Archive | January, 2017

Philip Glass

Philip Glass at 80

Tomorrow marks the 80th birthday of American composer Philip Glass. In celebration, conductor Dennis Russell Davies will lead the Bruckner Orchestra Linz in a world premiere performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 11 at Carnegie Hall. Along with Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and La Monte Young, Philip Glass was a leading voice in the American minimalist movement which emerged in the […]

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In this photo provided by La Scala theatre press office Thursday, May 5, 2005, Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov is shown in a undated filer. Bychkov will direct Richard Strauss' opera "Elektra",  scheduled to go on stage at the Milan Arcimboldi theater, Saturday, May 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Thomas Kost/La Scala)

Semyon Bychkov on “The Tchaikovsky Project”

This weekend, Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov leads the New York Philharmonic in a festival called Beloved Friend: Tchaikovsky and His World. It’s a small piece of The Tchaikovsky Project, which includes a cycle of recordings, released on the Decca label, featuring Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic. In a recent interview, Bychkov talked about the project with Richmond Public Radio’s Mike Goldberg. […]

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Remembering Estonian Choral Composer Veljo Tormis

The prolific Estonian composer Veljo Tormis passed away last Saturday. He was 86. Tormis’ music, deeply rooted in the ancient Estonian folk tradition, includes more than 500, mostly a cappella, choral compositions. His music played a role in the revolutionary movement for Estonian independence from the Soviet Union. (The documentary, The Singing Revolution, chronicles the spontaneous, overnight, mass […]

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CHOPIN

A Flash of Operatic Drama in Chopin’s Second Concerto

There’s a strange flash of operatic drama in the middle of the otherwise dreamy second movement of Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. It’s a moment which caught my attention recently, while I was playing this piece in the orchestra. Chopin, the Polish virtuoso pianist and Romanticist, isn’t a composer we often associate with opera. But, while living […]

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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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The Listeners' Club

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