Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor: Tempestuous and Triumphant

In the music of Felix Mendelssohn, two aesthetic worlds meet. The mystery and pathos of Romanticism blend with the pristine formal constructs of Classicism. Robert Schumann summarized this unique synthesis when he called Mendelssohn “the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the most illuminating of musicians, who sees more clearly than others through the contradictions of our era and is the first to reconcile them.” This remarkable synthesis can be heard in Mendelssohn’s …

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Poulenc’s “Dialogues des Carmélites”: “Salve Regina,” An Ode to Martyrs

Francis Poulenc’s 1957 opera, Dialogues des Carmélites, tells the story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, sixteen Carmelite nuns who were executed at the guillotine during the final days of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Driven from their convent and arrested, the nuns elected to take a vow of martyrdom rather than renounce their vocation. One of opera’s principal tragic heroines is Blanche de la Force, a woman from an aristocratic family who enters …

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Anna Clyne’s “DANCE”: A Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Inspired by Rumi

Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance, when you’re perfectly free. – Rumi  These lines by the 13th century Persian poet, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, inspired DANCE, a cello concerto written in 2019 by the English composer, Anna Clyne (b. 1980). The Concerto is set in five movements, each of which corresponds to a line in the …

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Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”: Entering the Realm of the Imaginal

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1888 symphonic suite, Scheherazade, inhabits the realm of the imaginal. As its vivid “characters” spring to life, we encounter the magic and fantasy of a story within a story. Painted with a shimmering color palette, the four-movement suite was conceived by one of music history’s most innovative masters of orchestration. Rimsky-Korsakov touched on the dreamy, exotic nature of this music when he described Scheherazade as “a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale images and designs of Oriental character.” …

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Haydn’s Symphony No. 8, “Le Soir”: Brilliant Virtuosity and Good Humor

Haydn’s Symphony No. 8, “Le Soir,” concludes a symphonic triptych (Nos. 6-8) which was inspired by the movement of the sun throughout the day. The first two works in this programmatic series are “Le Matin” (Morning) and “Le Midi” (Afternoon). The three symphonies were first performed during a single evening in 1761 at the Esterházy Palace in Vienna, not at the aristocratic family’s official residence 30 miles outside the city. They marked the beginning …

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“The Night of the Hunter”: Excerpts from Walter Schumann’s Classic Film Score

Charles Laughton’s 1955 film noir thriller, The Night of the Hunter, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish, tells the story of a serial killer who poses as a minister in Depression-era West Virginia. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the plot centers around two children who are rendered parentless. With ten thousand dollars, stolen by their father who is executed for his crime, the children flee down the Ohio River and …

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Remembering Stanley Drucker

The legendary clarinetist Stanley Drucker passed away on December 19. He was 93. Born in Brooklyn, Drucker entered the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 15, but left after a year to accept a position with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He went on to become principal clarinetist of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1948, Drucker joined the New York Philharmonic. His nearly five-decade-long tenure as principal clarinetist of the New York …

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