Clara Andrada de la Calle Plays Ibert

The twentieth century French composer, Jacques Ibert (1890-1962), did not adhere to a single stylistic “school.” Instead, famously he declared that “all systems are valid so long as one derives music from them.” Ibert’s Flute Concerto, written in 1932 for Marcel Moyse, is filled with sparkling, effervescent humor and a jazzy, midcentury Parisian elegance. Set in three movements (fast-slow-fast), it is a work of cheerful, frolicking Neoclassicism. The first movement (Allegro) begins with …

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Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 63: Passionate Romantic Currents

From the opening bars of Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 1, we are swept into a drama filled with soaring passion and turbulence. An expansive and restless melody emerges in the violin’s darkest register. It rises and falls, propelled by swift, ever-changing arpeggiating currents in the piano. Downbeats and phrase endings vanish amid swirling canonic counterpoint between the violin and the piano’s bass register. After reaching heroic and euphoric heights, the music …

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Vaughan Williams’ “Sinfonia Antartica”: From Film Score to Symphony

In a 1944 essay titled Film Music, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote, “I still believe that the film contains potentialities for the combination of all the arts such as Wagner never dreamt of.” Beginning in 1940, Vaughan Williams composed scores for eleven films. Among these was the 1948 Technicolor adventure film, Scott of the Antarctic, which told the story of the ill-fated 1912 British expedition to Antarctica, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The venture went south …

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Stravinsky’s Septet: A Turn to Serialism

The Septet, completed in 1953, marks a stylistic turning point in the musical catalogue of Igor Stravinsky. The first movement is a sparkling and witty celebration of neoclassicism. Its dense, pristine counterpoint seems like a twentieth century retrofit of music from the Baroque and Classical periods. In the second and third movements, the tonal center fades and the music enters the twelve tone world of serialism. For the first time, Stravinsky abandons …

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Bach’s Triple Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1044: The Art of Recycling

J.S. Bach constructed the Concerto for Flute, Violin, and Harpsichord, BWV 1044 out of used parts. The outer movements were adapted from the Prelude and Fugue in A minor for solo harpsichord, BWV 894. The second movement was based on the Adagio e dolce from the Trio Sonata for Organ in D minor, BWV 527. It is likely that these two works developed from early pieces by Bach that have been lost. All of …

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Remembering Dale Clevenger

Dale Clevenger, the legendary principal horn player for the Chicago Symphony from 1966 to 2013, passed away on January 5. He was 81. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Clevenger began playing the horn at the age of 13. Before joining the Chicago Symphony, he was a member of Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Air. His discography included the Grammy-winning 1968 album, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli, featuring the brass sections …

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Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Mozart: Pamina’s Aria from “The Magic Flute”

The second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute contains one of opera’s most beautifully wrenching expressions of despair and lament. Pamina, the daughter of the demonic Queen of the Night, is hurt when Tamino will not speak to her. Not realizing that Tamino is bound by a vow of silence, she believes that he no longer loves her. Ach, ich fühl’s (“Ah, I can feel it”) is Pamina’s intimate, heartbroken soliloquy. It is set in G …

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