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Jul 31
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. Today's show features performances from unusual locations, including a barge, a night club, and a decommissioned power plant.
Jul 30
Marlboro Music Festival
Every summer, an amazing musical gathering takes place in Vermont. Christopher Serkin, board member of Marlboro Music, sums it up this way. He says, "It's like summer camp, but for geniuses." Serkin's grandfather, pianist Rudolf Serkin, founded Marlboro in 1951. Every summer since then, young professionals and seasoned music veterans have gathered for seven weeks of glorious music-making. We'll have highlights from Marlboro all week, including a Shostakovich Piano Trio in today's show.
Jul 28
Royal Albert Hall
Jul 27
Royal Albert Hall
Jul 26
Franz Joseph Haydn
In today's show, a performance of a Haydn symphony that had a Viennese audience laughing out loud. We'll let you in on the joke, as Daniel Barenboim conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in Haydn's Farewell symphony. Plus, pianist Yuja Wang delivers a jaw-dropping performance of music from Stravinsky's ballet "Petrushka" in St. Paul.
Jul 25
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler's massive Fifth Symphony rages on for over an hour. But in the middle of that storm, there's a 10-minute oasis of calm. The Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth has been used for everything from funerals for heads of state to Olympic skating routines. Most people hear it as an outpouring of grief, but some say there's much more to it than that. In today's show, the story behind Mahler's Adagietto and a performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Jul 24
piano hammers
The piano is essentially a percussion instrument. You press a key, a hammer hits the corresponding string, and a note is produced. But is that all there is? There must be more to playing the piano than that. Today, we'll hear from two terrific pianists, Shai Wosner and Garrick Ohlsson. Ohlsson weighs in on the difficulties of the piano, calling it "a box full of diminuendos." But with Ohlsson and Wosner in the driver's seat, we prefer to think of it as a box full of exquisite possibilities.
Jul 23
Alhambra Garden
If only we could hand out those scratch-n-sniff cards to PT listeners today. It might come close to approximating what Manuel de Falla had in mind when he wrote his "Nights in the Gardens of Spain." He meant his music to evoke not just the sights and sounds of the gardens surrounding the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. He wanted to conjure up the delicate fragrances of the place that's been called "Paradise on Earth." If you can, find a quiet garden spot, lean back, close your eyes, and inhale de Falla's gorgeous music.
Jul 21
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
New York City's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is militant about one thing. They have never, will never use a conductor. That philosophy undoubtedly makes for more sensitive, attentive playing, as musicians are forced to listen to and watch each other more closely. It also presents the players with unique challenges. Case in point: Aaron Copland's ballet "Appalachian Spring," with its delicate, transparent textures and lightning-fast tempo changes. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra rises to the challenge, delivering a terrific performance of this American masterpiece.
Jul 20
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
New York City's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is militant about one thing. They have never, will never use a conductor. That philosophy undoubtedly makes for more sensitive, attentive playing, as musicians are forced to listen to and watch each other more closely. It also presents the players with unique challenges. Case in point: Aaron Copland's ballet "Appalachian Spring," with its delicate, transparent textures and lightning-fast tempo changes. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra rises to the challenge, delivering a terrific performance of this American masterpiece.
Jul 19
Franz Schubert
Is an unfinished piece by a long-dead composer a historical artifact to be preserved as is? Or is it ripe with possibilities, waiting for someone to come along and finish in his or her own way? Franz Schubert's 8th Symphony is nicknamed the Unfinished because Schubert wrote only two movements instead of the usual four. Over the years, other composers have tried their hand at completing it. Today we'll hear a new approach, the symphony as Schubert himself might have finished it, using his sketches and music borrowed from other works.
Jul 18
Frank Peter Zimmermann
Conductor Alan Gilbert and violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann spent the past season working closely together. Zimmermann was the official Artist-in-Residence with Gilbert's band, the New York Philharmonic. Gilbert is a big fan of Zimmermann's playing. He says Zimmermann's "musicality is so intense, and his technical ability is so consummate." Zimmermann, Gilbert, and the New York Philharmonic perform Beethoven's Violin Concerto, from a concert in January.
Jul 17
Olga Kern
When he was a teenager in the early 1920s, Dmitri Shostakovich played piano in movie theaters for silent films. A few years later, he wrote a Piano Concerto that in places almost sounds like music he might have riffed for a Charlie Chaplin comedy. It's the rollicking, jazz-inflected Piano Concerto No. 1 by Shostakovich. We'll hear a powerhouse performance by Olga Kern (pictured) and the Nashville Symphony.
Jul 16
Pinchas Zukerman
Pinchas Zukerman's first musical love was the recorder. But he was only 4. It turned out to be puppy love. He had to wait another 4 years, until the ripe old age of 8, before he met his true love, the violin. Zukerman has branched out in a few different directions over the years, as a violist and a conductor. But he always comes back to his roots, to the violin. Pinchas Zukerman turns 64 today. We'll hear him, playing a Bach concerto in concert in Portugal.
Jul 14
Wooden door
Throughout history, conquering armies have been known to do some nasty, brutish things to the people they've vanquished. We'll never know if that worry was on Richard Strauss' mind when a bunch of American soldiers showed up at his door in Germany at the end of World War II. But the Americans weren't interested in murder or mayhem that day in 1945. Instead, one of the soldiers asked Strauss to write an oboe concerto for him. In today's show, German oboist Albrecht Mayer plays the Strauss Oboe Concerto, in concert in New York City.
Jul 13
Degas Ballet Rehearsal painting
The story line is oh-so-sappy. The sweet young thing who is wronged and dies of a broken heart. Even beyond the grave, she manages to choose forgiveness over vengeance. On the surface, you might think the music would be every bit as silly as the plot. But conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is quick to point out that Adolphe Adam's ballet "Giselle" is full of charm and beauty. We'll hear MTT conduct his own arrangement of Adam's ballet, from a concert in San Francisco.
Jul 12
Leonidas Kavakos
The Greek name Leonidas means "brave as a lion." Violinist Leonidas Kavakos lives up to his name in a bold, fiery performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, from a concert in the Netherlands. But Kavakos shows his tender side too in Tchaikovsky's sweet, singing melodies. We'll hear Leonidas Kavakos' thoughts on what makes this concerto great, and his performance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
Jul 11
Wooden door
Throughout history, conquering armies have been known to do some nasty, brutish things to the people they've vanquished. We'll never know if that worry was on Richard Strauss' mind when a bunch of American soldiers showed up at his door in Germany at the end of World War II. But the Americans weren't interested in murder or mayhem that day in 1945. Instead, one of the soldiers asked Strauss to write an oboe concerto for him. In today's show, German oboist Albrecht Mayer plays the Strauss Oboe Concerto, in concert in New York City.
Jul 10
Cuckoo Bird
Beethoven was inspired by the lush, wooded landscapes around Vienna when he wrote his Pastoral Symphony. He told a friend, "the birds up there, the quails, nightingales, and cuckoos all around, they composed with me." Today, we'll hear the snowbirds of the Cleveland Orchestra in Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, from a concert in their winter home in warm and sunny Miami.
Jul 9
Mozart
Times were tough for Mozart in the summer of 1788. His financial life was a shambles, and he was reduced to writing a series of pitiful letters to a friend, pleading for money. But at the same time, he was also writing his final three symphonies, each of them a masterpiece. He churned them out over the course of two months that summer. We'll hear Mozart's Symphony Number 39, from a concert by James Levine and the Boston Symphony.
Jul 7
helene grimaud
Call it what you like, the conductor controversy or the soloist squabble or even the Mozart mess. In today's show we'll have the story behind the cadenza kerfuffle, a disagreement between pianist Helene Grimaud and conductor Claudio Abbado that resulted in a scuttled CD project and several cancelled concerts. And we'll hear the Mozart piano concerto that started it all.
Jul 6
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. We'll hear their performance, from a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Jul 5
Planets Moon Sun Outerspace
Their names come from Roman mythology. The ancients called them wandering stars, and assigned each its own personality. One is the bringer of war, while another brings peace. One is jolly and benevolent. Its neighbor is remote and mystical. Gustav Holst poured his passion for astrology into his greatest work, his orchestral suite called "The Planets." We'll hear a performance by Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony.
Jul 4
Fireworks
Music and fireworks have at least one thing in common. Both are fun to dabble in. But for true jaw-dropping effects, they're best left to the professionals. Both Igor Stravinsky and Claude Debussy wrote pieces that they called "Fireworks." We'll hear them in today's special 4th of July show. Plus, "Billy the Kid" by Aaron Copland, the city slicker from Brooklyn who somehow managed to capture the wide-open sounds of the American West.
Jul 3
Simon Rattle
Conductor Simon Rattle joins us to introduce the Symphony No. 2 by Johannes Brahms. Rattle says "this is a work where real unalloyed joy comes out, and that, in all of Brahms' output, is fairly rare." Rattle also weighs in on Brahms' gruff, very German sense of humor. And we'll go to a concert in Berlin, with Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in the complete symphony.
Jul 2
helene grimaud
Call it what you like, the conductor controversy or the soloist squabble or even the Mozart mess. In today's show we'll have the story behind the cadenza kerfuffle, a disagreement between pianist Helene Grimaud and conductor Claudio Abbado that resulted in a scuttled CD project and several cancelled concerts. And we'll hear the Mozart piano concerto that started it all.