The Well-Tempered Ear

Great classical music abounds on PBS this week: Glenn Gould, Gustavo Dudamel, Juan Diego Florez, Lang-Lang and Vienna

December 27, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

The live performances are having a well-earned winter intermission for the most part right now. So I offer this post in honor of all my friends who think I watch too much TV.

This week television — PUBLIC television, that is — offers some outstanding viewing for classical music fans.

Four programs in particular jump out (you can check PBS or WPT listing for repeated showings or local times).

1. Tonight, Monday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m., the documentary film “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” will be broadcast on “American Masters.” (It’s ironic, no, since Gould was Canadian, not American.)

Here are some PBS program notes:

“There have been other documentaries about Glenn Gould(below), a profoundly enigmatic musical poet, but they were typically sidetracked by his eccentricities, focusing on the pills and gloves and scarves — missing the man, the magic and the message behind his music.

“AMERICAN MASTERS artfully pierces through the myths and misconceptions about this humming and hunched figure, whose fingers glided across the piano as no one’s before or since. The film unravels the layers of an iconic, but intensely private, musician who had a revolutionary understanding of the Baroque masters — and a sentimental love for Barbara Streisand and Petula Clark.

“Gould followed his sensational 1955 New York City concert debut at the age of 22 by taking his talent to the Soviet Union and became an equally prodigious star there. But, after a decade-long thriving international career, he defied the critics and shocked and disappointed his fans by leaving the concert circuit completely.

“In 1964, he chose to focus exclusively on the recording arts, believing that this medium could create a transcendental relationship between artist and audience, overcoming the limitations of time and space. He used music to reach across language, culture and ideology, rediscovering Bach for a new generation and always, intentionally or not, perpetuating the cloud of mystery that surrounded him.

“This film considers the western cult of celebrity that surrounded this reclusive artist — the myth is humanized and viewers are given the opportunity to grasp the passion and inspiration that gave rise to his genius and incomparable power of expression. Told with the benefit of his remarkable recordings and through interviews with those who knew him best — his lover, his manager, his personal assistant, his collaborators — Gould is revealed and newly revered.”

For a rave review, use this link:

And here is a link to more information from PBS:

No. 2: At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29: Great Performances offers “Celebration: Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic With Juan Diego Florez

The young, Venezuela-born superstar conductor Dudamel (below) – he is described as “the Latin Lenny” in reference to Bernstein — is setting the classical world in its ear and inspiring hope for reaching young audiences and non-white audiences around the country and the world.

Florez (below) has established quite the reputation for his strong lyrical voice and his high C’s, will perform Latin American songs and bel canto arias.

It should be a terrific, can’t-sit-still broadcast.

For more information, here is a link:

No. 3:  8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, Live From Lincoln Center “New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve With Lang Lang.” The concert stars conductor Alan Gilbert (below top) and pianist Lang Lang (below bottom) in an all-Tchaikovsky program. The programs includes the famous “Polonaise” from the opera “Eugene Onegin,” the ever-popular Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Lang Lang, and the second act of “The Nutcracker” – all from Avery Fisher Hall.

Here is a link for more information about this gala concert:

No. 4: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, Great Performances “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2011.” It features lots of Strauss waltzes and scenes of Vienna. The post-Walter Cronkite host is again Julie Andrews (below).

Use this link for a preview:

Happy listening!

Happy viewing!

And Happy New Year!

Which program or concert did you like most and why?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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