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Mar 30
Handel
Conductor Harry Christophers says for him, Handel strikes every emotion in his body. At times it reduces him to tears, but most of the time it leaves him smiling like a Cheshire Cat. We'll have highlights from the Easter sections of Handel's Messiah on this weekend's Performance Today. Plus Harry Christophers talking (and grinning like a Cheshire Cat) about the music by Handel.
Mar 29
Johann Sebastian Bach
In all of Johann Sebastian Bach's musical output, the St. John Passion is probably the boldest experience in terms of dramatic expression. Conductor Bernard Labadie calls it a work filled with lava-like strings and brass sections that pierce like swords. We'll hear Labadie conduct the St. John Passion in a performance by Les Violins du Roy for Good Friday 2013.
Mar 28
Franz Joseph Haydn
One of the most meaningful concerts in the life of Josef Haydn took place in a darkened Spanish cathedral. It was music he wrote for a Good Friday service. Recently, poet Michael Dennis Browne wrote his own words to accompany Haydn's deeply thoughtful Good Friday music. "I surprised myself," he said, "just as the great Haydn surprised himself." We'll hear Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Christ," music with with new poetry by Browne, on Thursday's Performance Today.
Mar 27
piano hands
Stephen Hough is a poet at the piano and on the page. He's also quite open about his weaknesses. Hough has written about questioning his career choice, battling ego issues, fighting his nerves, and overcoming moments when he says he fails to reach his own high standards. Nevertheless, Hough keeps trying. We'll hear this heroic pianist, from a live concert in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday's Performance Today.
Mar 26
Astor Piazzolla
Argentine composer and tango master Astor Piazzolla wrote dozens of pieces inspired by tango, but none more ethereal than the one we'll hear called Oblivion. We'll go to a concert by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, in Houston for music by the tango master on Tuesday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 25
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann wrote a remarkable Arabesque for solo piano, but he certainly wasn't the only composer to use the title Arabesque. We'll hear Yefim Bronfman play the Schumann, in concert in New York as well as Arabesques by two other composers on Monday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 23
Ravel
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to try to guess the tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. Play along, see if you can guess the tune and the composer. Today's Puzzler contestant is Shawn Hampton from Round Rock, Texas.
Mar 22
Vladimir Horowitz
I'll take you back to some of the great events of classical music in the 20th century: the Carnegie Hall comeback of pianist Vladimir Horowitz, the bookends to Leonard Bernstein's career: his surprise debut and his historic finale at the Berlin Wall. And Mstislav Rostropovich going home. Great musical moments of the 20th century on Friday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 21
Lang Lang
Why does the Golden Hall at the Musikverein in Vienna sound so good? Is it the hollow space under the stage? The exact proportions of the dimensions of the hall? Whatever the reason, the acoustics are incredible. We'll go to the Golden Hall in Vienna to hear Lang Lang play Chopin on Thursday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 20
Ravel
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to try to guess the tune, and the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. Play along, see if you can guess the tune and the composer. Today's Puzzler contestant is Shawn Hampton from Round Rock, Texas.
Mar 19
Every day on Performance Today, we hear great musicians in concert. But how did they get to be so good? On Tuesday's Performance Today we'll meet double bass player David Grossman, a member of the New York Philharmonic. He'll tell us what it's like to live life at the bottom of the orchestra and how he stays on top of his game.
Mar 18
Maurice Ravel
Solos come, solos go. In "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel, the flute takes a turn. Then the saxophone. The trombone. Most everybody else plays the melody and stops to take a breather now and then. But not the poor snare drummer. There are 4,064 snare drum taps in Bolero. The snare drummer plays the same pattern 169 times. On Monday's Performance Today, we'll hear a study in deep concentration for percussionists: Ravel's Bolero performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in from a concert Amsterdam.
Mar 16
Johann Sebastian Bach
The Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 by Johann Sebastian Bach moves along nicely until everything stops for a surprise solo from the harpsichord, usually the foundation of ensemble. That was unheard of in 1719, but Bach had a brand new harpsichord that he wanted to showcase. And he might have wanted to showcase the harpsichord soloist... who also happened to be the composer. This weekend on Performance Today, we'll go to San Francisco to hear members of the San Francisco Symphony play the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 while Robin Sutherland takes a star turn at the harpsichord. Plus, music for this weekend's celebration of all things Irish.
Mar 15
Johann Sebastian Bach
The Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 by Johann Sebastian Bach moves along nicely until everything stops for a surprise solo from the harpsichord, usually the foundation of ensemble. That was unheard of in 1719, but Bach had a brand new harpsichord that he wanted to showcase. And he might have wanted to showcase the harpsichord soloist... who also happened to be the composer. On Friday's Performance Today, we'll go to San Francisco to hear members of the San Francisco Symphony play the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 while Robin Sutherland takes a star turn at the harpsichord. Plus, music for this weekend's celebration of all things Irish.
Mar 14
Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven revolutionized the writing of symphonies, string quartets, and sonatas. And there's at least one other area where he is the measure of every composer who follows: the Piano Trio, music for piano, violin, and cello. Beethoven wrote a dozen piano trios full of seductive melodies, with harmonies of surprising tension and resolution. On Thursday's Performance Today we'll hear one of those revolutionary piano trios by Beethoven, from a special concert at the Music@Menlo Festival in Menlo Park, California.
Mar 13
Mozart
In 1764, the Mozart family went on a tour of Europe. While they were in London, Papa Mozart came down with strep throat, so the family took a room in the Chelsea neighborhood for a while so he could recover. Little Wolfgang was 8 years old. There was no TV, there were no game consoles. To pass the time, little Wolfgang amused himself by trying something he'd never done before: writing a symphony. We'll hear the Symphony No. 1 by the 8 year-old Wolfgang Mozart on Wednesday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 12
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein's friends knew him as a virtuoso procrastinator. One day when he was working on his show "Candide," Bernstein claimed he was having trouble putting some lyrics to music. The director knew better. "You were waterskiing all day," he said. "Now will you please sit down and write this music?" Coming up, we'll hear some of what Bernstein finally got around to writing. We'll hear Bernstein's Overture to Candide on Tuesday's Performance Today from APM.
Mar 11
Martha Argerich
She has fans who follow her around the globe. She's one of the most revered and sought-after pianists of our time. She's Martha Argerich, and we'll hear her play two concertos from Lugano, Switzerland. Schumann's Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 on today's show.
Mar 9
Ensemble Caprice
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to try to guess the tune, and the composer Bruce is mimicking. Is it "Stand by Your Man" in the style of Tchaikovsky? Or maybe "Do Re Mi" in the style of Arnold Schoenberg? Play along, see if you can guess the tune and the composer in this week's Piano Puzzler.
Mar 8
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler never called his Symphony No. 2 the "Resurrection Symphony." But the name has stuck. It has resonated because his subject matter was death, and redemption, and Resurrection. We'll bring you highlights from Mahler's Resurrection Symphony from a concert in New York.
Mar 7
Rudolf Buchbinder
When he was growing up in Vienna, nobody in Rudolf Buchbinder's house played music. But for some reason, the family had a piano. It was more of a furniture piece, he says, until he started to imitate music he had heard on the radio on the piano. Very quickly, he became the youngest student ever accepted at the Vienna Conservatory. Buchbinder has grown up to have a tremendous career as a pianist. We'll hear him on the radio, playing Beethoven, on Thursday's Performance Today.
Mar 6
Matthias Maute
Many classical musicians practice by doing the same thing over and over again. It limits the risk of something unexpected happening. Recorder player Matthias Maute has a different philosophy: "no risk, no fun." We'll hear Maute improvise with a set of Baroque pieces on Wednesday's Performance Today, from APM.
Mar 5
Joshua Bell
Violinist Joshua Bell has played with the some of the best orchestras in the world, giving him a chance to glean some insider advice from some the best conductors in the world. Bell is now putting that advice to good use, conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 4. We'll hear that piece, and Joshua Bell performs a short Sonatina by Schubert in the PT studios.
Mar 4
Ranaan Meyer
On a lonesome drive through the mountains of Wyoming, Ranaan Meyer found himself in a place with no cell phone service. He couldn't even find a station to listen to on his car radio. With no distractions, and only the mountains for company, this music began to take shape in his head. We'll hear that music: it's called Wyoming 307, named after the area code.
Mar 2
Van Cliburn
The great American pianist Van Cliburn has died. He was 78 years old. On Thursday's Performance Today, we'll remember this legendary musician. We'll hear newsreel footage from his 1958 win at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. We'll hear from his friends. We'll hear from musicians he inspired. And we'll hear archival recordings of the man himself.
Mar 1
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.