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 January 5-12, 2004

Duane's Favorites

The Ligeti Project IV
Composer: Gyorgy Ligeti
Performer:  ­ Asko Ensemble, Shonberg Ensemble et al.: 
Teldec Classics (8573-88263-2)
This recording should be on everyone's shelf. For me, Ligeti's work represents a quantum leap in the lexicon of musical language, thought and composition and these works have a lot to say. Ligeti's Requiem is breathtaking.

Orchestral Works
Composer: Tomas Svoboda 
James DePreist  Conductor 
Neil DePonte  Marimba 
Oregon Symphony Orchestra 
Albany Records, CD cat# Troy 604
 Svoboda is not a household name but these works are of an extremely high caliber and are also accessible and buoyant. (See the review on S/21)

Lace Knots
Composer:  Janet Maguire
Performers:  Hartmut Bethke
Cristina Mantese, Elisabetta Bocchese
New World Records (8060-2)
Expressive works from an American composer who has lived most of her life in Europe. The works offer a mix of voice and piano, vocal ensemble, and voice with string quartet. Stirring music for a change of pace.

Passio The St. John Passion
Arvo Part  Tonus Peregrinus 
Naxos: 8.555860
A hypnotic and understated setting for the Passion of St. John. This is a recording of a dramatic pensiveness and understated beauty. (See review on S/21)

Thirteen Ways
Composers:  Tower, Perle, etc 
Performer(s): Eighth Blackbird
Four American contemporary composers; Joan Tower, George Perle, David Schober and Thomas Albert, are showcased in the debut recording by this six member ensemble. Deft and expressive ensemble playing and individual musicianship are hallmarks here as the players give these compositions breath and life. New music with verve and spirit. Look for Eighth Blackbird to fly.

Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano / Festeburger Fantasien (piano improvisations)
Composers:  John Cage / Herbert Henck Herbert Henck , Piano: 
ECM Records 472 828-2 
A double CD; one of compositions by Cage, one of Henck's. What was Cage thinking when he wrote these pieces? Answer: probably nothing at all. What¹s your excuse Mr. Henck? Just kidding. This comprises your zen experience for the program. To know them is to not know them. But listen, just listen.
Advertising and Sponsorship Information
Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jbowles@sequenza21.com and we might even publish some of them here.  And, don't forget--if you'd like to write for Sequenza21 (understanding that we have no money to pay you), send me a note. JB
(Belated) Encore "Encore, an initiative by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS), aims to hunt down orchestral works which have languished since their debut and give them another hearing - just as the Society of Authors' Encore award promotes second novels that have been overlooked. Simon Rattle has agreed to act as patron for the scheme, which aims to rediscover and perform 15 works over the next four years." The Independent (UK) 01/03/04 

Piano Museum May Close Kalman Detrich's New York piano museum is out of money and almost out of time. "For 40 years he repaired pianos, and for 20 years he has exhibited them in the Museum of the American Piano, the eccentric little Manhattan attraction he created. On Wednesday, unless a benefactor miraculously appears to pay his rent, he will close his museum and send his collection to foster homes while he figures out how to pursue his passion." The New York Times 12/25/03 

Key West: The Part-Time Pro Orchestra The Key West Symphony is unlike any other. "The symphony draws talented musicians from other orchestras, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic. They fly in three times a year for a week of rehearsals, fun in the sun and performances that draw accolades from residents and visitors. Conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso, a Key West native, returned to the island in 1997 after working and studying internationally to bring to life her dream: a world-class symphony in a town with a permanent population of less than 30,000 residents." Andante (AP) 12/30/03 

Lebrecht: The Sky Is Falling, And I Mean It This Time Norman Lebrecht has been proclaiming the death of classical music recording for some time, and now, he is confidently predicting that 2004 will be the last year of the classical recording industry's existence as a distinctive branch of the music business. Classical records have become a niche market, says Lebrecht, and haven't even begun to utilize the new technologies available to them. Worse yet, the labels themselves have abandoned any effort to invest in new talent for more than a paltry few albums, thus making it impossible for emerging musicians to develop an international following. La Scena Musicale 12/31/03 

US Music Sales Hold Steady In 2003 Reversing a trend in recent years, sales of recorded music in the US held steady in 2003. "Figures released by Nielsen SoundScan show annual sales falling just 0.8 per cent from 2002, spurred in part by several hit albums that made their debut in the fourth quarter." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/03/04 

Opera From The Streets A London opera company that uses professionals and homeless people for its productions is gaining notice. "Matthew Peacock first had the idea of a company that mixed homeless people with professional performers three years ago, when he was an assistant editor of the London-based magazine Opera Now. A former singer with a social conscience, he had begun to do voluntary work for a London night shelter and found that it was taking over his life. 'Some of the people there were what you'd expect - difficult, drunken, drugged. But others weren't. They were ordinary guys just like me, except they'd had a stroke of bad luck and couldn't cope." The New York Times 01/04/04 

Music As Cross-Dimensional Experience At Joe's Pub at Manhattan's Public Theatre, the music lineup crosses an astonishing range of genres, geographies and sensibilities. And it draws audiences, too. "Audiences are much more adventurous than a lot of people give them credit for. People are listening to music from all over the world: from American pop, funk and techno to Asian and European hybrids of the same. This has been happening for 50 years, but lately it has accelerated." The New York Times 01/04/04 

 Last Week's News

Jerry's Favorites

Symphony No. 6
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: London Symphony Orchestra; Mariss Jansons
Label: LSO Live 
Spellbinding, from start to finish.  Go to the restroom before you put it on.  You won't be able to leave.

Clarinet Concerto • The Rose of the Winds 
 Richard Stoltzman, carinet / The IRIS Chamber Orchestra / Michael Stern, conductor, Naxos
Brilliant and altogether original--2003 will be remembered as the year Hartke moved into the top tier of American composers.

Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna 
Notations 1, 7, 4, 3, 2 
Composer: Pierre Boulez 
Orchestre National de Lyon 
David Robertson 
Disques Montaigne 
Famous old composer seems suddenly warmer, more approachable, less modern but more human.

Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 5
Composer:  Benjamin Lees
Performer:  Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
Less famous old composer is just catching his second wind.  His Fifth Symphony has been nominated for a Grammy Award this year.

Casa Guidi: Frederica von Stade Sings Dominick Argento
Composer: Dominick Argento
Conductor: Eiji Oue
Reference Records 
One word:  ravishing.

Piano Etudes 1 
Composer: Philip Glass 
Performer: Philip Glass 
Orange Mountain 
Glass wrote these as exercises to improve his piano technique.  They are among the best things he's ever done.

Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates, Tobias Picker

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique
The Adams Chronicles

What's Recent
An Interview with Tobias Picker
Handmaid Tale's Debuts in English
Rautavaara Joins B&G 
Who's Afraid of Julia Wolfe
Derek Bermel's Soul Garden
 The Pianist: The Extraordinary 
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
John Adams' Atomic Opera
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Sophie's Wrong Choice
Copland's Mexico
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Three Tales at BAM
Naxos at 15
On the Transmigration of Souls
Dead Man Walking
David Krakauer's The Year After
Steve Reich/Alan Pierson
Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, NY, NY 10019
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS 

Composer: Luigi Dallapiccola
Conductor: Ernest Bour
Radio France

 Dallapiccola's final masterpiece, the opera Ulisse, which premiered in Berlin in 1968, recounts the voyage both of Homer’s hero and of mankind's search  for eternal truths.  Recorded in 1975, a few months after the composer's death, this performance is the culmination of a lifetime of meditation and musical discipline by one of the great humanists of the 20th century arts.

Early and Unknown Piano Works
Composer:  Morton Feldman
Performer(s): Debora Petrina
OgreOgress Productions

Previously unrecorded pieces from the early 40s reveal Feldman during the period he studied with Wallingford Riegger.  No real surprises here but no klunkers either.  His  composition style borrows 12-tone techniques and atonality but deploys them within more traditional neo-classic structures. 


Guitar Concertos & Solos
Composer:  Poul Ruders
Performer:  David Starobin, guitar

The long and intimate collaboration between Poul Ruders, the brilliant composer, and David Starobin, the splendid guitarist, (who also happens to be David Starobin, the successful record executive--co-founder of Bridge Records)--has led to some of the most challenging and original compositions in the modern guitar repertory.  Consider this a kind of "greatest hits" for the modern classical guitar.

Symphonies 1 & 7
Composer:  Aulis Sallinen
Performer:  Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Ari Rasilainen

Another great Finnish composer, ho hum, but Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) is, with Rautavaara, the latest proof that small countries can produce big composers.  There are hints of Sibelius, of course,  but Sallinen is a unique voice that speaks directly.  His work is tonal and completely devoid  of the modern  medievalism that characters much north of the Arctic Circle music. 

String Quartets 1 & 3
Composer:  Frank Bridge
Performers:. Maggini String Quartet

Frank Bridge is a bit of a lost horse in the English stable of composers that includes such giants as Elgar, Vaughan Williams and, his student, Benjamin Britten.  But he shouldn't be. No. 1, written in 1901, is a mature, fully realized work; No. 3, composed in 1927 is one of the pilars of 20th century chamber music.  As always, the Maggini play magnificiently and the recording is first rate.

Le Villi
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Conductor: Marco Guidarini
Performer: Melanie Diener, Ludovic Tezier, et al. Radio France Chorus, French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Just listening to young Puccini's first opera (as opposed to seeing it staged and sung), you notice immediately that the big sweeping melodies, the ingenious "hooks" are already there. Naive has also issued a Radio France recording of Puccini’s second opera, Edgar, written five years after Le Villi.   In this more ambitious and complicated work, Puccini develops his technique using a score that merges stirring arias and ensembles. 

Emerson Concerto / Symphony 1
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performers:  Alan Feinberg (piano), National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, James Sinclair (conductor)

Ives sketched the Emerson Concerto in 1907 but never fully finished it, although he used portions in other works.  David G. Porter, a noted Ives scholar, was  able to create a performing version which was premiered in 1998 by Alan Feinberg, the pianist on this premiere recording.  The piece is extremely demanding, often abrasive, and demands exceptional  virtuosity.  Symphony No. 1 is fetching, but not as charateristic, of the great American maverick that followed.

Piano Concertos 2 & 3
Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performers: Laura Mikkola (piano), Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eri Klas (conductor)

The Finnish composer Rautavaara has enjoyed enormous success in recent years with his unique blend of northern lights impressionism and romanticism  served up in an aura of modernity. His Cantus Articus is immensely popular, conjuring up associations of Messiean, although the latter is a much more important composer.   The Third Piano Concerto from 1998 is forceful, drawings on  the Russian school of pianism, although it not technically flashy until the finale.  The Second, composed nine years earlier, is more traditional and  Laura Mikkola, already on disc with a highly regarded account of the First Concerto, again provides an outstanding performance.

Composers: King, Kline, Reynolds, Ziporen
Performers:  Ethel

New York's most daring string-quartet sensation, Ethel, makes its debut here with a menu of the kind of hard-edged downtown music that has won the group a big following in the NY new music scene.   Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell, violins; Ralph Farris, viola; and Dorothy Lawson, cello—all began their careers in New York as freelance musicians, playing difficult music that relies heavily on non-classical sources but requires a virtuoso classical ensemble to play. Its repertoire ranges from John King's energetic blues transcriptions to  the gnarly quartets  of Julia Wolfe and on Todd Reynolds' quirky
musical postcards.  Adventuresome and fun for the advanced music listener.

Return from a Journey
Composers:  Gurdjieff, De Hartmann,
Performer:  Kremski

Gurdjieff was a Russian Aremenian spiritual master who, in addition to the main body of his teaching created sacred dances, or Movements, as well as  200 or so musical compositions--all of which were were done  in collaboration with German composer Thomas de Hartmann at Gurdjieff's  Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, near Paris,  in the years 1925–27.  For many years, the pieces heard here were played only by De Hartmann or another of Gurdjieff's disciples but in recent years they have attracted the interest of a number of adventuresome pianists.  Kremski plays these exotic, vaguely oriental and oddly thematic pieces with great respect and warmth.

Chichester Psalms
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performers:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Marin Alsop (conductor)

Commissioned in 1965 by the Dean of Chichester, Bernstein’s colorful Chichester Psalms is one of the composer’s most successful and accessible works on religious texts, contrasting spiritual austerity with impulsive rhythms in a contemplation of peace. The composer fashioned his Oscar nominated score to the 1954 movie On the Waterfront into a symphonic suite, skillfully capturing the oppression of the New York dockyards in the ’50s. The Three Dance Episodes were extracted from the popular On The Town, Bernstein's first successful foray into musical theatre.  Bernstein protege Marin Alsop gets a robust performance from Bournemouth orchestra and chorus.

Double Concerto
Composer:  Witold Lutoslawski
Performers:  Polish National Radio Symphony, Antoni Wit

Volume 8 in Naxos' indispensible survey of Lutoslawski's orchestra work brings us into lesser known territory but there are still treasures to be found.   The  Dance Preludes from 1955 is basically a five-movement clarinet concerto, with lots of  interesting harmonies and rhythmic twists and turns. The Double Concerto for oboe and harp from 1990 rattles the ear a bit and has a  demanding oboe part, beautifully  played by Arkadiusz Krupa. The Children's Songs, gorgeously sung by the soprano, Urszula Kryger, are beguiling. 

Doña Francisquita
Composer: Amadeo Vives 
Performers: Maria Bayo,
Alfredo Kraus, Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife, Antoni Ros Marba

A superb performance of Amadeo Vives' zarzuela masterpiece, sung with enormous vivacity and brio by the ravishing-voiced Maria Bayo and the sturdy Alfredo Kraus.  With its nineteenth century Madrid setting, its roots in classical Spanish drama  and its festive nocturnal amours, Doña Francisquita provides  a retrospective on the romantic zarzuela tradition and its crowning glory. The work was immediately recognized not only as Vives’ masterpiece, but as the greatest full length zarzuela of its era. If you're not into zarzuela already, this is the perfect place to start your  collection.

Symphony 9 Visionaria
Composer:  Kurt Atterberg
Satu Vihavainen (mezzo-soprano); Gabriel Suovanen (baritone)
NDR Choir, Prague Chamber Choir
NDR Radio Philharmonic, 
Ari Rasilainen

The 9th and final symphony of Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg bears a superficial relationshp to Beethoven's 9th with its big, expresssive choral sound but Atterburg's world is a good deal less joyous.  Atterberg's choice of texts reflects the lasting impact on his psyche made by World War II and the Korean War. The Poetic Edda, an Icelandic epic dating from around 1270, relates the visions of a wise prophetess (hence the Symphony's title "Sinfonia Visionaria") who foretells the creation of the world, the warring among gods, giants, and humans, the world's destruction, and finally its recreation. 

Atterberg uses mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists with chorus and large orchestra, as  well as a quasi-oratorio form, to tell his epic tale. This is extraordinary symphony by a composer who is far too little-known in the musical world.

The Complete Mazurkas
Composer: Karol Szymanowski
Performer: Marc-Andre Hamelin

Marc-Andre Hamelin continues his extraordinary journey through the forgotten rivers and bayous of the modern piano repetoire with masterful performances  of Szymanowski's Twenty Mazurkas, Op. 50, composed between 1926 and 1931.  After assimilating the influence of Stravinsky, Szymanowski began looking for folk themes in Polish music to rival the Russian folk touches of the master. The Mazurka,  a traditional Polish dance in three-quarter-time with an often erratic-seeming emphasis on the second beat, (and a favorite form for Chopin) offered great possibilities . 

These highly diverse pieces are more complex  than Chopin, more modern and dissonant, yet also more muted and elusive.  Still,  Szymanowski remained too much a romantic to settle for anything less then flamboyant virtuosity--a quality that Hamelin possses by the truckload. 

Composers:  Transciptions:
Bach, Barber, Berg, Chopin, Debussy, Mahler, Ravel, Wolf
Peformers: : Choeur De Chambre Accentus, Equilbey

Worth having for the ravishing performances of Samuel Barber's "Adagio" and Mahler's "Adagietto from Symphony No. 5." 

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Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
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