Classical WETA's ongoing series featuring performances from the National Symphony Orchestra, hosted by Nicole Lacroix. This special radio series is made possible by WETA's Friends of Classical Music, including Patricia Sagon. The National Symphony Orchestra’s radio programs are generously supported in part by The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.
From London to Leningrad—May’s NSO Showcase
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 9:00pm
May’s NSO Showcase opens with armchair travel at its finest. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony gives us a comprehensive tour of the city. It is London just before World War I. The London of Westminster chimes… “Hampstead Heath, Bloomsbury Square …the Strand with its great hotels and crowded streets and flaring lights.” And in the last movement, a sail on the Thames, inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel, Tono-Bungay: “England and the kingdom, Britain and the Empire…glide abeam, astern, sink down upon the horizon…The river passes—London passes—England passes.” Guest conductor Matthew Halls leads the NSO performance, adding just the right British refinement to this score by Vaughan Williams who claimed that his musical roots were “firmly planted in his own soil.”
If music can take us on a journey across the pond, it can also illuminate the horrors of history. Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony is such a piece. Composed in 1937 during Stalin’s regime, it is subtitled “A Soviet artist’s creative response to justified criticism.” By some stroke of genius Shostakovich appears to toe the party line while simultaneously communicating with audiences traumatized by Stalin’s brutality. The public at the Leningrad premiere was so moved that they gave the symphony a half hour ovation. One year before his death, Shostakovich confessed to Mstislav Rostropovich that the Symphony’s upbeat ending was a lie meant to fool the authorities. The real ending, he told his friend, should be played at half tempo…a slow, gut-wrenching and cynical statement representing the regime’s brutal repression. This is how Rostropovich and the NSO played it on their visit to Russia. You’ll hear how Christoph Eschenbach honors this tradition in May’s NSO Showcase. From Merry Old England to Moscow: two visionary symphonies, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, Wednesday, May 4th at 9 p.m., on Classical WETA.
A Spring Bouquet for April’s NSO Showcase
Wednesday, April 6, 2016 - 9:00pm
A Cornucopia of Conductors on this month’s NSO Showcase
Explore the gamut of great burgers in Greater Washington, from greasy to gourmet. This documentary visits over a dozen burger joints in the area, showcasing classic burgers to exotic and quirky updates on this favorite All-American food.