Readying for a Winter Wonderland

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This week’s Showdown features three snowy symphonies to choose from as we look forward to the winter solstice on Thursday.

We asked you which piece would best put you in a wintry mood. You chose Ralph Vaughan Williams' Seventh Symphony, Sinfonia Antartica and we played it at 12 noon.


Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G Major

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 7, Sinfonia Antartica

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, Winter Daydreams

Comments [19]

Michael Meltzer

The new WQXR is very tentatively finally coming of age. The next step is, once and for all, to put your hands on the historic Sir Adrian Boult recordings of the Vaughan Williams Symphonies, all of which but the last having been supervised by the composer himself in the studio (VW Died the night before the recording of the 9th.
Musically, Boult was the the composer's closest friend. Right now you only air his "Lark Ascending." Musicologically and historically, that's a disgrace!

Dec. 21 2011 02:51 PM

The Vaughn-Williams was stunning! Thanks for playing it today. It is still resounding inside my head!

Dec. 21 2011 01:13 PM
Peter O'M from Oakland, N.J.

Re: moostro's comment ("I strongly believe that it's part of WQXR's mission to expand people's listening habits!").

Alas, I don't think it's their belief. A few times I've sent comments to "Listener Services" about the frequency with which we hear certain pieces ("Les Preludes", "Rob Roy Overture", "Till Eulenspiegel's . . . ", to name a few), and have been told that I obviously am a faithful listener, etc., but that they are reaching out to the occasional listeners, to pull them in, etc., etc. Just listen to those annoying spots that pepper the listening hours, encouraging you to listen at work, at home, etc. Isn't taht what we are already doing?

Dec. 21 2011 12:54 PM
Steve Ault

It appears that we won, beating out Mahler and Tchaikovsky, no less. While not disparaging the superb work of Howard Shore, fans of RVW who enjoy the "other" Ring Cycle (as well as Wagner's supreme achievement, of course) can only imagine what wonders RVW would have conjured up had he done the sound track for the Lord of the Rings movies.

Dec. 21 2011 12:45 PM
Ken Laufer from New York City

All 3 great music, of course! The Mahler's use of sleigh bells has nothing to do with the season! The it soon, OK? The Tchaikovsky is the one to hear now..and it's not as well known as you would think!..but it's so charming!!

Dec. 21 2011 11:55 AM
Richard from Hopewell Junction, NY

I've always loved the Vaughan Williams and especially so if the spoken interludes are included even though Uncle Ralph himself said they were not to be included!

Dec. 21 2011 11:50 AM

I believe 'Tom from the Bronx', 'moostro' and Peter O'Malley spoke for me and probably thousands of other listeners. Please, let us have the Ralph Vaughn-Williams. It may not be the most cheerful music among the choices, but it is a good selection and RVW's music isn't heard as much as it should be.

Dec. 21 2011 11:48 AM
Justin from Jersey

Sir Georg Solti loved Mahler. My vote is a channukah gift to his memory - which is always a blessing to me.

Dec. 21 2011 11:46 AM
Tom from Bronx

The Vaughan Williams has always been a favorite of mine, especially when the organ makes it grand and imposing entrance.

Dec. 21 2011 11:32 AM

It's a pity that Vaughan Williams is not better known. I strongly believe that it's part of WQXR's mission to expand people's listening habits! Play the Vaughan Williams! Challenge AND entertain us. Don't pan down. I love statistics - for example at Carnegie Hall the section which says "First performed at Carnegie Hall.... and Last performed at Carnegie Hall." I wonder when the Vaughan Williams symphonies were last heard on WQXR. Many of us supporters DO WANT a wider variety of repertoire!

Dec. 21 2011 11:14 AM

RVW for me. Ominous, sure. Dread-inspired, perhaps. But gorgeous despite/because of that. I'd love to hear it this noontime.

Dec. 21 2011 11:12 AM

I voted for the RVW as well. Rarely heard and would be perfect for getting ready for the longest night of the year.

Dec. 21 2011 10:30 AM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

It was difficult for me to choose between Tchaikovsky and Mahler. In gratitude to Tchaikovsky, I chose his Symphony #1, because it was through his music that my love for classical music began. I would not have been able to appreciate the music of Mahler and other composers if not for the music of Tchaikovsky.

Dec. 21 2011 10:21 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

The RVW "Antarctic Symphony", while, as Mr. Meltzer said, "not a pleasant winter journey", is nonetheless (a) rarely if ever played on this station (call me out on this if it shows up once a week at 2:00 AM); and (b) beautiful despite its ominous overall effect (there is the light-hearted penguin moment in there, after all).

Alas, it does have the textless soprano solo, which makes it unlikely for recurring appearances on QXR, even in the unlikely event it carries the day today.

Dec. 21 2011 09:57 AM
Derf from Bronx

It will be the first day of summer in Antarctica making RVW's symphony a strange choice.

Dec. 21 2011 09:27 AM
Catherine MacLeod from Lansdale PA

I first listened to Tchaikovsky's First Symphony on a long drive across Nebraska on a snowy winter night, and fell in love with the music. It is the most enchanting music and so musically descriptive of the beauty of a prairie winter.

Dec. 21 2011 08:43 AM
Lou Gerbino from Silver City,Iowa

As Martin Bookspan said years ago on First Hearing,"I'm a sucker for Vaughan Williams".I couldn't put it better.

Dec. 21 2011 08:38 AM
Bernie from UWS

Mahler's 4th, please. And how about the 6th, 7th and 9th after that. Just not the 8th (boring)!

Dec. 21 2011 08:33 AM
Michael Meltzer

To anyone who has seen the movie, "Scott of the Antarctic" for which score Vaughan Williams wrote his symphony, the music can only fill you with foreboding and dread, and remind you of the terrible force of nature at her most deadly.
It is a brilliant work, but it is not a pleasant winter journey, nor was it meant to be.

Dec. 21 2011 01:14 AM

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