Upcoming and Noteworthy

What's ahead on The Classical Network? Catch some of these great programs coming your way.

Picture Perfect: July 19 - To the Moon and Beyond

Jul 18, 2019

To mark the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” it’s music from movies inspired by Apollo 11, the Space Race, speculative fiction, and conspiracy theory.  Take flight with music from “First Man” (Justin Hurwitz), “The Right Stuff ” (Bill Conti), “Capricorn One” (Jerry Goldsmith), and the original, rejected score for “2001:  A Space Odyssey” (Alex North).  Prepare for lift-off, this Friday at 6 pm.

Guillaume Dufay was the greatest composer of the 15th century, the leading figure of the Burgundian school, and stands as the watershed between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. On Friday's(7/19)  Distant Mirror hear a performance of his greatest mass, the Missa se la face ay pal performed by the Early Music Consort of London directed by David Munrow.  Join Allan Kelly at 10pm.

Benjamin Brittan’s treatment of Herman Melville’s final novel “Billy Budd” is this week’s Sunday Opera (7/21 3:00 p.m.) from London’s Royal Opera House.  This tale of obsession and remorse is played out against the perilous life on the 18th century warship Indomitable.  The good-natured Billy is the object of scorn of the master-at-arms Claggart who goes out of his way to make sure that Billy is destroyed much to the remorse of the captain, Edward Vere, who realizes that he could have saved Billy had he paid attention.  

There are several CD labels in Europe that deal with re-issues and “nostalgia,” and we’ll be sampling from the catalogue of one of them on this week’s Dress Circle (7-21 7:00 p.m.) as we look at releases on the Stage Door label.  We’ve got some unfamiliar works coming from their “Lost West End Vintage” series with songs by the likes of Noel Coward, Julian Slade, and Lionel Bart from shows such as “Ace of Clubs,” “Vanity Fair,” and “Lock Up Your Daughters.”  From their “Lost Broadway” series, we’ll go to 1961 for songs from “The Happiest Girl in the World,” “Milk and Honey,” and “Sail Away,” among others.   

Sir Arthur Sullivan was a gregarious bon vivant who moved in the highest of social circles, but also a composer of "serious" intention. His works included a full length opera and oratorios, and a song cycle to the poems of Tennyson, as well as the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers." His professional career included nearly two decades as conductor of the Leeds Triennial Music Festival and three years as conductor of the Philharmonic Society of London. But his operettas are why we remember him.

The Lost Chord: July 21 - Creating Space

Jul 18, 2019

For the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, cap a weekend of lunar celebrations with an hour of music inspired by the cosmos, including Joaquín Rodrigo’s “A la busca del más allá” (“In Search of the Beyond”) – dedicated to NASA – Enrique Granados’ “Cant de les estrelles” (“Song of the Stars”), and Kaja Saariaho’s “Orion.”  Look up in wonder, this Sunday at 10 pm.

On Sunday (7-21) evening at 11 on Half Past we'll hear Tom Flaherty's Quartet for Viola, Cello & Digital Processor, 3 Miniatures by Laszlo Kiraly and the Sinfonia for Strings by Anders Eliasson.  Music composed in the past half-century on Half Past.

Piano Outliers on Between the Keys, July 16

Jul 15, 2019

The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence Jed Distler has a fascination for the piano world’s outliers.

“The piano world is full of performers and composers who reside outside of the proverbial box,” says Distler, “who hold on to the courage of their convictions with impressive tenacity, oblivious to the status quo and the conventions of their times.”

Whether you call it “The Force of Destiny” or “The Power of Fate,” Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” from London’s Royal Opera House is this week’s Sunday Opera (7/14 3:00 p.m.).  After its premier in St. Petersburg in 1862, the opera was revised for a performance in Rome in 1863 under the title of “Don Alvaro.”  From there, it was further revised for performances in New York and Vienna in 1865, Buenos Aires in 1866, and London in 1867 with further extensive revisions to both the music and libretto for a La Scala performance in 1869, and that final revision has become the standard version.  

“Broadway rhythm it’s got me.  Everybody Dance!” on this week’s Dress Circle (7/14 7:00 p.m.) as we look at how rhythm has appeared in songs from some well-known and lesser-known shows and a few film scores (which just happen to be films about producing stage shows).  Our shows include “Strike Up the Band,” “Crazy for You,” and “Lady, Be Good!’ with songs by the Gershwins.  Some of the other better-known shows include “Sweet Charity,” “Carmen Jones,” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  

We’ll journey to 18th century St. Petersburg on this week’s Sunday Opera (7-7 3:00 p.m.) and a story of obsession in Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” from London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.  Hermann seems to be fascinated by gambling although he never gambles himself.  However, after hearing about an aging countess who holds the secret to a winning three-card combination, he finds he cannot help but confront the old woman for her secret which begins his spiral into an obsession which results in death and ruin.  Antonio Pappano conducts a cast that includes Aleksandrs Antonenko as Hermann, Felicity Palmer as the aging Countess, Eva-Maria Westbroek as her granddaughter Liza, who tragically falls in love with Hermann.   

George and Ira Gershwin are the featured composing team on this week’s Dress Circle (7-7 7:00 p.m.) on a program entitled “Gershwin Interpreted.”  Some of the theatre songs include “I Got Rhythm,” “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “The Man I Love,” “Mine,” and “Sweet and Low Down.”  Interpreting these works and more are favorites like Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Paul Whiteman, Jimmy Dorsey, Lena Horne, and Cliff Edwards.  We’ll also be including The Boston Pops in an orchestral arrangement of Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Larry Adler in a unique rendition of Rhapsody in Blue.   

This Sunday July 7 at evening at 8 on the Lyric Stage, two American one act comic operas, Douglas Moore's soap opera parody Gallantry and Gian Carlo Menotti's The Telephone, about a young woman so tied to her telephone her lover can't get her attention to propose marriage. The singers include Julia Parks, Richard Holmes and Jane Omerle. Stephen Rogers Radcliffe conducts the New York Chamber Ensemble in both performances.

Also, Renee Fleming will sing arias from The Ballad of Baby Doe and A Streetcar Named Desire.

The Lost Chord: July 7 - Vintage Gershwin

Jul 4, 2019

George Gershwin rose from Tin Pan Alley scrapper to Broadway royalty.  From there, he conquered the concert hall and even the opera house, with his blend of popular song, jazz, blues, spirituals and European classical forms.  Tune in for a selection of Gershwin songs, peformed by Al Jolson, Ella Logan, and Fred Astaire (pictured, with the composer and his brother, Ira); the world premiere recording of “An American in Paris,” with Gershwin himself on the celesta; and the Concerto in F, played on a memorial concert by Oscar Levant.  It’s music of Gershwin, by George, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Travel back to 14th century Genoa with this week’s Sunday Opera (6/30 3:00 p.m.) and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” from London’s Royal Opera House.  Simon, a former pirate, is now the Doge of Genoa who is working for peace between Genoa and Venice while dealing with unrest from his own people and the loss of his one true love.  Carlos Alvarez leads the cast as Simon, Ferrucio Furlanetto is Jacopo Fiesco, his rival and the father of his beloved, Hrchuhi Bassnez is Amelia, Boccanegra’s “lost” daughter, Francesco Meli is Gabriele, Amelia’s beloved, and Mark Rucker is the treacherous Paolo.  Henrik Nansi conducts.  

We’re celebrating the career of Doris Day on this week’s Dress Circle (6/30 7:00 p.m.) whom we lost on May 13th of this year at the age of 97.  Day never appeared on Broadway, so we’ll be focused on her beginnings as a big band singer with Les Brown and some of her in musicals and films like “Romance on the High Seas,” “My Dream Is Yours,” “It’s a Great Feeling,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Calamity Jane,” and several more.  Join us to remember a lovely voice and a charming performer who became a tireless advocate for animal rights.

Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried” comes to the Sunday Opera this week (6/23 3:00 p.m.) from London’s Covent Garden.  The third installment of the Ring cycle follows Siegfried in his quest to learn fear as he kills the dragon Fafner and finds Brunhilde with whom he immediately falls in love, and that love teaches him fear through his desperation.  Sefan Vinke heads the cast as Siegfried, Gerhard Siegel is Mime, John Lundgren is Wotan, and Johannes Martin Kranzle is Albreich.  Antonio Pappano conducts. 

Wagner’s warrior women are storming this week’s Sunday Opera (6/16 3:00 p.m.) with the production of “Die Walkure” from London’s Royal Opera House.  Several members of the company of “Das Rheingold” are returning here, with John Lundgren once again appearing as Wotan.  Lise Davidsen appears here as Ortlinde and Sarah Connolly is Fricka.  Joining them are Stuart Skelton as Siegmund, Emily Magee as Sieglinde, Ain Anger as Hunding, and Nina Stemme as Brunnhilde.  

Wednesday, 6-12 at noon on Curtis Calls we'll hear Toccata Capricciosa for cello by Miklos Rozsa, a Sonata for Guitar by Antonio José, Six Bagatelles for winds and Haydn's Piano Sonata in C, Hob. XVI:50.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

“Man’s best friend” is the subject for this week’s Dress Circle (6/9 7:00 p.m.) as we look at how the musicals portray people’s canine companions.  Funny or poignant, we’ll have songs from “Top Banana,” “Radio Gals,” “Lucky Stiff,” “Snoopy,” and “As Thousands Cheer.”  We’ll even hear from Noel Coward and his revue “Words and Music.”  The program may be going to the dogs this week, but the music will still be fabulous!

Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” begins on The Sunday Opera this week (6/9 3:00 p.m.) – Well, three out of four!  This week is “Das Rheingold” featuring a stellar cast including Johannes Martin Kranzle as Alberich, Lauren Fagan as Woglinde, Christina Bok as Wellgunde, and Andela Simkin as Flosshilde.  Wotan is John Lundgren, Fricka is Sara Connolly, and Freia is Lise Davidsen.  

The Lost Chord: June 9 - Erben Legends

Jun 6, 2019

Karel Jaromir Erben (1811-1870) served as a kind of Brothers Grimm to the Czech people.  Erben synthesized works based on traditional and folkloric themes into gruesome ballads full of witches, goblins, and ghosts.  Antonín Dvořák wrote a surprising number of works inspired by Erben’s gruesome tales.  Tune in for body parts galore in “The Golden Spinning Wheel” and the spine-tingling graveyard finale from “The Spectre’s Bride,” this Sunday at 10 pm.

Sunday evening (6-9) at 11 we'll hear Pavanne for 2 Violas by Charles Jones, John Corigliano's Piano Concerto and the Clarinet Quintet by Edison Denisov.  Music from the past half-century (or so) on Half Past.

Photo by Phil Mansfield

Cadenza launches a summer series of programs this month called "A Summer Celebration of Women" featuring conversations with a lineup of distinguished and important women composers, many of whom have blazed or are blazing new paths in music.

Wednesday, 6-5 at noon on Curtis Calls we'll present Johannes Brahms' FourBallades, op. 10 for piano and Ludwig Thuille's Sextet for Piano & Winds, op. 6.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

We begin our series of operas from the WFMT radio network with a season from London’s Royal Opera House on this week’s Sunday Opera (6/2 3:00 p.m.) with Giuseppe Verdi’s “Fallstaff.”  Bryn Terfel leads this stellar cast as Sir John, and joining him are Marie McLaughlin and Ana Maria Martinez as the formidable “wives” Meg Page and Alice Ford.  Helping them to thwart Falstaff is Marie-Nicole Lemiuex as Mistress Quickly.  The young lovers, Nanetta and Fenton, are Anna Prohaska and Frederic Antoun, and the jealous Ford is sung by Simon Keenlyside.  

The Princeton Festival returns to The Classical Network this Sunday (5/26 at 3 pm) with a production of Puccini's romantic masterpiece Madama Butterfly. Soprano Yulio Lysenko will sing Cio-Cio San and Lt. B.F. Pinkerton will be sung by tenor Matthew White. Other cast members including mezzo-soprano Janara Kellerman as Suzuki, tenor anthony Webb as Goro the marriage broker, baritone Paul La Rose as Consul Sharpless and bass Wei Wu will be the Bonze.

At noon on Wednesday, 5-22 we'll hear Henri Vieuxtemps' Viola Sonata, Loop by Gyorgy Ligeti and the Viola Sonata by Rebecca Clarke.  Performances from student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, Wednesdays at noon and Monday evenings at 10.

We’ll be enjoying another forgotten opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/12 3:00 p.m.) as we look at one of twenty pieces by Austrian composer Wilhelm Kienzl, “Der Evangelimann.”  Premiering in March of 1892, it has become his most famous opera although it never reached the financial success of his “Don Quixote.”  The story, which was adapted into a silent film in 1924, is by Kienzl and looks at the life of a school teacher named Johannes who is falsely accused of setting a fire in the local monastery by his jealous brother, who has fallen in love with and has been rebuked by Johannes’ love, Martha.  

There are many versions of the Faust legend, and we’ll sample one on this week’s Sunday Opera (5/5 3:00 p.m.) from Ferruccio Busoni for which he also wrote the libretto.  Unfinished at the time of his death, it was completed by Busoni’s pupil Philipp Jarnach and then again in 1982 by Anthony Beaumont from recently discovered sketches by Busoni.  This Faust is more about love than he is power or wealth, and after an off-stage seduction of Gretchen, he suggests to Mefistofeles that her soldier brother should be killed.  He also seduces and runs away with a duchess whom he abandons, but she eventually returns as a homeless beggar with their dead child, and with a final act of good, Faust brings the baby back to life as a young man as he descends into hell.