Insight With Beth Ruyak

Hosted By Beth Ruyak

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Classical Sound Advice With Cale Wiggins

Peter Serling / Courtesy

Composer David Lang.

Peter Serling / Courtesy

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, and we’re throwing a pre-Oscar celebration all day tomorrow (Friday, 2/26) on the Music Station, with selection from John Williams, Howard Shore, Elmer Bernstein, Nino Rota and many more throughout the day.  Join us for "Friday At The Movies", tomorrow on the Music Station.

David Lang’s star just keeps rising. Somehow he is quickly moving from the avante garde to the fringes of the mainstream (not an easy task to accomplish in one’s own lifetime). Simple Song #3 is the less than prosaic title of a very lyrical piece that Lang composed for the Paolo Sorrentino film Youth. The song is up for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. In addition to being viscerally lovely, the song builds momentum impressively.  Featuring violinist Viktoria Mullova, soprano Jo Sumi and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Yundi is known for his interpretations of Chopin (in 2000 Yundi became the youngest pianist ever to win the Chopin Competition at age 18), and his new release is another collection of the French/Polish pianist’s works for solo piano, including Four Ballades (a musical form created by Chopin). 

Ballade No. 1 runs the gamut of mood and tone, beginning with a stately chord that wouldn’t sound out of place in Modeste Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition,then exuberantly bobs and weaves from one mood to another without making the listener feel disoriented in any way.  His new Release on Deutsche Grammophon also features a Berceuse and Four Mazurkas by Chopin. 

Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801) was the most successful composer of Italian opera in his day.  His work has also held up better than most of his peers thanks to his creative use of color and the sunny warmth of his music.  To understand precisely how much Neapolitan sunshine worked its way into his compositions, look no further than the Overture to Giunius Brutus. 

Based on the tragic story of the founder of the Roman Republic (and the antecedent of the infamous regicide Brutus), the overture could just as easily be the entrée to a comedy of manners.  It comes from a new release on Naxos—featuring Michael Halasz & the Czech Chamber Philharmonic of Pardubice—that includes a handful of his lesser known opera overtures, including the overture to I Tre Amanti; the opera that made Cimarosa famous outside of Naples.

Helene Grimaud is a mid-career French pianist who has just released a highly anticipated album on Deutsche Grammophon title Water. Her interpretation of Marice Ravel’s Jeux d’Eau, or Water Games, is a standout track. 

More than most recordings of the work, Grimaud gives us a piece that actually embodies the real, physical reality of dancing water.  Most acclaimed recordings, to this, point, have tried more to embody what we think about when we think about water (with apologies to Raymond Carver).  Grimaud’s version sparkles and tumbles and gurgles, and still somehow manages to capture a bit of the ineffable idea of water.

 sound advice

Cale Wiggins

Classical Content Coordinator and Host

Cale started his career as an on-air personality in 1997. He discovered his love of classical music through listening to NPR as a child and has been exploring the genre ever since.   Read Full Bio 

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