Hear Essential Classics All Memorial Weekend

· May 25, 2021, 9:32 am
We've rounded up our favorite recordings of pieces by some of the most towering names in classical music. Listen May 26-30; it’s one essential after another for over one hundred hours!

The world of classical music goes back for centuries -- just one weekend barely allows us to present the all-time favorites in our playlist. Still, “Essential Classics” is a moment to showcase significant repertoire of today. Starting 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, CPR Classical offers listeners wall-to-wall essentials through Memorial Day weekend.

What gets programmed each year reflects audience hits and the most-famous, yet as Music Director Jeff Zumfelde explains, creating an always-changing list also considers what is current or undiscovered. “We look a little broader in defining what is essential, it’s not just the piece, but also the performers or composers,” he says. “The music of Mary D. Watkins points to material we did not have in our playlist several years ago and is now a hit,” says Zumfelde, “…and you may have only heard of her music from us.”

Well-loved pieces from classical giants like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven will be staples throughout the weekend. And you will hear performances by classical icons like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Lang Lang, soprano Renée Fleming and rising superstar cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who rose to world-wide fame overnight while still in his teens. “What’s fun is putting the weekend together but also the listening experience. There are recognizable pieces that come from vastly different time periods, very different circumstances,” says Jeff Zumfelde. “Someone may have used the music to underscore a movie, or people used it during a moment of calm, some melodies are familiar. There’s always a connective element, but there are also newer pieces that achieve the same feeling.”

New to classical music? Long-time listener? Fantastic! Over five days, you will encounter or perhaps rediscover pieces that sum the essence of classical music. Listen live -- Thursday, May 26, 3:00 p.m. through Monday, May 30 -- and enjoy a Memorial weekend experience of “must hear” recordings and time-tested masterpieces.


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Listen to CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website, or download the Colorado Public Radio app. Listen on your radio to CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, or on radio signals around Colorado. You can also tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."

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