Episodes:

Left: Detail, https://asia.si.edu/object/F1932.53/
Right: Anton Belov, photo courtesy of Dispeker Artists

Inspired by the Mystics:
Anton Belov, baritone; Albert Kim, piano

Listen to the impact that medieval Persian poet Hafiz exerted on the Romantic movement in Europe through this compelling recital by the Russian-born baritone Anton Belov. He explores German musical settings derived from the poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that was in turn inspired by the first translation of Hafiz’s Divan into a Western language in 1813. Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan (1818) combined his own Hafiz-inspired poems with Sufi poems by the Persian mystic. The resulting work inspired Beethoven, Schumann, Wolf, and Brahms and crossed the Atlantic to influence Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau. These German works are paired with settings by Russian composers of the Biblical Song of Songs and poems by Azerbaijani writer Mizra Shafi Vazeh and Russian mystic Nikolai Minsky. This performance was recorded in concert in 2015 in conjunction with the exhibition Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy.

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Inspired by the Ottomans:
Pedja Mužijević, piano

Share in the spell that Ottoman music cast on European composers, from Mozart’s famous “Rondo Alla Turca,” of the 1780s, to music written just after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Marco Tajcevic’s 1926 “Seven Balkan Dances”­—widely played as a virtuoso vehicle—reflects music from areas ruled by the Ottomans for five hundred years. The “Music of the Sayyids and the Dervishes,” from the mid-1920s, by mystic philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff and Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann, melds the improvisational style of Turkish taksim with the rhythms of Mevlevi devotion. This concert was presented in 2006 in conjunction with the exhibition Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey.

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Katherine Chi sitting at the piano.

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of piano music inspired by Egypt. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Inspired by Egypt:
Katherine Chi and Dina Vainshtein, pianos

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of music inspired by Egypt. Hear it performed in the composer’s own rapturous arrangement for two pianos. Also enjoy the atmospheric Canope, Claude Debussy’s musical response to funerary urns from the ancient Nile, and Anton Arensky’s charming Egyptian Nights, written for Russia’s Imperial Ballet. The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s spectacular Études-tableaux. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

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Musicians from Marlboro: Penderecki and Brahms

Violinist Robin Scott, a member of the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet, joins four other participants in the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival to perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Trio and Johannes Brahms’ String Quintet, op. 88. He performs with violinist Tessa Lark, violists Rebecca Albers and Molly Carr, and cellist Marcy Rosen.

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The Traveler’s Ear: Scenes from Music

Take an enchanting, musical journey through the great outdoors. Award-winning French pianist David Kadouch performs travel-inspired works by Bach, Schumann, Liszt, and Bartók. Kadouch made his New York debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art after winning top prizes at the Beethoven Bonn Competition and Leeds International Piano Competition. This concert was presented in conjunction with The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes from Asia.

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The Momenta Quartet originally assembled a version ofthe program, “Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism,” at the request of the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), which specializes in Tibetan Buddhist and other Himalayan art. The Quartet’s members are (left to right) Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Adda Kridler, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; and Michael Haas, cello.

Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism

Composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, and the United States explore aspects of Buddhism through music written for string quartet. Formed in 2004, the adventuresome Momenta Quartet has performed often in New York at BargeMusic, Tonic, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Roulette, and Symphony Space. It also serves as the quartet-in-residence at Temple University. This concert was recorded as part of the Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on November 8, 2012.

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Calefax Reed Quintet: Bonus Track

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

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This concert podcast explores relationships between visual arts and music, specifically the work of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), his influence on French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and their mutual connection to Japan. During the 1870s and 80s, Whistler created a series of dark, atmospheric paintings of nighttime landscapes that he called "nocturnes," such as this one depicting the south bank of the Thames River. His inspiration for these works came, in part, from Japanese woodblock prints, while the term "nocturne" was suggested to Whistler by one of his patrons, Frederick Leyland, an amateur pianist. Leyland, in turn, borrowed the label from Frédéric Chopin's piano works of the same name, written in the 1830s. Some years later, Debussy was inspired by Whistler (rather than Chopin) when he composed orchestral works that he in turn titled "nocturnes" in the 1890s. Nocturne: Blue and Silver—Battersea Reach; by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903); 1870-1875; oil on canvas; gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.97a-b

Calefax Reed Quintet: Debussy and Whistler

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

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The Four Nations ensemble features Charles Brink, flute; Krista Bennion Feeney, violin; Loretta O'Sullivan, cello; and Andrew Appel, harpsichord and director. The ensemble presents its own annual series, Hudson River Harvest Concerts, and a second series at Columbia University’s Maison Française, in addition to guest appearances at early music festivals worldwide. (Photo by David Rodgers)

The Global Baroque: Four Nations Ensemble with Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano

During the era of Bach and Handel, European music traveled to Asia and the Americas with missionaries, merchants, and performers. This concert, recorded in 2011, features a sonata written by a Jesuit composer for the emperor of China in the Forbidden City in 1720, along with baroque music heard in Latin America and the newly founded United States.

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Musicians from Marlboro

Six veterans of the venerable Marlboro Music Festival perform Franz Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet, op. 20, no. 4 (1772); Elliott Carter’s Figment IV, for unaccompanied viola (2007, American premiere); Carter’s Quartet for Oboe and Strings (2001); and Robert Schumann’s Quartet for Piano and Strings, op. 47 (1842). The ensemble features Susie Park and Harumi Rhodes, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Priscilla Lee, cello; Rudolph Vrbsky, oboe; and Ieva Jokubaciute, piano. Recorded live in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium on March 18, 2008.

Haydn: String Quartet in D Major (0:00-26:50)
Carter: Figment IV (27:14-30:15)
Carter: Oboe Quartet (30:33-47:27)
Schumann: Piano Quartet (47:55-1:16:42)

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