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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: May 3, 2007 Archive

Pieces of Spring No. 2

Posted at 8:00 AM on May 3, 2007 by John Birge

Welcome May, and Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Pieces of Spring.

Every day, we'll play a springtime classic. Visit our online playlist to find each day's spring piece or, in the Twin Cities, listen to 99.5 every morning at 8. Enter the correct title here, and you have another chance to win fresh flowers delivered to your door for a year! Check back here every day to see if you got it right.

Yesterday's piece was "La Primavera" from Ottorino Respighi's "Botticelli Triptych."

Sandro Botticelli’s most recognizable work might be “The Birth of Venus,” but it wasn’t his only painting featuring the goddess of beauty and fertility. In “La Primavera,” one of three paintings by Botticelli which inspired Respighi’s tone poems, Venus and other figures from Greek mythology dance celebrate the arrival of Spring.

At a time when many composers were looking to the future and challenging the traditional musical world, Respighi found inspiration in the past. He studied Italian Renaissance and Baroque masters, especially in “La Primavera,” with its exuberant, dance-like tone that echoes Vivaldi’s “Spring” or Monteverdi’s madrigals. Respighi's musical palette includes modern instruments like celesta and piano, adding a sparkling lightness and warmth to the music.

Sports et Divertissements

Posted at 4:18 PM on May 3, 2007 by Don Lee

"Artists on the whole are not a sporty lot. And sports people are, I'm sure, almost totally indifferent to the arts."

When I read that comment Monday in The Guardian, I paused for a moment. But writer Mark Ravenhill's assertion had just enough "truthiness," to borrow Stephen Colbert's coinage, for me to let it pass.

Today I read this, by a DC sportswriter named Jeff Beam who'd been gently coerced into attending a classical music concert:

"The cellist, Wispelwey, comes out to play Haydn, and it's like nothing I've seen before." Beam then goes on to describe the performance in refreshingly vivid language and concludes, "I promise myself (again) that I absolutely must do this sort of thing more often."

And then I think about what I'll be doing tomorrow night--sitting in the bleachers among a bunch of other baseball-loving classical music nerds (and a few others from Minnesota Public Radio) to watch the the Twins take on the Red Sox.

Will we see you there?