Saturday, June 13, 2009

Musica della sera ─ BWV Boogie

The latest Musica della sera show is now up on the Internet to enjoy on demand; see below for locating the link. This program will be available until Thursday, June 18, 2009 (Get it while it lasts!)

It was an (almost) all-Bach program, as sometimes happens. I start with Bach, and then just can't pull myself away. Must be those sunglasses.

J.S. Bach in shades, artist unknown.

Bach did not specify the instrumentation for the Art of the Fugue. The show begins with an arrangement for harpsichord, four hands, Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot sharing the bench. The last of the four selections is the famous unfinished fugue, played as it often is,in its uncompleted form, the voices dropping out one by one, until the last one stops in the middle...eerie. Evidently Bach became too ill to finish it and died some months later. It was the only piece where he used the musical letters of his name as a theme. (In German notation, B-flat A C B-natural is rendered as B A C H)

This tidbit from wikipedia:
The autograph carries a note in the handwriting of Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach saying “Über dieser Fuge, wo der Nahme B A C H im Contrasubject angebracht worden, ist der Verfasser gestorben.” (“At the point where the composer introduces the name BACH in the countersubject to this fugue, the composer died.”) However, modern scholarship disputes this version, in particular because the musical notes are indisputably in Bach's own hand, written in a time before his deteriorating vision led to erratic handwriting, probably 1748–1749
Continuing our series, we heard No.3 of the 4 Orchestral Suites as arranged and performed by the Brazilian Guitar Quartet. Listen for the famous air on a G string. Next week Meera will feature the fourth and final orchestral suite in this marvelous transcription.

Next we heard a suite for recorder and harpsichord, Heiko ter Schegget and Zvi Meniker performing, followed by three organ chorales performed by Michael Murray at two historic baroque organs of the Netherlands, the Schnitger at St. Michael's, Zwolle, and the organ at St. Bavo's Church, Haarlem. (On the show I think I may have mistakenly referred to them as German instruments.)

Zwolle - Grote Kerk, Schnitger organ (1721) Photo by pietbron.

J.S. Bach featured the trumpet in many of his cantatas, often in jubilant settings punctuated with timpani, but he wrote no concertos for the instrument. As a lover of Bach and the baroque trumpet concerto, Alison Balsom's album Bach Music for Trumpet, was an instant hit with me. None of the music was originally scored for trumpet, but all sound like they could have been.

Alison Balsom, classical trumpeter

I brought Ton Koopman back, this time at the organ, with a bench all to himself, for the Trio Sonata in C, a lively contrast to the somber organ chorales heard earlier on the show.

Two jubilant choral works bookended the trio sonata, the Grand Motet, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (Sing to the Lord a New Song) and Bach's mighty Magnificat, Diego Fasolis conducting Solisti e Coro della Radio Svizzera, Lugano; Ensemble Vanitas, in a magnificent live performance.

Sandro Botticelli's Madonna of the Magnificat (Madonna del Magnificat) - 1480-1481

I ended the show with one more from trumpeter Alison Balsom, from her albumCaprice. Not a work by J.S. Bach, this time. Instead, I chose as my bridge to the jazz show a nocturne from a trumpet concerto by Henri Tomasi (1901-1971), a French composer of Corsican ancestry.

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You can see exactly what was played and who performed it by referring to the playlist (originally broadcast 6/11/2009).

My wife, Meera Collier-Mitchell, and I take turns hosting the classical radio program Musica della sera on Thursday evenings, 7-9:30 (PT). This week I hosted. Listen at your convenience:

KUSP's brand new web feature: The KUSP Music Show Player, Classical, Jazz, Global, Eclectic, and Late Late, listen on demand, check it out, peruse the list and click the one for Musica della sera to hear our show.

Each broadcast is available for download until it is replaced by the subsequent week's program.

You can also stream KUSP live of course.

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