By Daniel Hathaway
. The weekly Charnofsky playlist
. Almanac: first performance of Verdi’s Requiem, naissance of Wagner (& Anna Russell explains The Ring to you)
As he does every Monday afternoon from 2-4, Eric Charnofsky wafts underperformed works out on the airways and the Web on CWRU’s “Not your Grandmother’s Classical Music.” Today’s menu features Richard Wagner’s Overture to Das Liebesverbot, Leonard Bernstein’s Four Sabras (piano), Sebastian Currier’s Vocalissimus (soprano, clarinet, violin), Osvaldo Golijov’s K’vakarat (cantor, string quartet), Ernest Bloch’s Piano Quintet No. 2 & J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (arranged for string trio). Click here to listen to the internet feed: or tune in to 91.1 FM in the greater Cleveland area.
ALMANAC FOR MAY 22:
On May 22 in 1874, Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem was first performed at the church of San Marco in Milan, ending a long requiem saga for the composer, who had originally proposed a collaborative work by several Italian composers to honor Gioachino Rossini after his death in 1868. Verdi himself contributed the final movement, “Libera me,” but for various reasons, the project fell through a week before its premiere in November of 1869.
Verdi found an opportunity to recycle that “Libera me” when Alessandro Manzoni died in 1873 and he embarked on writing a new Requiem all on his own in honor of the famous Italian author and humanist.
(PS: the Requiem for Rossini was finally performed in 1988 in Stuttgart, conducted by Helmuth Rilling. Listen here.)
And on May 22, 1813, Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig. It’s now next to impossible to talk about the composer of the Ring operas without referencing his popularity with the perpetrators of the Third Reich.
British actor and writer Stephen Fry addresses Wagner’s complicated legacy and his own fascination with the composer’s music in his hour-and-a-half long Wagner and Me, available for free in an occasionally spotty posting on YouTube, and for a fee on various streaming services.
Former Cleveland Orchestra assistant conductor Brett Mitchell joins Bill O’Connell in WCLV’s 35-minute video discussion of The Ring. Watch Gods and Monsters: The Musical Journey of Wagner’s Ring Cycle here.
If that’s all too heavy a subject for a warm spring day, British singing comedienne Anna Russell is only a click away with her priceless analysis of The Ring. Enjoy a video of her first farewell recital at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1984 that features some of her immortal sketches: How to Become a Singer; Wind Instruments I Have Known; On Pink Chiffon; How to Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Opera; Analysis of the Ring Cycle (“I’m not making this up, you know!”) & Backwards with the Folk Song.