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   February 9-16, 2004

A personal note for a passing....
Robert J. Harth

by Duane Harper Grant

On Friday January 30th. Robert J. Harth, the artistic and executive director of Carnegie Hall, died at his home in Manhattan of an apparent heart attack. He was only 47.

I wanted to write something here to mark this event because his death was so sudden, so unexpected and personally painful although, unfortunately, I did not know him for very long and did not yet know him very well. But because Robert's warm heart and exuberant spirit were so apparent when I met him, I was struck in the gut with sadness and a feeling of loss and wanted to learn more about his life.

He became the artistic director of Carnegie Hall on Sept. 16th, 2001 just 5 days after the terrorist attacks and was there for just two and a half years. It just happened that way and Robert, new to New York, now had to steer Carnegie through the ramifications of the aftermath of this event. It was not a easy job. He was already inheriting an organization that needed healing because of previous administration upheavals. He also had to negotiate the tumultuous proposition of the return of the NY Philharmonic to the hall, a deal that ultimately fell through, mostly because of schedule difficulties. 

Robert was also broad in his scope of musical interests and vision. He oversaw the opening (fall 2003) and programming of the new Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall. In his words: "We want the widest possible audience to experience the hall -- a window through which to explore the wonders of different musical genres. We're stepping out of our comfort zone in Zankel Hall. We're being adventurous!" 

We hope whoever takes over the reigns there will carry on the ardent adventurousness that Robert started. Zankel has a unique place in the diverse New York community and is producing some great performances. 

Before coming to Carnegie Robert was the president and chief financial officer of the Aspen Music Festival and School for 12 years. Two comments from people who worked with him at Aspen from the AMFS website:

Don Roth, President of the AMFS said, ²The Aspen Music Festival and School as it is today would be unthinkable without Robert Harth's devotion, creativity and humane passion over the dozen years of his leadership. His is a tragic loss for music, but most of all for all those who had the privilege to work with this strong and gentle man. There is a vacant feeling today, in the heart and soul of our Aspen music family. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Robert's family, colleagues and many friends.²

David Zinman, Music Director, whose tenure began when Harth was president of the AMFS, had these comments: "So often when death comes to one so young, you mourn what could have been; with Robert you see already a life of immense fulfillment. In his short life he went to the top of his field, and was a great and talented colleague and friend. Robert had an innate understanding of how things were no matter which area of life he was addressing. He spoke the truth and I loved him for it. I consider myself privileged to have worked with such a man. His loss to Aspen and to Carnegie Hall and the music world in general will be huge. Robert was one of the great thinkers about the future of music. And the future will miss him."

I first met Robert at a small party after a concert at Carnegie hall in early November, 2003. My friend Ayano and I were sitting there and he came over and sat near us and we struck up a conversation. Relaxed and beaming, he was very interested in what we were doing and asked about Ayano's experiences in Japan, her homeland. He talked about his experiences there and said that he loved Japan but could understand why, as an artist, she felt she had to leave to grow. Robert was so unpretentious and genuine. It seems odd to even say this. He just said that he worked for the hall, that he had come to New York just a few days after September 11 and how strange it was starting in NY at that time after being in Aspen Colorado for 12 years. He was very exited about Zankel hall and the music there. You could tell he was loving it. He and I talked about our diverse musical interests and the things that were coming up at Zankel.  He then encouraged me to call him anytime we wanted to go to any concert in either hall and he would set it up and gave me his card. It was only then I noticed his position printed there. 

I next saw Robert just two days before he died at a concert at Carnegie Hall. We were the guests of some relatives in from out of town. He came over to where we were sitting and said hello. Smiling and happy to see us he commented on how Ayano's hair had gotten longer and wanted to know how her art show had gone and that he was sorry that he had been unable to come.

We were shocked when we heard the news, both of us looking forward to seeing and talking with him him again. So it is with a sadness that I write this piece but also with a joy that I did get to know him a little and was touched by his spirit.

Advertising and Sponsorship Information
Grammy's Classical Winners Here's a list of classical music recordings that won at this year's Grammys. Andante 02/09/04 

Classical Independents Day It looks like classical recording has died - if you look at the gimmicky, anemic "big" labels. But the smaller independent labels are producing some good stuff. "It’s that emphasis on repertoire rather than cult celebrity that marks out the independents from the corporate big boys. And how they’ve grown." The Scotsman 02/08/04 

Scottish Opera Borrowing On The Future "Finances at Scotland's national opera company are in such a state that the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) has agreed to advance it more than half of next year's budget to keep it afloat. Critics blame arrogant management for the crisis which could see up to 80 of its staff of around 200 lose their jobs. Although Scottish Opera enjoys huge critical acclaim for its onstage productions, it is almost as famous for its equally tumultuous off-stage dramas. In the latest twist for the opera company, it has been forced to seek £4m from the SAC in order to keep its doors open." The Guardian (UK) 02/06/04

Philadelphia Orchestra Asks Staff, Musicians To Take Pay Cuts Trying to stem a deficit expected to exceed $4 million, the Philadelphia Orchestra has asked all its employees to help cut the red ink - including asking salary cuts for musicians and a ten percent cut in guest artist fees. "We are asking for voluntary help from all of the people who make this great art form happen, all the people who have benefited from its success over the years." Philadelphia Inquirer 02/07/04 

Death Of Classical Recording? Nahhh! Norman Lebrecht predicts the end of the conventional classical recording business. But Anthony Tommasini begs to disagree: "Smaller labels like Nonesuch and Naxos, which once just filled in the gaps with records of specialty repertory and adventurous artists ignored by the majors, are proving that it is possible to release important recordings at midrange prices and still pay the bills. And though the financial repercussions from the downloading of CD's have the recording industry feeling besieged and impotent, some bold orchestras have, like many rock groups, taken matters into their own hands and released self-produced CD's, recorded live and available on the Internet." The New York Times 02/04/04 

Adagio For Sick People Simon Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra dedicated Saturday night's performance of Barber's Adagio for Strings to Robert Harth, Carnegie Hall's director who died Friday. The orchestra was in the middle of the performance when a man in the audience stood up, having a heart attack. After the man was taken out, the music started again, and another audience member came up sick... Philadelphia Inquirer 02/02/04 

Digging Out In San Antonio "San Antonio Symphony officials unveiled a slimmed- down budget and debt repayment plan Wednesday that would allow for a 26-week season beginning this fall, if the symphony's creditors — including its own musicians and season subscribers — accept the proposal." The ensemble shut down last spring and filed for bankruptcy protection, sparking a wave of angry recriminations from SAS musicians and supporters. The 2004-05 season will be 13 weeks shorter than the 39-week schedule it used to have, and a new strategic plan calls for a wholesale change in the way the SAS markets and presents itself, as well as an overhaul of the fundraising process. San Antonio Express-News 02/05/04 

Will European Noise Regulations Kill Beethoven 9? European Union noise regulations for workers might mean that symphony orchestras will have to quiet down. "The intriguing issue, though, is whether the directive will impose changes in the repertoire itself. The London Symphony Orchestra says that this is a real possibility. Loud works like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and the symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler may have to be scheduled more rarely and surrounded by quieter pieces. Look up the European commission's website and you will find a section mocking the idea that Beethoven's Ninth symphony - the EU's anthem - might even fall foul of the noise at work directive. But the idea is not so far-fetched." The Guardian (UK) 01/17/04 

Best of Both Worlds When orchestras go looking for a new chief executive, the first question that must be answered is whether the ensemble wants to hire someone with intimate knowledge of the music world, or a numbers expert with proven experience balancing budgets. The Fort Worth (Texas) Symphony, however, has decided to go with some of each talent in hiring Katherine Akos as its new CEO. Akos is a violinist, daughter of a Chicago Symphony musician, and also an experienced fund-raiser in the non-profit world. She joins an orchestra which is in comparatively good financial shape, but is struggling to avoid a deficit for the current season. Fort Worth Star-Telegram 02/05/04 

At The ENO - Plenty Of Questions As the English National Opera gets set to move into its renovated home, some big questions have yet to be answered, writes Norman Lebrecht: "The critical public issue for ENO is, as it has been for a decade, the question of identity. The company is not English, except inasmuch as its singers mangle the vernacular. It is not National, lacking the resources to tour. And it is desperately keen to shed the corsets of Opera in the quest for new audiences and fresh relevance. It is, in sum, a product in need of rebranding, a relic of a very different society that has failed to adjust to post-industrial demand." La Scena Musicale 01/31/04 

 Last Week's News

The brilliant violist Kim Kashkashian is among the many world-class musicians associated with Pro Musicis. 

Pro Musicis 
The Sharing of Music
Pro Musicis was established in France in 1965 to recognize and share the talent of emerging, world-class concert artists. Based on the conviction of its founder Father Eugène Merlet that "artistic talent is God’s purest gift to humanity," Pro Musicis brings great music into unlikely venues.

Pro Musicis presents winners of the Pro Musicis International Award in major concert halls in the United States and abroad. With each public concert, Pro Musicis artists perform two community service concerts—in prisons, homes for the aged and disabled, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, shelters for the homeless—wherever the healing gift of music is needed. In New York City, for example, an artist may perform at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall one day, and Rikers Island or Phoenix House the next.

A distinguished music committee, chaired by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gunther Schuller, grants the Pro Musicis International Award to solo musicians who demonstrate extensive classical training, exceptional talent and an unusual ability to communicate their gifts. The Pro Musicis experience helps artists transform their relationship to their talent; beyond aiming for successful careers, they become committed to a lifetime of music making. 

For more information, contact Kathleen Earley or visit the Pro Musicis web site.

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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
Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jerry@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

The music of American composer Beth Anderson will be heard in two of the three “Women’s Work” concerts on February 12, 19 and 25, 2004, at Renee Weiler Concert Hall, 44-46 Barrow Street in New York City. Ms. Anderson, whose works will be presented on the February 12 and 25 programs, will also host all three concerts. These concerts, all three of which begin at 8 PM, are co-produced by Greenwich House Arts and New York Women Composers, Inc.  Details here.
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS 

Black Earth
Composer: Fazýl Say
Conductor: Muhai Tang, Eliahu Inbal
Performer: Fazil Say, Laurent Korcia

The Turkish pianist Fazýl Say has built a formidable reputation for himself through a string of first-rate recordings  of Mozart, Bach, Gershwin and Stravinsky.  This time around,  Say demonstrates that he is also a composer of considerable talent.  The title piece, Black Earth for solo piano, is  based on a Turkish folksong, in which Say, evoking the saz, a Turkish traditional instrument, simultaneously plays the keys and the strings inside the piano, producing an otherworldly sound. Say's compositions are hardly classical--more like Keith Jarrett with a dynamite hook-- but these are daring and exciting performances.

American Angels
Performer(s): Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi Franc 

Anonymous 4 turns from the medieval repertoire to explore the roots of American sacred music. Developed in Toni Morrison’s Atelier program at Princeton in spring 2003, American Angels includes songs of redemption and glory from the time of the American Revolution to the present day: 18th-century psalm settings from rural New England, 19th-century shape-note and camp revival songs from the rural South, and some of the nation’s best-loved gospel songs. Drawing from collections including “The Southern Harmony,” and “The Sacred Harp,” - the album explores the beauty and power of early American sacred music and the relatively obscure form of a cappella choral singing known as Sacred Harp.

Violin Concerto
Composer: Khachaturian,
Performer(s): Mihaela Martin, Kuchar, Nat'l So Ukraine

It takes a lot of virtuosity to keep Khachaturian's demanding Violin Concerto afloat and the Romanian violinist, Mihaela Martin, does a masterful job.  Her version is less daring, say, than that of, David Oistrakh, to whom the piece is dedicated, but she skillfully navigates the bristling outer movements and pours her soul into the elegaic central movement.  Among recent versions this holds it own with the very best. 


Piano Concerti Nos. 1 & 2
Piano Concerto No. 2
Marc-André Hamelin (piano), 
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton

Marc-Andre Hamelin makes child's play of these two very different piano masterpieces of Shostakovich.  Fabulously accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony, led by Andrew Litton,  Hamelin provides not simply his usual technical brillance but also a feeling for the material that sounds--to this listener--definitive.  The Shchedrin concerto, though less well-known, is no less enjoyable. 

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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