Archive | July, 2016

Daniel-Stepner

Daniel Stepner Plays Solo Bach

On Monday, we ventured into the monumental preludes and fugues of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Let’s finish the week with an excerpt from Daniel Stepner’s 2013 Centaur Records release of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Stepner offers period performances of these works, tuning to the lowered A of Bach’s time, and using three fine old […]

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Composer Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt’s Credo: The Powers of Order and Chaos

Arvo Pärt’s Credo, written in 1968, is the music of revolution. It’s an expression of disintegration, collapse, and reawakening. It’s a piece in which the pristine, well established order of modernism’s 12-tone-row and the rational counterpoint of J.S. Bach, give way to a terrifying, chaotic, total breakdown. For a moment we hear raging noise…an anguished sound world unimaginable before […]

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Piano keyboard

The Well-Tempered Clavier: Bach’s Sublime Exercises

For more than 250 years, Das wohltemperierte Clavier has trained the fingers of innumerable keyboard players, and has also trained the judgment of composers seeking to understand the complex relationship between creative freedom and formal discipline. – Davitt Moroney There’s an interesting irony in the fact that the ultimate creative freedom often grows out of rules and constraints. […]

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The Lydian String Quartet

A Ravel Snapshot with the Lydian String Quartet

The Boston-based Lydian String Quartet has a new first violinist. Andrea Segar recently succeeded Daniel Stepner, who served as the Quartet’s first violinist for 29 years. Segar was a student of Donald Weilerstein (former first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet) at New England Conservatory, and Philip Setzer (a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet) and Soovin […]

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Charles Ives

Psalm 90: Charles Ives’ Time-Altering Swan Song

When you think of Charles Ives (1874-1954), the visionary experimental composer and New England insurance executive who assembled shocking, never-before-imagined sonic collages, what music comes to mind? Probably the enigmatic Unanswered Question. Perhaps the dense, American folk-song-laced orchestral tone poems or the harmonically advanced Concord Sonata. But beyond all of this lies another side of Ives. By the age […]

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The Vienna Musikverein

A Vibrant Beethoven Fifth: Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic

There’s a special excitement which comes with hearing an old, familiar piece in a new way. That’s what happens when you listen to Christian Thielemann’s vibrant 2011 live concert recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (video below). In this interpretation, Thielemann’s approach to tempo is interestingly elastic. For example, listen to the […]

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Higdon-Composing

Jennifer Higdon: Summer Shimmers Across the Glass of Green Ponds

Here’s the perfect soundtrack for a lazy midsummer afternoon- the kind of music you might hear in a dream if you fell asleep in the backyard under a cool, lush, leafy canopy. Scenes from the Poet’s Dreams, a work for piano quintet written in 1999 by American composer Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962), imagines a series […]

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Nikki-Chooi

Meet Nikki Chooi, the Met’s New Concertmaster

Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced the appointment of a new concertmaster: 27-year-old Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi. Chooi, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, began studying the violin at the age of four through the Suzuki method, later attending Curtis and Juilliard. Last season he performed as a member of the innovative, genre-defying string trio, […]

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Beethoven’s Wordless Recitatives

Ludwig van Beethoven may not be the first composer who comes to mind when considering recitative- the sung dialogue that links arias and other musical numbers in an opera or oratorio. Beethoven wrote only one opera, Fidelio, which uses more spoken dialogue than recitative. He spent almost ten excruciating years revising the work, writing four different overtures, […]

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yannick-nezet-seguin

New Release: Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Marriage of Figaro

Today marks an exciting and long-anticipated release in the world of opera: conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s brand new live concert recording of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and an all-star cast. Nézet-Séguin was recently named successor to James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, perhaps the most visible opera post in the world. This disk, recorded live at […]

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The Listeners' Club

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