The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, October 25, 2013

Just Opened - BOO! Scary music! Oct. 25th

 We have a bit of a Halloween Theme today on Just Opened, taking our cue from Michael Lewin's eerily delightful "Piano Phantoms" - romantic era piano works about Gobins, Ghosts, Ghouls, and Phantoms.  Veronique Gens (one of  my favorite sopranos) explores the dark side of Haendel in dramatic cantatas about abondonment, death, and "the rape of Lucrezia" - the myth that has captured artists of all media over the centuries.   Penderecki's "Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima" and other extremely challenging modern works by Greenwood top off the dark side.   The humorous & wry Quartetto Gelato give us some ebullient takes on opera arias, and Von Weber's works for Clarinet and orchestra liven up our "spirits."
Just in time for Happy Hallowe'en!

HAENDEL Cantates
Veronique Gens, soprano
Les Basses Reunies
ISBN# 7 24354 52832 3
Gens, one of my favorite soprano voices (very full and warm tonality) takes on tragic cantatas of Haendal.  This is a release from1999, but still readily available online.
Clarinet Concertos
Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet
San Francisco Ballet Orchestra
Martin West, cond.
ISBN# 0 90404 94162 7
My Delight of the Week!  Weber's pleasing music for Clarinet somehow does not usually spring to mind when one is thinking "what CD should I buy."  Hopefully this delectable performance will lift it up on your priorities.   Composer and lecturer Robert Greenberg says that it is important to be aware of the music of secondary musicians in any time period, because they are part of the musical conversation of an age and place that informs and influences the works of the major composers.   Weber is one of those important "secondary" voices, and immensely appealing.

Michael Lewin, piano
ISBN# 0 53479 21682 3
Thank you to Dorian Solo Luminous for providing us with an extra copy of this CD for give-away.  There are so many (MANY) gifted pianists coming out of conservatories these days that it has been said for years that there just isn't enough room for them in the concert halls.   So it behoves a pianist to be inventive in their programming selections.  Lewin gives us a prime example: a haunting collection of works perfect for your next Halloween party.  Mostly from the romantic era's preoccupation with ghosts and goblins (I dare you not to think of Grieg - who is represented here, of course), there are also a few modern works, and some previously unrecorded works from various times.   Lewin has also carefully orchestrated the works so that there is musical lift in the moody atmosphere.  The rapid-fire goblin dances are where he gets to display his technique and virtuousity.  It's everything a ghoul could wish for.

Quartetto Gelato
Aria Fresca
with the Toronto Symphony
ISBN# 7 7471 81602 2 5
Quartetto Gelato is always a breath of fresh air, with their unique, fun approach to works old and new, and their inclusion of accordian as regular substitute for piano.  This is one of their older releases, still available on their website, and other locations online.  Here they approach familiar opera arias and opera-theme-medlys with their characteristic sense of humor and excellent musicianship.

Aukso Orchestra
Marek Mos, Cond. and
Pendrerecki conducts his works
ISBN# 0 75597 96251 2
an article about Penderecki
When a composer is quoted as instruments being a "problem" because they were devoloped more than 100 years ago... we know this is not a traditionalist.  This is one of the more challenging CDs we've aired on Just Opened, and it is not for the musically faint of heart.  As noted in the article, Penderecki has become a darling of horror & suspense film directors, so it is not a surprise that his works can feel like extended tone poems of foreboding and dread.  That is not the musical "space" that most radio listeners want to live with in their kitchen, but may be just right for your Halloween soundscape.  We bring you a portion of this CD in Just Opened, for the musically literate who want to know "what's out there" and, in particular, two movements of Greenwood's "popcorn" work because it is so very fascinating... with an extended movement of "con legno" (bows used with wood on strings) and string section instrument bodies used as percussion where you can actually hear the orchestration of the tones.  Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth being aware of in the "using old instruments in new ways" category.

Join us next week for more hauntingly good music, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

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