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31.7.10

How to Program a Summer Festival

Not all of us are so lucky to be in Salzburg this summer, but we are happily following several festivals remotely by Internet, including the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon. Renaud Machart sat down for an interview recently with René Koering, the composer who founded this festival in Montpellier twenty-five years ago, about his approach to programming, specifically about how he manages to include so many works audiences would not consider favorites or even expected fare. Here are a few excerpts from the article ("Je découvre en partition des oeuvres tous les mois", July 31) in Le Monde (my translation):
Why, after twenty-five years of "education" from you, did the audience flee the hall for the second half of the opera Wuthering Heights by the Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann on July 14?

I really think that a part of the audience thought the work was over after an hour and a half. Another part displayed the usual disdain for American music (like it would for Finnish, Dutch, or Portuguese music, which is not often in the ears of ordinary music-lovers). I would add that the "cultivated" public finds it odd to offer a film music composer a place of honor at the opera. [...]

"If Paul Hindemith had not existed, that would not have changed the course of music history," Pierre Boulez recently declared...

Who would have thought forty years ago that Mahler was going to become so important, at least in France? Hindemith was not Mahler (although ...) but who knew, in 1920, that Verdi had written Simon Boccanegra, that Bellini was a great composer, that Vivaldi even existed? Who, other than Boulez, could predict the place of composers in music history? Arnold Schoenberg claimed, "In the near future, people will play my music everywhere." A musician responded, "So, why must we play it now?"

Most big orchestral conductors know only a limited repertory, that which they conduct. With how many of them can you reasonably expect to talk about these pieces in the shadows?

Contrary to what you might think, a large number of them are very interested in such music: Muti, Conlon, Abbado, Järvi, Svetlanov, Gergiev, sometimes Maazel... At the same time there are a few incorrigibles, like the one who told me, "I know 30 symphonies, 12 operas, 20 concertos, and that is enough to live on!" That sort of thinking has not been successful for him, as it turns out!

Your knowledge of music is as eccentric as it is encyclopedic and voracious. Are there any lacunae, any thirst not quenched?

Of 4,000 operas catalogued by my research, I know barely a thousand of them chapter and verse. I have not only lacunae, but many more frustrations and a few passions interrupted in the act. I discover works in score study every month: Halévy's La Magicienne, Catoire's piano concerto, Hasse's Adriano in Sitia, which I think is a major work like the very beautiful Piramo e Tisbe, which I just presented with Fabio Biondi, a work from 1768 that sounds far ahead of its contemporaries. And I don't plan to stop there!
In case you missed it before, here is another reminder that you can listen to that performance of Piramo e Tisbe, with Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, through the Web site of France Musique.

30.7.10

Notes from the 2010 Salzburg Festival ( 3 )


Kontinent Rihm 1


Markus Hinterhäuser, in charge of the concert programs at the Salzburg Festival, is really leaving a mark with Kontinente series, each year devoting a good number of concerts to one contemporary composer. Ten, this year, and that’s not counting the opera Dionysus (more about that tomorrow) by Wolfgang Rihm, who is the 2010 featured composer.

What makes the Kontinent Rihm series so interesting is that they don’t just program Rihm (with all due respect: thank goodness), but mix it with interesting (sometimes conciliatory, conservative, sometimes delightfully rare) other works. When was the last time you’ve heard Darius Milhaud’s Les Choéphores—music for seven stage-scenes of Aeschylus’ Choephori (Oresteia)? I, never. Milhaud is composer who leaves me hot and cold—or after too much Le bœuf and La Création, lukewarm. But Les Choéphores is hot and cold and everything, just not lukewarm.


available at Amazon
D.Milhaud , Les Choéphores,
I.Markevitch / Orchestre Lamoureux
DG



available at Amazon
W.Rihm, Tutuguri,
F.Bollon / SWR RSO Stuttgart
hänssler Classic

The intoxicating choral tableau begins innocently enough with a mix of French operatic tradition (anywhere from Gounod to Dukas) and Milhaud’s (then) distinctly modern early 20th century idiom and his inventive hand at scoring. And just when you expect another dose of twisted perfume hurled your way, he takes the orchestra out entirely, entrusts parts IV and V solely to percussion, and lets the chorus growl, speak, huff, hiss, puff, whistle, vocalize like 67 well tuned Caspars, while a speaker (mezzo Dörte Lyssewski, in this case) rhythmically chants the text. And that in 1915, a good seven years before Walton’s Façade. Let’s, by almost avoiding the mildly daft suggestion of this pre-shadowing rap music, get right to the performance at this point, because the Percussive Planet Ensemble, the Salzburg Bach Chorus, and especially Lyssewski made those two central passages a riveting affair, driven, absolutely irresistible. The tame, matter-of-factly reading of these parts on the Markevitch recording can’t, sadly, begin to get across the compelling force the live performance whipped up. Ingo Metzmacher and the DSO Berlin, a wonderful incisive soprano in Lucy Crowe and the French-throaty baritone Jean-Luc Ballestra (a potential double for Johnny Depp) all did their part to ensure success.

Then, after the first intermission, came Rihm—incredulously only 58 years old and already a Grande Dame (definitely not yet éminence grise) of German notational music: Tutuguri—Poème dansé, from 1980/82, inspired by the writing of Antonine Artaud… a ballet (dancing optional) in four (unrelated) scenes for large orchestra, six drummers, taped chorus and speaker (or, alternatively a loud parrot, I think). A single flute plays one note, then another, establishes a rhythmical pattern which is then, hesitantly, picked up by other winds, then brass instruments, until finally the piano and percussion relieve the monotony by introducing stop-and-go cacophony. Now having established that style, it continues more or less like that, for two more parts, taking a good 80 minutes until the end of the third scene where an actor/speaker (Martin Wuttke, here) gets to act out that above-mentioned parrot. Overacting can be a pain, though; I reckon the spontaneous laughter at his fervent, achingly sincere antics was not anticipated by Rihm. It was all a bit much of the same or, to put it nicely, not a terribly efficient way of getting the musical content across. I’d like to think that much of the same-ish Rihm experiences can effectively be gotten condensed, dramatized, in short: much improved, by seeing Das Gehege (review).

The orchestra, no longer needed for the fourth and final part, parted, along with half the audience, and after the second intermission the Martin Grubinger (review) percussion group took the stage. What followed was tedium with sticks; Koto drumming for white conservatory boys. Mindless, endless, continuously more simplistic drumming that doesn’t gain at all from accumulation (more likely: doesn’t even try to get any accumulative force going), and peters out in unsatisfactory horizontal boredom, stretched over interminable forty minutes. Occasionally matters are livened up by more dying parrots screaking from tape. Where’s Animal from the Muppets when you need him? If the drums had been covered with steed hide, at least I could have punned about beating a dead horse. But the six drummers just relentlessly beat congas with sticks and the work descended to the level of a drumming group therapy. It should be easy for the following nine Kontinent Rihm concerts to surpass this experience. Considerably.

29.7.10

Notes from the 2010 Salzburg Festival ( 2 )


Camerata Salzburg 1



Sometimes great musical geniuses seem to be driven to ‘non-functionality’, as Joachim Kaiser once put it in the context of Carlos Kleiber’s death. Michealangeli, perhaps even Gould come to mind, also. When displaying signs of ‘non-functionality’, it certainly helps to be considered a genius though. Which brings me to Ivo Pogorelich, who has unquestionably displayed signs of ‘non-functionality’ in the past, whose celebrated career has petered out to a trickle after a nearly 11-year hiatus, and who is slow in re-starting his career. Almost six years ago he performed at the George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (review), bringing baffling Beethoven but stunning moments in Liszt. He’s still a rare sight on concert schedules even in Europe, and in the US I don’t think he plays at all; too much risk and too little draw for organizers to program him.

He re-affirmed the risk-part when, on extremely short notice, he canceled his two scheduled performances with the Salzburg Camerata under Philippe Herreweghe, which was to include his first public performance of the Chopin e-minor concerto. He might very well have the ‘Summer flu’ of course—and if so, one wishes him the best for a speedy recovery. In fact I’ve heard that he seems fairly level headed these days, and excited about performing. But with a certain reputation once acquired, that’s not the first thought that comes to mind. [Edit: As it turns out: No ‘Summer flu’ and decidedly not ‘well adjusted’, the reasons for Pogorelich ‘withdrawing’ were perfectly aligned with the concept of ‘‘non-functionality’’.]

Enough about the man who didn’t show and instead about the girl that replaced him: Not one of the greats already in town—Kissin, Argerich, Barenboim, Sokolov, but Yu Kosuge, a 28-year old Japanese pianist with a respectable bio and performing schedule stepped in and played the f-minor concerto (leaving the more interesting e-minor for an as-of-yet unannounced (female) pianist Polina Leschenko). Yu Kosuge did so very well, tame, nicely balanced, slightly boring, with technique to spare and sparing emotions. Very, very nice, though, were those runs in the finale, where her touch was full of lightness and held in a most graceful piano and pianissimo. The audience went nuts and got two fitting, if not particularly novel (or energizing), Schumann (?) encores. Where’s Shchedrin’s Humoresque or Rzewski’s Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues when you need it?

The Salzburg Camerata wasn’t in top form, though—the violins sounding like steel strung instruments often do when asked to play with little or no vibrato. The brass constantly flubbed in the two Schumann symphonies also on the program, of which No.3, the Rhenish that ended the program, was considerably better than the Spring Symphony No.1 which sounded just tedious. When faced with Schumann, one can’t help to yearn for a big-boned, romantic sound. Or else to hear something exciting, crisp attacks with a punchy, even aggressive sound. One got neither. The sound of the Salzburg Camerata in the Haus für Mozart was dull and too comfy. Herreweghe, who has completely mastered double-symmetry of his conducting hands, looking at times like gramps shaking his fists at the orchestra, didn’t elicit the kind of performances from them that he has gotten from his own groups in either baroque, classical, or romantic music. Disappointing.

More tomorrow about the first of ten (10 !) concerts with Wolfgang Rihm’s music.

Comfort Music

While listening to music with an ear toward perfection, one can lose sight of the simple fact of sound's power to move the listener: to calm the enraged, comfort the suffering, to make one forget even for a brief time the travails of life. In times of personal crisis, people turn to music of all kinds, but for me it is historical music of the Christian liturgy that ends up in my ears. At such times, even while the critical ear is never really turned off, it seems proper just to thank the composers who wrote this music, the patrons who sponsored them, and the musicians whose voices bring it to our ears centuries later.

available at Amazon
Tudor City, New York Polyphony

(released on April 13, 2010)
Avie AV2186 | 62'51"

available at Amazon
Via Crucis, N. Rial, P. Jaroussky, Barbara Furtuna, L'Arpeggiata,
C. Pluhar

(released on April 20, 2010)
Virgin Classics 694577 0 | 70'35"

available at Amazon
Rachmaninov, Vespers, op. 37, Academy of Choral Art, V. Popov

(re-released on July 1, 2008)
Delos DE 3388 | 51'04"
The male vocal quartet New York Polyphony was founded only in 2006, and Tudor City is their second release on the Avie label, after a Christmas disc called I Sing the Birth. The selection is intriguing, motets by Byrd, Cornysh, Tye, Dunstable and William Lambe, a Magnificat setting by John Taverner, as well as selections from Tallis's Nine Tunes from Archbishop Parker's Psalter. These are juxtaposed with new pieces, in a style derived from historical polyphony of various kinds by Andrew Smith, a composer born in Liverpool who now lives in Oslo. Smith's most interesting work is Flos regalis, paired here with the medieval work that inspired it, the conductus setting the same text in the Worcester Fragments. The sound, captured in New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine last summer (production by Malcolm Bruno), is ultra-resonant -- almost artificially so -- with all the ring and decay of that grand space. New York Polyphony is going on a European tour next month, shortly after which one of its members, baritone Scott Dispensa, will leave the group to join the Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

Jens mentioned Via Crucis, the new recording of sacred music for Holy Week led by Christina Pluhar. It is equal parts early music and "NPR music," with tinges of world music (traditional Corsican songs performed by the vocal quartet Barbara Furtuna), folk music (the obtrusive Renaissance Fair tinkle of hammered dulcimer in Pluhar's L'Arpeggiata ensemble), and Mediterranean jazz (gleaming lines given to the slender, sultry trumpet) sure to please the "Fresh Air" crowd. While the recording treads dangerously close to kitsch at times, it is an overall pleasing listen, the sincerity of its intent -- to reproduce something of the intensity of popular worship during Holy Week -- outweighing what could be seen as a lack of taste. The two lead singers go a long way to keeping the balance on the tasteful side of the equation: countertenor Philippe Jaroussky is a known entity, and the dulcet, laser-precise soprano Nuria Rial is a most welcome discovery.

My well-known aversion to the music of Rachmaninoff does not extend to his vocal music, and the Russian composer's op. 37 setting of the Orthodox Vespers and Vigil (or Matins) service is a long-time favorite. This recording by Moscow's Academy of Choral Art, under Victor Popov, may not be the best option, especially with a stellar recording having been released in recent years by Paul Hillier (praised highly by Jens a few years ago and by yours truly when it was re-released). The Popov disc is also a re-release of an even earlier recording that at times falls beneath the musical standards of intonation and sectional balance in Hillier's recording and clocks in a couple minutes shorter, due to an occasionally peppy rhythmic approach that is important to keep in mind if one assumes that Russian choral music should be always dirge-like in tempo. This performance is also infused with a full-throated Russian quality that is exactly what one needs to hear sometimes.

28.7.10

Notes from the 2010 Salzburg Festival ( 1 )


Vienna Philharmonic 1 · 50 Jahre Großes Festspielhaus


The Salzburg Festival had already opened when I got here yesterday. It’s been going on since Sunday with the opening play Everyman, the opening concert of the Vienna Philharmonic on Monday, and yesterday with Wolfgang Rihm’s new opera Dionysus. I should have liked to see Dionysus¸ and will, but until I do I contented myself with the repeat performance of the Vienna Phil under Daniel Barenboim, where he played Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto (conducting from the piano), Boulez’ Notations for Orchestra, and Bruckner’s Te Deum.

The Vienna Philharmonic, studded with strategically placed females in the Beethoven (two first violins), displayed a strange, possibly appealing chamber-like sonority in the opening of what is one of the most beautiful, perfectly balanced piano concertos ever written. The concert master stuck out particularly, with his sweetly melancholic tone—tone and playing of an old fashioned quality, which is to say: ever so slightly, wistfully out of tune. Unfortunately that was his best of the night; it went only downhill from there.

Barenboim’s pianism offered little to behold, aside from a few marvelous lyrical passages. Elsewhere it was rhythmically unstable, rushing to no effect, sometimes hasty, stealing time without giving it back, or stomping the rhythm down with his sustaining pedal foot, with a harsh attack… in short: forgettable, at best. At least they had time during intermission, when the curtain was raised to open the whole stage for the subsequent Boulez and Bruckner, to sweep up all the innumerable notes he had dropped.

But with a starry cast of singers for Bruckner promised, not many attendees will have come specifically for the Beethoven anyway. Nor for the Boulez, presumably, knowing the Salzburg audience. But to a few ears this might have been the point of particular interest, hearing the Vienna Philharmonic perform Boulez’ rich and fantastical Notations, that Barenboim-commissioned work-in-progress that has its roots in his 1945 op.1, twelve rigidly structured dodecaphonic pieces for piano. Barenboim programmed the five extant re-composed orchestral items in the order: “I – Modéré. III – Très modéré. IV – Rythmique. VII – Hiératique – Lent. Régulier, sans rigidité. II – Très vif – Strident.

I’m not sure how many members of the Vienna Phil looked forward to that, either, but at least as far as Boulez goes, Notations is pretty tame, cracks the occasional smile, and as an orchestral show-off piece it makes it easy to get into the spirit of. If there was any resistance to playing Boulez, the full-size orchestra, now up to 6, no, 7 females (adding two second violins, two harps, and one well hidden violist), didn’t show it. They acquitted themselves capably, not particularly precise and with as-you-like-it bowing, but with a much more than dutiful, if not outright enthusiastic performance. Best thing: seeing the Philharmonic’s percussionists in tails run back and forth at the wide back of the stage, trying to get to their various instruments in time.

Bruckner’s Te Deum, which I recently heard in a astonishingly soporific performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (otherwise the orchestra whose ‘worst’ I’d consider the ‘best worst’ of any orchestra I know—but under Daniel Harding apparently all bets are off), occupied a very special place in the composer’s œvre and heart. It was going to be his calling card when he waited in the antechamber of God. And there is of course his famous deathbed suggestion of taking the Te Deum as the final movement of the unfinished Ninth Symphony. He sketched it in 1881, composed the Seventh Symphony, then went back to it in 1883. The two works meet in the last line of the Te Deum (“non confundar in aeternum”, “let me never be put to shame”), the melody of which is central to the symphony’s Adagio.

Audiences realized the work’s value early on—it was by some measure the most performed of Bruckner’s works in his life-time. (It’s also conveniently short.) I have so far failed to ‘get it’, despite my deep, abiding love for Bruckner I prefer all his symphonies and masses to it. So in every live performance I hope to get my Te Deum Eureka moment. Would this, with such a cast—Dorothea Röschmann, Elīna Garanča, Klaus Florian Vogt, René Pape—manage? Yes—just about… but hardly because of the soloists.

For one, only the high voices—soprano and tenor—are of importance; the bass gets one short moment in the limelight and the mezzo none. Having Garanča on the bill looks nice, but that part must have been the easiest paycheck for her this season… a brief exercise in singalong. Röschmann was her usual vibrato-heavy but tasteful self while Vogt was missing some of his sheen in the heights (and the lows anyway). But the chorus and the orchestra, except for the barely intuned concert master’s solos, did well under Barenboim, who turned the terraced dynamics on and off at the flip of a switch, eliciting the music as a succession of somber exclamation marks—which now revealed themselves as Bruckner’s most confident such exclamation marks. Squeezed into proper structure, the Te Deum didn’t seem like a string of random outbursts anymore, which I had always found so confounding when compared to the symphonies. A most gratifying end to a satisfying second half.

On to Herreweghe-Pogorelich-Schumann-Chopin today.



27.7.10

Iván Fischer's Dvořák "Cyclet"

available at Amazon
Dvořák, Symphony 7 / "American" Suite, Budapest Festival Orchestra, I. Fischer

(released on June 8, 2010)
Channel Classics SA 30010 | 59'

available at Amazon
Dvořák, Symphonies 8/9, Budapest Festival Orchestra, I. Fischer

(re-released on June 8, 2010)
Channel Classics SA 90110 | 78'

Online scores:
Dvořák, op. 98 | Symphony 7
Symphony 8 | Symphony 9

available at Amazon
M. B. Beckerman, New worlds of Dvořák: searching in America for the composer's inner life


available at Amazon
J. Horowitz, Dvořák in America: In Search of the New World
Iván Fischer is not a fan of recording cycles of complete symphonies, if we are to believe what he said in an interview with Jens Laurson a few years ago. That was in reference to his excellent Mahler recordings with the orchestra he founded in his native Hungary, the Budapest Festival Orchestra (then just the second and sixth, to which he added a fourth in 2009). He appears to be taking a similar approach to the symphonies of Antonín Dvořák, also recording just a few works here and there, according to what strikes his fancy.

The eighth and ninth symphonies just put out by Channel Classics is a re-release of an older disc from Philips. The ninth is, without a doubt, the most over-recorded and over-performed Dvořák symphony of them all (heard live in a memorable performance from Temirkanov with the BSO a few years ago, which was a hard act for Marin Alsop to follow), with new recordings appearing all the time. Fischer's take on both of these symphonies was something special, containing plenty of suavity and intensity without becoming vulgar bombast, and they continue to be worthwhile, although at import prices (in the Channel Classics version) perhaps not the best option.

We have reviewed Fischer conducting both the seventh and eighth symphonies with the National Symphony Orchestra during the last two years of his time as Principal Conductor. The result with the local band was not as impressive or unified as what he accomplished with the BFO back in Hungary, a group one senses is more cohesive under him as their leader. On these recordings of the seventh and eighth symphonies one begins to understand better what Fischer was after with the NSO. In none of these movements are all the entrances and ensemble moments perfectly coordinated, but there is a sense of the collective surging and receding that Fischer's fluctuating beat often seems to be trying to show. The individual playing is generally fine, with some sectional issues in the strings, but an overall warm glow to the strings and incision from the winds and brass where needed. The strongest sections are not the most forthright and loud ones, which any orchestra worth its salt can handle, but the gloom and mystery of the softer passages.

One is tempted to say that those moments, modally inflected and often subdued, are especially Czech in nature. To what degree music composed by Dvořák in this period was influenced by his extended stay in the United States is open to debate. Two recent books on the composer's experiences in the United States, by Michael Brim Beckerman and Joseph Horowitz, try to analyze the surviving documents and the scores to analyze any American qualities in the music. The truth is that the sound Dvořák so memorably created was no more truly American than it was exclusively truly Czech, a homogenizing way with harmony and orchestration that one can identify as having a folk orientation, what Beckerman calls Dvořák's "cosmoslavitan approach" (p. 13). That the so-called "New World" symphony has less to do with American folk music than you might think is a long-established fact, and the suite that goes by the subtitle "American" does so primarily because it was composed here, initially for piano and then in a version for orchestra shortly before he returned home. It is a pleasant enough piece, paired nicely on this disc with the seventh symphony, but it seems mostly light and decorative rather than substantial (indeed, like many suites), with only the last two movements, which sound more "Czech" than "American" (whatever that means), really standing out as particularly inventive.

26.7.10

'Fox' on the Sly

A company called Ensemble Justiniana has been taking guerrilla opera productions on the roads of the Franche-Comté in the summer. After productions of Carmen two years ago and The Cunning Little Vixen last year, they have returned this summer with something you might not expect for this kind of affair, Stravinsky's Renard. Christiane Barbault has the story (Un loup dans nos campagnes, July 25) for Le Progrès (my translation):
Bêtes de scène will begin with Renard, the vaudevillesque farce composed by Stravinsky in 1916 for 17 instruments including a Hungarian cymbalom evoking a gypsy atmosphere. Étienne Roche, who is also conducting the orchestra, has written Monsieur S's Goat, a long chanted monologue with Gospel and blues accents, where the predator is not whom you might think. The triptych will conclude with Prokofiev's famous Peter and the Wolf, in which every character, human, furry, or feathered, is represented by an instrument and an individual theme. [...]

After the premiere in Chapois, the creative team will be welcomed by residents in various towns, who will be informed about the works and asked to advise on a choice of performance locales, which will be different for each location. The director imagines, for example, that the musical voyage could begin in the village square, continue in a barnyard with Renard, move into the forest with the goat, and end up in the darkness with little Peter and his delightful bestiary.
Performances begin on July 31 and continue through August 20, in various towns in the Jura, the Doubs, and other places.

25.7.10

In Brief: Still Hot Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
  • Paul McCreesh led his Gabrieli Consort and Players in a performance of Handel's Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at the Festival de Beaune. Here is the online video. [ARTE Live Web]

  • With hat tip to The Cranky Professor, this news that excavations for a new bridge over the Mississippi River, near Jerseyfield, Illinois, have uncovered major archeological finds of the Mississippian culture. The researchers believe they have discovered a large settlement flourishing around the year A.D. 600, and archeological deposits dating back another 4,000 to 5,000 years. [BND.com]

  • The English word chapel comes from the French chapelle, which came from the Latin cappella. It turns out that the etymology of this word is a derivation from the word chape (Lat. cappa), or cape. As in the cape that St. Martin of Tours cut in half, to clothe a beggar: a part of that cape (a little cape, or cappella) was by legend kept as a relic in the imperial church attached to Charlemagne's palace at Aachen. The building eventually became known as the cappella or chapelle, whence the name of the town in French, Aix-la-Chapelle. [Languagehat]

  • Gregorian Idol! The cloistered Benedictine nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de L'Annonciation have signed a deal with Decca, after being selected from among 70 convents in Europe, South Africa, and America. [The Observer]

  • Renaud Machart continues to travel around to summer festivals, recently finding himself at the Festival classique de Ramatuelle. Nicholas Angelich played there on the 15th, and on the 21st Martha Argerich sat down at the piano with Michel Legrand. [Le Monde]

  • Christian Merlin is in Munich for the summer opera festival. Singers' cast lists, good; productions, bad. [Le Figaro]

  • The Aix-en-Provence Festival continues, with a staging of Rameau's Pygmalion by Trisha Brown. According to the report by Raphaël de Gubernatis, the audience received the work of the American choreographer warmly. [Le Nouvel Observateur]

  • Also at the Festival de Beaune, Andreas Scholl performed a Purcell recital with Accademia Bizantina, led by Stefano Montanari. [ARTE Live Web]

  • Have a listen to Hasse's 1768 opera Piramo e Tisbe, performed as part of the Festival Radio France in Montpellier by Fabio Biondi's group Europa Galante, with Désirée Rancatore, Vivica Genaux, and Emanuele d’Aguanno. [France Musique]

24.7.10

Nicholas Angelich (et al.) in Brahms

available at Amazon
Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2 / Klavierstücke, op. 76, N. Angelich, Frankfurt RSO, P. Järvi

(released on June 8, 2010)
Virgin 266349 2 | 74'37"

available at Amazon
Brahms, Piano Quartets 1-3,
R. Capuçon, G. Caussé,
G. Capuçon, N. Angelich

(released on October 28, 2008)
Virgin 519310 2 | 128'02"

Online scores:
Brahms, op. 25 | op. 26 | op. 60
op. 76 | op. 83
The latest in Virgin's generally good, occasionally excellent "French Brahms" series of recordings again features pianist Nicholas Angelich (born in America but educated and based in France). The label has released in close succession many of the pieces Brahms wrote for the piano, including the piano trios (a beautiful recording with the Capuçon brothers), the violin sonatas (with Renaud Capuçon), two volumes of the piano pieces, the first piano concerto (paired with the Hungarian Dances for four hands, with Frank Braley), and the 2-CD set of the piano quartets also under review here. (One could throw in the Brahms recording, one of the piano quartets and the piano quintet, with the Quatuor Ébène and Akiko Yamamoto on the same label.)

As heard in live performance, Angelich's approach to Brahms tends toward the suppressed and penumbral. That reticence, which can make for very pleasing Brahms, became an unexpected drawback in a concert performance of one of the Brahms piano trios, with the Capuçon brothers earlier this year. Live in an auditorium, something about the tone of the strings was too strident or Angelich did not dig enough into the keyboard. That imbalance is rectified for the most part in recording, perhaps with the help of microphone adjustments, but the stridency of the strings (the Capuçons with violist Gérard Caussé), while creating some exciting moments, keeps this recording somewhere in the middle of the many options for these magnificent works, amid a burgeoning crop of new recordings.

On his own, perhaps because he is without the showier Capuçons, Angelich seems less retiring on his solo outings. He gives a shuddering performance of the emotional excesses of the second piano concerto, in a disc that could be paired nicely with that of the first concerto. Paavo Järvi, whose name is appearing with impressive regularity in my inbox of new releases to assess, leads an equally explosive performance by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the prominent solos for cello and horn handled with aplomb and matching Angelich's intensity, both exterior and interior. His account of the op. 76 solo pieces is the best part of the disc, showing how a more understated personality, someone less apt to showboat and seek the spotlight, can be such a good match for Brahms. The excellent sound is detailed and close, meaning that you can hear creaks of the bench and the felt-softened crunch as the damper pedal engages and releases, as well as the most anguished whispers of Angelich's playing.

23.7.10

Pianist to Watch: Adam Laloum

The winner of last year's Clara Haskil Competition, in Vevey, Switzerland -- which also recognized one Martin Helmchen, who won in 2001 -- was a 22-year-old pianist named Adam Laloum. He won with a memorable performance of Mozart's C minor piano concerto, K. 491, but a chance to hear him play a public recital just happened earlier this month, at the Festival de Saintes. He played Mozart's K. 282, the Brahms op. 76 pieces, and the D. 894 sonata of Schubert. Renaud Machart wrote a review (Adam Laloum, jeune pianiste, déjà grand artiste et poète, July 13) for Le Monde (my translation):
We were surprised to learn that, in Saintes, he was playing the D. 894 sonata for only the second time in public, when everything seemed to indicate a long familiarity with this masterpiece. One could think this young musician not really made for the "career": a little wild (after the competition in Vevey, he fled the award ceremony to go smoke by the lake), passionate but timid and not talkative, he seemed stunned, more than out of his depth, by what was happening to him.

What has changed, then, since winning this prize? "Stress appeared in my life, which I did not really know before. Chamber music affords the pleasure of sharing in a collective adventure. Playing these sublime pages alone in front of an audience is another matter. Before the competition, I was playing Schumann's Kreisleriana for everything. Since then I had to put together a repertoire with the inevitable physical discomfort tied to such intensive work."

Still, in spite of his fragile appearance and fingers of surprising finesse, Adam Laloum demonstrates an impressive physical strength. The underlying storms of the Brahms come from a hollow of silence and grow up to a rumbling thunder, violent but never brutal. There is beauty in this Brahmsian darkness, and Laloum understood how to hit on the just the right tone for the Mozartian terror, hidden so well behind the delicacy of an unmannered style of playing.
Adam Laloum also played a recital at the Verbier Festival on July 17, where he played Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze, two Debussy preludes, a Brahms intermezzo (op. 117), and Schubert's D. 894. You can watch that recital as an online video from Medici.TV. It's unlikely I will hear another live performance anytime soon to challenge what Mitsuko Uchida made of the Davidsbündlertänze at her recital earlier this year, but Laloum can spin an exquisite phrase, if there are little cracks in the virtuosity here and there. Also, one could be forgiven for thinking he is the younger cousin of François-Frédéric Guy.

22.7.10

For Your Consideration: 'Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky'


Mads Mikkelsen (Stravinsky) and Anna Mouglalis (Chanel)
in Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, directed by Jan Kounen
Jan Kounen's new movie, released last year in France, fictionalizes a real historical affair, between two of the greats of the 20th century, fashion designer Coco Chanel and composer Igor Stravinsky. Richard Taruskin, in his magisterial biography of the Russian composer, outlines the basic facts of this episode: Chanel, who underwrote the first revival of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, in 1920 with a new choreography by Léonide Massine, installed the composer and his family in her villa in the Parisian suburb of Garches, where attraction led to seduction. As Taruskin put it, their tryst "apparently meant a great deal more to Stravinsky than it did to Chanel, who was collecting White Russians at the time" (p. 1516). It was Misia Sert, a fascinating character in Parisian life in this period, who introduced Chanel and Stravinsky: she is featured in the movie, played by Natacha Lindinger, but named only in the credits. As Taruskin notes with sage reserve, "Reliable details of this affair are naturally hard to come by" (footnote, p. 1516), and other writers who have relied on later recollections by the "notoriously boastful" Chanel, Misia Sert, Robert Craft, or Arthur Rubinstein have done so somewhat recklessly. At least, in terms of history, but for this sort of fanciful story, the standards are lower.

available at Amazon
R. Taruskin, Stravinsky and
the Russian Traditions
The screenplay, adapted by Chris Greenhalgh from his own novel, is not a biography of either Chanel or Stravinsky (for a take on Chanel's early life, see Anne Fontaine's recent movie Coco avant Chanel with Audrey Tautou in the title role), although it touches on some major accomplishments of both -- Chanel's work designing clothes in her shop and the development of her famous No. 5 perfume, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. For the latter, the film begins several years before the affair, with that work's infamous premiere in 1913, which it depicts in the long opening sequence (choreography by Dominique Brun, with a smaller number of dancers than Nijinsky used). Although this portrayal of the riot at the work's opening (people booing, people cheering, the conflict between classes as someone yells "Taisez-vous, garces du 16ème" at the wealthy ladies, the police entering the theater) may not hit all of the salient details -- a number of people wrote about what was said and done that night -- showing a DVD of this part of the movie could be an excellent teaching introduction to Rite of Spring, as far as providing a fairly accurate visual re-enactment of the tumult at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The tension among the artistic creators of the ballet -- Nijinsky's odd choreography, Stravinsky's high-handedness, the orchestral musicians worrying that their performance will fall apart, Diaghilev's manipulation of the scandal (later in the movie, there is hilarious scene in which he "auditions" a candidate for the position as his secretary) -- and the scenes shot on location give it considerable flavor.

Other Articles:

Roger Ebert | New York Times | Washington Post | Boston Globe | Huffington Post | Movie Review Intelligence

The two leads are convincing physically and dramatically: the long-lined body of Anna Mouglalis as Coco Chanel and the bespectacled, mustached Mads Mikkelsen as Stravinsky. They have a tangible chemistry between them, including some steamy sex scenes -- if teachers do eventually play the Rite of Spring scene from the DVD in class, be careful when you select the track! The most intense and certainly sympathetic performance, however, comes from Elena Morozova as Stravinsky's wife Katarina. In frail health because of tuberculosis, diagnosed when the Stravinskys lived in Switzerland just before moving to France -- it would later kill both Katarina and their eldest daughter, Ludmilla, and almost kill Stravinsky himself -- she is saddled with the burdens of four young children and the work of correcting and copying her husband's music. Morozova creates a mask of unease on her face as the family settles into Chanel's home, enjoying the luxury of their good fortune at first but soon all too aware that she is losing her husband to their hostess.

The film is beautifully shot, with some unusual angles and lens work (cinematography by David Ungaro), with gorgeous costumes (Chattoune Fab) and overall design to create the world of 1920s Paris (production design by Marie-Hélène Sulmoni). The visual beauty is matched by the music, supervised by Jean-Pierre Arquie, with pieces by Stravinsky interwoven with an original score by Gabriel Yared. The fine performance of the Rite, which percolates through the whole film, its savage rhythms standing in for the atavistic violence of the Chanel-Stravinsky affair, is by the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle. The only curious flaws are at the very beginning and end of the film: a beautiful but overlong title sequence, dragged out by a computer-rendered series of kaleidoscopic patterns, and the film's coda, a completely unnecessary couple of scenes showing Chanel and Stravinsky at the end of their lives. With both parties moving on to other involvements, the only reason for these scenes, hinting at regrets and life-long passion, was the superfluous desire to show off the aging makeup.

In the Washington area, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky is showing exclusively at Landmark's Bethesda Row.


21.7.10

A Swing and a Miss

Style masthead

Read my review published yesterday on the Washington Post Web site:

Charles T. Downey, Blier's Latin soul lacks pizzazz at Wolf Trap
Washington Post, July 20, 2010

available at Amazon
S. Barber, Complete Songs, C. Studer, T. Hampson, J. Browning,
Emerson String Quartet
Pianist Steven Blier returned to the Barns at Wolf Trap on Sunday afternoon for another recital with some of Wolf Trap Opera Company’s annual crop of young singers. With an encyclopedic knowledge of so many corners of the song repertoire, Blier’s signature is an uncanny fusion of pieces on both sides of the divide between popular and art song. He manages not only to unearth unknown repertoire of surprising appeal but also to combine it with more familiar favorites in ways that create unexpected connections.

How much more disappointing, then, that his latest recital, called “Latin Days, American Nights,” did not live up to those expectations. Most of the program was pleasant enough for summer listening but not much more, either fluffy pablum or harmless fun, depending on your point of view. Not that welcome discoveries were entirely missing, especially two songs by Samuel Barber, whose centenary this year continues to offer opportunities to appreciate his strengths as a songwriter, and others by William Bolcom, Carlos López Buchardo, and Jorge Anckermann. [Continue reading]
Latin Days, American Nights
Steven Blier, piano
Members of Wolf Trap Opera Company
Barns at Wolf Trap

20.7.10

Classical Month in Washington (October)

Last month | Next month

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!

October 1, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Music by Pintscher and Beethoven
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 1, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Bernstein, Trouble in Tahiti / Bolcom, Casino Paradise
In Series
Source Theater

October 1, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Folger Consort and Lionheart
Folger Shakespeare Library

October 1, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
University of Maryland Symphony
Music by Sibelius, Tchaikovsky
Clarice Smith Center

October 2, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Pagliacci / Gianni Schicchi
Opera Bel Cantanti
JCCGW (Rockville, Md.)

October 2, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
Music by Pintscher and Beethoven
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 2, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Bernstein, Trouble in Tahiti / Bolcom, Casino Paradise
In Series
Source Theater

October 2, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Folger Consort and Lionheart
Folger Shakespeare Library

October 2, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Stefan Jackiw, violin
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
Folger Consort and Lionheart
Folger Shakespeare Library

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Bach, Mass in B Minor
Washington Bach Consort
National Presbyterian Church

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Stefan Jackiw, violin
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Robert McDuffie, violin
Phillips Collection

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
6 pm
Pagliacci / Gianni Schicchi
Opera Bel Cantanti
JCCGW (Rockville, Md.)

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
7 pm
Yolanda Kondonassis (harp), Cynthia Phelps (viola), and Joshua Smith (flute)
Dumbarton Oaks

October 3, 2010 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Smithsonian Chamber Players
Music of Mozart and Beethoven
National Museum of American History

October 4, 2010 (Mon)
8 pm
Yolanda Kondonassis (harp), Cynthia Phelps (viola), and Joshua Smith (flute)
Dumbarton Oaks

October 5, 2010 (Tue)
12:10 pm
Noontime Cantata: Ein ungefarbt Gemute, BWV 24 [FREE]
Washington Bach Consort
Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St. NW)

October 5, 2010 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Fessenden Ensemble
Beethoven, Wind Quintet and Septet
St. Columba's Episcopal Church

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Håkon Austbø, piano [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Olga Orlovskaya (soprano) and Vera Danchenko-Stern (piano) [FREE]
National Museum of Women in the Arts

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Fessenden Ensemble
Beethoven, Wind Quintet and Septet
National City Christian Church

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín
Washington National Opera Orchestra, City Choir of Washington, Catholic University of America Chorus
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
8 pm
Mobtown Modern
With Corey Dargel
The Windup Space (Baltimore, Md.)

October 6, 2010 (Wed)
8 pm
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

October 7, 2010 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Music by Beethoven, Bruckner
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 7, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 7, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Yuri Minenko, countertenor
Vocal Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 7, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Paul Galbraith, guitar
Mansion at Strathmore

October 7, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

October 8, 2010 (Fri)
1:30 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Music by Beethoven, Bruckner
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 8, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Orrett Rhoden, piano
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 8, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Ensemble 415 [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 8, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Danish String Quartet
Corcoran Gallery of Art

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
11 am, 1:30 pm, 5 pm
Rumplestiltskin
With Matthias Kuchta, puppeteer
Kennedy Center Family Theater

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
3 pm
Jupiter String Quartet [FREE]
Baltimore Museum of Art

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 and 9:30 pm
Chick Corea Trio
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Pagliacci / Gianni Schicchi
Opera Bel Cantanti
JCCGW (Rockville, Md.)

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Music by Beethoven, Bruckner
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 9, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
Mahler, Symphony No. 2
Music Center at Strathmore

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
1:30 and 4 pm
Rumplestiltskin
With Matthias Kuchta, puppeteer
Kennedy Center Family Theater

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Pagliacci / Gianni Schicchi
Opera Bel Cantanti
JCCGW (Rockville, Md.)

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Daniel del Pino, piano
Phillips Collection

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
5 pm
William Neal, organ [FREE]
Gala Concert, 40th anniversary of John Jay Hopkins Memorial Organ
National Presbyterian Church

October 10, 2010 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Nordic Voices [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 12, 2010 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 13, 2010 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Gesangverein Hofbieber [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 13, 2010 (Wed)
7 pm
Verdi, Rigoletto (excerpts)
Virginia Opera
La Maison Française

October 13, 2010 (Wed)
8 pm
Arcanto Quartet [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 14, 2010 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nathalie Stutzmann, contralto (all-Mahler program)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 14, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Jason Vieaux, guitar
Mansion at Strathmore

October 14, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
The English Concert [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 14, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Markus Groh, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 15, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 15, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
CUA University Singers
Catholic University

October 15, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nathalie Stutzmann, contralto (all-Mahler program)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 15, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Verdi, Rigoletto
Virginia Opera
GMU Center for the Arts

October 15, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Markus Groh, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
2 pm
Ran Dank, piano
WPAS
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Nathalie Stutzmann, contralto (all-Mahler program)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Axelrod String Quartet
Renwick Gallery

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Brooklyn Rider
GMU Center for the Arts

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Family Weekend Concert [FREE]
University of Maryland Choirs
Memorial Chapel, University of Maryland

October 16, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Markus Groh, piano
Music Center at Strathmore

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
Music by Haydn, Previn, Schumann
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
Verdi, Rigoletto
Virginia Opera
GMU Center for the Arts

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Till Fellner, piano
Embassy of Austria

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Andrea Padova, piano
Phillips Collection

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Cathedral Choral Society: French Connections
Music by Vierne, Jongen, Dupré, Boulanger
Washington National Cathedral

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists
Amadeus Concerts
St. Luke Catholic Church (McLean, Va.)

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
5:30 pm
Emerson String Quartet
Music by Mozart, Shostakovich, Schubert
Shriver Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
6 pm
What Makes It Great? (Mozart, clarinet concerto)
Peabody Chamber Players with Rob Kapilow
National Museum of Natural History

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
6:30 pm
New York Opera Society [FREE]
Gisle Kverndokk, Max and Moritz (world premiere)
National Gallery of Art

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Stefan Jackiw, violin
Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington (Rockville, Md.)

October 17, 2010 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Axelrod String Quartet
Renwick Gallery

October 18, 2010 (Mon)
7 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 19, 2010 (Tue)
8 pm
Mariinsky Orchestra
Mahler, Symphony of a Thousand
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 19, 2010 (Tue)
8 pm
Celebrating Robert Schumann
University of Maryland faculty members
Clarice Smith Center

October 20, 2010 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Trio con Brio Copenhagen [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 20, 2010 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Parker Quartet [FREE]
Music by Ligeti, Dvořák
Freer Gallery of Art

October 20, 2010 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 20, 2010 (Wed)
8 pm
András Schiff, piano
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

October 20, 2010 (Wed)
8 pm
Christoph Genz (tenor) and Charles Rosen (piano)
Schumann, Dichterliebe
Clarice Smith Center

October 21, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Kathryn Stott (piano)
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 21, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Talich Quartet [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 21, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Midori, violin
Music Center at Strathmore

October 21, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Cimarosa, Il Matrimonio Segreto
Aurora Opera
Spectrum Theater, Artisphere (Arlington, Va.)

October 21, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
For Love of Clara (music with reading of letters) [FREE]
Rita Sloan (piano), Delores Ziegler (mezzo-soprano), James Stern (violin)
Clarice Smith Center

October 22, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Caroline Goulding, violin
WPAS
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 22, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Donizetti, Lucy of Lammermoor
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

October 22, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Midori, violin
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 22, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
American String Quartet
With Menahem Pressler, piano
The Barns at Wolf Trap

October 22, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
University of Maryland Symphony and Concert Choir
Schumann, Paradise and the Peri
Clarice Smith Center

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
11 am and 1 pm
NSO Teddy Bear Concert: Tunes 'n' Tales
Kennedy Center Theater Lab

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
4 pm
Talich Quartet
Candlelight Concert Society
Smith Theater, Howard Community College (Columbia, Md.)

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
7 pm
Strauss, Salome
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
7 pm
Puccini, Madama Butterfly
Baltimore Opera Theater
Hippodrome Theater (Baltimore, Md.)

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Composition SCI Concert
Ward Hall, Catholic University

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Cantate Chamber Singers
Music by Hindemith, Diamond, et al.
St. John's Norwood Parish (Chevy Chase, Md.)

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
GMU Center for the Arts

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
Dvořák, 9th symphony
Music Center at Strathmore

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Cimarosa, Il Matrimonio Segreto
Aurora Opera
Spectrum Theater, Artisphere (Arlington, Va.)

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Red Priest: Roll Over, Johann!
Dumbarton Concerts

October 23, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Midori, violin
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
New York Festival of Song (Steven Blier, piano)
Sasha Cooke (mezzo-soprano) and Paul Appleby (tenor)
Vocal Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Eclipse Chamber Orchestra
Music by Bartók, Stravinsky, Strauss, Haydn
George Washington Masonic Memorial (Alexandria, Va.)

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
National Philharmonic
Dvořák, 9th symphony
Music Center at Strathmore

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Donizetti, Lucy of Lammermoor
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
National Master Chorale
Music by Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Brahms
National Presbyterian Church

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Verdehr Trio
Phillips Collection

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
6 pm
Cilea, Adriana Lecouvreur
With Mary Elizabeth Williams (soprano), Elizabeth Bishop (mezzo-soprano)
Washington Concert Opera
Lisner Auditorium

October 24, 2010 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Great Noise Ensemble [FREE]
Music by Andriessen
National Gallery of Art

October 25, 2010 (Mon)
8 pm
Santiago Rodriguez, piano
Ward Hall, Catholic University

October 26, 2010 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Musicians from Marlboro I [FREE]
Music by Dvořák, Respighi, Mozart
Freer Gallery of Art

October 27, 2010 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Fauré Piano Quartet [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Mark Coppey (cello) and François-Frédéric Guy (piano)
All-Beethoven program
La Maison Française

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Donizetti, Lucy of Lammermoor
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Borealis String Quartet
Mansion at Strathmore

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Concert
With Jennifer Wilson and Jason Stearns
Wagner Society of Washington, D.C.
Embassy of Germany

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Mozart, The Magic Flute
Hartke Theater, Catholic University

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
Thomas Hampson (baritone) and Craig Rutenberg (piano) [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 28, 2010 (Thu)
8 pm
University of Maryland Wind Ensemble [FREE]
Clarice Smith Center

October 29, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Mark Coppey (cello) and François-Frédéric Guy (piano)
All-Beethoven program
La Maison Française

October 29, 2010 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Mozart, The Magic Flute
Hartke Theater, Catholic University

October 29, 2010 (Fri)
8 pm
Graham Ashton (trumpet), Donna Balson (soprano), John Lettieri (piano)
Embassy of Australia

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
11 am
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Halloween Spooktacular!
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
6 pm
Emerson String Quartet
Smithsonian Resident Associates
National Museum of Natural History

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Jaap Schroeder (violin), Christopher Krueger (flute), Kenneth Slowik (harpsichord)
Smithsonian Chamber Music Society
National Museum of American History

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Donizetti, Lucy of Lammermoor
Opera Vivente (Baltimore, Md.)

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Mozart, The Magic Flute
Hartke Theater, Catholic University

October 30, 2010 (Sat)
8 pm
Helsinki Baroque [FREE]
Library of Congress

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
1 and 3 pm
NSO Family Concert: Spooky Sounds and Scary Tales
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
2 pm
Mozart, The Magic Flute
Hartke Theater, Catholic University

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
3 pm
Adelphi String Quartet [FREE]
Clarice Smith Center

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
Andrey Ponochevny, piano
Phillips Collection

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
4 pm
National Master Chorale
Music by Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Brahms
St. Luke Catholic Church (McLean, Va.)

October 31, 2010 (Sun)
6:30 pm
National Gallery of Art Orchestra [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

Blasco de Nebra's Sonatas

available at Amazon
M. Blasco de Nebra, Keyboard Sonatas 1-6 / Pastorelas 2/6,
J. Perianes

(released on May 11, 2010)
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902046
71'27"
All pianists looking for some 18th-century alternative programming should put the name of Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750–1784) on their list. He was organist at Seville Cathedral, like his father before him, and his father also happened to have been Soler's teacher. Blasco de Nebra the Younger wrote many keyboard works -- subtitled "para clave y fuerte-piano," so meant for either harpsichord or the new instrument that had made its way to Spain at that point -- but only thirty (or so) works survive, mostly in manuscript copies (including one set here in Washington, in the collection of the Library of Congress -- there are likely a few others lurking around in archives somewhere, waiting to be discovered). In his sonatas he favored a multi-movement format, with rudimentary sonata-allegro forms in many of them, showing the influence of Haydn and others, while maintaining a love of flashy figuration from Scarlatti and Soler. Spanish pianist Javier Perianes is not the first to record them, as there is a projected complete set in the works from Pedro Casals, also on modern piano (Naxos), and selections have been offered by Carole Cerasi (harpsichord and fortepiano, Metronome) and Tony Millan (piano, Almaviva). Having heard none of them except Perianes, I am in no position to recommend a choice, but the Perianes recording is enough to recommend the composer, and Perianes offers a clear, rhythmically vital performance that is a fine introduction. He also programs two of the pastorelas, which have the feel of mini-suites, composed of an introductory slow movement, a litling, pastoral inner movement, and a closing minuet.