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 June 23-June 30, 2003

Salvatore Sciarrino's Macbeth
Focuses on Abuse of Power
Sicilian-born composer (1947)  Salvatore Sciarrino's opera MACBETH will receive its North American premiere with performances July 9-12 at John Jay College Theater. Inspired by Shakespeare's tragedy, Sciarrino labored on and off for almost 25 years to shape his dark, psychological examination of the abuse of power, which had its world premiere in June 2002 at Germany's Schwetzingen Festival. 

"The early nucleus of this opera dates back to 1976, when the atmosphere of contemporary music was deluged with dogmatic attitudes, one of which was the refusal to acknowledge one’s own roots, one’s own countenance," Sciarrino says.  "Now the situation has been overturned and composers must fight against dogmas of an opposite nature: extreme contamination and accessibility.”

The dramaturgy of Macbeth condenses Shakespeare’s tragedy, with one or two contributions from other authors, in a sequence of scenes that answer one another and contrast on various levels, forming a symmetrical arch between first and third acts that suggests a returning flux of events.

The nameless acts, the composer explains, “are wicked deeds, assassinations of such
violence that neither tongue nor heart dare express. Today the idea of tragedy, which is too often repressed, is indispensable for shaking us out of indifference. Horror is
continually mixed with daily life; and we must awaken our social consciences, lest we be intoxicated.”

The production is staged by noted German director Achim Freyer and features five soloists, a chorus of six, and members of Ensemble Modern, conducted by Johannes Debus of Oper Frankfurt. A surreal set, employing optically-contorted imagery gives visual reality to the eerie and nightmarish soundscape Sciarrino has created, where, as in much of his work, the listener will hear "nature, the mysteries of the night forest, and the whisper of the wind, but ultimately, the remotest depths of the human soul" (Le Figaro).  The 100-minute work, in three acts, will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

The Juilliard School will also present a concert of CHAMBER MUSIC OF SALVATORE SCIARRINO; Joel Sachs will conduct the New Juilliard Ensemble at Paul Hall on July 15 in a program that will include two U.S. premieres. Admission is FREE.


Luci mie traditrici 
Composer:  SCIARRINO Salvatore 
Performers:   STRICKER ANNETTE (soprano) 
KATZAMEIER OTTO (basso baritono) 
WESSEL KAI (controtenore) 
JAUNIN SIMON (baritono) 
direttore:   FURRER BEAT 
orchestra:   KLANGFORUM WIEN (orchestra) 

Advertising and Sponsorship Information

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 
Concert-Hall-As-Billboard This week Dallas' Meyerson Hall - home to the Dallas Symphony - is going to be transformed into a giant billboard. The IM Pei-designed building will be bathed in projected-light advertisements for a car-maker and publisher. "The projections will emblazon the symphony hall's north walls facing Woodall Rodgers Freeway with intricate, abstract designs reminiscent of computers, in a tribute to Bill Joy, Internet wizard, Sun Microsystems co-founder and another of the Audi 8." Dallas Morning News 06/19/03 

A Month of Surprises The classical music world is so tightly guarded, so underreported on, and so frustratingly predictable that surprises are rare. Yet, in the past month, Anthony Tommassini has found himself stunned by no fewer than three announcements from some of the world's top classical figures. The New York Philharmonic's surprise move to Carnegie Hall is, of course, at the top. Second on the list: the Cleveland Orchestra's decision to extend the contract of its young and (some say) unproven music director through 2012 after only one year on the job. And last, but not even remotely least, there is the stunning news that Luciano Pavarotti has scheduled a farewell performance at the Met. Again. And he promises to show up this time. The New York Times 06/22/03 

Sandow: A Critic's Manifesto Is classical music dying? Maybe. But maybe music critics are partly to blame. "We shouldn't be boosters. We shouldn't pretend that everything's wonderful and glorious, because, first of all, it isn't, and, even more important, nothing in the world is. I'll grant that some people idolize classical music, or at least the idea of it, and honestly believe that all classical concerts are wonderful and that there's no ego or careerism in the classical music world. (Let's have a moment of silence for that last idea, which I first heard from the bass player in a long-ago metal band, Kingdom Come.) But most of us are more realistic than that, even about things we don't know much about. So it's crucial, at least in my view, that classical critics pull no punches when they talk about bad concerts." NewMusicBox 06/03 

American Opera - Quantity Over Quality? "It sometimes seems as if it has become a proof of virility for some American opera houses that they should have at least one premiere in every season. But it is the quantity that apparently matters far more than quality, governed by the overriding principle that whatever the chosen composers produce must never challenge the house's core audience too seriously. Just as it is no accident that the leading American opera directors of today - Robert Wilson, Peter Sellars, David and Christopher Alden - now work far more regularly in Europe than at home, while houses like the New York Met continue to favour the lavish, reactionary naturalism of Franco Zeffirelli, so the American opera composers who thrive are those who are content to serve up blandness, preferably with a story taken from a well known novel or play." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03 

Our Great Composers: Out Of Religion "Looking back over the history of music, it is clear that the church has inspired some of the greatest achievements of western culture. But in the 20th century, church music became increasingly isolated from the advances of musical language and the pens of the world's most gifted composers. Today, to hear good new music in church is relatively rare. Why haven't the likes of Berio and Ligeti written sacred music?" The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03 

Roll Over Beethoven Beethoven and his music have been seized upon as a symbol for all manner of righteous and wrong causes. "Politically, he has had more incarnations than Vishnu. Almost every European political movement, conservative or revolutionary, has made him a posthumous party member. Depending on who you might have talked to over the past two centuries, Beethoven was a Marxist, a Nazi, a parliamentary democrat and a monarchist. He celebrated kings, gave hope to the proletariat, and vigorously supported all sides during the Second World War. No other composer - probably no other artist of any kind - has reflected so many conflicting views. You might say, echoing Jean-Paul Sartre, that because there was a Beethoven, we have to go on reinventing him." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/03 

Lincoln Center In Search Of A Plan What's to become of Lincoln Center now the New York Philharmonic plans on leaving for Carnegie? The planning is complicated. Center officials even considered turning Avery Fisher Hall into an opera house in hopes of enticing New York City Opera to stay... The New York Times 06/19/03 

English National Opera - A Daunting Job Sean Doran is only a few weeks into his job of running the embattled English National Opera. "Fresh, if a little bruised and battle-hardened, from his four extremely lively years as director of Western Australia's Perth International Arts Festival, Doran lets the Irish lilt in his voice sound an optimistic note. 'One of the reasons I accepted the job was that I do believe ENO is one of the few opera companies that has the ability to develop the art form itself. My ideas will come from continuing to learn exactly how this company ticks and how far I can stretch it'." Sydney Morning Herald 06/18/03 

 Last Week's News



Kirov Opera Dominates
Lincoln Center Festival

The major part of the classical-music section of the annual Lincoln Center Festival July 8-27 is a three-week engagement of the Kirov Opera from St. Petersburg at the Met, which co-sponsors the visit. The Kirov's artistic chief Valery Gergiev and a couple of others conduct a rotating repertory of Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin, Rimsky-Korsakov's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevronia (often dubbed the Russian Parsifal), Prokofiev's little known but audience-grabbing World War I saga Semyon Kotko (North American premiere), Verdi's Macbeth, and a single concert performance (July 15) of Anton Rubinstein's The Demon. 

On the afternoons and evenings of July 19 and 26, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents a Prokofiev survey, including all nine piano sonatas, in Tully Hall. 

On the avant-garde front, German composer Heiner Goebbels returns to the festival July 13 (LaGuardia Concert Hall) with his Eislermaterial, a tribute to Hanns Eisler. July 9 through 12 brings the first American performances of Salvatore Sciarrino's opera Macbeth, (see related story)  staged at the John Jay College Theater. And on July 15 at the Juilliard School's Paul Hall, Joel Sachs conducts the New Juilliard Ensemble in a concert of other music by Sciarrino

The Festival will offer nearly 100 performances, including 20 premieres and debuts of opera, chamber and world music, theater, dance, performance art and ritual from Korea, China, Israel, Russia, Italy, England, Germany, Brazil and the United States.

Other events include  Deborah Warner's The Angel Project, Korea's Pansori and Daedong Gut (shaman ritual), Chen Shi-Zheng's The Orphan of Zhao,  Dance Theatre of Harlem, Itim Theatre Ensemble,  Batsheva Dance Company,  Shen Wei Dance Arts,  Festival of Brazilian Music, Symposia and New York Video Festival.



NWEAMO 2003: The Exploding Interactive Inevitable 
October 3-5, 2003: Portland, Oregon (B-Complex) October 10-12, 2003: 
(San Diego State University) 

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance

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 Daren Hagen
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


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

             EDITORS PICKS 

Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Composer:  Alan Rawsthorne
Performers: Peter Donohoe, Ulster Orchestra, Takuo Yuasa

The complete package--two complex, important  and demanding piano concertos by England's most underrated modernist, played to dazzling perfection by the world-class pianist Peter Donohoe.  The chance of running into a treasure like this  is why classical music collectors get up in the morning. 

Extempore II
A modern Mass for the 
Feast of St Michael
based on the medieval melody L'homme armé 
Performers:  Orlando Consort / Perfect Houseplants
Harmonia Mundi Franc 

Jazz meets medieval and, for once, avoids a train record. This album is the second volume in a collaborative project between the Orlando Consort, a classical vocal ensemble, and British jazz quartet Perfect Houseplants . In both medieval classical music and jazz, improvisation is an essential skill and both groups exhibit lots of imagination.



Composer: David Lang
Conductor: Carlo Boccadoro
Ensemble: Sentieri Selvaggi

A major new work for seven musicians,  "Child" is a powerful meditation on childhood and memory. Sweet and simple on the surface, gentle musical fragments float by, leaving faint traces of darkness in their wake. The result is at once dramatic and personal, intensely introspective and piercingly beautiful.  This is Lang's most controlled and complete work to date, pointing the way to a new maturity filled with enormous possibilities.

Written in five separate parts for some of Europe's finest groups, "Child" is recorded here by the Italian ensemble Sentieri Selvaggi. 

In the White Silence
Composer:  John Luther Adams
Performer(s): Adams, Weiss, Oberlin Contemp Music Ens
 New World Records 

 In the White Silence (1998) is an example of Adams' concept of "sonic geography," through which he attempts to realize the notion of music as place and place as music and reveals his obsession with the "treeless, windswept expanses of the Arctic"  and specifically refers to Adams’s fascination with the color of white, a dominant feature of Arctic landscapes. As Adams explains in his preface to the score: "White is not the absence of color. It is the fullness of light. As the Inuit have known for centuries, and as painters from Malevich to Ryman have shown us more recently, whiteness embraces many hues, textures, and nuances."

Four Songs of Solitude; Variations; Twilight Music
Composer: John Harbison
Performer: Janine Jansen, Lars Wouters van den Oudenwijer, et al.

John Harbison was born in New Jersey in 1938 and is now established among the most prominent American composers, his output including symphonies, string quartets, and three operas.  I find his music generally too gnarly by half but admire his technical abilities which are on sharp display in ttese well-performed chamber pieces.

Symphony Number 5
Composer;  Roy Harris
Performers: The Louisville Orchestra. 
Robert S. Whitney, Lawrence Leighton Smith, conductors, Gregory Fulkerson, violin
First Edition - #5 

Roy Harris wrote 11 or 14 symphonies in his long career, depending on who's counting but only one of them remains treasured--the extraordinary one- movement, 18-minute Third Symphony, which is the statement the composer was born to make.  Most of his odd-numbered symphonies are worth a listen and No. 5 just may be the best, after No. 3.

Symphony No. 3; Psalm, Kaddish
 Composer: David Diamond
 Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
Performer: Janos Starker

David Diamond is thought of as an American composer although he was trained largely in Europe and has spent much of his life in Italy. The glorious Psalm, completed in 1936, was Diamond's first successful orchestral score.  The  Fourth symphony, completed in 1945, is in four movements and is characterised by its strong rhythmic character, with a breezy scherzo and brilliant finale.  Kaddish, completed in 1958, is   dedicated to Janos Starker. It is an enormously powerful cry to heaven.

Symphony No. 4
Composer: Walter Piston 
Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
 Performer: Seattle Symphony, Therese Elder Wunrow

 Walter Piston achieved considerable success during his lifetime but his work is rarely played these days which is too bad since it is  immediate and appealing and very "American."  The Fourth Symphony dates from 1950, and incorporates  an atmosphere of American folk music, especially in the bright  finale.  The three  New England pieces are dark and brooding.  This recording was first released on Delos in 1992.  If  you don't already have it, pounce. 

Orchestral Works 6
Composer: Joaquin Rodrigo
 Conductor: Max Bragado-Darman Performer: Lucero Tena

For a guy who is basically famous for a single work, Rodrigo sure wrote a lot of sparkling, sunny, highly-listenable music.  Not sure how many more of these Naxos has in the works but I'm not tired yet. 

Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Conductor: Alexander Rahbari
 Performer: Masako Deguci, Jose A. Garcia-Quijada, et al.

Like a local wine consumed with good friends and good food not far from the vineyard, regional opera productions of famous operas often have a charm, passion, and character that befies their modest ambitions.  This thoroughly charming rendering of Puccini's most hummable score is one of those unexpected delights.

Pipa From a Distance
Performer:  Wu Man, Stewart Dempster, Abel Domingues

In addition to being a rightous goodlooking babe, Wu Man is probably the best pipa player alive and here she takes on some thoroughly modern pieces with results that range from the soothing to the downright eerie.  There are echos of Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project (for which Wu Man served as main pipa person) as well as hints of new traditions yet to come. 

Ritter Blaubart
Composer:  Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek
Conductor: Michail Jurowski
Performer: Arutiun Kotchinian, Robert Worle, et al.
Cpo Records 

Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945) is remembered for a single work, the overture to the opera Donna Diana but CPO hopes to change that with  the release of his Ritter Blaubart (Knight Bluebeard), a fairy-tale opera. 

Gretry, Offenbach and Bartok were also drawn to the story of Bluebeard, the mythical figure who kills his faithless wife and then murders the other women he marries. Reznicek's version boasts music filled with atmosphere and keen drama.  Conductor Michail Jurowski leads the Berlin Radio Orchestra and a cast of fine singers in a powerful performance.

The Shock of the Old
Composer:  Common Sense 
Composers' Collective
 Santa Fe New Music - #513 

Consider the possibility  that ancient instruments like the harpsichord, Baroque flute and so on can  be used to play  contemporary music as well and you have the idea behind this very fresh and appealing collaboration between the Common Sense Composers' Collective--an eight-member cooperative based in New York and San Francisco--and American Baroque, an early-music consort that makes its home in the Bay Area.   Remarkable stuff that should make converts on both ends of the musical spectrum.

Darkness into Light
Composer: Composer:  John Tavener
Performer:  Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi Franc

Four pieces by contemporary mystic composer John Tavener framed by medieval hymns illustrate the passage from darkness to light in this hypnotic collaboration between Anonymous 4 and the Chilingirian Quartet. The most substantial piece is the world premiere of Tavener's "The Bridgegroom," which is nearly 18 minutes long and spellbinding from start to finish.



Overture to the Creole 'Faust'
Ollantay, Pampeana No. 3
Dances from the Ballet, 'Estancia'
Composer: Alberto Ginastera
Performers:  Odense Symphony Orchestra, Jan Wagner, conductor

 The nice folks at Bridge Records are obviously thinking Latin America these days with their recent fabulous Villa-Lobos release and now this superb collection of music from the great Argentine composer Alberto Ginaestera--played, as was the Villa-Lobos, by the Odense Symphony Orchestra under Jan Wagner.  This is bold and flavorful music served fresh and hot--the way you like it. 

Thirteen Ways
Composers:  Tower, Perle, etc
Performer(s): Eighth Blackbird

You got to love a group that takes its name from one of Wallace Stevens' best poems but you'd love them if their name was Band X.  This  six-member ensemble mixes flutes, clarinets, violin and viola, cello, percussion and piano to create a big sound for chamber pieces.  The composers here--Joan Tower, George Perle, David Schobar, and Thomas Albert--are all given polished and enthusiastic readings.  Absolutely first-rate and highly recommended. 

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