English Piano Concertos

delius at piano

The Piano Concerto in C by Ralph Vaughan Williams was written in 1926 and 1930-31 (movement 3). It premiered in February, 1933, by Harriet Cohen, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra directed by Sir Adrian Boult. The Finale was edited later and the work was published in 1936. The concerto was not well received at first, being considered unrewarding to the soloist. Though the piece provides ample opportunity for virtuosity in all movements, Vaughan Williams treated the piano as a percussion instrument instead of a melodic instrument.

Bela Bartók was extremely impressed with the work, and yet Vaughan Williams took the advice of friends and reworked the piece into a Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, adding more texture to the piano parts.

The final version of Frederick Delius’s Piano Concerto is a work in one continuous movement. However it began life as a three-movement composition. Delius was inspired to write a concerto for piano and orchestra after witnessing a performance of the concerto by Edvard Grieg. After sketching out a few measures, however, Delius became disillusioned. His interest in the work was reignited after a conversation with Ferrucio Busoni.

On this week’s English Pastorale, we’ll hear the original versions of both the Vaughan Williams and Delius piano concertos.

Ralph Vaughan Williams – Piano Concerto in C
Frederick Delius – Piano Concerto

Taka Kigawa Plays Boulez

taka kiawa

Pianist Taka Kigawa will perform Boulez’s piano music later this year at (le) Poisson Rouge.

We’re giving you a chance to hear and see Taka Kigawa play Boulez, at Classical 90.5, Thursday, June 19 at 11am. Daniel Gilliam will talk with Mr. Kigawa and we’ll take your questions. The event will be recorded for online listening (not a live broadcast).

It’s free and open to the public, but we’d like to know you’re coming. You can RSVP by filling out the form below, or just show up. 619 S. Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202. More information at studio@wuol.org

Local Artist Feature – Diane Earle

Diane Earle

While Lunchtime Classics takes its summer break, let’s look back at some of our featured artists.

Diane Earle is artist-in-residence and professor of music at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Ky. She has performed extensively in 10 countries and 30 states. Recent performances include concert tours to Italy and China.

Dr. Earle played several performances in 2009 celebrating the 300th birthday of the piano culminating with a program produced by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) for the series Kentucky Muse. She is featured on several CDs and DVDs.

Dr. Earle received a bachelor of music degree in piano performance, magna cum laude, from University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. She has a master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees in piano performance and literature from Ohio State University. While a doctoral student there, she received the outstanding teaching associate award and won the doctoral concerto competition. Dr. Earle has also studied organ and voice.

Earle has been a Lunchtime Classics guest artist many times. Enjoy Dr. Earle’s performance of George Gershwin’s Embraceable You:

Featured Album: Vivaldi Recomposed

Richter Four Seasons Recomposed

How many times have you heard Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons? How many times do you think violinists and orchestras have performed it? It is one of the most popular and iconic works in classical music (actually, Baroque music), and with good reason: it’s full of color, evocative and powerful. Max Richter has taken this unforgettable music and “Recomposed” it for violinist Daniel Hope, the Concerthaus Chamber Orchestra of Berlin and conductor André de Ridder (Richter also plays the Moog Synthesizer), and released it on Deutsche Grammophon. Listen to it this week as our Featured Album!

Chicago Symphony plays Stravinsky

Igor_Stravinsky_LOC_32392u

Both familiar and unfamiliar works by composer Igor Stravinsky are on this week’s broadcast by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The Symphony in Three Movements took over three years to write. Begun in April, 1942, work on several Hollywood films delayed the work’s finish until August 1945. Stravinsky referred to it as his “war symphony” citing actual world events inspiring the three movements. The first movement was inspired by a documentary on Japanese scorched earth tactics in China. The third movement deals with footage of German soldiers goose-stepping and the allied forces’ eeventual success.

Stravinsky’s Eight Instrumental Miniatures were scored for 2 Flutes, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, harp, celesta, violins, violas, cellos and basses. It is an orchestration of studies for piano originally called Les cinq doigts. The original work comprises eight short pieces in which the right hand generally plays only five notes, remaining in essentially the same position at the keyboard throughout. The third movement is an arrangement of the Russian folk melody Kamarinskaya.

Pribaoutki is a cycle of four songs composed by Igor Stravinsky in 1914 to Russian texts by Alexander Afanasyev. The title can not be directly translated into English from the Russian. But they can accurately be referred to as nonsense songs. The cycle is short, lasting only four minutes in performance.

The Concertino, played on 12 instruments, is an arrangement of the original for string quartet. Originally written in 1920 Paris, the revamped version appeared in 1952 in Los Angeles. Stravinsky wrote, “My present intentions towards my earlier work have led me to re-bar it rather extensively, to clarify some of the harmony, and to punctuate and phrase it more clearly. Although the violin part remains untouched, the three other string parts are re-distributed among the ten wind and brass instruments.”

The Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra is one of two suites that were originally part of two sets of “Easy Pieces” for piano duet written between 1914 and 1917. The second suite was actually written first in Paris in 1921. The Polka movement was dedicated to Sergei Diaghilev, intended to be a musical portrait of the choreographer.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Marcelo Leninger, Matthew Aucion and Charles Dutoit in these works and pieces by Ravel and Debussy, Sunday evening at 6 pm.