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  • richardmitnick 2:31 PM on October 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, , ,   

    From The New Yorker: “The Metropolitan Opera and The New York Philharmonic” 

    new-yorker-bloc-rea-irvin
    Rea Irvin

    From The New Yorker

    October 4, 2018
    Alex Ross

    1
    Anita Rachvelishvili as Amneris in Verdi’s “Aida.” Not all the sounds she made in her magisterial performance were beautiful, but all had dramatic point.
    Photograph by Marty Sohl / Met Opera

    October 4, 2018
    Alex Ross

    The opening of the Metropolitan Opera House on Monday evening seemed rather a social than a musical event,” a critic wrote in 1883, after the company’s inaugural performance. The same words apply to the Met’s hundred-and-thirty-fourth opening night, on September 24th. The gilded world of the Morgans, the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts, and the Whitneys has largely vanished, but the tradition of a Monday opening lingers, together with whatever remains of high New York society. Christine Baranski was there. Don Lemon was there. Ariana Rockefeller wore a blush-tone gown by Bibhu Mohapatra, according to Vogue. The occasion seldom lends itself to statements of artistic ambition, and the Met took no risks in that direction. Saint-Saëns’s “Samson et Dalila,” the opera on offer, packs Biblical romance, bacchanalia, rousing choruses, and sumptuous arias into a relatively tight span of three hours.

    Even by the lowered standards of a gala opening, though, this “Samson” was dim and inert. Once again, Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has hired a Broadway-oriented production team that seems stymied by opera’s internal dynamics. The director is Darko Tresnjak, who won a Tony Award for “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”; the sets are by his regular collaborator Alexander Dodge. They conjure an ornate Middle Eastern fantasy that aspires to the aesthetic of Cecil B. DeMille. The vast Met stage usually responds well to this kind of thing, but Dodge’s sets have a hulking quality that restricts singers’ movements. The color scheme was vibrant but jumbled. I thought back fondly to the glowing desert hues of Elijah Moshinsky’s “Samson,” which opened the Met season twenty years ago. When you replace a successful old production, you shouldn’t offer something that looks like a chintzy knockoff.

    The singing, too, marked a decline from the Met’s last “Samson.” In the fall of 1998, we had Plácido Domingo as the long-haired hero and Olga Borodina as his sultry seducer—voices of real power and distinction. This time, we had Roberto Alagna and Elīna Garanča: the one a stylish but increasingly uneven veteran, who lost his top notes in the final act; the other a coolly bewitching presence who issued gleaming tones in her upper range but failed to hit the gut on the lower end. There was no real heat between the leads. In the pit, the orchestra made a luxurious sound for Mark Elder, but electricity was missing there, too.

    The Met would have been better off dropping the pretense of saying something new and opening the season with “Aida,” which rumbled onstage two nights later. This is the colossal Sonja Frisell show that has been drawing a steady traffic of horses, chariots, and bare-chested soldiers to Lincoln Center since 1988. It makes DeMille look like a subtle miniaturist, but it serves as a handsome foil for singers of stature. Anna Netrebko proved equal to the title role, emitting full-bodied, rich-hued tone from the top to the bottom of her capacious voice. More than that, she fashioned a rounded, affecting portrayal of the Ethiopian princess, transcending the array of bravura gestures that have characterized much of her past work. Aleksandrs Antonenko, as Radamès, lagged far behind in artistry but held his own on the decibel meter.

    What made this “Aida” indelible, however, was Anita Rachvelishvili’s magisterially hell-raising performance as Amneris. The young Georgian mezzo-soprano, noted for her Carmen, has a huge, piercing voice, and she isn’t afraid to sacrifice purity of technique for the sake of intensity of expression. Not all the sounds she made were beautiful, but all had a dramatic point. A sign of her charisma is that during the final tableau, as Aida and Radamès are expiring in the tomb, Amneris continues to transfix the attention: even when she isn’t singing, she dominates the stage. The Met should let her do whatever she wants: artists of this calibre are the reason opera exists.

    If the Met began its season in an atmosphere of retrenchment, the New York Philharmonic took a bolder tack, kicking things off with Ashley Fure’s “Filament,” as experimental a work as the Philharmonic has attempted since Karlheinz Stockhausen invaded the premises in the early seventies.

    Ashley Fure by Robert Gill

    Fure, a blazingly inventive young American composer, transformed Geffen Hall into an open-ended experimental soundscape, in which the orchestra trades timbres with a trio of soloists—the double-bassist Brandon Lopez, the trumpeter Nate Wooley, and the bassoonist Rebekah Heller—and fifteen singers who are dispersed around the hall. Stretches of charged near-silence alternate with sudden storms of white noise. From time to time, the musicians converge on a single burning tone, only to spiral back into primordial chaos. All of this went over surprisingly well with the crowd. A subscriber offered a review on the subway afterward: “There was a totally modern piece—by a woman! And I loved it!”

    The inclusion of a female composer on the first concert of the season—including the opening-night gala, where the usual rule is to avoid surprises—made one reflect on the gender imbalance that continues to reign elsewhere on Lincoln Center Plaza. The current Met season, like the last, has no female composers, no female conductors, and no female directors in charge of new productions. Just before the season began, Gelb and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the company’s incoming music director, announced that they would take belated steps to address some of that imbalance, commissioning operas from Jeanine Tesori and Missy Mazzoli. A production of Mazzoli’s gritty, fraught chamber opera “Proving Up,” at Miller Theatre, last week, confirmed that she is a major new dramatic talent.

    From 2009 to 2017, under the enlightened leadership of Alan Gilbert, the Philharmonic made considerable strides in modernizing its repertory. Jaap van Zweden, the stubby, spirited Dutch conductor, has now taken over as music director.

    Jaap van Zweden Director of the New York Philharmonic by Marco Borggreve

    Whether he will be an equally insistent champion of new and twentieth-century fare remains to be seen, but he threw himself energetically into the Fure, and was even more visibly engaged in Conrad Tao’s “Everything Must Go,” which appeared on the following week’s program.

    Conrad Tao–Photo by Brantley Gutierrez

    Tao is only twenty-four, and also has a flourishing career as a pianist. Van Zweden commissioned him to write a prelude to Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, which occupied the remainder of the concert. Tao supplied a flickering nebula of material from which Bruckner’s stately forms seamlessly emerge. This week, van Zweden presents the world première of Louis Andriessen’s “Agamemnon,” a variously propulsive and meditative evocation of the House of Atreus.

    Although the Philharmonic has cancelled two of Gilbert’s initiatives—the “Contact!” new-music series and the NY Phil Biennial—it is instituting two new series, “Sound ON” and “Nightcap,” both oriented toward living composers. The first “Nightcap” took place after one of the Bruckner concerts, in the Kaplan Penthouse, above the Lincoln Center complex. The setup inevitably recalls Mostly Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” series, which takes place in the same time slot and in the same venue, with the audience seated club-style, at tables. Tao presented a diffuse but diverting hour of electronica, piano solos, free-form tap dancing (by Caleb Teicher), and avant-garde vocalism (by Charmaine Lee), all of it intermittently related to Bruckner’s choral works. The evening was long on stage patter and short on musical focus.

    In the standard repertory, van Zweden is an assertive presence, not always to satisfying effect. He has a habit of overmilking fortissimos: this happened last season, in Mahler’s Fifth, and it happened again last week, in “The Rite of Spring.” The Bruckner, though, showed an impressive control of slow-building processes. I especially liked the differentiation of instrumental voices: this was a living, moving Bruckner, not a faceless monument. David Cooper, who played French horn under van Zweden at the Dallas Symphony, sat in as principal horn, and sounded splendid. The orchestra was generally at or near its best. There is no way of knowing how conductor-orchestra relationships will turn out—an orchestra, too, can be “rather a social than a musical event”—but van Zweden has made a buoyant start.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 8:34 PM on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, And a new season begins,   

    From The Rest is Noise: “Sedona Miscellany” 

    From The Rest is Noise

    Alex Ross, by E.H Jan 17th 2013

    And a new season begins. Next weekend in NYC brings a Feldman festival entitled Softly, curated by Marilyn Nonken. Alongside familiar landmarks like Triadic Memories and Patterns in a Chromatic Field there will be early piano works, to be announced, and three short Feldman-based films by Zahra Partovi and Chris Villars. For further showings of the latter, see Villars’s site….. Beginning tonight is another edition of the Resonant Bodies Festival, with Paul Pinto, Helga Davis, Lucy Dhegrae, Jen Shyu, Nathalie Joachim, Caroline Shaw, Sarah Maria Sun, Gelsey Bell, and Pamela Z…. Missy Mazzoli’s latest opera, Proving Up, opens the Miller Theatre season on Sept. 26. Zachary Woolfe interviews her for the New York Times…. WasteLAnd has announced its new season, with Katherine Young the featured composer…. The LA Phil has announced details of its Fluxus series, adding yet more allure to its extraordinary centennial season. Yuval Sharon will direct Cage’s Europeras 1 and 2, Yoko Ono will be given a portrait concert, Patricia Kopatchinskaja will perform Fluxus pieces at the Getty, and La Monte Young is scheduled to preside over his Second Dream of The High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer…. The Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the St. Louis Symphony have announced their 2018-19 concert series, featuring Mazzoli, Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Mary Kouyoumdjian, among others…. In this week’s New Yorker, Rebecca Mead has a wonderful profile of George Benjamin, who speaks revealingly about his long development as a composer and the origins of his recent operatic work.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

    The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 3:40 PM on August 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, , ,   

    From The Rest is Noise: “The Sounds of Music in the Twenty-first Century” 

    From The Rest is Noise

    Alex Ross, by E.H Jan 17th 2013

    1
    Illustration by Richard McGuire.

    August 27, 2018
    Alex Ross

    Contemporary composition has become as fractured as the art world—and that’s a good thing.

    “When the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, in April, reactions in the classical-music world ranged from panic to glee. Composers in the classical tradition have effectively monopolized the prize since its inception, in 1943. Not until 1997 did a nominal outsider—the jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis—receive a nod. Lamar’s victory, for his moodily propulsive album “damn.,” elicited some reactionary fuming—one irate commenter said that his tracks were “neurologically divergent from music”—as well as enthusiastic assent from younger generations. The thirty-one-year-old composer Michael Gilbertson, who was a finalist this year, told Slate, “I never thought my string quartet and an album by Kendrick Lamar would be in the same category. This is no longer a narrow honor.”

    Lamar’s win made me think about the changing nature of “distinguished musical composition,” to use the Pulitzer’s crusty term. Circa 1950, this was understood to mean writing a score for others to perform, whether in the guise of the dissonant hymns of Charles Ives or the spacious Americana of Aaron Copland. But that definition was always suspect: it excluded jazz composers, whose tradition combines notation and improvisation. In 1965, a jury tried to give a Pulitzer to Duke Ellington, but the board refused. Within classical composition, meanwhile, activity on the outer edges had further blurred the job description. By the early fifties, Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry were creating collages that incorporated recordings of train engines and other urban sounds; Karlheinz Stockhausen was assisting in the invention of synthesized sound; John Cage was convening ensembles of radios. By century’s end, a composer could be a performance artist, a sound artist, a laptop conceptualist, or an avant-garde d.j. Du Yun, Kate Soper, and Ashley Fure, the Pulitzer finalists in 2017—I served on the jury—make use, variously, of punk-rock vocals, instrumentally embroidered philosophical lectures, and architectural soundscapes. Such artists may lack the popular currency of Lamar, but they are not cloistered souls.”

    If you want to keep up with this fractured world, avail yourself of http://www.newsounds.org from New York Public Radio. You will hear a lot a great new music especially on the hosted programming. The web site also offers the full catalogue of John Schaefer’s previous programs and Soundcheck, gigalerts and more.

    Enjoy Alex’s full article. I sure did.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

    The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 3:01 PM on July 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, Pierre Boulez, Th Rest is Noise, The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat   

    From The Rest is Noise: Ralph van Raat will play Boulez 

    From The Rest is Noise

    Alex Ross, by E.H Jan 17th 2013

    New article on The Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat and a previously unknown early work by Pierre Boulez: the Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo, from 1944.

    1
    Freer|Sackler – Smithsonian Institution

    See the full article. I do no poach other blogs.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

    The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 6:20 PM on May 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, , Sir Simon Rattle,   

    From The New Yorker: “The Conductor Intensifying Mahler Through Restraint” 

    new-yorker-bloc-rea-irvin
    Rea Irvin

    The New Yorker

    May 28, 2018
    Alex Ross

    Sir Simon Rattle by Urs Flueeler-AP

    On June 20th, Simon Rattle will end a sixteen-year tenure as the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic—a post of quasi-papal authority in the classical-music world.

    How Rattle should be judged against predecessors on the order of Hans von Bülow, Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan, and Claudio Abbado is for the musical sages of Berlin to decide. From a distance, Rattle appears to have left a distinctive stamp on the institution. He has promoted contemporary music with unprecedented vigor; he has given new prominence to French, British, and American fare; he has presided over such staggering spectacles as Stockhausen’s “Gruppen,” presented at Tempelhof Airport, and the Bach Passions, as staged by Peter Sellars. If any question mark hovers over his legacy, it has to do with his handling of mainstream nineteenth-century repertory, where his quest for fresh-scrubbed renditions has sometimes worked wonders—a darkly radiant “Parsifal can be seen at the Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall—and sometimes had inconclusive results. Kirill Petrenko, Rattle’s successor, is a conductor of more traditional cast: that turn will please some and disappoint others.

    Berlin Philharmonic©Stefan Hoederath

    Now sixty-three, Rattle is still a young gazelle in conductor years—the Swedish maestro Herbert Blomstedt is giving revelatory performances at the age of ninety—and the close of Rattle’s Berlin tenure will almost certainly not mark the end of the major phase of his career. Indeed, a series of Mahler concerts that Rattle gave with the London Symphony in early May made me wonder whether he is arriving at a new level of mastery.

    London Symphony Orchestra ©-Gautier-Deblonde

    He became the music director of the L.S.O. last September, and the orchestra is playing sensationally well for him. You have the sense of a conductor and an ensemble in near-perfect alignment. The Berlin Philharmonic would undoubtedly prefer not to be considered a stepping stone to greater things, but this may turn out to be its role in the arc of Rattle’s career—as was true for Abbado, who hit his peak in his final decade, when he was based at the Lucerne Festival.

    Each of the L.S.O. concerts consisted of a single late-period Mahler work: the Ninth Symphony, Das Lied von der Erde, and the unfinished Tenth Symphony, in the realization by Deryck Cooke. (I heard the Ninth at MJPAC, in Newark, the others at David Geffen Hall.) Rattle, a veteran Mahlerian, has offered this trio of colossal valedictions before, in concerts with the Berliners at Carnegie, in 2007. His ideas about Mahler have not changed dramatically in the interim. He avoids the sweaty transfigurations that Leonard Bernstein established as common practice for Mahler. Where other conductors emphasize voluptuous, post-Wagnerian sonorities, Rattle prefers a leaner, tighter sound; where others indulge in flamboyant ritardandos, he keeps to a steadier tempo.

    Rattle’s aversion to cliché can lead to performances that seem like arrays of contrarian insights rather than fully integrated interpretations. The 2007 Mahler concerts never quite rose above the level of the impressive. Eleven years on, Rattle has found an ideal balance of precision and intensity. The opening section of the first movement of the Ninth unfolded in one great Proustian paragraph, lucid yet impassioned. The music wasn’t smoothed over or rendered inert: isolated details—stray harp notes, scuttling low-wind figures, a repeated two-note signal in the horns—pierced the murk with unsettling potency. (A horn-playing friend who joined me at NJPAC marvelled at the musicians’ tonal control.) Adam Walker, the co-principal flute, brought an otherworldly sound to his meandering solo at the end of the first movement; Gareth Davies, the other principal flutist and the orchestra’s chairman, was equally transfixing in the Tenth.

    Not all of Rattle’s interventions were successful. In the savage Rondo-Burleske of the Ninth Symphony, he refused to linger over the aching phrases in the movement’s contrasting lyric episode. (He did the same in 2007.) As a result, the return of the slashing main theme didn’t induce a shiver of terror, as the score all but requires. Wildness is not Rattle’s way, though. His strategy of intensification through restraint paid off in the final pages, when the string section achieved an uncanny, hovering stillness. The strings played at times with little or no vibrato, producing an eerie “white” sound. Usually, the piece ends with a feeling of agonized farewell; here, the music seemed to emanate from the other side of the line between life and death.

    Rattle is the world’s leading proponent of the Mahler Tenth, having first recorded the Cooke edition of the work back in 1980, when he was twenty-five. That version, with the Bournemouth Symphony, is more vivid than a subsequent account with the Berliners. Let’s hope that the L.S.O. rendition appears on disk in due course: the performance at Geffen combined a monumental architectural shape—no other work by Mahler comes as close to Bruckner—with moments of unchecked emotional ferocity. The final bars radiated an almost shocking sweetness, as if to suggest that Mahler, at the end of his life, were reliving scenes from childhood.

    The vocalists in Das Lied were the robust Wagner tenor Stuart Skelton and the wizardly baritone Christian Gerhaher. In the opening movement, Skelton battled an overbearing orchestra, as the tenor invariably must in this piece, yet he nobly held his ground. Gerhaher, a singer-poet out of Caspar David Friedrich, shone through the far more transparent textures of Der Abschied, the half-hour finale. Listeners accustomed to the autumnal warmth of a mezzo-soprano in Der Abschied might have found Gerhaher too cool and reserved, but for me the inward, confiding quality of his vocalism gave human focus to Mahler’s sprawling landscape. His closing repetitions of ewigforever—were like distant figures disappearing into mist.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    See the full article here .

     
  • richardmitnick 8:24 PM on May 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross,   

    From The Rest is Noise: Notable Notes 

    From The Rest is Noise

    Alex Ross, by E.H Jan 17th 2013

    May 11, 2018
    Finley’s Amfortas
    1
    The incandescent Canadian recently outdid himself in a Parsifal with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. The performance is well worth a ten-euro fee for a week’s pass at the Digital Concert Hall — and there is much else on offer. Sir Simon will lead his final concert as Berlin’s principal conductor on June 20; he bids farewell with Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.

    April 29, 2018
    Mahler still grooves
    2
    Zach Smith, who was responsible for a rash of Mahlerian graffiti in Washington, DC in the late seventies and early eighties, sent me this picture taken in the fall of 1977, showing his handiwork on the base of the Arizona Avenue Trestle. In a 1995 article for The New Yorker, I related how the graffiti caught my eye as I rode a school bus back and forth to the Potomac School, in McLean, VA. (I misremembered it as Mahler Lives.) This was not the first time the Austrian master’s name had appeared by the side of Canal Road. In a 2009 post, I noted that Stephen Chanock, later of the National Cancer Institute, had originally painted Mahler Grooves at this location in 1972. Zach Smith reapplied the legend five years later, and in 1982 painted Gustav Mahler [heart] Alma in the same spot. The latter was duly reported in The Washington Post. Mahler graffiti also appeared in Toronto circa 2007. May the trend long continue.
    Photo: Zach Smith’s Mom.

    April 25, 2018
    Astrid Varnay at 100

    The great Swedish-American soprano would have been one hundred today. Her centenary is receiving considerably less hoopla than that of her compatriot Birgit Nilsson, which arrives on May 17. Indeed, as far as I can tell, it is receiving no hoopla at all. This is a pity, because Varnay was to my way of thinking the deeper, more substantial artist. I couldn’t really construct a rational argument to contest the claim that Kirsten Flagstad is the supreme dramatic soprano on record, but my personal preference goes toward Varnay, whose extraordinary dark-gleaming voice was joined to ferocious dramatic intelligence. Her singing of Brünnhilde on the 1955 Keilberth Ring from Bayreuth anchors what may be the finest account of the cycle available. The video above is taken from her 1956 Ring with Knappertsbusch; that and the 1953 version with Krauss are also glorious. Varnay’s autobiography, Fifty-five Years in Five Acts, is one of the most rewarding of singer memoirs.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward.

    The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 8:51 AM on April 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex Ross, , ,   

    From The New Yorker: “Cecil Taylor and the Art of Noise” 

    new-yorker-bloc-rea-irvin
    Rea Irvin

    The New Yorker

    April 10, 2018
    Alex Ross

    Cecil Taylor

    In 1993, I briefly met the composer György Ligeti, one of the towering figures of the past hundred years of music. As often happens when one is in the company of greats, I seized the opportunity to ask an idiotic question: “What do you think of Cecil Taylor?” Ligeti possessed a comprehensive knowledge of the world’s musical traditions, including jazz. But he had little more than a vaguely positive impression of Taylor. I failed to hit whatever interpretive jackpot I had been expecting.

    Ligeti died in 2006, at the age of eighty-three. Taylor died last week, at eighty-nine. In truth, the two had little in common, other than a propensity for seething, maximalist textures. What united them in my mind was how they guided me as brilliant beacons at a time when I was discovering the full extent of twentieth-century musical possibility. We tend to think of genres as distinct land masses, with oceans of taste separating them. Yet, as I observed when I wrote about Taylor and Sonic Youth, in 1998, there exist polar regions where the distinctions tend to blur—namely, the zone that is often labelled “avant” or “experimental” in used-record stores. When dissonance and complexity build to a sufficient degree, works of classical, jazz, or rock descent can sound more like one another than like their parent genres.

    I grew up with classical music and came late to rock, pop, and jazz. I took the northern passage between genres, and Taylor was, somewhat perversely, the first jazz figure who caught my ear—perversely because he had only one foot in jazz, as conventionally defined. The pianist and composer Ethan Iverson, commenting on a 1973 trio recording, writes that Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille, Taylor’s partners on this occasion, “sound like jazz musicians.” Taylor, however, “didn’t sound like that. He had another kind of poetry, some other kind of sheer strength of will.” The New Yorker’s Richard Brody observes that, even on the début album Jazz Advance, from 1956, Taylor had “left chordal jazz behind and spun musical material of his own choosing (whether harmonic, motivic, melodic, or rhythmic) into kaleidoscopic cascades of sound.” The question of whether Taylor was “really jazz” was once a hot topic in the jazz world, and he elicited a few sharp putdowns from fellow-musicians. “Total self-indulgent bullshit” was Branford Marsalis’s notorious judgment on Taylor’s modernist philosophy in the Ken Burns documentary “Jazz.” Miles Davis said, of a Taylor record, “Take it off! That’s some sad shit, man.” Such is the fate of the outsider in any genre.

    For me, Taylor was the untouchable emperor of the art of noise. I first saw him in 1989, at the Western Front, a club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also on the bill was the David Gilmore Trio; Marvin Gilmore, Jr., David Gilmore’s father, owned the club, which was best known for its reggae nights. Several shaggy-haired patrons audibly expressed their bewilderment as the performance unfolded; it turned out that they had come expecting to hear David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd. I don’t remember much in detail about Taylor’s set, in which he was joined by William Parker, on bass, and Gregg Bendian, on drums. I do recall that for the first five or ten minutes the music was dense, intense, driving, ferocious—and then it started. Some frenzy of figuration under Taylor’s hummingbird hands set off a collective pandemonium that became purely physical in effect: I felt at once pressed backward and pulled in. It remains one of the most visceral listening experiences of my life.

    Taylor always shunned labels. He often used “jazz” in virtual quotation marks, even though he recognized it as his home tradition. He was also wary of the word “composer.” A graduate of the New England Conservatory, he was rigorously trained in classical composition and performance, and could fire off precise references to Webern, Xenakis, and, yes, Ligeti. But he disliked the idea of the composer as a mastermind controlling every aspect of music behind the scenes. In 1989, Steve Lake wrote, of Taylor: “In a dismissive tone, he can make ‘composer’ sound like ‘dictator’ or ‘megalomaniac.’ ‘I don’t think I’d ever want to be considered a composer’ (accompanying the word with an expression of acute distaste).” In this Taylor was akin to his idol, Duke Ellington, who resisted European archetypes of composition and sought to create his own jazz-based African-American version of it. Ellington and Taylor were vastly different: the one suave, aristocratic, buoyant, popular; the other irregular, anarchic, confrontational, anti-commercial. But Taylor emulated Ellington’s way of composing with and through his groups. Taylor would give his collaborators notated material, yet they had the freedom to express themselves through the written notes or abandon them altogether.

    Taylor could indeed create atonal music on the fly, as if he were improvising a Charles Ives sonata or a Stockhausen Klavierstück. At his most diabolical, he sounds like several of Conlon Nancarrow’s hyperkinetic player-piano rolls playing simultaneously. Those splatters of notes are hardly random, however. He pummels the piano in different registers and then repeats the gesture with startling precision. His hands always go where his brain directs them to go. And he would return to tonal groundings after long spells in a gravity-free environment. Something I particularly loved about his recordings and performances—I saw him a handful of times in the nineties and the aughts—were the grand, mournful, minor-mode themes that would periodically loom out of the harmonic fog. They struck me as fundamentally Romantic in contour—perhaps a bit Brahmsian, for lack of a better point of reference. I have stitched together a few of them, from 3 Phasis, Winged Serpent, and Alms / Tiergarten (Spree), which you can listen to here.

    The last example comes from a set of eleven CDs released by the Free Music Production label, documenting Taylor’s residency in Berlin in the summer of 1988. Alms, a two-hour marathon featuring a seventeen-piece group called the Cecil Taylor European Orchestra, included such avant-jazz luminaries as Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, and Han Bennink. The music moves in like a weather system, a slow-gathering, all-engulfing storm of sound. On the FMP recording, the orchestra is plainly working from a score and periodically settles on a particular figure, though crisp unisons are not the point. (Taylor himself often ignores the big patterns he has set in motion and dances deliriously against the grain.) I witnessed the same mighty convergence at a live show at Iridium, in 2005, with a fifteen-piece band. As the music swayed between quasi-symphonic utterances and every-which-way melees, it presented a totality, a sprawling structure built in real time.

    As Iverson says, no one else played like Taylor, and no one will. Nonetheless, he leaves a potent legacy for the ever-growing body of music that unfolds in the spaces between jazz and classical traditions, between European and African-American cultures, between composition and improvisation. With Taylor, the refusal of category, the resistance to description, was rooted in an attitude of defiance that seemed variously personal, cultural, and political. At a famously contentious discussion at Bennington College in 1964, Taylor said: “The jazz musician has taken Western music and made of it what he wanted to make of it.” As a queer black man—he rejected the label “gay”—he experienced racism in the wider world and homophobia within jazz. As the purveyor of music that most people found incomprehensible, he encountered a disdain that frequently boiled over into irrational hatred. His imperious indifference followed the example of the European masters who looked nothing like him, and whose company he joins.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
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