arnold bax

bax

Composer Arnold Bax wrote his Violin Concerto in 1937-38 for Jascha Heifetz. Heifetz, reportedly, was disappointed in the work. Bax himself didn’t acknowledge the opus until he was asked to provide a new work in 1943 for violinist Eda Kersey. The work was reintroduced by the soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry Wood.

Bax was initially reluctant to compose music for film, but was persuaded to for the David Lean 1948 adaptation of Oliver Twist. Bax was not partial to Dickens’ novel and felt he couldn’t provide music appropriate to the subject. It was written quickly over the course of 10 weeks.

Three pieces for Small Orchestra date from 1912-13 when they first appeared as a set of four. Bax eventually abandoned the fourth and re-titled the others. The works are titled Evengling Piece, Irish Landscape and Dance in the Sunlight.

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

Children’s Tales

potter mouse

On the next English Pastorale, we’ll hear music inspired by tales for children.

Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote only one work intended for the ballet stage. Old King Cole was written for the English Folk Dance Society’s Cambridge branch, which premiered the work on June 5, 1923, at Trinity College. It was written for orchestra with an optional wordless chorus.

John Lanchbery used Victorian themes as the basis for his score for Royal Ballet’s film Tales of Beatrix Potter. The film was devised as a story presented in entirely visual terms with no words. Five stories from Potter were chosen for the production.

Frederick Delius set his musical sights on the folk-tales from the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjornsen and Jorgen Engebretsen Moe. The music doesn’t follow the stories as a symphonic poem would, but describes the feel and mood of the whole collection of stories through music.

Here’s an excerpt from Lanchbery’s Tales of Beatrix Potter.

Local artist feature – Rachel Grimes

rachel_grimes

While Lunchtime Classics takes its summer break, we’re looking back at some of the program’s featured artists.

Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. She has achieved a certain amount of fame in the ground-breaking chamber ensemble Rachel’s, with whom she toured and released six albums. Rachel’s solo releases include Book of Leaves, Marion County 1938, and Compound Leaves.

Grimes’s music defies a tidy description. Her music crosses many genres, from classical to jazz to ambient to Americana. BBC reviewer Spencer Grady said of her solo debut album that…

“Her most wondrous gift was always her ability to paint the most evocative pictures in purest ivory and her lightness of touch allows majestic statements such as the Corner Room and Long Before Us to ring out, echoing with sensuousness and sentiment before drawing the listener back in.”

Grimes is one of the artists included in the June 2014 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine, highlighting artistic interpretations of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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

English Ballet

bax

Music for the ballet is our feature on this week’s An English Pastorale with music by Edward Elgar, Arnold Bax and Constant Lambert.

Edward Elgar’s The Sanguine Fan was written in 1917 for a performance in support of war charity. The light plot of the ballet was taken from the scenario depicted on a sylvan fan by artist Charles Sonder. The entire composition wasn’t recorded until 1973. We’ll hear the 1989 recording by Brydon Thomson and the London Philharmonic.

From Dusk Till Dawn by Arnold Bax (PHOTO) was commissioned by the same woman who commissioned Elgar’s work in the same year. She requested a ballet from Bax for a charity matinee at London’s Palace Theatre. The story revolves around china figures who can suddenly move one summer night.

Constant Lambert’s Romeo and Juliet is one of only two commissions for British composer by the famous Russian choreographer Sergei Diaghilev. It’s not a traditional retelling of the Shakespeare classic, but about a ballet company rehearsing for a performance. The story picks up on the traditional tale except for the fact that at the end the lovers elope by airplane. The original set and costume design was a collaboration by Max Ernst and Joan Miro.

Join us for An English Pastorale Sunday morning at 9 on Classical 90.5. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet with photos of the set design: