Bard Music Festival 2014 - Schubert and his World
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Posts Tagged ‘Sibelius’

Thumbnail : A Week of Music in Chapel Hill: Two Conductors, Two Concerts, One Young Composer, a fine Pianist and a Cat

A Week of Music in Chapel Hill: Two Conductors, Two Concerts, One Young Composer, a fine Pianist and a Cat

This is a piece about coming of age, so I suppose I should start with Tonu Kalam’s cat, always more vocal than musical, but who has approached gravitas since kittenhood two years ago with remarkably matured powers of persuasion! “Dolce” belongs to Kalam and his fiancée, Karyn Ostrom. And his progress towards getting what he wants with supreme efficiency seems to match the improvements I hear in the UNC Symphony Orchestra, which Kalam directs and manages, and where Karyn plays violin among the firsts. In his maturity, “Dolce” has nearly mastered the front doorknob to go outside and roll all over the concrete path and collect pollen, which he unaccountably enjoys. In the past, the expression of his wishes might have seemed less coherent. Today it is focused and not to be trifled with.

Thumbnail : Trifonov Triumphs at the San Francisco Symphony with Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Variations. Vänskä conducts Sibelius’s Night Ride and Sunrise, Stravinsky Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 6

Trifonov Triumphs at the San Francisco Symphony with Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Variations. Vänskä conducts Sibelius’s Night Ride and Sunrise, Stravinsky Symphonies of Wind Instruments, and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 6

Whenever you attend an orchestral concert, I’m sure you will have noticed that “Double D” on your ticket stub represents not the seating of the audience by bra size (an intriguing notion), but something more like a banishment to Siberia! “DD” is the last row of orchestra seats in Davies Hall, and at that distance music can become less visceral.

This time, though, I was happy to sit back in the hall, particularly for the music programmed on the second half.

Thumbnail : Susanna Mälkki conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Grisey, Prokofiev, and Sibelius, with Horacio Gutiérrez, piano

Susanna Mälkki conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Grisey, Prokofiev, and Sibelius, with Horacio Gutiérrez, piano

Music making, one supposes wryly, can sometimes be a battle of influences. In this instance, simply put, how does one reconcile late romantic Sibelius with the compositional methods of Pierre Boulez? The very thought might give one chills….

I was intrigued to hear IRCAM’s Susanna Mälkki recently, and not simply to touch base with the new generation of influential women at the podium. I wanted to experience how her musical approach would walk the line between cerebral pointillism of the Boulezian sort and the kind of broad Barbirollian phrasing favored by Leif Segerstam, with whom she studied. Mälkki was one of the principal cellists in the Gothenburg Symphony — for Sibelius lovers a considerable entry on the romantic side of the ledger — but I find myself disappointed to say that in this instance the French modernists appear to have won most of the battles of influence.

Thumbnail : Sibelius III: Reflections on the 2011 Bard Music Festival

Sibelius III: Reflections on the 2011 Bard Music Festival

“I’d go anywhere to hear a Sibelius-palooza like this,” exclaimed Beth, a New York television producer and first-time Bard Festival visitor. Ernest, a veteran of many festivals and a geneticist in his 70s, credited Bard with inspiring him to revisit a childhood dream and take courses at Bard’s Conductor’s Institute. Lisa from Woodstock usually opts […]

Thumbnail : Sibelius II: Larry Wallach on the Bard Music Festival 2011 – Jean Sibelius and his World

Sibelius II: Larry Wallach on the Bard Music Festival 2011 – Jean Sibelius and his World

Originality is a hard concept to get a hold of — there is no yardstick for measuring it, by its very nature. This makes the evaluation of composers, the assessment of their influence and historical position, one of the most subjective areas of music history and criticism. Contemporary writers have become impatient with their predecessors’ habit of rating composers in terms of “importance” or “greatness” based, at least in part, on their originality. And then there is the issue of “unique voice” — is that the same as originality? Is their any good composer who lacks either one? Can “uniqueness” be evaluated?

Thumbnail : Sibelius I: Bard Music Festival 2011 – Jean Sibelius and his World

Sibelius I: Bard Music Festival 2011 – Jean Sibelius and his World

One shouldn’t let anything get in the way of a Bard Music Festival—and the surrounding Summerscape opera, play, and dance performances, etc., least of all one’s preconceptions about composers. In one case only, Prokofiev (Bard Festival 2008), I approached the Festival with thoughts of taking a mildly rebarbative medicine, but I soon learned how wrong I was, thanks to the Russophile enthusiasm of my friend, Robert Kurilla, who has written about Prokofiev in the Review, and, of course, the lectures and programs of the Festival itself. In Prokofiev’s case the problem was that his best known works give an extremely limited, really inaccurate, idea of him and that his best work is little-known and rather challenging.

Thumbnail : Bard Music Festival 2011, “Sibelius and His World” – Program Details (REVISED, with a Note on the Composer)

Bard Music Festival 2011, “Sibelius and His World” – Program Details (REVISED, with a Note on the Composer)

The announcement of the upcoming Bard Music Festival, “Sibelius and his World,” begins with a note of controversy. Not everyone, especially from the 1930’s on, agreed that he wrote good music. This may surprise some people, since the debate had died down by the 1950’s, when the composer was still alive but hadn’t written anything […]

Thumbnail : Yundi! …and the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Herbert Blomstedt: Tchaikovskian Antics and Solid Sibelius

Yundi! …and the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Herbert Blomstedt: Tchaikovskian Antics and Solid Sibelius

Benchmarks for success may sometimes change. But vanity itself never changes. Indeed, tact appears to be the ancient art invented to deal with it. And in the concert world, as elsewhere, self-satisfaction frequently begins with a name. These days, sometimes just one.

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  • A Singer’s Notes 95: The Henry Plays at Shakespeare and Company
    Jonathan Epstein undertook a courageous and largely successful project making an evening’s performance out of the Henry plays. I could have used a little more Doll Tearsheet and a little less Ancient Pistol, but I understand choices have to be made. The narrative was clear throughout, and there were some surprising and gently humorous touches […]
    Keith Kibler
  • A Singer’s Notes 94: Local Excellence… and a Rare Unamplified Performance of a Broadway Musical!
    Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre once again filled its house and earned rave applause for its production of Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini. This opera which seems so straight out and comfortable is actually a very hard score, both vocally and orchestrally. It could fairly be called the most intricate of Puccini’s compositions. This is why it […]
    Keith Kibler
  • A Singer’s Notes 93: Denève, the TMC Orchestra, and Berlioz; McGegan and Handel; Bernstein’s Candide at Tanglewood
    The excellent Stephane Denève chose two works of Hector Berlioz for his TMCO concert. Wholly remarkable was a performance of Les Nuits d'Été. The maestro gave these songs a sound I've never heard before. It was ravishingly quiet to begin with, not unlike the nearly silent playing Simon Rattle can achieve in his Mahler performances. […]
    Keith Kibler
  • Murder Myth Married to Music—Lizzie Borden Wields her Axe at Tanglewood
    In Jack Beeson and Kenward Elmslie’s 1965 retelling, Lizzie Borden is unequivocally presented the murderer of her step-mother and father; in the opening moments, as the orchestra starts up with a scream of outrage, Lizzie runs onstage with an axe and plants it firmly in the middle of the family table. It remains there for […]
    Larry Wallach