Composers Playing Music by Other Composers

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Perhaps you've heard the old recordings and piano rolls of Saint-Saens, Ravel, and Hoffman playing their own piano works. Maybe you've heard those amazing recordings of Olivier Messaien or Louis Vierne playing their own organ music. Surely you've heard Boulez conducting Boulez, Stravinsky conducting Stravinsky, and Adams conducting Adams. But what happens when famous composers tackle music by other composers?

Today the Brothers Balliett take a look at that age-old question: are consummate composers also consummate performers and interpreters? Does a philosophical affinity for another composer's work translate into compelling performance? Or is performance best left to the specialists?

The answers to these questions are astounding. Witness the amazing recording of Igor Stravinsky's Les Noces (sung in English!!), with an all-star piano lineup including Lukas Foss, Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, and Samuel Barber. Check out Charles Wuorinen's captivating performance of Stefan Wolpe's Trio in Two Parts. Hear Philip Glass join Steve Reich for a recording of the latter's Four Organs. And perhaps the craziest idea of all – Thomas Ades tackling Franz Schubert's seminal "Trout" Quintet.

All this and more, as we thoroughly investigate the unique phenomenon of composers playing music by other composers.