Letter V Classical Radio July 24

The first of two programs of baroque music, whose light textures, bright tone colors and vivid atmospheric effects are just right for dispelling midsummer doldrums. Those who assume that one baroque work sounds pretty much like another are in for many surprises.

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

Marc-Antoine Charpentier:
“Fanfare à deux trompettes”
“Marche de Triomphe”
“Second Air de trumpette”
Musica Antiqua Köln/Reinhard Goebel
(DG Archiv)

Purcell: “Come, ye sons of art” (“Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary”)
Jennifer Smith, soprano
Michael Chance & Timothy Wilson, counter-tenors
Stephen Richardson, bass
The English Concert & Choir/Trevor Pinnock
(DG Archiv)

Jean-Baptiste Lully: “Amour malade”
Sharla Nafziger, soprano
Aradia Baroque Ensemble/Kevin Mallon

Handel: “Coronation Anthems” – III: “The king shall rejoice”
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Academy of Ancient Music/Stephen Cleobury
(Warner Classics)

Johann Georg Pisendel: Sonata in A minor for solo violin
Anton Steck, violin

Domenico Scarlatti:
Sonata in C minor, K. 84
Sonata in C major, K. 460
Sonata in D minor, K. 213
Sonata in D major, K. 119
Jean Rondeau, harpsichord

J.S. Bach: Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005, for solo violin
Christine Busch, violin

Telemann: Concerto in E minor, TWV 52:e1, for recorder and flute
Michael Schmidt-Casdorff, flute
Dorothee Oberlinger, recorder
Ensemble 1700
(Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)

Rameau: “Les Boréades” (excerpts)
Jennifer Smith, soprano
John Aler & Philip Langridge, tenors
François Le Roux & Gilles Cachemaille, baritones
Monteverdi Choir
English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner

Vivaldi: “The Four Seasons” – II: “Summer”
Giuliano Carmignola, violin
Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
(Sony Classical)

Ben Johnston (1926-2019)

Ben Johnston, the American composer known for employing just intonation (even spacing of 12 notes within an octave) and producing works with numerous microtones (the near-infinity of tones spaced between the notes of the even-tempered scale), has died at 93.

Johnston was once described by The New York Times critic John Rockwell as “one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer.”

Johnston, born in Macon, GA, grew up in Richmond (his father was my father’s boss at the Richmond Times-Dispatch), and earned degrees from the College of William and Mary and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He also studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College and with American avant-gardists Harry Partch and John Cage.

Johnston taught composition, music theory and acoustics at the University of Illinois at Urbanna-Champaign for 35 years. After his retirement from the university in 1986, he continued teaching composition privately.

His most important works are 10 string quartets, in styles ranging from serial to microtonal to minimalist; the best-known of them is the Quartet No. 4, which features variations on the old hymn tune “Amazing Grace.” Among his other compositions are “Quintet for Groups,” for which he was awarded the Orchesterpreis der Donaueschingen Musiktage in Germany in 2008; “Sonnets of Desolation,” commissioned by the Swingle Singers; incidental music for Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla,” as staged by the LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York; and a sonata and suite for microtonal piano.

Johnston won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1959 and an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his book “Maximum Clarity” in 2007.