“I like the piece . . . But I’m tired of the mythology, that runic Madame Blavatsky kind of stuff. I’m not interested in a virgin dancing herself to death, you know?”
— Mark Morris, on the Rite, to Marina Harss in the Times
Mary Norris, one of The New Yorker's staggeringly brilliant copyeditors, has written a book about the art of fine-tuning the English language. No less than any other writer on the staff, I have happily been schooled by Mary, Ann Goldstein, and the rest of the comma squad, going back to The Gould, and I look forward to furthering my education. Congratulations, Mary!
April 23, 2015 | Permalink
Anna Clyne sits for her Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre this Thursday. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim profiles her in the New York Times.... On the same night in Chicago, Ensemble Dal Niente will devote a program to Rebecca Saunders.... At NewMusicBox, Rob Deemer solicits thoughts on the place of new music in an increasingly clickbait-driven media culture.... Alan Gilbert's Royal Philharmonic Society lecture is worth a read. The NY Phil's London concerts have been winning strong reviews; as Sedge Clark points out, the orchestra's European tour programs are unusually varied. Again one has to wonder why Gilbert is leaving the Phil just as he seems to be hitting his stride.... Tomorrow night at LA's Zipper Hall, the ever-formidable Gloria Cheng gives a recital under the rubric Lyric / Modern, playing works of Ingram Marshall, Karen Tanaka, Eric Nathan, Steven Stucky (the world première of his Sonata), Brett Dean, Unsuk Chin, Boulez, and Jonathan Harvey.... Cheng will also take part in a typically arresting Jacaranda program on April 25, one that serves up late-Soviet-period works of Schnittke, Gubaidulina, and Pärt, with Prokofiev to boot.... The violinist Linus Roth has founded the International Mieczysław Weinberg Society.... The composer and pianist Jessica Krash tells a sad story of drastic cuts to adjunct music teaching at George Washington University, in Washington DC. Replies from the administration, rich in acronyms, platitudes, and euphemisms, fail to banish the impression that GWU is showing needless cruelty.... The invaluable Yale Baroque Opera Project, under the aegis of the scholar Ellen Rosand, will present Cavalli's Erismena next weekend. The singers will employ an English translation that was made in the late seventeenth century.
New and recent releases of interest.
— Szymański, Pieces for String Quartet, Mykietyn, String Quartet No. 2; Royal String Quartet (Hyperion)
— Gesualdo, Tenebrae Responsoria; Philippe Herreweghe conducting the Collegium Vocale Gent (Outhere)
— Mahler, Symphony No. 8, Wagner Overtures; Jascha Horenstein conducting the London Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic, and various other forces (Pristine)
— Bernd Richard Deutsch, Mad Dog, String Quartet No. 2, Dr. Futurity; Enno Poppe conducting Klangforum Wien (Kairos)
— Boulez, Livre pour Quatuor, last revision, 2012; Quatuor Diotima (Megadisc)
— Hilda Paredes, Cuerdas del destino, Canciones lunáticas, Paplote, In Memoriam Thomas Kakuska; Arditti Quartet, with Jake Arditti, countertenor (Aeon)
— Schumann, Violin Concerto, Piano Trio No. 3; Isabelle Faust, with Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, and with Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov (Harmonia Mundi)
— Maximilian Steinberg, Passion Week; Alexander Lingas conducting Cappella Romana (Cappella Romana)
— Héroïque: French Opera Arias; Bryan Hymel, tenor, with Emmanuel Villaume conducting the Prague Philharmonia (Warner Classics)
— Chris Pitsiokos and Philip White, Paroxysm (Carrier)
Mark Swed, in the LA Times, recently noted a shortage of American orchestral tributes to Pierre Boulez in his ninetieth-birthday year. The New York Philharmonic, Boulez's former base, programmed nothing by him this season; likewise the LA Phil. Instead, as Swed observed, on Boulez's birthday both orchestras were playing works by John Adams. As one who laments the mindlessness of calendrically generated programming — despite my love for Strauss and Sibelius, I am boycotting their one-hundred-fiftieth anniversaries — I can't register too strong a complaint, but the omissions seem a little odd. (Let's recall that the neglect of Milton Babbitt, on his ninetieth birthday, was more severe.) In any case, SoCal Boulezians can converge on the Ojai Festival in June, where Steven Schick, this year's director, will offer a substantial Boulez tribute, with an Ojai in Berkeley series to follow. And, this Sunday in New York, David Robertson and the Juilliard Orchestra will perform Boulez's Rituel and the Originel from “…explosante-fixe…," alongside Debussy’s Prelude to "The Afternoon of a Faun" and Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Winds.
Update: The Chicago Symphony presented a pair of Boulez concerts last month.
John Adams will lead Leila Josefowicz and the Cincinnati Symphony in his striking new work Scheherazade.2 next week. The dedicated page on the Cincinnati's website provokes a wry smile. Adams is at least sufficiently well known that his name gets in the headline. I appreciate, of course, the challenges of marketing new music to mainstream audiences, and am happy to see that Cincinnati has taken on Adams's big new piece. They have a strong track record with contemporary music generally — witness the Music Now Festival. But the emphasis on Respighi seems strange, to say the least. The new work should be the lead story. More on Scheherazade.2 and the travails of contemporary orchestral writing here.