The front portion of the Braxton Trio line at Big Ears.
Embrace Everything. The New Yorker, April 25, 2015.
New and recent releases of interest.
— Chris Kallmyer, Julia Holter, Lucky Dragons, Rhyolite (Populist)
— Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM)
— Anthony Braxton, Compositions Nos. 372, 373, 377; Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Jaz Rozen, Aaron Siegel, Carl Testa (Tricentric)
— Satie, Socrate, Hymne, mélodies; Barbara Hannigan, Reinbert de Leeuw (Winter & Winter)
— Bach, French Suites; Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi)
— Brahms, Lieder, Vier ernste Gesänge; Matthias Goerne, Christoph Eschenbach (Harmonia Mundi)
— Matthias Weckmann, Complete Works; Ricercar Consort, La Fenice, Bernard Foccroulle, Siebe Henstra (Ricercar)
— Nico Muhly, Control, Andrew Norman, Switch, Augusta Read Thomas, Goddess of the Dawn: Thierry Fischer conducting the Utah Symphony (Reference)
— Finnissy, Singular Voices; Clare Lesser, David Lesser, Carl Rosman (Divine Art)
April 13, 2016 | Permalink
The experimental composer, musician, artist, and filmmaker died on April 9th, at the age of seventy-six. He was to have attended the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville two weekends ago — the above picture is of a performance of Outside the Dream Syndicate by the band Faust, Laurie Anderson, and Conrad's drone musicians — but the onset of pneumonia forced him to withdraw. Geeta Dayal has a comprehensive obituary of this singular and irreplaceable figure. See also reflections by Brandon Stosuy and Seth Colter Walls. My column on Big Ears, with a closing comment about Conrad, will be out next week.
April 12, 2016 | Permalink
The MATA Festival begins tonight in NYC. As in prior years, the lineup is vigorously international, with Ensemble NeoN of Norway and Ensemble Linea from Strasbourg undertaking the better part of the performance duties. Several of the composers are new to me; I'm exploring Michelle Agnes Magalhaes, of Brazil, presently based at IRCAM.... The PostClassical Ensemble in Washington DC, under the joint direction of Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Joseph Horowitz, pays tribute next weekend to the greatness of Bernard Herrmann, presenting his scores for film, stage, radio, and concert hall. Christopher Husted's reconstructions of the Norman Corwin radio plays Untitled and Whitman are likely highlights.... Microtonal master Ben Johnston celebrated his ninetieth birthday last month, and the Kepler Quartet marks the occasion by releasing the last of three volumes of Johnston's quartets, a major twentieth-century cycle. Read Eric Segnitz's NewMusicBox essay.... The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is hosting the Black Mountain College exhibition that was seen last year at the ICA in Boston. Mark Swed has a superb advance piece in the LA Times, focusing on John Cage's momentous activities at the college. Tomorrow night, April 12, Gloria Cheng will present a concert of music by composers associated with Black Mountain. Two nights later at the LA Phil, John Adams leads his violin concerto Scheherazade.2 and the world première of a work with the intriguing title John Adams Conducts the Pines of Rome. (Joke.).... Ricordi, the Italian publisher, has launched a competition for young composers.
April 11, 2016 | Permalink
Alarm Will Sound has a new disc entitled Modernists, featuring works by Wuorinen, Rihm, Augusta Read Thomas, John Orfe, and Varèse. The lead track is the Beatles' "Revolution 9," in an arrangement by Matt Marks. The Sibelius Seventh doesn't come through as strongly as I'd expect, but it's otherwise a brilliant piece of work, arguably an improvement on the original.
April 11, 2016 | Permalink
New and recent releases of interest.
— Haydn, Symphonies Nos. 78-81; Ottavio Dantone conducting the Accademia Bizantina (Decca)
— The Secret Lover: music of Barbara Strozzi, Francesca Caccini, Caroline Shaw, etc.; TENET (Avie)
— Michael Pisaro and Christian Woolf, Looking Around; Pisaro, guitar, and Woolf, piano (Erstwhile)
— Samuel Andreyev, Moving and other works; Matthias Kuhn conducting the Ensemble Proton Bern (Klarthe)
— Elgar, Symphony No. 1; Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin (Decca)
— Klemperer in Philadelphia, Vol. 1: Beethoven Egmont Overture and Eroica, Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, Brahms Symphony No. 3; Otto Klemperer conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra (Pristine)
— Bach, St. John Passion; Sunhae Im, Benno Schachtner, Sebastian Kohlhepp, Werner Gura, Johannes Weisser, René Jacobs conducting the Staats- und Domchor Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Harmonia Mundi)
— Wagner, Das Rheingold; Michael Volle, Christian Van Horn, Benjamin Bruns, Burkhard Ulrich, Elisabeth Kulman, Annette Dasch, Janina Baechle, Tomasz Konieczny, Herwig Pecoraro, Peter Rose, Eric Halfvarson, Simon Rattle conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony (BR Klassik)
— James Wood, Tongues of Fire and Cloud Polyphonies; MDR Leipzig Radio Choir, Ear Massage Percussion Quartet, Yale Percussion Group (NMC)
March 26, 2016 | Permalink
It's a rich week for music in New York: Andriessen's De Materie is playing at the Armory, in the Heiner Goebbels production, while the entirety of Stockhausen's KLANG is about to resonate through various venues of the Met Museum, including the newly appropriated Breuer building. KLANG is a production of Joseph Drew and Analog Arts; for more, see their website. Also, Ensemble Signal essays Abrahamsen's Schnee tonight at Miller Theatre; Anthony Roth Costanzo sings Matthew Aucoin's Orphic Moments at National Sawdust; and James Blachly's Experiential Orchestra presents a full circus rendition of Petrushka on March 26.... MusikFabrik is preparing a major new work by Liza Lim, the opera Tree of Codes, based on the work by Jonathan Safran Foer. In an essay on her website, Lim discusses her use of field recordings of Australian magpies. The première is in Köln on April 9th; let's hope adventurous American presenters take a look.... The superb contemporary-minded cellist Séverine Ballon plays Lim's Invisibility at LA's Monday Evening Concerts on March 28; the program also has works of Rebecca Saunders, Chaya Czernowin, Mauro Lanza, and Ferneyhough.... The revitalized Louisville Orchestra launches an American Festival this weekend with a program including Ives's Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day, Copland's Clarinet Concerto, Antheil's Jazz Symphony, Meredith Monk's Songs of Ascension, and Steve Reich's Three Movements. Teddy Abrams, Louisville's energetic young director, conducts and also plays clarinet. Good luck discovering any of that from the orchestra's website.... Philip Glass, John Luther Adams, Steve Schick, Nico Muhly, Maya Beiser, and Eighth Blackbird are among the classical figures congregating in Knoxville, Tennessee next week for the all-consuming Big Ears Festival.... A major Luigi Nono conference entitled Utopian Listening is under way at Tufts University in Medford MA, with Harvard co-sponsoring and Nuria Schoenberg-Nono in attendance. The focus is on the later electroacoustic music; there are three concerts this weekend.
March 24, 2016 | Permalink
In this work, given its première last month at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn, two pianists and two vibraphonists use their heartbeats as metronomes. I first heard Wollschleger's music back in 2004, when he was a student at the Manhattan School; he's become a formidable, individual presence. Score here.
March 23, 2016 | Permalink
The tenth anniversary of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's death arrives in July. The supreme mezzo-soprano, whom I described in a memorial article as the "most remarkable singer I ever heard" (nothing has changed in the interim), made her final public appearance ten years ago today, in a Chicago Symphony performance of Mahler's Second Symphony. Marc Geelhoed, the manager of audio media at the Chicago Symphony (and the former classical critic of Time Out Chicago), has arranged to stream the "Urlicht" movement from those performances. Frank Villella, the CSO's archivist and a member of the CSO Chorus, remembers her beautifully in a commentary on the CSO site. In the recording, she gives the impression that she intends to go on singing forever, as indeed she will.
March 18, 2016 | Permalink
As a rule, non-specialist articles on classical music feel compelled to mention at the earliest opportunity that the art form is clutched in the bony hands of ghastly old people. A Times magazine profile of Caroline Shaw, obviously motivated by her recent collaboration with Kanye West, is no exception: "A few months ago, in Iowa City, I attended a recital by the avant-garde string quartet JACK ... The recital hall was crowded, with a sizable contingent of skinny-jean-clad locals. This incursion of youth into the securely aged domain of the classical-music audience was owed, it seemed, to the promised appearance of a guest performer, Caroline Shaw." Yes, the JACK Quartet usually attracts nursing-home residents on field trips, but on this occasion the group was blessed by a visit from a friend of Kanye, and young people materialized. At least, that's what the article seems to be suggesting. It's more likely that these "skinny-jean-clad locals" were composition students at the University of Iowa. Caroline Shaw, a gifted and individual artist, deserves better than to be introduced in this fashion.
March 12, 2016 | Permalink
Tomorrow at Williams College, as part of the Williams Music Department's Class of 1960 lecture series, I will speak on the topic "Brünnhilde's Rock: Wagnerism, Gender, and Sexuality." The event is in Presser Hall at 415pm. The next day, Judd Greenstein's much-anticipated first opera, A Marvelous Order, will have what is described as its "pre-première."
March 10, 2016 | Permalink
Frank Martin's austere choral masterwork will receive an exceedingly rare New York performance on Sunday at Trinity Wall Street, with the New Amsterdam Singers undertaking the task. The archives of the New York Times suggest that the last — indeed, only — local performance was in 1952, when the Dessoff Choirs presented it. Olin Downes, of the Times, described the work as "unfortunately invertebrate," a phrase that applies rather better to Downes's style than to Martin's. Tony Tommasini gave a much warmer reception to Harmonia Mundi's 2010 recording.
Previously: Busoni, Martin
March 07, 2016 | Permalink