Gifts We Give (and Re-Gift)

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Giving during the holiday season is inherent. Yet as we hear, some gifts are not always found in brown paper packages tied up with string. This week's All Ears explores this very idea of gift-giving in the not-so-usual holiday song format: melodies composed for others; gifts of life.

Starting out the show are composer-singer Bobby McFerrin and pianist Chick Corea. In Song for Amadeus, McFerrin showcases his mastery at vocalization in an ode influenced heavily by Mozart. The dedication allows us to hear piano in the style of a Mozart concerto. Listen for McFerrin’s signature vocalization reminiscent of Brazilian jazz improv as well as the fleeting arpeggios one would find in an aria.

Argentinean-American composer Osvaldo Golijov shares his chamber music work, Yiddishbbuk. Written in 1992, the piece was composed for string quartet, and brings forth the sorrows of the Jewish community. With piercing harmonics, abstraction and dissonance, Golijov shares his gift of composition by connecting the listener to every heartfelt turn.

Also re-gifted on the program are works by Derek Bermel, the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and Raymond Scott.


Bobby McFerrin: Song for Amadeus

Bobby McFerrin, voice, etc

Chick Corea, piano



Frederic Chopin: Polonaise brillante, Op. 3

Mstislav Rostropovich, cello

Alexander Dedyukhin, piano



Gavin Bryars: Sub rosa

Gavin Bryars Ensemble



Derek Bermel: Wanderings: Gift of Life

Tara Helen O’Conor, flute

Bob Ingliss, oboe

Derek Bermel, clarinet

Theo Primis, horn

Frank Morelli, bassoon



Traditional: Simple Gifts

Christopher Parkening, guitar



Richard Wagner: Siegried Idyll

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Deutsche Grammophon


Raymond Scott: Celebration on the Planet Mars

Quartet San Francisco

ViolinJazz Recordings


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky: “Serenade melancholique” in B-flat minor, Op. 26

London Symphony Orchestra

Leonard Slatkin, conductor

Midori, violin



Osvaldo Golijov: Yiddishbbuk

St. Lawrence String Quartet



Paul Moravec: Tempest Fantasy

Trio Solisti

David Krakauer, clarinet



Toivo Tulev: This life that I live

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Paul Hillier, conductor

Robin Blaze, countertenor

Harmonia Mundi


Frederic Rzewski: A Life

Frederic Rzewski, piano



Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life

Johnny Hartman, vocalist

John Coltrane, tenor sax