150TunefulContemporaries

Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2008 by Fred Flaxman


Program 150
"Tuneful Contemporaries"


MUSIC:
Horovitz: the opening of the Third Movement from his Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 19] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

As the producer and host of this program, I receive a great many promotional CDs to consider for broadcast, and I’m very consciencious about giving all of them a try. Since this program is called Compact Discoveries, I’m always trying to find CDs of undeservedly neglected works by composers living and dead.

I have to admit that it is easier for me to find beautiful melodies from departed composers than from contemporary ones. Sometimes I even worry that all the good tunes have already been written.

But in the next hour I hope to prove that that isn’t at all the case. My evidence comes from four contemporary composers, three of them British and one, American. Three of the four were very much alive when I recorded this program

MUSIC: fades out

Let’s start with the one who is no longer with us: Geoffrey Bush, who was born in London in 1920 and died in 1998. He studied classics and music at Oxford, although he was largely self-taught as a composer. He taught at Oxford and at King’s College, London. His tuneful, accessible music was always rooted in tonality.

We’re going to listen to a suite of five jazzy pieces he wrote for clarinet and piano called Tributes. These are tributes to the music of Artie Shaw, Harold Arlen, Darius Milhaud, Erik Satie and Joseph Horovitz, a friend and fellow composer. Immediately after we hear these pieces, I’ll play for you the third movement from Horovitz’s Clarinet Sonatina, and in between each tribute I’ll state again the name of the composer to whom it is dedicated.

David Campbell is the clarinetist; Andrew Ball, the pianist. This is all from a Meridian compact disc imported from the United Kingdom. And now... “To Mr. Artie Shaw.”

MUSIC:
Geoffrey Bush: “To Mr. Artie Shaw” from Tributes performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 2]

“To Mr. Harold Arlen”

MUSIC: Geoffrey Bush: “To Mr. Harold Arlan” from Tributes performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 3]

“à M. Darius Milhaud”

MUSIC: Geoffrey Bush: “à M. Darius Milhaud” from Tributes performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 4]

“à M. Erik Satie”

MUSIC: Geoffrey Bush: “à M. Erik Satie” from Tributes performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 5]

“To my friend Joseph Horovitz”

MUSIC: Geoffrey Bush: “To my friend Joseph Horovitz” from Tributes performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 6]

Tributes by Geoffrey Bush. The clarinetist was David Campell; the pianist Andrew Ball. The tributes were to Artie Shaw, Harold Arlen, Darius Milhaud, Erik Satie and Joseph Horovitz.

The British composer, Joseph Horovitz, was born in Vienna in 1926 and moved to Britain in 1938. He went to Oxford and then studied at the Royal College of Music with Gordon Jacob and in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. Horovitz won the Farrar Prize for composition at the Royal College of Music, and became a professor there in 1961.

Here’s the final movement of his Clarinet Sonatina.

MUSIC: Joseph Horovitz: the last movement (“Con brio”) from his Sonatina performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 19]

The final movement from Joseph Horovitz’s Sonatina for clarinet and piano. David Campbell was the clarinetist; Andrew Ball, the pianist.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to “Tuneful Contemporaries.”

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


Our next composer writes music that is anything but bland. And yet his name is William Bland. I’m thinking of devoting an entire hour to his music in the future, which I might call “When Bland is Not Bland.” But for now I have time to include only one of his piano pieces.

William Bland was born in West Virginia in 1947. His varied musical background has included work as a church organist, in musical theater, and as a teacher of composition at a number of universities and conservatories.

Bridge Records put out an entire CD of his very interesting and tuneful piano pieces, performed by the composer. The CD iincludes two of 16 piano sonatas he has completed since 1998, with the goal of writing 24 -- one each for each of the major and minor keys. The CD also includes his Air de Ballet, Pastorale, and Nouveau Rag, which we hear next.

MUSIC: William Bland: Nouveau Rag performed by the composeri [Bridge 9223, track 6]

Nouveau Rag by William Bland, played by the composer.

I’m going to devote the rest of this hour to the chamber music of British composer Howard Blake, who was born in 1938. He grew up in Brighton singing lead roles as a boy soprano. At 18 he won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. He has since written music in virtually every genre: concert works, including a piano and a violin concerto, a cantata, choral/orchestral works, instrumental music, piano pieces, and children’s music, especially the highly successful animated film, The Snowman.

Stay with me and we’ll hear some of Blake’s outstanding chamber music. First his Piano Quartet, Op. 179, written in 1974; then the opening movement of his Violin Sonata, Op. 586, first written in 1973 and revised in 2007. The composer is the pianist in the Piano Quartet. This is from a Naxos compact disc recording.

MUSIC: Blake: Piano Quartet, Op. 179, with the composer at the piano [Naxos 8.572083, tracks 12-15]

Howrd Blake’s Piano Quartet, Op. 179. The composer also served as pianist in this Naxos CD. Jack Rothstein was the violinist; Kenneth Essex, the violist; and Peter Willison, the cellist.

This compact disc is devoted entirely to music for piano and strings by Blake. It begins with his Violin Sonata. Here’s the first movement of that work with violinist Madeleine Mitchell. Howard Blake is the pianist.

MUSIC: Blake: first movement of the Violin Sonata, Op. 586, Madeleine Mitchell, violin; Howard Blake , piano [Naxos 8.572083, track 1]

The first movement of Howard Blake’s Violin Sonata, Op. 586. The violinist was Madeleine Mitchell. The composer was at the piano.

MUSIC: Horovitz: the opening of the Third Movement from his Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano performed by David Campbell, clarinet, and Andrew Ball, piano [Meridian CDE 84474, track 19] [under the following]

And that brings this hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to “Tuneful Contemporaries” to a close. I hope you enjoyed all the music. If you missed any of this hour or would like to hear it again, go to www.compactdiscoveries.com on the internet where you’ll find links to stream most Compact Discoveries programs on demand without charge. Look for program number 150. At the web site you’ll also find scripts for every Compact Discoveries program with complete information on every selection.

This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening and for supporting your local public radio station. It is that kind of support which makes the broadcast of this program possible in your community.

MUSIC: fades out at 57:40

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]: Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Incorporated, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization located at 36 Pickens Lane in Weaverville, North Carolina, and on the web at compactdiscoveries.com. These programs are distributed to public radio stations nationwide through PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Program Ends at 58:00



 
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