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Apr 30
Martha Argerich
On Tuesday's PT we'll feature two venerable pianists in concert playing a pair of masterpieces. We'll hear Martha Argerich in concert in Switzerland, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2. And Maurizio Pollini in concert in Vienna, playing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12, with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Apr 29
For the last 18 years of his life, Russian composer Alexander Borodin struggled to write an opera called "Prince Igor." He had a good excuse for his slow progress: he had a day job as a chemist. He only had time to compose on the weekends. Borodin's friends were so frustrated that he couldn't finish his opera, they even offered to help. In the end, Borodin died without finishing Prince Igor. His friends believed in the opera so much, they filled in the missing pieces. On Monday's Performance Today we'll hear one of the sections that Borodin did finish from a concert by the Nashville Symphony.
Apr 27
Felix Mendelssohn
The Calidore String Quartet is our Young Artist in Residence, performing in the PT studios each day this week. On today's show, they'll finish what they began yesterday: the emotionally charged String Quartet No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn. Violinist Ryan Meehan says playing this music is thrilling and exhausting. "That's the power of music," he said. Tune in for the conclusion of Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 2 on Wednesday's Performance Today.
Apr 26
Carl Maria von Weber
Musicians are often compared to athletes, but we usually don't have the numbers to do the analysis. On Friday's Performance Today, we'll quantify some speed: 72 notes played on a clarinet in seven seconds. That averages more than 10 notes per second. And in case you thought this is all sprint and no endurance, that pace continues for an entire page of music. Tune in for Carl Maria von Weber's lightning fast Clarinet Quintet with clarinetist David Shifrin giving Usain Bolt a run for his money.
Apr 25
Cesar_Franck
French composer Cesar Franck didn't get much respect for his one and only symphony. One of his critics said it was "an admission of powerlessness." Another said it was "the negation of music." One Paris critic called it "painful, arid and gray music, devoid of grace, charm, and smile." Well, the work of those critics lives on only because the symphony they slandered lives on. It's music written in 1888 by the 66-year-old Cesar Franck. The only Symphony he ever wrote. We'll hear from a concert in Nashville. Gilbert Varga conducting the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Apr 24
Felix Mendelssohn
The Calidore String Quartet is our Young Artist in Residence, performing in the PT studios each day this week. On today's show, they'll finish what they began yesterday: the emotionally charged String Quartet No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn. Violinist Ryan Meehan says playing this music is thrilling and exhausting. "That's the power of music," he said. Tune in for the conclusion of Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 2 on Wednesday's Performance Today.
Apr 23
The Calidore Quartet
It's tough sometimes, just getting along and communicating as a string quartet. On Tuesday's show we'll hear from the Calidore String Quartet, our young artists in residence. They study at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Violinist Ryan Meehan says string quartets succeed when they're rooted in trust and respect. When they don't work as well, he says, string quartets look a lot like a television reality show. Musicians stop being polite and start to get real on Performance Today.
Apr 22
Violin and Case
Today, Alina Pogostkina is a professional violinist. Twenty years ago, she was a homeless eight year-old street musician. Her family was destitute when they moved from the collapsed Soviet Union to Heidelberg, Germany in 1992. For a while they survived by playing music on the streets -- father, mother, and eight year-old daughter, all playing their violins. On Monday's Performance Today, the remarkable story of violinist Alina Pogostkina.
Apr 20
Sheet music
The music lay untouched and unheard for over a half century, covered with the dust of World War Two and the Holocaust. Composer Hans Gal was a well-known figure in Vienna's classical music world until the 1930s when he fled the Nazis and landed in Edinburgh, Scotland and relative obscurity. More than a half century later, conductor Kenneth Woods and England's Orchestra of the Swan took out Gal's last symphony, dusted off the cobwebs, and shone some sunlight on the music. On Wednesday's Performance Today we'll hear the modern premiere of Gal's final symphony from a concert in Statford-upon-Avon, England.
Apr 19
Tchaikovsky
It's almost like musical alchemy: theme and variations. Composers have been doing it for centuries, taking a musical idea and transforming it, creating something new. Friday's Performance Today features a great 21st century example of theme and variations by jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch. The theme's inspiration? Peter Tchaikovsky.
Apr 18
Samuel Barber
Alone, at night. Lost in the inky darkness of the sky. Flying over an unknown landscape, filled with unseen enemies. Samuel Barber was in the Army Air Force during World War Two. He was not a pilot, but he rode along on many night flights. On Thursday's Performance Today, we'll hear a piece of music Barber wrote inspired by those journeys called Night Flight.
Apr 17
Sheet music
The music lay untouched and unheard for over a half century, covered with the dust of World War Two and the Holocaust. Composer Hans Gal was a well-known figure in Vienna's classical music world until the 1930s when he fled the Nazis and landed in Edinburgh, Scotland and relative obscurity. More than a half century later, conductor Kenneth Woods and England's Orchestra of the Swan took out Gal's last symphony, dusted off the cobwebs, and shone some sunlight on the music. On Wednesday's Performance Today we'll hear the modern premiere of Gal's final symphony from a concert in Statford-upon-Avon, England.
Apr 16
Maurice Ravel
Pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm during World War I, but he was determined to continue his career in music. Wittgenstein developed new playing techniques, arranged pieces for left hand alone and eventually began to give public concerts. Then he asked composer Maurice Ravel to write a piano concerto for left hand only. On Tuesday's Performance Today we'll go to a concert in Germany to hear it played by pianist Kirill Gerstein and the North German Radio Symphony.
Apr 15
Renee Fleming
French composer Maurice Ravel had never been to Asia, but he had ideas of what exotic sights and sounds and aromas he would find there. These ideas came from books and newspaper reports. What inspired him musically, though, was a poem about a beautiful Arab queen, Sheherazade, written by a friend of his. On Monday's Performance Today, we'll go to a concert in Provence, France to hear the poem take flight in music. Valery Gergiev conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and as the voice of the resourceful storyteller Sheherzade: American soprano Renee Fleming.
Apr 13
Violin and Music
This weekend on Performance Today, we'll go to a concert in Paris to hear Julian Rachlin play the violin. But he also plays the viola. And now he's becoming a conductor as well. When he's asked what he really does--play the violin or the viola or conduct--Rachlin says it's not about means. It's about the motivation: stretching throughout your entire life to become a better musician, no matter what instrument is in your hand. Rachlin plays Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto on this weekend's Performance Today.
Apr 12
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Sure, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra can play without a conductor...they've been doing it for decades, and they're professionals. But a student orchestra? Recently, the conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has been coaching the young players at the Juilliard School in the art of playing orchestral music without a conductor. On Friday's Performance Today we'll hear how it went when the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra took the plunge and played the Ancient Airs and Dances by Ottorino Respighi... with no one on the podium!
Apr 11
Astor Piazzolla
On Thursday's Performance Today we'll take a trip to Argentina for spring break... or, south of the equator, would it be fall break? Either way, a full hour of warm, energetic and sunny music by Argentine composers is on the way. We'll hear a tango by Astor Piazzolla, dances from the Argentine Suite by Alberto Williams, and a cowboy gaucho romp by Alberto Ginastera.
Apr 10
Felix Mendelssohn
On Wednesday's Performance Today, we'll go to a concert in Paris to hear Julian Rachlin play the violin. But he also plays the viola. And now he's becoming a conductor as well. When he's asked what he really does--play the violin or the viola or conduct--Rachlin says it's not about means. It's about the motivation: stretching throughout your entire life to become a better musician, no matter what instrument is in your hand. Rachlin plays Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto on Wednesday's Performance Today.
Apr 9
Jason Vieaux
Some musicians come from a long line of musical family members with music-making feeling like a natural part of life. Guitarist Jason Vieaux grew up in blue-collar Buffalo, New York. His Dad was an expert in appliance repair, but he has supported Vieaux every step of the way on his music career. On Tuesday's Performance Today, we'll hear Vieaux play Bach and a classical version of a jazz tune by Pat Metheny.
Apr 8
Anderson & Roe
On Monday's Performance Today we'll explore the art of duo performance. Distinct from a performance by a soloist and accompanist, we'll hear performances by two players who have equal importance in the music, sharing the spotlight, working together to create a musical dialogue. From a Estonian brother-sister duo to a Double Concerto by Bach to a four-hand piano duo, Performance Today goes two by two.
Apr 6
Bedrich Smetana
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 contestant is Michelle Willis from Herriman, Utah.
Apr 5
Planets Moon Sun Outerspace
Composer Gustav Holst loved astrology. He called it his "pet vice" and read a book called "What is a Horoscope and How Is It Cast?" So when he was writing his orchestral suite, "The Planets," he wasn't writing about astronomical bodies in orbit around the sun. He was thinking of the astrological character of the planets like Jupiter, "The Bringer of Jollity." It's amazing what a difference a few letters can make. On today's Performance Today, we'll hear Holst's musical and astrological exploration of space.
Apr 4
Xiang Yu
On the day of his big audition, the young violinist Xiang Yu found that someone had taken luggage in the airplane and along with it, his dress clothes for the audition. So he wore sneakers and pajama pants. "It was an adventure," he said, "but luckily I got in." Yu is now a student at NEC, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and he is now Performance Today's Young Artist in Residence. Yu joins Fred Child in the studio to talk about what he's learned at NEC and to play a beautiful musical poem by Chausson.
Apr 3
Piano Keys
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 contestant is Michelle Willis from Herriman, Utah.
Apr 2
Composer Robert Schumann has his share of critics.
The vast majority of what we hear on classical radio is music written by people who devoted their professional lives to music. The exceptions tend to be colorful characters -- people who made their living doing other things, but who love music. Amateurs in the true sense of the word. On today's show music by amateur composers. We'll hear a sweet lullaby for cello written by an expert on military fortifications, a string quartet composed by an insurance executive, exciting orchestral music by a low-level clerk in the French bureaucracy, and a symphony by a chemist.
Apr 1
Violin and Music
On Monday's Performance Today we'll meet Xiang Yu, our newest Artist in Residence. This violinist grew up in Inner Mongolia, moved to Shanghai at age 11, then to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory in his late teens. Xiang Yu told Fred Child that even though he pressured himself to study music intensely at a young age, his parents were not Asian tiger parents. "More like cow mom and sheep dad," he said. His parents just wanted him to be happy. Xiang Yu will perform music by Bach in the PT studios.