Starting Monday June 2 at 8:00 p.m., WXXI will broadcast weekly concerts from the 2007-2008 season of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s my privilege to prepare them by writing scripts, editing, hosting, and mixing the performances, which are donated by the musicians after they approve them. I attend each concert, take notes, and then hear it in the studio months later.

I can’t explain why, but performances that electrified the live audience occasionally sound flat on record. In person, the RPO’s Bolero (Ravel) had me on the edge of my seat, even though I’ve heard it a thousand times. On tape, though, it seems a bit ragged.

On the other hand, I remember zoning in the hall to “En Saga,” a sleep-inducing tone poem by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. On tape, though, it’s hypnotic. Can’t explain it.

Yesterday I got word that one of the soloists is refusing permission to air her performance. This person got a negative review in the local paper, though this apparently has nothing to do with her decision.

What next? The RPO is figuring that out. A few seasons ago, pianist Horatio Gutierrez denied us permission to broadcast his performance of Prokofiev’s Third piano concerto. (I remember that concert well, since I took my daughter and we saw, up close, the pianist cut his finger on the keyboard. “Just a little blood,” he told the audience, wiping his hand.)

When Gutierrez stopped the broadcast, we got permission from another pianist to air his performance of the same piece from a previous season. I’m not sure what we’ll do this time.

In broadcasting, music still belongs to musicians.




It is a bit long-winded, but I've known En Saga for years from a recording, so rather than dozing off, I was very interested to hear how it would sound in person. It was great! I'd never heard the RPO sound like that - deep, dark, burnished, relaxed on the surface but with tension below, a natural and unforced unfolding of the drama and atmosphere in the music. I hope to hear Eri Klas conduct again. And I hope the orchestra keeps unearthing such unknown gems.

En Saga continues

You can hear En Saga broadcast on June 30th at 8:00 p.m. As for En Hole-in-the-Schedule Saga, it looks like Julianna Athayde will save us by granting permission to re-broadcast her performance of a Prokofiev violin concerto from last season (I think.)