Classical Tune-Up

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

Absolutely the Best of Beethoven Tonight!


Happy New Year all you music fans young and old!

2015 has rolled into our lives — or we’ve rolled into 2015 — however you want to think of it… I hope that you have a very happy and healthy year filled with the things and moments most dear to you. I appreciate your interest in Classical Tune-Up, so this year, I intend to up the ante (so to speak) and bring you ever-more interesting of “off the path” music than ever before. Of course, you will get a healthy dose of the things that are most familiar to you (and me) to be sure — but Life is too short not to push our own tastes beyond what we thought they were.  So please stay seated until this ride comes to a complete stop!

Tonight, you will hear the program that I wanted to air last week — but was preempted by the NPR special New Years program. We want to start of the year right:  With promise, with hope, with the power of positive expectations and optimism. What better way to do this than with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Ode to Joy?” Hard for me to thing of anything that could top that. In fact, this gigantic work is typically aired in Germany on New Years Eve (called “Sylvester” there). The power of the Shiller text with Beethoven at the apex of his compositional thought and process (even though, lest we forget, he was effectively 100% deaf at this time in his life).

Beethoven’s 9th Symphony — Manuscript

I will play this work in its entirety in the 8 O’clock hour. And it is a famous recording by one of the greatest orchestras and conductors to perform Beethoven’s works, and indeed, this one:  The Berlin Philharmonic and (the late) Herbert von Karajan from a recording dating from the early 1980′s on the Deutsche Grammaphon label.

Before that, and in the first hour, you will get a few sonatas for piano by Alexander Scriabin, who was born this month (1oth of January) in 1872. In fact, I will try and present all 10 of his sonatas for piano this month, as they show a massive evolution in style and harmonic usage as Scriabin himself moved from an accomplished student to a mystic at the end of his life. As usual, I’ll probably toss in a few other January “babies” just to round things out and for fun — cuz I LIKE this stuff. 

Enjoy tonight’s edition of Classical Tune-Up!

-Christopher Smith

PS: Here is a pretty nice article of Garrick Ohlsson, the American pianist, playing a recital of Scriabin’s works. Click here.

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:


Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:03 Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 6

I. Allegro con fuoco

II. Andante

III. Presto

IV. Funebre

Ruth Laredo, piano Alexander Scriabin:  The Complete Piano Sonatas Nonesuch Records (1970/1984/1996)
7:24 Etude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 2, No. 1
7:27 Sonata No. 2 (Sonata-Fantasy) in G-Sharp Minor, Op. 19:

I. Andante

II. Presto

7:43 Morton Feldman (1926-1987) Three Pieces For String Quartet: Joseph Rabushka, Seymour Barab, Matthew Raimondi & Walter Trampler John Cage: Music For Keyboards 1935-1948/ Morton Feldman: The Early Years 2007 Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc.
8:02 Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, “Choral”:

I. Allegro ma non troppo, Un poco maestoso

II. Molto vivace

III. Adagio molto e cantabilie

IVa. Presto

IVb. “O Freunde nicht diese Töne”

Berlin Philharmonic


Herbert Von Karajan, conductor

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Deutsche Grammophon (1984)
9:12 François Couperin (1668-1733) Le Parnasse ou L’Apotheose de Corelli, Grande Sonade, en Trio [selections] Ricercar Consort


Phillipe Pierlot, dir.

François Couperin:  Apothéoses Mirare (2011)

My New Year’s Eve Special is Preempted…


Dear music Fan,

Due to programming decisions by the management of KUSP, my special New Years Eve broadcast of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy,”  which I had announced and promoted over the past 6 weeks, has been preempted. Please tune in to the special program that will take my normal Wednesday time slot as it promises to be an excellent setup for your New Years Eve celebrations.

I will present my special Beethoven’s 9th program on my January 7th show. Please be sure to Tune In!


-Christopher Smith

Christmas is Over… Heading into the New Year


Greetings all music fans, young and old!

Thank you for tuning in to my special Christmas Eve edition of Classical Tune-Up. I really had fun presenting all the different music that I pulled from our extensive library. If you haven’t listened to it, please make sure you click the “Play Recent Show” and get your fill of Holiday Cheer!


-Christopher Smith

It is a MAJOR Birthday Today!


Dearest music fans out in MusicLand,

Thanks for jumping onboard the Classical Tune-Up blog — now do one better and tune IN tonight, or over the next week on the fabulous streaming technology we offer here at KUSP. 

December is filled with some very notable composers birthdays — and none can be bigger than Mr. Ludwig van Beethoven, who happened to be born on this very day — 17 December 1770 — though there is some dispute as to the exact date. So over the next three weeks, I will present various and sundry works of his, all of which culminates with the monumental 9th Symphony that I will present on my New Year’s Eve show in two weeks. 

However, before all of that, we have others of note, each of whom I will represent on tonight’s episode — and two happen to be American:

  • Edward MacDowell (American)
  • Oliver Messiaen (French)
  • Elliott Carter (American)

Here are some photos of these guys in the above order:

Messiaen and Carter are decidedly 20th Century composers, while MacDowell was firmly planted in the 19th Century.

Enjoy their music tonight. And thanks for tuning IN to Classical Tune-Up!

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:04 Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Four songs for double choir, Op. 141

1. An die Sterne

2. Ungewisses LIcht

3. Zuversicht

4. Tallismane

Cambridge Singers


John Rutter, dir.

Cambridge Singers – A Cappella Collegium Records (1993/2011))
7:18 Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) Chansons françaises (FP 130)
7:40 Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) Hamlet & Ophelia, Op. 22 Ulster Orchestra


Takuo Yuasa, conductor

Edward MacDowell: American Classics: Suites 1 & 2/Hamlet & Ophelia Naxos (2000)
7:58 Oliver Messiaen (1908-1992) Quartet for the End of Time Amici Ensemble:


Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet; David Hetherington, cello; Patricia Parr, piano; Scott St. John, violin

Oliver Messiaen:  Quartet for the End of Time – Theme and Variations Naxos (2001)
8:49 Elliott Carter (1908-2012) A Symphony of Three Orchestras New York Philharmonic


Pierre Boulez, conductor

Pierre Boulez:  Carter & Varèse Sony Classics (1995)
9:10 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Six Bagatelles, Op. 126 John O’Conor, piano Beethoven Bagatelles Telarc Digital (1996)


Stormy Music for Stormy Weather!


Greetings to all you music fans out in MusicLand! 

Tonight, Classical Tune-Up will present some positively stormy music to support the weather that’s coming our way to the Central Coast tonight. I am starting tonight’s show with music that hints at stormy weather — I will play “The Tempest” suite No. 2, Op. 109, No. 3, by Jean Sibelius. From there, we’ll go back in time a bit, before returning and completing the turn around the turn of the 20th Century with some sacred music as written by Anton Bruckner.

Enjoy tonight’s episode of Classical Tune-Up!

-Christopher Smith


Another Concerto with a Different Instrument


Howdy to all you who love music!

Tonight’s Classical Tune-Up will start out with a request by a listener and KUSP personality, Dylan Music. Mr. Music wanted to hear the very famous violin concerto by Johannes Brahms and who am I to deny him that?! :-)


So a good chunk of our first hour begins the show with another concerto — a semi-non-theme from last week, perhaps (since I started with a piano concerto).

From there, all I can say is for you to please stay seated until this ride comes to a complete stop!

Thanks for listening.

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:03 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77

I. Allegro non troppo

II. Adagio

III. Allegro giacoso, ma non troppo vivace – Poco piú presto

Isabelle Faust, violin


Mahler Chamber Orchestra; Daniel Harding, cond.

Brahms:  Violin Concerto – String Sextet No. 2 Harmonia Mundi (2011)
7:45 Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) Concerto in G minor (RV 104) “La Notte” Camerata Cologne Florilegium Musicale Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (1991)
Alessandro Marcello (1684-1750) Concerto in D minor
8:10 Michel-Richard Delalande (1657-1726) Cantique Quatrième “sur le Bonheur des justes et sur le Malheur des resprouvez” Veronique Gens, Sandrine Piau, Noemi Rime, Arlette Steyer – Sopranos Delalande:  Petit Motets Harmonia Mundi (1992)
8:23 Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) Introduction & Allegro for Flute, Clarinet, Harp & String Quartet Melos Ensemble Bartok – Farancaix – Khachaturian – Milhaud – Poulenc – Prokofiev – Ravel – Skalkottas: Chamber Music EMI Classics (1998)
8:35 Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) The Devil’s Sonata Andrew Manze, violin Tartini: The Devil’s Sonata and Other Works Harmonia Mundi (1997)
8:54 Elliott Carter (1908-2012) Figment IV Hsin-Yun Huang, viola Viola Viola Bridge Records(2012)
9:04 Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) 12 Fantasies for solo Violin (selections):

Nos 1-5

Andrew Manze, violin Telemann: 12 Fantasias for Violin Solo – Gulliver Suite for Two Violins Harmonia Mundi (1995)