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Classical 101

Haydn Symphony and Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto on Symphony @ 7

London is calling tonight on Symphony @7.

Thursday evening on Symphony @ 7, the two musical works for the hour are Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 102 in Bb and the Violin Concerto No. 2 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 102 was one of 12 symphonies he wrote for a series of concerts in London in the 1790′s, and they are now collectively called the “London Symphonies.” The one for this evening was completed in 1794 for Haydn’s second visit to London and like the other 11, shows his symphonic writing at its height. Indeed, coming in the final decade of the 18th century, these fine symphonies seem to sum up the Classical Era in which Haydn and Mozart were the supreme masters.

The Second Violin Concerto of Italian-born Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco comes from the 20th century. Castelnuovo-Tedesco is best known for his works for classical guitar but wrote much more music besides that. Great literature, especially Shakespeare was a major source of inspiration, and also his Jewish heritage. Because of his Jewish roots, he was forced to leave Italy and eventually settled in California when Mussolini and the fascists came into power in the 1930′s.

The Violin Concerto No. 2, which was commissioned by Jasha Heifetz, is titled “The Prophets,” and each of the three movements is inspired by one of the biblical prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah. With Passover beginning Friday evening, evoking Elijah is certainly appropriate, given the Jewish custom to invite Elijah to dinner on Passover. Our recording of the Second Violin Concerto features Itzhak Perlman as soloist.

After Symphony @ 7 this evening, we have a special program at 8 pm, “A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perman.” Tomorrow evening at 7 for Good Friday, Christopher Purdy will host what’s becoming an annual tradition on Classical 101, a complete performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.