a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted,
recorded and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2003 and 2007 by Fred Flaxman
MUSIC: William Bolcolm: Old Adam from
The Garden of Eden, performed by Rebecca Penneys on the piano [Fleur de
Son FDS 57956, track 14] under the following: [2:06]
FLAXMAN: Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. The music in the background is Old Adam from “The Garden of Eden”
by the American composer William Bolcolm. It is played by pianist
Rebecca Penneys. I thought it was just the right piece to begin this
hour devoted to “Musical Gardens.” After all, it was the very first
garden, wasn’t it?
Let’s listen to the rest of this composition. I think you’ll find it a compact discovery!
MUSIC: up until the end of the above piece
FLAXMAN: From William Bolcolm’s happy rendition of Old Adam in the Garden of Eden we go to Giacomo Puccini’s [JAH-ko-mo Pu-CHEE-nee’z] melancholy Chrysanthemums in Compact Discoveries “Musical Gardens.”
Chrysanthemums was written in 1890 for string quartet, an elegy
for the Duke of Aosta [Ah-OH-stah]. Although it’s a brief work, it is
charged with emotional intensity. Four years later the same musical
theme served Puccini to mark the pathos of Manon’s imprisonment and
transportation in his opera Manon Lescaut.
MUSIC: Puccini: Chrysanthemums with the strings of the Hungarian Opera Orchestra conducted by Pier Giorgo Morandi [Naxos 8.555304, track 15] [6:23]
FLAXMAN: Puccini’s Chrysanthemums performed by the strings of the Hungarian Opera Orchestra conducted by Pier Giorgo Morandi on a Naxos compact disc.
You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are taking a tour of “Musical Gardens.”
Any true musical garden will attract butterflies. Ours certainly does.
MUSIC: Puccini: “Un bel di vedremo from Act II of Madama Butterfly with
Maria Callas, soprano, and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by
Tullio Serafin [EMI Classics CDM 7243 5 66463 2 2, track 3] [4:34]
FLAXMAN: Maria Callas sang “Un bel di vedremo” [Une bel dee ved-RAY-mo] from Act Two of Madame Butterfly by Puccini. The Philharmonia Orchestra was conducted by Tullio Serafin [SeraFEEN] on an EMI Classics compact disc.
You are listening to “Musical Gardens” on this hour of Compact Discoveries.
I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. And, as you just heard, my musical garden
contains butterflies. Not a monarch butterfly, perhaps, but a Madame Butterfly, for sure. Here are some more butterflies from my musical garden.
MUSIC: Grieg: Sommerfugl (Butterfly) , performed by Eva Knardahl at the piano [BIS-CD-104, track 17] [1:47]
MUSIC: Lavallée: Le Papillon (The Butterfly), with Robert Silverman at the piano [Marquis Classics 77471 82501 2 4, CD-2, track 17] [2:17]
FLAXMAN: Two butterflies from my musical garden. First you heard Grieg’s Butterfly, from his Lyric Pieces, Book Three, performed by pianist Eva Knardahl on a BIS compact disc. Then you heard Le Papillon (The Butterfly) by Calixa Lavallée. Robert Silverman was the pianist.
Robert Silverman also wrote the very interesting liner notes in this
Canadian recording from Marquis Classics compact discs. I’m going to
read what he had to say about this composer.
“Of the small number of Canadians who know that Calixa Lavallée (1842 - 1891) was the composer of O Canada,
Canada’s national anthem, only a fraction are aware that the man who
wrote [Canada’s] national anthem fought in the American Civil War,
spent much of his career in Boston, and strongly advocated the
annexation of Canada by the United States. His career as a musician was
quite successful, and he published a number of attractive pieces for
piano, including the concert étude Le Papillon.”
Robert Silverman’s delightful two-CD set, from which this piece was
taken, is called “The Parlour Grand: Piano Favorites from a Bygone
Era.” It contains three more pieces that fit this Compact Discoveries theme of “Musical Gardens”: American composer Ethelbert Nevin’s Narcissus, American composer Edward MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose, and Australian composer Percy Grainger’s Country Gardens. Let’s hear all three pieces now, immediately followed by the orchestral version of Country Gardens.
MUSIC: Nevin: Narcissus, performed by pianist Robert Silverman [Marquis Classics 77471 82501 2 4, CD-2, track 16] [2:04]
MUSIC: MacDowell: To a Wild Rose, performed by pianist Robert Silverman [Marquis Classics 77471 82501 2 4, CD-1, track 13] [2:02]
MUSIC: Grainger: Country Gardens, performed by pianist Robert Silverman [Marquis Classics 77471 82501 2 4, CD-2, track 14] [2:44]
MUSIC: Grainger: Country Gardens, performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle conducting [EMI Classics 7243 5 56412 2 9, track 6] [2:36]
FLAXMAN: Percy Grainger’s Country Gardens. The
orchestral version was performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Before that you heard the same
piece on the piano, played by Robert Silverman. Silverman also played
the two pieces before that, Edward MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose and Ethelbert Nevin’s Narcissus.
To think that if a mother named her son Ethelbert today, she would probably be accused of child abuse. Since Narcissus
was from Nevin’s collection entitled “Water Scenes,” I’m not sure
whether Nevin was writing about the flower or the ancient Greek god.
But the flower certainly deserves a place in this Compact Discoveries hour devoted to “Musical Gardens.” I’m your musical gardener, Fred Flaxman.
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I mentioned earlier that pianist Robert Silverman also wrote the
program notes for this compact disc. What he has to say about Percy
Grainger is also very interesting.
“By any standard,” he wrote, “Percy Grainger (1882-1961) was one
bizarre individual. His letters leave no doubt that if he were alive
today, he would be perfectly at home in more than one of the darker
reaches of the Internet. He also happened to be an extraordinarily
interesting and original pianist, composer, and arranger.”
Next we turn to an English composer, Albert W. Ketèlbey to continue our
tour of “Musical Gardens.” Ketèlbey, who lived from 1875 to 1959, wrote
at least two pieces which fit our theme: In a Chinese Temple Garden and In a Monastery Garden.
We’ll listen to the latter piece now as performed by the London
Promenade Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Faris, with the Ambrosian
Chorus on a Musical Heritage Society compact disc recording. This
monastery garden, you’ll notice, is complete with chirping birds,
though no credit is given on the CD to these soloists.
MUSIC: Ketèlbey: In a Monastery Garden, with
the Ambrosian Chorus and the London Promenade Orchestra conducted by
Alexander Faris [Musical Heritage Society MHS 11165F, track 2] [5:29]
FLAXMAN: Albert Ketèlbey’s In a Monastery Garden. The London Promenade Orchestra and the Ambrosian Chorus were under the baton of Alexander Faris.
You are listening to Compact Discoveries. This hour is devoted to “Musical Gardens.” I’m your tour guide, Fred Flaxman.
We need some more flowers for our musical gardens. We turn to Finish
composer Jean Sibelius for five of them: daisies, carnations, irises,
columbines and campanulas.
MUSIC: Sibelius: The Flowers, Op. 85, performed by Risto Lauriala at the piano [Naxos 8.553661, tracks 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]
FLAXMAN: The Flowers, Op. 85, Five Pieces for Piano by
Jean Sibelius, performed on a Naxos release by Risto Lauriala. You
heard first “The Daisy” followed by “The Carnation,” “The Iris,” “The
Columbine” and “The Campanula.”
Our theme on this hour of Compact Discoveries is “Musical Gardens.” I’m your musical gardener, Fred Flaxman.
Like every garden, our musical garden needs bees for pollination! We have two of them: Mendelssohn’s The Bee’s Wedding from Song Without Words, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. They are both performed by pianist John O’Conor on a Telarc compact disc recording.
MUSIC: Mendelssohn: The Bee’s Wedding from Song Without Words in C Major, Op. 67, No. 4 with John O’Conor at the piano [Telarc CD-80391, track 16] [1:57]
MUSIC: Rimsky-Korsakov: The Flight of the Bumblebee with John O’Conor at the piano [Telarc CD-80391, track 17] [1:17]
FLAXMAN: John O’Conor at the piano with two bees for our musical garden: The Bee’s Wedding from Song Without Words by Mendelssohn, and The Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Joaquín Rodrigo [Hwah-KEEN Row-DREE-go] wrote at least two orchestral
compositions which fit this hour’s theme of “Musical Gardens:” For the Flower of the Blue Lily and Music for a Garden. In Music for a Garden
Rodrigo devotes a movement for each season. Diphtheria left him blind
from the age of four, so Rodrigo had to first imagine the differences
in the garden from fall to winter to spring to summer before he could
write this music. Here are the final two movements, “Spring…” and
MUSIC: “Spring and Summer Berceuses” from Rodrigo’s Music for a Garden, performed by the Castile and León Symphony Orchestra under Max Bragado Darman [Naxos 8.557101, tracks 8 and 9] [3:19 and 4:00]
FLAXMAN: Spring and summer movements from Music for a Garden
by Joaquín Rodrigo, performed by the Castile [Kas-TEEL-ay] and León
[Lay-OWN] Symphony Orchestra conducted by Max Bragado Darman.
That concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries, which I
called “Musical Gardens.” Please let me know if you enjoyed it. My name
is Fred Flaxman, and you can reach me by e-mail at
Compact Discoveries programs are available for on-demand listening. Go to www.compactdiscoveries.com for further information.
ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): This program was made possible in part
by the National Endowment for the Arts - a great nation deserves great
art; and by the Public Radio Exchange Reversioning Project.
Program ends at 58:00