaw. We'll hear highlights: Yundi Li (winner of the 2000 Chopin Piano Competition) plays a pair of Chopin Nocturnes, and Garrick Ohlsson (winner of the 1970 Chopin Competition) plays a Chopin Waltz. And our series "Music That Matters" continues with a return to Ramallah, on the West Bank. We'll hear more from the music school "Al Kamandjati," founded by violist Ramzi Aburedwan. And from their annual winter concert in Ramallah, the Al Kamandjati Players perform the final movement from Vivaldi's "Autumn," from "The Four Seasons."
Mar 4
Ramzi Aburedwan
Our monthly series "Music That Matters" returns with the story of Ramzi Aburedwan, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp. When he was 8 years old, Aburedwan became the subject of a famous photograph, a boy throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Ten years later, he learned to play viola. Aburedwan says "I fell in love immediately, and from that day until today I am in the world of music." In 2005, Aburedwan founded a music school in Ramallah, on the West Bank.
Mar 3
David Soyer played his cello for 37 years as a member of the legendary Guarneri Quartet. He retired from the quartet in 2001, at age 78. But Soyer continued teaching until just before he died last week, at age 87. Guarneri Quartet members Arnold Steinhardt and Peter Wiley join us with fond memories of David Soyer, his remarkable musicianship, and his role as mentor in the lives of so many musicians. And we'll hear from several of Soyer's classic recordings with the Guarneri Quartet, including music by Dvorak, Beethoven, and Grieg.
Mar 2
garrick ohlsson
Yesterday was Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday. Of all the celebrations across the globe in his honor, the one we're most excited to bring you is from Chopin's home town in Poland. American pianist Garrick Ohlsson gave a very special recital there yesterday. He played on an 1848 Pleyel piano once owned by Chopin, in a manor house in Chopin's home town. The recital was broadcast live over Polish radio, to a nation that Ohlsson admits is "Chopin-crazy." In today's show, we'll have highlights.
Mar 1
Today marks Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday. Chopin left Poland in 1830 for a concert tour, assuming it was a short trip. But shortly after that, war broke out, and he never returned to his homeland. The last piece he ever played in Poland was his first piano concerto. Today, Daniel Barenboim performs it with Asher Fisch and the Berlin Philharmonic. Barenboim, Fisch, and Berlin all return Friday to play the second concerto. We have special Chopin programming all week, including a gala concert happening today at his boyhood home, featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson. We'll bring you highlights on tomorrow's show.