Studio: WGBH Educational Foundation
What It Is
Classical pieces performed live in the studio of WGBH, a Boston radio station.
Episodes come out every week. Episodes have really variable lengths due to the variance in lengths of the pieces selected. The longest episode I’ve heard was around thirty minutes; the shortest was seven minutes. It’s a music podcast, so I need to point out that the sound quality is stellar. The most recent thirty episodes are available on iTunes. More episodes can be found at the show’s website.
What About It
This is a good podcast. I enjoy listening to it quite a bit. I like the episodes that feature, aside from just the music, a brief interview with the performer or performers. But the music is, of course, the star. Sometimes the music is better than other times, but as a guy who really enjoys classical music without really knowing nearly enough about it, I find this podcast to be immensely helpful in directing my listening. It’s a good way to get a quick sample of a composer or performer in order to figure out whether or not you want to look deeper into this composer or performer. Also, they often do more obscure pieces. You’re not going to hear Fur Elise or Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Afternoon of a Faun. All in all, I like this podcast a lot. I like to let the episodes build up until I’ve got several and then listen to them in a bunch.
You love classical music and can’t figure out how to integrate it into your life.
Avoid Like the Plague If
Your idea of classical music is Spirit in the Sky.
Best Entry Point
I didn’t necessarily think there would instantly be a standout episode when I started thinking about an episode to recommend. I actually thought I might just fall back on the old standby “just download the most recent one” bullet dodge. But then, very quickly, a really, really interesting one leapt instantly to mind. It’s called The Colors of Claude Debussy, Part 3 and it features a classical piece that I had no idea existed. Believe it or not, it’s a piece called Rapsodie pour Saxophone. And I think you can judge how much of a classical music fan you are by how you reacted to that. For me, upon seeing what the episode was, it was a sort of breathless, “Debussy wrote for saxophone WHAT THE **** AAHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Anyway, the piece itself is really interesting; the typically light touch of Debussy meeting the strong voice of the saxophone can’t help but be fascinating. And saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky gives a brief interview in the episode as well and does a genuinely wonderful breakdown of how he hears the saxophone not only hit notes, but also say words. It’s a great, great episode. Start there.