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  July 19-26, 2004

Long Hot Summer:
Brett Dean
It’s been a  busy summer for Australian composer and viola player Brett Dean. Events include the UK premiere of Water Music for saxophone quartet and chamber orchestra at the Lichfield Festival (July 17); first string quartet Eclipse at Cheltenham Festival (July 14, with Arditti Quartet), and on tour around the Australian capital cities by the Artemis Quartet (Musica Viva, July 6–19); Australian tour of cello sonata Huntington Eulogy (Aug 14–31); operatic adaptation of Peter Carey’s Bliss for Opera Australia; commissions for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, as well as for Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Dean studied in Brisbane with Elizabeth Morgan and John Curro, graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1982. He traveled to Germany in 1984 with the financial assistance of the Australia Council to further his studies with Wolfram Christ, and in 1985 became a permanent member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held for 15 years. In the Hindemith centenary year he was soloist in his Viola d´Amore Concerto under Claudio Abbado, and recorded this work and the Viola Concerto of Benjamin Frankel for CPO. His particular interest in contemporary music led to well over 50 premieres of new solo and chamber music pieces by some of the leading composers of our time, including Hans Werner Henze, György Kurtág, Colin Matthews, Wolfgang Rihm and Isang Yun. In February 2000 Dean left Berlin and returned to Australia to concentrate on his growing compositional activities.

Dean began composing in 1988, initially working on film and radio projects. His career writing concert works grew rapidly during the 1990s and he is now one of the most internationally performed composers of his generation. Leading interpreters include conductors Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz and Daniel Harding, and his works have been performed by the major Australian orchestras, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble InterContemporain. He has also created music for dance, including One of a Kind, choreographed by Jiri Kylian and staged internationally more than 40 times by the Nederlands Dans Theater, and has created sound installations including hundreds and thousands commissioned for the millennium celebrations at the Berlin Kulturforum. In 2003 he was Artist and Composer in Residence at the Cheltenham Festival.

Dean’s most widely-known work is Carlo for strings, sampler and tape, inspired by the music of Carlo Gesualdo, which has received over 50 performances worldwide. Other scores include Beggars and Angels (1999) commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and toured to Switzerland and Germany, Pastoral Symphony (2001) written for Ensemble Modern, Dispersal (2001) co-commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestras, and Eclipse (2003) for the Auryn String Quartet, commissioned by the Kölner Philharmonie. Future projects include commissions for the Raschèr Saxophon Quartet and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, for Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as an operatic adaptation of Peter Carey’s Bliss for Opera Australia.

Send announcements to the Editors
Philly Orchestra Management Takes On Musicians On Website Contract negotiations between orchestra musicians and managements usually take place behind closed doors, but the increasingly contentious talks currently ongoing in Philadelphia have apparently escalated into open warfare. This week, the Philadelphia Orchestra's board chairman launched a new corner of the ensemble's web site, entitled "Securing the Future," which advertises itself to be an informational update on the negotiations while declaring that "it is our musicians' turn to share responsibility." Highlighted on the new site's front page is a fiery declaration that "Our current trade agreement is a roadmap to extinction." Philadelphia Orchestra 07/04 

Rushing To Complete La Scala La Scala opera house is scheduled to reopen December 7. But the construction is still a long way from being finished. "La Scala's $67 million renovation added precious storage space for sets which will allow the opera house to mount more productions and performances to meet growing demand for seats." Backstage 07/09/04 

US Music Dominates UK For the first time, last year American music has outsold UK music in the UK."American artists sold 45.4% of albums compared with the UK's 42.3%, the British Phonographic Industry said. The BPI said the figures could be explained by huge-selling albums by US singers Justin Timberlake and Norah Jones - against scant UK competition." BBC 07/12/04

MacGregor: National Opera Company Is Important Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has criticized the Scottish government for its treatment of Scottish Opera. " 'If a European country of the size of Scotland cannot support a musical life that encompasses an opera company, that is very serious. It would be 'unimaginable' for comparable countries such as Denmark not to have major orchestras, opera houses, ballet companies, as a central part of their national existence.' Mr MacGregor said the fate of the opera company was not simply a matter of funding, but had elements of a Scottish Calvinist tradition in which music was not seen to be as important as literature." The Scotsman 07/12/04 

Nothing Amateur About This Music Competition The second Washington International Piano Amateur Competition wasn't about starting careers. "Participants seemed to take sheer pleasure in refining their technique and playing before an audience. It was also apparent that the amateur piano-playing world is a bit of an incestuous society, and the event was as much a chance for the participants to catch up with old friends as an opportunity to hone their Schubert or Beethoven. There was a nice purity to it all: comfortable people reveling in all the aspects of music and piano playing." Washington Post 07/13/04 

Vancouver Symphony Sees 23 Percent Increase In 2003/04 Ticket Sales "After several tough financial years, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is reporting the largest leap in ticket sales it's seen in at least 20 years. Over the 2003­04 season, the company saw a 22.3-percent increase in its paid attendance, which translates into about 30,000 more customers." Why? Several new initiatives... Georgia Straight (Vancouver) 07/13/04 

Dump The MP3 Is it time to dump the MP3 format for music? "In order to keep file sizes down MP3 encoding loses a lot of data, a lot more than modern formats, and this shows in the quality of the listening experience. The way it compresses files and plays them back means that the music too often sounds awful on anything but tinny laptop speakers or cheap earphones. We cannot let some sort of techno-nostalgia get in the way here. There is no reason to defend MP3, no reason why everyone who currently listens to MP3s stored on their hard drive should not move to something significantly better." BBC 07/12/04 

The Blonde Wagner Steps In To Save Bayreuth "Some of her famously quarrelsome relatives doubtless regard Katharina Wagner as little more than an inexperienced blonde harpy luring the Wagner family honour on to the rocks. But this week the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner took a decisive step in the battle to take control of the composer's most prestigious legacy: Germany's Bayreuth Festival. When the tantrums and walk-outs started, it was the 26-year-old Madonna fan who saved the day." The Independent (UK) 07/11/04 

Another Score For Potemkin Sergei Eisenstein's silent film masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, has twice inspired composers to pen complete scores to accompany it, and now a third soundtrack is in the works. But whereas the first two musical accompaniments were created by the eminent composers Edmund Meisel and Dmitri Shostakovich, the latest version is to be recorded by pop group The Pet Shop Boys. The score will be mainly instrumental, but will include a few new songs. Andante (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) 07/15/04 

Last Week's News
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

Philadelphia Music Project Awards $593,150 to 15 Music Organizations
The Philadelphia Music Project (PMP) has awarded 15 grants for music projects to nonprofit organizations in the five-county region ranging from $15,000 to $120,000. With this year’s grants, PMP has underwritten 177 projects with support totaling $7,412,800 since the inception of the program in 1989.

The 2004 PMP awards range from $15,000 to $120,000 and total $593,150. Fifteen grant recipients were selected from twenty-nine applicants:
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia$23,150 
Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia—$30,000 
Curtis Institute of Music—$15,000 
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia—$30,000 
Montgomery County Community College— $25,000 
Network for New Music—$60,000 
Opera North—$25,000 (first-time recipient) 
Orchestra 2001—$30,000 
Painted Bride Art Center—$120,000 
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society            $50,000 
Philadelphia Singers—$20,000 
Piffaro, The Renaissance Band—$30,000 
Prince Music Theater—$80,000 
Sruti, The India Music and Dance Society—$25,000 

All of these awards reflect the full funding amount requested by each organization to ensure that projects of the highest caliber realized at the scale envisioned by the grantee. Opera North is a first-time recipient of a PMP grant. 

Funded proposals will yield a total of 147 events, including the commissioning and performance of 36 new works, the world premiere of one additional work, and the regional premiere of 4 works; 58 residency and educational activities; and over 80 public performances encompassing 32 chamber music, 9 orchestral music, 6 choral music, 59 new music, 18 world/folk music, 20 jazz, 10 early music, and 17 musical theater, as well as 4 opera performances. Funded activities are expected to benefit 416 local artists and 489 guest artists and to reach nearly 35,000 live audience members in the five-county region and more than 315,000 regional radio audience members through broadcasts on Philadelphia’s WRTI and WHYY. National audiences will gain exposure to funded events through broadcasts on NPR. 

“In its fifteen-year history, PMP has funded a compelling range of music programming that has captured the imagination of Greater Philadelphia audiences,” according to. “The 2004 awards are notable for their focus on the creation of new repertoire,” Philadelphia Music Project director Matthew Levy. “2004 grantees will undertake an unprecedented 36 commissions and world premiere performances of compositions spanning classical, jazz, and world music.”

PMP grants are awarded on a competitive basis and are selected by a panel of artists, scholars, and administrators from around the country with expertise in various aspects of music as well as a broad knowledge of the field.  The Philadelphia Music Project is one of several regional initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Culture Program. 

Download more information on the Philadelphia Music Project 2004 grant recipients.

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

             THIS MONTH'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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Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editors: Deborah Kravetz, David Salvage 
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