Classical Freestyling

« previous episode | next episode »

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Last week on All Ears, we explored the concept of improvisation as practiced by virtuosos like Chopin and Liszt. Now we turn our attention to some contemporary performers who are expanding on that tradition. They include Gabriela Montero and Phillip Glass, as well as Jordi Savall's Le Concert des Nations.

Montero is unique among classical performers for her flair for improvisation. In concerts she is known for requesting melodies from her audience on which she then improvises. While this might seem farfetched to traditionalists, improvisation used to be a common practice. Bach was an expert improviser and Gabriela honors him in her original piece, Beyond Bach, which references his use of motifs and harmonies. At times, one might be fooled by Ms. Montero's skillful writing and mistake it for Bach's very own.
The journey continues with Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. They perform Les Ameriquains, a work by an unknown composer. Savall and his ensemble travel back to a time where most ensembles improvised, and composers -- many who remained anonymous -- were also the performers, like Ms. Montero. Later in the show, Phillip Glass' Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (2002) brings to light the piano's predecessor. The harpsichord was extremely popular during the baroque era, but went out of fashion with the rise of the piano. Composers and performers alike would compose and improvise on the instrument and it was a household item used for salon concerts. Glass ventures back by bringing the early keyboard instrument to the spotlight, highlighted with a minimalistic accompaniment that is uniquely Glass.
Rounding out the hour is music by Misha Alperin, Eve Beglarian, Gyorgy Ligeti, and much more.


Beyond Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach arr. Montero
Gabriela Montero, piano

Her First Dance

Misha Alperin
Misha Alperin, piano; Arkady Shilkloper, french horn, flugelhorn

Les Ameriquains

Anonymous/trans. Philidor
Les Concerts des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor
Alia Vox


Gyorgy Ligeti
ASKO Ensemble
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
Schoenberg Ensemble

Koyunbaba for guitar, "Homage to a saint"

Carlo Domeniconi
Friedemann Wuttke, guitar

Song for Helen
Bill Evans
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Caroline Newman
Margaret Swinchoski, flute; Donald Mokrynski, clarinet; Ron Levy, piano

Until It Blazes
Eve Beglarian
Seth Josel, electric guitar
New World

Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor
Igor Stravinsky
Victor Sangiorgio, piano

Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra

Philip Glass
Northwest Chamber Orchestra
Jillon Stoppels Dupree, harpsichord
Ralf Gothoni, conductor
Orange Mountain Music

Song for Athene
John Tavener
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus
Norman Mackenzie, director

On the Town: 'Three Dance Episodes'
Leonard Bernstein
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin, conductor

Comments [3]

Joan & Jerry from Woodstock

This has been such a wonderful treat! Thank you Mr. McKnight for a great Saturday night.

Jun. 04 2011 11:54 PM
Peg Byron from brooklyn \

That Stravinsky piano sonata is awesome too; so cool to follow with P. Glass. Thanks Terrance! (Sat, June 4)

Jun. 04 2011 11:23 PM
Catherine Chalmers from New York City

Who is this right now - 10:50 pm Sat. June 4th??? Incredibly lovely.

Jun. 04 2011 10:52 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.