Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids

31.12.08

Year in Review: Anthony Minghella

The first part of the 1-2 punch that knocked out our film blogger, Todd Babcock, was the loss of director Anthony Minghella, which happened one day before the death of Paul Scofield. Todd offers the following look back at what Minghella meant to him.


Anthony Minghella (1954-2008)
Anthony Minghella passed away on March 18, 2008, at the age of 54. The cause was a complication post-surgery from an operation on his neck. The loss was sudden, without warning, and left this particular actor reeling in dismay. Minghella is primarily known as the adapter and director of the celebrated film The English Patient, which swept the Oscars in 1996. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the film’s sweeping romanticism and scope, the result of an eye for both intimacy and majestic beauty, became such a phenomenon that it immediately spawned a movement of backlash. Soon, what was dubbed going into production as “an unfilmable novel” had become the textbook example of a “typical Academy Awards movie.” So much so that Seinfeld dedicated an entire show to hating The English Patient.

Minghella did not come out of nowhere as is so often the case with overnight successes. Born on the Isle of Wight to Italian immigrant parents he said early on that he felt like a constant outsider. Feeling neither British nor Italian, Minghella mused that being from Wight only deepened such convictions. Early on he developed a strong desire to communicate through music and, in particular, jazz. He often spoke and wrote about stumbling into writing by way of music. In school, he was asked to write accompaniment for some stage productions. He wasn’t exactly sure how to do such a thing, but as he ventured further and further into the congress of music and narrative he made a discovery. He was fascinated by the relationship of the story in words and the story told in song. The synchronicity and dissonance fascinated him. Soon enough, he was writing what he refers to as “bridges” in the music, gaps between songs, and he found himself writing plays.

Minghella’s jazz influence is an ongoing one for those who follow his films. Most boldly in his third film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, another adaptation of a difficult novel. Minghella implanted into Patricia Highsmith’s doppelganger an appetite for jazz records in order to connect with his hero and nemesis Dick Greenleaf (played to perfection by Jude Law, never better). Nowhere is Minghella smiling with more delight on film than when he depicts the low-lit, smoky club Vesuvio where Tu Vuo' Fa L'Americano explodes to unite the club and its characters into the heady mix of music, drink and sexual longing.

available at Amazon
Minghella on Minghella
What is so consistent in the numerous testimonials from those throughout the industry and beyond was the absolute admiration not just for his movies but for the man himself. In the same sense that losing Scorsese would mean losing more than just another filmmaker, the loss of Minghella is a loss of vision. Judging by his collaborative books with now-legendary editor Walter Murch (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) in The Conversations, his essays, plays and commentary tracks, we have lost one of the few artists in film trying not to change its dialog with simple tricks but by deepening it and asking of it and himself more probing philosophical questions. Those around him spoke to his endearing kindness, patience and unburdened intelligence. Yet, more than all he was devoted and loving of his family. An expression of Minghella’s that found its way into Patient was that he suffered from “Uxuriousness, the excessive love of one’s wife.” The anomaly of all these qualities in an industry that celebrates the contrary is, perhaps, self-evident.

During The English Patient I turned in the theater to a friend and whispered, “I don’t know why, but I think this one of the best films I’ve ever seen in my life.” I can embarrassingly admit to carrying the script with me on my own feature that year, with its picture on my journal, and waking to the beautiful, haunting music of its soundtrack, Szerelam, every morning. To quote David Denby at the time, “I am somewhat obsessed with The English Patient."

“The heart is an organ of fire. I like that. I believe that.” Those words of Michael Ondantje, transcribed by Minghella and spoken by one his muses, Juliette Binoche, reveal what Minghella felt was unashamed emotion. Emotion, he felt, Americans find “unhip” and yet are ardently desperate for it. What makes him so remarkable is how uncheap and earned that emotion was and how it was never easy.

I spent so much time with Minghella’s words and even friends that the loss felt personal though I had never had my dream of working with the man come to fruition. I will never be able to forget the final, elegiac shot of Almásy’s plane in Patient. Drifting aloft over endless, undefinable dunes as Gabriel Yared’s haunting score escorts it into infinity. The man with the "iron hand in a velvet glove," as Ralph Fiennes once described him, has left behind a world that he made a little more beautiful than when he entered it.

Bach Cantatas on Record: James Bowman / Robert King

available at Amazon
J.S.Bach, Cantatas BWV 54, 169, 170,
J.Bowman / R.King / King's Consort
helios CDH 55312



available at Amazon
J.S.Bach, Cantatas BWV 35, 169, 170 & Aria BWV 200,
R.Blaze / M.Suzuki / Bach Collegium Japan
BIS



available at Amazon
J.S.Bach, Cantatas BWV 35, 169, 170,
B.Fink / P.Müllejans / Freiburger Barockorchester
Harmonia Mundi

The hyperion disc – now re-released on Helios – of Bach cantatas BWV 170 (“Vergnügte Ruh’…), BWV 54 (“Wiederstehe doch der Sünde”), and BWV 169 (“Gott soll allein mein Herze haben”) with Robert King’s “The King’s Consort”, is essentially a James Bowman show. Recordings featuring a counter tenor so prominently still had a touch of novelty to it when this was originally released in 1989, now countertenors are about as – maybe even more – common as altos in Bach, it seems. Three of the four solo alto cantatas Bach wrote are included here, only BWV35, Geist und Seele wird verwirret is missing. (A magnificent recording of that can be found on Sigiswald Kuijken’s new cantata series on Accent, volume 5 – with alto Petra Noskaiová.)

Direct competition for this disc would be Volume 37 of Masaaki Suzuki’s BIS-cycle (with Robin Blaze, lacking BWV 54 but adding BWV 35 and the solo aria BWV 200), the single disc re-release of Ton Koopman’s Bach bringing together the three cantatas on the hyperion disc and adding BWV 200 (Bogna Bartosz and Andreas Scholl share the singing duties), as well as Naxos’s disc by Helmut Müller-Brühl with Marianne Beate Kielland in the same four works that Koopman features. Unfortunately I don’t have the Naxos disc, the Suzuki not yet, am separated from my Leusink (Brilliant) box and my Koopman collection (volumes, 3, 16, and 17 of the original series contain these works). But then, comparison to versions with alto would be misleading given the distinct prominence of Bowman on this recording.

His voice, not the most tender, is beautiful in many ways, but not without a tinge of artifice and with the tonal qualities ‘characteristic’ of counter tenor voices. It is recorded very much forward, a bit too much so for my taste. The King’s Consort becomes a back-up band, albeit one that performs beautifully, particularly enchanting in the opening of Vergnügte Ruh’ and in the Sinfonia of BWV 169 which sounds so familiar because Bach had recycled the material (most likely originating from a now lost oboe concerto) in the Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1053. That said – and very faint moments of piquancy notwithstanding – Bowman’s singing in the aria “Wiederstehe doch der Sünde” is lovingly shaped and felt – and a pleasure to hear. The recorded sound from Wadham College Chapel is pleasantly resonant and clear – with the resonance further accentuating the vocal part. The short concluding chorale of BWV 169 is taken one-voice-per-part, gorgeously sung by Gillian Fisher (who stands out a bit among the four), Bowman, of course, John Mark Ainsley, and Charles Pott. The organ King uses for this recording is a humble, unintrusive modern chamber instrument, the pitch is A=415Hz.

For those already disinclined to countertenors, this is not the disc to convert them. (Bernarda Fink’s forthcoming release with BWV 169 & 170 on Harmonia Mundi would seem an alluring alto-alternative.) For those who wish to hear these cantatas with a counter tenor, the only alternative that includes at least two of the three works combined on this disc is the above-mentioned Robin Blaze. Judging solely from the previous releases in the Suzuki cantata cycle, the King/Bowman version (durations are very similar) should be the slightly more indulgent one.

30.12.08

Year in Review: Paul Scofield

Of the many artists we lost in 2008, actor Paul Scofield was one of the greats. Our film blogger, Todd Babcock, offers the following remembrance.


Paul Scofield (1922-2008) as Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons
Paul Scofield passed away on March 19, 2008. By all regards he was a titan of the theater and rightful heir to the throne held by Olivier and Gielgud in their day, and yet it was a crown he declined not thrice but any time it was offered to him. What was so remarkable about Paul Scofield was how little he was known. Instead of an actor who couldn’t get “arrested” or the find the break he might seek, this was a point of willful intention for Scofield. While the emergent cinema era birthed such vast talents and egos of the likes of Olivier and Richard Burton, Scofield quietly took himself back home to his family with little regard for the spotlight. Rather than recount Scofield’s life (there are plenty of resources) I would simply like to revere here the two roles that resonated with so deeply with so many of us.

My first and most profound encounter with Scofield was as Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966). It was one of my brother's favorites on VHS: he could recount line for line the speech where Scofield, as More, listens to a young man explain how he would be all too willing to break every law of man in order to reach the Devil himself. Scofield’s patient and weary stare digests every word until he rises up, with his great voice and conviction, and repudiates the reasoning that a man who would side-step the law at every step to achieve good has nothing left with which to do battle. Robert Bolt’s screenplay is no less relevant today than it was then, and Scofield presents it with ease.

The movie Quiz Show (1994) was one that was acknowledged by industry peers as worthy of Oscar consideration but one the public never really seized onto regardless of remarkable talents like Robert Redford, Ralph Fiennes, and John Turturro attached to it. In the years since its release it has become not only a forgotten treasure but has emerged on my very short list of movies that I can consider perfect.

The movie, centered around the dawn of the now-saturated market of game shows, focuses particularly on 21. What plays out is the moral quandary of Charlie Van Doren, the son of an elite intellectual family, as he is oddly enticed to participate in something of a popularity contest of pop intellect. When the prospect that Charlie cheat to keep a lock on his now ratings-high stretch on the show is presented, Charlie quietly acquiesces to the point the scandal comes crashing down. Underneath the surface, Redford and writer Paul Attansio, illustrate the culture dynamic of having fame for fame’s sake over the authentic, but less dynamic, of authenticity and integrity.

The scene where Fiennes, as Charlie, drops his shoulders and confesses to his father (Scofield) is one we still quote today. The shock and utter disbelief conveyed by Scofield is tragedy encapsulated. “Your name is my name!” he bellows when Charlie wriggles about for moral justification. The heavy-lidded and grey features of Scofield with that twinkle in his eye seems to fall piece by piece with the unimaginable realization of what has taken place. Again, I believe it is a perfect performance and seems so fitting for Scofield to have come out of his theatrical hiding to perform.

In a year when Denise Richards convinced a judge that her 4-year-old “really wants to be on a reality show,” the latest celebrity DUI photo pops up, and the awards shows all started looking the same, Paul Scofield passed quietly, gently, and with great majesty. Because, for him, the only title he wanted was, “Mister.”

Good night, sweet prince.

Ionarts at Large: Mahler with Mehta


After having been its opera’s music director for eight years, Zubin Mehta is much beloved in Munich. When he stops by in town, concerts – at least those at the State Opera – are sold out and the crowds are lapping up what he gives them.

Same on Monday and Tuesday, December 15th / 16th, at the Second Academy Concert of the Bavarian State Orchestra, although even the greatest home field advantage could not elicit more than timid, embarrassed applause after an appalling performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante. Markus Wolf (concert master of the Bavarian State Orchestra) and Dietrich Cramer (1st violist) delivered competent fiddling at best, occasionally approximating proper intonation. There is no point spending many more words on what was a unloving, limpid, indeed: worthless performance - except to say that it was an insult to the audience, and unworthy of such a fine orchestra.

This would seem not have bode well for Mahler’s Fifth Symphony to follow, but thankfully the performance didn’t add insult to injury, it redeemed the orchestra completely and delighted – rightfully – the audience. From the first notes it was as if a different orchestra had taken over. Distinct voices were audible, enthusiasm palpable, the playing tight, the ensemble cohesive. The Scherzo was faultless, the horns in good shape – only the oboes had a few, negligible, lapses. Particularly lovely in the Adagietto was the low pizzicato of the double basses that just melted into the string sound – as if an extension of the harp. Similarly delightful were the various degrees of piano and pianissimo that Mehta coaxed from the strings. The whole thing was milked for effect á la Death in Venice (but, crucially, not too much) and invested with much labor designed to impress the audience. The result was a temperate reading that sounded even slower than the 10 minutes it took and fulfilled even the highest expectations. Turned into absolute music, Mehta’s Mahler was interpretation-free, but played so well and with so much commitment, that that was never a detriment.

There has been a dearth of Mahler in Munich: just three ‘native’ performances that I caught in the last two years – and of those (the BRSO in Das Lied der Erde, the Munich Philharmonic in the Ninth – and the visiting Dresden Staatskapelle in the First), this was the best.

Recommended recordings:

available at Amazon
G.Mahler, Symphony No.5,
R.Chailly / RCO
Decca

available at Amazon
G.Mahler, Symphony No.5,
P.Boulez / WPh
DG


29.12.08

For Your Consideration: 'Doubt'

available at Amazon
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt: A Parable (play)
As a playwright John Patrick Shanley can certainly tell a story through vivid characters speaking to one another. His play Doubt: A Parable, an exploration of the conflict between a nun and a priest at a school in the Bronx, won the Pulitzer Prize and several other awards. He was able to transfer that gift for natural and yet memorable dialogue to the big screen, with excellent screenplays for Moonstruck and Alive, the latter seen by far fewer people but an extraordinary movie which is also about Catholicism in an indirect way. After he directed his own screenplay for the disastrous Joe versus the Volcano, however, it is surprising that anyone ever greenlighted a project of his again.


Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius in Doubt
Still, Shanley was sitting on one of the more successful plays of the decade, and he was given the chance to revise his concise but very word-oriented play for film. For the fearsome nun who serves as principal of the school, Sister Aloysius (then as now, nuns sometimes take the names of male saints when they profess), he was able to book Meryl Streep. She turns in a performance that is as close to note-perfect as anything in her career, capturing the frankness, wit, and ferocious integrity of the holy nun, a woman who has the moral authority to turn others' hearts to goodness, either out of love or fear. An observation by a younger sister in the community, Sister James (the wide-eyed but generally inconsequential Amy Adams), sets Sister Aloysius on an irreversible course, to drive out the new parish priest, Fr. Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), whom she suspects of sexually abusing one of her students.

Doubt is obviously close to Shanley's heart: the story is set in St. Anthony's, the parish school where Shanley was a student, and he has even moved the film version closer to home, literally, shooting some of the early scenes on location in the street where he grew up in the Bronx. For all of Shanley's self-confessed run-ins with the authority figures of his own Catholic schools, the nuns who taught him left their mark in a good way -- he dedicated the play to "the many orders of Catholic nuns" (he goes on to say, "Though they have been much maligned and ridiculed, who among us has been so generous?"), and he dedicated the movie to a real-life Sister James, a young nun who taught him as a child and with whom he reconnected in the making of this movie. The order of nuns depicted is the Sisters of Charity of New York, a branch of the order founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, in imitation of the Daughters of Charity established by St. Vincent de Paul.

Other Reviews:

Washington Post | New York Times | Los Angeles Times | Rotten Tomatoes

The ghostly and dead-accurate evocation of the Bronx in the 1960s -- the habits and costumes (designed by Ann Roth) and the recreation of the streets and shops (art direction by Peter Rogness) -- is shot in a bleak, wintry atmosphere vampirically drained of all color by cinematographer Roger Deakins. The only slightly false note is the music, overseen by Howard Shore, which is lovely but a little bit not Catholic in character. Instead of Gregorian chant and Catholic hymns, the movie closes on Come Thou, Redeemer of the Earth (which stuck in my mind so much that I included it in the Ionarts Christmas card this year). The decidedly Anglican arrangement, by David Willcocks of King's College fame, may have been the suggestion of composer Nico Muhly, who got a credit in the film for some kind of consulting. It's beautiful stuff, but it's not particularly Catholic (at least not in the 1960s, although these days Catholic music directors use those arrangements as much as Anglican or Episcopalians do).


Philip Seymour Hoffman (Fr. Flynn) and Amy Adams (Sister James) in Doubt
The metaphor of harsh winds blowing -- the conflict between nun and priest has the reforms of Vatican II as a background -- is laid on a bit thick. It may be intended to tip the balance of our sympathy -- the eponymous doubt is as much the viewer's as any of the character's -- toward the more open-minded Fr. Flynn. History has vindicated, if anything, the more tradition-minded Sister Aloysius, who rejects Fr. Flynn's assertion that they as consecrated representatives of the Church should be more like the people in their congregations. In the face of the so-called crisis of vocations, young men and women are offering themselves these days to the most traditional orders and dioceses. It makes sense -- after all, who would want to take on vows of celibacy and poverty to be "just like" a lay person. This exchange between Sister Aloysius and Fr. Flynn makes the distinction quite clear:
SISTER ALOYSIUS. But we are not members of their family. We're different.
FLYNN. Why? Because of our vows?
SISTER ALOYSIUS. Precisely.
FLYNN. I don't think we're so different.
SISTER ALOYSIUS. And they think we're different. The working-class people of this parish trust us to be different.
In the end, one ends up sympathizing mostly with the nuns, whom Shanley shows eating a meal in sober silence in the convent, over the priests, who wolf down blood-raw meat (another somewhat heavy-handed metaphor) in a loud, joking manner in the rectory. The children may be terrified of the nuns, as the wet-behind-the-ears Sister James complains ("Of course they are -- that is how it works," Streep's Sister Aloysius deadpans in reply), but no one can believe that the nuns have anything but the well-being and educational achievement of their students foremost in their minds. If only more people in the world -- for the problem of pedophilia is far from being limited to the Catholic Church -- had taken the zero-tolerance approach to the victimization of children that we see in Sister Aloysius, the culture of silence and protection could not have prevailed as it did. As the stellar if brief performance of Viola Davis as the abused boy's mother lays bare, even those who should most want to protect children, like parents or bishops, sometimes colluded in covering up the crime. What Doubt does so well is to make one question any assumption about whom to blame.


Trailer for Doubt, directed by John Patrick Shanley

28.12.08

In Brief: Between the Years

LinksHere is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.

  • Forget umpteen performances of Messiah. Here is a Christmas tradition I could get used to -- "In the splendid surroundings of the restored Christ Church the Spitalfields Winter Festival offers a prestigious programme of events – a residency by the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and John Eliot Gardiner heads this year’s programme – and the new heating system adds a comfortable glow to the proceedings. The residency of Gardiner and his performers covers six concerts, plus supporting talks and events. With a mathematical exactness of which Bach would have approved, each concert includes one of the six cantatas that make up his Christmas Oratorio, one of the six Brandenburg Concertos and one of the six German motets." [Financial Times]

  • With hat tip to Maud Newton, the first book I want to read in the New Year: The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel by William Goldbloom Bloch. [American Scientist]

  • Kyle Gann, you made me laugh: "But isn't there anything else musically non-elitist besides letting a bunch of nutballs who don't know jackshit about music sit around and mouth off about the Beatles? Isn't that expanding the very definition of elitism to include almost everything?" [PostClassic]

  • The evergreen Charles Aznavour has released yet another album and says that he will continue to appear in concert, just not on megatours. While admitting that he may be the "best known French musician," he is not the most recognized -- "When I walk down the streets of Dallas, no one knows who I am." Shame on you, Texas! In this interview, Aznavour goes on to say that he will give a concert in the United States entirely in French -- the first one ever in his career. [Le Figaro]

  • Farewell, 2008, and all those who depart with the old year. [New York Times Magazine]

  • One of the farewells for a coming New Year may be the newspaper industry, after its final demise. The rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic is under way. [Baltimore Sun]

27.12.08

Susan Graham Shivers with Frenchness

Available from Amazon
Un frisson français, S. Graham, M. Martineau

(released on October 14, 2008)
Onyx 4030
When Susan Graham and Malcolm Martineau gave a concert of mélodies at the Terrace Theater in 2007, I expressed the hope that "this recital program will be Graham's next recording." And thus it came to pass, this past March, that the duo recorded almost the same program in London. It brings together a score and some of pieces by a score of composers from the 19th and 20th centuries, with very few old favorites. Both Graham (at the concert) and Martineau (in the liner notes) describe the program as a "tasting menu," a connoisseur's guided tour of the less traveled départements of French song. As far as I can tell, only Debussy's Harmonie du Soir and Gounod's Où voulez-vous aller? disappeared from the program heard at the Terrace Theater, the latter replaced by the same composer's Au rossignol. Graham also happily chose to include Reynaldo Hahn’s pleasing À Chloris, which she gave as an encore at the Terrace Theater, calling it "possibly my favorite song in the world." (It is a duplication, as she already used the song to open her very much worthwhile Reynaldo Hahn CD, with Roger Vignoles, but no one is likely to complain.) Graham's voice is one of the silkiest among today's mezzo-sopranos, perhaps on the small side by comparison to others, but that is actually a bonus in the song repertoire. Her low range is smooth and rarely forced, though with plenty of sound in Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre, a mistuned waltz for zig-zagging skeletons. One of the best songs is Emile Paladilhe's Psyché, the sort of slow and tender song that is exactly right for the exquisite instrument that is Susan Graham's voice.

77'34"

26.12.08

Messiaen for the New Year: Aimard's Tribute

Available from Amazon
Hommage à Messiaen, Pierre-Laurent Aimard

(released on October 14, 2008)
Deutsche Grammophon B0012056-02

Previously:
Early Songs | La Fête des Belles Eaux | Quatuor pour la fin du temps | Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus
With Pierre-Laurent Aimard having received the mantle of greatest living performer of the works of Olivier Messiaen from his mentor, Yvonne Loriod (the late composer's second wife), it made sense for him to offer a keyboard tribute for the Messiaen centenary. But what had Aimard not recorded already? Not the Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus, or piano parts in the Turangalîla-Symphonie or the Réveil des oiseaux or the Quatuor pour la fin du temps. He chose instead lesser-known works in the solo repertoire, music recorded in its entirety by Roger Muraro for his complete Messiaen piano works set for Accord, made around the turn of the millennium and later incorporated into the complete Messiaen box released by Deutsche Grammophon. That box set is highly recommended for anyone with a serious interest in Messiaen's music (more about that later, as I work my way through more of it), but someone interested in only an introduction would likely rather choose a sampling of individual discs than a box set priced at over $200.

In new recordings made last February, Aimard begins with the diverting, Debussyesque Préludes pour piano, composed in the late 1920s, while Messiaen was still a student. These pieces, a reaction to the death of his mother, are profoundly felt but, in a part of the composer's character that does not escape the notice of an admirer, occasionally maudlin. Aimard then guides the listener through the transformation of Messiaen's voice, from the extended harmony of Ravel and the cabaret hall, through the ornithological research of the Catalogue d'oiseaux (two selections -- Cetti's Warbler and the Wood Lark) and the investigation of additive forms of non-Western rhythm in the Ile de feu movements from the Quatre Etudes de rhythme. In both of the latter, there is enough audible evidence of the influence of Stravinsky worth noting, and Aimard's interpretation is subtly voiced, technically assured, suave, and dynamic.

59'48"

25.12.08

In Die Natalis Domini 2008


Correggio, Nativity (1528-30, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden)
Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
And manifest Thy virgin birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will,
But of the Spirit, Thou art still
The Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised Fruit to man displayed.

The virgin womb that burden gained
With virgin honor all unstained;
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in His temple dwells below.

Forth from His chamber goeth He,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now His course to run.

From God the Father He proceeds,
To God the Father back He speeds;
His course He runs to death and hell,
Returning on God’s throne to dwell.

O equal to the Father, Thou!
Gird on Thy fleshly mantle now;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.

-- Veni, Redemptor Gentium, by St. Ambrose of Milan (338-397); trans. John Mason Neale



Come thou redeemer of the earth (inter alia), Winchester Cathedral Choir

Ionarts at Large: Munich Messiaen 2008

Over the last few decades, the music of Olivier Messiaen has become slowly but increasingly accepted by subscription audiences, even in Germany. Spearheading that trend was – and still is – the fantabulous Turangalîla Symphony that Messiaen created between 1946 and 48, a work that dazzles, stuns, and impresses - sometimes almost too much for its own good. But his other orchestral and organ works are increasingly accepted into the outer fringes of the mainstream repertoire, too. His organ compositions and improvisations, especially during Messiaen’s life-long service as organist on the 46-stop Cavaillé-Coll organ at La Trinité (where he had been appointed at age 22, upon recommendation of Widor), once shocked, confused, and confounded the clergy and congregation during midday mass. Now they draw (and hold) audiences that would hesitate attending a Prokofiev or Bartók concert.

The mystic element of Messiaen’s music, the wash of colorful sounds, and the underlying re-assuring, joyous nature of his music strikes more and more listeners as relevant, intriguing, and even beautiful. Consequently his 100th birthday has been celebrated by the record industry with some fanfare. Deutsche Grammophone brought out a 32-CD box with his complete works, EMI one (18 CDs) with a good selection of orchestral, chamber, piano, and organ works (the latter played by the composer), Haenssler the perhaps finest collection of his orchestral works, Warner already issued their extensive Messiaen Box two years ago, Naïve threw together a collection of live recordings on six discs, and a host of labels brought us new quartets for the end of time. Compared to Carter, who most notably gets a (belated) recording of his complete string quartets (Naxos), that’s pretty impressive.

On the concert front, he’s not seen the same attention, but at least I’ve been able to catch the Berlin Philharmonic’s Salzburg tribute (Turangalîla) this summer. In Munich, only one orchestra did the honors. Of all the big cultural institutions in Munich, interestingly it was the Munich Philharmonic with its relatively conservative audience that gave Messiaen his only birthday tribute. Not the Bavarian State Orchestra (where, in Kent Nagano, an excellent Messiaen interpreter holds the reigns) nor the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra more likely to explore musical territory off the well traveled path of standards and classics.

The Munich Philharmonic’s Messiaen trilogy opened by luring Kent Nagano away from Wozzeck for a few days, across the river and presenting Des canyons aux étoiles… . Since his appointment as MD of the State Opera in 2005, Kent Nagano has made his home in Munich east of the river Isar, but it took him until this concert series – November 21st to November 23rdwhen he made his first appearance with the Munich Philharmonic to also work there. (Now we await that Opera GM Klaus Bachler will return the favor and bring Christian Thielemann into the Bavarian State Opera's pit.)

The Utah-inspired, gargantuan (100+ minute) masterpiece that is Des canyons aux étoiles… was commissioned by Alice Tully for the United States’ bicentenary. This makes Des canyons Messiaen’s second important “American” work after Turangalîla – and a personal declaration of love to the nature of Bryce Canyon, its birds and colorful rock formations. Although Messiaen stuck to the limitations of the orchestra’s size (43), he went well beyond the originally estimated duration of 20 minutes. Tully ended up getting a lot more music than she had bargained for, but surely had no reason to complain.

The 20th century’s most important catholic composer, whose deeply felt love for the miracle of God’s creation, man & nature alike, is so fully expressed in his work, was given an exciting, boldly colored treatment by Nagano who talked about Messiaen’s music-as-faith well enough (between parts II and III), even if his literal interpretation was more successful expressing rhythmic and musical detail than any underlying faith. Not surprisingly, parts one and two – about nature and man, ending not unlike a Strauss tone poem with “Bryce Canyon…”– were more convincing than part three about the heavens and whatever might be beyond the stars. Marino Formenti (piano) and Ivo Gass (solo horn) delivered everything that might be expected of them – with an even greater chance for Gass to distinguish himself in the seven minute long horn solo fifth movement, Appel interstellaire, than for Formenti in the solo-piano movements Le Cossyphe d’Heuglin – all about the African Robin-Chat – and Le Moqueur polyglotte, “The Mockingbird”. What a tribute to the beauty of Utah’s – America’s – nature and its various birds. Among them the Baltimore Oriole in the piano passages of the second movement, Les Orioles, and the Gray-Cheeked Thrush in the third movement, Ce qui est écrit sur les Étoiles.

Turangalîla had to get it’s outing, too, of course. Jun Märkl conducted, Steven Osborne and Philippe Arrieus played the piano and onde martenot, respectively. The orchestral colors Märkl evoked were loud bordering gaudy, solid and saturated. The orchestra worked like clockwork, was plenty loud and offered a good amount of sweep, romantic-dense in tone, and not particularly very transparent. Rattle, in comparison, managed his Berliners toward a more diaphanous, more trim, but equally explosive sound. Arrieus made the onde martenot whistle sweet sounds (Chant d’amour 1) into the midst of the Philharmonic Hall that could have come from the Twilight Zone (“Aliens falling in love”). The clarinet – onde martenot exchanges of Turangalîla 1, the accuracy of the playing in Chant d’amour 2, the Gershwinean Wild-West swing of Joie du sang de Étoiles – it was all marvelous, if never particularly subtle. Slighter, more refined touches entered the work starting with the sixth movement Jardin du sommeil d’amour where Osborne and the orchestra responded more sensitively to nuances.

A slender Zubin Mehta stepped unto the rostrum in Philharmonic Hall of the Gasteig to lead the third installation of the Munich Philharmonic’s Messiaen tribute. The dark, grumbling, color-shifting moods of Messiaen’s Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum – written only for winds, brass, and percussion – were more an opportunity for the players of the Munich Philharmonic to distinguish themselves than for Mehta to make a particularly deep impression as a Messiaen conductor. The players took that chance: solo oboist, clarinetist, the cor anglais, and the flute impressed with round, warm sounds over an array of intricate Indian rhythms banged out on big gongs and temple bells.

The 1964 composition was intended by the commissioning French Department of Culture’s André Malraux to be a Requiem for the French victims of World War II. Messiaen subverted the commission “catholic style” and wrote a work on the resurrection of all souls. And what a work it is: With dark, strange sounds and mesmerizing rhythmic assurance it attains an old fashioned patina on modern sounds; it conveys a great level of comfort even though it is dissonant from head to toe.

Messiaen, who knew a thing or two about writing effective music (Turangalîla) makes rousing use of the percussion apparatus (especially the booming tam-tam) and creates an orchestral sound with 18 winds and 16 brass that might have you thinking that strings are dispensable, altogether. Well – strings aren’t, but Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony is.

Bernstein’s pompous third symphony is a public ego-trip down "Leonard Bernstein Emotion-Land". The music -- the usual hodge-podge from bits of dodecaphony to Broadway tunes -- doesn’t help the pseudo-rebellious, insolent and presumptuous way of Bernstein dealing with his troubled adolescence, a dominant father, and his unsettled relationship with the creator. If I were God and had someone talk to me as Bernstein does in this work (“Forgive me [Father…] / But Yours was the first mistake / Creating man in Your own image, tender / Fallible.”), I might let myself get carried away and do some smiting: “Freak Subway Accident Kills Conductor/Composer on Night of Symphony Premiere”.

It’s more than slightly embarrassing to listen to the narrator’s (Mervan Mehta) self-righteous, accusatory, pompously spiritual, and juvenile text: “Why have You taken your rainbow / That pretty bow You tied around Your finger…”. Mr Mehta jr. was not to blame – he did a terrific job in delivering these lines. Animated, well enunciated, compelling even. Then again, he and his father were to blame, because their fine contributions only enhanced the text’s pathetic-ness underlined by Hans Zimmer style movie-music moments. When there are so many wonderful American composers - why Bernstein. And if Bernstein - why this work? One hopes not too many in the audience bothered to follow or understand the text.

Classical Month in Washington (March)

Last month | Next month
Small eye = recommended

Classical Month in Washington is a monthly feature. 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!

March 1, 2009 (Sun)
2 pm
Donald Manildi, Reflections from the Keyboard
Free lecture-demonstration
Clarice Smith Center

March 1, 2009 (Sun)
2 pm
PRISM Saxophone Quartet and Music from China [FREE]
Freer Gallery of Art
Review -- Joan Reinthaler (Washington Post, March 3)

March 1, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Rami Bar-Niv, piano
Universalist National Memorial Church (1810 16th St. NW)

Small eyeSmall eye
March 1, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Evgeny Kissin, piano
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, March 4)

Small eye
March 1, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Mandelring Quartet
Châteauville Foundation (Castleton Farms, Va.)

March 1, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Andrew Brownell, piano [FREE]
Phillips Collection

Small eye
March 1, 2009 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Ellen Hargis (soprano) and Paul O’Dette (lute) [FREE]
Music of the Golden Age in the Netherlands
National Gallery of Art

Small eye
March 1, 2009 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Post-Classical Ensemble
With Harolyn Blackwell, soprano
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Small eye
March 3, 2009 (Tue)
12:10 pm
Washington Bach Consort: Noontime Cantata [FREE]
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (BWV 12)
Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St. NW)

Small eye
March 3, 2009 (Tue)
6:30 pm
Sequenzathon (Luciano Berio, complete Sequenzas)
Mobtown Modern
Contemporary Museum (Baltimore, Md.)
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Washington Post, March 5)

March 3, 2009 (Tue)
8 pm
Fessenden Ensemble: Youthful Masterworks
St. Columba's Episcopal Church (4201 Albemarle St. NW)

March 4, 2009 (Wed)
12:10 pm
David Amram, piano [FREE]
National Gallery of Art, West Building Lecture Hall

March 4, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Till Fellner, piano
Beethoven sonata cycle
Embassy Series
Embassy of Austria
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, March 6)

March 4, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
New York City Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House
Review -- Sarah Kaufman (Washington Post, March 9)

March 4, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Tracy Anne Smith, guitar
Mansion at Strathmore

March 5, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
New York City Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 5, 2009 (Thu)
8 pm
Belcea Quartet [FREE]
Library of Congress
Review -- Robert Battey (Washington Post, March 7)

Small eye
March 5, 2009 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Stravinsky, Apollo; Mozart, Requiem Mass
With Jun Märkl (conductor), Christine Brandes (soprano), Susan Platts (mezzo-soprano)
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, March 10)

March 6, 2009 (Fri)
7 pm
Master Class with Marilyn Horne [FREE]
Clarice Smith Center

March 6, 2009 (Fri)
7:30 pm
New York City Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 6, 2009 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Heather Raffo and Amir El Saffar, The Sounds of Desire
Kennedy Center Family Theater
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Ionarts, March 9)

Small eye
March 6, 2009 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

March 6, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Emmanuel Ceysson, harp
Barns at Wolf Trap

March 7, 2009 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
New York City Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 7, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Stravinsky, Apollo; Mozart, Requiem Mass
With Jun Märkl (conductor), Christine Brandes (soprano), Susan Platts (mezzo-soprano)
Music Center at Strathmore

March 8, 2009 (Sun)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
New York City Ballet
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 8, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Stravinsky, Apollo; Mozart, Requiem Mass
With Jun Märkl (conductor), Christine Brandes (soprano), Susan Platts (mezzo-soprano)
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

March 8, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Donizetti, Don Pasquale
Opera Bel Cantanti
Olney Theater Center for the Arts
Review -- Mark J. Estren (Washington Post, March 9)

Small eye
March 8, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

Small eye
March 8, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Bicentennial Tribute to Abraham Lincoln
Hindemith, When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd
Cathedral Choral Society
Washington National Cathedral
Review -- Charles T. Downey (Washington Post, March 10)

March 8, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Verdehr Trio [FREE]
Phillips Collection
Review -- Joan Reinthaler (Washington Post, March 9)

March 8, 2009 (Sun)
5:30 pm
Brentano Quartet with Peter Serkin
Shriver Hall (Baltimore, Md.)
Review -- Michael Lodico (Ionarts, March 11)

March 8, 2009 (Sun)
6:30 pm
NGA Vocal Arts Ensemble [FREE]
Music of the Golden Age in the Netherlands
National Gallery of Art

March 10, 2009 (Tue)
8 pm
David Henry Hwang, lecture
Clarice Smith Center

March 11, 2009 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Peter Vinograde, piano [FREE]
Music by Corgliano, Ruggles, Flagello, and other composers
National Gallery of Art, West Building Lecture Hall

March 11, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Leipzig String Quartet [FREE]
Music by Takemitsu, Hosokawa, Tan Dun, Cage
Freer Gallery of Art
Review -- Charles T. Downey (DCist, March 12)

March 11, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Jessica Krash (piano) and National Gallery of Art String Quartet [FREE]
National Museum of Women in the Arts

March 11, 2009 (Wed)
8 pm
Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Music Center at Strathmore
Review -- Rebecca J. Ritzel (Washington Post, March 14)

Small eye
March 12, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

March 12, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Concert
Embassy of Austria

Small eye
March 13, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Quatuor Ébène [FREE]
Library of Congress
Review -- Charles T. Downey (DCist, March 14)

Small eye
March 13, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Steven Isserlis (cello) and Connie Shih (piano)
Clarice Smith Center

Small eye
March 13, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Mosaic: Medieval Song from Spain and Cyprus
Folger Consort with soprano Ann Monoyios
Folger Shakespeare Library

Small eye
March 14, 2009 (Sat)
5 and 8 pm
Mosaic: Medieval Song from Spain and Cyprus
Folger Consort with soprano Ann Monoyios
Folger Shakespeare Library

March 14, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Amsterdam Cello Octet
Music by Pärt, Glass, Piazzolla and David Popper
Dumbarton Concerts

March 14, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic: Mozart Requiem
Music Center at Strathmore

Small eye
March 14, 2009 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

March 14, 2009 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Donizetti, Don Pasquale
Opera Bel Cantanti
Olney Theater Center for the Arts

March 14, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
With Andrew Armstrong, piano
George Mason University Center for the Arts

March 15, 2009 (Sun)
1 and 3 pm
NSO Family Concert: Go, Team, Go!
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Small eye
March 15, 2009 (Sun)
2 pm
Mosaic: Medieval Song from Spain and Cyprus
Folger Consort with soprano Ann Monoyios
Folger Shakespeare Library

March 15, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Donizetti, Don Pasquale
Opera Bel Cantanti
Olney Theater Center for the Arts

Small eye
March 15, 2009 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Harmonious Blacksmith [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

March 15, 2009 (Sun)
7 pm
Prima Trio (Washington, D.C., début)
Dumbarton Oaks

March 15, 2009 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Joseph Haydn: Trios for the Esterházys
Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
Renwick Gallery

March 16, 2009 (Mon)
8 pm
Prima Trio (Washington, D.C., début)
Dumbarton Oaks

March 18, 2009 (Wed)
12:10 pm
NGA String Quartet with Jessica Krash (piano) [FREE]
National Gallery of Art, West Building Lecture Hall

Small eye
March 19, 2009 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Jonathan Biss (piano) and Herbert Blomstedt (guest conductor)
Program includes Bruckner, 9th symphony
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

March 19, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Biava Quartet
Presented by Pro Musica Hebraica
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

March 19, 2009 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Dvořák, 7th symphony, and with Lukáš Vondrácek, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Mendelssohn Piano Trio
Music of Haydn
Embassy Series
Embassy of Hungary

Small eye
March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Jonathan Biss (piano) and Herbert Blomstedt (guest conductor)
Program includes Bruckner, 9th symphony
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Dvořák, 7th symphony, and with Lukáš Vondrácek, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

Small eye
March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Handel, Brockes Passion
Cantate Chamber Singers
St. John's Norwood Parish (Chevy Chase, Md.)

Small eye
March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Schubert, Schubert, and Schubert
Auryn Quartet
Gaston Hall, Georgetown University

March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Prokofiev, Cinderella
Russian National Ballet Theater
George Mason University Center for the Arts

March 20, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Lara St. John, violin
Barns at Wolf Trap

Small eye
March 21, 2009 (Sat)
7 pm
Britten, Peter Grimes
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

March 21, 2009 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Canadian Brass
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

March 21, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Dvořák, 7th symphony, and with Lukáš Vondrácek, piano
Music Center at Strathmore

Small eye
March 21, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Jonathan Biss (piano) and Herbert Blomstedt (guest conductor)
Program includes Bruckner, 9th symphony
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Small eye
March 21, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Schubert, Schubert, and Schubert
Auryn Quartet
Gaston Hall, Georgetown University

March 21, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Prokofiev, Sleeping Beauty
Russian National Ballet Theater
George Mason University Center for the Arts

March 22, 2009 (Sun)
2 pm
Washington International Competition for Strings [FREE]
Friday Morning Music Club
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
J. S. Bach, Great Organ Mass
Washington Bach Consort
National Presbyterian Church

March 22, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Dvořák, 7th symphony, and with Lukáš Vondrácek, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Academy of Ancient Music
J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concertos
George Mason University Center for the Arts

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Olga Kern, piano
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

March 22, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Ensemble Gaudior [FREE]
Phillips Collection

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Ariel Quartet with Roger Tapping (viola)
Corcoran Gallery of Art

March 22, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
IBIS Chamber Music Society [FREE]
Music by William Grant Still and William Alwyn
The Church at Clarendon (Arlington, Va.)

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
6 pm
Philip Setzer (violin), Gilbert Kalish (piano), and Paul Epstein (piano)
Music by Mozart, Epstein, Ives, Ravel
National Museum of Natural History

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Egidius Kwartet [FREE]
Music of the Golden Age in the Netherlands
National Gallery of Art

Small eye
March 22, 2009 (Sun)
8 pm
Schubert, Schubert, and Schubert
Auryn Quartet
Gaston Hall, Georgetown University

Small eye
March 23, 2009 (Mon)
7 pm
Britten, Peter Grimes
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

March 23, 2009 (Mon)
7:30 pm
Lipman Harp Duo
Embassy Series
Embassy of Australia

Small eye
March 23, 2009 (Mon)
7:30 pm
Monument Piano Trio
Mansion at Strathmore

March 24, 2009 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Pius Cheung, marimba
Young Concert Artists
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

March 25, 2009 (Wed)
12:10 pm
New York Chamber Soloists [FREE]
Music by Copland, Powell, Riegger, and Thompson
National Gallery of Art, West Building Lecture Hall

March 25, 2009 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Tracy Anne Smith, guitar
Mansion at Strathmore

Small eye
March 25, 2009 (Wed)
8 pm
Frederica von Stade and Samuel Ramey
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

March 26, 2009 (Thu)
4 pm
Award-Winning Student Ambassadors from the Music Institute of Chicago [FREE]
Kreeger Museum

Small eye
March 26, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Britten, Peter Grimes
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 26, 2009 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Susanna Phillips (soprano) and Craig Terry (piano)
Vocal Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Small eye
March 26, 2009 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Yuri Temirkanov (conductor) and Vadim Repin (violin)
Brahms, violin concerto; Prokofiev, 5th symphony
Music Center at Strathmore

March 27, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
New Zealand String Quartet [FREE]
With Richard Nunns, traditional Maori instruments
Library of Congress

March 27, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
University of Maryland Symphony
Mahler, 5th symphony
Clarice Smith Center

Small eye
March 27, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Yuri Temirkanov (conductor) and Vadim Repin (violin)
Brahms, violin concerto; Prokofiev, 5th symphony
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

March 27, 2009 (Fri)
8 pm
GMU Opera Company
George Mason University Center for the Arts

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
11 am
Splendor of the Harpsichord (music by Sweelinck, Frescobaldi, Rameau, Bach)
Joseph Gascho, harpsichord
George Washington University, Mount Vernon Campus

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
3 pm
Michael Berkovsky, piano [FREE]
Baltimore Museum of Art

Small eye
March 28, 2009 (Sat)
4 pm
London Symphony Orchestra
With Valery Gergiev (conductor) and Alexei Volodin (piano)
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Left Bank Concert Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Chanticleer: Wondrous Free
Music Center at Strathmore

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Handel, Israel in Egypt
Bach Sinfonia
Woodside United Methodist Church (Silver Spring, Md.)

Small eye
March 28, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Yuri Temirkanov (conductor) and Vadim Repin (violin)
Brahms, violin concerto; Prokofiev, 5th symphony
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

March 28, 2009 (Sat)
8 pm
GMU Opera Company
George Mason University Center for the Arts

Small eye
March 29, 2009 (Sun)
2 pm
Britten, Peter Grimes
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

Small eye
March 29, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Bang on a Can Marathon
With Terry Riley and Glenn Kotche
Clarice Smith Center

Small eye
March 29, 2009 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Yuri Temirkanov (conductor) and Vadim Repin (violin)
Brahms, violin concerto; Prokofiev, 5th symphony
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

Small eye
March 29, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Richard Goode, piano
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

March 29, 2009 (Sun)
4 pm
Alon Goldstein, piano [FREE]
Phillips Collection

March 29, 2009 (Sun)
5 pm
Kevin Kenner, piano
Embassy Series
La Maison Française

March 29, 2009 (Sun)
6:30 pm
NGA Orchestra with Alan Mandel (piano) [FREE]
Music by Barber, Hanson, and Siegmeister
National Gallery of Art

March 30, 2009 (Mon)
8 pm
New Music Concert [FREE]
University of Maryland School of Music
Clarice Smith Center