Why is Tashi's recording of the Quartet for the End of Time not on iTunes? It's one of the classic discs of twentieth-century music. Other options on iTunes do not measure up.
Angela Gheorghiu has been fired from La Bohème at the Chicago Lyric Opera. John von Rhein has the story. Glenn Petry, a media liaison for Mme Gheorghiu, has relayed the following statement from the soprano: “My husband Roberto is singing two major roles at the Metropolitan Opera. I asked Lyric Opera to let me go to New York for two days to be with him and they said 'no.' But I needed to be by Roberto’s side at this very important moment. I have sung Bohème hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn’t be a tragedy. It was impossible to do the costume fitting at the same time I was in New York. Coming back from New York, I caught a cold — a most unfortunate coincidence. I saw the company doctor when I returned and he prescribed antibiotics. I just wanted to get well. My colleagues knew about this and were supportive. Of course, I’m very sad that this has happened as I was very eager to sing in Chicago.”
Previously: Divo explosion in Milan
September 28, 2007 | Permalink
Happy birthday to the incomparable Peter Sellars.
Update: It turns out that Lisa Hirsch was present at the very beginning of Sellars's career — his legendary puppet production of the Ring at Harvard.
Update 2: As AC Douglas reminds us, West Side Story was born the previous day. Perhaps Sellars will direct West Side Story one day, setting it in Mozart's Vienna.
September 27, 2007 | Permalink
New York City Opera's VOX new-opera showcase has a fancy new website.... New blog: Classical Seattle.... I mentioned the widely loved harpsichordist and organist Albert Fuller immediately below; there is now a blog devoted to his unpublished writings and memorials to him. He makes a memorable appearance in Paul Festa's mesmerizing documentary Apparition of the Eternal Church, in which people from various walks of life (including none other than Justin Bond of Kiki & Herb) react to Messiaen's early organ masterpiece.... Speaking of playlists: Oliver Sacks, whose new book is Musicophilia, has created an iPod playlist for Wired, notwithstanding the fact that he does not own an iPod. (AC Douglas will be pleased.) Steve Silberman's interview with Sacks is here.... An update on Community MusicWorks, the profoundly innovative chamber-music series / education program in Providence, which I wrote about last year: MusicWorks is featuring works by local composers on all programs this year.... Lisa Bielawa's long-gestating Chance Encounters composition/happening arises in Seward Park this Friday, at 1:30PM and again at 5PM. Read also the companion blog.... Strauss and Mahler are back in action.
September 26, 2007 | Permalink
The Rush and Molloy column in the New York Daily News, always a prime source for news in the world of modern composition, claims that Charles Wuorinen is composing an opera based on Brokeback Mountain. (Via Andrew Yee of the Attacca Quartet.)... Congratulations to Dawn Upshaw on receiving a richly deserved MacArthur Foundation fellowship.... James Roe remembers his friend Albert Fuller, whose obituary appears in today's New York Times.
Update: As Matthew Westphal's story in PlaybillArts attests, the Wuorinen story is indeed true, although the project is still in the planning stages.
September 25, 2007 | Permalink
When the story of Hitler's supposed record collection broke last month, I raised some skeptical questions about it. I'm not the only one, it turns out. Stanley Henig, manager of the Historic Masters label, has pointed out in a letter to the Jewish Chronicle that a widely circulated photograph accompanying the story (click on image 2) shows an album that came out in 1947. It's Robert Shaw's RCA Victor recording of the German Requiem. "Many of the records do not bear any stamp indicating that they were from Hitler’s HQ," Henig writes, "and there is no conclusive evidence that any of the records were from a personal collection. The attempt in some newspapers to establish Hitler’s desert island selection would seem to be total fantasy."
September 25, 2007 | Permalink
Intermission tribute to Pavarotti.
I'm in general agreement with Steve Smith's quick notes on the proceedings — although I can't say Marcello Giordani had a very good night in the end. Stephen Costello's debut as Arturo was striking indeed; the young tenor sang with perfect confidence from the outset, his voice showing real personality as it blended clarity of line with grainy richness of texture. I found myself wishing he were singing Edgardo in Giordani's place; he will do so on October 25. (We've been prepared for Costello's ascent by La Cieca, out in front as usual.) I think I'd have to see the show again to sort out my feelings about Dessay's performance. It was amazing to behold, yet it somehow never gripped or moved me deeply. The cold, inert atmosphere of Mary Zimmerman's production undoubtedly didn't help.
Gerard Mortier talks to the New York Sun about his first season at New York City Opera in 2009-10. The repertory will include, believe it or not, The Rake's Progress, Einstein on the Beach, Nixon in China, Saint Francis, and Death in Venice (with Ian Bostridge). Einstein, Nixon, and Francis will all be receiving their first performances as repertory items on New York opera stages (as opposed to BAM presentations or the 1976 booking of the Met for Einstein). Mortier also seems to have signed up Anselm Kiefer as a set designer. Peter Sellars's name does not appear, but he will almost certainly be involved. For anyone who cares about twentieth-century and contemporary music, all this is a dream come true — production choices pending, of course. Last year I expressed hope that such repertory would appear at the Met, but Mortier has seized the initiative. The challenge now will be to sell modern masterpieces to a wide public. Mortier seems to have some good ideas in that direction, too. (Via AJ.)
September 21, 2007 | Permalink
© 2001 Cylla von Tiedemann
How goes the Silk Road Project? Since I wrote about Yo-Yo Ma's innovative multicultural music series in The New Yorker back in 2002, I've kept an eye on its progress across the country and around the world. On the occasion of the release of the latest Silk Road CD, New Impossibilities (Sony Classical), I spoke to Ma about how the project has evolved and how it has affected his musicianship. This was the first interview I’d conducted exclusively for the blog, and I wasn’t sure what form it should take. I decided simply to let the ever-affable and articulate cellist speak for himself, with minimal intrusion on my part. He does so after the jump.
September 20, 2007 | Permalink
In a recent post I mentioned favorite playlists of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and others. A reader asked me to specify what was in them, so here goes. For two of the lists I've provided links to mixes I made on iTunes. Radiohead has consigned its songs to another service, and most items on the Dylan list come from, er, privately circulating recordings. An all-purpose twentieth-century playlist is under construction.
1. Handel, "Ombra mai fù" from Serse (Avie)
2. Bach, "Ich habe genug" from Cantata BWV 82 (Nonesuch)
3. Handel, "Bane of virtue, nurse of passions" from Theodora (Avie)
4. Purcell, "Thy hand, Belinda ... When I am laid in earth" from Dido and Aeneas (Harmonia Mundi)
5. Handel, "As with rosy steps the morn" from Theodora (Avie)
6. Mahler, "Urlicht" from Symphony No. 2; San Francisco Symphony (SFS label)
7. Adams, "La Anunciación" from El Niño (Nonesuch)
8. Adams, "Pues mi Dios ha nacido a penar" from El Niño
9. Peter Lieberson, "Stiller Freund" from Rilke Songs (Bridge)
10. Lieberson, "My love, if I die and you don't" from Neruda Songs (Nonesuch)
11. "Deep River" from Live from Wigmore Hall (Wigmore Hall Live)
September 19, 2007 | Permalink
Composer Tom Myron and I traded e-mails about our shared love for Randall Jarrell's sublimely funny novel Pictures from an Institution, which contains, in its portrait of the émigré composer Gottfried Rosenbaum, some of the wittiest musical commentary in fiction. I quoted a favorite part of the novel here. Tom drew my attention to this more serious passage:
In any art there is a Higher Regularity which seems to conventional people arbitrary and to unconventional people commonplace: Irene's singing was of this sort. And of all the singers I have ever heard she was the most essentially dramatic: she could not have sung a scale without making it seem a part of someone's life, a thing of human importance. Yet when the song and her voice said: We are all dying, something else about her voice — a quality that could not be localized, that all the sounds possessed together and none possessed apart — said to you also: Whoever dies? Over feeling and act, the human reality, her voice seemed to open out into a contradicting magic of speculation and belief, into the inhuman reality men discover or create. Her voice pushed back the boundaries of the world.
And I immediately thought of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
September 18, 2007 | Permalink
Ken Burns has evidently used considerable quantities of classical music, including twentieth-century music, on the soundtrack to his forthcoming PBS documentary The War. The tracklist of a companion CD on Legacy is tasteful and surprising:
Walton, "Death of Falstaff" from music to Henry V
Dvorak, slow movement of Cello Concerto
Copland, Clarinet Concerto
Ligeti, "Lamento" from Horn Trio (!)
Liszt, Nuages gris
Messiaen, "Abîme des oiseaux" from Quartet for the End of Time
Copland, "Grovers Corners" from music to Our Town
Mendelssohn, Song Without Words for cello and piano, Op. 109
Elgar, "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations
I predict a major run on Elgar in the stores.
Marin Alsop in Baltimore
Maestra. The New Yorker, January 7, 2008.
Welling Up. The New Yorker, Feb. 4, 2008.
Inextinguishable. The New Yorker, Feb. 25, 2008.
Gale Force. The New Yorker, March 17, 2008.
Chaos at the Met
Tristan and Two Isoldes. The New Yorker, March 31, 2008.
Brentano Quartet and Late Style
End Notes. The New Yorker, May 5, 2008.
Rite of Spring. The New Yorker, May 19, 2008.
Zimmermann's Die Soldaten
Infernal Opera. The New Yorker, July 21, 2008.
Shakespeare at Glimmerglass
Mark the Music. The New Yorker, August 25, 2008.
Stockhausen in Berlin
Supersonic. The New Yorker, Oct. 13, 2008.
Doctor Atomic at the Met
False Dawn. The New Yorker, Oct. 27, 2008.
Kent Nagano continues to cause a sensation in Montreal, as Arthur Kaptainis relates in the Montreal Gazette and John Terauds in the Star. At his opening concert on September 4 Nagano conducted a student orchestra on an outside stage before an audience of six thousand people, then went inside to lead the Montreal Symphony before a sold-out crowd.
Update: Juan Rodriguez offers more commentary on Nagano's experiments.
September 16, 2007 | Permalink
The Schoenberg Center and the Schoenberg family, pursuing their open-door policy toward the legacy of the extraordinary Arnold, has deposited forty videos on YouTube. Of particular interest is a video narrated by Judge Ronald Schoenberg, the elder of the composer's American-born sons. At around 5:50 you can see Schoenberg's famous tennis game in action. Who is the man he is seen playing with? Might it be George Gershwin, whose court Schoenberg regularly visited with pupils in tow? The narration hints as much; I find it hard to tell.
September 15, 2007 | Permalink