January 31, 2007 | Permalink
Why do Janácek's operas still fail to sell strongly at the Met? Last night's revival of Jenufa was well attended, but seats remain available in almost all categories for remaining shows in the run. It would be good if Peter Gelb's Met were to direct its prodigious energies at marketing twentieth-century masterpieces such as this — i. e., sell the music, not just the performers or director. The cast could not be bettered. Karita Mattila again glows with ardor and power in the title role (here's my review of her 2003 performance). Opposite her is the ageless, uncanny Anja Silja, whose Kostelnikca is frightening and heartbreaking in equal measure. Jorma Silvasti supplied a finely detailed, affecting portrait of Laca; Jirí Belohlávek conducted with great authority, obtaining some of the most incisive playing I've heard in the score. I still don't care for the production, particularly in comparison with the masterly Nikolaus Lehnhoff staging I saw in Berlin in 2002, but all told this is a tremendous night of theater, one of the Met's best shows of the season. (If you happen to have homosexual leanings, the Met is hosting Gay and Lesbian Singles night at Jenufa this Friday.)
The limits of my fame: when I announced myself at the Met ticket window as "Alex Ross," the youngish guy behind the glass cheerily said, "Just like the painter!" At one point I thought of asking the other Alex Ross to illustrate the cover of my book, drawing Schoenberg, Shostakovich, and Steve Reich as caped superheroes, but I never got around to it.
January 30, 2007 | Permalink
No musical administrator is more widely respected or well liked than Ara Guzelimian, who until the end of last year served as senior director and artistic advisor at Carnegie Hall. The programming during Guzelimian's tenure has been fabulous in quality and scope, and the 2007-2008 season, announced this morning, is typical of what he has achieved. The centerpiece is a seventeen-day festival entitled Berlin in Lights, with the Berlin Philharmonic playing alongside a welter of groups in classical, folk, pop, and electronic genres. The festival overlaps with a Thomas Adès residency; the Philharmonic will play a new Adès piece entitled Tevot. Another alluring Berlin program has Kurtág's Stele (also to be done at Juilliard next week) paired with the Mahler Tenth. Guzelimian is now Dean of Juilliard, although he will continue to host Carnegie's Making Music series. Jeremy Geffen, who has lately done imaginative work at the Saint Louis Symphony, is taking Guzelimian's place.
January 29, 2007 | Permalink
Toward Silence. The New Yorker, Feb. 5, 2007.
Image from Kurosawa's Ran.
January 29, 2007 | Permalink
In March of 2005 I chided the Atlanta Symphony for failing to divulge sufficient information about their programming on their website. I'm happy to report that the new site (a few months old, in fact) is much better, indeed positively exploding with information. Noteworthy is the fact that Altanta is eagerly promoting its new-music events rather than concealing them behind hedges of Tchaikovsky. Other energetic orchestra websites: Nashville (gearing up for a Glass at 70 celebration), Minnesota (the Beethoven is Back! promotion is amusing), Chicago (offering a download of "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" under the direction of the late Sir Georg Solti), San Francisco (currently holding a sale on remaining seats for the season), and Saint Louis (about to present a concert of Cage's Credo in US and Feldman's Samuel Beckett, Words and Music).
Der Wanderer (Schubert Lieder); Florian Boesch, Roger Vignoles (Hyperion)
Carnegie Recital (Scriabin, Liszt, Chopin); Daniil Trifonov (DG)
Adams, The Gospel According to the Other Mary; Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (DG, available March 11)
Lachenmann, String Quartets; JACK Quartet (Mode)
Erin Gee, Mouthpieces (col legno)
Babbitt, All Set and other works; Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)
Liza Lim, Tongue of the Invisible; Uri Caine, Omar Ebrahim, Ensemble musikFabrik (Wergo)
Schumann, Waldszenen, Piano Sonata No. 2, Gesang der Frühe; Mitsuko Uchida (Decca)
Hot: Ryan Muncy plays works of Aperghis, Cheung, Cassidy, Balter, Czernowin, Donatoni; with Ensemble Dal Niente (New Focus)
John Luther Adams, Inuksuit (Cantaloupe)
Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder, Rückert Lieder; Christian Gerhaher, Kent Nagano, Montreal Symphony (Sony)
Busoni, Late Piano Music; Marc-André Hamelin (Hyperion)
Britten: The Complete Works (Decca)
Verdi at the Met (Sony)
George Benjamin, Written on Skin, Duet; Barbara Hannigan, Bejun Mehta, Christopher Purves, with the composer conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano (Nimbus)
Feldman, Violin and Orchestra; Carolin Widmann, Emilio Pomàrico conducting the Frankfurt Radio Symphony (ECM)
Bach Brandenburg Concertos, Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues; Matthias Maute, Ensemble Caprice (Analekta)
Wagner at the Met: Legendary Performances from the Metropolitan Opera (Sony)
Dutilleux, Correspondances, "Tout un monde lointain...," The Shadow of Time; Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Orchestre Philharmonique of Radio France, with Barbara Hannigan, soprano, and Anssi Karttunen, cello (DG)
Ferne Geliebte: Songs of Beethoven, Schoenberg, Haydn, Berg; Christian Gerhaher, baritone, and Gerold Huber, piano (Sony)
Charles Griffes, Piano Sonata and other works; Garrick Ohlsson (Hyperion)
Felix Mendelssohn, Quartets No. 2 and 6, Fanny Mendelssohn, Quartet in E-flat; Ebène Quartet (Virgin)
Elgar, The Apostles; Mark Elder conducting the Hallé Choir, Hallé Youth Choir, Hallé Orchestra, and various soloists (Hallé)
Drama Queens: Joyce DiDonato, Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco (Virgin Classics)
Salonen, Violin Concerto, Nyx; Leila Josefowicz, Salonen conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony (DG)
Wagner, Tristan und Isolde; Nina Stemme, Stephen Gould, Kwangchul Youn, Michelle Breedt, Johan Reuter, Marek Janowski conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (PentaTone)
Passion and Resurrection: Music Inspired by Holy Week; Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Bruckner, Symphony No. 9 (with reconstructed fourth movement); Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (EMI)
Feldman, Crippled Symmetry; Eberhard Blum, Jan Williams, Nils Vigeland (frozen reeds)
Kristin Norderval, Aural Histories (deep listening)
Bach, St. Matthew Passion; Mark Padmore, Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Topi Lehtipuu, Thomas Quasthoff, Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic and the Rundfunkchor Berlin, Peter Sellars directing (Berlin Philharmonic DVD)
Ligeti, Etudes Books I and II, Beethoven, Sonata Opus 111; Jeremy Denk (Nonesuch)
Shostakovich, Quartets Nos. 1-4, Prokofiev Quartet No. 2; Pacifica Quartet (Cedille)
Beethoven, Diabelli Variations; Andreas Staier, fortepiano (Harmonia Mundi)
Ruggles, complete works; Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Buffalo Philharmoic, various other musicians (Other Minds)
Cage, The Works for Percussion 2; Third Coast Percussion (Mode)
Berg, Beethoven, Violin Concertos; Isabelle Faust, Claudio Abbado conducting the Orchestra Mozart (Harmonia Mundi)
Schubert, Winterreise; Florian Boesch, Malcolm Martineau (Onyx Classics) [excerpt]
endBeginning: music of Brumel, Crecquillon, Clemens, Josquin, Jackson Hill; New York Polyphony (BIS) [excerpt]
Precipitando: Berg Piano Sonata, Janáček In the Mists, Liszt Sonata; Dénes Várjon (ECM)
Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II; Peter Hill (Delphian) [excerpt]
Besides Feldman; Rozemarie Heggen, Hilary Jeffery, Pamelia Kurstin, Patrick Pulsinger (col legno)
Vivaldi, Concerti per fagotto, vol. 2; Sergio Azzolini, bassoon, with L'Aura Soave Cremona (Naïve) [excerpt]
Lully, Atys; Bernard Richter, Paul Agnew, Sophie Daneman, Marc Mauillon, Nicolas Rivenq, Cyril Auvity, Stéphanie D'Oustrac, and Jaël Azzaretti, with William Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants (FRA Musica DVD and Blu-ray)
Music for a Time of War: Ives, Adams, Britten, Vaughan Williams; Carlos Kalmar conducting the Oregon Symphony, with Sanford Sylvan, baritone (PentaTone)
Haydn, String Quartets Op. 74; Takács Quartet (Hyperion) [excerpt]
Jonathan Harvey, Bird Concerto with Pianosong and other works; David Atheron conducting the London Sinfonietta, other performers (NMC)
Gioia!: Arias of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, etc.; Aleksandra Kurzak, soprano, with Omer Meir Wellber conducting the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana (Decca)
Alex Mincek, Pendulum V, String Quartet No. 3, etc.; Wet Ink Ensemble, JACK Quartet (Carrier)
Schubert, Piano Sonatas D. 850, 894, and 840, Impromptus D. 899, Drei Klavierstücke; Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi)
Ives, Violin Sonatas; Hilary Hahn, Valentina Lisitsa (DG) [excerpt]
Britten, Winter Words, Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo; Nicholas Phan, Myra Huang (Avie) [excerpt]
Björk, Biophilia (Nonesuch)
Fauré, Complete Chamber Music for Piano and Strings; Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Quatuor Ebène, Nicholas Angelich, Michel Dalberto, Gérard Caussé (Virgin)
Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Concerto delle Dame: madrigals for one, two, and three sopranos; La Venexiana (Glossa)
Feldman, Orchestra and other works; Brad Lubman conducting the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (Mode)
Saariaho, Clarinet Concerto, Laterna Magica, Leino Songs; Kari Kriikku, Anu Komsi, Sakari Oramo conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony (Ondine)
Cage, The Works for Percussion 1; Percussion Group Cincinnati (Mode CD / DVD)
Louis Couperin, Pièces de Clavecin; Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi, 4 CDs)
Schumann, Humoreske, Busoni, Fantasia Contrappuntistica; Jacob Greenberg (New Focus)
Beethoven, "Archduke" Trio, Mozart, Quintet K. 593; Mitsuko Uchida, Soovin Kim, David Soyer, and various others live from Marlboro (ArkivMusic)
Handel, Ariodante; Joyce DiDonato, Karina Gauvin, Topi Lehtipuu, Alan Curtis leading Il Complesso Barocco (Virgin)
Weinberg, The Passenger; Michelle Breedt, Roberto Sacca, Elena Kelessidi, Artur Rucinski, Teodor Currentzis conducting the Vienna Symphony (Neos Blu-Ray) [review]
John Luther Adams, Four Thousand Holes, ...and bells remembered...; Stephen Drury, Scott Deal, Callithumpian Consort (Cold Blue)
Meredith Monk, Songs of Ascension; Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, Todd Reynolds String Quartet, M6 Voices, Montclair State University Singers (ECM)
Harrison Birtwistle, Night's Black Bird, The Shadow of Night, The Cry of Anubis; Ryan Wigglesworth conducting the Hallé Orchestra (NMC)
Liszt, Harmonies du soir, Ballade No. 2, Six Consolations, etc.; Nelson Freire (Decca)
Strauss, An Alpine Symphony; Andris Nelsons, City of Birmingham Symphony (Orfeo)
Berlioz, Nuits d'été, Handel arias; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque (PBP)
Diva/Divo: Arias by Massenet, Mozart, Gluck, Rossini, Gounod, Berlioz, Bellini, Strauss; Joyce DiDonato, Kazushi Ono, Lyon Opera Orchestra (Virgin)
Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, Cantiones Sacrae 1575; Alamire (Obsidian)
Mahler, Des Knaben Wunderhorn; Thomas Hampson, Wiener Virtuosen (DG)
Ives/Brant, A Concord Symphony, Copland, Organ Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony, with Paul Jacobs, organ (SFS Media)
Kleiber: Complete Recordings for Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
The Bad Plus, Never Stop (E1)
Vivaldi, Ottone in villa; Sonia Prina, Julia Lezhneva, Verónica Cangemi, Roberta Invernizzi, Topi Lehtipuu, Giovanni Antonini leading Il Giardino Armonico (Naïve)
C. P. E. Bach, Keyboard Sonatas; Danny Driver (Hyperion)
Flights of Fantasy: Early Italian Chamber Music; Monica Huggett leading the Irish Baroque Orchestra (Avie)
Tallis: Missa Puer natus est and other English Renaissance works; Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Aston: Three Marian Antiphons; Blue Heron (BHCD)
Haydn: Twelve London Symphonies; Marc Minkowski conducting Les Musiciens du Louvre (Naïve)
Victoire, Cathedral City (New Amsterdam)
Ives, Piano Sonatas, with Jeremy Denk (Think Denk)
Muhly: A Good Understanding and other choral works; Grant Gershon conducting the Los Angeles Master Chorale (Decca)
Szymanowski: Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto No. 1; Pierre Boulez conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, with Christian Tetzlaff, violin (DG)
Chopin, Third Piano Sonata and other works; Stephen Hough, piano (Hyperion)
Thomas Larcher, Madhares and other works; Till Fellner, Kim Kashkashian, the Diotima Quartet, Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Munich Chamber Orchestra (ECM)
Bach, Partitas Nos. 2 and 3 and Sonata No. 3; Isabelle Faust, violin (Harmonia Mundi)
Mozart, Symphonies Nos. 29, 31, 32, 35, and 36; Charles Mackerras conducting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Linn)
Timothy Andres, Shy and Mighty; Andres and David Kaplan, pianos (Nonesuch)
Britten, Songs & Proverbs of William Blake and other songs; Gerald Finley, baritone, and Julius Drake, piano (Hyperion)
Bach, Brandenburg Concertos; John Eliot Gardiner conducting the English Baroque Soloists (SDG)
Dvořák, String Quartets Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14, String Quintet in E-flat, Cypresses; Emerson Quartet, Paul Neubauer (DG)
Mahler, Symphony No. 2; Klaus Tennstedt conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, with Yvonne Kenny and Jard van Nes (LPO)
Verdi Arias; Sondra Radvanovsky, Constantine Orbelian conducting the Philharmonia of Russia (Delos)
Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Wagner Arias; Jonas Kaufmann, Claudio Abbado conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (DG)
Thomas Adès, Tevot and Violin Concerto; Anthony Marwood, violinist, Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, etc. (EMI)
John Sheppard, In media vita; Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Burkina Electric, Paspanga (Cantaloupe)
Colbran, the Muse: Rossini Arias; Joyce DiDonato, Edoardo Müller conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome (Virgin Classics)
Xenakis, String Quartets; Jack Quartet (Mode)
Messiaen, Poèmes pour mi; Anne Schwanewilms, Jun Märkl conducting the Orchestra National de Lyon (Naxos)
Othmar Schoeck, Notturno; Christian Gerhaher, Rosamunde Quartet (ECM)
Schubert, Winterreise; Mark Padmore, Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi)
Mozart, Piano Concertos Nos. 23 and 24; Mitsuko Uchida, Cleveland Orchestra (Decca)
Edward Elgar, Cello Concerto (arr. Tertis/Carpenter), Schnittke, Viola Concerto; David Carpenter, Christoph Eschenbach conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra (Ondine)
John Cage, Sixteen Dances; Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP/sound)
Bernstein, Mass; Marin Alsop conducting the Baltimore Symphony (Naxos)
Messiaen, St. Francis of Assisi; Rod Gilfry, Hubert Delamboye, Henk Neven, Camilla Tilling, and Tom Randle, with Ingo Metzmacher conducting the Netherlands Opera Chorus and Hague Philharmonic (Opus Arte DVD)
Thomas Adès, The Tempest; Simon Keenlyside, Cyndia Seiden, Ian Bostridge, Kate Royal, Toby Spence, Philip Langridge, Adès conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (EMI)
Shostakovich, Twenty-four Preludes and Fugues; Jenny Lin (Hännsler Classic)
Sweelinck, Music for Harpsichord; Glen Wilson (Naxos)
David Lang, The Little Match Girl Passion; Paul Hillier, Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen (Harmonia Mundi)
Ann Southam, Simple Lines of Enquiry; Eve Egoyan (Centrediscs)
Xenakis, Hibiki Hana Ma and Polytope de Cluny (Mode)
Mahler, Symphony No. 4; Iván Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra, with Miah Persson, soprano (Channel Classics)
Beethoven, Piano Concertos Nos. 1-5; Richard Goode, piano, with Iván Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra (Nonesuch)
Unsuk Chin, Violin Concerto, Rocaná; Viviane Hagner, violin, with Kent Nagano conducting the Montreal Symphony (Analekta)
Lamenti: Arias by Cavalli, Monteverdi, Strozzi, Landi, Carissimi, and Cesti; Emmanuelle Haïm conducting Le Concert d'Astrée, with Patrizia Ciofi, Natalie Dessay, Véronique Gens, Joyce DiDonato, Philippe Jaroussky, Rolando Villazón, etc. (Virgin Classics)
Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré, String Quartets; Quatuor Ebène (Virgin Classics)
Song of Songs: Works by Palestrina, Gombert, Lassus, Victoria, Clemens, Guerrero, Lhériter, Ceballos,Vivanco; Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Piano Concerto, Helix, Dichotomie; Yefim Bronfman, Salonen conducting the LA Philharmonic (DG)
John Corigliano, Circus Maximus (Symphony No. 3); Jerry Junkin conducting the University of Texas Wind Ensemble (Naxos)
The Bad Plus, For All I Care (Heads Up)
Richard Strauss, Elektra; Astrid Varnay, Leonie Rysanek, Res Fischer, Hans Hotter, Richard Kraus conducting the Köln Radio Symphony Orchestra (Capriccio, new remastering of 1953 classic)
Hommage à Messiaen; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano (DG)
Gods, Kings, and Demons; René Pape, Sebastian Weigle conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden (DG)
Jonathan Harvey, Body Mandala and other pieces; Ilan Volkov and Stefan Solyom conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (NMC)
Saariaho, Notes on Light, Orion, Mirage; Karita Mattila, Anssi Kartunnen, Christoph Eschenbach conducting the Orchestre de Paris (Ondine)
Olivier Messiaen: six-CD box set including La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, Des Canyons aux étoiles, Visions de l'Amen, Sept Haïkaï, and Couleurs de la cité céleste, with Reinbert de Leeuw and Pierre Boulez conducting (Naive)
Beethoven, Symphonies Nos. 2 and 7; Osmo Vänskä conducting the Minnesota Orchestra (BIS)
Air: Music for Harp, Flute, and Strings by Debussy and Takemitsu; Joshua Smith, flute, Yolanda Kondonassis, harp, and Oberlin 21 (Telarc)
Schumann, Dichterliebe and other Heine Lieder; Gerald Finley, Julius Drake (Hyperion)
Crystal Tears: Songs of Dowland, Robert Johnson, Byrd, and others; Andreas Scholl with Julian Behr and Concerti di viole (Harmonia Mundi)
Lorraine at Emmanuel: Bach and Handel Arias; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson with Craig Smith conducting the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music (Avie)
Stravinsky, Symphony in Three Movements, Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in C; Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic and Rundfunkchor Berlin (EMI)
Morton Feldman, The Viola In My Life I-IV; Marek Konstantynowicz, viola, with Christian Eggen conducting the Cikada Ensemble and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (ECM)
Beethoven Piano Sonatas, vol. 4; Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi)
Schoenberg and Sibelius Violin Concertos; Hilary Hahn, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Swedish Radio Symphony (DG)
Josquin, Missa Sine nomine and Missa Ad fugam; Tallis Scholars (Gimell)
Heavenly Harmonies (music of Tallis and Byrd); Stile Antico (Harmonia Mundi)
Dowland, Lute Songs, Britten, Nocturnal; Mark Padmore, Elizabeth Kenny, Craig Ogden (Hyperion)
Elliott Carter, Quartets Nos. 1 and 5; Pacifica Quartet (Naxos)
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble (Innova)
Strauss, Salome, Teresa Stratas, Karl Böhm, Vienna Philharmonic (DG DVD)
Handel Arias, Danielle de Niese and William Christie with Les Arts Florissants (Decca)
John Luther Adams, Red Arc/Blue Veil (Cold Blue)
Mozart, Don Giovanni, René Jacobs conducting (Harmonia Mundi)
Beethoven, Symphonies Nos. 3 and 8, Paavo Järvi conducting the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (BMG)
John Cage, Complete Short Works for Prepared Piano, Philipp Vandré (Mode)
Common Sense Composers’ Collective, tic, with the New Millenium Ensemble (Troy)
Beethoven, Piano Sonatas vol. 3, Paul Lewis (Harmonia Mundi)
Bach, Goldberg Variations, Simone Dinnerstein (Telarc)
Brahms, String Sextets, Nash Ensemble (Onyx)
Osvaldo Golijov, Oceana, with Dawn Upshaw, Luciana Souza, the Kronos Quartet, and Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony (DG)
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson: Live from Wigmore Hall, 1998; with Roger Vignoles, piano (Wigmore Hall Live)
Roussel, Symphony No. 3 and Bacchus et Ariane; Stéphane Denève conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Naxos)
As Steals the Morn...: Handel Arias and Scenes; Mark Padmore, tenor, with Andrew Manze conducting the English Concert (Harmonia Mundi)
Gershwin, Piano Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, Cuban Overture; Jon Nakamatsu, piano, with Jeff Tyzik conducting the Rochester Philhamonic (Harmonia Mundi)
Alexandra Gardner, Luminoso (Innova)
It's rare to find contemporary fare on classical radio these days, but Rob Deemer, based in Oklahoma City, has launched a weekly series called Composer Next Door on local station KCSC. Currently he's leading listeners on a "whirlwind tour" of music from various American regions: tomorrow's California show, typically eclectic, brings works by Pauline Oliveros, John Williams, Alex Shapiro, Morten Lauridsen, John Adams, and Per Bloland.... As part of Miller Theatre's Organ Festival, John Scott plays a free program of Ligeti and Jonathan Harvey at St. Thomas Church on Sunday at 5:15PM. Be prepared for some deliciously shocking sounds.... Sunday in San Francisco, a rare performance of Stockhausen's Hymnen (tape version) at the San Francisco Tape Music Festival.... Peruvian clarinetist Marco Mazzini is hosting an online competition for the most creative interpretation of Juan María Solare's free-tempo piece Convalacencia.... Jason Freeman's piece Graph Theory allows the listener to navigate among various optional modules of a score for solo violin, and your choices affect future performances of the piece.... Take note of Formerly Known As Classical, the Bay Area teen-aged new-music ensemble. One recent program was entitled Since We've Been Born, and featured music written since [gulp] 1988.
"Music is either sound or silence. As long as I live I shall choose sound as something to confront a silence. That sound should be a single, strong sound."
— Toru Takemitsu
Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists play works by the Japanese master at Zankel Hall tonight, including Nostalghia for strings, inspired by the sublimely mysterious Tarkovsky film. (I hadn't intended this image to parallel the Decasia still below, but so it does.)
January 24, 2007 | Permalink
Michael Gordon and Bill Morrison's film symphony Decasia is one of the first classics of the new century — an hour-long voyage of abstract wonder and subconscious dread. On Thursday it goes to Angel Orensanz in New York for a three-night run. I wrote about the experience of seeing Decasia in 2004.
Still by Laurie Olinder.
Still by Laurie Olinder.
January 23, 2007 | Permalink
We endorse The Queen, Stephen Frears, Helen Mirren, Ryan Gosling, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson.
January 23, 2007 | Permalink
For anyone who's been following my sporadic reports on the struggle to maintain classical radio in our nation's capital, here's some good news: the public station WETA, as rumored, has returned to an all-classical format. There's life in the old corpse yet. Congratulations to WETA's management on making an enlightened decision. Paul Farhi explains the rather unusual deal in a Washington Post article: WETA-FM will assume the call letters of the now defunct commercial classical station WGMS as well as much of its staff. As ionarts observes, it's not the ideal outcome, but probably the best that could be hoped for. The new station is already up and running with a web broadcast and a blog, where a comments war has broken out between people celebrating the return of classical programming and people lamenting the loss of Car Talk.
January 22, 2007 | Permalink
Wacky coincidences department: I was taking a tour of the Hollywood Bowl this afternoon when I saw a photograph of a conductor named Izler Solomon. Who he, I asked myself. Signing on to the classical Internet (user name and password: Tristan Klingsor), I find that Soho the Dog had this very day answered exactly that question, in the midst of a meaty post on the Federal Music Project, which I wrote about a while back.
January 19, 2007 | Permalink
I started writing my book (or at least created a file) at 12:41AM on Oct. 14, 2001. I finished (or at least mailed the file) at 4:59PM today. The final word count, for those who have been following the saga, is 214,000 words—a mere pamphlet! I hope you all find it as riveting as Maulina does.
January 16, 2007 | Permalink
I'm back at Disney Hall for the first time since the hall opened in 2003. The image above is a severely underexposed shot of sunlight striking Disney's outer walls. A few seconds into Webern's Pieces Opus 10 — sharing a program with the Mahler Seventh, under Esa-Pekka Salonen's direction — the wonder of the place returned. No other hall in the world takes you so deep inside the sound. By "Kraft" I mean, of course, Magnus Lindberg's Kraft, one of Salonen's signature pieces as a conductor. In composer guise, the fantastic Finn unveils his Piano Concerto at the New York Philharmonic on February 1.
On Sunday, I'm talking at the forward-thinking Santa Monica series Jacaranda, which is presenting a concert-fundraiser. The topic will be, inevitably, the Twentieth Century.
January 14, 2007 | Permalink
January 14, 2007 | Permalink
With the book clock ticking down, I've fallen behind on e-mails, phone calls, blog links, and observations on the great what have you. Apologies to all; I'll be back in the mix soon. In the meantime, enjoy this grippingly awful clip of Il Divo singing "Somewhere" on Wheel Of Fortune. Could the Bernstein estate possibly obtain a restraining order? (Thanks to Jason.)
January 11, 2007 | Permalink
An item by Tony Tommasini in today's New York Times notes that Peter Gelb of the Met has revealed three members of the cast of his 2010-11 Ring cycle: Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Ben Heppner as Siegfried, and Bryn Terfel as Wotan. According to MetManiac, the same season should bring Boris Godunov starring René Pape and the new opera by Osvaldo Golijov.
January 09, 2007 | Permalink
Troy Peters drew my attention to record-sales statistics for the year 2006. Most categories showed falling album sales over the past year. The category that posted the biggest gain, from 15.8 to 19.4 million units, was, er, Classical. You may credit Il Divo, Bocelli, et al, but they were there the previous year, too. I think there's more to the story. I'd like to see category breakdowns for Internet and digital sales.... More: A reader points me to the Long Tail blog, where Chris Anderson takes note of the rise and attributes it (as I suspected) to high classical volume on online sites. People are buying more classical records for the simple reason that the Internet has made them easier to get. If you don't know the Long Tail theory, it's well worth reading up on.
January 06, 2007 | Permalink
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night was like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.
— Wallace Stevens
For a long time, I wanted nothing more than to live in the world described in this poem. After a while, you realize that it isn't possible, or even desirable, but you still cherish the moments when total quiet descends. The way the opening line is broken into pieces later in the poem reminds me of a moment in the first movement of Brahms's Fourth Symphony — when the first theme comes back in the recapitulation, the second half of the phrase materializing out of nowhere after a mysterious interruption.
January 05, 2007 | Permalink