A Monday music marathon
For those of us neither running the Boston Marathon nor attending the Red Sawx Patriot's Day morning game at Fenway Pahk, there's seven hours of great classical music coming up Monday on WFCR. We promise: No Heartbreak Hill, though there may be a few tears. No hitting the wall, though there'll be plenty of hit tunes. And unlike Rosie Ruiz, you can take all the breaks you want and still be a winner.
Batting lead-off is your basic electric guitar-slinging, quiet-music-favoring classical group, Duo Orfeo, from their new "I Sing the Body Electric" CD. Hey, unless you've heard Satie's Gymnopédie on vintage axes fed through old tube amplifiers, you can't really call yourself a classical fan. So you need to be tuned to 88.5 for the first pitch (pun intended) at 9:00 sharp. That's Jamie and Joe from Duo Orfeo above, waiting for their trainload of CDs to come in.
With a list of pupils including Antal Dorati, Janos Starker, Miklós Rózsa and Sir Georg Solti, he was better known as a teacher then as a composer. Essentially a romantic, his works perhaps sound tame compared to those of his contemporaries Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kódaly. But I've never heard anything by the Hungarian composer Leó Weiner (1885-1960) that wasn't filled with old-world charm, and didn't keep me happily engaged throughout. Will have three Weiner gems for you on Monday to mark the anniversary of his birth.
It's doubtful that any region produces more exciting new classical per capita than the Baltics, including Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Perhaps its the relative youth of their indigenous classical music cultures, combined with their peoples' belief in the power of music to express long-suppressed national identities, but for whatever reason, no music lover should be unaware of what's going on in the Baltics. And we'll do our Pärt...er, part to keep you up-to-date, including today, when we celebrate the 66th birthday of Latvia's most prominent composer, Pēteris Vasks. A composer with a direct, intensely communicative style, Vasks employs a variety of techniques and moods to, as he puts it, "provide food for the soul." One of Vasks's most personal and frankly tragic works, "Musica Dolorosa" ("Music of Grief") comes up in the 11:00 hour Monday morning.
I was talking Bach with a fellow chorister the other day, and when we came to our favorite Bach choral performances, the verdict was unanimous: Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe and his ensembles, La Chapelle Royale and Collegium Vocale Ghent, do Bach's choral music more movingly than anyone else. A medical student turned maestro, Herreweghe is among the many former early music specialists to branch out later into standard symphonic repertoire, and now holds the position of principal conductor with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic. Tune in late in the 2:00 hour on Monday to hear Herreweghe and the Flemish Phil. make the "heavenly lengths" (according to Robert Schumann) of Schubert's "Great C Major" Symphony No. 9 go by as if in minutes — and very beautiful and exciting minutes at that.