Hamburg_Elbphilharmonie_2016

Hamburg’s New Elbphilharmonie: “Here Time Becomes Space”

Here time becomes space. This enigmatic line from Wagner’s Parsifal suggests the transcendent nature of the 1882 work, which dramatizes a twelfth-century knight’s quest for the Holy Grail. Parsifal goes beyond opera, transporting us into a mystical new realm. Foremost, it’s an experience. Appropriately, this line became the theme for last week’s inaugural concerts of Hamburg’s spectacular, new Elbphilharmonie- the […]

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Schoenberg

Adam Schoenberg’s “Bounce”: Radiohead Meets Copland

This has to be some of the most playfully exuberant and joyful music ever written. American composer Adam Schoenberg (b. 1980) wrote Bounce in 2013, after learning that he was about to become a father. In an interview, Schoenberg explained, The very first word that came to mind, both for the baby and the commission, was ‘bounce.’ […]

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Hallelujah, Baby!

“Hallelujah, Baby!”: African-American Civil Rights on Broadway in 1967

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here are two excerpts from Hallelujah, Baby!, a 1967 Broadway musical which has been described as “a chronicle of the struggle for equality during the [first half of the] 20th century.” The plot of Hallelujah Baby! centers around Georgina, a talented, young African-American woman who is determined to develop a career in show […]

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cesar-franck-1

Grande Pièce Symphonique: Franck’s Symphony for Solo Organ

On Monday we listened to César Franck’s Symphony in D Minor, a piece in which the orchestra turns into a living, breathing pipe organ. Now, let’s finish the week with Franck’s Grande Pièce Symphonique, which can be described as a symphony for solo organ. When this piece was completed in 1863, Franck had just been appointed organist at Paris’ Sainte-Clothilde […]

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FILE - In this March 2, 2015 file photo, opera singer Renee Fleming performs at "An Evening of SeriousFun Celebrating the Legacy of Paul Newman", hosted by the SeriousFun Children's Network at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Fleming's new recording out Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, "Distant Light," features a work by Samuel Barber along with pieces by Swedish composer Anders Hillborg and _ surprisingly _ Bjork. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

New Release: Renee Fleming’s “Distant Light” Blends Barber and Björk

Soprano Renee Fleming’s latest album, Distant Light, was released last Friday on the Decca Classics label. Recorded with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in the acoustically opulent Konserthuset, Distant Light features a hauntingly atmospheric assortment of twentieth century Scandinavian music. The exception is the opening track: Samuel Barber’s dreamy, nostalgic Knoxville: Summer of 1915, written in 1947. (If you find yourself […]

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Franck's Organ

Franck’s Symphony in D Minor: Music of a Solitary Dreamer

Franck went through this life as a dreamer, seeing little or nothing of that which passed about him, thinking only of his art and living only for it. True artists are subject to this kind of hypnotism – the inveterate workers, who find the recompense of their labors in the accomplished fact, and incomparable joy […]

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I

Frigid Purcell and Lully: Two Chilly Scenes from Baroque Opera

Henry Purcell’s 1691 semi-opera, King Arthur, contains a shivering musical depiction of winter chill. The aria, What Power Art Thou comes from the fantastical “Frost Scene” in Act 3 in which Cupid awakens the “Cold Genius” (the Spirit of Winter) who, frozen stiff, would prefer to just go back to bed: What power art thou, who from below Hast […]

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anton-bruckner

The Restless Final Coda of Bruckner’s Eighth

Here is the final movement of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor, performed in 2000 by the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Günter Wand. The clip below proves that conducting goes far deeper than flashy gestures. The 88-year-old Wand employs the most simple, economical means and Bruckner’s music leaps to life with an […]

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correct fidelio

The Struggle of Fidelio: Beethoven’s Four Overtures

Rossini would have been a great composer if his teacher had spanked him enough on the backside. -Ludwig van Beethoven The Italian opera composer Gioachino Rossini was, as the story goes, the ultimate procrastinator. He would often dash off the overture for a new opera the night before the opening. In the case of The Thieving Magpie, he waited […]

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chicago

Beginnings: Exploring the Music of “Chicago”

In celebration of the New Year, here is Beginnings from the 1969 debut album of the rock band, Chicago. You might associate Chicago with 1980s ballads like You’re The Inspiration, produced during Peter Cetera’s tenure as lead singer. (That song, written by Cetera and David Foster, offers a fascinating study in continuous modulations built on third relationships). But for most of its […]

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