Britten and Bax

Arnold Bax

Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia was mostly written during the composer’s trip home to the UK after visiting the United States. This work had a long gestation as Britten had problems finding a suitable text. W H Auden was eventually asked and produced the poem in 1940. Britten’s setting was immediately recognised as a major addition to the choral repertory and has since become one of his most enduringly popular choral works.

The poem’s division into three ‘movements’ gives Britten his musical structure, and the provision of a refrain (‘Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions to all musicians, appear and inspire…’) gives a point of reference marking the end of each section, and of the work. The three ‘movements’ are completely different from each other. The work is extremely demanding of its performers.

Arnold Bax (photo) wrote his Symphony No. 7 in 1938 and 1939. he was originally going to dedicate the piece to conductor Basil Cameron but received a commission for the 1939 World Fair in New York and decided to use the symphony for this purpose. It was dedicated to “The People of America.”

We’ll hear both works on An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.

Metropolitan Opera: Aida

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Grand opera at its grandest: the splendors of ancient Egypt return to the stage of the Met. Verdi’s mythic love triangle features Liudmyla Monastyrska, Tamara Wilson, and Oksana Dyka sharing the title role, with Olga Borodina and Violeta Urmana as Amneris and Marcello Giordani and Marco Berti singing Radamès. Marco Armiliato and Plácido Domingo share conducting duties. Saturday at 1pm on Classical 90.5.

Event: The Dark Lady of the Sonnets

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Be a part of a live taping of the radio drama “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets” by George Bernard Shaw. Kentucky Shakespeare and Classical 90.5 present this live recording of Shaw’s one-act, imaginary adventure between William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth. The recording will be released as a podcast later this year. Also, enjoy pre-show entertainment from Concentus String Quartet. The production is free, but reservations are required.

Hosted by Daniel Gilliam

Cast:
William Shakespeare: Gregory Maupin
Beefeater: Matt Wallace
Queen Elizabeth: Abigail Maupin
Dark Lady: Megan Massie
Foley Artist/Sound: Kyle Ware

Metropolitan Opera: Hansel and Gretel

hansel and gretel

Christine Rice as Hansel, Robert Brubaker as the Witch, and Aleksandra Kurzak as Gretel in Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel.” Photo: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera

Returning for the holidays, this season’s family entertainment is Richard Jones’s witty production of Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera Hansel and Gretel conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, in which two children face off against a wicked witch. In a lush setting of giant chefs, suit-clad trees, and an industrial kitchen where the Witch gets what’s coming to her, Aleksandra Kurzak as Gretel and Christine Rice as Hansel lead a visual and delightful feast for our younger patrons.

Originally created for Welsh National Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago

Richard Jones’s “arresting… haunting” production stars Christine Rice as Hansel, whose voice is “bright and lean, her diction crisp and energetic.”
Aleksandra Kurzak as Gretel is “a veteran of this production whose slender tone has lately gotten subtly fuller… Their chemistry delightful, Ms. Rice and Ms. Kurzak danced, crept and cowered with ease, radiating sweetness without ever tipping over into sentimentality… The poignant moments of Humperdinck’s luminous score [are] conducted with a light, sensitive touch by Andrew Davis.” (New York Times)

New Year’s Day from Vienna 2015

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Now in its 74th season, this Vienna Philharmonic tradition presents waltzes, polkas, marches and other favorites from the Strauss family and others. Zubin Mehta will conduct to a sold-out crowd at the Musikverein in Vienna, and to you here on Classical 90.5 and wuol.org, New Year’s Day at 11am. Here’s the program:

Program

Franz von Suppé
Ouv. Ein Morgen, ein Mittag, ein Abend in Wien

Johann Strauss, Jr.
Märchen aus dem Orient. Walzer, op. 444

Josef Strauss
Wiener Leben. Polka francaise, op. 218

Eduard Strauss
Wo man lacht und lebt. Polka schnell, op. 108

Josef Strauss
Dorfschwalben aus Österreich. Walzer, op. 164

Johann Strauss, Jr.
Vom Donaustrande. Polka schnell, op. 356

— Pause —

Johann Strauss, Jr.
Perpetuum mobile. Musikalischer Scherz, op. 257
Accelerationen. Walzer, op.234
Elektro-magnetische Polka, op. 110

Eduard Strauss
Mit Dampf. Polka schnell, op. 70

Johann Strauss, Jr.
An der Elbe. Walzer, op. 477

Hans Christian Lumbye
Champagner-Galopp, op. 14

Johann Strauss, Jr.
Studenten-Polka. Polka francaise, op. 263

Johann Strauss, sen.
Freiheits-Marsch, op. 226

Johann Strauss, Jr.
Annen-Polka, op. 117
Wein, Weib und Gesang. Walzer, op. 333

Eduard Strauss
Mit Chic. Polka schnell, op. 221