Antonin Dvorak - Symphony No.3 in E-flat, Op.10
Frederic Delius Spring Morning
Bedrich Smetana The Bartered Bride (hosted by Sue Elliott: part 2)
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No.3 in E-flat, Op.55 "Eroica"
Richard Wilson Ironies

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
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.
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Location : Cleveland
by Geoffrey Larson posted Jan 12 2015 8:58AM
In 2014 and beyond, Classical KING FM will review and broadcast some of the best new CD releases. Our first review features Andris Nelsons' first recording as the new Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The recording of Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43, will air on Classical KING FM on Wednesday, January 14, at 10pm.
The atmosphere was positively electric in Boston Symphony Hall on October 19, 2013, on the occasion of Andris Nelsons’ first performance with the orchestra since being named its new Music Director. As the first conductor to hold this position since James Levine withdrew due to health problems in 2011, Nelsons has received a tremendously enthusiastic welcome in Boston. The audience rose to its feet and cheered at the first sight of the enormous figure as he entered the stage. The release of his first recording with the orchestra, taken from live performances in the first season of his tenure, is worthy of just as much anticipation.
Like he did on the occasion of that first performance as Music Director Designate, Nelsons has chosen some very meaty traditional repertoire (the concert I attended in October 2013 featured Wagner, Mozart, and Brahms) for this release on the orchestra’s dedicated BSO CLASSICS label. The decision to release Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser Overture and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 was a very purposeful one: Nelsons describes the experience of hearing Tannhäuser at five years old as leading to his decision to become a conductor, and the Boston Symphony’s extensive Sibelius discography is well known. Choosing such large, musically rich masterworks gives a new music director the opportunity to immediately set the tone of the new artistic approach he brings to the organization.
Both the Wagner and Sibelius performances benefit from Nelsons’ unhurried approach. Nelsons lets Wagner’s grandiose phrases take their time, and the fast passages never seem rushed. From the hushed first woodwind note of the Wagner to the richness of the venerated string section’s entrance and the grandeur of the brass, there seems to be a strong primary focus on beauty of tone, with excellent balance and particular restraint on the part of brass playing. The beautiful sound of the BSO’s severely underrated brass section shines here, as does solo playing. The infamously difficult cello and violin passages of this overture are navigated with aplomb. The performance is one of great grace, and avoids particularly short or harshly accented articulations. Such a restrained approach is refreshing but possibly goes too far in the overture’s final bars, somewhat limiting the exultation of the finish. The “più stretto” that Wagner adds in the final bars fails to truly push the music over the top in this performance.
There is a strong sense of pride that comes with an orchestra of such tradition and legacy (and endowment – one of the world’s largest), and if that pride wasn’t evidenced enough by that BSO audience’s ovation, it can be heard in every note of this Sibelius performance. Though this is arguably the most famous and most often-performed of Sibelius’ symphonies, it is full of confusing ensemble difficulties. Too often parts just don’t fit together and complex rhythms fail to be heard without the right amount of time and precision. It’s possible that some players in the orchestra are beginning to show their age, but they display such commitment to small musical details and a willingness to play loud and soft dynamics with huge contrast. This approach gives the performance great transparency, and even interesting bassoon parts are heard through thick orchestral textures. However, Nelsons and the BSO have had some help here exposing every detail of the score: the work of the recording engineers and producer Shawn Murphy to achieve such balance and lifelike, crystal-clear sound cannot be overstated. It is true that a couple of recordings by Scandinavian conductors may be more successful at drawing out the expansiveness and coldness of the second movement, and might allow the theme of the final movement to soar with less march-like quality. However, the darkness, the loneliness of the pianissimo with which Nelsons and the venerated BSO players begin Sibelius’ slow build to the final majesty of the climax is something truly incredible. It seals a recording that is a first achievement of this new artistic partnership not to be ignored.
Geoffrey Larson is the Assistant Music Director at Classical KING FM 98.1 and the Music Director of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra.
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