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Ax Plays Bach, Jurowski Conducts: The Philadelphians In Concert on WRTI, Feb. 22, 1 PM

This Sunday's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on WRTI 90.1 FM, led by Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski, brings us two works by J.S. Bach, performed at Verizon Hall this past February, that give us a taste of the Baroque equivalents of the symphony and the concerto - the Orchestral Suite No. 2, and the Keyboard Concerto No. 1, more modest in size, but no less ambitious in vision.

Bach composed four orchestral suites, and the second is actually the last suite he wrote - a kind of hybrid composition: part dance suite and part virtuoso flute concerto. The Philadelphia Orchestra's principal flute, Jeffrey Khaner, will take a virtuoso turn for this performance!

Bach wrote many concertos for one or more keyboards, and the Concerto in D minor was a piece that even influenced the Romantics—Mendelssohn performed the work, and Brahms wrote a cadenza for it. We'll hear it played Sunday on the modern piano by Emanuel Ax.

Pianist Emanuel Ax talks to WRTI's Jim Cotter about his approach to playing a variety of music.

Here's Manny playing Brahms:


Mahler was another composer deeply influenced by Bach—indeed he arranged several movements of the B minor Orchestral Suite, so it's only fitting that Sunday's broadcast concert will feature Mahler’s Todtenfeier (or, Funeral Rite), which is best known in its later version as the first movement of his  Symphony No. 2. We have a rare chance to hear his original thoughts in this massive funeral march.

Richard Strauss was Mahler’s friend, as well as rival. Strauss's Burleske for Piano and Orchestra dates from early in his career, and is one of his few concertos; Manny Ax will again be the soloist. Both of the works by Mahler and Strauss on this concert were composed early in their careers.

That's this Sunday, Feb. 22, from 1 to 3 pm. Don't miss it!

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host.

Detailed Program Notes from The Philadelphia Orchestra's website

J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067
Richard Strauss: Burleske in D minor, for piano and orchestra
J.S. Bach: Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
Gustav Mahler: Todtenfeier (These were the first Philadelphia Orchestra performances of Todtenfeirer.)

Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
Jeffrey Khaner, flute
Emanuel Ax, piano

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.