A fun, little Spotify playlist of concertos you don’t run across too often. –TM
The Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, “Naughty Limericks,” by the brilliant Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin (born 1932), composed in 1963. Great fun. Evgeni Svetlanov conducts the USSR Symphony Orchestra.
Here’s one of my favorite concert videos. It features pianist Alexis Weissenberg playing Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka. The director is Ake Falck, and while he didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, the lighting and the camerawork here are superb. Notice how they actually focus your listening rather than distract, as visuals often do. Weissenberg reportedly recorded the piano part in the studio and synced to the recording for the film. –TM
The neoclassical Piano Concerto No. 1 by Lukas Foss (1922-2009), recorded by Pacific Symphony, Carl St.Clair, conductor and Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Released 2001. The piece was first written as a clarinet concerto when Foss was 17. He made this version of it four years later.
Leonard Bernstein conducts the Royal Danish Orchestra in the Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonia Espansiva,” by Carl Nielsen.
The Lyric for Strings by George Walker.
We noticed the new trailer (kind of violent) for “Outlaw King” on Netflix uses a famous classical tune as underscoring.
The tune? Albinoni’s Adagio, of course, which probably wasn’t actually composed by Albinoni, but by 20th-century musicologist Remo Giazotto. Here’s how it normally sounds.
The piece has been heard in many films before, including “Gallipoli” in 1981.
Another Bernstein rarity, this one written for the inaugural season of Mstislav Rostropovich (Slava) as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. There’s a nifty part for electric guitar partway through, and a taped sequence of political speeches (sometimes cut, though not here).
Rostropovich was of course a political figure, dubbed a dissident by the Soviets after he came to the United States. His appointment as music director of our national orchestra was a nice thumb on the nose gesture by us. Bernstein had been instrumental in getting Slava and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, out of the Soviet Union.
It’s a wonderfully whacky piece that seems to capture some of the atmosphere of political Washington, even to this day. In its way, this overture is kind of a musical equivalent of a satirical essay by H.L. Mencken.
Leonard Bernstein conducts the Israel Philharmonic. –TM
As we approach Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday on August 25, I’ve been featuring a number of his lesser-known pieces in this space. Here’s another: The “Elegy for Mippy II” for solo trombone, composed in the late 1940s. Mippy was the name of Bernstein’s brother’s dog. The score instructs the player to provide a foot-tapping accompaniment. Ximo Vicedo is the trombonist in the video.
This is the famous hula hoop sequence in the Coen brothers’ 1994 classic “The Hudsucker Proxy.” Though the film is set in late 1950s corporate America, the music of the Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian somehow suits it to a T. In this section, the music is taken from Khachaturian’s ballets, climaxing with the famous “Sabre Dance.” The hula hoop sequence is also a perfect illustration of the laws of supply and demand.