A Request for Beethoven, and music for the holiday

By Ray Brown

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Dec. 24

Today's 4:00 request is from Marc for Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, which we'll hear performed by Robert Levin on the fortepiano, with the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique led by John Eliot Gardiner. Continuing the practice he began in his recordings of the Mozart concertos, Levin improvised all of his own cadenzas in the studio, rather than play the ones that Beethoven wrote. My colleague Cathy Fuller asked Levin about the process of creating new cadenzas for Mozart's music, and, especially for Beethoven's First Concerto, I think the same things apply.  Check out Cathy's conversations with Robert Levin here.

After the Beethoven we'll play a work that is increasingly associated with the holidays: the music Prokofiev wrote for the film "Lieutenant Kije."  While this music has been used in several films (perhaps most memorably in Woody Allen's "Love and Death"), it's quite illuminating to hear the music in its original context.  If you have a spare 82 minutes this holiday weekend, you can check out the 1934 film below.  It feels like a Soviet version of the Marx Brothers, based on a bitterly satiric novella by Yuri Tynyanov about a nonexistent officer in the Tsar's army who becomes a very convenient fiction.

Beginning at 5:00 we'll play three hours of music (and a bit of radio drama!) for the holidays, including excerpts from The Nutcracker, works by Bach and Corelli, carols sung by Chanticleer, the Boston Camerata, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus (who will also be singing our holiday broadcast of Handel's Messiah at 8:00 tonight). We'll also hear a few snippets of Patrick Stewart's magnificent audio version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," as well as a few surprises. All of us here at 99.5 thank you for making us a part of your celebration, and we wish you a joyous and peaceful holiday.


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