Author Archive | Timothy Judd

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“Kinah”: Leonard Slatkin’s Musical Elegy to his Parents

Elegies are, by nature, solemn, reflective, and reverent. They function as musical or poetic tombstones. Leonard Slatkin’s Kinah, premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in December, 2015, is all of these things. It’s also music filled with ghosts and faint echoes of distant, haunting voices. Leonard Slatkin grew up in Los Angeles in a prominent musical […]

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Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto: Music in Technicolor

Consider that iconic moment in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, when black and white, tornado-swept Kansas dissolves into the technicolor brilliance of Oz. With the help of a magical cinematographic slight of hand, Dorothy steps into a luscious dreamscape in which every tree and flower seems to be coated in an extra-glossy sheen. The film’s colorfully […]

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New Release: The Emerson’s “Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell”

The Emerson String Quartet’s newest album spans three hundred years of English music. Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell balances twentieth century composer Benjamin Britten’s Second and Third String Quartets with Chaconnes and Fantasias by baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). This year marks the Emerson Quartet’s 40th anniversary. This latest recording is the first to […]

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Dusting Off Martini’s Gavotte

This past Monday marked the birthday of Giovanni Battista Martini (1706-1784). The Italian composer and Conventual Franciscan Friar is now a mere footnote in the dusty pages of music history. But within the musical circles of eighteenth century Bologna, Martini was a respected figure. At the age of 19, he was appointed chapel-master of Bologna’s Basilica San Francesco (pictured […]

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New Release: Tim Fain Plays Music of Lou Harrison

Next month marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of American composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003). Harrison, who was born in Portland, Oregon and spent most of his life on the West Coast, was a true maverick, both in terms of music and life. His music explored non-pitched instruments, just tuning (as opposed to equal temperment), and […]

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Remembering Allan Holdsworth

Allan Holdsworth, the legendary British-born jazz fusion guitarist, passed away earlier this month. He was 70. Holdsworths’ stunning virtuosity and harmonic innovations influenced rock guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen. He was called “the John Coltrane of the guitar.” In 1983, the New York Times’ Jon Pareles wrote: He pours out notes in a liquid rush without slurring […]

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Shakespeare Turns 453

Sunday marks the 453rd anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. In a previous post, we listened to a small sampling of the many pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s works. This year, let’s hear two excerpts from English tenor Ian Bostridge’s 2016 album, Shakespeare Songs. The recording won a Grammy this year in the category, “Best Solo Vocal Album.” Here is English […]

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Trio Rafale Plays Ravel

Some pieces grab you by the throat and demand that you listen, thrusting you into an exhilarating, pulse-quickening ride from the first note. Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor isn’t one of those pieces, at least in its opening bars. Instead, it’s music which seduces, wafting over you with a dreamy palette of impressionist color. It’s both […]

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The Power of Six Notes: Exploring the “Dresden Amen”

On Friday, we listened to a few excerpts from Wagner’s epic final opera, Parsifal. Today, let’s return to one of Parsifal‘s most powerful and persistently recurring leitmotifs: the majestic, ascending six-note motive known as the “Dresden Amen.” This liturgical chord sequence was written by Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801) for use in Dresden’s court chapel some time in the late […]

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Wagner’s Parsifal: The “Good Friday Spell”

Heroic sacrifice, compassion, healing, and rebirth…these are central themes of Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal. Unfolding over nearly five hours, Parsifal was conceived as a solemn mystical experience- a Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”) blending Christian and Buddhist symbolism and Schopenhauerian philosophy. The story, based on a 13th-century epic verse by German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, depicts the Arthurian knight Parsifal’s quest for the Holy […]

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