The Escher Quartet, seen here playing the second movement of Zemlinsky's Third Quartet, will perform the composer's four quartets under the auspices of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center tomorrow night; the event will be streamed live. Of the four, the Second is particularly notable, breathing much the same rarefied air as Schoenberg's Second Quartet. The Chamber Music Society is undertaking this season a laudable series of quartet cycles, looking beyond the usual suspects: also featured are Nielsen, Ginastera, and Leon Kirchner. Only with a Bartók cycle by the Jerusalem Quartet does the series venture into standard fare.
October 28, 2015 | Permalink
Carrie Brownstein: “I feel like it’s got to the point where I’m processing information about Syrian refugees or the latest cat video exactly the same way, because I’m mediating it through the same screen. Everything begins to share the same value. Everything’s a stage.”
October 25, 2015 | Permalink
Hopscotch, the "mobile opera" created by the Industry and directed by Yuval Sharon, opens in Los Angeles on Oct. 31; previews ended this past weekend. A video montage gives a few tantalizing glimpses of what's in store. I strongly urge anyone who lives in or near LA not to miss it. The only comparable experience I've had is Stockhausen's Mittwoch in Birmingham, for which Sharon happened to serve as assistant director. The principal composers are Andrew Norman, Andrew McIntosh, Ellen Reid, Veronika Krausas, David Rosenboom, and, doubling as music director for the production, Marc Lowenstein.
October 24, 2015 | Permalink
New, recent, and forthcoming titles of interest.
Michael Church, ed., The Other Classical Musics: Fifteen Great Traditions (Boydell)
J. Martin Daughtry, Listening to War: Sound, Music, Trauma, and Survival in Wartime Iraq (Oxford)
Fabian Huss, The Music of Frank Bridge (Boydell)
Renée Levine Packer and Mary Jane Leach, eds., Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music (University of Rochester Press, out in December)
October 22, 2015 | Permalink
New and recent recordings of interest.
— Schubert, Sonatas in G (D894) and B-flat (D960), Moments musicaux, Impromptus D935; András Schiff, fortepiano (ECM)
— Frances White, She Lost Her Voice That's How We Knew; Kristin Norderval, soprano (Ravello)
— Holliger, Machaut-Transkriptionen; Geneviève Strosser, Jürg Dähler, Muriel Cantoreggi, violas, Hilliard Ensemble (ECM)
— Manfred Werder, Stück 1998 (seiten 676 bis 683); Cristián Alvear, guitar (Irritable Hedgehog)
— Rufus Wainwright, Prima Donna; Janis Kelly, Kathryn Guthrie, Antonio Figueroa, Richard Morrison, Jayce Ogren conducting the BBC Symphony (DG)
— Bacewicz. Quartets Nos. 2, 4, 5; Lutosławski Quartet (Naxos)
— Schumann, Das Paradies und die Peri; Sally Matthews, Mark Padmore, Kate Royal, Bernarda Fink, Andrew Staples, Florian Boesch, Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony and London Symphony Chorus (LSO)
Andrew of the Passacaglia Test blog has a post demonstrating that opera tickets are not as expensive as many people seem to think they are. He tabulates ticket prices for London-based events of various kinds and shows that opera is often cheaper than theatre, pop music, or sports. I should point out that the "senior journalist" mentioned at the top of the post, Gavin Esler, has protested on Twitter that he did not, in fact, describe opera as "very expensive"; apparently, in an interview with Jonas Kaufmann, he had asked the tenor why opera is perceived to be expensive, which is a different thing. That aside, Andrew's chart is telling. I'd be interested in seeing one for New York.
October 18, 2015 | Permalink
Russell Thomas, speaking to Anne Midgette: "The conversation about blackface is a distraction. It’s not about whether or not Mr. Antonenko was painted dark. It’s also not about whether whites should be allowed to sing Porgy and Bess. It’s about this: Why aren’t the stages representative of the communities in which they are located?"
October 16, 2015 | Permalink
Laurie Anderson's 1981 song, which formed part of her Habeas Corpus installation, takes inspiration from "O Souverain," the big tenor aria from Massenet's El Cid. "O king, o judge, o father" becomes "O Superman, O judge, O Mom and Dad." As Richard Taruskin notes in his Oxford History of Western Music, Anderson heard the African-American tenor Charles Holland sing the aria in 1978, and found herself haunted by it. (In a 1984 conversation with Charles Amirkhanian on KPFA, Anderson played a recording of Holland's performance and provided verbal annotations.) Susan McClary, in her book Feminine Endings, delivers a virtuoso analysis of "O Superman," noting that the seemingly rudimentary harmonic basis of the song — triads of C minor and A-flat major, rocking back and forth — creates a sense of hovering unease, as the ear is unable to decide which chord functions as the tonic. It is, as McClary says, a "musical semiotics of desire and dread, of hope and disillusion, of illusion and reality," matching the fractured imagery of the lyrics. "Another Day in America," from Anderson's 2010 album Homeland, rests on a similar ambiguity, though there the dread is much closer to the surface.
October 13, 2015 | Permalink
This is, as Tim Rutherford-Johnson says, an exceptional disc, as bewitching as it is original. Worthington's double bass speaks not only in lumbering, thunderous tones but also in high, pale registers of piercing expressivity. I'll have a report shortly on Populist's first vinyl release, in which the trombonist Matt Barbier plays works of Nicholas Deyoe and Clint McCallum.
The hip-hop artist Kanye West has lately taken an interest in the music of Caroline Shaw, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music for her work Partita. West was present for Roomful of Teeth's rendition of Shaw's Partita at Disney Hall last May and went backstage to meet the performers. In September, he invited Roomful of Teeth to join him at a show at the Hollywood Bowl, and, as the video above attests, on Saturday night Shaw appeared with West at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser attended by President Obama. All this raises the question: can contemporary classical music save hip-hop?
Previously: Classical music is tight yo.
Pathetic clarification: The last sentence of this post is an ironic inversion of the "Can __ save classical music?" cliché.
Update: West has released a track featuring Shaw.