WFIT Features

Felix Mendelssohn
PBS

We begin this Thursday with a historic performance of Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony No. 4 recorded by Sir Hamilton Harty and the Halle Orchestra in 1931.

As director of the orchestra in Leipzig, Mendelssohn had both an appreciation for and access to the much-forgotten and ignored music of Bach, and as a friend of Robert Schumann, he became something of a champion of Franz Schubert as well.

After their 1920s Berlin hit, the Threepenny Opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill collaborated one last time with another entertainment, The Rise and Fall of the State of Mahagonny. We'll begin this week with the incidental music to Mahagonny as recorded by Lotte Lenya and friends in the 1930s.

From there we'll look at some short French pieces by Satie, Poulenc, Debussy, Alain, and Saint-Saens;  hop the channel to hear some Elgar and Gilbert & Sullivan;  and finish with Schubert's Trout Quintet.

This week we look at music of two composers -- Handel and Mozart -- and some of the differences in the way they sound depending on the viewpoints and ideas of the performers, as well as the various musical forces available then and today.

When Mozart's music is played on a modern grand piano accompanied by an orchestra of likewise modern instruments, the balances shift and there is a subtle, but quite noticeable change in the character of the music.

Mozart's music was the star of the 1967 film Elvira Madigan, and the Piano Concerto No. 21 will probably always be associated with that name. It's our featured work, and we'll follow it with two more concerti: an out-of-the-ordinary piece by contemporary Finnish composer Einojuhani Rauravaara  that's like nothing else on the concert stage, and a short double concerto by Gustav Holst.

wikipedia

This week we'll hear another of the Mozart piano concerti -- this one a little earlier, the ninth -- performed on period instruments including a replica of the piano that Mozart himself often played.

Next we'll take a look at a popular song of the late 1500s, and see how four different 16th-century composers arranged it both for keyboards and for instrumental ensembles.

In the second hour, we'll hear a set of Satie's piano miniatures, Debussy's La Mer, and a ballet suite by Hindemith.

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