Featured Album and Giveaway: Benedetti’s Homecoming

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Despite her Italian name and heritage, Nicola Benedetti is one of Scotland’s most sought-after violinists. Her new disc “Homecoming: A Scottish Fantasy” captures her homeland’s sounds from Robert Burns’ folk songs to Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Listen to the album all week on Classical 90.5 and enter to win a copy of her new album. We’re giving away TWO copies, so plenty of chances to win.

The giveaway is now closed. We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, October 7 at 2pm.

Lunchtime Classics: Sempiternal Sounds

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Harpist Louisa Woodson and trumpeter Ryan Gardner perform live on the next Lunchtime Classics, Wednesday at noon. Reserve your seat and lunch from City Cafe by calling (502) 814-6565 by Tuesday at noon.

England, 1934

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The year 1934 was especially hard on the English music scene as it saw the deaths of three major composers from the UK; Gustav Holst, Frederick Delius and Edward Elgar.

Gustav Holst is best known for the suite for large orchestra called The Planets. He wrote one symphony called the Cotswolds Symphony. First performed in 1902, the work deals with thematic hints of English folk-music.

Frederick Delius was born and raised in Yorkshire. But he left England and spent most of his life in other countries. The North Country Sketches are a look back to his original home, however. Almost a “Four Seasons” for orchestra the suite is in four movements; Autumn, Winter Landscape, Dance and The March of Spring.

Of the three, Edward Elgar is most closely associated with Great Britain. Although remember for his grandiose orchestral compositions, he also wrote small songs for voice and piano. A Song of Autumn is a setting of the poem of the same name by Adam Lindsay Gordon. The Shepherd’s Song tells the story of a lonely shepherd singing of his pastoral life by the sea.

We’ll feature these compositions on the next English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.

Beethoven’s Fidelio

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As Kentucky Opera prepares its production of Ludwig van Beethoven’s sole opera Fidelio, let’s look back at the work’s popularity through the years.

When Beethoven’s Fidelio premiered on November 20, 1805, the house was half full. The performance was deemed a failure. The production was repeated twice and then dropped. The work returned to the stage in March of the following year after Beethoven make some cuts and other changes. It failed again. Fidelio was tried once again the next season, but attracted only the cognoscenti of the buying public. Angry with his creation, Beethoven withdrew the work and completely revised it in 1814.

Thirteen years later, Beethoven presented the manuscript to his close friend and biographer, Anton Schindler. Near death, Beethoven reportedly said, “Of all my children, this is the one that cost me the worst birth-pangs and brought me the most sorrow; and for that reason it is the one most dear to me.”

Fidelio is much loved in today’s opera world and holds an honored place in the repertoire. It’s also well represented on Compact Disc recordings. However, since the mid 20th century the work is revived only sporadically due its lack of box office success. Perhaps due to its inconsistent style: the first scene is largely Singspiel, or light opera. Or it could be the naivete of the plot which contrasts with the fiery emotional pull of the music.

Enjoy this moment when Fidelio allows the prisoners to experience the sunlight.

Pantomime and Dance

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Composer Richard Arnell was born in London in 1917 during a Zeppelin raid during the Great War. His career spanned two continents including the United States. He wrote many works especially for the prolific conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Punch and the Child is based on the classic hand-puppet show Punch and Judy. The humour is violent and children love it. The ballet tells of a sad Victorian child at an English seaside resort who is fascinated by the puppet show. When a sudden storm appears, she takes shelter inside the puppeteer’s booth, where a living Punch doll suddenly appears.

Choreographer Serge Diaghilev visited London several times. On his second visit, he commissioned music from Lord Berners called The Triumph of Neptune. The story follows a sailor and a journalist who look through a magic telescope and see Fairyland. On their voyage there, they are shipwrecked by Neptune but then saved by Britannia.

Frederick Delius wrote two works called Dance Rhapsody. Number one was written in 1906, number 2 in 1916. The second rhapsody is shorter in length from the first and requires fewer players from the orchestra (30 as opposed to 100 of the first).

This music will be featured on this week’s An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9 am.
Richard Arnell – Punch and the Child, Op. 49
Lord Berners – The Triumph of Neptune Suite
Frederick Delius – Dance Rhapsody No. 2

Enjoy a bit of a traditional Punch and Judy performance: