Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2002 and 2003 by Fred Flaxman


Program 27
"Love Music, Part 1"

MUSIC: Lai: Love Story (theme) played by pianist Michael Chertock [Telarc CD-80357, track 14] under the following:

FLAXMAN: Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

I'm going to devote the next hour to part one of a two-part exploration of music inspired by that most human of emotions: love. I'll start with classical music by Josef Suk, Sergei Prokofiev, Tikhon Krennikov and Edvard Grieg. Then I'll play for you a series of popular love songs by George Gershwin.

MUSIC: fades out

FLAXMAN: Let's begin with what I imagine is going to be a compact discovery for you, as it was for me. It is by the Czech composer, violinist, violist and pianist Josef Suk, who lived from 1874 until 1935. His last name, which is spelled S-u-k, is pronounced "Sook" - fortunately. Suk was Dvorák's pupil, and later became the famous composer's son-in-law.

There are happy pieces about love, and there are melancholy pieces. Suk's work is in the latter category. It sounds as though it might be about unrequited love. Here's Finnish pianist Risto Lauriala [REES-tow LAH-oo-ree-ah-la] playing Josef Suk's Song of Love.

MUSIC: Suk: Song of Love played by Risto Lauriala on the piano [Naxos 8.553762, track 1] [7:35]

FLAXMAN: Song of Love by Josef Suk played by Risto Lauriala [REES-tow LAH-oo-ree-ah-la] on a Naxos compact disc.

Next we move from unrequited love to perverted love. At least I think that is what it would be if you fell in love with three oranges. Here's the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin and the famous March from The Love for Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev.

MUSIC: Prokofiev: March from The Love for Three Oranges, National Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conducting [RCA Victor 09026-68801-2, track 7] [1:35]

FLAXMAN: The march from The Love for Three Oranges by Sergei Prokofiev. Leonard Slatkin conducted the National Symphony Orchestra on an RCA Victor compact disc.

You might wonder how a Russian composer happened to write an opera on the subject of love for oranges. Well, the opera was based on a satirical commedia dell'arte fairy tale with the same name. The complicated, absurdist plot revolves around a hypochondriac prince who suffers from an inability to laugh. The king's jester tries to cure the prince with jokes, but it doesn't work.

When an evil, gate-crashing witch is thrown out by the palace guards, she tumbles head-over-heels, causing the sadistic prince to burst out laughing. The witch takes her revenge on him with a curse: he will lose his heart to three oranges and waste his life searching for them.

But the oranges turn out to be capsules containing beautiful princesses dying of thirst. Thanks to the intervention of the spectators, who have been rudely commenting on the play from the sidelines, one princess survives and is united with the prince in a happy love scene.

Next, what is sure to be another compact discovery for most of my listeners: the music to the ballet Love for Love by Tikhon Khrennikov.

If Prokofiev and Shostakovitch were the anti-establishment composers of Stalinist Russia, Khrennikov was the establishment. As his political stature rose, he remained for years a living nightmare to anyone bucking his or the Community Party's musical authority. But I guess he spent more time being politically correct than composing music, because his output was not abundant. His musical style, like his political leanings, took few chances, and he showed a marked preference for light-hearted theatrical and ballet scores containing traditional folksy melodies and pleasing harmonies, all of which you'll find in Love for Love.

MUSIC: Khrennikov: Love for Love, Russian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Gorenstein [PopeMusic, PM 1007-2, tracks 10-15] [12:54]

FLAXMAN: Tikhon Khrennikov's ballet music, Love for Love. The Russian Symphony Orchestra was led by Mark Gorenstein.

You are listening to "Love Music" on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next up, a love song by Edvard Grieg. It's called very simply Jeg elsker Dig [Yie elska die]- I Love You. Anne Sofie von Otter is the mezzo-soprano. The pianist is Bengt Forsberg.

MUSIC: Grieg: Jeg elsker Dig sung by Anne Sofie Von Otter [Deutsche Grammophon 2894375212, track 24 ] [1:34]

FLAXMAN: Jeg elsker Dig [Yie elska die]- I Love You. Anne Sofie von Otter was the mezzo-soprano. The pianist was Bengt Forsberg on this Deutsche Grammophon compact disc.

Here's a little love music by George Gershwin as performed in the Woody Allen film Manhattan by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta.

MUSIC: Gershwin: He Loves and She Loves from Manhattan [CBS MK 36020, tracks 7 and 15] [5:22]

FLAXMAN: Love music by George Gershwin from the Woody Allen film Manhattan. First we heard He Loves and She Loves; then Love Is Here to Stay.

One of my favorite composers is George Gershwin, and he certainly wrote his share of beautiful love music. If I were forced to single out my very favorite Gershwin tune, I must admit it would be very difficult, but that I would choose The Man I Love.

MUSIC: Gershwin: The Man I Love sung by Kiri Te Kanawa [EMI CDC-7 47454 2, track 9] [3:18]

FLAXMAN: George Gershwin's The Man I Love. We heard opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa with the New Princess Theater Orchestra conducted by John McGlinn, on an EMI recording.

I have a special treat in mind, coming up next I'll play for you an excerpt from a very rare recording made of George Gershwin's "Music by Gershwin" radio program on February 19, 1934. First you'll hear George Gershwin himself telling what a failure The Man I Love was in the two Broadway shows in which he tried to include the song. Then you'll hear George Gershwin play the piece himself on the piano. And finally you'll hear it sung once more; this time on that same radio program by the singer who finally made the song a success: Helen Morgan.

MUSIC: Gershwin: The Man I Love (excerpt from the "Music by Gershwin" radio program, Feb. 19, 1934) [MusicMasters 5062-2-C, track 3]

FLAXMAN: A rare recording of George Gershwin talking about The Man I Love, playing it on the piano, and introducing Helen Morgan who sang the song accompanied by an orchestra on the "Music by Gershwin" radio program, February 19, 1934. This was issued on a MusicMasters compact disc called "Gershwin Performs Gershwin: Rare Recordings 1931-1935."

Well, this hour started out with a Czech view of love, with a piano piece by Josef Suk. Then we had Russian pieces about love by Prokofiev and Khrennikov, though, granted, Prokofiev's piece was about the love for three oranges. Next we listened to a Norwegian view of love from Grieg, and then an American view of love by George Gershwin. Of course, no program devoted to love music would be complete without hearing from the French on the subject. So here is If We Only Have Love (Quand on a que l'amour) by Jacques Brel, who was actually Belgian, first sung in English by the original cast of "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris," then by Jacques Brel himself.

MUSIC: Brel: If We Only Have Love from the original cast recording of "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" [Columbia CGK 40817, track 22] [ ]

MUSIC: Brel: Quand on n'a que l'amour [Barclay 813 009-2, track 6] [3:10]

FLAXMAN: If We Only Have Love - Quand on n'a que l'amour - by Jacques Brel. That was Brel himself singing. Before that we heard the song sung in English by Elly Stone, Mort Shuman, Shawn Elliott and Alice Whitfield: the orignal cast of "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris."

That was a Belgian-French male view of love. Now here's a French female view of the subject. You can't get more French, more female, or more passionate about the subject than Edith Piaf.

MUSIC: Monnot/Constantine: Hymn to Love, sung by Edith Piaf [Capitol 72438-27097-2 5, CD 1, track 10] [3:25]

FLAXMAN: Edith Piaf, singing a Hymn to Love by Marguerite Monnot and Eddy Constantine. That was from a two CD Capitol Records Piaf collection issued on the 30th anniversary of her death.

You have been listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman, and this hour has been devoted to "Love Music."

[over the music] We'll conclude with one last French/Spanish musical view of the subject. This is a beautiful piano piece by Francis Poulenc called Novelette No. 3 in E Minor. What does it have to do with love, you might ask? Well, it is based on a theme from Manuel de Falla's El Amor Brujo - Love, the Magician. It is performed here by Olivier Cazal on a Naxos compact disc.

MUSIC: Poulenc: Novelette No. 3 in E Minor, performed by pianist Olivier Cazal [Naxos 8.553931, track 36] [2:34]

FLAXMAN [over the music]: Well, that's all the time we have for Part 1 of our two-part tribute to "Love Music" on Compact Discoveries.

Your comments on this program would be greatly appreciated. Positive comments help attract funding. Constructive criticism helps improve the program. You can e-mail me at compactdiscoveries@fredflaxman.com or write me in care of this station.

Compact Discoveries is produced, recorded and edited by your host, Fred Flaxman. It is a production of listener-supported public radio station WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: fade out at 58:00

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