Classical Tune-Up

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

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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

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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!

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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…

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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!

Regards,

-Christopher Smith

Christmas is Over… Heading into the New Year

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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!

Cheers!

-Christopher Smith

It is a MAJOR Birthday Today!

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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!

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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

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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)

 

Alotta Chamber Stuff tonight!

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Greetings all you music fans — welcome to the Classical Tune-Up blog. 

Tonight’s show will have a strong component of chamber music from across the centuries, as well as my requisite birthday celebrations (check out the first piece, a piano concerto by Carl Maria von Weber — AWESOME and CHARMING!)

I hope you have a safe and fun Thanksgiving Holiday. Thank s for your support in KUSP and in classical music. 

Cheers!

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:04 Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) Piano Concerto No. 2 in E Flat Major, op. 32 Gerhard Oppitz, piano

 

Symphony Orchestra of Bavaria (des Bayerischen Rundfunks); Sir Colin Davis, cond.

Weber:  Complete Works for Piano & Orchestra BMG Classics [RCA Red Seal] (1997)
7:27 Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) String Quartet No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 131 LaSalle Quartet Ludwig van Beethoven:  The Late String Quartets Deutsche Grammophon (1997)
8:09 Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Octet New York New Music Ensemble & Gunther Schuller (conductor) Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire / Stravinsky: Octet GM Recordings (1992)
8:27 Gioachino Rossini (1792-1826 Quartet No. 4 in B Flat Major (arr. Friedrich Berr) Ensemble Wien-Berlin: Wolfgang Schulz, flute; Karl Leister, clarinet; Guenter Hoegner, horn; Milan Turkovic, bassoon Rossini: Six Quartets for Flute, CLarinet, Horn, and Bassoon Sony Classical (1992)
8:43 Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) Concerto for Trumpet and Bassoon with strings Reinhold Friedrich, Carsten Wilkening, Werner Andreas Albert & Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt Hindemith: Complete Wind Concertos CPO (2013)
9:01 Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1963) Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Op. 26:

I. Andante – Allegro

II. Tema con variazione

III. Allegro ma non troppo

Evgeny Kissin, piano

 

Philharmonia Orchestra; Vladimir Askenazy, cond.

Evgeny Kissin:  Prokofiev Piano Concertos 2 & 3 EMI Classics (2009)

Rock-n-Roll Classical!

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Greetings all music-loving Earthlings! 

Welcome to the Classical Tune-Up Blog. I will have to admit that I’m not quite sure what I mean by “Rock-n-Roll Classical,” but tonight, I aim to find out why that vertical — verbal — drift entered my brain. Just remember that in this sense, “Classical” might be any music that you won’t typically find on the Billboard charts. And tonight, I will crease and fold across the centuries with some pretty cool stuff — if I do say so myself. 

One goal I have tonight is to challenge you a bit with some extremes. But, we will start out gently enough to allow you to get your musical and cultural bearings before I smash them to smithereens! :)

I would also like to thank all of my listeners for indulging me over the past four weeks as I played some of my favorite musical movements and standalone works. I got some great feedback, so I feel like I hit a nice spot that resonated with you out there in RadioLand (or WebLand)…

Onward and upward. 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, November 19, 2014

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:02 Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) Selections from “El amor brujo”1. Introduccion2. Cancion del Amor dolido

3. Escena

4. Cancion del fuego fatuo

5. El Ccirculo magico

6. A medianoche

7. Danza ritual del fuego

Santa Fe Guitar Quartet Argentina’s Santa Fe Guitar Quartet Klavier Records (1993)
7:17 Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Petite Suite:I. En bateauII. Cortege

III. Menuet

IV. Ballet

7:33 Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) Raga Piloo Ravi Shankar, sitarYehudi Menuhin, violin  The Ravi Shankar Collection: West Meets East: The Historic Shankar/Menuhin Sessions EMI (1999 remaster)
7:47 Raga Dhun Ravi Shankar, sitar
8:00 Perotin the Great (ca. early 12th Century) Sederunt principes The Hilliard Ensemble Perotin ECM Records (1989)
8:11 Luigi Nono (1924-1990) “Hay que caminar” soñando (1989) Gidon Kremer & Tatiana Grindenko, violins Nono: La Lontananza / Hay Que Caminar Deutsche Grammophon (1992)
8:30 Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) Nocturnes, Nos. 1-3, Op. 33Nocturne No. 4, Op. 36 Jean Martin, piano Faure: Nocturnes Vol. 1 Naxos (1994)
9:05 Frédéric Chopin (1820-1849) Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 Dinu Lipatti, piano

(recorded in 1947)

Dinu Lipatti: Chopin – Brahms – Ravel – Liszt – Enesco EMI (1989)

A final week of my “favorite” musical movements… and a few birthday celebrations…

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Greetings to all of you who love music (which I take is most of you) out there in MusicLand!

Tonight in the second hour, I will complete my fourth and final installment of my favorite musical movements. I will say, up front, that these “faves” of mine are both German composers from the 19th Century — I trust you can get down for that.

Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

 

Apart from that, I will celebrate the birthdays (November) of a couple of notables, which is something I simply can’t resist! (Simply look at the picture to your left and that will give you an idea…)

So hang with me on all this, so-called “classical music” stuff; but it will be both fun and also different, which is why I always say that on Classical Tune-Up, please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.

Enjoy!

 

-Christopher Smith

Tonight’s detailed playlist is here:

 

Classical Tune-Up

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30pm

Playlist for Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hosted by Christopher Smith

Time Composer Selection Performers Record Title Label
7:02 Scott Joplin (1868-1917) Piano Rags (selections):1. Fig Leaf Rag (1908)

2. Scott Joplin’s New Rag (1912)

3. Euphonic Sounds – A Syncopated Novelty (1909)

4. Elite Syncopations (1902)

5. Bethena – A Concert Waltz (1905)

Joshua Rifkin, piano Scott Joplin – Piano Rags Electra/Asylium/Nonesuch Records (1987/1974)
7:30 John Williams (b. 1932) Concerto for Cello & Orchestra (1994)I. Theme and Cadenza

II. Blues

III. Scherzo

IV. Song

Yo-Yo Ma, cello 

Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles; John Williams, cond.

Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Music of John Williams Sony Classical (2002)
8:05 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Rhapsody No. 1 in B minor, Op. 79 Emanuel Ax, piano Brahms: Handel Variations, Six Piano Pieces, Op. 118 & Rhapsodies, Op. 79 Sony Classics/BMG (1992)
8:17 Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, 2nd movement (Molto Vivace) Berlin Philharmonic & Herbert von Karajan Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 Deutsche Grammophon (1984)
8:34 François Couperin (1668-1733) Les gouts-reunis:  Concerto in G Major:I. Vivement

II. Air

III. Sarabande

IV. Chaconne

Musical Assembly Couperin: Chamber Music – L’espagnole – La piemontoise – Concerto No. 13 Music and Arts Programs of America (1994/2011)
Motet pour le jour de Pâques Judith Nelson & Emma Kirkby, sopranos 

Christopher Hogwood, chamber organ

François Couperin:  Trois Leçons de Ténèbres – Motet pour le jour de Pâques L’Oiseau-Lyre Records [Decca Records] (1978)
8:52 Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) “Perché t’en fuggi, o Fillide?” & “Dolcissimo uscignolo” Concerto Italiano; Rinaldo Alessandrini, dir. Ottavo Libro De’Madrigali Opus 111 (1997)
9:05 Paul Moravec (b. 1957) Piano QuintetI. –

II. –

III. –

The Lark Quartet & Jeremy Denk Composing America: The Lark Quartet Bridge Records (2014)