John Adams’ Piano Concerto, “Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?”

John Adams’ Piano Concerto, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of its 2018-19 Centennial season. Technically, it counts as Adams’ “Piano Concerto No. 3,” following the exhilaratingly mechanical Century Rolls (1996) and the dreamy impressionism of Eros Piano (1989). The Concerto unfolds seamlessly in a single, continuous movement broken into three sections (fast-slow-fast). According to Adams, the title, attributed to Martin Luther, came from an article …

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New Release: Paul Merkelo’s “The Enlightened Trumpet” (Haydn, Telemann, Mozart, Hummel)

Paul Merkelo’s new album, The Enlightened Trumpet, features the Trumpet Concertos of Haydn, Telemann, Leopold Mozart, and Hummel. The album showcases the technological development of the instrument during the Age of Enlightenment, with the introduction of the keyed trumpet. Unlike the earlier, valveless natural trumpet, the keyed trumpet could play all of the notes of the chromatic scale. This allowed the trumpet to come into its own as a solo instrument. Paul Merkelo …

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Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor, RV 317: Julien Chauvin and Le Concert de la Loge

If you have forgotten how exciting the music of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) can be, take a moment and listen to this concert performance of the Violin Concerto in G minor, RV 317, featuring French violinist Julien Chauvin and Le Concert de la Loge. As this clip demonstrates, brilliant, crackling virtuosity and searing drama lie at the heart of Vivaldi’s music. In addition to composing more than five hundred concertos, ninety solo sonatas, and dozens …

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Henri Vieuxtemps at 200: Historic Recordings of Heifetz and Nadien

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great Belgian violinist and composer, Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881). A student of Charles Auguste de Bériot, Vieuxtemps toured Europe as a young prodigy, attracting the attention of Louis Spohr, Schumann, Berlioz, and Paganini. At the age of 14, he learned Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in two weeks and performed it in Vienna. As unimaginable as it may seem now, this cornerstone of the violin repertoire was a …

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Remembering Barry Tuckwell

Barry Tuckwell, the renowned Australian horn player, passed away last week. He was 88. Born into a musical family, Tuckwell began playing the horn at age 13. By 15 he was playing professionally as third horn of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A year later, he joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Eugene Goossens. He soon moved on to perform in Britain’s Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli. At age 24, he was principal …

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Anthony McGill Plays Copland

This past weekend’s Richmond Symphony program included Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, performed by Anthony McGill. It was a thrill and an honor to share the stage with such a sublime musician. One of my colleagues in the orchestra remarked aptly that McGill’s playing is so natural that it seems as if the instrument is an extension of his body. Listening to Anthony McGill, you are drawn in by the singing quality of the sound, which …

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Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Five Legendary Recordings

Last Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Italian pianist, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995). Michelangeli has been called “one of the most enigmatic performers of the twentieth century.” A noted perfectionist, his concert repertoire was considered to be small, and he agreed to the release of relatively few recordings during his lifetime. He practiced eight to ten hours a day, telling students, “One has to work to feel your arms and back …

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