The Classical Countdown's Honorable Mentions

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Today’s Showdown is all about this past weekend’s Classical Countdown. Even though Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony once again clinched the top position, the 2011 Countdown had some surprises, too, and several favored composers didn’t crack the Top 75 for the first time in years.

We asked you to pck one of these three past winners -- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite or Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique -- that didn’t appear on this year’s list and help us give its composer an honorable mention today. Berlioz led all morning and was the day's winner. We played his Symphonie Fantastique at 12 noon.


Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier Suite

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Comments [30]

Michael Meltzer

Perhaps the most egregious Vaughan Williams omission, speaking of choral works, was WQXR's failure to feature his "Hodie" on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. No other Christmas choral work rivals its majesty, power and beauty except the Christmas Oratorio of Bach himself.
Other than that, the stonewalling of the Sir Adrian Boult recordings of the Symphonies, all but one supervised by the composer present in the recording studio, begs for justification and explanation by WQXR. It makes NO sense, and cheats all the fans of the composer of the real thing.

Jan. 05 2012 06:06 AM

Re. HYH >How about some of RVW's sublime choral works<
Personally, I'd love to hear "Serenade to Music" -- but in its vocal form, not the orchestral version that we usually get.

Jan. 05 2012 02:28 AM

>The results will be posted just after 12 noon including the individual tallies for each piece. If past Showdowns are any indication, we just might have results close to that of the Iowa primaries!<

I'm seeing a pie chart that I'm estimating as 38%/35%/27%. Am I close? I'm not seeing a vote count.

Jan. 04 2012 10:58 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

This is a little late because I didn't have a chance to comment before, but I completely agree with Renate Perls about the lack of Bruckner and Mahler on this station. Please include more music from these two great composers in your future programming!

Jan. 04 2012 12:42 PM
Michael Meltzer

The reason none of us are really communicating with WQXR is that the programmers really don't know the repertoire, and don't think they should have to, and they keep looking for formulas and computer procedures and polls to do that job for them.
It doesn't work that way , folks. You have to know the music, meaning the repertoire and the artists, including the great artists of the past and what they did and didn't do well. There is no program for this, sorry.

Jan. 04 2012 12:07 PM
Renate Perls from 3 blocks from your station

I agree with Fred Garrison. It is time WQXR finds, as he says, a music programmer who knows music and stops feeding us this schmalz of the Lark Ascending, etc. I think if I hear that pretty little nonsense one more time I shall throw up. Before your station had become so very mediocre you used to play Mahler and Bruckner every Tuesday night. Now if one hears Mahler it is usually only the First Symphony, barely any of the lieder, and Bruckner is a completely unknown quantity. ( I have heard only one of his symphonies since you moved your facilities... and that was from a "live" broadcast from the Philharmonic .)
As for singers, you only seem to play their recordings when they have a concert in New York City. Thomas Quasthoff one hears so rarely and as wonderful as Bryn Terfel is, there are other marvelous baritones around. And what about Soile Isokoski's superb recording of Richard Strauss' "Vier letzte Lieder."
Please, let's have more interesting programming, I find myself tuning QXR out more often than I would care to, but my goodness it has become boring.

Jan. 04 2012 11:56 AM
Robert Gevert from NYC,NY

On a day like today and having a miserable cold,I'll vote for Vaughan Williams.He's one of my favorites.

Jan. 04 2012 11:55 AM

While each candidate is worthy in its own right as a postscript to December's classical countdown, today's frigid temperature in the New York City metropolitan area tips the balance, in my view, to Vaughan Williams' "The Lark Ascending", so we can at least imagine the coming of spring, and maybe feel just a little warmer.

Jan. 04 2012 11:43 AM
harrietb98 from Bayside, NY

I am very surprised that nothing by Vaughan Williams was included in the DClassical Countdown

Jan. 04 2012 11:42 AM
Lee from Garden City South

Rosenkavilier was my mother-in-law's favorite opera and it's one of mine too. I always think of her when I hear it.

Jan. 04 2012 11:31 AM
MIchael Meltzer

When you play the Leonard Bernstein recording of the Symphonie Fantastique, does the programming department mop the floor afterward, or do they make the interns do it?

Jan. 04 2012 11:26 AM
Finn Olsen from Søllested Denmark

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ "The Lark Ascending" is so beautiful

Jan. 04 2012 11:25 AM
Sarah Eigen from NYC

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ "The Lark Ascending" is one of the most beautiful violin pieces I can imagine!

Jan. 04 2012 11:17 AM
HYH from Purchase, NY

I'm all for giving these great composers who were left off the countdown their due and I like all 3 pieces (especially love Strauss/Der Rosekavalier) but wouldn't it be nice if we had to choose from 3 lesser known or played works of these composers? The Lark is gorgeous but is played quite a lot on this station. How about some of RVW's sublime choral works........I'm voting for the Strauss.....can't help myself.

Note to Mr. Meltzer: I love the oboe music personally but I understand your point.....depending on when you listen and especially if you listen quite regularly, sometimes it does seem like you hear the same stuff/pieces/instruments over and over (is it me or is the Karelia Suite played a lot?). Not necessarily bad if you like it.

Jan. 04 2012 11:08 AM
holly lundberg from Manhattan

More vocals please, especially lieder.

Jan. 04 2012 10:56 AM
linda, from Brooklyn,NY

Justin from NJ is right;we could use a little less Vivaldo too.

Jan. 04 2012 10:49 AM
Yuiko from Suwanee, GA

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

Jan. 04 2012 10:43 AM
Lynn from Teaneck, NJ

Maybe with the lark, the temperature will also ascend. We can hope.

Jan. 04 2012 10:42 AM
Jean McCarroll from NYC

Der Rosenkavalier, please. It's just beautiful.

And I, for one, love oboe music!

Jan. 04 2012 10:40 AM
mary jane from brooklyn

I've been listening to WQXR since the 1950's. There is no station like it except maybe WRTI from Temple U. Pa.
I would like to hear once in a while any of Presti and Lagoya recordings. Thank you

Jan. 04 2012 10:25 AM
Justin from NJ

Yes, yes! Something NEW, please... or at least less well known. More countertenor work from both sides of the Atlantic! Baroque music during the regular programming schedule... not just pidgeonholed during special presentations. Bach on an organ! Oh, dear. I'm so tired of endless Copland, bountious Bolero, and for heaven's sake - that doggone Lark flew the coop already!

Jan. 04 2012 10:16 AM

Thank you all for your comments on the Showdown and our programming.

@DeadDuckeye: The results will be posted just after 12 noon including the individual tallies for each piece. If past Showdowns are any indication, we just might have results close to that of the Iowa primaries!

Jan. 04 2012 09:56 AM
Maryanne Alfano from Oakland Gardens, Qns

Although I do enjoy hearing my favorites, Fred Garrison is correct in his assesment that WQXR, like so many other radio stations, as well as the music stations offered on cable tv, seem to continue to draw from the same small pool of pieces. My father raised me on WQXR and not only is it something that brings me joy to listen too, but teaches me about classical music, its composers, its artists, and the time periods in which both drew from one another. Please don't let your teaching (and my learning) fall by the wayside. How about more organ or harpsichord music; more vocal pieces like some of the ancient chants you played at the beginning of the holiday season. How about a quick history lesson that in a particular year the following composers were alive and grab a lesser known piece of theirs. or a quick hint at a patron of the arts and what he may have insisted Bach write for him? Just a few questions of mine. Thanks!

Jan. 04 2012 09:09 AM
Evelyn Shepard

Vaughn Williams, please. The lark Ascending is timeless.

Jan. 04 2012 07:50 AM
Lou Gerbino from Silver City,Iowa

We need to start an RVW revolution.I've been hooked since age 3 when I first heard The Wasps on WQXR 1560am.

Jan. 04 2012 07:50 AM
Tim Brown from Washington, DC

The Berlioz please! It is the largest and arguably the most influential of today's candidates. The Rosenkavalier Suite is a set of tunes taken from another work - if you could play the complete opera I'd have voted for that. The Vaughan Williams is dreamy but the Symphony Fantastic is a nightmare - in a good way. Happy New Year everyone!

Jan. 04 2012 07:36 AM
Virginia Campbell

Please give the final count of how many people voted for each piece as well as a little background on the composition.

Jan. 04 2012 07:16 AM

I voted. But I only get one vote this time around? Do we get to see the results? Will the winning composition succeed by only 8 votes -- like the winner of the Iowa caucuses?

Jan. 04 2012 06:57 AM
Bernie from UWS

Aren't these three pieces heard dozens of times throughout the month anyway? Do we really need a Showdown to give them extra attention? To me it suggests a certain level of pandering that leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.

If there was one lesson to take away from the Countdown comments, it was that listeners are tired of hearing so many of the same "hits." Why not challenge us to discover something new?

Jan. 04 2012 06:46 AM
Michael Meltzer

Why does this "salute" to three great masters seem so patronizing?

Jan. 04 2012 05:40 AM

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