The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: As we say goodbye to summer, YOU MUST HEAR THIS: Irish composer Joan Trimble’s “Pastorale” homage to the summery French composer Francis Poulenc

August 26, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

One week from today is Labor Day.

So it is time to start saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall — even though the autumnal equinox won’t arrive until Monday, Sept. 23, at 2:50 a.m. CDT.

The Ear’s favorite summertime composer is the French master Francis Poulenc (below), whose accessible and tuneful music possesses in abundance that Gallic sense of lightness and lyricism, of wit and charm, of modern Mozartean classicism and clarity — complete with trills and ornaments — that seems so appropriate to the summer season.

But then recently on Wisconsin Public Radio, The Ear heard for the first time something inspired by Poulenc that he thinks many of you will appreciate, especially during the transition between the seasons.

It is, appropriately, a 2-1/2 minute “Pastorale” for two  pianos – a form Poulenc himself used in his most famous piano concerto — by the underplayed and little known Irish 20th-century composer and pianist Joan Trimble (below). And it has many of the same qualities that distinguish Poulenc.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia entry with more about Trimble: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Trimble

You can hear her homage to Poulenc in the YouTube video, from a Marco Polo CD distributed by Naxos Records, that is below.

Here’s hoping you enjoy it.

If you have a reaction, positive or negative, please share it.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: The 24th annual Bard Music Festival finishes its look at the modernist titan composer Igor Stravinsky with an exploration of his late work. Here is a report by The New York Times critic Steve Smith.

August 25, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

As I promised last weekend, here is the update on the conclusion of the 24th annual Bard Music Festival held at Bard College in the Hudson River Valley.

Much or even most of the festival is directed by Bard College president Leon Bostein. Concerts are held in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (below) that was designed by the noted architect Frank Gerhy.

Bard Music Festival Frank Gehry Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts hall

This year’s theme was Igor Stravinsky, and the first weekend of the festival examined his Russian roots and his earlier work. Last weekend I offered the insightful account and assessment by The New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe, who has been named by some sources — including famed critic Norman Lebrecht — as the designated successor to senior music critic Anthony Tommasini.

Here is a link to that posting:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/classical-music-this-weekend-will-bring-the-conclusion-of-the-exciting-and-intriguing-bard-music-festival-that-this-year-is-exploring-the-music-and-world-of-igor-stravinsky/

Lass weekend saw the conclusion of “Stravinsky and His World.”  It examined later works, with an emphasis on his neo-Classical works (listen to the tuneful clarity of the YouTube video of Stravinsky’s “Pulchinella” Suite at the bottom performed by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic); the composer’s and culture’s reaction against Richard Wagner and the lushness of late Romanticism as well; and the general career and music of Stravinsky (below, in a  photo by Richard Avedon) while he was in exile in France and the U.S.

Igor Stravinsky old 2

The activities included a performance of “Perspehone” with Jean Stillwell as the narrator (below in a photo by Cory Weaver of the New York Times).

Bard Music Festival 2013 Stravinsky's %22Persephone%22 with Jean Stilwell as narrator and the American Symphony Orchestra CR Cory Weaver NYT

Also performing was the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein (below).

Leon Botstein Bard Music Festival

Here is a link to another perceptive assessment by another critic for The New York Times, Steve Smith (below):

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/arts/music/bard-music-festival-focuses-on-works-in-france-and-us.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Steve Smith New York TImes

I’m sure the festival was filled with great music, great performances and rare insights.

For that reason as I wrote last time, the Bard Music Festival is one that really tempts me. What other festival would treat music more as philosophy and history and less as entertainment? What other festival would devote itself, for example, to Camille Saint-Saens or Jean Sibelius?


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