Archive | December, 2016

chicago

Beginnings: Exploring the Music of “Chicago”

In celebration of the New Year, here is Beginnings from the 1969 debut album of the rock band, Chicago. You might associate Chicago with 1980s ballads like You’re The Inspiration, produced during Peter Cetera’s tenure as lead singer. (That song, written by Cetera and David Foster, offers a fascinating study in continuous modulations built on third relationships). But for most of its […]

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Alban Berg Quartett / Heinrich Schiff, Violoncello / 22.06.2008 / Koelner Philharmonie

Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major: The Alban Berg Quartet and Heinrich Schiff

On Monday we listened to a brief sample of recordings by the late cellist Heinrich Schiff. In today’s post, I want to include one more: a soulful 1983 recording of Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major in which Schiff joins the Alban Berg Quartet. The album is listed, deservedly, among EMI’s “Great Recordings of the Century.” […]

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Heinrich Schiff

Remembering Heinrich Schiff

The world-renowned Austrian cellist and conductor Heinrich Schiff passed away on Friday. He was 65. Schiff leaves behind an extensive recorded legacy, including cello concertos of Vivaldi and Haydn, the Brahms Double Concerto with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, and the Shostakovich Cello Concertos, conducted by Maxim Shostakovich (the composer’s son). In 1971, he gave one of the earliest performances of the haunting Cello Concerto by […]

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The Bells of Notre Dame

“Hello everyone…” That’s how the German-American musicologist Karl Haas used to begin his Peabody Award-winning radio show, Adventures in Good Music just after the fade-out of the show’s theme music (the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, played by Haas, himself). Adventures in Good Music aired on radio stations across the United States from 1970 to 2007. Growing up, one […]

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VOCES8

“Winter”: VOCES8’s Newest Album

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the first day of winter. It’s a great time to grab a cup of hot chocolate and listen to the newest album of the UK-based a cappella group VOCES8, simply titled, Winter. The album, which came out in October, is a collection of glistening, snow-covered choral […]

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Karel Husa

Remembering Composer Karel Husa

Karel Husa, the influential Czech-born composer and conductor, passed away last Wednesday. He was 95. Husa emigrated to the United States in 1954, became an American citizen a few years later, and served on the faculty of Cornell University for 38 years. His composition students included such illustrious names as Steven Stucky and Christopher Rouse. Music […]

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Beethoven's birthplace in Bonn

Celebrating Beethoven’s 246th Birthday

Beethoven was born on this day in 1770. His birthplace in Bonn, the Beethovenhaus, is pictured above. In celebration, here is a fiery performance of the Egmont Overture, Op 84, written to open a set of incidental music for the Vienna premiere of a play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1754-1832). Beethoven received the commission in 1809, around the height […]

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lincoln-cathedral-nave-from-the-west-front

William Byrd: O Magnum Mysterium

On Monday we listened to Italian baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” a piece probably performed on Christmas Eve, 1690. Now, let’s go back even earlier to the English Renaissance music of William Byrd (1543-1623). Byrd’s motet O Magnum Mysterium, written in 1607, evokes the mystery and wonderment of the nativity story. It’s music which seems poised somewhere […]

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Nicholas McGegan

Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto”: Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Here is music which evokes the hushed reverence and mystery of Christmas Eve: the Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). Corelli wrote twelve “concerti grossi,” a popular baroque genre which features a dramatic back-and-forth dialogue between the full ensemble and small groups of instruments. This piece is commonly called the “Christmas […]

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Remembering Soprano Elisabeth Carron

American soprano Elisabeth Carron passed away last Thursday at the age of 94. Born in Newark, New Jersey to Sicilian immigrant parents, Carron performed regularly at New York City Opera in its heyday. She was widely respected for her roles in Puccini operas which included Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Mimì in La Bohème, and Liu in Turandot. Additionally, she performed prominent roles […]

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