About Us
Essential Library
Read Past Issues Resources Composer Links
 September 29-October 6, 2003
Colin Matthews
 Reflected Images
Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in the world premiere of Colin Matthews’s SFS-commissioned work, Reflected Images, in concerts October 2-4. 

One of Tilson Thomas’s most admired contemporary British composers, Tilson Thomas led the very first SFS performances of a Matthews work, the wind symphony Quatrain, in March 2001.

Colin Matthews was born on February 16, 1946 in London, England, and lives there today. Music-lovers who may be unfamiliar with his compositions may well have bumped up against his achievements in other musical domains. He has excelled not just as a composer, but also as a musicologist, a teacher, an editor, an administrator, an arranger, a writer, and a recording producer (he was, for example, the producer of the now-legendary 1993 Elektra Nonesuch recording of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, a constant bestseller among classical releases). 

As a musicologist he completed a doctoral dissertation at the University of Sussex, on Gustav Mahler, and collaborated with the eminent scholar Deryck Cooke and his own brother, David Matthews (also a noted composer), to create a widely hailed performing version of Mahler’s incomplete Symphony No. 10. He is currently a professor at the Royal College of Music, a governor of the Royal Northern College of Music, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Composition at the University of Manchester. From 1971 to 1976 he worked as the assistant to Benjamin Britten in Aldeburgh, helping produce, among other things, the piano-vocal score of that composer’s final opera, Death in Venice. Following Britten’s death he edited and oversaw the publication of a number of his works that survived in manuscript. For a dozen years (1972-84) he also worked closely with Imogen Holst on editions of music by her father, Gustav Holst. Matthews would go on to serve as director of the Holst Foundation, chairman of the Britten Estate, trustee of the Britten-Pears Foundation, and council member of the Aldeburgh Foundation and the Society for the Promotion of New Music. From 1992 to 1999, he served as Associate Composer of the London Symphony Orchestra, where he worked with Michael Tilson Thomas. Following his LSO appointment, he was named Associate Composer of the Hallé Orchestra. Many of his most impressive orchestral works have been written expressly for the London Symphony Orchestra, including Quatrain, Machines and Dreams (for toy instruments and orchestra), and Cello Concerto No. 2 (1996, for Mstislav Rostropovich). 

Matthews comments about his new work:

Reflected Images is a single twelve- to thirteen-minute work, divided into four parts of roughly equal length which play without a break. All four parts are interrelated, and might be thought of as four different ways of looking at the same thing, although all are in some way elusive, almost as if what is being looked at is seen out of the corner of the eye. The concept, although definitely not the content, of the individual parts has been influenced by my recent work on Debussy’s Preludes, and each section has a title, although it is, like Debussy’s, not revealed until the end. The titles (or perhaps it would be better to call them afterthoughts) are: Distant Waltz, Past March, Present Recitative and Future Movement.

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 
Sound Of The Universe What do the heavens sound like? Music, report scientists - specifically a B flat — "a B flat 57 octaves lower than middle C. The 'notes' appear as pressure waves roiling and spreading as a result of outbursts from a supermassive black hole through a hot thin gas that fills the Perseus cluster of galaxies, 250 million light-years distant. They are 30,000 light-years across and have a period of oscillation of 10 million years. By comparison, the deepest, lowest notes that humans can hear have a period of about one-twentieth of a second." The New York Times 09/16/03 

Where Is All The New Choral Music? "Why is there so little new choral music? The choral tradition is more traditional, even more popularly oriented than orchestral, chamber music, solo and operatic traditions. Plenty of vernacular, indigenous, folk, and gospel music has become standard fare. In a piano or chamber music recital, the performance of homely vernacular music would not be accepted or even tolerated, yet it has become a common practice in choral performances." NewMusicBox 09/03 

Music & Politics - Not An Obvious Connection Music and politics don't mix, do they? So why have music and politics found themselves so frequently intertwined? Jay Nordlinger enumerates political influences, then decrees that there's nothing inherently political about music: "Music dwells in its own realm, unless it is freighted with words that constitute political baggage." National Review 09/15/03 

Music That Describes Our World "Tone-painting differs from musical expression in that it seeks tangibly to conjure physical things in tone. This idea has been around as long as music has. An ancient Greek story tells of a master of the aulos, the classical double-pipe instrument, who improvised a description of a battle so hair-raising that people were talking about it for the next 200 years." Bach was the ultimate master of it, but Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner and Brahms were expert at painting scenes with music. The Guardian (UK) 09/13/03 

Plans For A Music Museum Organizers are trying to raise money for a $220 million museum of music. The National Music Center and Museum Foundation would be built in Washington DC. "At the convention center site, the planners are envisioning a facility on two acres with three theaters and a museum. The 3,200-seat performance hall could accommodate Broadway roadshows and musical acts. A second theater would have 750 seats, more than any of the Smithsonian's current theaters and lecture halls. The third would be a 250-seat black-box venue for dance and experimental theater. The museum would have 50,000 square feet of space for both temporary and permanent exhibitions." Washington Post 09/16/03 

La Scala Fight Ensnares Muti A fight is brewing between La Scala director Riccardo Muti and the company's general manager. "Mr Muti did not attend the official launch of the 2003-4 season, and on tour in Japan this week he was quoted as saying that La Scala was 'at risk of decline'. The danger is that, unless Mr Muti gets what he wants, the great conductor will go elsewhere. Though still unspoken, it has been enough to sow alarm among the loggionisti, La Scala's devotees, who sometimes queue all night for the cheap seats in the loggione, the equivalent of 'the gods'." Some see the flap as a power play with Italy's volatile prime minister. The Guardian (UK) 09/16/03 

Opera That Can't Work So impressario Raymond Gubbay is planning to stage operas in London in competition the the Royal Opera and English National companies. But the plan is to present in a small theatre, and the numbers don't work out. Gubbay can't make it work out financially. So what's the point? The Telegraph (UK) 09/17/03 

My Lunch With Tony Hall Tony Hall has been running London's Royal Opera House for a couple years now. "There might have been a time when running an opera house presented unique opportunities for leisurely lunching, schmoozing with business grandees desperate for a favourite seat in the orchestra stalls, perhaps the odd feisty exchange with the prima assoluta of the day. But that was then and this is now, and Hall is the epitome of the modern manager: brisk, fast-talking, affable and relentlessly upbeat." Financial Times 09/18/03 

Canadian Blank CD Tax Generates $19 Million For Music Industry A Canadian tax on blank CD and audio cassette sales is expected to pay out $19 million to composers, performers, publishers and record labels in the next three months. "The payments are calculated from two measurable factors - the airplay songs get on radio, TV networks and individual music programs, and the record sales logged and reported by labels." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 09/19/03 

When Soloists Cancel Last week, soprano Dawn Upshaw, who is famous for never cancelling engagements, cancelled an engagement with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, due to a vocal cord injury. It may be unusual for Upshaw to bail on an orchestra, but other soloists do it all the time, for any number of reasons. Some soloists are even as famous for their cancellations as they are for their performances. As for the jilted ensembles which are left to scramble for a replacement, many arts administrators pride themselves on their ability to come through in just such a situation. The Age (Melbourne) 09/21/03 

Lloyd Webber & Elton John Team Up Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber is teaming up with Elton John to record a "classical" version of John's "Your Song." "I got the number of Elton's manager and asked whether he would come on this disc with me. I thought that would be it, but to my surprise he said he would love to do it - as long as it was in E flat major." BBC 09/21/03 

 Last Week's News


Blitzstein's Regina Opens
at Lyric Opera Chicago

Catherine Malfitano plays the imperious Regina, as manipulative a belle as ever sipped a mint julep.

Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, based on Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, opens tonight and will run for eight additional performances over the next month at Lyric Opera of Chicago. For an important American composer who is now remembered best for his translation of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera,” it is another chance to remind music lovers why he was once considered the equal of Copland, Bernstein and Menotti. 

Like much of his work, Blitzstein’s musical rendering of Hellman’s Hubbards and Giddens--two venomous Southern families related by marriage and torn apart by greed, has a star-crossed history. When Regina opened on Broadway on October 31, 1949, some people  in the audience demanded their money back at intermission because they thought they had paid to see a musical. 
Blitzstein had much higher ambitions and, indeed, had invited Risë Stevens to appear on Broadway but she declined saying it should be in opera house.   The composer settled on Jane Pickens, a member of the popular radio and stage children's singing trio of the 1930s, who had studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Marcella Sembrich. Others in the original cast included William Warfield and William Wilderman. 
Regina is considered an unusual piece, even for the opera house, mainly because it lacks a love story. Critics either loved it or hated it and it closed after seven weeks.

In the Lyric Opera’s new production, Catherine Malfitano plays the imperious Regina, as manipulative a belle as ever sipped a mint julep. Determined to close a lucrative cotton deal with the help of her deceitful brothers, she's equally determined to get more than her share at the expense of her dying husband, her daughter, and anyone else who gets in her way. Tallulah Bankhead made the role famous on Broadway. Bette Davis was a sensation on film. Sheryl Woods and mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson join Chicago favorites Timothy Nolen and Kevin Langan as part of the remarkable cast.

With echoes of hymns, blues, ragtime, and field songs, "the music reeks with magnolia, Southern gentility and honeyed drawl...but there's bitterness, of course...and pure pathos too," said Leonard Bernstein. Maybe this time, the world is ready for it.


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

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 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

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." 


Symphony No. 6
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Performer: London Symphony Orchestra; Mariss Jansons
Label: LSO Live 

It is rare that you find a recording that you need listen to for only a minute to know a masterpiece is unfolding before your very ears.  This stunning live performance of Mahler's "Tragic" symphony is one of the rare ones,  From the first rhythmic thumps of the long and  stately funeral march to the final faded chords, Mariss Jansons draws a passionate and committed performance from the LSO.  Certain to be among the best of the year noninees. 

Wheel of Emptiness
Composer: Jonathan Harvey
Performers:  Actus
Cyprès CYP5604

English composer Jonathan Harvey is one of those modernists whose work is more frequently talked about then played.  This rare recording contains five representative works ranging from the lyrical to the raw, built on  instrumentations ranging from electroacoustical to the  traditional.  An excellent introduction to an unjustly neglected maverick. 

Piano Etudes 1
Composer: Philip Glass
Performer: Philip Glass 
Orange Mountain 

Glass says he wrote these "studies" as fodder for his own concert performances and as a way of challenging himself as a pianist.  But, they are much more important than that.  They provide a real insight into how Glass composes and, although billed as sketches,  sometimes are more rewarding to the ear and intellect than many of Glass's larger-scale works.  Essential recording for the Glassologist.

Music from the Thin Blue Line
Composer:  Philip Glass
Orange Mountain

 Glass's hypnotic score for  Errol Morris’ extraordinary 1988 documentary film entitled "The Thin Blue Line".

 Nonesuch Records released a CD of the film’s soundtrack that included the narration and interviews from the film but this  Orange Mountain release contains  the original score without the voice-over.  The music is dark and brooding, full of tension appropriately for such a chilling film, and it stands well on its own. 

Sonic Vision
Composer:  Carolyn Yarnell

 Inspired by the beauty and power of nature, the music of Carolyn Yarnell straddles the borders of minimalism, romanticism and Baroque.  Sonic Vision, the first CD devoted entirely to her music, contains the powerful electronic composition Love God, a beautiful solo piece for Baroque flute, a minimalist suite for chamber ensemble and a powerful extended work for computer piano. Lyrical and mystical music that evokes volcanoes, birds and the Rocky Mountains. 

Chamber Music
Composer;  Harold Shapero
Performers:  Lydian String Quartet
 New World Records - 

 Shapero’s (b. 1920) vastly underrated portfolio is one of the great undiscovered treasure troves of American neoclassicism. The String Trio, the String Quartet, the Serenade in D offer a  broad-based introduction to Shapero’s compositional thought processes.  Beautiful, committed playing by the Lydian String Quartet.

 Composer: Steve Reich
 Performer: Ictus, Synergy Vocals

 Reich's 1971 masterpiece gets a spirited workout by the Belgian new music group Ictus.  Drumming is constructed around one single basic rhythmic-melodic pattern, for an imposing ensemble of percussion (bongos, marimbas, glockenspiel) joined by some female voices, a piccolo flute or a whistling part. The breathtaking feeling of simplicity/complexity in this work is transmitted with an amazing skill by the Belgians.

American Works for Piano Duo
Composer(s): Barber, Persichetti, Diamond, Fennimore 
 Performer (s): Georgia & Louis Mangos 
Cedille Records

  Barber's homage to the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court, Souvenirs, Op. 28, has never sounded better or more nostalgic  and Joseph Fennimore's Crystal Stairs also invokes the quintessential American city.  The real surprise here are the two pieces by Vincent Persichetti, which invoke a more dynamic and rough and tumble form of Americanism.  The Mango sisters display formidable technique and taste.


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.

Search WWWSearch www.sequenza21.com 

Sequenza21/The Contemporary Classical Music Weekly is part of
Classical Music Web Ring
The free linking service provided by Classical Music UK
[ Previous 5 Sites | Previous| Next | Next 5 Sites | Random Site | List Sites ]
SEQUENZA21/is published weekly by Sequenza21/, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editor: Deborah Kravetz 
(C) Sequenza/21 LLC 2000