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This edition of Exploring Music focuses on sounds of the city of water and love: Venice. Venetians have been known for centuries to be able to turn their hands to anything and do it quite well, and judging by the great number of Venetian composers, music was no exception. Monteverdi, Palestrina, Vivaldi, Palestrina and Verdi feature. 

Program 1

The program opens with a short excerpt from Monteverdi's Vespro della beata virgine, Sonata sopra "Sancta Maria" as we are introduced to the city and given an answer to the question "why Venice?" The program continues with Lasso, beginning with the Kyrie from his Mass Qual donna and then moving into Gallans qui par terre, a recorder-driven instrumental. Next is Un jour l'amant, a madrigal, showing a contrast between sacred and secular. Next is a bit of Wiallert's sacred music: parts of his "Pater Noster" and "Ave Maria". Then we have a Roman composer who played a major influence on Venetian music: Palestrina, who singlehandedly saved the concept of polyphonic music. We hear the Kyrie and Gloria from his Pope Marcellus Mass. Next comes the 1600s and Gabrielli. We hear two pieces: Sonata Pian'e forte and Jubilate Deo. Milan composer Cima's Sonata per il Violino is next, followed by one last piece from Gabrieli: Canzon duodecimi toni and Canzon a 12 in echo, from the same set of recordings as the Sonata Pian'e forte.

Monteverdi: Vespro della beata virgine, Sonata sopra “Sancta Maria” (excerpt)
Cambridge King’s College Choir & London Early Music Consort
EMI 65339

Lasso: Mass Qual donna, Kyrie
Christ Church Cathedral Choir

Lasso: Gallans qui par terre
Toronto Consort
Dorian 80149

Lasso: Un jour l’amant
Toronto Consort

Willaert: Pater Noster/Ave Maria
Capella Currende/Erik van Nevel
Tel 80521

Palestrina: Pope Marcellus Mass: Kyrie and Gloria
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Willcocks
EMI 65339
3:55, 5:47

Gabrielli: Sonata Pian’e forte
Brass ensembles fr. Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras
Sony 62353

Gabrielli: Jubilate Deo
Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner
Philips 446116

Cima: Sonata per il Violino
Romanesca Manze, v; North, th; Tull, hps. & org.
HM 907211

Gabrieli: Canzon duodecimi toni & Canzon a 12 in echo
Brass ensembles fr. Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras
Sony 62353
3:53, 3:26

Program 2

This segment picks up where the last one left off, with Gabrieli. The segment opens with his Ricercare del duodecimo tuono, a stately piece with some notable meter changes. Next is some of Monteverdi's works, beginning with a small spattering of madrigals: the 2nd, 4th, and 6th madrigals from Book III. Next are bits from Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, a massive early baroque piece written for performance in the Basillica of St. Mark's.

Gabrieli: Ricercare del duodecimo tuono
Wallace Collection/Wright
Nimbus 5236

Monteverdi: 2nd, 4th, & 6th Madrigals from Book III
La Venexiana/Cavina
3:03, 3:17, 3:39

Monteverdi: Vespers of the Blessed Virgin (excerpts) & Magnificat
The Monteverdi Choir; London Oratory Junior Choir; His Majesty’s Sagbuts & Cornetts; English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner
Archiv 429565
18:48, 17:31

Program 3

Monteverdi continues to dominate this segment, but this time he simply bookends it. We begin with excerpts from L'Orfeo, the story of Orpheus. We then meet some lesser well-known composers such as Strozzi, a rare female composer. Only a few pieces are available from her, but we hear two madrigals: "Bella madre d' amore" and "Chi di noi". Next we hear from Schütz, who studied under Monteverdi. The piece is "Fili mi, Absalon", a song using words from King David. The segment closes with Monteverdi once again, playing excerpts from Coronation di Poppea.

Monteverdi: L’Orfeo (excerpts from)
Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists; His Majesty’s Sagbuts & Cornetts/Gardiner; Johnson, Baird, Dawson, von Otter, soloists
Archiv 419250

Strozzi: “Bella madre d’ amore” & “Chi di noi”
La Venexiana
Cantus 9612
3:05, 2:34

Schütz: “Fili mi, Absalon”
Period instrument ensemble, van der Kamp, bs.
Sony 68264

Monteverdi: Coronation di Poppea (excerpts)
English Baroque Soloists/Gardiner; McNair, von Otter, Hanchard, soloists
Archiv 447 088
9:07, 12:00

Program 4

This segment begins with some early Venetian opera. First is an aria, "Ardo, sospiro e piango", from Cavalli's opera La Callisto. Next is a violinist who may well have played in La Callisto, Castello, who wrote his own music. We hear his Sonata No. 1 for violin, which features a very particularly baroque sound. Then the program shifts to the most well-known of the Venetian composers: Vivaldi. We begin with Violin Concerto No. 11 in D Minor, part of Vivaldi's L'Estro Harmonico. Next is "al Santo Sepolcro", a Sinfonia in b, written for Good Friday. Then we hear a Bassoon Concerto in C, written during his time at a prominent school for girls in Venice. Then, after a short Flute concerto, we hear a piece of Vivaldi's famous Four Seasons: Winter.

Cavalli: “Ardo, sospiro e piango” fr. La Callisto
Scottish Chamber/Leppard; von Stade, s.
Elektra/Asylum 98504

Castello: Sonata No. 1
Erato 75183

Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No.11: L’Estro Harmonico RV 565
English Concert/Pinnock; Standage, v.; Wilcock, v.; Linden, vc.
Archiv 423094

Vivaldi: Sinfonia in b, RV 169: “al Santo Sepolcro”
Sony 48251

Vivaldi: Bassoon Concerto in C, RV 478
I Solisti Italiana; Turkovic, bsn.
Den 81757-9528

Vivaldi: Flute Concerto, “Il gardellino”, I
English Concert/Pinnock; Beznosiuk, fl.
Archiv 423702

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Op.8 No.4: Winter
English Concert/Pinnock; Standage, v.
Archiv 40045

Program 5

The fifth and final segment consists of works from world renowned and popular composers, starting with Vivaldi. We first hear a small segment of his Four Seasons--"Spring"--his most popular and well-known work. Amazingly, despite its current popularity, this piece and certainly other works of Vivaldi were rarely heard until about 50 years ago. Next is proof that despite Vivaldi's asthma, he was still more than capable of expounding on his religious views through his music. We hear his setting of Stabat Mater, a medieval poem for Good Friday. Closing out Vivaldi's selections are exerpts from his Gloria, a much cheerier piece to lift spirits. Next up is the 19th century, a sad time in Venetian history in which Venice lost its soveregnty. Throughout this time, outsiders were influenced by the once-great city, among them Rossini. Rossini became very popular in Venice, and among his "greatest hits" was The Italian Girl in Algiers, which he composed when he was only 21. We hear the overture. Finally, we hear from Verdi, who came to Venice and composed several operas, all of which were great successes. We hear a couple of bits from Rigoletto, the famous tenor aria "La donne e mobile" and the famous quartet "Bella figlla dell' amore". The segment then closes with the Act III Prelude and Finale from La Traviata.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, Op.8 No. 1: Spring, I (excerpt) II & III
English Concert/Pinnock; Standage, v.
Archiv 40045
1:59, 2:40, 3:37

Vivaldi: Stabat Mater
Concertgebouw/Negri; Kovalski, alto
Philips 289 462 170

Vivaldi: Gloria (excerpts)
Atlanta Symphony & Chamber Chorus/Shaw
Tel 80194
2:21, 2:49

Rossini: The Italian girl in Algiers, overture
EMI 69042

Verdi: “La donne e mobile” (excerpt) & “Bella figlia dell’ amore” from Rigoletto
Rome Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Perlea; Merrill, Peters & Bjorling soloists
RCA 60172
2:19, 4:43

Verdi: Act III Prelude & Finale from La Traviata
Royal Opera House Covent Garden/Solti; Gheorghiu, Lopardo, Beesley, Knight, & Nucci, soloists
London 448119
3:32, 4:48


The Exploring Music streaming website is made possible by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and Susan & Richard Kiphart.
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