Classical Tune-Up

The Mission Tonight is to Relieve You of Tax Day Blues!


Greetings music lovers!

Tonight’s mission on Classical Tune-Up is to help relieve you of those tax day blues with some killer classical tracks. Nothing fancy here, just some varied selections from different epochs (just to keep you on your toes). 

And to set the mood, tonight’s show will start out with some solemn, sacred music by Palestrina — a truly sublime and compelling composer of the Rennaisance if ever there was one.


-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:03 Giovanni de Palestrina (c 1525-1594) Missa Papae Marcelli:I. KyrieII. Gloria

III. Credo

IV. Sanctus & Benedictus

V. Agnus Dei

The Tallis ScholarsPeter Phillips, dir. Allegri Miserere Gimell Records (2001/1980)
7:39 Arvo Pärt (b.1935) Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen: The Tallis ScholarsPeter Phillips, dir. Arvo Pärt:  Tintinnabuli – The Tallis Scholars Gimell Records (2015)
8:00 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Trio in B-Flat Major, op. 11:I. Allegro con brioII. Adagio con espressione

III. Tema con variazioni:  Allegretto

Jon Manasse, clarinetJon Nakamatsu, pianoClive Greensmith, cello Beethoven – Brahms – Weber Harmonia Mundi (2014)
8:20 Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) Grand duo concertant in E-Flat Major, Op. 48:I. Allegro con fuocoII. Andante con moto

III. Rondo: Allegro

8:42 Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) Sex digte af Henrik Ibsen, “Six Poems By Henrik Ibsen”, Op. 25: Katarina Karnéus, mezzo-sopranoJulius Drake, piano Grieg:  Songs Hyperion (2008)
9:01 Lou Harrison (1917-2003) String Quartet Set (1978-9):I. VariationsII. Plaint

III. Estampe

IV. Rondeaux

V. Usul

Kronos QuartetDavid Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Joan Jeaneraud, cello American Masters:  Lou Harrison Composers Recordings (1991/1981)


Let’s “Rach” out tonight with a little Rachmaninoff!


Greetings music lovers — young and old!

Tonight on Classical Tune-Up, we will celebrate a birthday or two, plus a vintage recording of one of the 20th Century’s greatest pianists and composers performing his own works on piano. April is the birth month of yet ANOTHER great Russian composer (yes, this has been the “accidental theme” of the past three weeks, trust me), Serge Rachmaninoff. So you will get a taste of this inconoclastic — some would say anachronistic — composer of the 20th Century.

So here’s a fun link to a live performance of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto as performed by Anna Fedorova. Check it out — pretty cool on every level:

Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up!

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:03 Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Mikrokosmos for Piano:  Books III – VI Béla Bartók, piano Bartók Plays Bartók Pavilion Records (1995)
7:56 Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) Verklaerte Nacht Ensemble InterContemporain


Pierre Boulez, dir.

Arnold Schoenberg:  Verklaerte Nacht – Suite Op. 29 CBS Records (1985)
8:23 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19 Steven Isserlis, cello

Stephen Hough, piano

Rachmaninov – Frank: Cello Sonatas Hyperion (2003)
9:00 Jonathan Russell (b. ?) Double Concerto for Cello, Clarinet, and Orchestra (2014) Nathan Chan, cello; Jonathan Russell, clarinet Peninsula Sympony (Premier) (Live Recording/Private Release by Peninsula Symphony) 2014
9:24 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos, RV 531.

[Movements I – II]

Raphael Wallfisch & Keith Harvey, cellos


City of London Sinfonia

Vivaldi – Celli Concerti, Vol. 2 Naxos (1995)


You Gotta Khatch this Khachaturian!


Greetings all you lovers of music out there in MusicLand!

For no particular reason — but because he is significant — you will “khatch” some music by the esteemed Russian/Georgian comoser, Aram Khachaturian in the first hour.  Mr. Kachaturian is famous for his piano concerto — so of course I will not play that. But you will get to hear one of his other powerful and famous works, the Violin Concerto in D Minor.  It has been a staple of the concerto repertoire for violin ever since. So hold on to your hats for this one!

Aram Kachaturian (1903-1978) –1950

Other than that, you know that this is Classical Tune-Up, which means you have no idea what to expect.  So please stay seated until this ride comes to a complete stop!

-Christopher Smith


So Many Composers (born in March), So Little Time…

Hello to all you music fans!

If you’ve listened to Classical Tune-Up this month, you’d know that it is chock-full of extremely well known composers who were born in March. I’ve been doing my best to cover a highly distinguished group of “musical fellows” — and tonight I will continue in this vector. So it really is a situation where there are so many (great) composers born this month, and so little time to play them all this month…

Modest Mussorgsky (1838-1881)

You’ll get what you get, and I hope you get turned on because that is the goal of Classical Tune-Up.

Also tonight, you will hear some more Chopin, and a taste of some different J.S. Bach (yes, he was born in March, too!).


-Christopher Smith

Craziness in March…

Hello to all of you who love music!

March is an interesting month in the annals of Western so-called “Classical” music. Why, you ask? Well, it just seems as if there are a TON of amazing composers born this month. Piazolla, Chopin, Bartók, Vivaldi — and never mind J. S. Bach — the list goes on and on… 

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) – Groupies in tow!

So it is a difficult thing to honor all these great purveyors of the fine arts in the liturgical and secular senses. Last week, I presented a “teaser” with a short Impromptu by Frédéric Chopin — who is arguably one of the truly iconoclastic composers of the 19th Century Romantic thrust. I will play one of his great works: The 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Inspired as he was by J. S. Bach (and a full-on advocate of his music before it was “fashionable” to be such…), these miniatures, which Chopin certainly is (and was) known for, are a truly fun an inspiring set. And you will hear them all in a very peculiar, vintage recording tonight.

After that we head to the bar to engage in some Bartók! (fogive me on that one…). And, who knows where the ride will end? I’m just having fun with you, tuning In and turning ON to Classical Tune-Up.

Enjoy tonight’s show!

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:02 Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) 24 Preludes, Op. 28 Aurthur Rubinstein, piano Chopin:  24 Preludes – Piano Sonata No. 2 – Barcarolle – Impromptu No. 3 BMG/RCA Red Seal (1999)
7:38 Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Piano Concerto No. 3 (Sz. 119) Daniel Baremboim, piano 

The New Philharmonia Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, cond.

Bartók:  Concertos for Piano Nos. 1 & 3 EMI Classics (1970/1993)
8:13 Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Trio in A minor Trio Solisti:Maria Bachmann, violin; Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello; Adam Neiman, piano Trio Solisti:  Ravel & Chausson Bridge Records (2014)
8:40 C. P. E. Bach (1714-1788) Sonata for Flute in G Major (H.508)I. Allegro

II. Andantino

III. Allegro

Leta Miller, baroque flute; Linda Burman-Hall, fortepiano; Robert Strizich, baroque guitar Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach: Flute Sonatas Intrada (1993)
9:06 Geo. Ph. Telemann (1681-1767) Quartet in E minor (TWV 43: e 3) Parnassi Musici (on period instruments):Margaret MacDuffie, violin; Matthias Fischer, violin, Stephan Schrader, cell; Sergio Azzolini, bassoon; Martin Lutz, organ Geo. Ph. Telemann: Trio Sonatas – Parnassi Musici CPO (2008)
9:14 Trio Sonata No. 5 in E minor TWV42:e1
9:24 Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) Songs from the Spanish Songbook (selections):I. Die ihr schwebet um diese Palmen

II. Komm, o Tod, von Nacht umgeben

Elly Ameling, soprano; 

Rudolf Jansen, piano

Elly Ameling, Rudolf Jansen:  Songs by Hugo Wolf Hyperion (2005)

Straight Ahead Classical Tune-Up Tonight!

Dear Friend and fellow music lover,

First, I would like to thank Francis Garcia for hosting last week’s episode of Classical Tune-Up. I listened to his show on the KUSP music player for Classical Tune-Up and must say I absolutely loved what he gave all of you out there in RadioLand and InternetStreamLand!

Tonight’s show will get back to straight ahead classical music. March is a magical month in so many ways, none the least of which is that many awesome composers were born this month — and I’ll give you a few notables tonight. Starting off, some pretty cool tracks from Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

So hold on to your hats, and please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop. 

-Christopher Smith

The Other Harp…


Greetings all you lovers of music!

Tonight’s Classical Tune-Up is a special program, please tune in and listen to a live performance and conversation with local harp virtuoso, Jennifer Cass,

Jennifer Cass

Jennifer Cass has degrees in music from the Eastman School of Music and in mathematics from UCSC.  Ms. Cass has performed frequently with UCSC and Cabrillo ensembles, Santa Cruz New Music Works, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, and has been a featured soloist with Ensemble Monterey.  She has been an occasional harpist for the San Jose, Santa Cruz County and Monterey County Symphonies, San Jose Chamber Orchestra and for the Cabrillo Music Festival. She appears on recordings celebrating the works of Germaine Tailleferre and Lou Harrison. Jennifer is currently chair of the mathematics program at Cabrillo College.

It is my distinct honor and pleasure to spend a part of the first hour of tonight’s show with Jennifer. Her commitment to the local community — in every aspect — is a model for all of us from which to take deep inspiration. So, enjoy tonight’s performances of works that you might not always think of when you think of harp. It truly is “The Other Harp”

-Christopher Smith

Man, it’s already February!

Hello to all of you lovers of music!

We have already moved into the second week of February — my how time flies! I would like to thank all of you who tuned in to Classical Tune-Up in the past weeks to hear my celebration of the music by Alexander Scriabin. 10 piano sonatas in 5 weeks is a lot — but you showed your true character by listening to all of them, no doubt…

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

I am going to get back to my typical pattern now and give you some music by composers born in February. There are some notables… So I am going to move backward in time, starting with Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who is pretty famous hailing from the sweet spot of the late-Classical and early-Romantic periods — wherever you want to draw that arbitrary line.

Then I will head into the Baroque period a give you a few interesting February babies… Yes, you’ll have to tune IN to Classical Tune-Up to find out who. And then, as usual, the wild ride begins… as always, please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop!

-Christopher Smith


It’s a New Month, Some Sad News, Some New Music, and Some Final Scriabin…



Hello to all of you music fans!

Classical Tune-Up begins a new month and with it, new music — something you always expect on Classical Tune-Up. But, before we really move forward into this new quest, I have promised to — and I will — finish presenting all 10 of Alexander Scriabin’s piano sonatas. Tonight I shall complete this quest, tossing the last 3 your way:  Nos. 8-10. All to be played by Scriabin’s own countrymen, Vladimir Horowitz and Vladimir Ashkenazy. 

But, I want to tell you of the passing of a titan of 20th Century virtuosos, Aldo Ciccolini, who died on Sunday (1 February) at 89 years old. Quite unfortunately, we do not have any recordings by Ciccolini here in the KUSP music library — truly a bummer; moreover a bummer that I do not have any of his sublime recordings in my own library that I could have given you tonight. I will leave that to tomorrow’s show, Music dela Serra, so let’s hope that Nicolas Mitchell pulls something out of his bag.

Below, check out this amazing recording he did live and outdoors in 2011 at the youthful age of 85!  Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up. -Christopher Smith


Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:04 Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) Sonata No. 8, Op. 66 Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano Scriabin: The Piano Sonatas Decca/London (1997/1989)
7:16 W. A. Mozart (1756-1791) String Quartet No. 19 in C Major (K.465)

I. Adagio – Allegro

II. Andante cantabile

III. Menuetto. Allegro – Trio

IV. Allegro molto

Cuarteto Casals:


Abel Tomàs, violin

Vera Martínez Mehner, violin

Jonathan Brown, viola

Arnau Tomàs Realp, cello

Mozart:  String Quartets Dedicated to Joseph Haydn Harmonia Mundi [Austria] (2014)
7:52 Franz Waxman (1906-1967) Sinfonietta for String Orchestra & Timpani (1955)

I. Allegro

II. Lento

III. Scherzo

Berlin Symphony Orchestra

Isaiah Jackson, conductor

Bernard Hermann – Franz Waxman – Miklós Rózsa Koch International Classics (1992)
8:11 Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) Sonata No. 9, Op. 68 Vladimir Horowitz, piano Scriabin: Sonatas, Études, Poèmes, Feuillet d’album, Vers la Flamme CBS Masterworks (Originally released 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968)
8:20 Sonata No. 10, Op. 70
8:33 Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) Cecilia, Vergine Romana Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tönu Kaljuste & Estonian National Symphony Pärt: In Principio ECM Records (2009)
8:52 Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22, No. 3 Patrick McFarland, English horn


Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Yoel Levi, conductor

Jean Sibelius:  Tone Poems and Incidental Music Telarc Digital (1993)
Finlandia, Op. 26, No. 7 Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; Yoel Levi, conductor
9:12 George Benjamin (b. 1960) Viola, Viola Misha Amory, viola I

Hsin-Yun Huang, viola II

Viola Viola Bridge Records (2012)
9:23 Enrique Granados (1867-1916) Tonadillas Escritas en Estilo Antiguo: Amor y Odio Lina Castellanza & Herbert du Plessis Granados, Falla & Montsalvatge: Canciones Españolas Pavane Records (1993)
Tonadillas Escritas en Estilo Antiguo: Las Currutacas Modestas
Tonadillas Escritas en Estilo Antiguo: Callejeo

January is “Celebrate Scriabin” Month! We Continue the Festivities…


Greetings to all music fans of the World! 

We continue our celebration of the music of Alexander Scriabin during the month of January (and probably into next week…) — as I have told you, I have proclaimed January as “Celebrate Scriabin” month.

Apart from presenting all 10 of Scriabin’s piano sonatas — which you will get numbers 7 and 8 tonight — you will hear one of his great symphonic works, Symphony No. 3, “The Divine Poem” in the second hour of tonight’s program. His orchestral writing is a very good complement and equal in importance to those works of Mahler and Strauss (and harkens back to Wagner as well).

In between Scriabin piano sonatas, you’ll get some guitar music from Brazil (I am a self-confessed lover of guitar music in general…) — and as always, some twists and turns as only you expect from Classical Tune-Up. Enjoy tonight’s show.

-Christopher Smith

Check this recording of Glenn Gould’s version of Scriabin’s 5th Sonata — quite different from what I presented last week with Vladimir Ashkenazy’s performance:



Hello to you music fans, one and all!

Well, January is my self-proclaimed Celebrate Scriabin Month and we are continuing the festivities! Tonight you will hear two awesome piano sonatas that are certainly of his “middle” period — and things are getting more twisted by the measure as he dives deep into his metaphysical approach to sonority, harmony, and programmes.

Sonata No. 5 — Alexander Scriabin

Sonata No. 5 is one of his most notable and iconic — starting as it does with an opening of restless trills that finish in a sweeping arc of notes up the keyboard that vanish into “thin air”… It is also his first sonata that is in one movement, as scored (though one could say that the 4th sonata paves the way with its “Attacca” jump without break into the second movement — it really feels connected and continuous). Moreover, it points a clear path to what was to follow in his later piano sonatas.

Things start getting weird in his 6th sonata, composed in 1911 (four years after no. 5). First, his tempo and “mood” indication is “Modéré: mysterieux, concentré.” So “mysterious” it’s supposed to be… Then it gets even weirder (I say this in the most honorable sense regarding Mr. Scriabin, by the way)… He interrupts our languid “dream” with punctuated horrific moments, which Scriabin himself marked in the score as ”l’épouvante surgit”  — or a “surge of terror.” Not many composers were creating a quasi-program like this in their music at that time, folks! 

And the strangest thing is that this piece itself scared the bajeezers out of Scriabin himself:  It is the only sonata he never performed in public. It is said that when he tried playing it in private company or with friends, he would stop after a few measures and could not go on. Scary stuff, indeed!

Apart from that, like I did last week, I will present some works of other contemporaries of Scriabin who are famous in their own right. I hope this will help frame one unique his oeuvre became in the last 10 or so years of his short life.

Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up — and thanks for listening!

-Christopher Smith


14 January Entry:

Well, January is my self-proclaimed Celebrate Scriabin Month. And why not? And why not? First, this great Russian composer — primarily of the 20th Century — was born in January (1872) and, moreover, he died in 1915, which also makes this the centenary of his way-too-premature departure from Earth. Where he went from there, we’ll never know, but his music might help point the way to it! :-)

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)

Mr. Scriabin’s work cuts a pretty clear path of evolution, from student-esque compositions to his advanced concepts found in works like Prometheus:  The Poem of Fire and The Poem of Ecstasy, and a major unfinished work for orchestra, MysteriumInfluenced as he was in the philosophy of Nietsche and the Theosophy movement, his music took a definite “mystical” angle based on his views of the artist/musician as someone who could evoke and represent something beyond the mere corporeal — evoking altogether new perceptions — and transport us to another kind of realm of experience. What a guy!

Tonight, I will continue to present his works, playing piano sonatas nos. 3 & 4, and some other works by various famous artists. I will continue this journey with you during the rest of this month!

And here’s a very cool video of none other than Glenn Gould performing several of Scriabin’s preludes for piano:

Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up

-Christopher Smith