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Every Concert Artist’s Worst Nightmare?

Years ago, during a lesson, I remember my teacher Oleh Krysa telling a remarkable and amusing story about his teacher, the legendary violinist David Oistrakh. Oistrakh, who had a busy concert schedule, had arrived late and had not had time to rehearse with the orchestra. At the concert, he walked out on stage, bowed, and […]

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Nixon in China

Nixon in China for Presidents’ Day

When you think of Presidents’ Day, what names first come to mind? …Washington? …Lincoln? Probably not Richard Nixon. But in John Adams’ 1987 opera Nixon in China, the 37th president becomes a mythic figure of Shakespearian proportion. The three act opera’s plot centers around Nixon’s historic 1972 diplomatic visit to China. In an interview with Edward Strickland […]

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Eros at picadilly circus

Eros Piano: John Adams’ Journey into Impressionism

John Adams’ Eros Piano (1989) grew out of a nagging obsession. Adams could not stop listening to riverrun, a 15-minute-long piece written five years earlier in 1984 by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996). He described the experience of being haunted by Takemitsu’s music, saying, “I…had the response I often do of writing a piece of my own in order to exorcise […]

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Photo by Rosetta Greek Photography

Remembering Composer Bern Herbolsheimer

(Photo above by Rosetta Greek Photography) This Sunday, Seattle’s musical community will pause to remember the life of one of its most esteemed composers. American composer Bern Herbolsheimer passed away on January 13 following a battle with cancer. He was 67. Herbolsheimer served on the faculty of Cornish College and the University of Washington. His […]

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a painting from Menologion of Basil II (c. 1000 AD)

Sounds of Candlemas: Thomas Tallis’ Videte miraculum

Candlemas, also known as The Feast of the Purification, is observed on or around February 2 on the Christian calendar. It’s a liturgical celebration that has inspired numerous works of art, such as the Byzantine painting above and at least three of J.S. Bach’s cantatas: Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde (BWV 83) (1724), Mit Fried und Freud ich fair dahin (BMV […]

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Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan

Alisa Weilerstein’s New Recording: Rachmaninov and Chopin

I’ve been listening to a spectacular new recording released last October by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan. The disc features two monumental works: Rachmaninov’s heroic Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19 and Chopin’s stormy and unrelentingly virtuosic Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65. A few shorter works round out the CD: Vocalise, Rachmaninov’s famous […]

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Beethoven

Beethoven’s Seventh: The Apotheosis of Dance

Next week, on Monday evening, I’ll be joining my Richmond Symphony colleagues to perform a free benefit concert for the United Way, organized by the Symphony Musicians of Richmond, our players’ association (details here). The program includes Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, a piece we explored briefly in this past Listeners’ Club post. It’s hard to imagine any music more […]

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French composer Marin Marais (1656-1728)

Who Wrote “Lully’s” Gavotte?

Towards the end of Volume 2 of the Suzuki Violin Repertoire, there’s a charming little gavotte attributed to the French baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687). It’s based on a 1904 arrangement by the German violinist Willy Burmester, which you can hear in this old recording played by Carl von Garaguly. It’s likely that Shinichi Suzuki heard this arrangement in his […]

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Tenor Plácido Domingo turned 75 yesterday.

Happy Birthday, Plácido Domingo

A belated happy birthday to Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo who turned 75 yesterday. In recent years, Domingo has remained active. As his voice has aged, he has successfully transitioned into baritone roles. Additionally, he has branched out into conducting. He currently serves as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, a position he held previously with the […]

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A youthful Aaron Copland

Copland’s Interlude: A Brief, Hypnotic Dreamscape

In Aaron Copland’s Music for the Theatre, the ghosts of early American popular music come out to play. Opening with a sharp drumroll and a brash, fanfare-like trumpet announcement, the work’s five movements are filled with jazzy melodies, off-balance rhythms, and Burlesque comedy in the form of “wrong” notes and musical “cat and mouse” games. Written in 1925, […]

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The Listeners' Club

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