In-Studio with Jack Ashworth (video)

Jack Ashworth

The English Cello

English cellist Beatrice Harrison, 1924

Although the cello received the attention of composers like Antonio Vivaldi and Joseph Haydn in the 1700′s, the instrument wasn’t popularly utilized as a solo instrument in Great Britain until the Victorian age and later.

Cyril Scott was a master of musical miniatures, blending late Romanticism with hints of Impressionism. The extraordinary Pastoral and Reel was written for the British cellist Beatrice Harrison (PHOTO). Scott also wrote a full concerto for cello and orchestra for Mrs. Harrison.

George Dyson’s Prelude, Fantasy and Chaconne was written for the 1936 Three Choirs Festival. It was originally conceived as a work for cello and small orchestra, but also exists in a version for cello and piano.

The Concerto for cello and orchestra, Op. 85 by Edward Elgar is among the greatest cello concertos ever written. Elgar recorded the work with Harrison as soloist, but the opus didn’t achieve its current status in the repertoire until cellist Jacqueline du Pre recorded the work in the 1960′s.

Join Alan Brandt as he presents these works on An English Pastorale, Sunday at 9am on Classical 90.5.

Cyril Scott – Pastoral and Reel
George Dyson – Prelude Fantasy and Chaconne
Edward Elgar – Cello Concerto

Enjoy Cyril Scott’s little-heard Cello Concerto:

Metropolitan Opera Finale


The Metropolitan Opera wraps up its Saturday Matinee broadcasts for the season, this Saturday at 1pm, with Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella). Opera will continue on Saturday’s with Lyric Opera of Chicago and other productions from around the country. (Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

New Mendelssohn

We can all agree that Felix Mendelssohn did us a huge favor by reviving an interest in Bach. Now it’s his turn, as scholars have uncovered a song after it being lost for 140 years.

Not Horsing Around


Last week I featured music about horses. This week Classical 90.5 will give their long-eared relatives a listen. And while researching this subject, I noticed a crucial difference in musical representations of the creatures. While horses are represented by the “clip-clop” percussive sound of their hooves, donkeys and mules are portrayed by their bray.

The most famous music portrait of a donkey comes from Felix Mendelssohn’s music for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The character Bottom is turned into a donkey and his braying is quite noticeble in the overture.

Camille Saint-Saens famously portrayed donkeys in his Carnival of the Animals – or did he? In the movement titled “Characters with Long Ears” the braying of donkeys is obvious, but some have said it was also Saint-Saens’s subtle jab at the braying of music critics of his day.

American Ferde Grofe included the braying and the mule’s “clip-clopping” in his Grand Canyon Suite movement called “On the Trail.” In fact the whole orchestra makes a huge braying sound at the very beginning of the selection.

The least known of these works is a musical fable with narration by John Rutter called “Brother Heinrich’s Christmas.” The story tells the tale of a monk who attempts to write a Christmas carol for the monastery’s annual Christmas service. In the night he and his best friend – a donkey – are visited by angels who sing the most glorious of carols to them. After the encounter, Brother Heinrich tries to write the carol down but forgets a crucial part of the tune. Luckily, he’s got his friend the donkey to fill in with the only two notes he can sing.