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Osmo Vanska

New Sibelius Release: Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra released an exiting new album this past Friday. The recording, produced on the Swedish label BIS Records, features Jean Sibelius’ Third, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies. It concludes Vänskä’s celebrated, Grammy-Award-winning Sibelius cycle with the Minnesota Orchestra- a project launched in 2012 and temporarily halted by a fifteen-month-long management-imposed […]

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Common Tones in Simple Time: John Adams’ Gradually Shifting Sonic Landscape

Something really interesting happens to your perception of time, space, and motion when you listen to John Adams’ Common Tones in Simple Time. It’s music which is cinematic and topographical. One critic likened it to the experience of “flying or gliding over a landscape of gently changing colors and textures.” The composer Nico Muhly called it, “distinctly American music: the […]

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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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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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The Listeners' Club

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