Romance CDs 2011
WRTI's Valentine to You
The Most Romantic Music:
February 13th to 15th
Love is in the air, and on the air on WRTI. You're in store for a very romantic Valentine's week when you tune in or listen online between February 13th and 15th. It's classical and jazz romantic music from the heart - wrapped with love - from us to you!
Romantic Music with Dave, Jack, and Jill
February 13th and 14th
6 am to 6 pm
It's two days of romantic music for Valentine's Day on WRTI. Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet (published in 1597) has inspired countless composers to write works about the ill-fated lovers - we'll have a sampling. Plus, you'll hear other great romantic music on February 13th and 14th.
Valentine's Night with BP, Mo, Zivit, and Mark
Tuesday February 14 to Wednesday, February 15
6 pm to 6 am
Nothing says "love" quite like the jazz ballad - we'll bring you plenty of them, along with other romantic jazz pieces, all through Valentine's night. BP will kick things off at 6 pm with the classic tunes that epitomize the cupid's spirit. Maureen Malloy will continue the romantic journey through midnight, and Zivit and Mark Quinlan will bring the passionate melodies into the wee small hours.
Watch and Listen: Guitarist John Williams plays "Cavatina" by Stanley Myers
WRTI Classical and Jazz Hosts Recommend...
Their Favorite Romantic CDs
Nancy Wilson's But Beautiful is just about the "creme de la creme" of all romantic CDs! Her reading of the 13 love ballads lend credence to the name of the disc. If this album doesn't give your significant other (or the one on your wish list) heart trouble of a positive kind--you'd best check their pulse.
Elina Garanca: Aria Cantilena
"It's not just rapturously beautiful love music, but it's also some of the most ecstatically gorgeous music ever written, period! In the climax to Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, the Marschallin gracefully releases Octavian, encouraging him to follow his heart and love, Sophie. As she leaves the room, Sophie and Octavian run into each other's arms, the last resonant echoes of that incredible Trio still pulling at our hearts! The two lovers follow with another breathtaking duet (Ist ein Traum / Spur" nur dich)! There are many wonderful performances of these ravishing ensembles, but this recent collection featuring the fast-rising stars Elina Garanca and Diana Damrau is superb, and both of these Act III gems are on it. Making it more special is the playing of Staatskapelle Dresden - not only one of the world's great orchestras, but "Strauss's orchestra," having premiered nearly all of the composer's works. They play this music with special beauty and insight, the aural evocation of passionate, sensual love."
When I think of romance, I think of the English folk song arrangements of Ralph Vaughan Williams. There's "Loch Lomond," "Greensleeves," and my favorite, the Robert Burns poem to his bonnie dearie, "Ca' the yowes tae the knowes" (Drive the ewes to the knolls), which crescendos to "While waters wimple tae the sea, While day blinks in the lift sae hie, Till clay-cauld death shall blin' my e'e, Ye shall be my dearie!" They're all here on Vaughan Williams, Holst: Choral Folksong Arrangements, and more. But you could just give me those folk songs, and that would be enough.
Etta Jones: Don't Go To Strangers is a giant hug. Etta's expressive, buttery voice highlights the super-romantic lyrics and the all-star band featuring Richard Wyands, Skeeter Best, George Duvivier, Frank Wess and Roy Haynes. From the title track, to the classic "All the Way," the vocal stylings of this 1960 record is the perfect companion to any romantic occasion, or pity party.
Listen: Etta Jones sings "Don't Go To Strangers"
John Rutter: Distant Land - The Orchestral Collection
Composer John Rutter re-worked several Beatles standards into a Rachmaninoff-esque Concerto for Two Pianos admirably played by duo pianists Peter Rostal and Paul Schafer. Maestro Rutter conducts the London Philharmonic. You'll also find 16 orchestral arrangements of familiar Rutter choral pieces - all simply wonderful.
There's something about a string orchestra that provides that romantic mood, and this collection - String Serenades: The London Chamber Orchestra/Christopher Warren-Green has all you'll need. Included are string serenades by Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and the under-rated and under-heard serenade by Josef Suk, along with Vaughan Williams' lovely The Lark Ascending, Tallis Variations, and Fantasia on "Greensleeves," plus music by Elgar.
It's all in the family. My favorite Valentine is my jazzy daughter, Rondi Charleston, and her latest CD - Who Knows Where the Time Goes - recorded in Tony Bennett's New Jersey studio. Included are four songs with lyrics by Rondi and music by pianist Lynne Arriale. New York jazz critic Will Friedwald writes that "Rondi Charleston is an outstanding contemporary jazz singer and an even better songwriter. In Who Knows Where the Time Goes, Rondi has combined traditional standards, originals, and thoughtful treatments of a wide range of material, and created one of the better vocal albums you're likely to hear right now."
Romeo & Juliet, one of Tchaikovsky's most familiar orchestral works and the only one that he never had anything negative to say about, has three musical themes. The symphonic poem opens with a very calm Friar Lawrence. Next comes the Capulet and Montague fight followed by the lush, famous love theme of the unfortunate young couple. You don't even need to see the play to follow the action and the emotion. Part of a four-disc set, it is paired with the Fantasy based on Dante's Francesca da Rimini, about two other lovers - albeit adulterous ones - in "The Inferno," and three of his most powerful and romantic symphonies, 4, 5, and 6 ("Pathetique"). I recommend this recording: Leonard Bernstein conducts Tchaikovsky.
Check out The Gentle Side of John Coltrane. Here's a group of recordings culled from some of Trane's early 1960s Impulse label sessions. While this was a very adventurous period in his career, there were moments of inner peace and charm. Featured throughout are tracks from the popular Ballads album, as well as classic sides with Duke Ellington and Johnny Hartman. This will create the perfect mood for a slow dance or quiet romance...or both.
Listen: John Coltrane performs "My One and Only Love" with Johnny Hartman
Howard Hanson's Second Symphony isn't called the "Romantic" for nothing. With its juxtaposition of themes of heroism and tenderness, its cinematic sweep conjures up images of an intrepid explorer making his way home through a blinding blizzard, finally reaching his destination and the arms of his beloved. The symphony makes for great listening around the fireside on a cold winter's night. But even if you don't have a fireplace, the music will leave you basking in its warm glow.
Jim Cotter (the Un-Romantic):
Not being romantic is the mark of certain men, of a certain age. I never buy flowers on Valentine's Day; I do so whenever I see really nice flowers for sale. This is why Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune," the third movement of his Suite bergamasque, is the perfect piece of music for me and for all fellow un-romantics.
A bergamasque is a village dance from Bergamo in Northern Italy. Its defining feature is its lack of grace, if not actual clumsiness. This perfectly encapsulates my own romantic faculties - awkward, ungainly, but occasionally interpreted as a thing of beauty.