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Sometimes Jay indulges in hyperbole—but the hyperbole is not far off. In this episode, he calls Dawn Upshaw’s 1989 recording of “No word from Tom” (Stravinsky) “just about the best thing ever.” You may well agree. He begins the episode with another “just about the best thing ever”: Leontyne Price in “Summertime” (Gershwin), live in Munich, 1968. Also on the menu are Mozart, Bridge, Medtner, and Szymanowski. A winning line-up.
Gershwin, “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess”
Jay begins and ends with Simon Preston, the English organist, who recently passed away. He also pays tribute to Alexander Toradze, the Georgian-born American pianist who also passed away in recent days. There is a little piece by Chopin, with which Jay is in love. And more. You remember Mitch Miller, from “Sing Along with Mitch”? Well, he began his career as an oboist. And Jay has him in a concerto by Vaughan Williams. It is a wide, wonderful world, this world of music.
Bach, Fugue from Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
A couple of weeks ago, Alexei Lubimov, a Russian pianist, was playing at an anti-war concert in Moscow. Police burst in to stop the concert. Lubimov kept playing until he had finished his piece (a Schubert impromptu). At the end of this episode, Jay plays a recording by Lubimov (Chopin this time). There is also Bach, Granados, Kapustin, Glass—a fine assortment.
Bach, Sinfonia, Easter Oratorio
That’s the title of a Bernstein song: “I Hate Music” (“but I like to sing”). In this episode, Jay has Barbara Bonney sing it. There’s also music by Mozart and other familiar composers. And music off the beaten path: Catoire? And a brand-new work by the American Scott Wheeler. And more. The episode ends as the previous one did: with a piece by Leroy Anderson. After Phil Smith and some of his friends played this piece at Lincoln Center, Smith said, “Well, that was a gasser.” For sure.
Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel, “La complaisante”
This episode begins with a Vivaldi concerto and ends with a seasonal favorite: “Sleigh Ride,” by Leroy Anderson. In between, there is music by Bruch, Grieg, Stephen Foster, and others. In the mix is a spiritual, “Hold Out Your Light.” An eclectic, refreshing, and interesting program of music.
Vivaldi, Flute Concerto in D, Op. 10, No. 3
This episode begins with the “Chinese Dance” from “The Nutcracker”—a ballet that has been banned in Berlin. Wokeness has hopped the pond. Jay also plays an excerpt from an old, old opera based on the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice; and an excerpt from a new opera based on the same. In addition, there is music by Franz Schubert, Daniel Asia, and Stephen Sondheim—who passed away on November 26, at ninety-one. A striking menu of music, this episode has.
Tchaikovsky, “Danse chinoise,” from “The Nutcracker”
Nelson Freire, who passed away this month, said that pianists ought to play with joy. He did. There is a lot of joy in this episode, and sublimity, ethereality, and other qualities to savor. From Wagner to Errol Garner.
Trad., arr. Schindler, “Jasmine Flower”
Puccini, “Signore, ascolta,” from “Turandot”
Wagner, “Selig, wie die Sonne meines Glückes lacht,” from “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”
Albéniz-Godowsky, Tango in D major
Kern-Garner, “The Way You Look Tonight”
A piece he was writing about soccer, believe it or not, put Jay in mind of a song. So did the title of the latest Bond movie. There have been some passings in music recently: of Carlisle Floyd, Edita Gruberová, and Bernard Haitink. Jay pays tribute to these musicians, and, as usual, to music itself.
Trad., arr. Britten, “Come You Not from Newcastle?”
In the current issue of the magazine, Jay has a chronicle on the 2021 Salzburg Festival. In this episode, he plays some of the music he discusses: from Bach to Mozart to Gershwin. (There are seven composers in all.) A marvelous array of pieces and performers.
Bach, Keyboard Partita No. 1 in B flat, Gigue
The opening piece, Jay says is one of the most joyous, most exuberant pieces ever written. It is a movement of a symphony, actually—the finale. Jay closes this program with Victor Borge, the musician-comedian, or comedian-musician—but in a serious vein. There is much to soak in, in this relatively brief program. Maybe the kind to listen to twice.
Mozart, Symphony No. 34 in C, K. 338, finale
Rorem, “Ferry Me Across the Water”
Bach-Loussier, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
It is characteristic of this podcast to contain a variety of music. But this episode is exceptionally diverse, with music by George Walker, Lili Boulanger, and Florence Price, to go with music by Mozart, Shostakovich, and Hindemith. Jay lays it out for you. Interesting and rewarding musical terrain.
Walker, “Lyric for Strings”
“Care to romp around in some Romantic piano music?” asks Jay. “Virtuosic Romantic piano music? High-quality salon stuff? Well, that’s what we’re going to do.” Jay gives us a program of the talented, witty, dashing Moritz Moszkowski (1854–1925). The final piece is maybe Moszkowski’s best loved: “Étincelles,” or “Sparks.”
Music of Moritz Moszkowski
Jay has a piece by Bach, and one of his best. He has another piece once attributed to Bach. And he has a third piece that may or not be—by the master, that is. In any case, wonderful music, and a highly interesting program.
When Jay says “just perfect,” in this episode, he is referring to Marilyn Horne’s singing of “At the River.” This is the piece that ends the podcast. It’s a little Independence Day nod. Elsewhere, Jay discusses and plays a Debussy song, two famous guitar pieces, and a piano piece by Frederic Rzewski, the American composer (also a political radical), recently deceased. A neat, varied, interesting, and enriching program.
Debussy, “La mer est plus belle que les cathédrales”
Villa-Lobos, Prelude No. 5
Rzewski, “Down by the Riverside”
Barrios, “Julia Florida”
Lowry, arr. Copland, “At the River”
This episode begins with a poem, first published in The New Criterion, in 2002: Charles Tomlinson’s “If Bach had been a beekeeper.” It speaks of “the honey of C major.” We then duly hear some Bach in C major. We also hear a famous aria—an aria made famous by a movie. And “Estrellita,” in two different versions: the original song, plus what Heifetz did to it, or rather, for it. The podcast includes other appetizing items as well. A fine smorgasbord.
Bach, Prelude and Fugue in C major, “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” Book 2
Catalani, “Ebben? Ne andrò lontana,” from “La Wally”
Coleridge-Taylor, “You Lay So Still in Sunshine”
Milhaud, “Love, My Heart”
Shostakovich, Piano Concerto No. 2, first movement
Jay provides a program of songs and arias about spring: a variety of composers and languages. And performers. Maria Callas and Ella Fitzgerald are among them. This is a wonderful category of music: rhapsodic, hopeful, giddy, appreciative. Spring it up.
Argento, “Spring,” from “Six Elizabethan Songs”
Hahn, “Le printemps”
Strauss, “Der Lenz”
Wagner, “Du bist der Lenz,” from “Die Walküre”
Rachmaninoff, “Spring Waters”
Saint-Säens, “Printemps qui commence,” from “Samson et Dalila”
Hoiby, “Always It’s Spring”
Rodgers & Hammerstein, “It Might As Well Be Spring”
In this episode, Jay begins with some playing by Maxim Lando, a teenage pianist. There is also a solo-violin piece by John Corigliano: “Stomp.” At the end, Jay pays tribute to Christa Ludwig, one of the greatest singers of all time, who has passed away at 93. In a life of interviewing, he has been starstruck very few times, he says. He was by Christa Ludwig.
Sibelius, Piano Sonata in F, Op. 12
Led Zeppelin / Maxim Lando, “Stairway to Heaven”
Glazunov, finale, Symphony No. 5, “Heroic”
Mancini, Theme to “Peter Gunn”
Brahms, “Wie Melodien zieht es mir”
This episode ends with “Embraceable You,” the Gershwin song—but in a piano arrangement by Earl Wild. An extraordinary thing. The episode begins with some Bach—the same piece, more or less, two different ways. Jay also has some music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, known by some as “the African Mahler.” There is a story, too, about French horn playing. Does your pulse race when you have a big solo? You bet it does. Much to savor here.
Bach, Prelude in E minor from Book I of “The Well-Tempered Clavier”
Bach-Siloti, Prelude in B minor
Coleridge-Taylor, Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp minor, Op. 10, first movement
Dove, “Departure,” from “Airport Scenes”
Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5, slow movement
Gershwin-Wild, “Embraceable You”