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Ear To Ear: CapRadio hosts are loving Ma, Benedetti & Kanneh-Mason this September

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Each month, our music hosts put their heads together to create a playlist of the pieces that have been on their personal heavy rotation to help you get to know them a little better. This month, we have an eclectic mix of music from near and far, old and new from Classical Hosts Jennifer Reason, Victor Forman and Kevin Doherty. Reason takes us into the mountains of Peru with some music played on a traditional Andean instrument. Forman takes us back to the Baroque era to celebrate CapRadio's extension of Sunday Baroque to its full four hours on our airwaves. And Doherty brings you some new and noteworthy music from Wynton Marsalis, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Aaron Jay Kernis.

As CapRadio has recently expanded our weekly airing of "Sunday Baroque" to the full four hours that host Suzanne Bona produces each week (now playing 7-11am every Sunday morning on CapRadio), CapRadio host Victor Forman thought he'd offer a few of his own baroque favorites, namely Johann Sebastian Bach - "Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major: I. Prelude" - Performed by Yo Yo Ma.

Forman says; The Bach: Six Suites for Solo Cello are remarkable. When I first heard them (LPs of Pablo Casals playing them), their intimacy and eloquence brought me literally to the edge of my seat. I leaned in to the speakers, as if a friend was revealing to me a personal story full of details and personal meaning. 

There are six suites of six movements each, and with each preceded by a prelude, followed by then-current dance forms of  allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue with the 5th movements of each being either minuets, bourreés or gavottes. These create the alternating fast-slow pattern. Inviting personal interpretation (and why listening to different cellists play the Suites is revealing), Bach indicated no tempo markings so the speed of each movement is left completely up to the performer.

Many of the great (and not so great) cellists have recorded all the Suites, with some recording them multiple times. Yo Yo Ma has recorded them three times: In his late 20s, again in his 40s and recently in his early 60s. As Jennifer Reason said to me when discussing this fact, "That's like three different people playing them." Exactly. These pieces are subjective for both the performer and the listener during different circumstances of our lives. 


New and noteworthy: These albums are the ones that have been sitting at the top of a pile on Kevin Doherty's desk for a bit.

Wynton Marsalis - "Violin Concerto in D: I. Rhapsody" - Performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cristian Maelaru & Nicola Benedetti

Doherty says; Wynton Marsalis is known primarily by his reputation as a jazz trumpet virtuoso and as the leader of the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra. But let's face it, it's not uncommon for CapRadio fans to hear Marsalis flex his classical chops with Haydn, Telemann, or some other early music trumpet concerto. To top it off, Marsalis is a prolific composer. Among his many jazz works and four symphonies, Marsalis wrote his Violin Concerto in D in 2015 for Scottish virtuoso Nicola Benedetti.

Marsalis describes the first movement, "Rhapsody," as "a complex dream that becomes a nightmare, progresses into peacefulness and dissolves into ancestral memory." The entire concerto, in fact, weaves in and out of musical vignettes in a wide array of styles. The complete work is an adventurous listen and needs a couple of spins for it to fully sink in, but it's well worth the ride.


Clara Schumann - "3 Romances for violin and Piano, Op. 22; No. 3 in B flat" - Performed by Isata Kanneh-Mason

Doherty says; Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason is the eldest sibling of what I refer to as the current first family in classical music. Her cellist younger brother Sheku Kanneh-Mason made quite a name for himself with the 2017 release of his chart-topping album "Inspirations," and as a featured performer at the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. 

For her first foray into the recording world, big sister Isata has chosen to curate works of the undisputed yet underrepresented queen of the Romantic piano, Clara Schumann. Schumann, for the majority of her 200 years, has been better known as the wife of Robert Schumann. Though historians and musicians alike are finally starting to take notice of Clara Schumann the composer as well as the tour-de-force of a human that she was. This offering is a prime example of that recognition.

It's rare when an artist can stray from the canonical repertoire when releasing a debut album. Perhaps this means Schumann is finally securing her place as one of the great musical personalities from the 19th century! Kanneh-Mason performs with violinist Elena Urioste on this track from the new album, "Romance."

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