Program 70
"A Russian Winter"

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: "December" from The Seasons, Op. 37b performed by Takako Nishizaki, violin, with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner [Naxos 8.553510, track 12] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman, and during the next hour we're going to experience "A Russian Winter" together. But you won't need a down coat or gloves, only your ears and your imagination. That's because we're going to enjoy the season strictly through the music of Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Prokofiev.

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Tchaikovsky will come first, and we'll listen to two winter-related works by him: First the Scherzo from his Symphony Number 1, which is called the "Winter Dreams" symphony. Then we'll listen to January, February and December from his suite called The Seasons. The Scherzo from the First Symphony is performed by the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Herbert von Karajan on a Deutsche Grammophon recording.

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: Scherzo from Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13 ("Winter Dreams") [Deutsche Grammophon 419 176-2, track 3] [8:00]

The Scherzo from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 13, the "Winter Dreams" symphony. Herbert Von Karajan conducted the Berlin Philharmonic on a Deutsche Grammophon compact disc.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are experiencing "A Russian Winter." But we're doing it the easy, warm and cozy way -- through music.

Tchaikovsky wrote a suite for piano called The Seasons. The contemporary conductor Peter Breiner arranged these pieces for orchestra, and this is one of those cases where the original piano music is wonderful, but so is the superb orchestration by Breiner. In fact his version sounds to me as though Tchaikovsky wrote this suite for orchestra to begin with. The Breiner version features a solo violinist.

So I'm going to play for you now the winter movements from Tchaikovsky's The Seasons: January, February and December -- in that order. First I'll put on the original piece with pianist Viktoria Postnikova, then the Breiner orchestration with Breiner conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Takako Nishizaki playing the solo violin parts.

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: January from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Viktoria Postnikova, piano [Erato 2292-45512-2, track 1] [5:36]

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: January from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Takako Nishizaki, violin; Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner [Naxos 8.553510, track 1] [5:04]

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: February from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Viktoria Postnikova, piano [Erato 2292-45512-2, track 2] [3:00]

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: February from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Takako Nishizaki, violin; Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner [Naxos 8.553510, track 2] [3:30]

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: December from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Viktoria Postnikova, piano [Erato 2292-45512-2, track 12] [3:48]

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: December from The Seasons, Op. 37b with Takako Nishizaki, violin; Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner [Naxos 8.553510, track 12] [4:31]

The winter movements -- January, February and December -- from The Seasons by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. First we heard each piece played the way Tchaikovsky wrote it, on the piano, by Viktoria Postnikova. Then we heard Peter Breiner's superb orchestrations with Breiner conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The violin soloist was Takako Nishizaki.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are featuring "A Russian Winter."

[optional one-minute break not included in the 57-minute total timing]

Next we turn to the winter movements from The Seasons of another Russian composer, Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov is one of those composers who was very successful in his own lifetime, but who has not fared as well since his death. The Seasons is perhaps his most famous work today.

Glazunov showed great musical ability as a child and was sent to study with Rimsky-Korsakov. It was under this great Russian composer that Glazunov completed his first symphony by the age of 16.

Glazunov joined the staff of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, in the city of his birth, in 1899. Six years later he became its director. He held that position for the next quarter century, during which time Russia went through a world war, a revolution, and a great deal of turmoil.

In 1905, when Russia went through its first political disturbances, Rimsky-Korsakov added his signature to a letter protesting the suppression of some element of democracy in Russia. He was then fired, but when Glazunov became the new director of the conservatory, he reinstated Rimsky-Korsakov and achieved a degree of autonomy for the institution.

Nevertheless, by 1930 Glazunov finally gave up on Communist Russia and moved to Paris, where he died in 1936.

The Seasons was written for the Russian Impreial Ballet and premiered in St. Petersburg in 1900. There is no story to the ballet, just a series of tableaux, one for each of the four seasons, set to music that seems to continue the tradition established by the three ballets of Tchaikovsky.

The ballet begins with winter, which is what we are going to hear now. It starts with an introduction followed by four variations. Then we have pieces representing frost, ice, hail and snow. These excerpts are from a Marco Polo compact disc with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava conducted by Ondrej Lenard.

MUSIC: Glazunov: Winter from The Seasons with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava conducted by Ondrej Lenard [Marco Polo 8.223136, tracks 1 - 7] [10:08]

Winter from The Seasons by Alexander Glazunov, performed by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava conducted by Ondrej Leonard on a Marco Polo CD. This orchestra, founded in 1929, is the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia. Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1970 and its principal conductor in 1977. Lenard was born in 1942.

If you missed any of this information, let me remind you that Compact Discoveries has a website, and the transcript for each program is available there. Just go to www.compactdiscoveries.com, then click on Compact Discoveries Radio Programs, then scroll down the list to -- in this case -- program 70. Click on the title, "A Russian Winter," and the entire script will appear on your screen, including information on every CD used in the program. That web address, once more, is www.compactdiscoveries.com.

Prokofiev also wrote orchestral music for winter. He called it Winter Bonfire. We have time for three sections of this eight-section piece: "Waltz on the Ice," "Snow Outside the Window," and "Winter evening." In this Helios compact disc, the New London Orchestra is conducted by Ronald Corp.

MUSIC: Prokofiev: excerpts from Winter Bonfire, Op. 122 performed by the New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp [Helios CDH55177, tracks 3, 2 and 6]

Excerpts from Prokofiev's Winter Bonfire: "Waltz on the Ice," "Snow Outside the Window," and "Winter evening." The New London Orchestra was conducted by Ronald Corp.

MUSIC: Tchaikovsky: "December" from The Seasons, Op. 37b performed by Takako Nishizaki, violin, with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner [Naxos 8.553510, track 12] [under the following]

And that concludes this hour devoted to "A Russian Winter" -- music inspired by the season by composers who were intimately acquainted with the real McCoy.

I hope you've enjoyed listening to these pieces by Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Prokofiev as much as I have. Please let me know! You can contact me, Fred Flaxman, through the Compact Discoveries website: www.compactdiscoveries.com. The website has short descriptions and complete scripts for each Compact Discoveries program. There are also articles, a list of stations carrying the program, and a section for listener response. The website address again is www.compactdiscoveries.com.

Compact Discoveries is a registered trademark and production of Compact Discoveries, Inc. This program is made possible in part by the members of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

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