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Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Rain on Pane (spaterson/flickr)

With the fall rainy season not far off, our moods may shift and flutter during this period of weather fluctuation. On this encore edition of All Ears, we explore musical evocations of rain. However your mood is right now, we are going to shift it.

We hear Robert Kyr's Unseen Rain, a work that gracefully sets short poems into a celebratory musical drama. P.A.N. Ensemble and vocalists give us the illusion of hearing and seeing a storm. The piece closes with soft chimes and light piano hammering evoking droplets hitting the ground. 

As usual with moderate to heavy showers come longer bouts of rain lingering into the evening. Two compositions which epitomize rainy spells in the city are by pianist James P. Johnson. We hear his New York City rag, Blue Moods, and his symphony, April in Harlem. Both give way to images of pitter-patter on the glass panes of a city building.

More in the forecast include an All Ears favorite, Mahalia Jackson singing the traditional Didn't it Rain, and Frederic Chopin's "Raindrop" Prelude

Now is the time to duck inside or suit up with your hat and trenchcoat, 'cause It's Gonna Rain!


Ron Nelson: Sarabande: For Katherine in April

Eastman-Rochester Orchestra

Howard Hanson, conductor



Jennifer Higdon: String Poetic: Nocturne

Jennifer Koh, violin

Reiko Uchida, piano



Robert Kyr: Unseen Rain

Ensemble P.A.N.

New Albion


James P. Johnson: Blue Moods

Smithsonian Folkways


James P. Johnson: Harlem Symphony: April in Harlem

Music Masters


Traditional: Didn't It Rain (arr. R. Martin)

Mahalia Jackson, voice



Frederic Chopin: Prelude No. 15 in D-falt, Op. 28, "Raindrop"

Dmitri Alexeev, piano



Joacb Ter Veldhuis (Jacob TV): Rainbow Concerto



Joshua Uzoigwe: Talking Drums



Steve Reich: It's Gonna Rain


Comments [3]

The composition by Mr. Reich reminded me of my experience of being raised in a pentecostal church. There was the literal use of a sermon. But more than that there was the trance-inducing repetition that kept me from being able to hold on to my expectations of the literal message and instead demanded my surrender to the composition in front of me. This piece especially also reminded me of how I felt on listening to other demanding musics for the first time: John Coltrane's "Ascension" or Nina Simone's interpretations of Weil and Bob Dylan, for example. I usually resented the demands those presentations placed on me to let go of my cherished understandings of familiar musics. Your program always takes me to interesting places. Thanks for the ride.

Jan. 01 2013 09:59 PM
Edwin Nourse from South Orange New Jersey

That last piece reminded me of the late 60's when we were in control of our college radio station. 1 night we played Terry Reilly's "the thing in C" in it's entirely. No doubt many in your community felt the same as ours did then frantically screaming to themselves or calling screaming "turn that off man".
But, back in the day - as we call it now - we were stoned.
I quite love your show but notice that when you go out the door often you like to slam it.
I look forward to next week.
Warmest regards,

Sep. 02 2012 12:40 AM
Dick Dulany from NYC

Was the Steve Reich piece some kind of misguided joke? It was not appreciated. It is not music. Nor is it without snide social comment. WQXR gets a big black mark in my book for the airing of the piece.

Sep. 02 2012 12:01 AM

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