Classical Music Podcasts from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
263. Building on History
262. Introducing Daniel Lebhardt
Works by Brahms and Beethoven performed by Daniel Lebhardt on March 12, 2017.
Brahms, Johannes: Six Pieces, Op. 118
Beethoven, Ludwig van: Sonata No. 18 in E-Flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3, "The Hunt"
Hungarian pianist Daniel Lebhardt is one of a long line of Young Concert Artists competition winners to make their Boston debut at the Gardner, and on this podcast, we’ll hear two recordings from the 24-year-old’s recent recital: Brahms’ Six Pieces, opus 118 and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, sometimes called “The Hunt.”
A student at the Royal Academy in London, the young pianist has swept a number of competitions in recent years, claiming first prizes all across Europe, including in Italy, Slovakia, Romania, and the UK. His 2016 New York debut earned a rave from the Times critic Anthony Tommasini, who wrote that Lebhardt “dispatched the [Beethoven sonata] with scintillating crispness and conveyed its brash humor.”
261. Near the End
Works by Schumann performed by Miriam Fried, violin and Jonathan Biss, piano on January 15, 2017.
Schumann, Robert: Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121
Schumann, Robert: Gesange der Fruhe, Op. 133
For many years, musicologists and music-lovers have tried to understand what it was that led to Robert Schumann’s troubling symptoms and ultimate death at age 46 in a psychiatric hospital. And for years, writers dismissed many of his later works as the incoherent products of a mind in decline.
But, more recently, many have come to appreciate Schumann’s later works—two of which we’ll hear on this podcast: his second violin sonata, in D minor, and “Gesänge der Frühe,” or “Songs of Dawn,” a five-movement work for piano—and one of the last pieces Schumann published before admitting himself to the psychiatric hospital where he ultimately died.
On this recording, we’ll heard pianist Jonathan Biss in both works. In the sonata, he is joined by violinist Miriam Fried.
260. The Sweetness of Youth
Works by Webern and Brahms performed by A Far Cry and Stefan Jackiw, violin and Anna Polonsky, piano on December 11, 2016 and October 5, 2014.
Webern, Anton: Langsamer Satz
Brahms, Johannes: Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78
Hope you’re ready for a trip down memory lane: On this podcast, we hear two works tinged with the melancholy sweetness of youthful passion, remembered.
Sweetness and passion aren’t necessarily the words most closely associated with the first composer on the program: Anton Webern, best known for his economical, exacting 12-tone works, written as a student of Schoenberg. Today, we’ll hear the pre-atonal Webern, in his Langsamer Satz (or slow movement) for strings. Webern wrote this piece as a young man falling in love. We’ll hear it played by A Far Cry, the Gardner’s resident ensemble.
Next up: Johannes Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, opus 78. Unlike Webern, who wrote his Langsamer Satz in the throes of youth, Brahms composed this violin sonata in middle age, when he was in his 40’s. But it has an unmistakable, naïve sweetness. And, indeed, the piece is sometimes dubbed the “Rain Sonata” because it quotes from a song by Brahms called “Regenlied,” or “Rain Song.” We’ll hear the sonata performed by violinist Stefan Jackiw, and pianist Anna Polonsky.
259. All That Glitters
Work by Korngold performed by Alexi Kenney, violin and Dina Vainshtein, piano on March 6, 2016.
Korngold, Erich: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 6
The piece we’ll hear on the podcast today was written when Erich Korngold was in his teens: his Violin Sonata in G Major, Op. 6. Why is this fascinating work, by such a promising composer, so little known today?
In the 1930s, Korngold’s life took a dramatic turn, as the Nazi regime began to rise to power in his native Austria. Korngold was Jewish, and he accepted an invitation to come the United States—a move that would dramatically alter the course of his career. Once here, he quickly achieved success writing scores for Hollywood. Then, as the 20th century moved on musically, his early concert works fell out of favor, seen as too melodic and Romantic.
But it is high time they got another hearing. Today, we’ll hear a recording from the Gardner Museum recital by young violinist Alexi Kenney and pianist Dina Vainshtein, recorded in March 2016—almost 100 years after the piece was written. Take a listen and see what you think: how does it stand the test of time?
258. Putting it to the Test
Works by Bach and Bartók performed by the Borromeo String Quartet and Yoo Jin Jang, violin and Renana Gutman, piano on August 14, 2016 and March 8, 2015.
Bach, Johann Sebastian: Preludes and Fugues from Well-Tempered Klavier Book 1 trans. Nicholas Kitchen: C Major, C Minor, E-flat Minor
Bartók, Béla: Violin Sonata No. 1, Sz. 75
Today’s podcast features two works that present tests of sorts—for the listener, the performer, the composer. Sharpen your ears and let’s get to it.
The Well-Tempered Clavier was likely written to test a few different things: the keyboard player’s technical skills; the advantages of equal temperament tuning, which enabled playing in every key; and also the listener’s ability to pick out the many, interweaving musical lines. Today, we’ll hear three movements from the WTC in a version for string quartet, created by violinist Nicholas Kitchen.
Bartok’s Violin Sonata No. 1, written in 1921, also pushed boundaries. Today, Bartok is perhaps best known for his explorations of Hungarian traditional music and his folk-tinged, dance-infused symphonies. But he also had a period, between the world wars, of audacious musical experimentation, and this work dates from those years. We’ll hear the piece second on the podcast, played by violinist Yoo Jin Jang and pianist Renana Gutman.