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30.11.06

Mutter's Mozart Sonatas

Available at Amazon:
available at Amazon
Mozart, Violin Sonatas, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Lambert Orkis (released on September 19, 2006)
Mutter Mozart Project:

Jens F. Laurson, Violin Concerti (December 31, 2005)
Anne-Sophie Mutter certainly had no compelling reason like financial need behind her ambitious Mozart Project, the recording of all the major Mozart works for violin that she undertook for the past year or so. She is wealthy beyond the dreams of most classical musicians, and demand for her playing keeps her just as busy as she could ever want to be. The Mozart centenary, now mercifully almost at an end, offered a convenient excuse. When she answered the Proust Questionnaire, Mutter stated that her historical heroes and heroines were Mozart, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, in that order. This is a musician we can expect to approach every phrase Mozart wrote for the violin with clean hands and clean spirit, like the sacred scriptures of her personal shrine.

Mozart Project:
available at Amazon
Violin Concerti, Sinfonia Concertante (2005)


available at Amazon
Piano Trios, with André Previn, Daniel Müller-Schott (2006)




Forthcoming on DVD (February 13, 2007):

available at Amazon
Violin Sonatas


available at Amazon
Piano Trios


available at Amazon
Violin Concerti
Mutter and her performing partner, pianist Lambert Orkis, have been touring three programs of selections from this album around Europe and lately North America, concluding with a final recital here in Washington last week, an event that unfortunately I had to miss. I have enjoyed listening to this set of four CDs, containing 16 of the Mozart violin sonatas, what Mutter considers "the great violin sonatas." My advice would probably be to wait for the release of the DVD this February, where you will have the same tracks with video, at a reduced price (via Amazon, $46 for the CD set and $30 for the DVDs). If you wait for the whole box set of DVDs, it may be offered at an even further reduced price, with a pretty case. (The packaging of the CDs is aesthetically very pleasing to the eye.) It seems to me that the way to experience Mutter is with eyes and ears together.

Orkis and Mutter play well together, with a clear sense of having collaborated for many years. Orkis has a refined touch for Mozart, with at the same time the technical ability for the most difficult passages, especially in the virtuosic K. 526 (A major, CD 4), and to stand well on his own as in the second movement of K. 305 (A major, CD 2). Mutter's playing is impeccable, but whether the interpretation seems right varies from movement to movement. Mutter calls K. 304 (E minor, CD 4) her favorite sonata, and her reading of it is the most intense on the four discs. The lovely second movement (Tempo di Menuetto) has a suffocated, self-strangling main theme, and Mutter makes her violin almost raspy. Press handlers and Mutter herself have singled out K. 304 as the only Mozart sonata in a minor key, and while that may indeed be significant, there are single movements in minor keys, too. For example, the minor-mode theme and variations in K. 377 (F major, CD 4), is particularly nice, especially the concluding Siciliana. Here Mutter gives us some of her least affected playing, with one folk-like wail she adds in the final minute.

There are a few minor problems, as in the first movement of K. 296 (C major, CD 3), in which the tempo never settles, with Orkis seeming to jump ahead at times. Mutter has such strength in her sound that when she tries to make her tone narrow or simple, as in the Puckish first movement of K. 378 (B-flat major, CD 2), it loses too much interest. (An exception is the sweet second-movement theme and variations of K. 379 -- G major, CD 1 -- but it is dominated by the piano.) Combined with the occasional idiosyncrasies, like the tendency of Mutter's tone to turn a little toward roughness or darkness, that means that this set of Mozart sonatas is unlikely to become a favorite, at least for me. That does not mean that there is not much to admire, but this is not a crucial purchase. For Mutter fans, wait for the DVD.

Deutsche Grammophon B0007102-02

29.11.06

Opera on DVD: Rasputin

Available at Amazon:
available at Amazon
Rautavaara, Rasputin, Matti Salminen, Jorma Hynninen, Finnish National Opera (released on August 9, 2005)
Einojuhani Rautavaara is part of the remarkable wave of new opera composition in Finland. His last opera, Rasputin, was commissioned by the Finnish National Opera and given its world premiere in Helsinki in 2003. Although Rautavaara revised the opera for a subsequent staging in Lübeck (February 2006, including revising the title role for a baritone instead of a bass), it is the Helsinki version that was captured on this DVD, released by Ondine last year, to glowing reviews in Opera News and elsewhere.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin ( Novyh) is a natural fit for opera, a mysterious and charismatic figure who loved passionately, survived assassination attempts by poison and stabbing, and then was shot and thrown into a river. True, Deborah Drattell's opera on the same story -- Nicholas and Alexandra, premiered at Los Angeles Opera in 2003, with Plácido Domingo as the Mad Monk -- was not a success, and Jay Reise's Rasputin fared no better at its New York City Opera premiere in 1988. (Nicolas Nabokov also attempted an opera on the story, Der Tod des Grigori Rasputin, in 1959.) Rautavaara, however, got it right, working from his own libretto. Most of the opera's appeal lies in his simultaneously seductive and repulsive characterization of Rasputin.

Bass Matti Salminen brings his vast, resonant voice and hulking presence to the title role. His first big aria ("There the crane flies over the tundra"), as he sings to the Tsarevich, the Romanovs' child who suffers from haemophilia, to calm him, is gorgeous. The words tell about taking a trip to Siberia, the cranes over the tundra, white swans, wild geese, what the echo replies to the bird calls, while the music repeats again and again cyclically and ends suddenly. (You bass-baritones out there should be learning this piece for recitals.) The music lulls the listener into believing Rasputin's line of crap through the magnificent choral scene at the end of first scene. An orgy of sound, it grows louder and louder, with apocalyptic percussion, dancers, and chorus costumed as bleeding, thorn-crowned Christs. I was mesmerized by it, until Mrs. Ionarts informed me that the sound was booming throughout the house and might wake up the children.

Rautavaara loses me, slightly, only in the tangle of subplots and minor characters. The opera has 27 (!) singing roles, and many of them essentially blend in with the chorus. The decadent nobles who eventually succeed in killing Rasputin are led by Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich (baritone Gabriel Suovanen) and Prince Felix Yusupov (tenor Jyrki Anttila). Tsarina Alexandra repeats rumors that the two men are in a homosexual relationship, that Felix is a cross-dresser: she refuses to let her daughter, Olga, be married to Dmitry. Several bishops or patriarchs foment discord among the crowds by spreading rumors of the Tsarevich's illness: they are in cahoots with a strange character, Mitya of Kozelski (character tenor Lassi Virtanen), who stutters and rides around, crippled, on some sort of skateboard, punctuating his lines with the crack of a whip. The best singing after Salminen's Rasputin comes from mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi, as the pathetically credulous German-born Tsarina Alexandra.

Einojuhani Rautavaara, composer, b. 1928Just as in the DVD of Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin, the Finnish National Opera demonstrates how much new operas benefit from lavish productions. That is, that new operas might have more of a chance of pleasing audiences if they are cast with major singers and attractively staged. In this gorgeous production directed by Vilppu Kiljunen, the viewer is immediately submerged in the emotional distress of the imperial parents as their young son suffers another attack of hemophilia. During the opera's dissonant introduction, Tsarina Alexandra, highlighted by a follow spot, rushes around the vertiginous, swirling sets designed by Hannu Lindholm.

The score blends music in many styles, with disorienting and acidic dissonance to create dramatic tension, but Rautavaara is not afraid of lush, more tonal harmonies. There are moments of extraordinary beauty, like the Easter scene in Act II, with a choral setting of the Regina caeli (in Finnish) and Rasputin's triumphant proclamation of the Resurrection ("Khristos voskrese!") answered by the crowd. Most critics usually label Rautavaara as a mystic composer, in line with composers like Pärt, Tavener, Gorecki, using more or less tonal harmonies, ethereal or austere orchestration, and chant-like melodies. That description holds true for much of the score of Rasputin.

Rautavaara has created some fine ensemble pieces for the Tsar's four daughters, sung here by Sari Aittokoski (Olga), Tuija Knihtilâ (Tatyana), Helena Juntunen (Maria), and Anna-Kristiina Kaappola (Anastasia). Rautavaara uses his orchestra (here the FNO orchestra, conducted well by Mikko Franck, to whom the score is dedicated) in a mostly traditional way, with some effects thrown in, like Lady Macbeth-like erotic trombone slides, what sounds like a slide whistle (a theremin?), and a salon air played by an onstage piano ("A troika speeds through the woods"). Definitely worth your time.

Ondine ODV 4003

A very interesting upcoming DVD release from Ondine is Karita Mattila's recital on the stage of the Finnish National Opera, a program that includes Kaija Saariaho's song cycle Quatre instants, due out next spring.

Orangerie Returns to Its Roots

The Musée de l'Orangerie, in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, reopened to the public this past May. The institution's first exhibit since then, Orangerie, 1934 : les Peintres de la réalité, has just opened, recalling the museum's glory days exhibiting modern art before World War II. Éric Biétry-Rivierre reviewed the show (L'Orangerie rallume ses lumières, November 27) for Le Figaro (my translation):

Two players back to back, two masterpieces side by side: for the first time, La Partie de cartes (1950) has been hung on the same wall as Le Tricheur (à l'as de carreau) (c. 1620). And one can see what Balthus owes to Georges de La Tour. This exceptional and enlightening encounter is taking place right now in Paris, at the Musée de l'Orangerie. It is emblematic of what Pierre Georgel, the institution's director, planned and realized: "Establishing a symbolic link between the past and the future of the newly restored Orangerie."

The past is 1934. In that year, the museum of the Tuileries gardens presented Les Peintres de la réalité en France au XVIIe siècle, an exhibit that was going to become one of the most famous ones during the period between the wars. Paul Jamot (1863-1939), chief conservator of the Department of Painting at the Louvre, and his young second-in-command (and brilliant eventual successor), Charles Sterling (1901-1991), conceived it as the irrefutable proof of their theory. For them, contrary to what was widely believed then, the Grand Siècle was more than just Poussin and the art of Versailles. There was a world without wigs parallel to sacred art and history painting. Behind the Baroque and late mannerism was a more intimate, more immediate universe that emphasized observation, the day-to-day, the profane.

The selection of a hundred or so works was a shock. Besides the revelation of La Tour, the public knew next to nothing of the beauties left behind by the Le Nain brothers, Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne, of most of the French followers of Caravaggio, the less idealizing output of Lorrain, or even the masters of still life, Baugin and Linard.
A number of modern artists, both those coming of age at the time and their predecessors, saw the show and it had an impact on their work. This show combines the works with those modeled on them, including Picasso, Magritte, Jean Helion, and Balthus. How much are the air fares to Paris this winter?

28.11.06

Musicians from Marlboro 2006, Part I

Musicians from MarlboroThe Musicians from Marlboro stopovers at the Freer/Sackler Gallery of Art are always worth the trip to the National Mall – and this year’s first in a series of three such concerts was no exception. A varied program meant delights for everyone in the audience, even if not everything on one such evening can be of equal caliber. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Scottish (and Welsh, and Irish) folk song transcriptions (for Piano Trio and mezzo soprano) are rarely heard and delightful in direct proportion to that scarcity – if perhaps not quite as much as those of Joseph Haydn, who was also commissioned to do hundreds of these settings for prominent Scottish publishers.

The Scottish melodies and harmonic turns are immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with them; the Welsh settings (“The Old Strain” and “O let the Night my Blushes Hide”) sound rather similar to them and only the Irish ones (“Dermot & Shelah” and “Come Draw we Round a Cheerful Ring”) differ significantly in tone and character. Beethoven manages to make the Piano Trio accompaniment occasionally appear more virtuosic in the strings than is the case with Haydn, but also less integral to the songs themselves. A few touches reveal greater ambition than was room for in the assignments – but the six selections presented also had a less pleasing and less warm touch than those of his older colleague. The routine of a bored composer blinked through every so often.

Ms. Tamara Mumford’s mezzo voice presented itself as a well-centered, gorgeous instrument with a generous but controlled vibrato that shone, even if a Scottish inflection or Irish lilt and a generally more ‘folksy’ attitude might have added to the performance.

The four soloists that sat down for Bartók’s String Quartet no.4 allowed for something very special to emerge in the process of their performance. Sounding decidedly different than a well hone, seasoned professional string quartet would, here were four highly talented and musical individuals that came together in the process of playing. Intonation and cohesion were impeccable just the same – but the ad-hoc quality, that sense that four players sat down and spontaneously made this music was tangible… despite the obvious rehearsing time that must have gone into this presentation. The result was as exciting (and more) as Bartók always should be, performed live. Heavy shadows of Ravel and Debussy over the short fourth movement (Allegretto pizzicato) and energy to burn in the final Allegro molto that became ever more expansive as it was laid out before our ears.

Other Reviews:

Marlboro Players' Satisfying Mix at the Freer (Washington Post, November 17)
Brahms’ Zwei Gesänge op.91 for piano, viola, and mezzo soprano were played by the lithe, porcelainesque Ieva Jokubaviciute, well remembered from a Chopin/Debussy/Field recital (in connection with a Whistler Nocturnes exhibit at the Freer/Sackler) a few years back, Eric Nowlin, who produced an astoundingly beautiful viola sound (and seemed well aware of it), and Ms. Mumford. Ms. Jokubaviciute, still prone to some odd contortions above the ivory, got as much out of the curiously unrewarding accompaniment for Gestillte Sehnsucht – and more still out of Geistliches Wiegenlied.

A Lied is not an opera aria. A lovely voice, good projection, and fine pronunciation (all present with Ms. Mumford) alone don’t make for good Lieder-singing: only a well-sounding display of impressive artistry. For one, the vibrato could have been reduced in both songs. In Brahms, there is no need to go for the sound of Erika Köth’s Adele. More emphasis on the words, not notes, would have been a good starting point, also. Given that even a singer like Fritz Wunderlich found the art of Lied-interpretation hard work and a skill that he hadn’t entirely mastered even at the time of his (untimely) death, this lack of proper expression in this young singer’s performance was neither surprising nor in any way indicative of her skill, talent, and (great) promise.

Amid heavy ‘signal-breathing’ and with the four-note cello indicator for “let’s make music” beautifully given by Marcy Rosen, the other string players, now with additional viola-support from Katie Kadarauch, got under way with Mozart’s String Quartet K.593. The balance of the work was tilted toward the violins where Yura Lee and Lily Francis both impressed – but in very different ways. Ms. Lee has a confident, athletic, brazen, and even strident tone – the kind that wins competitions. Her playing called Lev Chilingirian to mind: Very much a first violin. Lily Francis, just as agile and precise, offered a more filigrane sound… the kind that puts a smile on fellow musicians’ faces. The difference was charmingly observable during the melody-trading between the two instruments in the first violin. Quality music-making from everyone, again, even if the heights of the Bartók were not quite reached here.

Palimpsest Yields Its Secrets

Other Articles:

David Kestenbaum, A Prayer Book's Secret: Archimedes Lies Beneath (NPR, July 27, 2006)

Peter Tyson, Working with Infinity: A Mathematical Perspective (PBS/NOVA, September 2003)
A fascinating article by Felicia R. Lee (A Layered Look Reveals Ancient Greek Texts, November 27) in the New York Times describes the new work, a combination of science and good old paleographic codex study, to decode sections of the Archimedes Palimpsest:
[It] is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the great Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedes’ work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering tantalizing and fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy. [...]

Imagers at Stanford University used powerful X-ray fluorescence imaging to read its final pages, which are being interpreted, transcribed and translated by a group of scholars in the United States and Europe. The new Hyperides revelations include two previously unknown speeches, effectively increasing this renowned orator’s body of work by 20 percent, said Judson Herrman, a 36-year-old professor of classics at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. He is one of a handful of classicists who have written doctoral dissertations on Hyperides. Hyperides lived from 390 or 389 B.C. until 322 B.C. and was an orator who made speeches at public meetings of the citizen assembly. A contemporary of Aristotle and Demosthenes, he wrote speeches for himself and for others and spoke at important political trials. In 322 B.C. Hyperides was executed by the Macedonians for participating in a failed rebellion.
Although a private collector purchased this precious document at auction in 1998, it has wisely been deposited, for now, in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for study. See the Archimedes Palimpsest Project for more information.

27.11.06

New Opera Notes: Into the Little Hill

George Benjamin, composer, b. 1960European houses continue to produce new operas (see my last New Opera Notes, on John Adams, A Flowering Tree), reminding me to keep working on my plans to relocate Ionarts Central to Paris. Jean-Louis Validire reported on George Benjamin's first opera Into the Little Hill, being premiered at the Festival d'Automne, in an article (Le premier opéra de George Benjamin à Bastille, November 21) for Le Figaro (my translation):

George Benjamin loves French music: Debussy, whose prophetic genius he emphasizes, and his teacher, Olivier Messiaen, to whom he is bound by the profound friendship, beyond respect, that he feels for the composer. Having entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 16, he studied not only composition, but also piano with Yvonne Loriod. In return, France has not been indifferent to the prolix works of this 46-year-old English composer, since the Opéra de Paris, where his first opera will be premiered, had already given him carte blanche in 1992.

Into the Little Hill, based on a libretto by Martin Crimp, is based on the legend of the Pied Piper, turned into a fairy tale where a politician strikes a deal with an unknown stranger. This first incursion into opera does not follow anyone's rules. "I didn't know Martin Crimp two years ago. For 20 years people have been asking me to write a stage work, but I was not ready," Benjamin explains. The encounter with the writer was the key to it all. From their agreement, after many hours of discussion, this project was born. It was the "very strong, very simple text" that predated the musical composition of this work, the composer's longest. [...]

The opera uses two singers, a contralto and a soprano. "I have already written four or five pieces for voices. The challenge for this opera was to remain faithful to the text and put it to music in an authentic way." George Benjamin admits that he reflected a lot on the way to treat the voice. "I had the two singers come to my house, and I took copious notes on their voices in order to understand what instrument I was using, what register was the best."
Other Articles:

Andrew Clements, Into the Little Hill (The Guardian, November 25)
-- "If composing for the stage has opened up new areas of expression for Benjamin, the result is more ravishing than anyone could possibly have imagined."

Angelique Chrisafis, British composer's 20-year opera quest ends with Paris premiere (The Guardian, November 25)
-- "It's compact. It's not a full-scale symphonic opera. I didn't want that," he added. "It's The Pied Piper of Hamelin updated in a very subtle way. It's not a light little children's story, it's a terrible story of betrayal and deception, of music and its power. This is very much a reflection on the nature of music and its purposes."
The first review I have read was by Renaud Machart (La belle première de George Benjamin, November 24) for Le Monde (my translation):
In Hans le joueur de flûte (1906), by Louis Ganne (1862-1923), the predecessor of Into the Little Hill [...] we hear these ineffable words: "C'est la flûte, la flûte de Pan, Tu tu, Pan pan" (sic!). It was doubtful that an avant-garde author [Martin Crimp] was going to make a singularly different version of the Pied Piper legend. Without being Gertrude Stein, his text is shrunken, tight-lipped, bony, and very sonorous without making the music seem redundant. Crimp wrote an introduction that clarifies the nature of this work, entitled "Text for music": "When I was a child, I was fascinated by chemistry experiments. More than anything, I loved the magnesium ribbon. It was a gray, tin-like, and innocent metal that appears in the form of a striated serpent. But when you set it on fire, especially in an atmosphere of pure oxygen, it burns while releasing an intense white light. My work has been to fabricate that metal. The much more difficult work of the composer is to add the oxygen to set it alight."

The score (about 35 minutes) by George Benjamin, the most widely admired English composer of the still young generation (he was born in 1960), breathes magnificently in spite of an almost permanent sense of tension. The writing (for 15 instrumentalists) is clear, even if it favors low textures, whispered underground in a sonorous light, subtly under-saturated. If one had to name the source of which Into the Little Hill might be the echo, you would not think first of an opera, but rather the little-known and splendid Cantate (1951-52) by Igor Stravinsky, which also references and reinvents an antique-style form of ideal contrapuntal writing. The use of a cymbalum and bass clarinets (basset horns) also recalls the accompaniments of certain songs and youthful operas of the composer of Le Sacre du printemps. But Benjamin does not indulge in nostalgia and does not simplify his complex and intricate style in this case, as so many avant-garde composers do when confronting this genre of commonplaces and with a recalcitrant audience, that is, opera. Into the Little Hill, excellently performed, is as demanding as it is spell-binding (médusant).
The staging of this one-act opera was directed by Daniel Jeanneteau. The Ensemble Modern provided the instrumental part, conducted by Franck Ollu, with the two roles sung by soprano Anu Komsi and contralto Hilary Summers.

Radiohead Meets O'Riley

Christopher O'RileyThis review appeared in an ever so slightly edited version in the Washington Post on November 21st as "Radiohead a la O'Riley: Transcribed & Transformed."

Pop/Rock music and ‘Classical music’ rarely converge in the concert hall, or if they do, often to very modest results. String quartet tributes to Metallica or the Berlin Philharmonic tackling Scorpions ballads tend to emerge at the lowest common denominator of both styles, which is very low indeed. But there are exceptions, and Christopher O’Riley’s piano transcriptions of Radiohead songs are among them. In his Sunday recital at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, WPAS presented them to a crowd that looked three quarters Black Cat, one quarter Hayes Series – covering the age spectrum from seven to seventy.

Radiohead has found admiration with an unusually wide spectrum of listeners: From Pop to Grunge to Alternative to Jazz and Classical aficionados, there is something for anyone, if not everyone, to be found in their music. Theirs is music that will often elicit respect before passion. I know an opera singer who happily proclaimed their album Kid A to be “Wagner for our generation”. Classically trained pianist and host of NPR’s classical music show “From the Top” Christopher Riley must feel similarly and has transcribed many of the complex Radiohead songs for piano.

There is so much going on in songs like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Like Spinning Plates” that a transcription is necessarily also a reduction and reinvention. The ambiguous chromaticism of Radiohead seems to have the most appeal to O’Riley as he meanders from chord to chord; at least more of it survives than the (uneven) rhythmical pulse of the originals. If “Air Bag” (with a touch of Liszt!) and “No Surprises” stood out as particularly successful, much of the rest became a mellow mélange of subtly jazzy improvisations and miniatures, all enjoyable in their own right. Whereas “Knives out” morphed into a Windham Hill song, Tom Yorke’s “Cymbal Rush” worked its way to a very satisfying climax.

The first half of the recital featured O’Riley’s latest project: Transcriptions of work by the late singer/songwriter Elliot Smith. The dense, wild ramble of “Coast to Coast” reminded, at best, of late McCoy Tyner. Only “Stupidity Tries” and “Cupid’s Trick” were of similar intensity. The eleven other songs were more tranquil and became correspondingly more pleasant, even if they took on a lulling, casual sameness in their piano-guises. At their best, they shed new light on familiar work, at their worst they sounded like soporific Keith Jarrett.

The crowd, quieter than at most purely classical recitals, listened intently and applauded politely between songs, before going wild after the last Radiohead transcription. If even just a part of WPAS’ goal was to make a new, younger crowd more familiar with their concerts at the Kennedy Center, it should be counted a smashing success.

26.11.06

Rostropovich and Shostakovich, Part 2

Dmitri Shostakovich and Mstislav Rostropovich, Moscow 1966, premiere of second cello concertoLast week, I wrote about the Shostakovich festival that Mstislav Rostropovich has been able to conduct, with the Orchestre de Paris in the Salle Pleyel. Jean-Louis Validire reports (Quoi de neuf ? Chostakovitch..., November 24) on the second program in that two-week festival, which was performed on Wednesday and Thursday, for Le Figaro (my translation):

Judiciously, this second program contrasted the period of searching and freedom around the first piano concerto (with trumpet and strings) in 1933, the five interludes excerpted from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which caused the first condemnation of the composer, and the tenth symphony, premiered on December 17, 1953, shortly after Stalin's death. After the oppressive Allegro of its second movement, its calm finale carries the composer's signature in the form of his monogram DSCH (D, E-flat, C, B): a victory tainted with sweet irony, mastered by an orchestra galvanized against the Little Father of the People, who had denounced, in 1936, "chaos in the place of music."

When Shostakovich composed the tenth symphony, the horizon was far from being free of clouds: he had been dismissed from his teaching position, which he did not regain until 1961. The mixed feelings, the anguish, the hope, and then the doubt are embedded in the unfolding of this music, to which Rostropovich knew how to give a universal character. The cohesion of the orchestra was magnificent.

The concerto was performed with great conviction by the young pianist Cédric Tiberghien, whose playing was fortunately less mannered than his gestures. Frédéric Mellardi drew forth clearly from his trumpet the sarcastic and rage-filled accents that give this work the euphoric sounds of liberty.
Rostropovich certainly knows Shostakovich's music intimately, because of his relationship with the composer. However, what made the Paris performances so memorable -- and reviewers consistently mentioned the effusive ovations that greeted Slava and the orchestra -- was not really what Rostropovich is capable of at the moment. What also would have made the NSO's canceled Shostakovich festival unforgettable is the desire of the players at this point in Rostropovich's life to work their hardest for him. It's too bad for Washington.

New Art Donated to the Orsay

Emile Gallé, Vase with grape decoration, shown at the Exposition universelle de Paris, 1900, image by Patrice Schmidt, courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay, donation Rispal, 2005
Emile Gallé, Vase with grape decoration, shown at the Exposition universelle de Paris, 1900, image by Patrice Schmidt, courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay, donation Rispal, 2005
The Musée d'Orsay is exhibiting its latest donation, a major collection of Art Nouveau objects and artworks left to the museum by the wife and daughter of Antonin Rispal, Autour de 1900: un ensemble Art Nouveau, La donation Rispal (open through January 28). Here is what Emmanuel de Roux wrote about it (Une exceptionnelle donation d'Art nouveau au Musée d'Orsay, November 24) in Le Monde (my translation and links added):
This treasury has been donated by the wife and daughter of a hotel owner, Antonin Rispal, who died in 2003. Born in 1920 in the Auvergne, the long-time owner of the Mars Hôtel, on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais in Paris, had a passion for the "1900 style." In the 1950s, he began to collect things at flea markets and second-hand shops. The objects that he sought were not worth much at the time. That was how he accumulated a large collection in all areas of decorative art: furniture, glass, bronze, ceramic. His collection became so large that, in order to house it better, he opened a boutique at the Village Suisse, next door to his hotel. [...]

Architects, painters, sculptors, decorators: all reacted at the same time against the industrial leveling out of formes and the eclectic taste then dominant. Curves, volutes, floral motifs, and the glorification of nature were their trademark. For them, there was no hierarchy among the arts, which it was necessary first to imagine as a way of understanding the world. Artists undertook painting in the same way as book binding, design the same as metalwork or glass -- and let's not forget architecture, the summa of an entire way of living. This globalizing approach would be taken up, between the world wars, by the German Bauhaus group, founded by the architect Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919.

Thanks to the Rispal donation, the Musée d'Orsay can reinforce its strong points. For example, the wood carving and ceramic of the Nancy school, with Emile Gallé (1846-1904), Louis Majorelle (1859-1926), and Jacques Gruber (1870-1936). It also allows the filling in of some lacunae, with the furniture of Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940). Furthermore, the bronzes, ceramics, glass, stained glass windows, lamps, furniture of lesser-known artists like Paul Follot (1877-1942), creator of wall paper, book bindings, furniture, jewelry, stained glass, and even a small house in Paris, on the Rue Schoelcher, allow the museum to give a more precise idea of what the period produced. The Rispal gift also allows the museum, because of what it has from the years 1907 to 1910, to explain the transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, which came to the fore following World War I.
Not that we needed another reason to go back to Paris, but we have one.

25.11.06

Mutter in Mozart

Anne-Sophie MutterAnne-Sophie Mutter is known for her unassailable technique, punctuality, gorgeous looks, and stellar career that is second to none among violinists of her, or following generation(s). Last Monday she ended her Mozart-Sonata World-Tour with long time collaborator Lambert Orkis (well known to Washington as founding member of the Smithsonian Castle Trio and as the NSO’s pianist).

In the WPAS presented program, they played the Mozart Sonatas for Piano and Violin in F Major K.376, E-flat Major K.481, G Major K.379, E Minor K.304, and B-flat Major K.454. These works are quintessential chamber music; fragile, light, playful, but also boisterous in turn. Playing them in the sold out Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall is surely not the perfect solution to bring their character across – but then, Frau Mutter and Mr. Orkis would have had to play five consecutive nights at the more apt Terrace Theater to meet ticket demand. This is perhaps one of the limitations built into star power: That the artist’s own popularity (and fees) prevent them from playing in the most suitable venues possible.

Anne-Sophie Mutter has certainly done her share to celebrate the Mozart Year 2006 – releasing three new recordings on seven CDs of the Violin Concertos (reviewed here), selected mature Piano Trios, and the Sonatas for Piano and Violin on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Although the rumors of Mutter’s impending career end are unsubstantiated (when I spoke to her last Tuesday, she got rather upset that a ten year old out-of-context quotation has taken on such a life of its own), their vague and prevalent existence certainly contributes to ticket sales. Hearing Mutter play, though, dispels any notions of an impending end to her concretizing career, anyway. Her tone has lost nothing of the pronounced, lean electricity, her vibrato and trills are still the most controlled and accurate in the business. This excitement, which will turn every music-lover on in any modern work she touches (from Sibelius to Prokofiev, Bartók, Dutillieux, Penderecki, Berg, and Riehm), can come at the cost of a thin-lipped determination that is short on warmth and generosity.

This might be a caveat when it comes to purchasing her records of anything other than 20th century music (her second Brahms recording – a marvel – explicitly excluded), but it is not a deterring factor when it comes to hear her in person. To the contrary.

Other Reviews:

Tim Page, Mutter, Taking Mozart Seriously (Washington Post, November 22)
Precision, aggression, intensity served the F Major sonata as well as any of the following works. And with accompanist Lambert Orkis at her side, she need never have worried that he might take the title (Sonata for Piano and Violin) too seriously… and suddenly think that he is, or ought to be, to the one who should be playing first fiddle (no pun intended) in this particular work or that movement. To be sure: a more assertive pianist, a more equal match of personalities, might have added something to these works. (I think of the Uchida/Steinberg recording that takes the value of the two instruments seriously and succeeds spectacularly.) Even if Mutter insists that in her life it has “never been about who the star is”, her performance was “Violin +” as much on stage as the difference in font-size on the program indicated. In the Adagio of K.488, though, it is the violinist’s job to show off while the piano offers support in the meandering from key to key. Not surprisingly, this was one of the most gratifying elements of a generally stunning, if occasionally lifeless performance.

The interrupted and high-metallic line for the opening E Minor shifted around beautifully, was rhythmical like a clock, and the piercing quality stood in direct contrast to the mellow and soft play of Orkis. Amid all this, even Mutter’s most delicate touch is fiercely concentrated. In short: it’s impressive in concert, but not likely the way you’d want to hear Mozart played on a regular basis. With more relaxed moments, the listener might find it easier to give attention to the music at large. For all the lightness and delightful punctuation in Mutter’s touch, it was too determined and, indeed, too much of a good thing.

24.11.06

Anita O'Day (1919-2006)


Anita O'Day, Newport, 1958

Jazz star Anita O'Day dies at 87 (BBC News, November 24)

New Opera Notes: A Flowering Tree

Other Articles:

Lucasta Miller, Rock me Amadeus (The Guardian, June 3)

Matthew Westphal, Photo Journal: John Adams's A Flowering Tree Premieres at New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna (Playbill Arts, November 15)

Anne Midgette, Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Love Blooms (Literally) (New York Times, November 16)
-- "It’s an Indian folk tale about magic and love, which Mr. Adams has set to sweet music and Mr. Sellars has wrapped in veils of bright color. It wants to be lovely. It wants to seduce. It is almost aggressive in its desire to be liked."

Mark Swed, In Mozart's spirit (Los Angeles Times, November 21)

Norman Lebrecht, Opera finds a new world (La Scena Musicale, November 22)
-- "New Crowned Hope may be the biggest travelling circus of high art and hocus-pocus since Phineas T. Barnum toured the opera diva Jenny Lind in his transcontinental freak show."

Anne Midgette, An Arts Festival Inspired by Mozart the Social Crusader (New York Times, November 25)

Alex Ross, Hold the Mozart (The New Yorker, December 4)
-- "Adams, who conducted the première, was the only Anglo-Saxon male in the pit or on the stage."
The main event in contemporary opera this month was the New Crowned Hope festival, directed by Peter Sellars in Vienna, covered by Alex Ross among others. I read an interesting interview with Peter Sellars, by Marie-Noëlle Tranchant (Peter Sellars réinvente Mozart, November 21) for Le Figaro (my translation):
What was your vision of this Mozart celebration?

Mozart's imagination was inspired by a dream of a universal culture, that is a reality for us. It is up to us to ask questions today with the same power of anticipation, to prepare tomorrow's reality. It is that spirit that enlivens all the festival's creations: through music, dance, theater, film, visual arts, continuing from where Mozart left off, and finding contemporary equivalents for his vision. The artists have to imagine the unimaginable, and that will become real in a future generation. But we have to do this by being tested.

Where does this title, New Crowned Hope, come from?

After the French Revolution, the Masonic Lodges were outlawed in Austria, but a group of citizens asked the emperor for a gesture of tolerance by allowing one of the lodges to reopen. This lodge was called New Crowned Hope. Composing a cantata for the evening of its reopening Mozart's last public act. This takes us far away from the clichés we associate with him, towards his deep commitments.

Do you have ties to Free Masonry yourself?

The Masonic movement obsesses me because I am American: the Free Masons founded my homeland. 1776 is an impressive date, where we passed from theoretical ideas to the real possibility for human beings to govern themselves in equality. Let's say it is the positive side of the political change of which the French Revolution was the negative side. In my opinion the soundtrack of the French Revolution in Mozart is Don Giovanni, which is full of violence and rapaciousness. It was also the moment that Mozart was no longer being commissioned by the court of Austria. He could no longer go in the direction of revolutionary Free Masonry. After the despair that appears in Cosi Fan Tutte, he understood that he had to reinvent everything: that would be the magical lightness of The Magic Flute, its fragility, its tender and vulnerable sweetness.

You have also created two new operas stagings for this festival.

A Flowering Tree, composed by my friend John Adams, is a legend of southern India that takes up the themes of love, trials, and transformation from The Magic Flute, with dances from Java and players and singers from Venezuela. Les Larmes de Simone is a sort of funerary ceremony that retraces the way of the cross followed by the philosopher Simone Weil. Amin Maalouf's text, of extraordinary suppleness and tenderness, is in tune with the destruction of the title character, and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's music is like a Bach passion.

Could one say that this festival creates the tie that you have always sought between art and politics?

Who can speak with wisdom and equilibrium, without being afraid of contradictions, while accepting them in a deep and immense breath that leaves them behind? Who, if not artists? Vienna invented and perfected the string quartet in a time when the idea of democracy was emerging. What is profound in the quartet is the truth of the dialogue among four instruments who affirm their individuality while creating a community. That requires extreme discipline and sensitivity, so that disagreements end up reinforcing the common ground rather than destroying it. But it is a way to get past the shock of other civilizations.
That last response -- it is far from being an answer to the interviewer's question -- is classic Sellars. My understanding is that the German-language reviews were harshly negative, but I thought I would quote some of Eric Dahan's mostly positive review (L'«Arbre» enchanteur, November 18) for Libération (my translation):
For two and a half hours, Sellars enlivens George Tsypin's fairy tale sets -- a bare tree surrounded by suspended platforms -- with as much gravity (the trials of Kumudha) as comedy (the Bollywood routines of the Javanese dancers). John Adams seems to have been so galvanized by the passion and orchestral and vocal colors of the Latino troupe that he has sometimes evoked Revueltas. An uninteruppted torrent of harmonic ideas, rhythmic and "timbral," this explosive and refined score confirms Adams as the best operatic composer since the death of Britten. An Oriental dreamland (harp, glockenspiel, celesta, vibraphone) and dreams of the heart (Debussy-like flute duo, Coltrane-like clarinet, bassoon solo), worldly violence (close counterpoint, barbaric polyrhythms) and flashes of ecstasy, Adams with this Flowering Tree gives masterful homage to Mozart.
Other reviews will be added as they appear.

Dvořák's Requiem

Available at Amazon:
available at Amazon
Dvořák, Requiem Mass, op. 98 / Brahms, Four Serious Songs, op. 121, Kantorei der Schlosskirche Weilburg, Capella Weilburgensis, Doris Hagel (released on October 31, 2006)
Antonín Dvořák's arch-Romantic take on the venerable Latin texts of the Requiem Mass (premiered in Birmingham, England, in 1891) hardly needs another recording. The appeal (some might say curse) of this new version is the latest evidence that the historically informed performance movement has annexed the music of the 19th century, as the players of the Capella Weilburgensis are performing on instruments from the 19th century. The Romantic vocabulary is quite similar to that of the Berlioz and Verdi Requiems, for example, with references to Czech folk music here and there. Dvořák's setting is not as dramatic as either of those examples (the Dies irae lasts a mere 2:40 and never raises the hair on the back of my neck), perhaps closer to the interior quality of settings by Fauré or Duruflé.

As far as making a decision about buying this recording, there are points that argue against it. This German recording has not been fully adapted for North American release: the texts in the liner notes are in Latin and German translation (Missa pro defunctis, with English translation) and in German only for the Brahms four serious songs that are paired with Dvořák. The sound has a sometimes distant quality, especially in the choral passages, and the performance is adequate from all forces but rarely excellent. Given the surfeit of recordings of the Dvořák, the Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge, op. 121 (1896), do little to raise this disc's appeal (recordings are also not exactly rare), nor does the performance of bass Klaus Mertens, who has admirable suavity of tone but is stretched thin in his top range. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Thomas Quasthoff are still the benchmark in the Brahms, and Detlev Glanert's orchestration for this recording neither adds to nor takes away from the songs.

Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH06050

23.11.06

Action de Grâce

Dinner is fiddling for youTo all our American readers, we wish a restful and happy Thanksgiving holiday! In this proclamation of a Thanksgiving holiday long past, the Congress wished long life and rule to Louis XVI, King of France. That didn't work out too well. Other than that, though, the sentiments are as true as ever.

A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of the universe, of his infinite goodness and mercy, so to calm the minds and do away the resentments of the powers lately engaged in a most bloody and destructive war, and to dispose their hearts towards amity and friendship, that a general pacification hath taken place, and particularly a Definitive Treaty of peace between the said United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, was signed at Paris, on the 3d day of September, in the year of our Lord 1783; the instruments of the final ratifications of which were exchanged at Passy, on the 12th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1784, whereby a finishing hand was put to the great work of peace, and the freedom, sovereignty and independence of these states, fully and completely established: And whereas in pursuit of the great work of freedom and independence, and the progress of the contest in which the United States of America have been engaged, and on the success of which the dearest and most essential rights of human nature depended, the benign interposition of Divine Providence hath, on many occasions, been most miraculously and abundantly manifested; and the citizens of the United States have the greatest reason to return their most hearty and sincere praises and thanksgiving to the God of their deliverance. [...]

And while our hearts overflow with gratitude, and our lips pronounce the praises of our great and merciful Creator, that we may also offer up our joint and fervent supplications, that it may please him of his infinite goodness and mercy, to pardon all our sins and offenses; to inspire with wisdom and a true sense of public good, all our public councils; to strengthen and cement the bonds of love and affection between all our citizens; to impress them with an earnest regard for the public good and national faith and honour, and to teach them to improve the days of peace by every good work; to pray that he will, in a more especial manner, shower down his blessings on Louis the Most Christian King our ally, to prosper his house, that his son's sons may long sit on the throne of their ancestors, a blessing to the people entrusted to his charge; to bless all mankind, and inspire the princes and nations of the earth with the love of peace, that the sound of war may be heard of no more; that he may be pleased to smile upon us, and bless our husbandry, fishery, our commerce, and especially our schools and seminaries of learning; and to raise up from among our youth, men eminent for virtue, learning and piety, to his service in church and state; to cause virtue and true religion to flourish, to give to all nations amity, peace and concord, and to fill the world with his glory.

By the United States in Congress assembled, 1784

22.11.06

Interview with Keith Lockhart

Keith LockhartEven the most casual reader of Ionarts will know that we are not outspoken fans of the symphonic “Pops” genre and that we are perhaps a little quick to dole out judgments like “Schlock” and the like, when it comes to the music associated with the John Williamses and John Rutters of the musical world, or String Quartet tributes to Metallica or Def Leppard. Part of the feeling that the “Pops” phenomenon arouses in us (and I think I can speak on Charles’ behalf on this topic, to some extent), is the mistaken (?) notion that the ‘Pops’ lay some claim to being an extension of ‘highbrow’ classical music.

The idea of Crossover and Pops has long been sold (in fact, for over 100 years) to classical snobs on the account that John Williams, Fiedler-arrangements, and orchestrated Sleigh-bell rides will increase the listenership for Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Beethoven - if perhaps not Bruckner. But the whole genre is better looked at as entirely separate, with little or no overlap in audience and no inherent ‘mission’ to create such an overlap, either. If Il Divo pretends to have notions of operatic singing… well, we might cringe at the idea that anyone should think their amplified crooning-gimmick has anything to do with ‘proper opera’, but then their audience is not likely to be misled by that claim. Those who are turned off by it are certain not to mistake it for the ‘real deal’; those who lap it up are not the target audience for opera in the first place.

Ditto the Pops. If this isn’t entirely my own insight (or even novel, in the least), it has come through very clearly in my conversations with Emil DeCou (yet to be published) and my interview for WGMS’ “Classical Conversations” with Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. In an entertaining and relaxed conversation he shared his thoughts of what it means to wear both, the Pops hat (with Boston) and that of a ‘regular’ Music Director (with the Utah Symphony), as well as his love for Opera (he recently finished a run of Madama Butterfly at the Boston Lyric; Washingtonians may remember his performance of Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe).

In a way, Lockhart says, he’d even be glad if there was no overlap between the two audiences for Pops and classical subscription concerts (although in Boston, where the Boston Pops occupies a unique position in the cultural landscape, there actually is), because it would mean he’d reach twice as many people with his concerts. Nor does he think the ‘reaching out’ effect is particularly important anymore – after it has somewhat outlived its original mission as a ‘selling point’ to orchestra administrators who needed to fill their symphony halls with (new) audiences. ‘I like King Lear and I like to watch Seinfeld, because they are both good at what they are. One is for the ages, the other great for its time’. Quality and aim (or genre) ought not to be confused, after all. And if Lockhart is a little less blunt about what constitutes “bad Pops” than is DeCou (“I’d never program Lloyd-Webber, because I think it is bad music”), he does have a few things on his list that he’d rather not touch. Like orchestral versions of Rock and Pop music, which he thinks serve neither cause. (Having once, accidentally and regrettably, listened to the Berlin Philharmonic’s take on Scorpions songs, I wholeheartedly agree.)

unavailable in all good record stores
“Moment of Glory” Scorpions / Berlin Philharmonic – currently unavailable in all good record stores
Lockhart is only the third conductor of the Boston Pops since 1930 – when Arthur Fiedler shaped that orchestra into “America’s Orchestra” over the course of his 50 year tenure. In 2007 Lockhart will become the second longest serving conductor of the Pops, passing his predecessor, John Williams. So far, he still seems to be having fun in this – self-admittedly – populist role. After all, how many conductors enjoy home-town face recognition on par with its biggest sports stars. Or, for that matter, have their own website that offers paraphernalia like the Keith Lockhart heart-shaped Key chain? (Or is it a Keith-chain?) Or “Unlock my heart girly-Tees”. Lockhart laughs at that with charming embarrassment – but acknowledges that by virtue of his position with the Pops, there is an element to which he cannot escape being a brand. (Reminds a bit of the hilarious season 3 finale of Entourage, actually.)

What he didn’t tell me when I asked him if he wouldn’t have to have to quit at least one of his jobs (Utah or Boston) if he wanted to spend more time conducting opera, was the fact that he would step down from the music directorship in Utah at the end of the 2008-2009 season. (Spending more time with his family is one of the reasons – perhaps necessary since his wife seems to have read “Mozart in the Jungle”.) [Update: Lockhart clarifies: To spend more time with his son, not separated wife.] He did say that he sees the Boston Pops job as a long term commitment – and while he has no ambitions of cracking the tenure record set by Arthur Fiedler (“doing the same thing for 50 years doesn’t sound healthy for the institution and the person doing it”), he will probably get more than a year on John Williams’ 13 year tenure.

Inevitably I get him to talk about Gustav Mahler (he mentions him with Dvořák as one of the two composers he particularly loves) and how he is coming close to finishing his cycle of Mahler symphonies with the Utah Symphony, won’t do a ‘performing version’ of the Tenth, and finds the Seventh and Ninth the most difficult to perform – setting aside the logistical problems of the Eight (performed before more than 10.000 listeners).

On the issue of ‘performing every piece of music as if it were the best music ever composed’ (the typical cliché answer of a conductor to the question if they ever fall victim to routine) he makes the good point that even if he can chose every piece he will conduct, he can’t love every piece equally… but points out that it is his job to try to make sure the audience won’t know the difference. One of the best answers I’ve gotten to that question.

Listen to the full interview on WGMS’ or Viva La Voce’s website under “Classical Conversations” or download the mp3 or Windows Media Player file.

21.11.06

On PBS: Bubbles Silverman

Beverly Sills, Sì, sì, un brindisi!Wow, PBS has something good on this Thanksgiving, a documentary film called Beverly Sills: Made in America. It airs in most places on November 23 at 9 pm, but you have to check your local listings.

When 10-year-old Belle "Bubbles" Silverman told her father she wanted to be an "opera star," the reaction was more dismay than thrill. It was only after nearly three decades of hard work and grinding out a living that Bubbles -- better known as Beverly Sills -- rose to international fame and critical acclaim. Before retiring from professional singing in 1980 -- and commencing a famous second career as general director of New York City Opera, as well as chairman of both Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera -- Sills had circled the globe, triumphing in a host of leading roles from some of the world's most cherished operas. She also became a household name on television, costarring in numerous specials with friends like Danny Kaye, Dinah Shore, and Carol Burnett, as well as guest-hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW for Johnny Carson. BEVERLY SILLS: MADE IN AMERICA is the story of a truly homegrown opera star, told firsthand in excerpts from talk-show interviews, with extended performance sequences from "Manon," "Julius Caesar," "Roberto Devereux," "The Barber of Seville," and many more operas.
The date, it goes without saying, means nothing in terms of when to set your Tivo. Of course, the pathetic WETA is not showing the program at all, but it will air on one public TV station in the Washington area, MPT 67 (November 23, 10 pm).

UPDATE:
I saw it, and it was an interesting program. The best bits were not the singing, which was pretty great, of course, but her appearances on various television shows. She was such a funny lady: you can see one of the excerpts they used, with Danny Kaye -- at YouTube, natch.

Classical Month in Washington (January)

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Classical Month in Washington is a monthly feature that appears on the first of the month. If there are concerts you would like to see included on our schedule, send your suggestions by e-mail (ionarts at gmail dot com). Happy listening!

January 1, 2007 (Mon)
3 pm
New Year's Concert
Strauss Symphony of America, National Ballet of Hungary
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 3, 2007 (Wed)
5:30 pm
Masterclass with Henning Kraggerud, violinist
Strathmore (Education Center Room 309)

January 4, 2007 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With violinist Henning Kraggerud (Brahms, violin concerto) and conductor Roberto Abbado
Music Center at Strathmore
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 5)

January 5, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
The Elizabethan Muse
Folger Consort
Washington National Cathedral
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, January 6)

January 6, 2007 (Sat)
1 and 3 pm
NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Imagination Duo
Glenn Donnellan and Jan Chong
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 6, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
The Elizabethan Muse
Folger Consort
Washington National Cathedral

January 7, 2007 (Sun)
1 and 3:30 pm
NSO Ensemble Concert: Math and Music
Yvonne Caruthers, cello
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 7, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
Calefax (woodwind quintet) with Irina Nuzova (piano) [FREE]
Phillips Collection
Review -- Joe Banno (Washington Post, January 9)

January 7, 2007 (Sun)
6 pm
Twelfth Night: Epiphany and the Winter Solstice
Armonia Nova
Christ Church (Alexandria, Va.)

January 7, 2007 (Sun)
6:30 pm
National Gallery Orchestra (Hobart Earle, guest conductor) [FREE]
Waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss and other Viennese composers
National Gallery of Art

January 7, 2007 (Sun)
7 pm
Choral Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Choral Arts Society of Washington
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Ronni Reich (Washington Post, January 9)

January 11, 2007 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Leila Josefowicz (Hindemith, violin concerto)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 12)

January 11, 2007 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Peabody Sesquicentennial Celebration (Marin Alsop, conductor)
Music by Strauss, Stravinsky
Meyerhoff Hall (Baltimore, Md.)
Review -- Tim Page (Washington Post, January 12)

January 12, 2007 (Fri)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Leila Josefowicz (Hindemith, violin concerto)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 12, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Peabody Sesquicentennial Celebration (Marin Alsop, conductor)
Meyerhoff Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 12, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Symphonica Toscanini with Loren Maazel
George Mason University Center for the Arts (Fairfax, Va.)
Review -- Mark J. Estren (Washington Post, January 15)

January 13, 2007 (Sat)
1 pm
Trio Sarastro
Music by Henselt and Mendelssohn
The Lyceum (Alexandria, Va.)

January 13, 2007 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Alan Toda-Ambaras, cello
With Misako Toda (piano), Daniel Austrich (violin), with Ilya Friedberg (piano)
Mansion at Strathmore
Review -- Joan Reinthaler (Washington Post, January 15)

January 13, 2007 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Countertop Quartet
St. Paul's Episcopal Church (2430 K Street NW)

January 13, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Marin Alsop (Strauss, Alpine Symphony; Stravinsky, Rite of Spring)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 13, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Leila Josefowicz (Hindemith, violin concerto)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 14, 2007 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Peabody Sesquicentennial Celebration (Marin Alsop, conductor)
Meyerhoff Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 14, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
Amadeus Trio [FREE]
Phillips Collection
Review -- Joe Banno (Washington Post, January 16)

January 14, 2007 (Sun)
3 pm
Rome Trio [FREE]
Reynolds Center for American Art and Architecture

January 14, 2007 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Ellen Hargis (soprano) and Paul O’Dette (lute)
Music from the time of Shakespeare
National Gallery of Art
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, January 16)

January 16, 2007 (Tue)
6 pm
Barbara Hollinshead (mezzo-soprano) and Howard Bass (lute) [FREE]
Songs from Shakespeare's Troupe
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

January 16, 2007 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Charles T. Downey and Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 18)

January 16, 2007 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Dilyana Korova (bassoon), with Ivo Kaltchek (piano), Noor Jihan (dancer), and Joseph Connell (percussion)
Beethoven Society of America
German Embassy (4645 Reservoir Road NW)

January 17, 2007 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 18, 2007 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Richard Strauss, Salome (Deborah Voigt, Alan Held)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 20)

January 18, 2007 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
7 pm
NSO Kinderkonzert: Strings and Stories
Kennedy String Quartet
Kennedy Center Family Theater
Review -- Stephen Brookes (Washington Post, January 22)

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
7:30 pm
The Artistry of Thomas Stewart [FREE]
Presented by Tim Page (Washington Post)
Wagner Society of Washington, D.C.
Funger Hall, George Washington University (2201 G Street NW)

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Sergei Leiferkus (baritone) and Vera Danchenko-Stern (piano)
La Maison Française (4101 Reservoir Road NW)

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, January 22)

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Laufman-Kurkowicz-Laufman Trio
Corcoran Gallery of Art

January 19, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Zephyros Winds
Woodwind quintets by Danzi, Britten, Debussy, Hindemith, Barber, Ravel
Dumbarton Oaks, Friends of Music series

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
1:30 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Richard Strauss, Salome (Deborah Voigt, Alan Held)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
6 pm
Classic Ko Ensemble [FREE]
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
Brian Ganz, piano (Shostakovich, first piano concerto)
Music Center at Strathmore
Mark J. Estren (Washington Post, January 22)

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
St. Petersburg String Quartet
Dumbarton Concerts
Dumbarton United Methodist Church (3133 Dumbarton Street NW)
Review -- Joan Reinthaler (Washington Post, January 22)

January 20, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Zephyros Winds
Woodwind quintets by Danzi, Britten, Debussy, Hindemith, Barber, Ravel
Dumbarton Oaks, Friends of Music series

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
1:30 pm
Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
Kirov Ballet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
1 and 3:30 pm
NSO Kinderkonzert: Strings and Stories
Kennedy String Quartet
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
3 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
3 and 7:30 pm
Musica Pacifica
Mansion at Strathmore
Review -- Stephen Brookes (Washington Post, January 23)

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
Spenser Myer, piano [FREE]
Phillips Collection

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
Gospel Mass Choir
Washington Performing Arts Society
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Cecelia Porter (Washington Post, January 23)

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
6:30 pm
The Baltimore Consort
Music from the time of Shakespeare
National Gallery of Art

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
7 pm
Zephyros Winds
Woodwind quintets by Danzi, Britten, Debussy, Hindemith, Barber, Ravel
Dumbarton Oaks, Friends of Music series

January 21, 2007 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, with violist Kirsten Johnson
U.S. premiere of Richard Danielpour, Piano Quartet
Fortas Chamber Music Series
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Review -- Daniel Ginsberg (Washington Post, January 23)

January 22, 2007 (Mon)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Richard Strauss, Salome (Deborah Voigt, Alan Held)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 24, 2007 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Hilliard Ensemble [FREE]
Music by Arvo Pärt, Jonathan Wild, Alexander Raskotiv, and others
Freer Gallery of Art
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, January 26)

January 24, 2007 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Hamburg Symphony
With Robert McDuffie, violin
Music by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Brahms
Music Center at Strathmore
Review -- Daniel Ginsberg (Washington Post, January 26)

January 24, 2007 (Wed)
8 pm
Yuri Bashmet, Wu Man, and the Moscow Soloists [FREE]
Music by Takemitsu, Tan Dun, and Hiyashi
Library of Congress
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 30)

January 25, 2007 (Thu)
7 pm
NSO Pops: Music of Duke Ellington
With Doc Severinsen, conductor and trumpet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Stephen Brookes (Washington Post, January 27)

January 25, 2007 (Thu)
8 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
7 pm
NSO Pops: Music of Duke Ellington
With Doc Severinsen, conductor and trumpet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano (with pianist Malcom Martineau)
Fortas Chamber Music series
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 29)

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Shakespeare Festival)
Music by Nicolai, Tchaikovsky, Elgar
Carlos Kalmar, guest conductor
Music Center at Strathmore

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Puccini, Tosca
Bulgarian State Opera
George Mason University Center for the Arts (Fairfax, Va.)
Review -- Tom Huizenga (Washington Post, January 29)

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Parker String Quartet
The Barns at Wolf Trap

January 26, 2007 (Fri)
8 pm
Great Noise Ensemble: Dancing, Drumming and Re-Defining
Patricia M. Sitar Center for the Arts

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
1 and 3 pm
NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Tunes 'n' Tales
Marissa Regni (violin) and Dotian Levalier (harp)
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
2 pm
Tanya Bannister, piano
Washington Performing Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, January 29)

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Rossini, Il Viaggio a Reims
Kirov Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, February 4)

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Shakespeare Festival)
Music by Nicolai, Tchaikovsky, Elgar
Carlos Kalmar, guest conductor
Meyerhoff Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Handel, Acis and Galatea
American Opera Theater (formerly Ignoti Dei Opera)
Baltimore Theater Project

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
NSO Pops: Music of Duke Ellington
With Doc Severinsen, conductor and trumpet
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 27, 2007 (Sat)
8 pm
Margarete Babinsky, piano
Embassy Series
Embassy of Austria

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
1 and 3 pm
NSO Family Concert: Pictures in Sound
Emil de Cou, conductor
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
3 pm
Rossini, Il Viaggio a Reims
Kirov Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, February 4)

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
Natasha Mah (piano) and Ashima Scripp (cello) [FREE]
Phillips Collection

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
4 pm
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
With Llyr Williams, piano
George Mason University Center for the Arts (Fairfax, Va.)
Review -- Mark J. Estren (Washington Post, January 30)

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
5:30 pm
Lynn Harrell, cello
With Victor Santiago Asuncion, piano
Music by Beethoven, Franck, Debussy, Chopin
Shriver Hall (Baltimore, Md.)
Review -- Robert Battey (Washington Post, January 30)

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
6:30 pm
The Alexandria Symphony (Kim Allen Kluge, conductor)
Music by Britten and Costello
National Gallery of Art

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
7 pm
Joshua Bell (violin) and Jeremy Denk (piano)
Washington Performing Arts Society
Music Center at Strathmore
Review -- Daniel Ginsberg (Washington Post, January 30)

January 28, 2007 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano) and Joseph Breinl (piano)
Songs of Mahler, Schubert, Strauss, and Ives
Vocal Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater
Review -- Tim Page (Washington Post, January 30)

January 29, 2007 (Mon)
6 pm
Trio Moskva [FREE]
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

January 31, 2007 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Verdi, Falstaff
Kirov Opera
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Jens F. Laurson (Ionarts, February 4)