The NMC label has issued another in its distinguished series of Birtwistle recordings. The program includes three works from the past decade: the short oratorio Angel Fighter, the antiphonal orchestral piece In Broken Images, and the miniature Virelai. Above is Cortege, which made a strong impression at an Ensemble Intercontemporain performance at the Philharmonie de Paris earlier this spring.
May 21, 2015 | Permalink
New and recent publications of interest.
Jessica Hopper, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic (featherproof)
Rufus Jones, Jr., Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad (Rowman & Littlefield)
Ian Bostridge, Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession (Knopf)
Graham Johnson, Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs, 3 vols. (Yale)
David Cooper, Béla Bartók (Yale)
Nigel Simeone and John Tyrrell, eds., Charles Mackerras (Boydell)
Lily E. Hirsch, Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment (University of Michigan)
May 21, 2015 | Permalink
On May 21 and 28, under the auspices of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, the Talea Ensemble will survey the admirably unpredictable Austrian composer Clemens Gadenstätter.... The Library of Congress, in collaboration with Q2, has made available a host of new-music concerts. I'm listening now to Chaya Czernowin's Slow Summer Stay II: Lakes.... On May 24, Q2 will devote a twenty-four-hour bloc to the late Canadian composer Ann Southam…. The influential Berlin critic Manuel Brug is blogging.... VisionIntoArt's Ferus Festival (May 29-30, NYC) features this year the likes of Agata Zubel, Hafez Modirzadeh, Molly Joyce, and Cornelius Dufallo.... Steve Schick, the Krishnamurti of percussion, has prepared an online course in advance of this year's Ojai Festival, which looks deliriously interesting.... Will Robin writes about Holly Herndon at Bandcamp.... The venerable June in Buffalo festival, celebrating its fortieth year, and the related Performance Institute get under way on May 30; David Felder's large-scale song cycle Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux will be featured in an Ensemble Signal performance..... Chicago's Spektral Quartet goes comic on May 30, with a Chris Fisher-Lochhead piece inspired by the stand-up cadences of Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, and Tig Notaro.... One more George Perle centennial event: May 21 at New York Public Library.... David T. Little's powerful and unsettling Dog Days is coming to LA Opera, under the umbrella of the LA Phil's richly stocked Next on Grand festival. Meanwhile, the eleventh Dog Star Orchestra festival, co-directed by Michael Pisaro, is now unfolding in locations around LA, as is Microfest.... Noted: a fascinating essay by Alice Coote on singing across gender lines.... On May 22 and 23, at Roulette in Brooklyn, ICE will give a preview of George Lewis's opera Afterword, an "aesthetic extension of Lewis’s 2008 book about the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.".... On May 20 the Detroit Symphony will webcast part of its rehearsals for an upcoming Mahler First.... Opera Philadelphia, which won strong notices for its Don Carlo with Eric Owens, is gearing up for the June 5 première of Charlie Parker's Yardbird, an opera by Daniel Schnyder. Larry Brownlee and Angela Brown, the leads, discuss the work.... The new Whitney Museum launches a promising new performance series with a three-day festival, presented by Issue Project Room, devoted to the pioneering multimedia composer David Rosenboom (May 22-24). Coming in June is a major Conlon Nancarrow survey.
May 19, 2015 | Permalink
Joel Stein alerts me to this cluster of musical street names in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Arthur Nikisch conducted the Boston Symphony from 1889 to 1893, before moving on to the Budapest Opera and, well, the Berlin Philharmonic.
May 12, 2015 | Permalink
Wendy Lesser, the editor of The Threepenny Review, notes in a letter to her readers that last year the National Endowment for the Arts withdrew a long-standing grant to the publication, on the grounds that it was "too wedded to print." Anyone who is happily married to the printed word might consider offering support. And the NEA should reconsider its decision.
May 11, 2015 | Permalink
On May 29th, the American Symphony will honor George Perle's recent centennial — in a curious conjunction of unalike personalities, this most lyrical and playful of American modernists was born on the same day as Orson Welles — by playing his Adagio and Transcendental Modulations. Shirley Gabis Perle, his widow, writes: "Central to George’s composing was his enormous enthusiasm for dance; the ballet especially attracted him. The intricacy and wit of Balanchine’s choreography somehow influenced the 'steps' his notes took: he wanted to make them dance. He worked round the clock, stopping every so often for a few hours of sleep. This enabled him to produce the prodigious amount of work for which he has become known."
May 08, 2015 | Permalink
When I wrote about Orson Welles for the New York Times in 1996, I said that The Other Side of the Wind, Welles's unfinished satire of seventies Hollywood, had "returned to friendly hands and should eventually find release." This was optimistic: nearly twenty years on, the film, which Welles more or less completed shooting and edited in part, has yet to see the light of day. (Josh Karp's new book Orson Welles's Last Movie gives a lively account of its fate.) Yet a serious effort is under way to round out a crucial part of Welles's legacy: as Brooks Barnes reports in the Times, a team led by Filip Jan Rymsza, Frank Marshall, and Peter Bodganovich plans to have the film in theaters by the end of the Welles centenary year. Affonso Gonçalves has been hired as editor, and an Indiegogo fundraiser was launched last night, with the goal of raising two million dollars. As a longtime Welles obsessive, I'm uncommonly eager to see what results.
May 07, 2015 | Permalink
The Mercury Theatre's incomparably creepy rendition of Lucille Fletcher's The Hitchhiker, in a version from 1946. Seventeen minutes in, Bernard Herrmann is working out the theme that would become Cape Fear. It was, of course, Welles who launched Herrmann's film-music career, with Kane.
Orson Welles, one of the supreme American artists of the twentieth century, would have been one hundred years old today. He never directed a full-blown opera production, despite numerous invitations to do so (his stagings of Copland's The Second Hurricane and Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock fall into a different category), but he did create what will forever stand as the greatest opera scene in film history: the disastrous première of Salammbô, with Susan Alexander Kane in the title role. (The delicious Massenet-ish aria that Bernard Herrmann composed for the occasion has become a concert item; on YouTube you can find performances by Eileen Farrell, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Venera Gimadieva. The text, by John Houseman, incorporates lines from Racine's Phèdre: "Ah! cruel, tu m'as trop entendue," etc.) Welles was an experienced operagoer, one who even had a bit of music criticism in his past: when he was thirteen, he wrote the "Hitting the High Notes" column for the Highland Park News, reviewing performances at the Ravinia Festival.
Previously: Welles in 1996.
In the past couple of years, two significant Wolff releases have appeared, demonstrating the undiminished vitality of the last surviving member of the New York School quartet. One is Philip Thomas's three-CD survey of the piano music, on Sub Rosa; the other is a two-CD set of the Duos, for percussion plus one, on New World (with superb notes by George Lewis). A Dischi di Angelica CD has also appeared, but I have yet to hear it.
May 03, 2015 | Permalink