"A Catalog of Music, Part 1"
MUSIC: clip from the beginning of Rossini’s
Cat Duet, sung by Edward Crafts, baritone and Deidra Palmour, soprano,
accompanied on the piano by Noel Lester [Centaur CRC 2511]
[under the following]
The music in the background is attributed to Rossini. The lyrics are by...
evidently, his cat. The piece is called The Cat Duet.
It is one of many musical compositions inspired by our feline friends over the
centuries, and we’re going to sample quite a few of them on this hour of
Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.
MUSIC: fades out
In fact, I have gathered together so many beautiful examples of cat music, that
I’m going to devote two hours to it, so I’m calling this hour, “A Catalog
of Music, Part 1.”
Some of the composers we’ll hear from in these two hours are names you’ll
probably recognize. They include -- in no particular order -- Mozart,
Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Rossini, Scarlatti, Aaron Copland, Jerome Kern, Gabriel
Fauré, Garrison Keillor, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Leroy
Anderson. Stravinsky wrote three cat lullabies and a song based on The Owl
and the Pussy-Cat, but they are too dissonant for my taste, so you won’t
hear those here. Others will probably be new names to you, as many of them are
to me, but they all wrote music about cats that I enjoy and hope you will too.
Let’s begin, if not at the beginning, at least as far back as I can find
cat-inspired music. It is by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber [hyn-rick fuhn
BEE-ber], who lived from 1644 to 1704. His Sonata Representativa
has pieces musically immitating the nightingale, cuckoo, frog, cock and hen,
quail, and cat. If you can spare just one minute, here’s Die Katz.
MUSIC: Biber: The Cat from his Sonata Representativa,
performed by Romanesca [Harmonia Mundi HMX 2907344.45] [1:00]
The Cat by Heinrich von Biber. The performance was by Romanesca on a
Harmonia Mundi compact disc.
Domenico Scarlatti was the composer of The Cat Fugue, which we’ll hear
next as performed by pianist Noel Lester from a CD which I’m going to use often
in this hour called “Purrfectly Classical.” That’s spelled
MUSIC: Scarlatti: The Cat Fugue, performed by
pianist Noel Lester [Centaur CRC 2511] [3:38]
The Cat Fugue by Domenico Scarlatti, performed by Noel Lester on the
Mozart participated in the writing of a fairy-tale opera in 1790, toward the end
of his short life, that wasn’t discovered until 1996. It is called Der Stein
der Weisen / The Philosopher’s Stone. In it a spell is cast over one of the
female characters who can then only meow like a cat. This duet was one of the
pieces in the opera which had Mozart’s name next to it on the score. And it
certainly does sound like Mozart!
MUSIC: Mozart: song from The Philosopher’s Stone
, sung by Kevin Deas and Jane Giering De Hann with the Boston Baroque [Telarc
Miau! Miau! by Mozart from the fairy-tale opera, The Philosopher’s
Stone. The singers were Kevin Deas and Jane Giering De Haan. The Boston
Baroque was directed by Martin Pearlman on this Telarc compact disc.
Here’s another cat-inspired piece by Mozart -- one which is much more famous.
MUSIC: Mozart/Keillor: Eine Kleine Kat , sung by
Garrison Keillor and Frederica von Stade from their album “Songs of the Cat”
[RCA Victor 09026-61161-2] [1:31]
That was -- how do I describe what that was? -- That was Mozart’s Eine Kleine
Kat, with words by Garrison Keillor, sung by Frederica von Stade. This was
from an RCA Victor compact disc called “Songs of the Cat,” which featured
Keillor and von Stade.
While we’re sampling that CD, let’s skip ahead in chronological time, but back
to the first track on the CD, which features Garrison Keillor with Frederica von
Stade singing The Cat Came Back.
MUSIC: Keillor: The Cat Came Back, sung by Garrison
Keillor and Frederica von Stade from their album “Songs of the Cat” [RCA Victor
Garrison Keillor with Frederica von Stade singing The Cat Came Back from
his album, “Songs of the Cat.”
Now let’s go back to the 19th Century and the music attributed to Rossini with
which I started this “Catalog of Music” hour of Compact Discoveries.
It is called The Cat Duet
and it is for two voices and piano. The pianist, once again, is Noel Lester. The
voices are Edward Crafts, baritone, and Deidra Palmour, soprano.
MUSIC: Rossini: The Cat Duet, sung by Edward Crafts,
baritone and Deidra Palmour, soprano, accompanied on the piano by Noel Lester
[Centaur CRC 2511] [3:16]
Rossini’s Cat Duet performed by Edward Crafts, baritone, and Deidra
Palmour, soprano. The piano accompaniment was by Noel Lester. This was from the
Centaur CD called “Purrfectly Classical.”
You are listening to “A Catalog of Music, Part 1” on Compact
Discoveries. I’m your pet owner, Fred Flaxman.
Chopin was also inspired by a cat. His Waltz in F, Op. 34, Number 3, is
known as The Cat’s Waltz. Here’s Zoltan Kocsis [ZOHL-tahn KOH-cheesh]to
play it for you. I’ll bet you’ll be able to picture a cat running around rapidly
or chasing his tail in this one.
MUSIC: Chopin: Waltz in F, Op. 34, performed by pianist
Zoltán Kocsis [Philips 412 890-2] [2:12]
Chopin’s Waltz in F, Op. 34, Number 3, known as “The Cat’s Waltz.” The
pianist was Zoltan Kocsis. This was a Philips compact disc recording.
Our “Catalog of Music” continues now with two pieces for two pianos by
Gabriel Fauré -- both from his Dolly Suite. First, what else but
Mi-a-ou. Then Kitty -Valse. The duo pianists are Laurence Fromentin
and Dominique Plancade.
MUSIC: Fauré: Mi-a-ou from Dolly Suite,
performed by duo pianists Laurence Fromentin and Dominique Plancade [EMI
Classics CDZ 7243 5 72526 2 1] [1:47]
MUSIC: Fauré: Kitty-Valse from Dolly Suite, performed by duo
pianists Laurence Fromentin and Dominique Plancade [EMI Classics CDZ 7243 5
72526 2 1] [2:27]
Two cat-inspired pieces for two pianos by Gabriel Fauré, both from the Dolly
Suite, which he wrote to play with his mistress’s daughter. The first was
Mi-a-ou. The second, Kitty-Valse. The duo pianists were Laurence
Fromentin and Dominique Plancade.
Tchaikovsky was also catatonic, if I can be permitted to coin a new
meaning for an old word which really should indicate “composers who write tones
about cats.” Remember Puss-in-Boots and The White Cat from his
ballet, Sleeping Beauty?
MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: Puss-in-Boots and The White Cat
from Sleeping Beauty, performed by Noel Lester, piano [Centaur CRC 2511]
Puss-in-Boots and The White Cat from Sleeping Beauty by
Tchaikovsky, played on the piano by Noel Lester from his “Purrfectly
You are listening to “A Catalog of Music, Part 1” on this hour of Compact
Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.
[optional one-minute break not included in total timing of
In case you’ve just joined us, we are exploring music inspired by cats from
the baroque period to the present, and we’re now hearing contributions to the
genre by romantic composers.
Next up is the French composer Georges Bizet and his delightful piece for piano
duet called Puss in the Corner. It’s from his Children’s Games.
MUSIC: Bizet: Puss in the Corner, performed by Noel
Lester and Nancy Roldán, pianists [Centaur CRC 2511] [2:12]
Bizet’s Puss in the Corner. Noel Lester and Nancy Roldán were the
Next here’s a cat duet of a different sort from the pen of Maurice Ravel.
MUSIC: Ravel: Cat Duet from l’Enfant et les
sortilèges, performed by Edward Craft, baritone, and Deidra Palmour,
soprano, with Noel Lester, piano [Centaur CRC 2511] [1:56]
The Cat Duet from l’Enfant et les sortilèges by Maurice Ravel. The
title of this opera is quite pretty in French, but doesn’t sound nice at all in
English. It translates as “the child and the wizardries.” See what I mean? The
two voices were Edward Craft, baritone, and Deidra Palmour, soprano. Noel Lester
was the pianist, as this piece is also from his “Purrfectly Classical”
album on the Centaur label.
Next, one of my most recent compact discoveries -- a truly beautiful song by the
French composer Henri Sauguet called Le Chat / The Cat. The words are by
the poet Baudelaire and they rhyme beautifully in French. They are about his cat
that walks in his brain as well as in his apartment. A beautiful cat -- strong,
sweet and charming. When he meows, you can hardly hear him.
His sounds are tender and discreet, but when he purrs, his voice is always rich
and deep. That’s his charm and that’s his secret.
MUSIC: Sauguet: The Cat, sugn by Felicity Lott,
soprano, accompanied by Graham Johnson on the piano [Harmonia Mundi HMA 1951219
Henri Sauguet’s Le Chat / The Cat. Felicity Lott was the soprano. Graham
Johnson, the pianist, on this Harmonia Mundi compact disc.
One more very short French piece about cats. This is by Eric Satie and it’s
called Song of the Cat.
MUSIC: Satie: Song of the Cat, performed by Deidra Palmour,
soprano, with Noel Lester, piano [Centaur CRC 2511] [0:52]
Song of the Cat by Eric Satie. You heard Deidra Palmour, soprano, with
Noel Lester on the piano.
Next we’re going to hear the Cats’ Serenade by A. Razek. That last name
is spelled R-a-z-e-k. I don’t know what the “A” stands for, nor anything else
about this composer, including how to pronounce his name, but that was not for
lack of trying to find out. There is nothing about him on the CD, and he isn’t
listed in any of my reference books, so I went online and searched the internet.
I found an A period Razek who was the author of “Electromagnetic Nondestructive
Evaluation,” whatever that is. I found Adel Razek who is a research director in
France. I found Abdel Razek who is a bass singer, and Abu Razek, who lectures on
tax legal issues.
As you’ll hear, this piece does not sound as though it were written by Abed
Razek, finance minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority cabinet. And I
doubt that it was composed by the Razek who serves or served as the creative
director of Victoria’s Secret since the mid-1990s.
In any case, here’s Razek’s Cats’ Serenade as performed by the Quartetto
d’Archi di Venezia on a Dynamic compact disc.
MUSIC: Razek: Cats’ Serenade, performed by the Quartetto
d’Archi di Venezia [Dynamic CDS 195] [3:09]
Razek’s Cats’ Serenade performed by the Quartetto d’Archi di Venezia.
You are listening to “A Catalog of Music, Part 1,” on Compact Discoveries.
I’m Fred Flaxman.
Here’s a Mouse-Catching Rhyme from Hugo Wolf [HOO-go Vohlf].
MUSIC: Wolf: Mouse-Catching Rhyme, performed by soprano
Deidra Palmour and Noel Lester, piano [Centaur CRC 2511] [1:13]
Hugo Wolf’s Mouse-Catching Rhyme. Once again we heard soprano Deidra
Palmour and pianist Noel Lester in a “Purrfectly Classical” performance
on the Centaur label.
Next, a pretty piece of piano music that is romantic in feeling, yet modern. I
think it will make a good bridge between the periods. It is by Ernst von
Dohnányi [ehrnst fun DOHKH-nah-nyee] and it is called Cats on the Roof. I
don’t hear them there very well myself. I hope you do.
MUSIC: Dohnány: Cats on the Roof, performed by Noel
Lester, piano [Centaur CRC 2511] [4:40]
Dohnányi’s Cats on the Roof, performed by Noel Lester on the piano.
We started our “Catalog of Music, Part 1,” with baroque music inspired by
cats, then we sampled some classical and several romantic period cat pieces. Now
we’re into the 20th Century, which we’ll complete in “A Catalog of Music,
Part 2.” Part 2 will include music by human composers Leroy Anderson, Heitor
Villa-Lobos, Ernesto Lecuona, Jerome Kern, Alan Hovhaness, Andrew Lloyd-Webber,
and many others. It will also feature a
Piece for Piano, Four Paws by Ketzel. In case you have never heard of
Ketzel, I should tell you that he’s one really cool cat, and not of the human
Now let’s conclude Part 1 of “A Catalog of Music” with a very clever
piano piece by Aaron Copland called The Cat and the Mouse. This piece
definitely lives up to its title.
MUSIC: Copland: The Cat and the Mouse, performed
by Noel Lester, piano [Élan CD 82296]] [3:58]
Aaron Copland’s The Cat and the Mouse, performed by Noel Lester, this
time on an Élan Recording called “Rags to Riches: An American Album.” And with
that piece we bring to an end “A Catalog of Music, Part 1” on Compact
Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these sometimes perfectly silly selections and that you’ll
contact me to let me have your reaction to this and other Compact Discoveries
hours. I can be reached via the Compact Discoveries website:
I would like to thank Simon Corley in Paris, France, for his cat-a-tonic
suggestions. He listens to these programs by streaming them on demand from the
Public Radiio Exchange website. You can too. Their web address is prx.org.
Some of the recordings for this hour of Compact Discoveries were provided
Compact Discoveries is distributed internationally by the Public Radio
MUSIC: Weyse: Cat Cavatina [1:19]
ANNOUNCER: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story
Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and
edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor dot com,
b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com.
MUSIC: reprise of Weyse ending
PROGRAM ENDS AT 58:00
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