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Feb 28
The woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn) has been around for a couple of centuries. One group in particular, though, has been revolutionizing how the music world thinks about quintets. The Imani Winds have been together since 1997, writing much of their own music, and commissioning new works by other composers. As a result, the quintet landscape has forever changed. In today's show, the members of the Imani Winds join host Fred Child in the studio for music and conversation.
Feb 26
Nobody wrote lonely, gut-wrenching, all-alone-in-the-middle-of-the-night music like Dmitri Shostakovich. His music often has an intensity that borders on painful, that puts you outside your comfort zone. Which makes his Symphony Number 9 all the more surprising. Think of it as Shostakovich lite: less angst, fewer calories. Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in Shostakovich's sparkling Ninth Symphony, from a concert in San Francisco.
Feb 25
Cesar_Franck
Music has always been an important part of the film industry. Composers from Erich Korngold to John Williams have made a career of writing for the big screen. Today, in honor of Sunday's Academy Awards, a look at several of this year's crop of nominees that featured music in a pivotal role. Plus, Cesar Franck's much-loved Symphony in D Minor, much-maligned when it premiered. We'll hear a performance by the London Philharmonic.
Feb 24
When you push the envelope, sometimes the envelope pushes back. Early jazz was criticized as lawless, lascivious, even dangerous. In 1921, the Ladies Home Journal wrote that "Unspeakable Jazz Must Go." Apparently, jazz doesn't read the Ladies Home Journal, because it never left. In today's show, we'll explore the permeable boundary between classical and jazz, in works by Darius Milhaud, George Gershwin, and Dave Brubeck.
Feb 23
Nobody wrote lonely, gut-wrenching, all-alone-in-the-middle-of-the-night music like Dmitri Shostakovich. His music often has an intensity that borders on painful, that puts you outside your comfort zone. Which makes his Symphony Number 9 all the more surprising. Think of it as Shostakovich lite: less angst, fewer calories. Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in Shostakovich's sparkling Ninth Symphony, from a concert in San Francisco.
Feb 22
Ludwig van Beethoven
Poet Rita Dove wrote a book about Beethoven, his best friend in 1803, and the piece they premiered together. Beethoven wrote an astonishing sonata inspired by the virtuosity of violinist George Bridgetower. But one night over drinks, the two friends got into a fight. Beethoven took Bridgetower's name off the music, and they never spoke again. Rita Dove has re-imagined their relationship in her book, "Sonata Mulattica." She joins PT host Fred Child to guide us through their story, and through the piece that's become known as Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata.
Feb 21
Abraham Lincoln
Today on PT, special music in honor of a few of our 44 Commanders-in-Chief. The inimitable James Earl Jones reads words by Abraham Lincoln, in Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." We'll tip our caps to Harry S. Truman, perhaps our most musical president. And hear how Ronald Reagan facilitated pianist Vladimir Feltsman's defection from the former Soviet Union. Plus works inspired by U.S. presidents, from George Washington to Bill Clinton.
Feb 19
Zubin Mehta
The Israel Philharmonic has been around since 1936, making it older than the modern-day nation of Israel. In honor of its 75th anniversary, the Philharmonic is embarking on a major American tour, starting this weekend. On today's show, a performance from their home in Tel Aviv, recorded this past week. Music Director Zubin Mehta conducts.
Feb 18
Zubin Mehta
The Israel Philharmonic has been around since 1936, making it older than the modern-day nation of Israel. In honor of its 75th anniversary, the Philharmonic is embarking on a major American tour, starting this weekend. On today's show, a performance from their home in Tel Aviv, recorded just three days ago. Music Director Zubin Mehta conducts.
Feb 17
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms' fourth symphony could be viewed as a reflection of his own personality, starting with a slightly gruff and glowering exterior. Brahms himself called the work dark, forbidding, and melancholy. But the symphony also has moments of lightness and joy. Just like the Brahms who could write charming waltzes and lively Hungarian dances. In today's show, this complex piece by an equally complex man, from a concert by the New York Philharmonic.
Feb 16
Peter Tchaikovsky's violin concerto had a rocky start. The first two violinists who tried to master it gave up. The third gave the work its premiere, but was panned by critics. One said the soloist had not so much played the violin as "torn it apart, pounded it black and blue." Nowadays, the Tchaikovsky concerto is an audience favorite, a staple in every violinist's repertoire. We'll hear one of the best, Christian Tetzlaff, in concert with the Montreal Symphony.
Feb 15
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria von Weber was one of the greatest champions of the clarinet. He seemed to have an innate feel for what would sound good on the instrument that's sometimes called the licorice stick. Soaring melodies, intricate runs, hefty technical passages. Clarinetist Jorg Widmann turns confectioner in a performance of Weber's First Clarinet Concerto, from a concert in Stuttgart, Germany.
Feb 14
Valentine hearts
Today on PT, stories of love and romance, in honor of Valentine's Day. Stories of young love: the mythical Orpheus and Eurydice, newly-married and deeply in love. And we'll meet a pair of real-life young newlyweds, pianists Anna Polonsky and Orion Weiss. We'll hear from cellist Sharon Robinson and violinist Jaime Laredo, musical collaborators and spouses for nearly four decades. Plus, touching stories of love at the opera.
Feb 12
Robert Levin
Pianist Robert Levin believes in taking risks during performances. Not for his own glorification, but to deepen the level of communication between artist and audience. And for the simple fact that, in his view, to risk nothing is to achieve nothing. In today's show, Robert Levin takes risks, improvising his own cadenzas in a Mozart piano concerto, with the Nashville Symphony. Nicholas McGegan conducts.
Feb 11
Sir Roger Norrington
For four decades, the English conductor Roger Norrington has pioneered the early music movement. Less vibrato, more contrast, more clarity, more visceral energy, all with a touch of showmanship. Roger Norrington leads the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, in the final two movements of Beethoven's 9th. Plus, we'll meet the $300,000 man: pianist Kirill Gerstein, winner of the lucrative Gilmore Artist Award.
Feb 10
World Youth Symphony Orchestra
There's plenty of gloomy talk these days about the impending death of classical music. Nay-sayers point to dwindling audiences and orchestra balance sheets awash in red ink. After today's show, you won't be able to reach any conclusion except one: the future of classical music is in very good hands. We're featuring some of the best young musicians in the world. Teen-age classical musicians in concert, including the World Youth Symphony Orchestra from the Interlochen Arts Camp.
Feb 9
Matt Haimovitz
All this week on PT, we're taking a look at some of this year's Grammy-nominated recordings, leading up to this Sunday's Grammy Awards. On today's show, highlights from new CDs by cellist Matt Haimovitz, pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, and the Trondheim Soloists. Plus, Bruce Adolphe joins host Fred Child for an award-worthy Piano Puzzler.
Feb 8
Robert Levin
Pianist Robert Levin believes in taking risks during performances. Not for his own glorification, but to deepen the level of communication between artist and audience. And for the simple fact that, in his view, to risk nothing is to achieve nothing. In today's show, Robert Levin takes risks, improvising his own cadenzas in a Mozart piano concerto, with the Nashville Symphony. Nicholas McGegan conducts.
Feb 7
Saint-Saens
In a hall that doesn't even feature a real pipe organ, Andrew Davis and the New York Philharmonic still managed to pull out all the stops in a performance of Camille Saint-Saens' Symphony Number 3, the Organ Symphony. Kent Tritle, the New York Philharmonic's resident organist, had to make do with an electronic instrument at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Plus, the best birthday present ever, Richard Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll," written as a surprise birthday present for his wife, Cosima.
Feb 5
Gustavo Dudamel
The Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director Gustavo Dudamel are just wrapping up a very successful European tour, with stops in Madrid, London, Paris, and Vienna. We'll hear from their concert at London's Barbican Hall, where one critic said it was "impossible not to be swept away." Dudamel and the LA Phil play Beethoven's Seventh Symphony in London.
Feb 4
Gustavo Dudamel
The Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director Gustavo Dudamel are just wrapping up a very successful European tour, with stops in Madrid, London, Paris, and Vienna. We'll hear from their concert at London's Barbican Hall, where one critic said it was "impossible not to be swept away." Dudamel and the LA Phil play Beethoven's Seventh Symphony in London.
Feb 3
Carl Orff
"O Fortune, like the moon you are changeable. Life first oppresses and then soothes, as fancy takes it. Poverty and power, it melts them like ice." Those fatalistic words are the first and last ones we hear in Carl Orff's masterpiece, Carmina Burana. Along the way, the text makes a few interesting diversions, from drinking to debauchery to the pleasures of spring. We'll hear a performance from a concert in Montreal.
Feb 2
Don Quixote
He tilted at windmills and went to battle with armies of sheep. Miguel de Cervantes' mad hero, Don Quixote, has been a classic literary figure since the early 1600s. In today's show, a full hour of nothing but the Don and his faithful sidekick, Sancho Panza, in works by Georg Philipp Telemann and Richard Strauss.
Feb 1
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff's creative output can serve as a reminder never to give up. He wrote dozens and dozens of great works as a young man. In the last 25 years of his life, only a handful. He thought his composing days were over. But his very last work turned out to be one of the greatest he ever wrote. We'll hear Rachmaninoff's swan song, his Symphonic Dances, from a concert in Paris.