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Features Archive


Shostakovich: Breaking Down Silence
Saint Paul Sunday's Bill McGlaughlin looks at the forces that influenced one of Russia's most fascinating and challenging composers. His commentary is illustrated with performances by the Emerson String Quartet and images from the composer's career.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Wallace Stevens's well-known poem was recently given new life on Saint Paul Sunday by eighth blackbird - an Oberlin-based sextet of violin, cello, flute, clarinet, piano, and manifold percussion. Hear selected clips of their performance, read the poem's text, and view a slide show of the group in the Saint Paul Sunday studio.

Behind the Scenes at Saint Paul Sunday
Take a virtual tour of the Juilliard String Quartet's recent visit to the Saint Paul Sunday studios with the Saint Paul Sunday Sessions slideshow, and learn more about the creation of a "typical" Saint Paul Sunday show - from start to finish - in associate producer Vaughn Ormseth's feature Each Show Is Different.

What Makes Russian Music Russian?
Bill McGlaughlin explores this captivating question with two extraordinary artists who have taken Russian music to heart. David Finckel and pianist Wu Han perform three great twentieth-century sonatas - one each by Sergei Rachmaninov, Sergei Prokofiev, and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Jorja Fleezanis and Michael Steinberg Interview
In the spring of 2000, violinist and Minnesota Orchestra concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis collaborated with the French fortepianist Cyril Huvé in a series of concerts devoted to the Beethoven sonatas. Music writer Michael Steinberg asked her some questions about this project.

A Taste of TASHI
Five remarkable artists, together known as TASHI share their favorite recipes. Read A Taste of TASHI and try such recipes as Ida Kavafian's Armenian Aromatic Eggplant or Fred's New York Chili.

What Is Choro Music?
Choro is as unique to Brazil as ragtime or New Orleans jazz is to America. It's a complex popular musical form based on improvisation, which grew from a formalized structure that collided with many worldly influences. In Brazil, choro was the combination of the singing lines of Portuguese melody and the heartbeat of Africa. The traditions that nurtured choro in Rio in the late 1800s were basically the same for danzón in Cuba, beguine in Martinique, and ragtime in the United States. After falling out of fashion in the '50s, choro saw a renaissance in the '70s with a new generation of musicians, a revival that has continued to preserve the music that "is Brazil."

Love Songs of Francesco Landini
Susan Hellauer, of Anonymous 4, gives some historical perspective to the love songs of Francesco Landini, with an analysis of the dolce stil nuovo, or "sweet new style," of poetry and musical composition born in the tumultuous 14th century in western Europe.

Slideshow: Lang Lang
Pianist Lang Lang visits the Saint Paul Sunday studio.

Slideshow: Historical photos of the Guarneri String Quartet

Marilyn Horne and Friends
Join Bill McGlaughlin and guests Marilyn Horne, Dina Kuznetsova, Troy Cook, and Brian Zeger discussing their experiences as singers, their big breaks, and their determination. Also, click through a slideshow from the Marilyn Horne session, and read "Confessions of a Young Singer," by Associate Producer Leslie Crane.

The Sephardic Diaspora
Read about the mixture of influences reflected in the anthology "The Sephardic Diaspora," in which Hespèrion XXI has recreated a representative sample of songs and ballads of the eastern Sephardic communities.
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Slideshow: The Ahn Trio

Missa Mexicana
The Hispanic Baroque knit together often-dizzying contrasts of its culture and faith into works of great beauty and vitality. This week on Saint Paul Sunday, Andrew Lawrence-King and the Harp Consort give us a vivid musical taste of that world in "Missa Mexicana," a program that juxtaposes an exuberant 17th-century Mass setting by Spanish-born composer Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, chapel master of Mexico's Puebla Cathedral, with the Latin-American and African folk dances that inspired it. It's a lively Baroque fusion of the Old World and the New.

Slideshow: John Holloway, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen, Aloysia Assenbaum

Yiddishbuk and Dreams
Bill McGlaughlin welcomed celebrated Argentinean composer document Osvaldo Golijov to Saint Paul Sunday for an hour-long immersion into his unique artistry.

Fauré: inventing musical forms
'Fauré's achievement was to invent musical forms which attracted our hearts and senses without debasing them. He offered an homage to Beauty in which there was not only faith, but a discreet yet irresistible passion...The delicate precision of his architecture, the concision (without dryness) of his ideas will long guide us in our moments of anxiety.'

Inside the Fortepiano
Cyril Huvé plays the music of Schumann and Liszt on a piano much like one used at the time the pieces were composed. Huvé notes that Liszt’s original musical manuscript contained many notes that eventually erased this early instrument, the fortepiano, required more musical "activity" to keep the sound continuous.

Rebecca Clarke & Pamela Harrison
Rebecca Clarke's music was forgotten for many years, the muddle attending her entry in the 1980 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music, where she is tacked on to the end of the entry for her husband James Friskin, being symptomatic.

Text for American Angels
As featured in the Saint Paul Sunday program Anonymous 4: "The Sacred Harp".

The Dale Warland Singers Program Notes
Notes from the Saint Paul Sunday program The Dale Warland Singers.
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A Baltimore Consort Christmas
Listen to audio samples of the consort's unique instrumentation and learn more about the timeless appeal of early music as performed by some of its best current practitioners.

Schumann and Whitman: The Lyric Voice
Literature - whether as text, concept, or inspiration - has always shared a close kinship with music. During his most recent visit to Saint Paul Sunday, the acclaimed American baritone Thomas Hampson explored this vibrant connection through two programs and these corresponding features.

A Poet's Love reinterprets German composer Robert Schumann's song settings - originally published as a cycle called the Dichterliebe - of Heinrich Heine's poem-series, the Lyrisches Intermezzo.

The Modern Man I Sing offers text and music of diverse settings Hampson performed based on verse by the American poet Walt Whitman. The poems are drawn from Leaves of Grass, Whitman's all-embracing love song to the young United States, and set by composers as various as Charles Ives, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Kurt Weill, and Ned Rorem.

Rumillajta: Music of the Andes
An ensemble of five musicians from La Paz, Bolivia, Rumillajta is a testament to how cultural expression, accomplished at the highest artistic levels, can help keep the ancient spiritual and ethnic identity of a people alive. This feature invites listeners to familiarize themselves the unique instruments and heritage behind Rumillajta's breathtaking music.

New Traditions
Discover violinist-fiddle virtuoso and composer Mark O'Connor, a musician with a different take on chamber music. His "Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Doublebass," a work performed on Saint Paul Sunday, celebrates American fiddling within the rich background of its 18th- and 19th-century European origins.

Moses Hogan Chorale and Derek Lee Ragin
Read about this unique partnership between an extraordinary African-American ensemble, the Moses Hogan Chorale, and the acclaimed American counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin.

Beethoven: The Emerson Expedition
An expansive three-part feature exploring the early, middle, and late periods of the Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven through the endlessly illuminating lens of his 16 string quartets: the integrated sites offer scrollable timelines, art of the period, and information about all aspects of Beethoven's genius, as well as numerous audio samples of the composer's string quartet repertoire as performed on Saint Paul Sunday by the celebrated Emerson String Quartet.

Sonata by Nicholas Maw
Few experiences in classical music are as electric - or as rare - as the chance to hear the world première of new work by a major living composer. Listen to a movement of a new violin sonata written by British composer Nicholas Maw and performed on Saint Paul Sunday by violinist and occasional guest host Jorja Fleezanis. An essay detailing the unique commissioning process leading up to Maw's composing of the work accompanies the audio sample.

The Power of Love
For centuries, lute and voice have joined to express love's joys and travails, and soprano Ellen Hargis and lutenist Paul O'Dette continue this tradition in their year-round celebration of Valentine's Day. Listen to this duo perform Henry Purcell's beguiling When First Amintas Sued for a Kiss and read the amorous lyrics of other songs, ballads, and airs from 16th- and 17th-century England, France, and Italy.

The Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers
Out of the African-American experience a powerful and enduring musical legacy was born, a legacy that the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers have carried on for more than three decades. Hear audio samples and read lyrics of spirituals performed on Saint Paul Sunday by this vibrant ensemble.

Sleepers Awake
Says host Bill McGlaughlin about listening to this Saint Paul Sunday compact disc, "It's as though I can see the musicians. Most of them are used to giving major concerts - playing to the back row of big halls. When they get into the studio, something very different happens." Consisting of 14 of the most exemplary works from Saint Paul Sunday's archives, Sleepers Awake is a captivating listening experience.

Conte Fantastique
Six celebrated musicians perform French composer André Caplet's elegantly chilling interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's tale "The Masque of the Red Death" - a perfect accompaniment for All Hallow's Eve or any other Gothic occasion.

Arvo Pärt and the New Simplicity
In this compelling essay, host Bill McGlaughlin explores the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and its contemporary historical context. More than a dozen audio samples of Pärt's work drawn from previous Saint Paul Sunday programs accompany his essay.

At the Octoroon Balls
These notes were written by Bruce Adolphe for the première of Wynton Marsalis's At the Octoroon Balls, a work performed on Saint Paul Sunday by the acclaimed Orion String Quartret. An audio sample of "Hellbound Highball," an excerpt of the extended work, accompanies the text.

Mixed Company
Saint Paul Sunday's CD Mixed Company builds upon both the series' weekly bonhomie and its eclectic weekly pairings. Featuring performances from Saint Paul Sunday's capacious archives, Mixed Company captures both the lightheartedness and emotional intimacy that is at the heart of Saint Paul Sunday.

Anton Reicha and the Wind Quintet
Saint Paul Sunday host Bill McGlaughlin profiles the father of the wind quintet, Anton Reicha, and explores the world of musical sound-making and demonstrates instrument sounds using common household objects.