Chamber Music Society of Louisville Announces New Season

Brooklyn Rider

The Chamber Music Society of Louisville, a presenting organization that brings in acclaimed chamber ensembles to Louisville, announced its 2014-2015 season on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon. Next year’s season will bring to Comstock Hall (at U of L School of Music) the Los Angeles Piano Quartet, Johannes String Quartet, Amernet String Quartet, Emerson String Quartet playing the meatiest chamber works of Beethoven and Brahms, rarities like Respighi’s Il Tromanto, and two string quartets of Bartok.

L’œil écoute from Performing Arts Video on Vimeo.

Roughly, a third of the season is devoted to living composers. Of note are two works by Pierre Jalbert, whose music tends to shimmer and float above the audience. Speaking of shimmering Music from Copland House will present Ned Rorem‘s infectious Bright Music, and John Harbison‘s Songs America Loves to Sing and John Musto‘s Clarinet Sextet. Brooklyn Rider comes to Louisville (for the first time) for a bonus concert at Clifton Center in April of 2015.

Bellatrix Musica Part III: The Boulanger Sisters

Bellatrix Musica is a four-part series about the influence of women throughout music history. Part three focuses on musical sisters Nadia and Lili Boulanger.


Concertino for Harp and Orchestra-Allegretto, Germaine Tailleferre, Gillian Benet withThe Women’s Philharmonic under Jo Ann Falletta, The Women’s Philharmonic, Koch International Classics 3-7169-2

D’un Matin de Printemps, Lili Boulanger, The Women’s Philharmonicunder Jo Ann Falletta, The Women’s Philharmonic, Koch International Classics 3-7169-2

Clairieres Dans Le Ciel, Lili Boulanger, performed by Emile Naoumoff and Isabelle Sabrie, In Memoriam Lili Boulanger, Marco Polo 223636

Pieces for Cello and Piano: In C Sharp Minor, Nadia Boulanger,  performed by Emile Naoumoff and Isabelle Sabrie, In Memoriam Lili Boulanger, Marco Polo 223636

Hoedown from Rodeo, Aaron Copland, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under David Zinman, Copland, Decca B0000970

Piano Sonata-Maestoso, Elliott Carter, performed by Paul Jacobs, Elliott Carter:The Minotaur, Piano Sonata, Two Songs, Elektra Nonesuch 9 79248

Company-Movement 2, Philip Glass, The London Chamber Orchestra under Christopher Warren-Green, The Minimalist, Virgin 7 91168

Lux Aeterna, Nadia Boulanger, performed by Emile Naoumoff and Isabelle Sabrie, In Memoriam Lili Boulanger, Marco Polo 223636

Stanford’s pupils


Charles Villiers Stanford is an important figure in music history. So much so, that the fifth edition of Grove’s Dictionary dedicated eight pages to the British composer. Born in Ireland, Stanford composed and played music at an early age. A prodigious composer, Stanford wrote 9 operas, 7 symphonies, 5 concerti and many other works.

But Stanford’s importance today is as a teacher as he schooled the major English composers of the early- to mid 20th century. Among his pupils were Arthur Benjamin, Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge (who later taught Britten), Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, John Ireland and Ralph Vaughan Williams. And although most of his students strayed compositionally from his Brahmsian roots, Stanford’s influence transformed British music for the rest of the 20th century.

On the next An English Pastorale we’ll listen to works by Stanford and his pupils. Join me Sunday morning at 9 am.

Enjoy this rendition of Stanford’s “The Blue Bird” with all parts sung by the incredibly talented Matthew Curtis.

Featured Album and Giveaway: Sean Chen – La Valse

Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

This week we’re featuring Sean Chen‘s new album “La Valse,” featuring the rich, colorful music of Scriabin and Ravel. In 2013, Chen was awarded the Silver Award winner of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Listen to his album this week and enter for a chance to win a copy!

This contest is now closed. The winner will be announced on April 15 at 11am on Classical 90.5.

Beethoven’s Ninth


With the Louisville Orchestra’s performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony coming soon, I thought I would recommend a couple of recordings of the work. In the historically informed performance (HIP) category, I would recommend the EMI recording of the London Classical Players as conducted by Roger Norrington. Norrington’s group seems to capture the best aspects of HIP which includes the raw power of the original instruments and the faster tempi of the movements.

When the EMI Norrington recordings first were issued they were scorned by some critics and hailed as a revelation by many listeners. Much of the ire was aimed at the tempi, according to Norrington:

“The speed of the music was a particular problem. Beethoven had carefully given a metronome mark to every movement and every change of tempo in his symphonies. But almost every conductor ignored these speeds and performed the music much more slowly and ‘grandly’.”

The Romantic movement saw orchestras getting larger. At the same time, Beethoven’s shadow cast over music history like a titan. The orchestras lead by Gustav Mahler, Leopold Stowkoski and others performed Beethoven’s opuses with a sense of reverence. The larger group of musicians required slower tempi to accommodate the bigger number of instruments.

With the smaller historically-informed groups, performances of Beethoven’s symphonies became lithe, more supple works. The original tempo markings by Beethoven seem to suddenly make sense with the smaller ensembles.

Next week I’ll recommend a “traditional” performance of the work. In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt of Roger Norrington’s interpretation of the second movement with the London Classical Players: