Saturday, 24 March 2012

Intermezzo from Fedora, by Umberto Giordano

From Youtube:

This beautiful Intermezzo,from the opera,Fedora,by Umberto Giordano 1867-1948. Fedora is an opera based on the play Fedora by Victorien Sardou.

This is one of the most notable works of Giordano.It was first performed in Milan 1898, with Gemma Bellincioni in the role of Fedora, and Enrico Caruso as her lover Loris Ipanov.

El Noi de la mare, by John Williams

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Adagio of Spartacus & Phrygia, by Aram Khachaturian

Ballet version:

From Wikipedia:

Spartacus, or Spartak, is a ballet by Aram Khachaturian (1903–1978). The work follows the exploits of Spartacus, the leader of the slave uprising against the Romans known as the Third Servile War, although the ballet's storyline takes considerable liberties with the historical record. Khachaturian composed the ballet in 1954, and for this was awarded a Lenin Prize that year.[1] It was first staged, with choreography by Leonid Yakobson, in Leningrad 1956,[2] but only with qualified success since Yakobson abandoned conventional pointe in his choreography.[3] The ballet received its first staging at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow in 1958, choreographed by Igor Moiseev; however it was the 1968 production, choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich, which achieved the greatest acclaim for the ballet.[2] It remains one of Khachaturian's best known works and is prominent within the repertoires of the Bolshoi Theatre and other ballet companies in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Opus 43 (18), by Sergei Rachmaninov

From Wikipedia:

The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, (Russian: Rapsodiya na temu Paganini) is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted interpreter of his own works, played the solo piano part at the piece's premiere at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Rachmaninoff, Stokowski, and the Philadelphia Orchestra made the first recording, on December 24, 1934, at RCA Victor's Trinity Church Studio in Camden, New Jersey.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Raga Yaman - Amjad Ali Khan

Another evening raga, another epic composition & rendition!

I'd once attended an Amjad Ali Khan concert, with the Scottish Philharmonic, the day after I'd done an Iron Maiden concert! Iron Maiden, in my book, are one of the greatest rock bands of all time, due to the harmonic influences in their music. But within 10 minutes of listening to the Ustad weave his magic, the only feeling I had was how shallow my tastes were!

This performance isn't from that concert, but it summarizes my feelings from that day very aptly!

From wiki: "Yaman is supposed to be one of the most fundamental ragas in Hindustani Classical Music. It is usually one of the first ragas taught to the serious classical music student." It is derived from the Carnatic classical raga Kalyani.

It starts off very slowly - it's over 30 mins in length - building up momentum gradually. However, within a few short minutes, it pulls you in. You get lulled into a rhythm, before the climax takes you over completely, much like a crescendo in western classical.

PS: This is another one of those pieces that mandates a smoky wine, like a Shiraz ;-)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Flower Duet (Lakmé), by Leo Delibes

From Wikipedia on Léo Delibes:

Clément Philibert Léo Delibes (21 February 1836 – 16 January 1891) was a French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage. His most notable works include ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) as well as the operas Le roi l'a dit (1873) and Lakmé (1883).

Léo Delibes was born in Saint-Germain-du-Val, now part of La Flèche (Sarthe), France, in 1836. His father was a mailman, his mother a talented amateur musician. His grandfather had been an opera singer. He was raised mainly by his mother and uncle following his father's early death. In 1871, at the age of 35, the composer married Léontine Estelle Denain. His brother Michel Delibes migrated to Spain; he was the grandfather of Spanish writer Miguel Delibes.

From Wikipedia on Lakmé:

Lakmé is an opera in three acts by Léo Delibes to a French libretto by Edmond Gondinet and Philippe Gille. Delibes wrote the score during 1881–82 with its first performance on 14 April 1883 at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Set in British India in the mid 19th century, Lakmé is based on the 1880 novel Rarahu ou Le Mariage de Loti by Pierre Loti. The opera includes the famous and popular Flower Duet (Sous le dôme épais) for sopranos performed in Act 1 by the lead character Lakmé, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, and her servant Mallika.[1] Another famous aria from the opera is the Bell Song (L'Air des clochettes) in Act 2.

Like other French operas of the period, Lakmé captures the ambiance of the Orient that was in vogue during the latter part of the nineteenth century in line with other operatic works such as Bizet's The Pearl Fishers and Massenet's Le roi de Lahore.[2] The subject of the opera was suggested by Gondinet as a vehicle for the American soprano Marie van Zandt.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams

From Wikipedia:

The Lark Ascending is a work by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, inspired by George Meredith's 122-line poem of the same name about the skylark. The work was written in two versions: violin and piano, written in 1914; and violin and orchestra, written in 1920. The orchestral version is the one that is almost always heard now. It is one of the most popular pieces in the Classical repertoire among British listeners.

Vaughan Williams sketched the work while watching troop ships cross the English Channel at the outbreak of the First World War. A small boy observed him making the sketches and, thinking he was jotting down a secret code, informed a police officer, who subsequently arrested the composer.The war halted his compositional activities, but the work was revised in 1920 with the help of the English violinist Marie Hall, during their stay at Kings Weston House near Bristol.

The Lark Ascending was dedicated to Marie Hall, who premiered both versions. The piano-accompanied premiere was in December 1920, in conjunction with the Avonmouth and Shirehampton Choral Society. This was followed by the first London performance, and first orchestral performance, on 14 June 1921, under conductor Adrian Boult. The critic from The Times said of that performance, "It showed supreme disregard for the ways of today or yesterday. It dreamed itself along".

The use of pentatonic scale patterns frees the violin from a strong tonal centre, and shows the impressionistic side of Vaughan Williams' style. This liberty also extends to the metre. The cadenzas for solo violin are written without bar lines, lending them a sense of meditational release.

In 2011 it was chosen as Britain's all-time favourite 'Desert Island Disc' in a poll of listeners to chose the nation's Desert Island Discs.

From 2007 to 2010, the piece was voted number one in the Classic FM annual Hall of Fame poll, over Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and another work of Vaughan Williams', the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. In 2011 it was usurped by Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. In 2011, in a poll to find what music New Yorkers would like to hear on the radio for the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Lark Ascending came second.

Le Onde, by Ludovico Einaudi

From Wikipedia:

Le Onde is an album released in 1996 by the Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi. The album is based on the novel The Waves by British writer Virginia Woolf, and was Einaudi's first solo piano album. The album enjoyed mainstream success, particularly in Italy and the UK.