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  May 17-24, 2004
Michael Nyman Joins
   Boosey & Hawkes
Michael Nyman, one of the most versatile, popular and successful composers of his generation, has signed a long-term exclusive publishing agreement with Boosey & Hawkes. The new contract covers all future works spanning the worlds of live performance, film and TV.

“I feel I have arrived at my natural home, having a close affinity with the music of many Boosey & Hawkes composers ranging from Stravinsky to Steve Reich and Louis Andriessen. I look forward to a lively and fruitful collaboration.”

Born in 1944 in London, Michael Nyman studied at the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College London. His music is highly
distinctive, particularly the works for the Michael Nyman Band, written in a language which effectively fuses minimalism with
a favorite for film Baroque and popular music. His music for Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract was the first of 11 highly successful collaborations that also include Drowning by Numbers and Prospero’s Books.

His music has been recorded extensively on the Virgin, Decca, EMI and Warner Classics labels, and is used widely for advertising on TV. Nyman’s stageworks include the operas The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Facing Goya, and widely admired stage Man and Boy: Dada. Among his concert works are concertos for leading international soloists including John Harle, Gidon Kremer, Christian Lindberg, Julian Lloyd Webber and the Labeque Sisters, along with chamber and ensemble works that include a series of six string quartets. Nyman’s existing output, pre-dating the Boosey & Hawkes agreement, is published by Chester Music.

Nyman’s future projects include a new one-act stagework forming a prequel to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, concertos for percussionist Colin Currie and toy piano player Margaret Leng Tan, and an opera based on Tristram Shandy. Forthcoming film scores include The Libertine with Johnny Depp, and an adaptation of Zola’s Thérèse Raquin.

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Christopher O'Riley Plays Radiohead

by Deborah Kravetz

Not so much "fresh ink" as freshly inked, the Kimmel Center's Fresh Ink series completes its inaugural season with pianist Christopher O'Riley playing his own transcriptions of music by Radiohead.

I don't know from Radiohead, but I do listen to From the Top, the PRI program  spotlighting teenage classical musicians hosted by O'Riley.  At the break of most programs, O'Riley plays music that is a tangle of interweaving lines and tinkling notes that I always enjoy--those are his transcriptions of Radiohead.  Not being familiar with the originals, I may not be properly appreciating the skill and difficulty of what O'Riley has achieved.

The first piece, Airbag, has a sweet melody over thundering chords and enough sound for four hands playing; there are rolling waves of sound that ebb and flow with peaks and valleys of emotion.  Regarding Subterranean Homesick Alien, think Debussy's color and flow, combined with Chopin's density and majesty--in a New Age sort of way.  I was also impressed by Thinking About You, with its complicated ground and dance melody, but after a while there was perhaps a little too much thunder.  Exit Music almost made me start humming How Insensitive. 

No Surprises was unusual for its tinkley crystalline ground and poignant bass melody line. Knives Out was light, minor and quiet and reminded me of Michel Legrand pieces.  O'Riley also did two pieces by Elliot Smith that were not all that different, but lighter in density and simpler in texture. But as they go on, there becomes less and less to distinguish each from another--perhaps in much the same way as a concert of Strauss waltzes, Liszt mazurkas or Bach variations could soon seem similar.

Through it all, O'Riley performed with dexterity and enthusiasm before a wildly partisan audience (not watching the finale of Friends) applauding as much for O'Riley's performance as for his compositional skills and faithfulness to the original. 

Notwithstanding, for all their intense color and swirling figures, en masse they become monochromatic, repetitive and all equally loud, with too much left hand and pedal almost overwhelming the melody.  I would be curious to hear the originals, but would also like to hear how O'Riley does with Chopin, Debussy and in particular his Piazzolla tango transcriptions.

For the 2004-2005 season, Fresh Ink has scheduled a George Crumb premiere with Orchestra 2001, eighth blackbird, cellist Maya Beiser playing works by Steve Reich, Osvaldo Golijov and Davis Lang, and Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Fresh Ink Series
Kimmel Center
Philadelphia, PA
May 6, 2004


(Reposted from Penn Sounds 5/12/04.)

Send announcements to the Editors
It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's... a musical landscape? A fleet of hot air balloons hovering over the UK city of Birmingham awakened residents this week with a specially designed "musical landscape... Although the music devised by sleep psychologists was designed to stimulate sweet dreams, balloon pilots watched residents run out into the street to observe the fleet hovering just a few hundred feet above them. The early morning stunt marked the launch of Birmingham’s bid for a share in a £15 million Arts Council fund for promoting cultural events, backed by Fierce!, an international festival of live art." The Scotsman (UK) 05/13/04 

Attack Of The Alien Atonality Why is it, all these many years after atonality was introduced into music, that it still seems to shock listeners? And what is it about tonality that makes it seem familiar and easy to like? NewMusicBox 05/04 

Student Composers - Looking For Heroes "Composers grow up with the idea that music is a game of heroes. In history books, they read that their forebears dazzled kings, electrified crowds, forged nations. Sooner or later, they come up against the disappointing realization that modern American culture has no space for a composer hero. That disappointment easily metastasizes into profound resentment, which no amount of success can dislodge. Indeed, the most famous composers are often the unhappiest." The New Yorker 05/10/04 

Degrading Experience - CD's Rotting Some consumers are finding that older CD's in their collection are degrading, suffering from "CD rot," a gradual deterioration of the data-carrying layer. It's not known for sure how common the blight is, but it's just one of a number of reasons that optical discs, including DVDs, may be a lot less long-lived than first thought. 'We were all told that CDs were well-nigh indestructible when they were introduced in the mid-'80s. Companies used that in part to justify the higher price of CDs as well." Washington Post 05/11/04 

When Things Look Dark, Innovate How real is the threat to orchestral music that critics and pundits are always writing about? Real but not dire, says Henry Fogel, former Chicago Symphony chief and current head of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Fogel points out that, of the various art forms used as popular entertainment, only concert music has remained unchanged in its presentation since the days of Brahms and Beethoven. That's a problem, since modern audiences have come to expect innovative presentation in theaters and museums, and orchestras are perceived as stodgy and boring as a result. Fogel also cites the lack of music education in schools as a factor in the form's decline, calling the current system of American arts education "a disaster." Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 05/13/04 

Hockey Opera Sells Out Prague "With subjects such as television reality shows providing fodder for contemporary opera, why not sports? Martin Smolka’s Nagano, an opera in three periods plus overtime, relates the Czechs’ victory at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998, having come near but never achieving the gold four times in 50 years." Financial Times 05/11/04 

Cut-Rate Opera Doesn't Fly Why did Raymond Gubbay's Savoy Opera fail so quickly? "Gubbay was selling the Savoy Opera as unexceptional everyday West End fare, without the 'snobbery' and 'elitism' that supposedly put "ordinary" folk off. But what came across, I think, was an unfortunate impression of mediocrity. And Joe Public never wants to pay good money for that. Precisely the opposite, in fact." The Telegraph (UK) 05/13/04 

Music School Makes Big (Economic) Impact A recent study shows that the Cleveland Institute of Music "as an annual economic impact in Ohio of about $92.3 million. The firm surveyed students, faculty, staff and audience members to come up with the figure, which surprised even the Impact Economics consultant who did the study." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 05/16/04 

A Downloading Plan That Pays Musicians Harvard professor Terry Fisher has unveiled a plan that would pay artists for their music and allow (even encourage) rampant downloading. "Fisher advocates an alternative compensation system that would pay artists based on the popularity of their music. Artists would first have to register their work with the copyright office, which would track how many times that work was downloaded. Revenue generated from taxes on things like Internet access and the sale of MP3 players would then be used to pay the artists." Wired 05/16/04 

In Bamberg: Looking For A Conductor Of Greatness The Bamberg Symphony stages a conducting competition, but not just any conducting competition. "In Bamberg, the entire city searched along with the orchestra for a person with charisma, an ear for music and a clear beat, with unmistakable body language and a feel for the orchestra as a social system. Such an unruly concert as that which was performed on the closing evening of the competition to such an enthusiastic audience at the same time is probably only conceivable in such an environment, where almost 10 percent of the population has a subscription to the local symphony orchestra and the musical ensemble is visibly supported by the city as a collective." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/14/04 

A Challenger To Chicago Lyric Opera Emerges Chicago Opera Theatre was founded 30 years ago as n alternative to the Chicago Lyric Opera. But "with the appointment five years ago of former Glyndebourne chief Brian Dickie as general director, it has begun to offer productions with musical and theatrical qualities worthy of international attention. In its first season in the new, acoustically splendid, Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater, Chicago Opera fulfils its new promise with the much-belated Chicago premiere of Benjamin Britten's 1973 Death in Venice." Financial Times 05/12/04

Last Week's News
Buffalo Philharmonic
Returns to Carnegie Hall

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of its Music Director JoAnn Falletta,  is returning to Carnegie Hall after an absence of almost sixteen years with a concert  on Sunday, June 6, 2004, at 2 p.m.
The colorful and varied program will include Zoltan Kodaly's Dances of Galanta; Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, with Barbara Quintiliani, soprano, as soloist; Griffes Three Poems of Fiona McLeod; and Alexander Zemlinsky's The Mermaid.

"We perform at Carnegie Hall to showcase the orchestra and to bring attention to the musical vibrancy of our community," said Music Director JoAnn Falletta. "The Buffalo Philharmonic's return to Carnegie Hall will be highlighted by the performance of works by three composers with New York connections: Charles Griffes, Samuel Barber and Alexander Zemlinsky, who lived the final years of his life in New York. It is truly wonderful that HSBC, JetBlue and our many other sponsors have made this appearance possible."

On the preceding day, Saturday, June 5, 2004 at 2:00 p.m., Carnegie Hall will present the BPO on its family series, in a concert conducted by JoAnn Falletta and Associate Conductor Ron Spigelman. The program will include the Allegro from Rossini's William Tell Overture; Grofe's Niagara Falls Suite; Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra; and Sean O'Boyle's Musical Fairy Tale.

Tickets for the concert on Sunday, June 6, range in price from $74 to $23 and are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office or by calling CarnegieCharge at 212/247-7800.

Following in the footsteps of such legends as Lukas Foss and Michael Tilson-Thomas, JoAnn Falletta began her tenure as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall of 1999, becoming one of only three women leading major American orchestras. Since stepping up to the podium, Maestro Falletta has brought the Philharmonic to a new level of national and international prominence.  Highlights include leading the orchestra in numerous concerts broadcast on NPR's Performance Today and SymphonyCast and by the European Broadcasting Union, a nation-wide broadcast on PBS television, and making an unprecedented number of highly acclaimed recordings.  These include a three disc contract with Naxos, representing the first commercial recording contract the orchestra has had with an international label in over 20 years.

Orchestra Works
Composer:  Charles Griffes
Performers:  Buffalo Philharmonic, JoAnn Falletta
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

Old Stuff
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

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, New York, NY 10019
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Infernal Violins
Performer(s): Angele Dubeau, Le Pieta

Call it Angèle meets the devil.  Call it crossover.  But resistance is futile. 
Angèle Dubeau is a remarkable violinist, and here, she and her all-woman, 12-strong group, La Pieta, tackle some of the showiest virtuoso pieces composed or transposed for solo violin and strings, in various combinations, and with an occasional piano thrown in. From Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre  to the Jagger/Richards masterpiece Paint It Black, these ladies play these violin bon bons with a warmth and flair that would warm the devil’s heart.  A bonus DVD reveals the players to be as comely as they are talented. 

Knoxville: Summer of 1915 / Essays for Orchestra
Karina Gauvin, soprano / Thomas Trotter, organ / Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Marin Alsop, conductor 

Gramophone made this its top pick of the month and it's easy to understand why.  The young Canadian soprano  Karina Gauvin delivers a drop-dead gorgeous reading of Barber's magical setting of a James Agee poem.  Marin Alsop is also excellent in the two Essays for orchestra, works written for  Bruno Walter and Eugene Ormandy, respectively.

Piano Trios 1 & 2 
Vitebsk Trio
Composers:  Shostakovich, Copland
Trio Wanderer
harmonia mundi

Two well-known  masterpieces by Dmitri Shostakovich are paired to fine effect with a less well-known ‘Russian’ work by Aaron Copland.  Copland’s infrequently heard Vitebsk Trio of 1929 is an early work, based on a Jewish theme the composer heard at a performance of Dybbuk, a play by Shalom Ansky (who was born in the town of Vitebsk). The work combines elements of the neoclassicism and folk style of Stravinsky with experiments in polytonality and microtones.  Brilliantly performed by Trio Wanderer.

Symphony No.1, Phantasmata
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, David Zinman
First Edition

First released on Nonesuch in 1989,  this all-world-premiere title, which did much to bring Rouse’s immense talent to a wider public, boasts 24-bit newly remastered sound and the complete and lively interview with the composer conducted by Glenn Watkins. Conductor David Zinman’s close collaboration with Rouse ensured that the introspective Symphony No. 1 (with its references to Bruckner and Shostakovich) and the highly surreal Phantasmata triptych received maximum voice.

Tirol Concerto, Passages
Dennis Russell Davies (piano) 
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
Orange Mountain 

Philip Glass’ Tirol Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was commissioned by the Tyrol, Austria Tourist Board and had its world premiere at the Tyrol Festival “Klangspuren” in Jenbach, in  2000. While staying in Tyrol, Glass studied sound documents and sheet music of Tyrolese folk-music.  In his Tirol Concerto, played here by conductor/pianist Dennis Russell Davies and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  This disc also features selections from Passages, Glass's collaboration with Indian Sitar master Ravi Shankar,  as arranged by  Davies.

Rachmaninov Transcriptions, Corelli Variations

Olga Kern was awarded the Gold Medal at the Eleventh Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001 - the first woman to garner that honor in over thirty years.  On her new release Olga Kern performs a dazzling program of Rachmaninov’s piano transcriptions of of music by Bach, Bizet, Kreisler, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schubert and Tchaikovsky, his Corelli Variations, and the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 — with Rachmaninov’s own cadenza, transcribed from his recordings. 

Belshazzar's Feast
 Composer:  William Walton
Performers:  Purves, Lindley, Daniel

Sir William Walton's  Belshazzar's Feast, composed in 1930-31, is the finest British choral work since Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, although it is far more "modern."  Scored for baritone, choir and orchestra Belshazzar is a compact work lasting just under 45 minutes. It recounts the Biblical story of the downfall of the proud Belshazzar, King of Babylon whose doom is foretold by a ghostly hand writing the chilling prophecy on the wall during a banquet. Walton's dazzling and often times startling music is gripping from the first bar to the last. 

Letter to Warsaw 
Jane Eaglen, soprano / Mina Miller, piano / Music of Remembrance / Gerard Schwarz, conductor 

 American composer Thomas Pasatieri created this powerful song cycle, setting six texts by poet/cabaret artist Pola Braun, who wrote these texts while in the Warsaw Ghetto and in the Majdanek concentration camp, where she perished in 1943.  The  poems bear poignant, painful witness to the disruption, forced disintegration and, finally, destruction of daily life of every Jew in Poland in World War II.  Pasatieri is best known for his many film orchestrations including Road to Perdition, Finding Nemo, and Angels in America.  Here,  he takes full advantage  of Jane Eaglen's glorious voice and his orchestrations reveal a composer of considerable depth.

Violin Concertos
Composers:  Sibelius, Khachaturian
Performers:  Sinfonia Varsovia,
Emmanuel Krivine
Naive (Naxos)

18-year-old Armenian wunderkind tosses off the Sibelius with a dazzling display of sheer virtuosity and delivers a much deeper, more sober reading of his fellow countryman's bouncy  masterpiece than we are accustomed to hearing.  Eye-opening performance and a performer to watch.


Symphony No. 10
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich 
Kurt Sanderling (conductor)
Orchestre National de France
Naive (Naxos)

Re-issue of an inspired 1978 
performance of the symphony many consider Shostakovich's best by conductor Kurt Sanderling with the Orchestre national de France. Composed immediately following Stalin's death and premiered on 17 December 1953, this massive work seems to sum up the experience of the Soviet people under the dictator's tyranny,  especially in the terrifying Allegro which evokes a machine that grinds men down, before a more optimistic finale that the composer conceived in the spirit of Haydn.

Seven: A Suite for Orchestra
Composer:  Tony Banks
Performer:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mike Dixon 

Tony Banks, founder of the rock band Genesis, goes "classical"  with this seven-movement suite, each of them an orchestral sound picture using its title to set the mood.  The result is an extremely well-recorded bag of ambiant musical noodles that are less frivelous than they might have been and, in any event, less painful to the ears  than listening to Phil Collins sing.

Symphony No. 3 Op. 39. 
Symphony No. 4 Op. 42
Composer: Herman D. Koppel
Conductor: Moshe Atzmon,
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra 
Da Capo [Naxos] 

During the German occupation of Denmark in World War II,  Herman D. Koppel, who was Jewish, and his family had to flee to Sweden, where they met a childhood friend of Koppel who had become a baroness. In her house Koppel could compose in peace and quiet. The Third Symphony is dedicated to her.  Despite his own safe surroundings, Koppel’s experience of the war, and of the execution of his Polish-Jewish family in German concentration camps, had a profound impact on his works from this period.  These are works of anguish that explore the depths of the composer's emotions--a final liberation from the bloodless influence of his teacher Carl Neilsen--and the birth of major, overlooked 20th century music figure.

Die Jakobsleiter
Composer: Arnold Schoenberg, Henschel, Meier, Nagano
Harmonia Mundi 

One of many important large-scale fragments left uncompleted by Schoenberg at his death, the oratorio Jacob's Ladder was finished by Winfried Zillig, once a student, at the behest of Schoenberg's widow after his death.  Schoenberg wrote the libretto between 1915 and 1917 based on the book of Genesis, overlaid with elements from Strindberg's drama Jacob Wrestles, and Balzac's novel Seraphita. He wrote a large of chunk of the music shortly after but was called to the army and never got around to finishing it.  This is a brilliant, committed performance that captures a little-known masterpiece by one of the 20th century's greatest composers at the height of his creative powers.

Composer:  Poul Rovsing Olsen
Performer(s):  Inderhaug, Byriel, Rorholm, Veto
Da Capo [Naxos]

When composing his music for Belisa, Poul Rovsing Olsen was deeply inspired by Spanish poet Federico García Lorca's drama and by the passionate and demanding character of Belisa herself. The opening scene of the opera is the wedding night of Belisa and Don Perlimplin, where the young bride takes 5 lovers in front of her decrepit groom that is sound asleep. The drama develops from stylized opera buffa into the ambiguous and surreal with an unexpected ending, and Poul Rovsing Olsen's music reflects Lorca’s drama like a sensuous kaleidoscope with French and Oriental overtones. 

Swales and Angels
Composer: Beth Anderson
Conductor: Gary M. Schneider
Performer: Rubio String Quartet, Jessica Marsten (soprano), et al.
New World Records 

Beth Anderson's unabashedly romantic "swales" are as pure as a Kentucky mountain spring,  frisky as a new-born colt rolling in bluegrass, and infectious as a third-grade measles outbreak.  They are light, without being lightweight, and conquer the ear by their deceptively easygoing charm.  If you like Paul Schoenfeld's brand of Americana, you'll like these pieces a lot.

New Music With Guitar, Volume Six
Composers:  Various
Performer:  David Starobin
Bridge Records

No one has done more to champion guitar music by contemporary composers than the brilliant guitarist and co-founder of Bridge Records, David Starobin.  This CD includes solo and chamber works written between 1992 and 2000  by Gunther Schuller, Michael Starobin, Richard Wernick, Melinda Wagner, David Liptak, and Paul Lansky--all in premiere recordings. Volume Six also contains George Crumb's "Mundus Canis"--with the composer performing (and whispering and yelling) on percussion. To conclude the disc, Elliott Carter's fantastically inventive sextet, "Luimen" is performed by Speculum Musicae, New York City's virtuoso new music band.

 11 Studies for 11 Players: Piano Concerto
Composer:  Ned Rorem
Performer(s): , Lowenthal, Mester, Louisville Orchestra
First Edition

Rorem ages well and a recent spate of re-releases of his early chamber and orchestral works demonstrate that he is a good deal more than simply a master of art songs.  Like most of Rorem's work, 11 Studies is distinctly more European than American and recall Berio's marvelous Sequenzas. 

Piano Concerto. Concerto for two pianos. Piano Sonata
Composer:  Arthur Bliss
Performers: . Peter Donohoe, Martin Roscoe (pianos), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones (conductor). Naxos

The piano concerto is rip-snorting, full-blooded, heavy breathing romantism of the Rachmaninov variety played with over-the-top virtuosity by the nimble Peter Donohoe.  Listening to it makes you want to invade Russia.

Symphony No.1, 'Jeremiah'. Jubilee Games
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performers: Helen Medlyn (mezzo), Nathan Gunn (baritone), New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd (conductor). Naxos 

Young Bernstein, filled with piss and vinegar and more musical ideas per page than any eight of his contemporaries.  A joy to listen to a genius in the process of finding his compositional voice.

Organ and Silence
Composer: Tom Johnson
Performer:  Wesley Roberts, organ

A collection of 28 organ pieces to be played separately or as a long recital A music concerned for, as the author writes in the disc notes, "… the importance of silence in music…". This work is conceived not "for organ" but, really, for "organ and silence", as the silence is a fundamental part of it, and it’s not possible to give it up. It’s an attempt, as the author explain " to permit as much silence as possible, without allowing the music to actually stop".  Tom Johnson is one of the masters of minimalism, but he combines this with rigorous logic. His work, free from false glitters, defines, better that any other one, the sense of a research the goes beyond the strict genre definitions, and become poetic application of original ideas.

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