The Piano in Winter

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

This week's Reflections from the Keyboard celebrates piano music depicting the holiday season and the winter months.

Christmastime looms and winter's freeze is upon us! Nature can be devastating in all seasons, but in the winter, the unleashed power of the winds can be terrific. On the inside, fires are stoked and trees trimmed. Evoking the snowy landscape and Christmas cheer are pieces like Fanny Mendelssohn's December, and Chopin's Winter Wind Etude. It's a stirring composition, one that must be played coldly.

A beautiful transcription of the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is nestled between selections from Franz Liszt's The Christmas Tree Suite. Stepping outside as the temperature drops and the flurries fall, Debussy's Footsteps in the Snow creates the feeling of total desolation during the winter months. Other works on the program include depictions of a long, cold Russian winter with Stravinsky's The Shrovetide Fair and Rachmaninoff's Troika.




Concert Suite from The Nutcracker - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies (arr. Pletnev)

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Mikhail Pletnev



Etude in A minor, op.25 no.11

Frederic Chopin

Josef & Rosina Levinne



Das Jahr, cycle for piano (The Year): Dezember

Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel

Sontraud Speidel

Sound Star-ton Productions


The Seasons, Op. 37-bis: XII. December Christmastide

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Vassily Primakov



Weihnachsbaum, S.186 No.9 Cloches du soir

Franz Liszt

France Clidat



Children's Corner - IV. The Snow is Dancing

Claude Debussy

Mieczyslaw Horszowski

BBC Radio 3 Medici Arts


Preludes, Book 1, Des Pas Sur La Neige

Claude Debussy

Friedrich Gulda



Petrouchka; 3rd Movement: The Shrovetide Fair

Igor Stravinsky

Alexis Weissenberg




Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Sergei Rachmaninov



Preludes, Book 1, Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest

Claude Debussy

Alfred Cortot



Chasse-neige; Etude d'exécution transcendentale No. 12

Franz Liszt

Gyorgy Cziffra



Weihnachsbaum, S.186 Noel provencal

Franz Liszt

France Clidat


Comments [5]

William C Chen from Purchase New York

David Dubal's program on Christmas and Winter was a perfect mix of music and delightful commentary. There is simply nobody like him. He is a WQXR treasure. Looking forward to many more Reflections From the Keyboard.

Dec. 22 2013 10:38 PM
devar from New Jersey

I, unlike Jason, have no difficulty listening to the background explanations of composers and compositions without the need to first pass a religiosity test.I think your extreme religious faith is clouding your perception of the actual reality of things.

Dec. 22 2013 10:13 PM
af from Nassau County, Long Island

My comment is about the topic at hand: David Dubal's Reflections from the Keyboard. Tonight's program, "The Piano in Winter," was most enjoyable!! Many thanks for the seletions!

Dec. 20 2013 02:02 AM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

Jason, "The Star Spangled Banner" began life as a drinking song sung by British soldiers. Does this mean you will no longer stand when it is played? History can be messy, especially when it messes up one's personal ideology.

Dec. 19 2013 12:38 PM
Jason from New York

I find it amusing that WQXR has been airing audio segments in its daily programming in-between the music that serve to diminish the role of religiousity/Christ in Christmas Carols.

I just heard an audio segment that carols originated (and I am summarizing) from some form of 12th century royal court tradition where individuals danced a little and sang. As Jeff Spurgeon goes on to say (paraphrasing) "Carols had nothing to do with religion or Christmas ... " Yesterday I heard a clip that undermined the religious origin of Mendelssohn's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". The audio clip stated that the music was originally composed by Mendelssohn for an advertising jingle and subsequently the words for "Hark the Herald" were written to match the music. Again the narrator emphasized and clearly stated that religion/Christmas had nothing to do with the origins of the song's music.

While some might say that I am being a stickler, these people would be incorrect. As Plato said "Those who tell the story rule society." While the facts I mentioned in the previous paragraph may be true, mentioning only these facts while omitting the truth about the praise that is given to Christ via these forms of music is disingenuous at best. In airing clips where EACH clip conveys an "interesting fact" that "inadvertently" diminishes the religious underpinning of the subject matter song(s) is a calculated choice by WQXR.

I might add that during the recent month of Mozart, WQXR aired similar interesting fact segments that diminished the role of religion (i.e. Christianity) in Mozart's life. Similarly, WQXR significantly reduced the role of Catholicism and its influence on John Taverner's music in the recent obituary that they wrote and displayed on their website. How shameful, calculated and obvious WQXR's agenda is.

It is apparent persons within WQXR (and NPR by extension) would like to eliminate Christ from the public sphere. This is sad because Christ is TRUTH and JOY. His love informs the political and social consciences of close to 2 Billion people throughout the world! When any belief system is systematically trivialized, misrepresented and (some would argue) vilified by the media then WE ALL, Catholic - Jew - Muslim - and even atheist, are in serious trouble.

I for one will no longer donate money to WQXR until this blatant bias is addressed AND remedied. A public explanation by WQXR posted on this forum would be a good start.

Just something to reflect upon. God Bless you all. Merry Christmas, and may everyone have a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Dec. 19 2013 10:28 AM

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