Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2003 by Fred Flaxman

Program 37
"The Birds and the Bees"

MUSIC: Barrios: excerpt from The Bees [Chandos CHAN 9780, track 17] under the following:

FLAXMAN: Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. And we have a very sexy hour coming up. Our theme is "The Birds and the Bees."

MUSIC: fades out

FLAXMAN: The musical treats will include The Birds by Respighi, The Wasps and Lark Ascending by Vaughan-Williams, two versions of The Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov, and The Bees by Barrios.

The Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi, lived from 1879 until 1936. He was a musical conservative who wanted, above all, to continue the musical traditions from the past. He had no interest at all in experimenting with new techniques of composition, like his contemporary, Schoenberg.

He studied with Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg, who was a superb orchestrator, and Respighi became a great orchestrator as well. Although he is best known for The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome, his five-movement suite for small orchestra - The Birds - is quite well known, also. It was composed in 1927, with each movement based on a work by an earlier composer.

The suite starts with a Prelude, for which Respighi borrowed from Bernardo Pasquini, who lived from 1637 to 1710. He was a master of opera and oratorio.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Birds: Prelude performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [EMI CDC747844 2, track 1]

FLAXMAN: The second movement of Respighi's The Birds is devoted to The Dove. It is based on a piece by Jacques de Gallot, a little-known lutenist of the 17th Century.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Birds: The Dove performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [EMI CDC747844 2, track 2]

FLAXMAN: The third movement of The Birds by Respighi is called The Hen. It is based on a piece by the famous French baroque composer, Rameau.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Birds: The Hen performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [EMI CDC747844 2, track 3]

FLAXMAN: That was The Hen from Respighi's The Birds. The next movement, devoted to The Nightingale, is based on a piece by an anonymous 17th Century English composer.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Birds: The Nightingale performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [EMI CDC747844 2, track 4]

FLAXMAN: The Nightingale from The Birds by Respighi. The final movement of this suite is about well, I'll bet you can guess this one when you hear it. It is also based on a piece by Pasquini. The movement concludes with the tune from the Prelude, which has the effect of unifying the different movements into one composition.

MUSIC: Respighi: The Birds: The Cuckoo performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [EMI CDC747844 2, track 5]

FLAXMAN: That was The Cuckoo from Ottorino Respighi's suite, The Birds. It was performed by the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, conducted by Neville Marriner on an EMI compact disc.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries and I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. This hour is devoted to "The Birds and the Bees." So we turn next to The Wasps by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Vaughan Williams composed The Wasps in 1909, just after studying with Maurice Ravel. It was written by request of the Greek Play Committee at Cambridge University for their undergraduate production of the year: Aristophanes' play The Wasps.

That play is not about the insects, actually, but about jurors who have too much of a passion for litigation. Although they are the "wasps" of the play, the music begins with strings sounding like the wasps we are more familiar with - the kind that belong in a program devoted to the birds and the bees.

MUSIC: Vaughan Williams: The Wasps Overture, performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult [Everest EVC 9006, track 13] [10:26]

FLAXMAN: Vaughan Williams' overture, The Wasps. Sir Adrian Boult led the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are taking a field trip among the birds and the bees. Ralph Vaughan Williams qualifies in both categories, so next we'll turn to his impressionistic bird piece, The Lark Ascending. This romantic, lyric composition for violin and small orchestra was written in 1914.

MUSIC: Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending performed by Iona Brown, violin, with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner [Argo 414 595-2, track 3] [16:04]

FLAXMAN: Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending performed by Iona Brown, violin, with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner.

If you've just tuned in, welcome to an hour of music inspired by the birds and the bees on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Back to the bees, now, with Sergei Rachmaninov's piano transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble-Bee, which will be followed by the same piece played on the flute.

MUSIC: Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee played by Idil Biret at the piano from the Rachmaninov arrangement [Naxos 8.550978, track 9] [1:12]

MUSIC: Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee played by James Galway on the flute [RCA Victor 09026-68412-2. disc 1, track 2] [1:09]

FLAXMAN: Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee. First we heard it as played by Idil Biret at the piano from the Rachmaninov arrangement on a Naxos compact disc; then we heard it as performed on the flute by James Galway from an RCA Victor CD.

We have time for a few more bees on this Compact Discoveries program inspired by the birds and the bees. This is Las Abejas - The Bees - by the South American composer Agustin Barrios, who lived from 1885 until 1944. It is performed by guitarist Craig Ogden.

MUSIC: Barrios: Las Abejas (The Bees) performed by Craig Ogden on the guitar [Chandos CHAN 9780, track 17] [2:11]

FLAXMAN: Las Abejas - The Bees - by Agustin Barrios. The guiarist was Craig Ogden, and this was from a Chandos compact disc.

Let's see if we can squeeeze one last bird into our "Birds and Bees" Compact Discoveries program: Leroy Anderson's Chicken Reel.

MUSIC: Leroy Anderson: Chicken Reel [RCA Victor 09026-61237-2, track 14] [2:55]

FLAXMAN (over the end of this music): Leroy Anderson's Chicken Reel, performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler on an RCA Victor compact disc brings to an end this hour ofCompact Discoveries and our theme, "The Birds and the Bees."

Compact Discoveries is produced and presented by yours truly, Fred Flaxman. It is made possible in large part by the generous, caring listeners who support public radio financially as well as morally and aurally. Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Incorporated, and is a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: ends at 58:00


 
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