Program 114
"Noël with Noel"


MUSIC:
Mendelssohn: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. performed by Noel Lester, piano [RWYA Recordings CRL 0137, track 20] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. The music in the background is Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. You surely recognize the tune, even in this original concert piano arrangement by Jeanine Yeager. Do you think this is a traditional Christmas carol by an anonymous composer? Well it was written by a very well-known composer: Felix Mendelssohn. And while I’m at it, I’d like to add that Joy to the World was written by a not-so-anonymous chap named George Frederick Handel!

My theme for this hour is “Noël with Noel.” The “Noël” part will consist of unfamiliar Christmas music and very familiar Christmas music in unfamiliar piano concert arrangements. The “Noel” part of the theme title comes from Noel Lester, our pianist for the entire hour.

MUSIC: fades out

Noel Lester has recorded for the Centaur, Elan, Koch International and Sonora labels. His CDs and live recitals have been broadcast worldwide. He specializes in performing American piano music, and has been heard in the U.S. at the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York, and the Los Angeles Museum of Art, among many other venues. He is professor and music department chairman at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.

All the music in this hour of Compact Discoveries is taken from two Noel Lester CDs, both on the RWYA Recordings label: one is called “A Family Christmas with the Lesters;” the other is called “A Christmas Fantasy.”

Let’s begin with God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, transformed into a rondo by Samuel Wesley.

MUSIC: Wesley: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen as a Rondo, performed by Noel Lester, piano [RWYA Recordings, CRL-777, track 6] [6:19]

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, as a rondo, by Samuel Wesley. The pianist was Noel Lester.

Here’s a Christmas waltz that I’ll bet is a compact discovery for you.

MUSIC: Christmas Tree Waltz Noel Lester, piano [RWYA Recordings, CRL-777, track 10] [1:34]

The Christmas Tree Waltz by Vladimir Rebikoff, performed by our pianist for this our of Compact Discoveries by Noel Lester.

The German composer Carl Reinecke, who lived from 1824 until 1910, wrote a delightful suite for piano duet called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was a compact discovery for me, as I’ll bet it will be for you. It consists of eight pieces: “Christmas Eve,” “Godfather Drosselmeyer’s Automatons,” “Godfather Drosselmeyer’s Clock Song,” “Beat the March, Trusty Squire Drummer,” “Battle Piece,” “Shepherd Ballet in the Puppet Kingdom,” “Barcarole,” and “Wedding March.” The dual pianists in this R.W.Y.A recording are Noel Lester and Mary Beth Pearce.

MUSIC: Reinecke: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, performed by dual pianists Noel Lester and mary Beth Pearce [R.W.Y.A. Recordings CRL-777, tracks 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 28]

Carl Reinecke’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, performed by dual pianists Noel Lester and Mary Beth Pearce.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. Our theme for this hour is “Noël with Noel.” “Noel” refers to Noel Lester, our pianist for the hour, in which we are featuring rarely heard Christmas piano music.

[optional break not included in the total timing of the hour]


For the rest of the hour we are going to sample concert recital arrangements for piano of very familiar Christmas carols. They are given new life and interest by composer/arranger Jeanine Yeager on another R.W.Y.A. recording with Noel Lester. This CD is called “A Christmas Fantasy.”

Unless you grew up on Mars and just recently migrated down to Earth, I’m sure you’ll recognize the likes of Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Deck the Halls, Pat-a-Pan, The First Noël, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, and a couple of other pieces, so I’m going to play them without interruption. The CD itself has a total of 27 concert carols, out of which I’ve picked as many of my favorites as I could fit in the time we have together.

MUSIC: Yeager: Concert Carols for Piano, performed by Noel Lester [R.W.Y.A. Recordings CRL 0137]

Jeanine Yeager’s A Christmas Fantasy: Concert Carols for Piano, performed by Noel Lester.

MUSIC: Mendelssohn: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. performed by Noel Lester, piano [RWYA Recordings CRL 0137, track 20] [under the following]

This hour has been devoted to “Noël with Noel” on Compact Discoveries. Our recordings have all been by Noel Lester. I’m Fred Flaxman, thanking you for listening and wishing you a joyful holiday season and a happy new year filled with beautiful compact discoveries!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these Christmas selections, and that you’ll contact me to let me have your reaction to this and other Compact Discoveries programs. I can be reached via the Compact Discoveries website: compactdiscoveries.com.

You can stream this and other Compact Discoveries programs on demand at prx.org. Compact Discoveries is distributed internationally by the Public Radio Exchange.

MUSIC: fades out

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.... and by... Educate Yourself for Tomorrow, an on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development, including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at onlinehumanities.com.

PROGRAM ENDS AT 58:00

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