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WGUC's Classical Love Notes

The <em>Andante</em> from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C was the theme for the romantic film <em>Elvira Madigan</em>.
The Andante from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C was the theme for the romantic film Elvira Madigan.

One of music's greatest strengths lies in its capacity to stir the emotions, and over the centuries, composers of classical music have found inspiration in virtually every occasion, from the violence of the battlefield to a bucolic peacetime flirtation.

On this Valentine's Day, here are five pieces that capture the power of love in some of its various guises: stoking the fire of creativity (Elgar), leading lovers blindly down a tragic path (Khachaturian and Mozart), intensifying love's desire (Canteloube), or creating a quiet but joyous contentment (Bodorova). It's all here—from the bliss of love to its tragic consequences.

Itzhak Perlman plays Elgar

Alice Roberts wrote a poem called "Love’s Grace" for her husband-to-be, Edward Elgar, just before he left for a vacation. While on that holiday, Elgar wrote Roberts a reply -- not in words, but in music.

Gergiev conducts the Kirov

Poor Phyrigia fell in love with the rebellious slave Spartacus in 73 B.C. Like all good love stories, the affair was almost certain to end in tragedy. And it did, Spartacus dying in a battle with the Roman general Cassius. Just before he went to battle, he shared this passionate dance with his lover -- the Adagio from Khachaturian's "Spartacus."

Brabec plays Bodorova

From the Czech Republic, a modern song of love, with sweet melodies from a living composer. A new treasure for guitar, performed by Lubomir Bracec with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jiri Belohlavek.

Te Kanawa sings Canteloube

A shepherdess, standing on a hill watching her flock, tries to convince the shepherd on the far ridge that the grass is greener on her side of the valley in the first of Joseph Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, "Bailero." Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa performs with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate.

Anda plays Mozart

A tune that put Mozart in the Billboard Top 10 176 years after he died. The slow movement from his Piano Concerto #21 was part of the 1967 Swedish film Elvira Madigan, the tale of an army officer who abandons a promising career for a rapturous affair with Elvira, a tightrope artist. Both lovers refuse to recognize that they have stepped irreversibly on the road to tragedy. Geza Anda is the piano soloist, and conducts the Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra.

Copyright 2009 91.7 WVXU

Mark Perzel