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

©2012 by Fred Flaxman

Program 203
"Musical Mountains"

MUSIC: Alfén: opening of Vallflickans dans (Herdmaiden’s Dance) performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi [BIS-CD-725, Track 8] [under the following]

Many a composer has been inspired by mountains. There was, for example, Mousorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and d’Indy’s Symphony on a French Mountain Aire. Stay with me for the next hour and we’ll sample several less well-known but beautiful classical music compositions inspired by mountains, as well as such more familiar tunes as She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain, Rocky Mountain High, Mountain Greenery by Rodgers and Hart, and Climb Every Mountain from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. This is Compact Discoveries, and I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

MUSIC:
fades out

Our “Musical Mountains” journey will begin close to home with Richard Addinsell’s The Smokey Mountains, a piano concerto. Addinsell is best know for the Warsaw Concerto, a one-movement piece written for the 1941 film, “Dangerous Moonlight.” The Smokey Mountains Concerto is a rare Addinsell work, not linked to the cinema or theater. The three movements for piano and orchestra were probably written at the invitation of the American pianist, Leo Litwin, who had championed the Warsaw Concerto in the USA, making a popular recording of it with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Litwin recorded his own truncated solo piano version of the Smokey Mountains soon after it was written in 1950, but it seems to have made little progress in any version since, despite its appealing language, here and there derived from American folksong idioms.

The first movement was not given a title. It is the most substantial and symphonic of the three. The slow movement is subtitled “Valley Song,” and the final movement, “Old Joe Clark.” It starts with a duet for violin and banjo and proceeds to treat a hillbilly tune.

In this Marco Polo recording, the BBC Concert Orchestra is conducted by Kenneth Alwyn. Philip Martin is the pianist.

MUSIC:
Addinsell: The Smokey Mountains Concerto performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn. Philip Martin is the pianist. [Marco Polo 8.223732, Tracks 3, 4, and 5]
[15:27]

The Smokey Mountains Concerto by Richard Addinsell. Philip Martin was the pianist with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Alwyn.

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

Edvard Grieg is very famous for his music for solo piano, as well as his piano concerto. But, somehow, his Six Norwegian Mountain Melodies has been neglected, despite their folksy charm. They are very short and total just over five minutes. They have Norwegian titles that translate: Rustic Dance, Lullaby, Rustic Dance again, Popular DItty, Halling (whatever that is), and The Lad and the Lass on the Barn Floor, which sounds much more sexy than it is.

The pianist on this BIS CD is Eva Knardahl.

MUSIC:
Grieg: Six Norwegian Mountain Melodies performed by pianist Eva Knardahl [BIS-CD-113, Tracks 10 -15]
[5:17]

Eva Knardahl played Edvard Grieg’s Six Norwegian Mountain Melodies.

Grieg wasn’t the only composer to write mountain-inspired piano music. The Spanish composer, Manuel Blancafort, who lived from 1897 until 1987, also wrote a suite of Mountain Songs.

Blancafort grew up in a Catalonian family which owned a pianola rolls factory, a prime source of the composer’s musical education. In his early days, he often turned to song and traditional Catalan tunes, attracted by their miniature structure and popular nature. He believed strongly in the importance of nationalism in music, and wanted very much to follow in the footsteps of Albéniz, Granados, and de Falla, but always with a Catalan twist.

Here’s a sample from Blancafort’s Mountain Songs as performed by Miquel Villalba at the piano on a Naxos recording.

MUSIC:
Blancafort: Cançó dalt del cingle from Cançons de muntanya performed by Miquel Villalba, piano [Naxos 8.557332, Track 9]
 [1:14]

A piece from Manuel Blancafort’s Mountain Songs. The Pianist was Miquel Villalba.

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

The American composer, Arthur Farwell, who lived from 1877 until 1952, wrote an orchestral suite called The Gods of the Mountain. From that suite, here’s the third movement, which he called “Pinnacle of Pleasure.” The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Karl Krueger on this Bridge compact disc recording.

MUSIC:
Farwell: “Pinnacle of Pleasure” from The Gods of the Mountain Suite performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Krueger [Bridge 9124B, Track 6]
[3:09]

The third movement from Arthur Farwell’s The Gods of the Mountain Suite. Karl Krueger led the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

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

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

Our next stop in this tour of “Musical Mountains” is in Sweden for three of the four movements from Hugo Alfén’s The Mountain King Suite. Alfvén lived from 1872 until 1960 and is best known for his Midsommarvaka / Midsummer Vigil.

The Mountain King was originally a full-length ballet, written between 1916 and 1923. It was based on a folk-tale, and combines an elegant and extremely virtuosic musical language with stimulating orchestration.

Alfén had been fascinated by the subject-matter and he was strongly drawn to the drama’s underlying, universal human conflicts. He had poured all his soul into the ballet, but could only stand by with disappointment as it disappeared from theater stages in the early 1930s. In order to salvage the best of the music, he gathered four movements together into a concert suite. He also used parts of the ballet music in his Fifth Symphony. Alfén could not have foreseen that the ballet suite would much later become one of the most frequently-performed pieces of Swedish msuic.

From The Mountain King ballet suite, we’ll hear the “Invocation,” “Summer Rain,” and “Herdmaiden’s Dance.” The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Neeme Järvi on a BIS recording.

MUSIC:
Alfén: The Mountain King: Invocation, Summer Rain, Herdmaiden’s Dance performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Neeme Järvi. [BIS-CD-725, Tracks 5, 7, and 8]
[10:19]

Three of the four movements from Hugo Alféns The Mountain King Suite, performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi.

So far in this hour devoted to “Musical Mountains” we have confined ourselves to classical music. But folkmusic also has its share of mountain-inspired music, as does popular music and Broadway musicals. So let’s listen next to She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes, sung by Pete Seeger; Rocky Mountain High, sung by John Denver; and Rodgers and Hart’s Mountain Greenery, sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

MUSIC:
Traditional: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes, sung by Pete Seeger from his album “American Folk Songs for Children” [mp3 download from Amazon.com]
[1:56]

MUSIC:
John Denver singing Rocky Mountain High [mp3 download from Amazon.com]
[4:45]

MUSIC:
Rodgers and Hart: Mountain Greenery sung by Ella Fitzgerald [Verve e 314 537 258-2, Disc Two, Track 10]
[2:18]

Ella Fitzgerald sang Rodger’s and Hart’s Mountain Greenery. That was preceded by John Denver singing Rocky Mountain High, and Pete Seeger singing She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes.

Our “Musical Mountains” theme will conclude with Climb Every Mountain from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music from the original soundtrack recording remastered by RCA.

MUSIC:
Rodgers and Hammerstein: Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music [RCA PCD1-2005, Tracks 8 and 16]
[3:41]

Climb Every Mountain from the motion picture soundtrack of The Sound of Music by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

And that concludes our tribute to “Musical Mountains” on Compact Discoveries. 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. There you’ll also find information on every recording used in every program.

I’d like to thank Anne Bodin of Ashland, Oregon, for suggesting this “Musical Mountains” theme. This is Fred Flaxman thanking YOU for listening.

MUSIC: (reprise) Rodgers and Hammerstein: Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music [RCA PCD1-2005, Track 16] [1:20]

MUSIC:
ends at 57:30

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.” Information and ordering at sixtyslices.com. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by contributions to public radio station by listeners like you. Thank you. [0:30]

Total Program Timing: 58:00