Letter V Classical Radio Aug. 29

School’s back in at the University of Richmond, and the show returns to its regular time slot.

noon-3 p.m. EDT
1700-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Mozart: “The Marriage of Figaro” Overture
Musicaeterna/Theodor Currentzis
(Sony Classical)

Stravinsky: “Petrouchka” (1911 version)
Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth

Past Masters:
Ravel: “Rapsodie espagnole”
Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
(Sony Classical)
(recorded 1969)

Muzio Clementi: Sonata in G minor, Op. 50, No. 3
(“Didone abbandanto – scena tragica”)
Olivier Cavé, piano

Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga: Quartet No. 3 in E flat major
Quatuor Sine Nomine

George Walker: “Lyric for Strings”
Chicago Sinfonietta/Paul Freeman

Janáček: Quartet No. 1 (“Kreutzer Sonata”)
Pavel Haas Quartet

Past Masters:
Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25
(orchestration by Arnold Schoenberg)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Robert Craft
(Sony Classical)
(recorded 1964)

George Walker (1922-2018)

George Walker, the composer, pianist and teacher who in 1996 became the first African-American awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music – for “Lilacs,” an orchestral song cycle setting verses from Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” – has died at 96.

Walker, a student of Nadia Boulanger in Paris and of Rudolf Serkin at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, could not overcome the color bar to pursue a career as a concert pianist, and turned to composition and teaching. He was the longtime chairman of the music department at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and became a mentor to generations of African-African composers.

Walker’s best-known work is “Lyric for Strings,” an orchestration of the slow movement of his String Quartet No. 1 (1946), written in memory of his grandmother, who had been a slave.

An obituary by The Washington Post’s Harrison Smith:


Letter V Classical Radio Aug. 22

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Telemann: Horn Concerto in D major
Alec Frank-Gemmill, horn
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas McGegan

Chopin: “Fantasy on Polish Airs,” Op. 13
Jan Lisiecki, piano
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra/Krzysztof Urbański
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Nielsen: Wind Quintet in A major
Diamant Ensemble

Schubert: Octet in F major, D. 803
Academy of Ancient Music Chamber Ensemble
(L’Oiseau Lyre)

Dvořák: Serenade in E major, Op. 22
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis

Samuel Coleridge Taylor: “Symphonic Variations on an African Air”
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Grant Llewellyn

Scarlatti: Sonata in F major, K. 446 (“Pastorale”)
(arrangement by Ignaz Friedman)
Joseph Moog, piano

Handel: Concerto grosso in A major, Op. 6, No. 11
Academy of Ancient Music/Andrew Manze
(Harmonia Mundi)

John Adams: “Absolute Jest”
St. Lawrence String Quartet
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
(SFS Media)

Bartók: “Dance Suite”
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

Aretha Franklin, the personification of soul music, and the most identifiable and influential voice in American music over the past 50 years, has died at 76.

The Memphis-born daughter of a preacher, C.L. Franklin, and initially a gospel singer, Aretha Franklin developed into a song stylist who melded rhythm and blues, jazz and various popular idioms into a sound and emotive pitch that resonates throughout this country’s – and the world’s – musical vernacular.

An obituary and outline of her remarkable career by The New York Times’ Jon Pareles:

Letter V Classical Radio Aug. 15

1-5 p.m. EDT
1700-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

J.S. Bach: “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046
European Brandenburg Ensemble/Trevor Pinnock

Mendelssohn: String Symphony No. 7 in D minor
Nieuw Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Lev Markiz

C.P.E. Bach: Trio Sonata in B minor, Wq 143
Emmanuel Pahud, flute
Lisa Batiashvili, violin
Sebastian Klinger, cello
Peter Kofler, harpsichord
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Past Masters:
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7 in D minor
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam/Colin Davis
(recorded 1975)

Amy Beach: Theme and Variations, Op. 80
Doriot Anthony Dwyer, flute
Manhattan String Quartet
(Koch International Classics)

Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major
Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin
Berlin Philharmonic/Lorin Maazel
(Warner Classics)

Szymanowski: Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 21
Lucas Debargue, piano
(Sony Classical)

Vaughan Williams: “Norfolk Rhapsody” No. 1 in E minor
New Queen’s Hall Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth

Adalbert Gyrowetz: Symphony in D major, Op. 12, No. 1
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert

Mozart: Violin Sonata in G major, K. 301
Gil Shaham, violin
Orli Shaham, piano
(Canary Classics)

Beethoven: Fantasia in C minor for piano, chorus and orchestra
Ronald Brautigam, piano
Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Parrott

Ferree tapped by Saint Paul

James Ferree, who has served as principal horn player of the Richmond Symphony since 2012, is leaving the orchestra to become principal horn of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota.

Ferree, who studied with Hermann Baumann while he was living in Germany, went on to attend and graduate from the Juilliard School. He played in the New World Symphony in Miami before coming to Richmond.

He gave his final local performance with pianist Russell Wilson on Aug. 9 in the Richmond Symphony Summer Series.

Review: Richmond Chamber Players

Aug. 5, River Road Church, Baptist

Relocated from Bon Air Presbyterian Church while its sanctuary is being renovated, the Richmond Chamber Players face an acoustical challenge in this summer’s venue, River Road Church, Baptist, whose large, highly resonant sanctuary effectively amplifies higher-volume musical passages and higher-register instruments.

Those qualities made the first work in the series’ opening concert, Igor Stravinsky’s suite from his theater piece “L’histoire du soldat” (“The Soldier’s Tale”), project more loudly and with brighter, more primary sound colors than its instrumentation, for violin, clarinet and piano, normally produces.

Susy Yim’s violin, especially in the piece’s numerous double-stopped passages, overbalanced David Lemelin’s clarinet, while the piano, played by John Walter, added more sonic bulk than detail. Yim reveled in the elaborate, virtuosic “The Soldier’s Violin;” the three musicians were at their collaborative best in the suite’s central “Tango, Waltz, Ragtime” dance sequence, playing up the Hungarian flavor with which Stravinsky spiced his waltz tune.

The space’s acoustics were perhaps even more challenging for clarinetist Lemelin, flutist Mary Boodell and bassoonist Thomas Schneider in Allan Blank’s “Introduction and Three Episodes.” The Richmond-based composer, who died in 2013, wrote extensively and fluently for wind instruments, exploiting their individual and collective tone colors in a style that employed the tonal languages of the French impressionists and Béla Bartók to create a lyrical but emotionally haunted music.

Blank’s musical ghosts thrive in sound environments that bring out subtleties of timbre and subtle gradations of volume. This space did not, despite the best efforts of the three players.

The program’s most successful performance turned out to be Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major, K. 285, played by flutist Boodell, violinist Kim, violist Stephen Schmidt and cellist Neal Cary.

Boodell played a metal flute with a wooden head, a configuration whose softer tone approximated the sound of flutes of Mozart’s time and more effectively blended with string tones than a fully modern flute would, without yielding the wind instrument’s clearly leading role in the piece.

This quartet is a more virtuosic showcase for the flute than any of three concertos that Mozart wrote for instrument, especially in its opening allegro; and its central adagio, which sounds like an aria from a Gluck opera, is perhaps the finest lyrical showcase for the flute that the composer ever wrote.

Boodell, ably supported by the trio of string musicians, played with technical assurance, animation and, in the adagio, chaste soulfulness.

The Richmond Chamber Players’ Interlude 2018 series continues with concerts at 3 p.m. Aug. 12, 19 and 26 at River Road Church, Baptist, River and Ridge roads. Tickets: $25. Details: http://www.richmondchamberplayers.org

Eckart Preu, bi-coastal maestro

Longtime Richmonders will remember Eckart Preu, who as the newly minted assistant conductor of the Richmond Symphony led the orchestra in its first concert following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks while a suspension of air travel left then-music director Mark Russell Smith stuck at home in Minneapolis.

Preu (rhymes with “joy”), a onetime chorister in the famed Dresdner Kreuzchor boys’ choir in his native Germany, left Richmond in 2004 to become music director of the Spokane Symphony in Washington state, a post he vacated at the end of this past season.

In recent years, Preu took on direction of the Long Beach (CA) Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.

Now, he’s gone professionally bi-coastal, having been named music director of the Portland (ME) Symphony Orchestra: