Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2007 by Fred Flaxman


Program 133
"More Melodious MacDowell"


MUSIC:
MacDowell: opening of Phantasie-Tanz, from Second Modern Suite, Op. 14, performed by James Barbagallo, piano [Naxos 8.559030, track 7] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this is the second hour that I am devoting to the music of the Romantic Period American composer Edward MacDowell. We’ll listen to his unjustly neglected First Piano Concerto, followed by three pieces from his Second Modern Suite and three other works from his large collection of melodious piano music.

MUSIC: fades out

MacDowell, who lived from 1860 until 1908, was a contemporary of Debussy at the Paris Conservatory and later a pupil of Raff in Frankfurt. He was the first American composer to achieve international recognition, writing, as he did, in the European tradition of Schumann and Grieg.

Let’s hear his first Piano Concerto, which, like those single piano concertos of Schumann and Grieg, was written in A Minor. It was composed# in 1882 while MacDowell was studying with Raff in Frankfurt. It was completed in two weeks and dedicated to Franz Liszt. MacDowell played it for Liszt in Weimar, who was impressed with the work and helped the piece receive its world premiere in Zurich the same year.

The rarely performed concerto is more showy than the more famous Second Piano Concerto. It is a virtuoso showpiece for the pianist, like those of Liszt, with taxing technical demands and difficult musical structure. In this 1992 release from Centaur Records, we have a pianist who is up to the task: Thomas Tirino. The Bulgarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Vassil Kazandjiev.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15, performed by the Bulgarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vassil Kazandjiev with pianist Thomas Tirino [Centaur CRC 2149, tracks 1-3] [28:12]

Edward MacDowell’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 15, performed by the Bulgarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vassil Kazandjiev with pianist Thomas Tirino.

You are listening to “More Melodious MacDowell” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing of the program]


Edward MacDowell completed his Etude de Concert, Opus 36, in May 1889 at the request of pianist Teresa Carreño. She was playing MacDowell’s music all over North and South America and in practically every country in Europe. Although MacDowell didn’t care much for writing music to order, he gave his friend the brilliant composition she requested -- one that was highly pianistic, dazzling, and one which at the same time contained a beautiful melody. This étude became one of MacDowell’s most frequently played pieces. We hear it now as played by the American pianist James Barbagallo, who was in the process of recording the complete piano works of Edward MacDowell for Marco Polo when, in 1993, he died of a heart attack in California at the age of 43.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Etude de Concert, Op. 36, performed by pianist James Barbagallo [Naxos 8.559030, track 1] [3:29]

Edward MacDowell’s Etude de Concert, Op. 36 performed by the American pianist James Barbagallo, winner of the Bronze Medal at the Seventh International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1982.

You are listening to “More Melodious MacDowell” on Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

MacDowell’s Second Modern Suite was written at the age of 22. It became so popular at the time that its European publisher entered into an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement with G. Shirmer in New York, it was reprinted in a new edition in 1896, re-issued again in 1906, and re-copyrighted in 1911. We’ll hear three pieces from this suite now: the opening Praeludium, the Scherzino, and the closing Phantasie-Tanz. The pianist, once again, is James Barbagallo on a Naxos compact disc.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Second Modern Suite: Praeludium, Scherzino and Phantasie-Tanz, performed by pianist James Barbagallo [Naxos 8.559030, tracks 2, 5 and 7]

Three pieces from Edward MacDowell’s Second Modern Suite, performed by pianist James Barbagallo.
MacDowell’s Serenata, Opus 16, was first published in Leipzig in 1883. He dedicated the piece to his friend and colleague, the Swiss composer, pianist and teacher Hans Huber.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Serenata, Opus 16, performed by James Barbagallo, piano [Naxos 8.559030, track 8] [3:59]

Edward MacDowell’s Serenata, Opus 16, performed by James Barbagallo.

You are listening to “More Melodious MacDowell” on Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide Fred Flaxman.

We’ll conclude with James Barbagallo’s recording of one of MacDowell’s Two Fantasy Pieces, Op. 17, and one of the Twelve Etudes, Op. 39. You can hear both Fantasy Pieces and all 12 études on the Naxos recording that I’m using here. We have time for just the Hexentanz and Hungarian movements.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Hexentanz, Op. 17, No. 2 and Hungarian Etude, Op. 39, No. 12, performed by James Barbagallo, piano [Naxos 8.559030, tracks 10 and 22]

Edward MacDowell’s Hexentanz, Op. 17, No. 2 and Hungarian Etude, Op. 39, No. 12, performed by pianist James Barbagallo.

That brings this hour of “More Melodious MacDowell” on Compact Discoveries to a close, but it doesn’t exhaust my list of favorite MacDowell pieces, so I hope you’ll be able to tune in for “Even More Melodious MacDowell” on the next hour of Compact Discoveries. The major work on that hour will be MacDowell’s very beautiful Sonata No. 2, Opus 50, known as the “Eroica” Sonata. This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening.

MUSIC: MacDowell: opening of Phantasie-Tanz, from Second Modern Suite, Op. 14, performed by James Barbagallo, piano [Naxos 8.559030, track 7] [under the following]

For a complete playlist with details on the recordings played during this hour, go to www.compactdiscoveries.com. There you will find information on every Compact Discoveries program, this being program number 133. Listener comments are always welcome there, or you can write to me at Compact Discoveries, 36 Pickens Lane, Weaverville, North Carolina 28787.
At the web site you’ll also find links you can use to stream most Compact Discoveries programs on demand.

My thanks to Thomas Tirino and to Victor and Marina Ledin for their help with the program notes for this hour, and my thanks to you for supporting your local public radio station.

This Compact Discoveries program is a presentation of WPVM, Asheville, North Carolina, a broadcast service of the Mountain Area Information Network.

MUSIC ends at 57:30

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]:
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
 
  ©2007 Compact Discoveries