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The title of this episode pretty much tells its story. Jay plays balm-like music, and delight-giving music—heavy on the Bach. At the beginning of the show, he asks, “Need I say that music is extra-important in these strange and trying times?” He answers, “Of course I don’t.”
Jay ends this episode with the beloved theme song to “The Jeffersons,” “Movin’ on Up.” It was co-written and sung by Ja’net DuBois, who died recently. Also in this episode you have two arias by Handel; a piano piece by Ravel, miraculously played; some little-known Mozart, which is knockout; and yet more. Take a break away, as Jay says.
This episode begins with a song by Giuseppe Martucci, sung by Rosa Feola, the young Italian soprano. It ends with an aria by Giacomo Puccini, sung by Mirella Freni, the legendary Italian soprano who died in recent days. In between is a smorgasbord, including Haydn, Mozart, and a couple of British songs that Jay and others love.
Mariss Jansons, the great Latvian conductor, born in 1943, died toward the end of last year. Jay talks about him, relating stories both from him and about him. (Jay interviewed Jansons twice, ten years apart.) And, of course, we hear music—from Jansons and his orchestras.
Jay begins with a Schubert work, and some singers and pianists who have performed it. He moves on to a funky, frenetic thing called “Techno-Parade.” Later, there is some Wagner by a great new singer. There is some immortal Rachmaninoff. And, at the very end, a song by the late Jerry Herman: “It’s Today,” from “Mame.” A diverse, appetizing musical menu.
Jay went to the ballet in Kyiv, for “Carmen Suite” and “Scheherazade.” He said, “It was the most erotic evening you could ever spend alone.” He plays some music from “Carmen Suite” in this episode, plus Bach, Scriabin, and Glass. And Frank Bridge, that half remembered and estimable English composer. There is much beauty, and much of interest, in this episode.
This episode begins with a liturgical piece by James MacMillan—a living composer—and ends with another liturgical piece by Wynton Marsalis—another living composer. In between, you’ve got some Saint-Saëns, some Sibelius, and some other music. Jay says some provocative—possibly offensive—things about a couple of cello concertos. Otherwise, it’s sweetness and light, mainly. A good show.
Jay ends with “Rustle of Spring,” the piano piece by Christian Sinding. It used to be universally known. It deserved to be. Jay also plays Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Shostakovich, Amy Beach, Havergal Brian, and Jörg Widmann. He tells some stories, makes some points. A rich and diverse world, music.
Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1
Brian, Double Fugue in E flat
Widmann, “Con brio”
Brahms, Violin Concerto
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 (Bernstein, New York Philharmonic)
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 (Maazel, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
Beach, “Ah, Love, but a Day”
Sinding, “Rustle of Spring”
When Harriet Cohen finishes playing her arrangement of Bach’s “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier,” Jay says, “Holy stuff.” There is other stuff too in this episode: including “Tain’t What You Do (It’s How You Do It).” There may also be a little Beach Boys, classically performed. Jay likes that opening Bach piece so much, he ends with it, too: in a different version.
Bach-Cohen, “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier”
Someone asked Jay to name one composer whose music he would take with him to a desert island. He names him (Bach). He also says farewell to Marcello Giordani, the Italian tenor, and Jessye Norman, the American soprano. We also get an opera overture, a Beethoven overture, some Gershwin—and “Take This Job and Shove It.” Quite a menu, quite a program.
That’s what Jay calls a Bach piece arranged for organ by Jean Guillou: pure joy. There is some more pure joy in this episode too—including the final movement of Brahms’s Horn Trio, which Jay plays to honor Myron Bloom, the great French-horn player who died on September 26. He also honors, at the end, Christopher Rouse, the American composer, who died on September 21. Music, said Rouse, in a statement to be issued after his passing, “has given me life and a reason for living.”
Jay also plays some Ella Fitzgerald, some Leontyne Price, and more. There is also a tale from opera lore: about Rudolf Bing and George Szell, who were too big for the same town.
Jay does, and you will too. “Who Cares?” is a Gershwin song, which Gershwin arranged for piano (alone). Jay has André Watts play this. He later has Ella Fitzgerald sing the song, accompanied by another André, Previn. In between, he talks about Gabriel Fauré, and plays him. He talks about Arcadi Volodos, than whom there is no better pianist in the world, Jay says. We hear Volodos in Bach—Bach arranged by Samuil Feinberg, an earlier Russian pianist. We hear more Bach, played by Feinberg himself. And some Callas. And some Offenbach. A wonderful menu of music, with tasty comments to go with it.
As Jay tells us at the beginning, he has been reviewing from two summer festivals: the Mostly Mozart Festival (New York) and the Salzburg Festival, in Mozart’s hometown. He discusses and plays a variety of music performed at these festivals: Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Enescu – and Mozart, for sure.