Program 84
"More Musical Cities"

MUSIC: clip from Jacque Brel singing Bruxelles [Universal 980 839-6, CD 2, track 3] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and for the next hour we’re going to explore music inspired by the cities of Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow, Québec, Londonderry and Göttingen. The music in the background right now was inspired by Brussels. It was written and sung by a native son named Jacques Brel.

MUSIC: fades out

This is the fifth and final hour in a series that I am devoting to music inspired by cities. The first was Paris; then came London. The third was Rome, and the fourth was New York.

We begin this hour, appropriately enough, with an overture inspired by morning, noon and night in Vienna. In fact it is called the Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna Overture, and it is by Franz von Suppé.

Von Suppé lived from 1819 until 1895. Although he was the founding father of the Viennese operetta school, he was not born in Vienna, or even Austria. He was from Spalato, Dalmatia, which became Split, Yugoslavia, now Serbia. And his original name was not Franz von Suppé, but a very long tongue-twister of a name which I shall not even attempt to mangle here.

Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna opened in 1844. Its overture is a fine work of music, although not as famous as a couple of other Von Suppé overtures: the Light Cavalry and the Poet and Peasant. Let’s listen to it now as performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit.

MUSIC: Von Suppé: Morning, Noon and Night Overture, performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit [London 414 408-2, track 3] [8:29]

Franz Von Suppé’s Morning, Noon and Night Overture, performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Charles Dutoit.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are exploring music inspired by several different cities. We started with Vienna. Next stop is Warsaw and the famous Warsaw Concerto written for the 1941 movie, “Dangerous Moonlight.” The music is by Richard Addinsell. The piano soloist is Alain Lefèvre. Yoav Talmi conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Québec in this Analekta recording.

MUSIC: Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, conducted by Yoav Talmi , with Alain Lefèvre, the piano soloist [Analekta AN 2 9814, track 4] [9:31]

Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, conducted by Yoav Talmi , with Alain Lefèvre, the piano soloist.

I have been devoting this hour of Compact Discoveries to music related to cities. Our next stop is Moscow, which will be represented by a famous folk song called Moscow Nights or Midnight in Moscow. This is an arrangement for chorus by Serge Jaroff, who conducts the Don Cossack Choir in this Deutsch Grammophon compact disc recording.

MUSIC: Traditional (ar. Serge Jaroff): Moscow Nights performed by the Don Cossack Choir, conducted by Serge Jaroff [DGG 413 257-2, track 4] [3:28]

The traditional Russian song known as Midnight in Moscow in English, or Moscow Nights in literal translation from the Russian. The performance was by the Don Cossack Choir, conducted by Serge Jaroff, who also did the arrangement.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m Fred Flaxman, and my theme for this hour is “Other Musical Cities,” music inspired by cities other than Paris, London, Rome and New York, since that music was the subject of hours of their own.

[optional break not included in total 58:00 timing of program]

Next, let’s cross the Atlantic from Moscow to Québec City in Canada. Canadian composer André Mathieu has written a delightful if imperfect piano concerto in three movements called Concerto de Québec, which is available on the same Analekta CD we heard earlier with the Warsaw Concerto.

Chances are you never heard of André Mathieu, whose short life started in Montreal in 1929 and ended in 1968, at age 39. He was a child prodigy who was once dubbed “the Québec Mozart.” Like Mozart, he took his first piano lessons from his father and was already composing little pieces at the age of four. Also like Mozart, he astonished audiences with this pianistic prowess from a very young age. At age six he performed at Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. At seven he played his Concertino No. 1 with an orchestra on Radio-Canada. Later that year he performed in Paris. At 10 he played at New York’s Town Hall.

Following another recital in Paris at age ten, a critic wrote of him: “If the word ‘genius’ has any meaning, it is surely manifest here.” Rachmaninoff pronounced him “a genius, more so that I am.”

But Mathieu did not live up to his early promise. He studied with Arthur Honegger in Paris, but did not make enough progress to produce coherent large-scale compositions. Most of his writings were short piano pieces, sometimes charming ones, sometimes showing an original voice.

Mathieu's fame, such as it was, peaked around 1950. Although he continued to compose, the world took little notice. He indulged in day-long “pianothons,” suffered a disastrous love affair, turned to alcohol, and died in poverty. Much about his life remains unknown, including the exact cause of his early death, and his compositions have yet to be properly catalogued, or even identified and counted. There are reportedly more than 200 of them.

Alain Lefèvre, the soloist in the recording we are about to hear, says that there are at least five works for piano and orchestra that were lost or destroyed, and the works that survive have undergone name changes. There are no fewer than six different scores of the work now called the Concerto de Québec, and the name changes from score to score. Mathieu completed the Concerto de Québec in early February, 1943, just short of his 14th birthday.

Here, then, is the romantic, Rachmaninoff-like Concerto de Québec as performed by pianist Alain LeFèvre with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec conducted by Yoav Talmi.

MUSIC: Mathieu: Concerto de Québec performed by pianist Alain LeFèvre with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec conducted by Yoav Talmi [Analekta AN 2 9814, tracks 1, 2 and 3] [26:32]

André Mathieu’s Concerto de Québec performed by pianist Alain LeFèvre with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec conducted by Yoav Talmi.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and in this hour we are exploring music inspired by cities. We have visited Vienna, Warsaw, Moscow and Québec, and we’ll conclude with short stops in Londonderry and Göttingen.

MUSIC: Kreisler: Londonderry Air performed by Kennedy, violin, and John Lenehan, piano [EMI Classics CDC 7243 5 56626 2 0, track 8] [3:55]

The traditional Irish song, Londonderry Air as arranged by Fritz Kreisler. The performers were violinist Nigel Kennedy and pianist John Lenehan.

We have time to visit one more city: Göttingen, Germany. Göttingen lies in the southern part of Lower Saxony, halfway between Bonn and Berlin. I’m including this relatively small city in this hour because the French chanteuse, known only by her first name, Barbara, wrote a beautiful World War II-inspired song called Göttingen. It has a lovely line in it: “les enfants sont les mêmes à Paris ou a Göttingen” -- children are the same in Paris or in Göttingen. You don’t have to understand French to enjoy this music, but undoubtedly, it helps.

MUSIC: Barbara: Göttingen performed by Barbara [Polygram 826715-2, track 2] [2:35]

Barbara singing Göttingen, our final stop on this hour devoted to music inspired by cities. That was from a Polygram compact disc recording.

MUSIC: excerpt from Tri Yann an Naoned’s interpretation of the folk song: Les Prisons de Nantes [Phonogram KELENN 510 771-2, track 9] [under the following]

If an hour were only longer than 60 minutes, I would have played lots more city-inspired music for you, but, alas, it isn’t, so we’ll go out with Les Prisons de Nantes -- the Prisons of Nantes -- interpreted by Tri Yann an Naoned -- Three Johns from Nantes.

You have been listening to Compact Discoveries. My name is Fred Flaxman and I hope you enjoyed the music. I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. You can contact me through the Compact Discoveries website: www.compactdiscoveries.com.
On the website you’ll find the script for this and all other Compact Discoveries programs. The scripts include information on every compact disc used in the programs. The website also lists the stations carrying this series, as well as comments from listeners and a separate section of Compact Discoveries articles. There is also information there about national underwriting of the programs. The web 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.

MUSIC: up and fade out at 57:55

WFMT Announcer: This program is distributed by the WFMT Radio Network. [5 seconds]

Program Ends at 58:00

back to Compact Discoveries Home Page

 
  ©2009 Compact Discoveries