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

©2012 by Fred Flaxman

Program 199
"Marvelous Movements"

MUSIC: Martinu: opening of the “Dual” movement of La revue de cuisine: Ballet du Jazz (1927) performed by the Holst-Sinfonietta conducted by Klaus Simon [Naxos 8.572485, Track 18] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. My theme for this hour is “Marvelous Movements.” That’s short for “marvelous movements from classical pieces that most people -- even classical music lovers -- don’t know, but would probably like if they heard them.” Some are by little-known composers, but most are little-known pieces by very famous composers.

MUSIC: down and out

Let’s start right away with this beautiful movement from a string quartet by one of the world’s most famous composers. Can you guess who wrote it?

MUSIC: Rachmaninoff: First movement from Quartet No. 1: Romance performed by the Quatuor Élysée [Ligia Lidi 0302227-11, Track 1] [6:50]

The Quatuor Élysée performed the first movement of the Quartet Number 1 by... Doesn’t it sound just like Tchaikovsky? But it wasn’t written by Tchaikovsky. It is by one of Tchaikovsky’s young admirers, a 16-year-old Russian composer named: Sergei Rachmaninoff.

This was taken from a Ligia compact disc recording made in the European Union by Sony and distributed by Harmonia Mundi. It came to me from ArkivMusic.com. The piece was first brought to my attention by Bridge Records, which has a CD out of this same piece from a 1952 Library of Congress recording by the Budapest String Quartet. The recording I played for you was recorded in 2011. I like both performances but chose the much more recent recording for its superior sound quality.

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

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

Now, for a very lively change of pace, let’s go back to the recording with which I started the hour and hear the entire charleston movement from Bohuslav Martinu’s jazz ballet, La revue de cuisine.

This “kitchen revue” concerns a marriage between a pot and a lid that’s jeopardized by an adventurous whisk to whose magic the pot has succumbed. The pot is so captivated that the lid falls off him and rolls into a corner of the kitchen. Now the dishcloth wants to seduce the lid, but the order-loving broom challenges the dishcloth to a duel, which delights the whisk and results in this happy dance. Quite a change, to be sure, from Rachmaninoff’s melancholy romance movement from his first string quartet!

MUSIC: Martinu: opening of the “Dual” movement of La revue de cuisine: Ballet du Jazz (1927) performed by the Holst-Sinfonietta conducted by Klaus Simon [Naxos 8.572485, Track 18]


Bohuslav Martinu’s “Duel Charleston” from his jazz ballet, La revue de cuisine played by the Holst-Sinfonietta conducted by Klaus Simon on a 2012 Naxos compact disc release.

This hour of Compact Discoveries is devoted to “Marvelous Movements” that most classical music lovers are probably not familiar with. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, hoping that you are enjoying this music.

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

Now here’s another movement from a string quartet by a very famous Romantic-era composer who is not known for his string quartets, but is world famous for his operas. I’m talking about Giuseppe Verdi, who lived from 1813 until 1901. His String Quartet in E Minor from 1873 was recorded by the American String Project for MSR Classics, and I thank them for supplying this superb recording. You’ll notice that Verdi’s gift for creating beautiful melodies is as evident here as it is in his operas.

MUSIC: Verdi: first movement from String Quartet in E Minor, performed by the Cologne Chamber Orchestra conducted by Christian Ludwig [Naxos 8.572607, Track 10]

The first movement of Giuseppe Verdi’s String Quartet in E Minor, performed for the American String Project on an MSR Classics compact disc from 2011. It is part of a set consisting of two CDs and a DVD documentary of the American String Project in rehearsal and in concert in May 2009.

This is Compact Discoveries -- on the air, on line, and on the Sky-FM Compact Discoveries channel seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

The theme for this hour is “Marvelous Movements,” and the next one will be the dramatic first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Minor, Opus 17, by Frédéric d’Erlanger, who lived from 1868 until 1943.

With a name like that you might guess that he was French. But his story is a bit more complicated than that. According to the program notes which accompany this Hyperion compact disc recording, Baron Frédéric Alfred d’Erlanger was a banker, born in Paris, but with a German father and American mother, who moved to London in his teens. He was naturalized British and a long resident of London, where he was involved in promoting music and was later a trustee of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and on the board of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

So, you see, bankers aren’t all bad, and on very rare occasions they can compose fantastically beautiful violin concertos! Need proof of this preposterous statement? Here it is.

MUSIC: d’Erlanger: first movement of Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 17 performed by violinist Philippe Graffin with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by David Lloyd-Jones [Hyperion CDA67838, Track 1] [11:10]

The first movement of the Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 17 by Frédéric d’Erlanger, performed by violinist Philippe Graffin with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by David Lloyd-Jones.

Wasn’t that a “Marvelous Movement,” as promised?

Well, up until now, with one exception, we’ve heard nothing but marvelous first movements. Next is an example of a terrific final movement. It’s from the Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in G Minor, Opus 15, by the Czech composer, Bedrich Smetana. He lived from 1824 until 1884. It contains one of my very favorite, most romantic, hardest-to-get-out-of-your-head melodies.

MUSIC: Smetana: “Finale” from Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in G Minor, Op. 15, performed by the Guarneri Trio [Supraphon SU 3449-2 131, Track 3] [7:56]

The “Finale” from Smetana’s Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in G Minor, Op. 15, performed by the Guarneri Trio on a Supraphon compact disc. But that work is not the finale of this Compact Discoveries hour devoted to “Marvelous Movements,” so stay with us for the beautiful first movement of the String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor by Nikolai Miaskovsky and some modern romantic piano movements from Les Sentiment d’Amour/Feelings of Love by the American composer, Eugene Marlow.

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Nikolai Miaskovsky poses another nationality problem. He was born near Warsaw in 1881, the son of an engineer officer in the Russian army. His family moved to St. Petersburg in his teens. Though he learned to play the piano and violin, he was discouraged from pursuing a musical career and entered the military. A performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony in 1896 made him decide to become a composer. Nevertheless, he was drafted in World War I, where he was wounded and suffered shell-shock on the Austrian front.

In the 1920s and 1930s Miaskovsky’s symphonies were quite frequently performed in Western Europe and the United States. In 1935 a survey made by CBS of its radio audience asked the question: “Who, in your opinion, of contemporary composers will remain among the world’s great in 100 years?” Miaskovsky placed in the top ten along with Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Sibelius, Ravel, de Falla, and Fritz Kreisler.

Miaskovsky wrote a total of 27 symphonies before his death in 1950. But he also wrote 13 string quartets. This is the first movement of his last String Quartet.

MUSIC: Miaskovsky: first movement, String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Op. 86, performed by the Pacifica Quartet [Çedille CDR 90000 127, Disc 2, Track 9] [7:57]

The first movement of Nikolai Miaskovsky’s String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Op. 86, performed by the Pacifica Quartet from a Çedille compact disc recording.

We’ll conclude this hour devoted to “Marvelous Movements” with a couple of beautiful movements from Les Sentiments d’Amour / Feelings of Love, a suite of songs for piano by the contemporary composer Eugene Marlow. Marlow also shares an interesting nationality story. He was born in London, England, in 1943 during an air raid, but has lived in New York most of his life and is a naturalized American citizen. When I asked him why he titled these pieces in French, he replied that it seemed right because of their romantic feeling and because the pianist, Nada Loutfi, though born in Lebanon, speaks French and studied at the Paris Conservatory.

MUSIC: Marlow: “Chanson Pour Deux Fils” and “L’Enfant Unique” from Les Sentiments d’Amour / Feelings of Love, performed by pianist Nada Loutfi [MEII Enterprises 700261200972, Tracks 10 and 16] [3:41]

“Chanson Pour Deux Fils” (Song for Two Brothers) and “Chanson Pour L’Enfant Unique” (Song for an Only Child) from Les Sentiments d’Amour / Feelings of Love, by Eugene Marlow, performed by pianist Nada Loutfi.

And that concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to “Marvelous Movements.” If you missed any of this program or would like to hear it again, go to compactdiscoveries.com on the internet, where you’ll find links to stream Compact Discoveries programs on demand without charge. At the website you’ll also find scripts for every Compact Discoveries program with complete information on every selection.

This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening.

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Book Publishers and their latest offering, a tongue-in-cheek memoir by Compact Discoveries host Fred Flaxman called “Sixty Slices of Life ... on Wry: The Private Life of a Public Broadcaster.” And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by contributions by listeners like you. Thank you. [0:26]

Total Program Timing: 58:00