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Remembering Joan Sutherland

Via NYT – Joan Sutherland, one of the most acclaimed sopranos of the 20th century, a singer of such power and range that she was crowned “La Stupenda,” died on Sunday at her home in Switzerland, near Montreux. She was 83.

For opera lovers this is a sad day.  Ms. Sutherland was indisputably one of the great sopranos of the last century and millions have enjoyed her glorious recordings over the years.  Even though she hasn’t been on stage in years, her death feels like the end of an era, as though something magical has vanished forever.

Monday, October 11th, 2010
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Arthur Rubenstein plays Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Minor

Chopin’s nocturnes have such a weightless, ethereal character about them. Soothing enough to listen to all day, it’s the sort of piece you just melt into. I prefer Arthur Rubenstein’s recordings of Chopin – it seems only fitting for a Polish virtuoso to play the soulful works of Poland’s greatest composer. I don’t feel these are particularly challenging works, even though they are widely considered among the most important ever written for the piano. And to me, that means they are far more emotionally challenging and lend themselves to interpretation and artistic style. Rubenstein was in his in his late 70s when this was recorded and you feel the weight of his incredible life in the music. It’s a masterwork. Beautiful.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
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Finlandia by Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius is clearly one of the great composers in history, but somehow seems to lack name recognition among music lovers. A giant in his homeland of Finland, he rose to national prominence there and is still a household name there. He was a rather modern figure too, and lived until 1957, when he died at the ripe old age of 92.

He has a number of masterful works, but I find myself coming back to Finlandia frequently.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
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Karajan Conducts Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade Suite

A very interesting amalgamation of a Russian orchestral style and Eastern influences.  Rimsky-Korsakov’s  Scheherazade Suite has a colorful quality to it and a grand and epic tone.  A fitting theme for the cunning narrator of the deeply tragic Book of One Thousand and One Nights.  Technically, the piccolo and violin parts are exceedingly difficult

I submit the first movement for your listening pleasure – The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship.

Here are the following movements / clips, which I know you won’t be able to resist:
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

Monday, June 28th, 2010

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Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major

205 years ago today, the Eroica Symphony was heard for the first time in public at Vienna’s Theater-an-der-Wien.  I find the very idea positively spine-tingling, don’t you?

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
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