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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Pianist Leon Fleisher is 86 years old today, born in 1928 in San Francisco where he began studying piano at the age of 4. Despite losing a portion of his career to focal dystonia, Mr. Fleisher has had one of the longest careers of any instrumentalists. More than 50 years ago he made a series of recordings for Columbia including all the piano concertos of Beethoven and Brahms. With what orchestra and conductor did Mr. Fleisher make those recordings? Answer >>

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      Chicago’s Joan Harris to Receive National Medal of Arts

      On Monday, July 28th, the President and First Lady will recognize Joan Harris for her tireless support of the arts. It was announced on Tuesday that she would be a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. The visage of Joan Harris is a familiar one around the lobbies of the Civic Opera House and Symphony more...

      From Soviet Refugee to iTunes Favorite

      When Yevgeny Kutik was a boy, his mother declared, "Enough." She packed up her family and left the Soviet Union. There wasn't any one reason. It was a series of reasons: Yevgeny was bullied in Kindergarten; she was laid off because her employers exceeded their "quota of Jews"; her older son had picked up racial slurs at school more...

      Zukerman Chamber Players Recorded Live at Ravinia

      Monday at 8:00 pm South African-born cellist Amanda Forsyth grew up in Canada. Together with her husband, Pinchas Zukerman, Forsyth co-founded the Zukerman Chamber Players. They played the popular Archduke Trio and the Dumky Trio at Ravinia’s Martin Theatre in June. That recital airs on Monday evening at 8:00 pm on WFMT. Beethoven and Dvořák more... more...

      Lyric’s New Opera (Just a Peek)

      Getting beyond “The book was better” - Last week, when Lyric Opera presented a sneak peek at the opera based on Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel "Bel Canto," general director Anthony Freud quickly closed the door on comparisons to the book. Addressing a gathering of patrons and members of the media, Mr. Freud shared some of more...

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      Mozart: The Last Symphonies review a thrilling journey through a tantalising new theory

      Concentus Musicus Wien/Harnoncourt
      (Sony Classical, two CDs)

      Since Charles Mackerras's superb recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra appeared in 2008, we have been quite spoiled by new accounts of Mozart's last three symphonies, most recently from Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century (Glossa). Nikolaus Harnoncourt's versions, the first time he's recorded these works with Concentus Musicus Wien, the orchestra he founded in 1953, is the latest of the sets, but typically for Harnoncourt there is much more to it than just fine period-instrument performances of three of the most familiar works in the symphonic repertoire.

      After 60 years of studying and conducting these works, Harnoncourt is convinced that Mozart intended the three symphonies, famously composed in just two months in the summer of 1788, as a unity the parts of a gigantic instrumental oratorio, which was perhaps inspired by a choral work of CPE Bach's, Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, that he had conducted earlier the same year. That, Harnoncourt's reasoning goes, would explain the thematic connections between the three works, and also why the opening to the E-flat Symphony K543 is conceived like an overture, and why neither that work nor the G minor Symphony K550 has what he calls a "proper" finale, unlike the C major Jupiter Symphony K551, whose last movement seems intended to sum up everything that has come before.

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      Proms 2014: the orchestras taking part for the first time

      At the heart of this years BBC Proms is a celebration of global classical music. Musicians from Lapland, Qatar and Turkey tell us how they came to be playing in SW7

      Ten international ensembles are making their first proms appearance this year; many are from countries that do not have an established tradition of classical music and operate outside the mainstream Euro-American hub that has dominated classical music for the past 300 years. Ten or 20 years ago many of these countries now boasting world-class ensembles barely even had an orchestra. We talked to players from the orchestras making their proms debut and asked them to tell us about the role the orchestra plays in their countrys cultural life.

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      Peter Donohoe review a wonderfully direct guide to rarely heard first works

      Wigmore Hall, London
      Donohoe played a fascinating selection of rarely heard Opus 1s

      Designating a work as "Opus 1" meant something special to many 19th- and early 20th-century composers; it was a public statement, a manifesto signalling a coming-of-age musically. Beethoven's Op 1 was a set of piano trios, Rachmaninov's his First Piano Concerto, Stravinsky's a Symphony in E flat. Others did not choose quite so well an all-but-forgotten Rondo in C Minor for piano in Chopin's case but there are still plenty of worthwhile piano works that serve as significant landmarks, and Peter Donohoe selected six of them for his Wigmore recital.

      Whether by accident or design, the two halves of this recital left very different impressions. While the music that Donohoe played before the interval, by Tchaikovsky (two flashy salon pieces), Prokofiev (his Rachmaninov-like First Sonata) and Bartók (a Lisztian rhapsody), hardly hinted at what those composers would write for piano later in life, the three in the second half all seemed to emerge fully formed in their Op 1s.

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      new releases

      Brahms Beloved II

      Telarc TEL-34659-02 (2 CDs)

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      Schumann: Piano Music

      Naïve V-5364

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      Per Monsieur Pisendel 2

      Avie AV-2308

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      Music for Heart and Breath

      Deutsche Grammophon B0021058-02

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      Robert Kyr: Choral Music

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807577

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