Remembering Violinist Paul Zukofsky

Earlier this week, news broke that American violinist Paul Zukofsky passed away on June 6 at the age of 73. The son of poet Louis Zukofsky, Paul Zukofsky was a student of Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School. He specialized in twentieth century repertoire, working extensively with composers such as Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, and John Cage. Let’s listen to Zukofsky’s 1964 recording of Charles Ives’ Violin Sonata No. 4: “Children’s Day at the Camp Meeting” with pianist Gilbert Kalish. Begun …

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New Release: The Kronos Quartet’s “Folk Songs”

For more than 40 years, the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet has traversed wide and adventurous creative territory- everything from the minimalism of Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Steve Reich, to film scores (including Requiem for a Dream), and the music of Astor Piazzolla and Jimi Hendrix. The group has commissioned 750 new works. Their over 47 albums include Pieces of Africa (1992), the Mexican-themed Nuevo (2002), and a 2004 Grammy Award-winning recording of Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite with …

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“Francesca da Rimini”: Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Opera

On Wednesday, we heard Tchaikovsky’s thrilling 1876 orchestral tone poem, Francesca da Rimini. The composer was fascinated with the story from Dante’s Inferno, and first considered turning it into an opera. When that project failed to materialize, Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modest, persuaded him that the subject was ripe for a dramatic tone poem. Sergei Rachmaninov’s opera, Francesca da Rimini, set to a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky, premiered thirty years later in January, 1906. It’s a short work …

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“Francesca da Rimini”: Tchaikovsky’s Turbulent, Dante-Inspired Tone Poem

Francesca da Rimini, Tchaikovsky’s turbulent orchestral tone poem, begins at the entrance of Hell. Following a ferocious flash in the low strings and the haunting overtones of the tamtam, a grim, quietly grating brass statement almost seems to intone the ominous words from Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here.” In these opening bars, which Tchaikovsky marks, Andante lugubre, there are subtle, fleeting hints of the tritone, historically nicknamed the “Devil’s interval” because of its dissonance. …

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Remembering Conductor Jeffrey Tate

The English conductor Sir Jeffrey Tate passed away on Friday. He was 74. In the early 1970s, Tate worked as a repetiteur and coach at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under Sir Georg Solti. His international conducting debut came in 1979 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. He went on to lead the English Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. He overcame the tremendous …

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Mozart String Quintet in C Major: The Emerson Quartet and Kim Kashkashian

The addition of one guest to an intimate gathering or party can change the dynamic, completely. Especially when the guest is a warmly welcomed newcomer. This is what we hear in Mozart’s String Quintet No. 3 in C Major, K. 515. It’s a piece written for string quartet with an added viola. That second viola changes the piece’s sound and vibe, dramatically. It becomes richer, warmer, and more sonorous. As a 16-year-old, Mozart was …

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