April 01, 2013 | Permalink
An attempt to mark non-Orthodox Easter and the Skandalkonzert anniversary together. Penderecki's Utrenja might also be an apt choice, particularly with all the talk of The Shining in the media these days:
March 31, 2013 | Permalink
The above video seems already to have made the rounds in the UK, but I hadn't come across it until a friend forwarded it. Mono Pop describes itself as "an online verbatim series sharing the unheard voices of the ordinary, the not-so-ordinary, and everyone in between"; essentially, it's an exercise in off-kilter, conceptual lip-syncing. In this episode, an actor who participated in the première of George Benjamin's Written on Skin, in Aix-en-Provence, mimics some audio recorded during rehearsals. The result is daft, adorable, and, despite some possibly exaggerated gestures, revealing of a major artist at work. Here is a conductor who gets what he wants in the least dictatorial way imaginable. At the end, we hear Benjamin focusing on a crucial detail of the score—the rustle of maracas that is heard at the very end of the opera, carrying an implication that I tried to tease out in my New Yorker review. I have been assured that Benjamin himself found the video amusing. Written on Skin will receive its American première at Tanglewood in August, with the composer conducting.
A tougher lip-sync assignment: Paul Hindemith.
March 29, 2013 | Permalink
March 28, 2013 | Permalink
The Lincoln Center Festival has announced an exceptionally rich musical lineup for 2013. As hinted below, the Köln ensemble musikFabrik will bring to town its production of "Michael's Journey around the Earth," from Stockhausen's Donnerstag, in a staging by Carlus Padrissa, of the Catalan theater group La Fura dels Baus. This continues a Stockhausen wave in New York, with last summer's Gruppen and the Oktophonie just concluded. Had Hurricane Sandy not struck, we would also have heard Joe Drew's presentation of Cosmic Pulses; let's hope it has another chance soon. No less notable is the local première of Toshio Hosokawa's Matsukaze, a German-language setting of the fifteenth-century Noh play Wind in the Pines. The same production will have been seen at the Spoleto Festival in May and June. (Will Robin covered the Berlin première for the New York Times.) Also, Lera Auerbach's a-cappella opera The Blind has a run of performances in the Kaplan Penthouse; John Zorn receives a sixtieth-birthday tribute; and Damon Albarn's Chinese-pop confection Monkey: Journey to the West takes over the so-called Koch Theater. Those of a certain age may recall Albarn as the lead singer of the rock band Blur.
March 28, 2013 | Permalink
James Levine conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, DG 419781.
The hundredth anniversary of Arnold Schoenberg's "scandal concert," the greatest musical uproar of the twentieth century, arrives on Sunday. (Sorry, Rite of Spring, your tumult is a bit too typical of long-standing practices of French cultural politics.) Will Robin, proprietor of the blog Reflections on the Rite, concedes that the Schoenberg event "may take the cake" in the annals of musical mayhem, and provides a good summary of what went down. On the anniversary itself, the Musikverein in Vienna, site of the brouhaha, will present a curious all-Italian program under the direction of Fabio Luisi. Six days later, though, the RSO Wien, under Cornelius Meister, will re-create the concert note for note, if not blow by blow — Webern's Six Pieces for Orchestra, four of Zemlinsky's Maeterlinck Lieder, Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1, two of Berg's Altenberg settings — and will conclude with the Kindertotenlieder that went unheard when police called things to a halt. I'm happy to see that the Webern (audio from the fourth movement above) will be performed in its extravagant original version, with the two trombones that play only five very soft notes.
March 27, 2013 | Permalink
Rebecca Saunders is featured at Miller Theatre on April 4.
March 26, 2013 | Permalink
March 26, 2013 | Permalink
March 23, 2013 | Permalink
The Acht Brücken festival, unfolding in Köln in early May, promises dizzyingly rich programming day and night. Some highlights: Xenakis's Persepolis, BA Zimmermann's Requiem, a GF Haas elaboration of Scelsi, Lisa Streich's new AGNEL, a Benedict Mason program, all kinds of avant DJ activity.... On April 4, the University Music Society, in Ann Arbor, undertakes the monumental task of presenting Milhaud's trilogy of operas based on Paul Claudel's translation of the Oresteia: Agamemnon, Les Choéphores (with its visionary writing for percussion), and Les Euménides. The project fulfills a longtime dream of William Bolcom, Milhaud's most faithful student and a longtime Michigan professor. More than 450 student performers will take part.... Bavarian Radio has streaming audio of a memorable War Requiem from Munich, with Mark Padmore and Christian Gerhaher especially riveting in the "Strange Meeting" (via ionarts).... On April 6, Camerata Notturna celebrates the Britten centennial with an offbeat program centered on the luminous viola of Kim Kashkashian.... Composer and sound artist Bruce Odland is seeking to preserve the Tank, a Colorado water tank that has an astounding forty-second reverberation time.... Hannah Lash's Violations project, which I mentioned a while back on the blog, will have its première at Yale on March 28.... The main attraction of New York City Opera's 2013-14 season is Mark-Anthony Turnage's virtuosic "reality opera" Anna Nicole, playing at BAM next September. The Met's only modern offering will be Nico Muhly's Two Boys, on Oct. 21.... Gesualdines, take heed: the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center celebrates the dark prince on April 4, with a lecture by the historian Glenn Watkins the preceding day.
March 21, 2013 | Permalink
"Even the composer’s most committed admirers are a little shocked: Written on Skin feels like the work of a genius unleashed...."
Illuminated. The New Yorker, March 25, 2013. (The first two paragraph are online; the rest is subscribers-only.)
At the end of the column, I give the briefest of reports on the revival of Harrison Birtwistle's The Minotaur — which can be seen on DVD, in all its gory glory — and praise the Royal Opera House's commitment to contemporary opera.
March 18, 2013 | Permalink
February 03, 2013 | Permalink
On Friday night, Osmo Vänskä led the Minnesota Orchestra in an all-Sibelius program. Although the musicians are officially locked out in their dispute with management, an exception was made for this concert, which celebrated the orchestra's Grammy nomination. Writes Larry Fuchsberg: "[Finlandia] became a political act, destroying any lingering pretense of the conductor's impartiality." The management and board in Minnesota need to think long and hard about what they are doing.... The Rochester Philharmonic is another orchestra that has gone into a tailspin on account of destructive actions by management and board. Here is a dedicated blog.... Since August, the flutist Mimi Stillman has been performing Debussy's Syrinx every day and releasing videos of the results. Above is an Amtrak rendition; you can see more here.... Another edition of the Ecstatic Music Festival is under way. In a not unrelated development, maverick violist Nadia Sirota plays a new work by Judd Greenstein at the Kitchen on Tuesday.... Other Minds 2013 begins on Feb. 28; the programs are happily free of been-there-done-that, and are notable, among other things, for their gender parity.... Matthew Guerrieri joins the exceedingly small company of classical-music authors who have appeared on the Colbert Report.... Bang on a Can presents two neatly programmed concerts in conjunction with MoMA's Inventing Abstraction show: the first, on Feb. 26, pairs Debussy and Steve Reich, and the second, on March 4, brings together Arnold and Morty.
February 03, 2013 | Permalink
As a prelude to the merriment of WagnerWorldWide, here is Clément Doucet's immortal Bayreuthian medley "Wagneria," as orchestrated by Morten Gunnar Larsen and executed by his Ophelia Orchestra. You can buy a crisp recording of the piece on iTunes; it has given me no end of joy. And here's the original, recorded by Doucet in 1927:
Doucet, who played in a famous duo with Jean Wiéner, also wrote "Isoldina," which Marc-André Hamelin and Alexandre Tharaud have lately taken up. In the same vein is Donald Lambert's astounding "Pilgrim's Chorus." The tradition of Wagnerian foolery goes back to Offenbach's "Symphonie de l'avenir" of 1860; highlights are Chabrier's Souvenirs de Munich, Fauré and Messager's Souvenirs de Bayreuth, Debussy's "Golliwog's Cakewalk," and, more recently, Peter Schickele's beloved Last Tango in Bayreuth.
Previously: Star-Spangled Wagner.
January 29, 2013 | Permalink
The JACK play Aaron Cassidy's Second Quartet.
In this week's issue of The New Yorker, I write about a host of younger string quartets: the JACK, the Momenta, the Danish, the Kleio, the Tesla, the Catalyst, the Calder, and the Zaïde. Space did not allow for an identification of the "unnamed Juilliard foursome" mentioned at the start: this was Siwoo Kim, Francisco Fullana, Danny Kim, and Jay Campbell, delivering a whip-smart rendition of John Zorn's Cat O' Nine Tails. There will be no lack of quartet activity in New York in coming weeks: the most notable event is the Endellion Quartet's traversal of the entire Beethoven cycle at the Met Museum, in February. Keep an eye out also for the Spektral Quartet and the Eclipse Quartet.
January 28, 2013 | Permalink