Henry Purcell - Dioclesian: Suite
Arcangelo Corelli (tr. Godowsky) Concerto Grosso in G minor, Op.6/8: Pastorale
Richard Wagner Die Walküre: Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music
Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, Op.15
FA: Olivier Messiaen FA: Oiseaux exotiques

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
by Melinda Bargreen posted Feb 27 2015 1:07PM
The Seattle Symphony presented Bach’s Orchestral Suites, with Richard Egarr, conductor, and flutist Alexander Lipay; Benaroya Hall, Feb. 20. 

The Seattle Symphony’s “Baroque and Wine” series has always struck this listener as an odd pairing: a flight of vino is just about the last thing you need before a concert of early music. But it’s a concept that seems to work well; the audiences may be well wined, but they are hardly somnolent, as was apparent in the response to the Symphony’s recent program of Bach’s Orchestral Suites.

Of course, nobody could be drowsy with a conductor/harpsichordist like Richard Egarr on the stage. The British-born Egarr, a lively musician and an admirable raconteur, is the music director of the esteemed Academy of Ancient Music and is in demand all over the world for concerts like the program he led in Seattle. His previous appearances here have included a visit with the Academy, as well as a harpsichord performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.”

Witty and high-energy, Egarr is not above terming Bach’s coffeehouse performances as “a sort of intellectual Starbucks,” or characterizing Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 as “the most intimate and highly perfumed of the Suites.” His commentary was both humorous and informative, setting just the right tone for the engaging performances that followed.

Conducting the various-sized Seattle Symphony ensembles from the harpsichord, Egarr was a supercharged maestro who leaped up to conduct crucial passages while keeping one hand on the keyboard. He was equally good at underlining the delicacy of one movement, and the grandeur of another, with lots of variety of orchestral colors and extremely flexible dynamics. The orchestra ensembles appeared to have no trouble following him through all the program’s sudden twists and tempo changes.

And it didn’t hurt that Alexander Lipay, an excellent flutist with Seattle connections, was on hand as the soloist in the third of the Bach Orchestral Suites (his main job is principal flute in the Tucson Symphony, but he has concertized extensively as a soloist). Lipay’s spirited account of the famous flute solos spurred a well-deserved standing ovation.

Egarr’s love of Bach and his music shone through every movement of the four Suites. Of the famous, so-called “Air on the G-String” (in the Suite No. 3), Egarr observed: “It is famous for a good reason: it is a perfect piece of music.”
Filed Under :
Location : Seattle
by Jill Kimball posted Feb 6 2015 2:54PM
Classical lovers in Seattle have something big to look forward to: the Seattle Symphony's upcoming three-week celebration of Jean Sibelius, who was born exactly 150 years ago. But even if you can't make it to Benaroya Hall to hear the Symphony's Sibelius festival, you can still enjoy this wonderful music in a 24-hour stream on Classical KING FM's Symphonic Channel on Sunday, March 29.

Thanks to Classical KING FM's close partnership with the Seattle Symphony, Sibelius is as present over the airwaves and on our streaming channels as he is in Benaroya Hall throughout the month of March. On weeknights at 8pm, during KING FM's NW Focus and Seattle Symphony Spotlight programs, listeners can preview each concert. The Sibelius festival culminates on Sunday, March 29 at midnight, when KING FM hosts a 24-hour marathon of the Sibelius concerts on its Symphonic Channel

The Seattle Symphony is just one of many major music organizations around the world paying homage to Jean Sibelius, Finland's premier classical composer, on the celebration of his 150th birthday. But the festival has special meaning to residents of the Seattle area, whose residents' roots are strongly Nordic. More than 1 in 10 Seattleites claims Nordic heritage, and many residents still cultivate their connection to Finland in the holiday traditions they celebrate, the music they play, and the many outdoor activities they pursue. Classical KING FM frequently plays music by Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian composers on air and has welcomed chamber musicians from the Nordic Heritage Museum's Mostly Nordic Chamber Series into its studios for live performances.

Over the course of the SSO's Sibelius festival, called Luminous Landscapes, principal guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard will lead the orchestra in a complete cycle of Sibelius's eight symphonies and a few of the composer's other big hits. The SSO is one of very few orchestras to present the full cycle, and for Seattle residents and out-of-town visitors, this festival will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For more information on all of the Seattle Symphony's Sibelius concerts, click here.
by Geoffrey Larson posted Jan 27 2015 2:23PM
The featured CD's recording of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 18 will air on Classical KING FM 98.1 on Wednesday, January 28 at 8am. The Piano Concerto No. 19 will air on Thursday, January 29 at 8am.

One can always be amazed by the great focus and honesty with which Mozart’s music was conceived. The nature of his music has an essential purity that tends to make the task of giving an excellent performance monumentally difficult. Each phrase seems to hold a magnifying glass to the performer’s every flaw. The great realism that is afforded by the current practices of recording engineering makes the task of making an album even more daunting. However, Mitsuko Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra are certainly up for the challenge. One of the many Mozart collaborations of the Uchida-Cleveland team was awarded a Grammy Award in 2011, and this latest does not fail to impress with its technical precision and clarity of musical concept. Uchida directs from the piano in this performance, recorded in April 2014 at Severance Hall.
 
If you’re looking for a good example of piano technique with the purity and gleaming polish to match the lacquer on a brand-new Steinway grand, this is it. Such flowing lightness of touch through fast runs, exact rhythm, and subtle use of pedal are not only drool-worthy for every aspiring pianist, but are essential for a high-class contemporary recording of Mozart.  Uchida’s touch displays great flexibility, from a soft piano that is delicate and intimate to the right amount of power in forte. The loud passages demand the listener’s attention just as effectively as the soft passages invite and beguile.
 
Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra appear to stick to modern performance traditions here, with the orchestra using a lush sound full of vibrato throughout and often shunning the nachschlag, that little flourish often added at the end of trills in early music practice. Though this recording is certainly not a “historically informed” performance, this is not an observation on its quality, just a testament to its approach. The Cleveland Orchestra’s playing is characteristically precise, with tremendous accuracy of intonation and articulation. Short notes are given great energy and lightness to showcase the playfulness of Mozart’s phrases, and appropriately strong attacks give good force to the more declamatory of Mozart’s outbursts. Attempts at phrasing in Mozart can often go too far, appearing unnatural or over-mannered; Uchida and Cleveland take a much more understated approach, adding beautiful contours with a subtle, gentle elegance. It is possible that this highly refined playing misses a couple opportunities to really reach out and grab the listener in the 19th concerto. However, Uchida makes bolder choices in the second movement of the 18th, with great sensitivity and a wonderful sense of drama in the recitative-like solo passages. Both solo and orchestral playing in the angsty minore of this movement is tremendously expressive, and the decision to limit the maggiore section to solo strings in order to create a more contrasting environment was an effective one.
 
The partnership of Mitsuko Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra is one of deep communication and a clear, unified vision of what this music should sound like. It is one that is wonderful to experience, and leaves the listener yearning to witness this collaboration live.
 
 
Geoffrey Larson is the Assistant Music Director at Classical KING FM 98.1, and the Music Director of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra.
 
Filed Under :
Location : Cleveland
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