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Dec 31
Viennese Ball
If you joined us during the past year, you know that 2012 was a big year on Performance Today. We paid visits to a number of big summer music festivals and met some of the stars of tomorrow there. Inaugurated a PT Young Artist-in-Residence series. Observed several important composer anniversaries. And all year long we brought you memorable performances from concert halls around the country and around the world. Join us in closing out 2012 today with festive music, including the overture to "Die Fledermaus," by the Waltz King, Johann Strauss, Jr.
Dec 29
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.
Dec 28
Musikverein Goldener Saal
Vienna's Musikverein is one of those spectacular old European concert halls. The walls and ceilings shimmer with real gold. And the acoustics are every bit as magnificent as the decor. We'll hear pianist Lang Lang in a recital at the Musikverein, playing Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata. Plus, we'll hear from a special New Year's Day concert there. Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic rattled those golden walls and ceilings with Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Thunder and Lightning Polka."
Dec 27
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.
Dec 26
Gustav Mahler
Usually, when we hear about some newly-rediscovered piece of music, it's in some dusty monastery in Europe. In today's show, the story of Gustav Mahler's Blumine, which went missing for about 80 years and turned up in the library at Yale University. We'll hear a performance of Mahler's lost-and-found work, from a concert by the New York Philharmonic.
Dec 25
18th Century Christmas
Merry Christmas from all of us at PT. On the way for Christmas, 2012, we'll bring you some of the best and brightest holiday performances from all over the globe. From the magnificent concert halls of Europe, to churches large and small, to a warm and inviting Irish pub, it's our annual tour of Christmas Around the World.
Dec 24
holiday lights
On this Christmas Eve, as Santa gets ready for his biggest night of the year, we'll take a musical look at Santa through the centuries. We'll hear everything from 13th century song of praise to St. Nicholas, to the adorable Tokyo FM Boys' Choir, singing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." And a collection of lullabies for the Christ child, from concerts all around the world.
Dec 22
Benedictines of Mary, Glower, MO
Dec 21
Rob Kapilow
Ever wonder what makes some music great? It's maybe not as subjective as it seems. Music commentator Rob Kapilow (pictured) joins host Fred Child today to talk about some of the techniques that George Frideric Handel used in his "Hallelujah Chorus," techniques that make it a choral masterpiece. And conductor Harry Christophers leads a performance of the Messiah, from a concert in Germany.
Dec 20
Anonymous 4
Today, the women's vocal quartet Anonymous 4 joins host Fred Child for music and conversation. They'll sing an assortment of early English and American carols, including "The Cherry Tree." That tune tells the story of a little bit of marital strife between Mary and Joseph on the way to Bethlehem, and how Joseph received his comeuppance through the miracle of the cherry tree.
Dec 19
Benedictines of Mary, Glower, MO
Dec 18
Nutcracker
It's Christmas Eve, and there's a big party. Young Clara gets a special present, a nutcracker. At midnight, the Christmas tree grows magically, the Nutcracker turns into a dashing prince, and takes Clara on a tour of his kingdom. It's "The Nutcracker," by Peter Tchaikovsky, a holiday favorite. We'll hear highlights, from a concert by Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Dec 17
Robin Ticciati
Robin Ticciati is an up-and-coming young British conductor. When Ticciati was a teenager, he studied conducting with Sir Colin Davis. Ticciati remembers Davis guiding him through Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations" during conducting lessons in Davis' garden. When they got to the gravely beautiful "Nimrod" variation, Davis stopped and said, "This is what music should mean to you." In today's show, Ticciati fills in for the ailing Colin Davis in a performance of, you guessed it, Elgar's "Enigma Variations," from a concert in London.
Dec 15
Rome Colosseum
Nobody could combine retro and radical like Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. He called for both old and new in his orchestral tone poem, "The Pines of Rome." Roman trumpets depicting the march of ancient soldiers along the Appian Way. And a newfangled audio recording of a real nightingale, which shocked audiences in 1924. In this weekend's show, old meets new in a concert performance of Respighi's "Pines of Rome" from Amsterdam.
Dec 14
Rome Colosseum
Nobody could combine retro and radical like Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. He called for both old and new in his orchestral tone poem, "The Pines of Rome." Roman trumpets depicting the march of ancient soldiers along the Appian Way. And a newfangled audio recording of a real nightingale, which shocked audiences in 1924. In today's show, old meets new in a concert performance of Respighi's "Pines of Rome" from Amsterdam.
Dec 13
Calmus
The German vocal ensemble Calmus was born out of a nearly thousand-year-old tradition of choral music at Thomaskirche, St. Thomas' Church in Leipzig. There's been a choir there for the last 800 years. The great Johann Sebastian Bach directed it for the last three decades of his life. The five members of Calmus met while singing in the St. Thomas Choir, then went off on their own as a quintet. The members of Calmus join host Fred Child in the PT studios today for some holiday tunes, including one by the old master himself.
Dec 12
Pianist Garrick Ohlsson
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 one of the great pianists of our time, Garrick Ohlsson. He weighs in on the difficulties of the piano, calling it "a box full of diminuendos." But with Ohlsson in the driver's seat, we prefer to think of it as a box full of exquisite possibilities. Garrick Ohlsson plays a Chopin concerto with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.
Dec 11
Daphnis and Chloe
It's an ancient, simple story of boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy loses girl when she is abducted by pirates. Boy gets girl back, thanks to the intervention of a deity who is half-man and half-goat. OK, maybe the story of Daphnis and Chloe isn't so simple after all. But boy and girl live happily ever after in Maurice Ravel's ravishing, shimmering coming-of-age love story. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel play Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, from a concert at Walt Disney Hall.
Dec 10
Simon Rattle
Simon Rattle joins host Fred Child today for a discussion of his favorite Brahms symphony, the third. He calls it the "autumn symphony" of the four, filled with rich colors and textures. Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in today's performance. And the members of the Doric String Quartet played a bit of a joke on their audience at a recent concert. The trickster was actually the composer, Joseph Haydn, who wrote a false ending to one of his string quartets. The audience fell for that 200-year-old joke, in a concert at London's Wigmore Hall.
Dec 8
Pianist Jenny Lin
Pianist Jenny Lin joins host Fred Child in the PT studios today. She's got a new CD out, "Get Happy," a set of virtuoso arrangements of Broadway show tunes written by some of her fellow pianists. Lin says, "You really have to remember that the melody is first," and confesses that she listened to plenty of Sinatra (whom she adores) in preparation for this project. On today's show, Jenny Lin talks about the project and performs five selections from the CD.
Dec 7
Trio Mediaeval
It's long been known that music has the ability to help transport us out of our daily lives. It's one of the reasons so many of us listen to it. In today's show, we have a whole hour of music about other realms of being, and higher planes of existence. "Visions of Another World," by Karim Al-Zand, "Music of the Spheres," by Josef Strauss, and a Transcendental Etude by Franz Liszt. Plus an ethereal Norwegian vision of heaven from the women of Trio Mediaeval (pictured).
Dec 6
Pianist Jenny Lin
Pianist Jenny Lin joins host Fred Child in the PT studios today. She's got a new CD out, "Get Happy," a set of virtuoso arrangements of Broadway show tunes written by some of her fellow pianists. Lin says, "You really have to remember that the melody is first," and confesses that she listened to plenty of Sinatra (whom she adores) in preparation for this project. On today's show, Jenny Lin talks about the project and performs five selections from the CD.
Dec 5
The St. Olaf Choir
Every December, an unusual pilgrimage takes place. Thousands of people flock to the small prairie town of Northfield, Minnesota. They're going to hear the annual St. Olaf College Christmas Festival. It's not so much a concert as it is a worship service in music. Even though the school is small, the program has a following across the country, including national broadcasts on public radio and TV. We'll hear highlights from the 2012 St. Olaf Christmas Festival, which took place just last weekend in Northfield.
Dec 4
Degas Ballet Rehearsal painting
Ballet can be a wonderful medium for drama and story-telling. It can also be a pure, unbridled celebration of the human body, about grace and speed and athleticism. We've got both sides covered in today's show. Sergei Prokofiev set Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to music, focusing on the conflict and tragedy of the story. And Alberto Ginastera's ballet "Estancia" is a high-energy tribute to the cowboys of his native Argentina. We'll hear highlights from both ballets, from concerts in Germany and Brazil.
Dec 3
Till Eulenspiegel
Richard Strauss reached back to the Middle Ages to find a thoroughly modern character, the class clown. Till Eulenspiegel was a legendary German folk-hero who thumbed his nose at just about everybody. His antics got him in trouble with the authorities, and eventually earned him a one-way trip to the gallows. Thomas Dausgaard and the Danish National Symphony play Strauss' rollicking tone poem, "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks," in concert in Till's home country of Germany.
Dec 1
Andras Schiff
We all have our little morning rituals. Sometimes it's just habit. But when it's intentional, the way you start your day says a lot about you. For Pianist Andras Schiff, it's almost always the same. He spends an hour or so playing preludes and fugues from J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Schiff never tires of it. He says, "As long as I live and I am lucky to be in good health, I want to continue to explore the mysteries of this music." This weekend, we'll feature music and conversation with Andras Schiff and PT host Fred Child, on Bach's vast and mysterious Well-Tempered Clavier.