Audio: Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 7

I won’t categorize this as a “neglected symphony,” but it doesn’t turn up on concert programs that often, especially when you consider how good it is. The piece is in a single movement; it’s the last symphony Sibelius wrote (in 1924), though he lived until 1957. Colin Davis conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in this live recording.

Video: Overture to ‘Die Fledermaus’

Pacific Symphony opens its Pops season tonight and tomorrow with a program headlined by David Foster. But conductor Albert-George Schram and the orchestra begin the program with the Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr., which for my money is one of the best things he ever wrote. Here, the piece is hit out of the ball park by the great Carlos Kleiber (watch him) and the Bavarian State Orchestra. You’re welcome.

Calr St.Clair and Pacific Symphony perform Overture to “Die Fledermaus” on demand.

Radio: ‘On stage with the Los Angeles Philharmonic’

A radio piece, in which I am interviewed, about what it sounds like on stage playing in a symphony orchestra. Gideon Brower produced.

On stage with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Public Radio International, Studio 360, Sept. 21, 2017.

After Eight Lessons: The Recording

For those of you who are interested, here’s the recording I made after eight piano lessons at OC Music and Dance community arts school in Irvine.

Eight Lessons Later: The Recording. OC Music and Dance Blog, Sept. 18, 2017.

Listen to this: Rondo

As we discussed in a previous post on the Minuet, classical music doesn’t always have to be as hard as it seems to be. With some simple listening tips, the arcane (seeming) can often become clear.

Let’s take a look at the “rondo.” It is defined as a “musical form in which the first section comes back to frame episodes” (in “The Penguin Companion to Classical Music”). It’s sort of like a pop song, in which the chorus keeps coming back. The word “episodes” in this case just refers to the material in between the returns of the rondo main theme; the episodes are sections where the composers go on little musical adventures.

Rondos end up having forms like this: ABACABA, the “A” being the returning main theme and the other letters being episodes.

Let’s say no more, and listen to a rondo, the last movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Here’s a map, with timings to the video above.

Section A: The main theme of this rondo is heard right at the beginning.

Section B: The first episode starts at 34″.

Section A returns at 2’06”. Notice the pre-echo of the theme before the return.

Section C (second episode) starts at 2’39”.

Section A returns at 4’18”.

Section B (the first episode varied) returns at 4’51”. It leads to solo piano cadenza at 6’23”.

Section A returns in the orchestra at 7:07. The rest is coda, or epilogue.

Audio: Prokofiev ‘Scythian Suite’

Video

When I was in college, a brass player majoring in music, the Chicago Symphony set the gold standard for brass playing, and my fellow music students and I always listened to their records with mouths agape. I was reminded of this again the other day, when I slapped this recording (yes, vinyl) on my record player at home and turned up the volume. It’s the second movement, “The Enemy God and the Dance of the Spirits of Darkness,”  from Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite.” The brass playing is superb and, what’s more, exciting. The percussion section keeps pace, the timpani getting the whole thing off to a nice rumbling start.

Video: The lighter side of classical music: Jacques Casterede’s ‘Menage a trois’

I love humor in music. This in on the broader side of the spectrum, but nonetheless it’s very well done and the music is snappy. Listen to Jacques Castérède’s “Ménage à trots” performed by Par Ibban Malonga, Loann Fourmental et Théa de Fouchécour.