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340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Jerry Bowles
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David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
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Latest Posts

Love and Cow Bells
Sorceress of the New Piano
Well, That Was Fun
Naxos Dreaming
Reich@70: Let the Celebrations Begin
The Bi-Coastal Jefferson Friedman
Violins Invade Indianapolis
John Cage (born Los Angeles, 5 September 1912; died New York, 12 August 1992).
The People United Will Never Be Divided
Attention Sequenza21 Shoppers


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Saturday, June 18, 2005
If You Want Me I'll be in the Bar

What does Schumann's song Im wundersch�nen Monat Mai have in common with Joni Mitchell's River? A lot, writes Adam Baratz on his splendid blog Form/Content...There is a new biography of Pauline Viardot Garcia now available, the first in English for over forty years. The Life and Work of Pauline Viardot Garcia - Volume I - The Years of Fame - 1836-1863 by Barbara Kendall-Davies, is published by Cambridge Scholars Press Ltd. Accompanying the book is a CD of six Viardot songs sung by the author, who is also a professional singer. A website devoted Viardot Garcia is under construction and Kendall-Davies is working on the second volume of the biography which will date from 1863-1910...Everette Minchew laments the passing of Sigfried Palm.
Orchestras Matter

Did the Florida Philharmonic die or was it bumped off to make room for a more prestigeous northern cousin? Christina Fong has a theory and it's not pretty...David H. Thomas discovers a moment of truth in the search for a new conductor for Columbus Symphony...Lots of interesting comments about David Diamond after the post about his death below...Did I mention that opinions offered on S21 are those of individual writers and not necessarily those of management--not that there is any management.
Feldman Violin Sonata Debuts on Internet Radio

The world premiere of the world premiere recording of Morton Feldman's early [Sonata] for Violin and Piano (1945) will take place at around 2 pm Saturday on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio. The 14-minute piece is Feldman�s only violin sonata and was the longest work he composed before 1957. (1977's "Spring of Chosroes" is the next longest violin work). The recording is part of a 2-CD set of Feldman's Complete Violin|Viola and Piano Works, scheduled for release by OgreOgress in the late summer or early fall.

Featuring Christina Fong on violin and viola and Paul Hersey on piano, this is the first in a series of complete works for violin|viola by well-known composers planned by our friends Fong and Glenn Freeman at OgreOgress. In addition to being the first recording of Feldman's early [Sonata] for Violin and Piano (1945) and late [Composition] for Violin (1984) it is also the first to include the complete works for violin|viola and piano.
Carlo Maria Giulini Dies at 91

Carlo Maria Giulini, the Italian-born conductor who served as music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from the late 1970s into the early 1980s died Tuesday in Brescia in northern Italy. He was 91.
A Gal Named Alex

So, I finally find another woman composer to join the Composers Forum and, of course, her name is "Alex," which earns us no obvious points. That's Alex Shapiro in the photo and she weighs in with a very thoughtful post on women in music.

Stay in touch with all the people you've ever been, Joan Didion once advised; you never know when one of your former selves is going to pay a visit. Jeffrey Biegel channels his 12-year-old incarnation and remembers fondly the people who were there with him.
David Diamond, R.I.P.

I wonder how many composers my age are in a position to write an obituary for David Diamond, who died yesterday at the age of 89. I certainly am not. One barely needs to scratch the surface of the history of 20th century American music to find his name, but one needs to scratch a little harder for live performances. Goodbye, stranger.
Reality. What a Concept!

Elodie Lauten will be the featured guest Thursday evening for the live videotaping (kind of an oxymoron there) of a new downtown variety show called AVENUE B that mixes video projections and live performances. Says here: "Musicians, filmmakers, photographers and other visual artists, poets, dancers, and actors, interact between themselves and with the audience, under the friendly guidance of host and director Martin Russell who plans to broadcast it - see, hear, talk, laugh, eat, drink...the element of surprise is part of the show."

Elodie will be accompanied by the Elodie Lauten Ensemble: Mustafa Ahmed, percussion; Mathew Fieldes, contrabass; and Jonathan Hirschman, electric guitar. Festivities commence at 7, shows are at 8 and 9PM, and the party starts at 10. The venue is Maia Meyhane, a good and cheap Turkish restaurant at 98 Avenue B (betw. 6-7 Sts).
Ceilings, Nothing More Than Ceilings

Lively and, so far, polite discussion going on over in the Composers Forum on the perennial hot button topic of why there aren't more Margaret Thatchers in the classical music world. We're not likely to reach a consensus but it's an important topic and we'd like to have your thoughtful opinions...We have a new performer blogger. David H. Thomas, principal clarinetist of the Columbus Symphony, weighs in on Alex Ross' recent piece called The Record Effect...Lawrence Dillon had four premieres last month and now he's going through a period of post-partum revision. Lawrence is our most frequent updater and always has good stuff so you should make him a regular stop on your visits to S21.

Elsewhere, I got a CD in the mail the other day of former New Yorker critic Paul Griffiths reading his own text called "There is Still Time" accompanied by Frances-Marie Uitti on cello. I haven't actually listened to it because I hate all music with recitation but it gave me a idea. Why not record Alex Ross reading the Downing Street Memo to music set by S21 bloggers? Get me Manfred Eicher.
Jos� Serebrier Plays Leopold's Greatest Hits

Jos� Serebrier was a 17-year-old student at the Curtis Institute of Music and a newcomer to the United States in 1957 when Leopold Stokowski chose his Symphony No. 1 as a last minute program replacement for Charles Ives Fourth, which had proved too difficult for the Houston Symphony. Five years later, Stokowski named Serebrier Associate Conductor of the newly formed American Symphony Orchestra in New York and three years after that the "unplayable" Ives Fourth Symphony finally had its premiere with Stokowski conducting the American Symphony at Carnegie Hall with Serebrier�by now an established young star in his own right�alongside as one of the three conductors necessary for the rhythmic complexities of the work. Some years later, Serebrier became the first conductor to record the difficult Ives work, with the London Philharmonic, and he handled the whole sprawling piece himself.

During his apprenticeship with Stokowski, Serebrier had an opportunity to get to know many of the more than 200 symphonic transcriptions the old maestro had made of works that had begun life in a different form. The most famous of these orchestrations is almost certainly Mussorgsky�s Night on Bare Mountain. Wilder and �more Russian� than Rimsky-Korsakov�s westernized version, Stokowski�s �Night� was the musical highlight of Walt Disney�s classic Fantasia and for many kids of that generation�me included�a thrilling introduction to the world of �classical� music. Stokowski�s versions of The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Toccata and Fugue in D Minor were also magical parts of that film.

I relived those goosebumps again last week when I put on the new recording of Stokowski�s versions of A Night on Bare Mountain, Pictures at an Exhibition and several other orchestral transcriptions which Naxos is releasing next week with his one-time protege Serebrier at the helm of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Nobody conducting today holds a tighter grip on the musical reins and under his hands these tired old war horses come storming out of the barn like frisky young colts. You may prefer Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures" but you won't find much fault with Stokowski's more muscular approach. It would take a real cynic to dislike a big wet horsey kiss like this one.

As they have done for Marin Alsop in previous Naxos recordings, the Bournemouth musicians show they can play in the first division beside their big city cousins. The recording quality is vivid and consistently excellent. Pay particular attention to the drop-dead gorgeous strings in the Entre�acte of Khovanschina.

The idea for this new Naxos disc originated from the Leopold Stokowski Society, which approached Serebrier in 2003 to bring the transcriptions into his repertoire and record them. We are lucky he agreed to repay the favor that Stokowski had bestowed upon him many years ago.
Last Night at Ojai: Another Good Year

Los Angeles certainly has good musicians. When you take get a pick-up group, give them a conductor they�ve worked with only once before (if at all), who is, himself, a substitute, present them with challenging music and outstanding soloists, and give them less than a week for practice and rehearsals and you still get a terrfic concert you know you are blessed. We had a lovely concluding concert to this year�s long weekend among the oaks at Ojai. The members of the �Ojai Festival Orchestra� came from studio work as well as positions with other groups. I could count three members of the Phil plus two regular supplementary players, and recognized a few other faces; the Phil provided the concertmaster. The conductor was a substitute for the ailing Oliver Knussen, leading a program he selected; fortunately, Brad Lubman was willing and available and flew in from upstate New York. He had done well with the Phil in a Green Umbrella concert last year, doing a good job with some Henry Brant music, and he shaped the musicians into a cohesive unit.

Peter Serkin appeared for two works, the Stravinsky Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1959) and Toccata: Solo Transformed (2000) by Lukas Foss and dedicated to Serkin. One of the things you have to like about Ojai is that even when presented with prickly music like the Stravinsky (no warm and cuddly stretches in that piece), the audience will still bring the conductor and soloist back on stage for return bows and to receive congratulations. Lukas Foss had been music director at Ojai for three years, back in the days when he was still thought of as being the next great talent. (Sondheim should write a version of I�m Still Here for Foss.) Toccata is an interesting work, evolving from a twelve-tone sequence to tonal music that sounds like Philip Glass to what almost sounds like a John Adams engine near the close. The piano part seems a return to the early music with which Serkin opened his Saturday concert, linear.

William Preucil, concertmaster for the Cleveland Orchestra, performed Oliver Knussen�s Violin Concerto (2002) to great audience appreciation to close the first half of the concert. Knussen conducted the Cleveland in February and put this work, performed by Preucil, on the program. This may be Knussen�s best orchestral work. It�s very engaging, very direct; the solo part is frequently blended to be part of the ensemble, rising again with a new melodic statement.

The concert began with the premiere of Testament by Jonathan Cole, dedicated to the memory of Sue Knussen. Oliver Knussen has been a frequent sponsor of the work by the 35-year-old Cole. This was a warm, sensitive tone picture. The concert ended, after the Foss, with Lubman leading the orchestra in the complete Mother Goose by Ravel. (The principal flute was from the Phil, and she was very valuable.)

The Sunday morning concert gave us chestnuts among the oaks. It was a delightful concert by two friends and former colleagues, the concertmaster of the Cleveland, William Preucil, and the concertmaster of the Phil, Martin Chalifour, who had been associate concertmaster under Preucil in Cleveland and assistant under Preucil in Atlanta. Preucil opened the concert with the Richard Strauss Sonata for Violin and Piano, followed by Chalifour in the Ravel Sonata in G, whose second movement, �Blues�, is Ravel�s best approximation of jazz. Joanne Pearce Martin, the Phil�s keyboard player, was the piano partner in both sonatas and showed herself as an excellent accompanist. After intermission, Preucil and Chalifour played nine of Bartok�s Forty-four Duos, his transcriptions of folk music for two violins. This was a delight. The two violinists had great fun tossing the melody from one to the other. We wanted more. The concert program ended with the Suite for Two Violins and Piano by Morris Moszkowski (1903), and I�ll bet this was the first-ever performance of a Moszkowski work at an Ojai concert. It was a work to enjoy, a nice dessert for a Sunday brunch. What to do for an encore? There�s nothing suitable for two violins plus piano. So they picked a Fritz Kreisler bon-bon, one with quite a bit of Viennese whipped cream, and turned the violin line into a duet, including a bit of clowning over which of the two violinists would get which line before they ended in good harmony.

Next year�s Ojai Festival, the 60th, will bring Robert Spano and the Atlanta, with Dawn Upshaw and a performance of Golijov�s Ainadamar. Save the second weekend in June.
Last Night at Ojai: In the Country

Last night�s concert was planned around the idea of Oliver Knussen conducting music about being in the country. But Knussen was hospitalized for an operation so Grant Gershon, conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale stepped up for the program, conducting the �Ojai Chamber Music Ensemble�, a group of pros from various jobs around the area, including the Phil. I had to shove my eyebrows back in place after reading that the second half of the concert would be devoted to the music of Percy Grainger, but I did learn something: Grainger was more than sweetened-up folk songs. Among other things, he knew how to operate the publicity machines of the twenties: his wedding (to his �Nordic princess�) was held in the Hollywood Bowl and was accompanied by the premiere of his work in her honor, with an orchestra of 126 plus a choir, for his closest 20,000 friends.

The Ojai concert began with Grainer�s Molly on the Shore (1907/1911) in a setting for string quintet, then to Lisbon (1906/1937) for wind quintet, and on to some of his more innovative music which I had never heard before. He experiemented with rhythm, but went in a different direction from Stravinsky by writing works which eliminated rhythm, in what he called �beatless� music. (Somewhat like Noncarrow, he felt that his music was too complex to be realized by other musicians, so he paid for an experimental mechanical organ.) The group played three of these, Sea Songs (1907), washes of attractive sound. Later yet he tried to remove the limitations of pre-determined pitch and conventional tones so he worked on �free music� to do away with all limitations on the composer. Attracted by the theremin, he composed one work for six theremins, the sound of which can only be imagined, possibly after a bad meal. We heard a version he wrote for strings, in which the strings were instructed to play without vibrato and to glide between conventional notes, producing arcs of sound. He also invested in trying to develop what would have become the first synthesizer, but technology and his ideas didn�t permit success. So there was much more to Grainger than Country Dances or Handel on the Strand. But while interesting, and pleasantly engaging, I didn�t hear anything approaching greatness.

The concert began with Mauricio Kagel and his (intentionally mis-spelled) Kantrimiusik � A Pastorale for Singers and Instruments (1975). This is music about music in the country and about folk music. The lyrics are sounds without meaning, in imitation Spanish, French, German, Russian, and English. The styles of the serial music shift to imitate sounds typical of the language being imitated. The three singers (soprano, mezzo, tenor) accompanied an ensemble of violin, three winds (clarinet, trumpet, tuba), two guitars, and piano. Further, each instrumentalist was to introduce additional instrumentation and additional sounds. To further confound the ears, taped recordings of external sounds (barking, mooing, a tractor, a person imitating a rooster, etc.). Fittingly, in Ojai�s outdoors atmosphere, the initial overlay of sound came from a firetruck siren as it traveled past the park. Well, I got the jokes pretty rapidly and I didn�t need this Darmstadt cynicism for forty minutes.

The morning concert, in contrast, was great. Peter Serkin gave us a lovely concert in which each half of the concert began with clear lines of early music and then jumped to music of today. In the first half, Serkin started with a Josquin Desprez Ave Christie (c. 1500) as converted for piano in 1988 by Charles Wuorinen, in a lovely realization. Then a Bach chorale (c. 1725) in a keyboard setting. And then Toru Takemitsu�s Far Away (1973), in which a few notes in the center of the piano gradually rippled and grew across the range of the keyboard. Serkin then played the four elements, of water, earth, air, and fire from Six Encores (1965 � 1990) of Luciano Berio. Feuerklavier was written for Serkin in 1989 and is the longest of the elements in its suggestion of flames flickering in the darkness. Serkin closed with another work written for him, Variations, op. 24 by Oliver Knussen. Knussen�s recent work, A Fragment of Ophelia�s Last Dance (2004), written in commemoration of the lateSue Knussen of Los Angeles came in the second half of the concert, following a set of pieces by Bull, Dowland, and Byrd. The concert closed with a great performance of Messiaen�s Le Moqueur Polyglotte (1974), his homage to a mockingbird. This is the movement for solo piano that forms the ninth of twelve movements of Des canyons aux �toiles which he last heard at Ojai four years ago. As an encore, Serkin gave us Stravinsky�s Piano Rag (1919), in all of its splash and fun.

Life is good.


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