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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: We're playing music for coronations during this hour. Music composed for actual coronation ceremonies, and some composed for coronation scenes in operas. We just heard Sir William Walton's coronation march "Orb & Sceptre," composed for Queen Elizabeth in 1953. What was the name of the coronation march Walton composed in 1937 and for whose coronation was it played? Answer >>

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      QUIZ: Guess the Composer by Their Facial Hair

      Think you know classical composers? Can you guess them by their facial hair? more...

      Your High School Musical Memories

      Heading back to school means auditions are coming up, rehearsals will be starting soon, and before you know it, you’ll be practicing music for a holiday concert even though it’s not even officially fall. For many, one of the best parts of heading back to school is performing with school ensembles. We asked four organizations more... more...

      10 Operas About Poisonous and Medicinal Plants

      As everyone is poised for the corpse plant at the Chicago Botanic Garden to bloom, why not enjoy some music about poisonous and medicinal plants? Operas would be a lot less interesting if poison didn’t seep its way into their plots. Check out this list of 10 operas about poisonous and medicinal plants, taken largely from the research more... more...

      5 Women on Being Modern Women in Dance

      The 9th Chicago Dancing Festival presented its first ever Modern Women program, highlighting the important contributions of women in dance both past and present: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Kate Weare, and Pam Tanowitz, Crystal Pite. I spoke with women from each of the five companies on the program about women’s roles in dance, both as dancers and as choreographers. more...

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      Fenella Humphreys: Bach 2 the Future CD review – companion commissions rise to the challenge

      Fenella Humphreys
      (Champs Hill)


      Look past the cheesy title and you find an intriguing project by violinist Fenella Humphreys, who is commissioning new British companion pieces to Bach’s six iconic sonatas and partitas. Here she performs the first three commissions, alongside a spirited yet unhurried account of Bach’s E major Partita. Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Suite No 1 is a vibrant response to that work, circling around it and expanding upon some of its gestures with a light yet intense touch, and ending with a jig more rollicking than Bach’s. Gordon Crosse’s Orkney Dreaming, mercurial and ruminative, looks further away from its model and, especially in its finale, towards the islands; Piers Hellawell’s Balcony Scenes creates the illusion that there is more than one instrument in play. Humphreys also includes Biber’s mesmerising Passacaglia, a kind of prototype for Bach’s Chaconne, and Ysaÿe’s Sonata No 2, inspired by the Partita, and she rises emphatically to their challenges.

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      Schubert: Goethe Lieder CD review – assured delivery holds the attention throughout

      Mauro Peter/Helmut Deutsch
      (Sony Classical)

      In signing the young Swiss tenor Mauro Peter, Sony probably has an eye to his starrier labelmate – and yes, he and Jonas Kaufmann have a lot in common. Peter’s voice is beefy, gleaming yet burnished – not a million miles from the young Kaufmann’s, though Peter’s comfort zone lies a notch higher. Like Kaufmann before him, Peter is based at the star-nurturing Zurich Opera and is mentored by the pianist Helmut Deutsch, a lively, supportive partner in this generous selection of Schubert’s Goethe settings. Closely miked, Peter sometimes gives the impression of enunciating the words more than feeling them; Meeres Stille has intensity but not real stillness, Erlkönig drama but not distinct characterisation. Yet his assured delivery holds the attention throughout. Perhaps, like Kaufmann, at this early stage of his career, Peter is not yet the Lieder interpreter he will be. But what there is here is ample to be going on with.

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      Debussy: Early Piano Works CD review – the real star is the piano

      Hubert Rutkowski
      (Piano Classics)

      The real star here is the piano on which Hubert Rutkowski has recorded these early pieces by Debussy. It’s a superbly maintained 1880 Érard, the model that was generally used for recitals in France at that time, and which was standard issue at the Paris Conservatoire when Debussy was studying there between 1872 and 1884. This, then, is precisely the instrument with which Debussy grew up, and began to imagine his utterly distinctive sound world for the piano. Each register has its own distinctive character, all of them defined by their clarity; there’s no trace of muddiness, and the slenderest pianissimo carries effortlessly. Rutkowski’s performances certainly make the most of these tonal possibilities, even if his playing is sometimes rather strait-laced and rhythmically stiff. Though the first of the arabesques was composed in 1888, most of the pieces in this collection date from the early 1890s, and while a nocturne and a mazurka show how much Debussy then owed to Chopin, by the time of the 1894 Images (not to be confused with the two later sets of Images for piano, written in 1905 and 1907), the style is recognisably that of the mature composer.

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      Brahms: Piano Concertos

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      Chant for Peace

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4709

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      Bach: Goldberg Variations

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      The New Goldberg Variations

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