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ST. LOUIS CUTS SEASON: Musicians of the financially troubled St. Louis Symphony have agreed to take cuts in their season. The agreement "cuts 10 weeks from the playing season but keeps salaries at a level competitive with peer ensembles." What programs the orchestra will cut will be announced later this week. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01/22/02
SONG RECITALS FOR THE CAPTION-IMPAIRED: Opera companies have used supertitles for several years now, and the captioning of operatic lyrics are popular. So why not use the system for song recitals? As it turns out, there are several reasons... The New York Times 01/23/02
CONTAIN YOUR EXCITEMENT: John Lennon is preparing to release a brand new set of songs. Yeah, we know he's dead. But fortunately, Linda Polley of Fargo, North Dakota is very much alive, and is apparently quite adept at channeling the former Beatle. "Since 1999, Polley claims, John has been stopping by her trailer in Fargo to deliver his latest offering from "the heaven sessions" -- more than 50 songs in all -- so she may record them on her electric keyboard and spread them to the world in an effort to save both the sinful masses and the chaotic 'Afterlife.'" National Post (Canada) 01/22/02
BOHEME ON BROADWAY: The movie Moulin Rouge is a wacky take on a modern musical form. Now the movie's director Baz Luhrmann wants to bring the opera La Boheme to Broadway later this year. "We're bringing it back to the audience for whom it was written. Opera was like the television of the time, created for everyone to experience, from the simple street sweeper to the King of Naples. So it seems a natural for it to play on Broadway. We're bringing it back to its popular roots." New York Post 01/23/02
ROYAL COMEBACK: The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden has been in decline for years, and tales of its mismanagement and often ill-considered offerings offered more drama than what went on the stage. But the Royal Opera appears to be back on track. "Indeed, the year-end London critics' reports last month were, as one the few dissenters put it, 'an epidemic of enthusiasm'." Los Angeles Times 01/25/02
MATTER OF MORALITY? National Post music critic Tamara Bernstein responds to Atom Egoyan's objections of her review of Salome: "The underlying issue here - and it goes beyond Mr. Egoyan's production of Salome - is that it's time the sleepy world of classical music acknowledged that in addition to being beautiful, opera is political - sometimes in very nasty ways. It's time we stopped pretending that just because a work is aesthetically 'great' it is automatically morally neutral - or superior." National Post (Canada) 01/25/02
FIGHT! FIGHT! It's not often these days that a true artistic brawl breaks out on the pages of a North American newspaper. But Canadian critic Tamara Bernstein, never one to pull her punches, picked one with opera director Atom Egoyan recently, and Egoyan has taken the bait, firing off a furious response to Bernstein's charges of anti-Semitism and brutality in his production of Salome. Better yet, the paper is promising a Bernstein response yet to come. National Post (Canada) 01/24/02
SHOULD SALOME BE SANITIZED? Richard Strauss's Salome has never been an easy-to-swallow opera. It has been panned constantly since its debut nearly a century ago for being vulgar, anti-Semitic, and just generally shocking. A new Canadian production is drawing particularly nasty fire from one local critic: "I left the Hummingbird Centre in a rage after Friday night's opening, feeling violated as both a woman and a Jew." National Post (Canada) 01/21/02
IT IS BETTER TO SOUND GOOD...(BUT DON'T LET THAT STOP THE MARKETING): Magdalena Kozena is 28, and "the blue-eyed, blonde Czech mezzo-soprano is the classical recording industry's latest hot property. But does Kozena owe her success to her looks?" The Guardian (UK) 01/21/02
SOUND BEFORE LOOKS? "A tall and willowy 28-year-old, Kozená is a delightful girl with a crisp sense of humour and - sorry, chaps - a nice new French boyfriend. More important, she is blessed with an impressive vocal technique and a clean, warm and alluring mezzo-soprano that reaches, in the modern style of Anne Sofie von Otter, Ann Murray and Susan Graham, into soprano rather than contralto territory." The Telegraph (UK) 01/21/02
An Interview with
Steven R. Gerber
Gerber has written for many of the major performers of our time. In addition to the concertos written for Nikkanen and Brey, he wrote his String Quartet #4 for the Fine Arts Quartet, his Viola Concerto for Yuri Bashmet, who premiered it at his festival in Tours, and several works for Russian violinist Tatyana Grindenko. His works have also been performed by such groups as the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra under Kirk Trevor, Philharmonia Virtuosi under Richard Kapp, and The Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev. Most recently, he received a commission from Concertante Chamber Players for a work entitled "Spirituals" for clarinet and string quartet, premiered by them in 2001 in Harrisburg, New York City, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1948, Gerber now lives in New York City.
He has degrees from Haverford College and from Princeton University, which
awarded him a 4-year fellowship for graduate studies. His works have
been played throughout the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union, where
he has toured frequently and had literally dozens of orchestral performances
S21: You are a remarkably prolific composer and have created works in a wide variety of forms—orchestral, chamber, choral, solo. Do you prefer one form over another?
For a long time I preferred to write solo, vocal, or chamber works
and didn't expect to write much for orchestra. When I began my Symphony
in 1988, at the age of 40, I had written only one previous work for orchestra,
some settings of Wallace Stevens for soprano and orchestra, which were
still unplayed. (I had to wait nearly 15 years for them to be performed;
oddly enough they were given two performances in Ukraine during the same
year with two different orchestras, singers, and conductors.) I Had
no idea when I would hear the Symphony, or my next work, a Serenade for
Strings, but I got
The Adams Chronicles
The Music of Elliott Carter, Volume Four
Composer: E. Carter
Conductor: Elliott Carter
Performer: Susan Narucki, David Starobin, et al.
Ensemble: Daniel Druckman
Bridge - #9111
Volume four of Bridge's comprehensive Elliott Carter series includes the masterpiece, Eight Pieces for Four Timpani, as well as a number of short recent works. Particularly fine is David Starobin's performance of "Shard," a piece for solo guitar that is short but breathtakingly original.
Complete Crumb Edition, Volume 5: Easter Dawning, Celestial Mechanics, A Haunted Landscape, Processional
Composer: George Crumb
Conductor: George Crumb
Performer: Thomas Conlin
Ensemble: Haewon Song , Robert Shannon Don Cook
Bridge - #9113
The fifth release in Bridge's award winning Complete Crumb Edition includes the premiere recording of Crumb's1992 carillon solo, "Easter Dawning" played by Don Cook, carilloneur at Brigham Young University."Celestial Mechanics", for piano, four-hands is pure Crumb. "A Haunted Landscape" 1984) for orchestra is played by The Warsaw Philharmonic under conductor Thomas Conlin, the same combination that produced the Grammy-winning "Star-Child".
Composer: Sid Robinovitch
Cbc Records --Naxos-- - #5212
Composer: Yves Prin
Conductor: Bruno Ferrandis
Performer: Pierre-Yves Artaud
Ensemble: Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Naxos - #8555347
Once you know that Prin was in Boulez's first composition class at IRCAM, the fact that all of these pieces are revisions of earlier pieces begin to make sense. Like the master, Prin is obviously a harsh critic of his own work. At 41 minutes, the disk covers a lot of contemporary territory and contains flashes of geninue originality.
Violin|Viola and Keyboard Works
Composer: Alan Hovhaness
Performers: Christina Fong, Arved Ashby
This disc might easily be subtitled "music to chill out by."
Deceptively simple and meditative with just the right touches of exotic eastern mysticism, this is music that captivates through simplicity. A keeper.
Colored Field · Musica Celestis · Air
Composer: Aaron Jay Kernis
Conductor: Eiji Oue
Performer: Truls Mørk
Emd/Virgin Classics - #45464
Some of Kernis' greatest hits retooled for Truls, who performs them magnificently.
This Is the Colour of My Dreams
Conductor: Mario Bernardi
Performer: Shauna Rolston
Ensemble: CBC Radio Orchestra
Cbc Records --Naxos-- - #5214
Ralson is an enthusiastic advocate and performer of contemporary music. She has given the North American premiere of Gavin Bryar’s concerto, "Farewell to Philosophy", Rolf Wallin’s "Ground" for solo cello and strings, Krzysztof Penderecki’s Sextet for violin, viola, cello, piano, clarinet and horn, as well as the Canadian premiere of "Kai", a work for solo cello and 18 instruments by Mark Anthony Turnage. Here she delivers the world premieres of works written especially for her by Canadian composers Heather Schmidt, Christos Hatzis, Chan Ka Nin, and Kelly-Marie Murphy.
Composer: Ned Rorem
Performer: Ned Rorem, Carole Farley
Naxos - #8559084
Pushing 80, Rorem continues to add to his extensive catalogue of over four hundred songs. His individual settings and cycles draw their texts from a wide range of poetry. Among his favorites sources have been Walt Whitman, Theodore Roethke, Kenneth Koch, Paul Goodman, and the English Metaphysical Poets. Nobody does art songs better.
Composer: Paul Lansky
The title track, 'Ride', is a 19 minute piece made from sounds of a highway, processed and filtered to create sweeping sonic landscapes. An 8 channel version of the piece was played at Lincoln Center's 'Great Day in New York' festival in January 2000.
Triple Quartet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Electric Guitar Phase
Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, conductor Alan Pierson
Wea/Atlantic/Nonesuch - #79546
This is the first recording of Reich’s Triple Quartet performed by Kronos Quartet, who commissioned the work and in whose honor it was written. This disc, the first to include a new work by Reich since the 1996 release City Life, also features first recordings of Electric Guitar Phase and Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint, as well as the first recording of a newly revised edition of Music for Large Ensemble.
Composer: Harrison Birtwistle
Wea/Atlantic/Teldec - #26867
Written for soprano, string quartet & ensemble of 2 clarinets, viola, cello and double bass, Pulse Shadows' nine string quartet movements alternate with the 'song' ensemble. The nine quartet movements comprise five Fantazias and four 'Friezes', of which the fourth is an instrumental meditation on Celan's famous poem Todesfuge (Death Fugue), with its strange recurrent image of black milk.
Brahms · Stravinsky - Violin Concertos
Composer: Johannes Brahms, Igor Stravinsky
Performer: Neville Marriner
Sony Classics - #89649
Thank heaven for little girls. Kid breathes new life into old workhorses.
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