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Elektra

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Memorable Music

Okay, not quite done.

I'm not going to do a standard 10-best. I'm just going to try to list some of the best or most memorable performances I attended, whether concert or opera.

Chamber Music

Pavel Haas Quartet. I never posted a review of this, but the young Czech group was absolutely splendid in their Bay Area debut early this year. They played an idiosyncratically beautiful rendition of the Debussy quartet; rather than the usual airy transparent sound that quartets seem to aim for, they played with dark mahogany tone. Gorgeous and very different. The program also included quartets by Haas and Schulhoff, which got great performances as well.

Fleischmann Memorial Concert. Okay, the chorus piece, Stravinsky's Renard (with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting) and the Donatoni piece were all fine, but the star work was Pierre Boulez's sur Incises, led by the Maitre himself. What a gorgeous piece! Three pianos, three harps, three percussionists; a half-hour of bliss.

Ades/Calder Quartet. Mostly Ades, all great.

Opera

Ring Cycle, San Francisco. The full rollout of the Zambello Ring, intelligently and thoughtfully directed - okay, with a few lapses! - and a host of fine performances. Stefan Margita's brilliantly sung and acted Loge; Elizabeth Bishop's not-a-shrew Fricka; Andrea Silvestrelli's Fasolt and Hagen (why he didn't get Hunding and Fafner instead of Fasolt, I'll never know); Jay Hunter Morris's lyrical and charming Siegfried - bet you've never heard him called charming before; and of course Nina Stemme's Brunnhilde and the great conducting of Donald Runnicles.

Turn of the Screw, LA Opera. My first live production of Britten's masterpiece. Patricia Racette's first Governess; superb performances from all, especially young Michael Kepler Meo as Miles and William Burden's terrifying Quint.

Ariadne auf Naxos, West Edge Opera. Great direction of Strauss's postmodern opera and mostly terrific singing.

Le Comte Ory, Met HD broadcast. Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Joyce Di Donato. What's not to like? I thought the play-within-a-play framing unnecessary and distracting; the great singing and acting made up for a lot. JDD: hot hot hot.

Nixon in China, Met HD broadcast. The great American opera, up there with Porgy & Bess. Peter Sellars keeping the lid on it reasonably well, with a mostly excellent cast and the composer conducting.

Orchestral

Mahler 2 and Mahler 3 at SFS/MTT. Splendid and moving performances of each; I didn't notice until it was all over that the 3rd lasted a good 15 minutes longer than a typical performance.

RVW London Symphony, SFS/Vanska. Too bad about Barantshchik's overly understated Mendelssohn violin concerto on the same program. The RVW was truly great.

Verdi Requiem and Shostakovich 14, Conlon/SFS. Holy cow. Two great, great performances of very different pieces. Death-haunted Shostakovich, terrifying Verdi. Yeah, I did skip Pictures at an Exhibition. Seriously, it would be a pygmy next to the great Shostakovich.

Sibelius, Salonen, Wagner, SFS/Salonen. Esa-Pekka Salonen's own violin concerto paired with the gorgeous Pohjola's Daughter and excerpts from Götterdämmerung, with the great Christine Brewer in the Immolation scene.

Last of the Year?

Honestly, I should have just announced a hiatus. I have a bunch of concerts I'd like to write up, and goodness knows there's been some time to do so in the last week or so, since I have been off work most days since a week ago Friday. But mostly I've been puttering around the house and reading, and also setting up this new iMac, which arrived Thursday, a week early.

Big thanks to people on the Well and Google+ who gave me some excellent advice, such as "iPhoto plays nicely with Flickr," which is my photo site of choice, and "why, yes, that iMac can read your Windows-formatted external hard drive, so forget about Migration Assistant."

That would the Migration Assistant software that took 12 hours to hang without migrating any data from my soon-to-be-retired Dell. Apple, maker of intuitive and easy to use products, has known it was buggy for at least six months and has not bothered to fix the problems. I think it took a half-hour at most to read 10,000 photos and 1200 other files off the portable hard drive. There is probably a support note somewhere on apple.com that tells you to just plug in your Windows-formatted backup drive and read everything onto the iMac, but it's not the first thing that comes up when you search for data migration info.

As long as I'm complaining about Apple, is there any damn reason the iMac stand is adjustable as to angle but not height? Did St. Steve think it would be aesthetically displeasing to have an adjustable stand??

As to why I bought an iMac rather than another Dell, once I did an apples-to-apples machine comparison, the Apple premium was maybe $200. I decided I'd go with the nice hardware and excellent software integration, plus, I am a Mac user at work, so I have only one platform to think about now. (Except that the work machine is on Leopard and the iMac is on Lion....)

As to what this year was like for me, lots of good music but not enough vacation time; more upheavals at work, all of which worked out well for me (I work in a great tech pubs group that is on important and interesting project, and I am very happy with the people we report up through). We lost our beloved Molly B. and now have a lovely still-newish dog, Lila the Werewolf. My mother is recovering well from a broken hip suffered about a month ago. My partner is busily writing grant proposals. We swear we are taking a real vacation this year, as soon as possible.

In any event, I hope your 2011 was good and that your 2012 is as good or better.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Funding Best Music Writing

The excellent series Best Music Writing of the Year has been dropped by the Da Capo Press. Bad news, indeed, but the good news is that series editor Daphne Carr is launching a music-writing indie press of which Best Music Writing will be "the flagship publication." You can donate to this excellent cause right here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Times Does It Again

Or rather, they don't.

Once again, their year-end audio feature The Music They Made includes no one from the realm of the classical, and precious few from the jazz world. Montserrat Figueras, Sena Jurinac, and Salvatore Licitra, Lee Hoiby, Daniel Catan, and Peter Lieberson, Robert Tear, Eugene Fodor, Milton Babbitt, and many I didn't memorialize didn't rate a mention or a clip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Crowd Cheered

The U.S. armed forces join the rest of the armies of the western world in allowing LGB people to serve openly. Not only don't planes fall out of the sky or ships sink, but a lesbian couple got the first-kiss honor when one of their ships docked, and the crowd cheered. Read about it here.

Reactions to the Record 3: April 12-14, 2012

I knew this was coming, and here it is: the third Reactions to the Record symposium at Stanford University, April 12-14, 2012.

The 2009 and 2007 symposia were utterly fascinating, for anyone who is interested in performance styles, how they change, and what we can learn from old recordings. The attendees and speakers range from academics (some quite famous) to performers to impressarios to interested amateurs (that'd be me). There have also always been great concerts associated with R2R.

The presenters for next year are:
  • Richard Taruskin
  • Daniel Leech-Wilkinson
  • Kenneth Slowick
  • Jonathan Bellman
  • José Bowen
  • Clive Brown
  • David Milsom
  • Edward Herbst
  • Anna Schultz
  • Allan Evans

Operatic Miscellany

I didn't like Clark Suprynowicz's Caliban Dreams earlier this year at Berkeley Opera, but his upcoming MACHINE, to be presented by The Crucible, here in Oakland near W. Oakland BART, might just get me out the door. Tickets are $45 to $65 except for the closing night gala, when they're $150. Performances are on January 11-14 and 18-21, 2012. That's next month, if you've lost track....Farther afield in both time and space, The Industry, a Los Angeles organization that "produces new interdisciplinary work that merges music, visual arts, and performance to expand the traditional definition of opera," presents Crescent City, a new opera, from May 10 to 27, 2012. I am so there:
Crescent City is a hyperopera by composer Anne LeBaron, widely recognized for her work in instrumental, electronic, and performance realms, and librettist Douglas Kearney, a poet, performer and recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award. The opera, which incorporates installations by six contemporary LA-based artists, tells the epic story of a mythical city, decimated by one hurricane and on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth by another, and the voodoo priestess determined to save it. A roving band of revelers spreads chaos throughout the streets of the city, capturing the action of the opera with live video along the way. 
Their second production will be Gordon Beeferman's The Rat Land.....On the other side of the country, Opera Manhattan has proclaimed December 23 Hansel & Gretel Day. I'll drink to that; Humperdinck's great opera is among my favorites. Go see it soon, at Opera Manhattan or, if you want to pay a lot more for a seat much farther from the stage, at the Met, where you can see Richard Jones's wonderful Welsh National Opera production.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Decline of Copy-Editing

You have to wonder:
  • China Mieville's novel Kraken uses it's where its is clearly meant, just a few pages in. GROAN.
  • Mary Roach's Packing for Mars apparently never got a full read-through from someone who was paying attention, including the copy editor she thanks in the acknowledgements. There's a person who is introduced 2/3 of the way through the book, then again maybe 50 pages later. I caught it, but no one else did. Perhaps if there had been an index??
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies is written rather breathlessly, works much too hard for dubious analogies (just state the facts, doc!), and in several places seems to repeat itself within a page or two. What?

Hell Week

What I did during Hell Week:
  • Flicka Gala, Dec. 3 (still need to blog)
  • BSO, Dec. 6 7& 7
  • SFS (Salonen program; still need to blog), Dec. 10
I'm soooo glad I didn't try to squeeze in more....because around midnight or 1 a.m. Sunday night / Monday morning, my mother fell and broke her hip. I arrived at Summit at 1:45, somehow beating the ambulance there. She had surgery Monday evening, squeezed into the orthopedic surgeon's schedule (same excellent doc who fixed her broken wrist a decade ago). She is now in skilled nursing at her retirement residence, doing fine, etc.

So in addition to working T - F, I ran to the hospital multiple times on the 5th and every morning or evening for the rest of the week, then dashed off to work. You could say this was a little wearing. My partner came back from seeing her family on Dec. 8 and promptly got sick. I have been laid up since Wednesday with the same thing she had. Three days of a mild fever, what fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Calendars

Two of my favorite blogs (Entartete Music and IanVists) are running their blogs as Advent Calendars this month. (I note that Ian mentions from time to time that he is not a Christian.)
  • Entartete Music's calendar walks you through the story and music of The Nutcracker. Start here, where blog author Gavin Plumly explains.
  • IanVisits gives you a tour of Victorian Christmas advertisements. Start here.
  • Also: Angry Birds Seasons is rolling out one new level of Wreck the Halls daily. Still waiting for a paid Android version so I never have to see the ads again!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Plain Speaking

Via Adaptistration -

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Stand Corrected

Turns out you CAN do a shell swap on a MacBook Pro - that is, swapping the hard drive into a new shell, same as with a Lenovo. I wuz wrong.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Also Sprach Salonen

E-PS tweets:

Back with Mahler6. Form can be annoyingly labyrinthine, directionless, orchestration always beyond reproach. Sibelius is the exact opposite.

Think of Beethoven 1st: all proportions perfect. In Mahler the poetry of geometry is replaced by a narrative. A powerful one for sure.

Sibelius had a gift for organism-like musical forms. His orchestral technique was never completely reliable Most of my colleagues agree.

[I am a fan of Salonen's Sibelius; would pay folding money to hear him conduct Mahler....or anyone else, for that matter.]

Clarification

I rewrote and added a couple of bits to my previous posting, owing to having implied something I didn't intend to imply.

Further to Previous

So I ragged on Greg Sandow for his Methode-is-Mac, Dawn-is-PC tweet. His reply tweet said the Methode worked fine for him, how had it failed me?

Well, Dawn is far, far superior to Methode at removing grease. I have to wonder just what Greg washes if he's not aware of this.

Spelling it out a bit more, he prefers the prettiness of the Methode bottle to the actual functionality of Dawn, which comes in a plainer container.

The Mac/Windows comparison he's making is exactly has some parallels here. I know, because I use both platforms. I'll tell you, the MacBook Pro I use for work sure is beautiful - and fragile, unlike the Lenovo I had for work up until 18 months ago. I have a couple of dents in the MBP, which has a shell like an old person's skin. I swear you could run a Lenovo over with a truck and it would still work: I once accidentally spilled water on mine, and it took the techs three minutes to remove the hard drive and pop it into a new shell. No data loss, no reconstruction necessary, no loss of work time.

UPDATE: Try that with a MacBook Pro and you'll find yourself with an expensive paperweight. I know this because I spilled coffee on my first MBP. Turns out you can do a shell swap on an MBP. Who knew?

Yeah, the MBP is beautiful, and silent (no fan! Offensive to Jobs!), and more thoughtfully designed. Is the beautiful (and fragile) design worth the hundreds more it costs over an equivalent Lenovo?

As to the software, if you've been using Macs for 20 years because you couldn't stand working on a command line (I could) or you hated the Windows 3.1 (okay, it really wasn't great), then you're not aware that GUIs won and Windows XP and 7 look and act a lot like OS X.

Putting it another way, the Mac certainly does win on prettiness and polish. On pure functionality, the two platforms are close to equivalent. If you find the Mac easier to use than a Windows machine, it's most likely because it's what you're used to.

Clarified and added to because kalimac thought I was saying "Macs suck," which I did not say and did not mean to imply. (Sandow, by the way, was a Windows user until recently, so not in the class of people who find the Mac easier to use because it's all they've used for the last 20 years.)

Carter 103

Elliott Carter turns 103 today. The birthday party for him at the 92nd St. Y the other day included several works he wrote in the last year, two from just last month. And this week I was lucky enough to hear the marvelous Elizabeth Rowe and the Boston Symphony in his Flute Concerto, a masterpiece and a superb addition to the flute repertory. Read Joe Barron's lovely tribute to the composer here.

Happy birthday, Mr. Carter! Looking forward to whatever is coming from your pen in your 104th year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The BSO Comes to Town

I saw both BSO programs this week, and my review is now posted at SFCV. I liked them a lot, as you can see. Opinions around town were somewhat divided -
  • Joshua Kosman wasn't too happy, though he liked some of the performances. I'll note that the BSO programs were announced before Levine's resignation. As Joshua has noted on his own blog, the BSO was way behind in figuring out that Levine needed to be eased out and a search committee formed, but they knew a year ago what would be performed in SF. He's right that there were some ensemble problems, especially in the first movement of the Mahler, but overall, I was mightily impressed by the playing. More below.
  • SFMike was mightily impressed.
  • John Marcher was too.
  • kalimac is in Joshua's corner.
  • Janos Gereben (no link) was thrilled by the Bartok and Ravel. He told me so, anyway!
About that huge ensemble that Mike mentions. Well, the Wednesday concert was an all-hands-on-deck affair. I noticed on Tuesday that the BSO strings were a whole lot  more present, with a fuller sound, than the SFS strings tend to be. My companion Wednesday evening thought it was a bigger orchestra than SFS. Just for the heck of it, I counted the string sections of each orchestra as listed in the programs. They're essentially the same size. SFS lists three more violins total, but the BSO has two violinists on leave; same number of cellos and violas; Boston has one more bass.

So the difference in sound has to do with the absolutely quality of the string sections or with the music directors' respective demands or with the historical sound of the orchestra. I'm doubtful about the matter of absolute quality, for the simple reason that it is so damn hard to get a job playing in an orchestra. Everybody who auditions has first-class technical skills. Historically, I've no idea what these two orchestras sounded like; I barely went to SFS before the mid-90s and really have only been a regular since 2004.

I was also interested in the variation in wind sound. The BSO winds, which I describe as characterful and kalimac calls pungent, are indeed less blended than the SFS sound. You either like it or you don't. Again speaking historically, the blended sound is more modern. Listening to pre-WWII orchestras, you get more distinctive wind and brass sounds.

The BSO's principal clarinet and oboe both have bigger, somewhat fuller sounds than their SFS counterparts; Elizabeth Rowe's sound is somewhat more complex than Tim Day's silvery purity. They're both great players; I wouldn't tap one over the other.

As for the brass, well, I'll take ours, which seem to have ascended into the stratosphere over the last couple of years.

If Only I had $700 Million Sitting Around

...and I were an extremely experienced and clever real estate developer, I'd buy the Battersea Power Station, London.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This Exchange Says Something About Greg Sandow

Greg Sandow
Was using Methode dish soap, in elegant bottle. Bought Dawn -- bottle is squat, ugly. Feel like I've devolved from a Mac back to a PC!
 
Lisa Hirsch
But Greg - Dawn gets the job done better than that Methode stuff.
 

Coming to an Opera House Near (Some of) You

From a press release about Christine Brewer's schedule:
A week after her Carnegie Hall appearance, the soprano will make her much-anticipated Los Angeles Opera debut (March 14 & 17), starring in the hit Santa Fe Opera production of Albert Herring, which she headlined last season. 
Road trip!

The Press Release

Alex Ross comments on Twitter about the strangeness and sadness of the Levine press release today. "How can he remain music director of the Met if he cannot conduct until Fall, 2013, at the earliest?"

Well, that is the $64,000 question, isn't it? Does administrative work, planning, and working with young artists make a music director?

But it's easy to understand why the Met would send out this particular press release, complete with Levine's personal statement (which tells us a few previously-unreleased details about just how bad his condition has been, like the three surgeries last spring and the three month stay in rehab this fall).

Levine would clearly like to return to the Met. We don't know the details of his contract and how those details deal with a situation like this. There may be required payments to Levine when he's on the disabled list; there may be particular conditions that have to be met before he can be said to be unable to meet the contract requirements (for example, an allowable period of disability might be set).

We can take as literally true the Met's need to sign conductors for next year without a huge scramble like the one the BSO undoubtedly had to make earlier this year when Levine resigned his job there. As it is, most conductors they'd want to step in for Levine already have work someplace else. 

The Met may or may not want Levine to return at this point, given his health over the last couple of years. The press release therefore has to support Levine while leaving open the possibility that he won't return. The Met does not want to let him go in a way that makes it look callous or unfeeling or unsupportive of Levine.

There are other factors at work. If Levine ultimately leaves, the Met needs breathing room to find a new music director. We don't know whether Luisi can just step in, because there's that contract he has in Zurich. Getting a new MD on board is not so easy, as um the Boston Symphony knows. And the Philadelphia Orchestra. Everybody with the requisite skills has a job already. (Unless the Met willing to go out on a limb by hiring someone young and inexperienced.)

So there's a lot of careful balancing of the words here, to allow for both Levine's return or resignation/replacement and for everyone to come out of it looking suitably professional. Strange and sad it is, but also doing its best to walk a very, very fine line.

James Levine

The conductor lives, but we won't see him on the podium for a while. A press release from the Met says that James Levine has withdrawn from all performances at the Met through the 2012-13 season.

I have been telling people that if Levine couldn't manage Götterdämmerung in January, he wouldn't be conducting full Ring cycles in April. Fabio Luisi is on the podium for those.

The full press release and a personal statement from Levine follow the cut. Levine is optimistic about a full recovery and hopes to resume his conducting responsibilities. However, if he is unable to continue or must retire, this smooths the way for such a withdrawal.


Teresa Nielsen Hayden Gets Something Everybody I Know Would Kill For

A mention and a link on Paul Krugman's blog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Personal to SFS

Take out an option to hire Ludovic Morlot at some point in the future, eh? The contract at Seattle will keep the BSO from stealing him to replace Levine.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Floating Around My Head

On the shuttle back from work today, a couple of measures of music popped into my head, with the text "En hiver, la mort meurtriere." A quick web search told me right away that very likely I was hearing Hindemith's "Six Chansons" to texts of Rilke. Looking at the poems, the music came roaring back.

I swear I hadn't thought of this music in 25 or 30 years. I must have sung it at Stony Brook with Maggie Brooks; I'm sure I didn't sing it with Jim Olesen at Brandeis.

That got me looking up some Milhaud that I did sing at Brandeis. I'm reasonably sure I was thinking of Les Deux Cites.


Here's the lovely Hindemith:

DId You Miss Götterdämmerung at San Francisco Opera?

Catch it this Sunday night on KDFC at 8 p.m. From SFO's email:
Tune in to hear Götterdämmerung, the final installment in Wagner's epic masterpiece, The Ring of the Nibelung, recorded in summer 2011. With Nina Stemme, Ian Storey, Gerd Grochowski, Andrea Silvestrelli, Daveda Karanas, Melissa Citro, Gordon Hawkins, Ronnita Miller, Heidi Melton, Stacey Tappan, Lauren McNeese and Renée Tatum; conducted by Donald Runnicles. Hosted by KDFC's Dianne Nicolini.

Tune in to kdfc.com or your FM dial, 90.3 San Francisco; 89.9 North and East Bay; 89.7 Eureka; 92.5 Ukiah-Lakeport; or Comcast Cable 981. For more information on San Francisco Opera radio broadcasts, visit sfopera.com/broadcast.

Dear Drivers:

About half the cars I see on the road are silver, gray, slate blue, or some other color that can be difficult to see even in good driving conditions. When it's foggy out, as it was Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, your damn cars are invisible. And I should know: I drive a silver 2000 Honda Accord. My previous car was slate blue.

So for the love of god, TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS. In foggy conditions, they're not to help you see. They're to make you visible to others.

Thank you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jurinac and Figueras Obits

The NY Times catches up; both obits are by Zachary Woolfe:
  • Sena Jurinac (Rudolf Bing had a few things to say about her nonappearance at the Met.)
  • Montserrat Figueras. ("...a kind of Patridge Family of early music"?? I prefer "the Savall cabal," my own coinage.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Letter to the Times, Unpublished

Anonymity on the Internet is the subject of this week's Times Sunday Dialog section of the Sunday Review. It started with a letter from Christopher Wolf of the Anti-Defamation League. Read his letter, letters of response, and his reply here. I sent in a letter that didn't get published in the Times:

To the Editor:


Christopher Wolf of the Anti-Defamation League must have spent much less time on the Internet than I have if he sincerely thinks that a real or legal names policy in any way improves the quality of conversation. I have seen many forums made uncivil by people writing under their (apparently) real names.

He must also not have thought much about the political dissidents, members of sexual and ethnic minorities, and members of other groups who would put themselves at great personal risk if they were to participate in Internet discussions under their real names. There's a handy list of people so affected at the Geek Feminism Wiki. I strongly encourage Mr. Wolf to read it.

Yrs truly, &c,


It's worth noting that this blog is under my real (legal) name and almost everything I've said on the Internet is under my real name. I've occasionally posted pseudonymous comments at the NY Times, but that's about it. But I care a lot about those for whom anonymity or pseudonymity is a matter of survival; I'm friends with plenty of people in that situation.

I Live in the Computerized Home of the Future, Circa 1979

They got just a few things wrong:
  • I mix my own drinks.
  • The video phone fits in my pocket.
  • My clothes are not that dorky.
  • Tape? What's that?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WQXR's Beethoven Piano Sonata Marathon

Missed last Sunday's Beethoven piano sonata marathon at the Green Space in NYC? The nice people at WQXR have created a video archive of the whole darned thing, in convenient two-hour chunks. Listen to it at your leisure, in whatever order appeals.

Sena Jurinac

A while back, I came into a copy of Wilhelm Fürtwangler's RAI Ring, passed along to me by a friend who'd gotten a better transfer. It sat for a couple of years, because of the usual reason - time - and fear of Martha Mödl. Eventually, with the approach of the 2011 San Francisco Ring, I got over my terror and made the time.

The prelude was as expected, but I sat bolt upright and dove for the cast list when I heard the Rheinmaidens, because clearly one of them was a cut, no, two or three cuts, above the standard for Rheinmaidens. The booklet told all: In a remarkable stroke of luxury casting, the recording rejoices in Sena Jurinac as Woglinde. She returns in Götterdämmerung as the Third Norn, Woglinde, and Gutrune, giving an especially memorable performance in the latter ungrateful role.

The great soprano died yesterday at her home in Germany, age 90. She was an enormous star at the Vienna State Opera from 1945 until her retirement in the early 1980s; a commenter on Parterre Box notes that she sang a staggering 1198 performances there. She still made time to sing in San Francisco, Glyndbourne, and other leading theaters, though somehow she never appeared at the Met.

She sang a wide range of music during her long career, from Cherubino, Octavian, and the Composer (roles taken now primarily by mezzos) to the Countess and Donna Anna to a select few Verdi and Puccini roles, among them Butterfly and Elisabetta di Valois, to Jenufa and Marie in Wozzeck to Wagner's Eva. Every recording of hers that I've heard is immaculately sung, with beautiful tone, a secure line, perfect intonation, and dramatic canniness. Even as Elisabetta, with a voice not at all Italianate, her feel for the line and her sense of drama carry the day:



Here she is as a different Elisabeth, this one Wagner's, at La Scala in 1967. And as Mozart's Susanna:

Montserrat Figueras

Via Alex Ross comes the sad news that Montserrat Figueras has died at the young age of 69. The soul of Hesperion XXI and other groups led by her husband, viol pioneer Jordi Savall, she sang with a darkly beautiful soprano both passionate and playful. I never saw Hesperion in concert, which I deeply regret.

You can hear her on some 60 CDs recorded by the Savall Cabal, which include the couple's daughter and son. If you do not know their work, start with Villacicos y Danzas Criollas and Tonos Humanos, then, well, anything from their vast and rich catalog. You can buy directly from Alia Vox, Hesperion's own record label, or elsewhere on the web. I see that there's a set of Monteverdi secular works with Figueras, Andrew Lawrence-King, and Rolf Lislevand; I do not have this, and I will be remedying that shortly.

Here's "Un sarao de la chacona," as infectiously joyful a performance as I've ever heard of anything:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupying UC

An article in the Huffington Post gets at the root cause:
....what is at issue is the dismantling of public education in California. Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016.
In the 1970s, friends of mine attended UC Berkeley for the giant sum of $75/quarter; an acquaintance reports $200/quarter at UCLA. They could rent a room in a shared house for $100 or so a month. This is why Prop. 13 was so hugely destructive: instead of a public university that anyone could afford to attend, we have a public university that is out of reach for most without taking on a crushing level debt before entering the workforce.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I have four performances to write up; of course, the programs are all elsewhere. To mark the day:

Dan Wakin reports on the NYPO's search for a replacement for retiring president & CEO Zarin Mehta; the local angle is that Brent Assink of the San Francisco Symphony was approached and decided to stay in SF....The Berkeley Hillside Club has a couple of enticing concerts coming up with members of the SFS: Symphony Players (includes Peter Wyrick, Jonathan Vinocour, and others) in Mozart & Mendelssohn string quintets on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.; Sarn Oliver, Mariko Smiley, and Robert Pollock play a wide range of trios and duets, by Oliver, Pollock, Edward T. Cone, Milhaud, and Takemitsu on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m...In London, the New Queen's Hall Orchestra starts a Brahms cycle on Nov. 23, celebrating their 20th anniversary....The Princeton Symphony Orchestra, which has consistently interesting and thoughtful programming, has a newly redesigned web site....So does the mighty Boston Symphony Orchestra; you should have seen me tweeting bug reports to them last week....Seventh Avenue Performances has a good-looking season with lots of early music...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Few Suggestions

  • For San Francisco Symphony: how helpful it would be if you posted concert running times on your web site.
  • For San Francisco Symphony: it's good that each concert on the front-page calendar has a Buy Tickets button. Unfortunately, the button doesn't link to the ticket-buying system. It links to the concert landing page, where you click another Buy Tickets button, which really does take you to the ticket-buying system. Why the lying Buy Tickets button??
  • For San Francisco Opera: when the stage is as brightly lit as it was for Xerxes, the supertitles are washed out and difficult to read. More contrast, please.
  • For San Francisco Opera: it's always a good idea to check how the whole show looks from the back of the balcony. For instance, did you know that the stagehand tossing bits of greenery over the set curtain was visible from row L?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lehman Out, JHM In: Met Goetterdaemmerung

I am not surprised. From the Met press office:
Jay Hunter Morris will sing the role of Siegfried in Siegfried on April 21 matinee and April 30, 2012, and in Götterdämmerung on May 3, 2012. He replaces Gary Lehman who has withdrawn due to illness.

The BSO Answers

A couple of postings back, I wondered out loud, very loudly, about the Tanglewood website design. I now have a tweet from the BSO in response my tweet last night about the hidden information there:
This is part of the cleaner design of the site 
Oh, dear.

"Clean design" should not be the goal of a web site. An arts organization's web site needs to do two things as well as it possibly can:

1. Provide information.
2. Make it easy to buy tickets.

A "cleaner design" that hides information defeats both those purposes. There's less information readily visible, which means people have to work a little harder to get the information they need for decision-making purposes. I mean, I always want to know who's playing and conducting a concert before I buy the tickets.

Salzburg Festival Commissions

Four new operas are coming at future Salzburg Festivals, by Gyorgy Kurtag, Marc-Andrew Dalbavie, Thomas Ades, and Jorg Widmann. I wonder how hard it will be to get tickets....

Why, Oh, Why?

The BSO has a spiffy-looking web site for Tanglewood, but I just don't understand one design decision: When you scroll down the performance listing and click the More Details link for a specific concert, the performer names are not visible. You have to mouse over a photograph to see who is conducting or playing.

Take the opening concert.See the gray-haired gent? Because it's an all-Beethoven program of the Leonore No. 3 and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, I can guess that he is not a soloist. I happen to recognize him, in fact. But if I didn't, I'd have to mouse over the photo to discover that he's Christoph von Dohnanyi.

However, I don't recognize the guy conducting the Stravinsky & Brahms program or the pianist playing the Brahms series. I have to click through and then mouse over their photos.

And seriously? You have to click on a tiny, light green, More Details link to see the details. You can't click on the date or the photo accompanying each listing.

Is there some reason to hide performers' names in mouse-over text?? Not a good one, I'll tell you that.

Hoisted from the comments, so the maximum number of people see it; reader Unknown says:
You're absolutely spot-on with these comments, except you didn't ask what to me was the most obvious question: why can't I just download or look at a simple text file with all of the season information? Why do I have to keep scrolling down the page and click on "More Details" boxes to learn just the basic information (e.g., what's being played and who is playing it) about each concert?
Unknown is right! Why not?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Brochures

Dear Concert Presenters:

For crying out loud, DO NOT print your brochure in 7 point, light red, light-stroke-weight print on bright white paper and expect anyone to be able to read it!

Yours,

Tossed My Copy in the Recycling

Exchange Policies at SF Symphony and Opera

I am being charged $10 (or so I was told) by San Francisco Symphony to exchange a ticket for Nov. 18 for a concert in the same series on Nov. 20. Herein, let us review the exchange policies for SF Symphony and SF Opera.

San Francisco Symphony exchange policy:

Please note that all exchanges must be received by Patron Services 24 hours in advance of the performance date printed on the tickets that you are exchanging. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request.

Ticket exchanges in person and by mail are free for subscribers, while faxed requests will result in an $9 charge. Non-subscribers will be charged a $10 exchange fee for each in-person or mailed transaction and $19 for each fax request. Phone requests are $12 subscribers and $22 for non-subscribers. Exchange requests into a higher-priced performance or section will be charged the difference. The difference for exchange requests into a lower-priced performance or section will not be refunded, but will be considered as a donation.

[$22 for a phone exchange if you're not a subscriber. Jeez. I mean, I think they shouldn't charge subscribers anything, and a much lower fee for non-subscribers. These fees are the kind of nickle-and-diming that piss people off even more than high ticket prices.]

San Francisco Opera exchange policy:

Subscriber Exchanges:
  • There is no fee for exchanges to another performance of the same opera.
  • Full and Half Series subscribers may exchange to a different opera with no fee.
  • All other series subscribers may exchange to a different opera for $10 per ticket (compared to $25 per ticket for non-subscribers).
  • Subscribers may exchange tickets over the phone (you must have your tickets in hand; please see below).
  • Note that there are no exchanges from a different opera into Lucrezia Borgia.
  • Note that there are no exchanges for Ring cycle tickets.
  • If there are no alternative performance dates that work for you, consider returning your tickets as a donation. You may donate your tickets by calling the Box Office; an acknowledgment will be mailed to you for a tax deduction.

Here’s How to Exchange:
 


Exchange tickets at least 24 hours prior to the performance; there is a $10 per ticket fee for day-of exchanges up to two hours prior to the performance* for all subscribers; all exchanges are subject to availability.
  • Call (415) 864-3330 (please have the tickets you’d like to exchange in hand). 
  • Visit the Box Office in person, and bring the tickets you’d like to exchange.
  • Mail your tickets and exchange request:
    [SF Opera doesn't charge different fees depending on how you make your exchange. Good policy: it's really hard to say why SFS charges you based on whether you phone, mail, fax, or walk up to the ticket office. The latter is an option only for people who live or work nearby or who can arrange to visit. But getting to the box office, for me, means a major time commitment to save the money. Not. Worth. It.]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Erzsébet: The Opera

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz's new opera Erzsébet premiered a couple of weeks ago, with three performances in Vermont. Now it's ready to travel.

Erzsébet tells the story of Countess Erzsébet Bathory, the notorious blood countess. Dennis has been researching the subject and working on this opera for quite a few years. I've heard a recording of one of the performances and it sounds terrific: colorful, mysterious, and very operatic. It's scored for a small ensemble and has what looks like a difficult but rewarding soprano part. The only unusual scoring is for cimbolom.

Are you interested in performing Erzsébet? Read Bring Her to Your Town! and use the link there to contact Dennis about the options. If you're in the Bay Area and want to see the score, contact me: I have a copy.

One Can Hope

Alex Ross discusses some tantalizing sketches that might be the remains of the Sibelius Eighth. Be sure to read the story he links to and of course listen to the run-through of just a minute or two of the sketches.

Beethoven Piano Sonata Marathon

So, yeah, I rolled my eyes at the thought of Beethoven Awareness Month. But WQXR is putting on one event that I'd go to if I were in NYC: a Beethoven piano sonata marathon. A tag team of pianists will perform all 32 - not, alas, in order - from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. this Sunday, November 20. A nice launch to the holiday week, I would say. It'll be at the Greene Performance Space, NYC.

Here's the lineup:

WQXR Beethoven 32 Piano Sonata Marathon
The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, NYC
Sunday, November 20
All-day passes are available here; for tickets to each of the two-hour parts, see links below.

Part I: 11am – 1pm
Marina Radiushina: Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1
Hyung Min Suh: Sonata No. 4 in E-flat, Op. 7, “Grand Sonata”
Alessio Bax: Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique”
Philip Edward Fisher: Sonata No. 10 in G, Op. 14, No. 2
Evan Shinners: Sonata No. 11 in B-flat, Op. 22
Tickets for Part I are available here.

Part II: 1pm – 3pm
Daria Rabotkina: Sonata No. 2 in A, Op. 2, No. 2
Michael Brown: Sonata No. 22 in F, Op. 54
Michael Brown: Sonata No. 15 in D, Op. 28, “Pastoral”
Qi Xu: Sonata No. 25 in G, Op. 79
Inon Barnatan: Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
Alessio Bax: Sonata No. 31 in A-flat, Op. 110
Tickets for Part II are available here.

Part III: 3pm – 5pm
Ching-Yun Hu: Sonata No. 3 in C, Op. 2, No. 3
Yuchiong Wu: Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1
Yuchiong Wu: Sonata No. 20 in G, Op. 49, No. 2
Inon Barnatan: Sonata No. 6 in F, Op. 10, No. 2
Benjamin Hochman: Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, “Appassionata”
Ching-Yun Hu: Sonata No. 28 in A, Op. 101
Tickets for Part III are available here.

Part IV: 5pm – 7pm
Valentina Lisitsa: Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, “Moonlight”
Benjamin Hochman: Sonata No. 7 in D, Op. 10, No. 3
Drew Peterson: Sonata No. 16 in G, Op. 31, No. 1
Timothy Andres: Sonata No. 21 in C, Op. 53, “Waldstein”
Steven Beck: Sonata No. 30 in E, Op. 109
Tickets for Part IV are available here.

Part V: 7pm – 9pm
Louis Schwizgebel: Sonata No. 9 in E, Op. 14, No. 1
Jonathan Biss: Sonata No. 12 in A-flat, Op. 26, “Funeral March”
Joyce Yang: Sonata No. 18 in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3, “The Hunt”
Timothy Andres: Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp, Op. 78, “A Thérèse”
Jeremy Denk: Sonata No. 29 in B-flat, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”
Tickets for Part V are available here.

Part VI: 9pm – 11pm
Jonathan Biss: Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1
David Kaplan: Sonata No. 13 in E-flat, Op. 27, No. 1, “Quasi una fantasia”
Natasha Paremski: Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, “Tempest”
Louis Schwizgebel: Sonata No. 26 in E-flat, Op. 81a, “Les adieux”
Jeremy Denk: Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
Tickets for Part VI are available here.

Note Jeremy Denk's finger-busting assignment of the Hammerklavier and Op. 111.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Massenet Reconsidered

Until a couple of years ago, I would have agreed with a comment Joshua Kosman made about 19th c. French music:
I have no particular use for any 19th-century French music that isn't by Berlioz (remember, "Gounod" is an anagram of "ungood")
Well, mostly agreed: unlike Joshua, I'm fond of Saint-Saens. (Yes, I've got tickets to see both the Organ Symphony and Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Egyptian") at SFS this year - how could I possibly miss them?) Perhaps this particular perversion is balanced by the fact that I have developed something of an aversion to Carmen.


In any event, a few years back I gave a listen to Massenet's Esclarmonde, via Parterre Box's Unnatural Acts of Opera archive. You could say that I was both surprised and positively impressed: the piece has sweep and power, an advanced harmonic language, and an absolutely killer soprano part. I began to suspect that perhaps the problem was not Massenet, but his most-heard opera, Manon, which I feel is best presented as a concert of excerpts.


Then San Francisco Opera put on the composer's Werther, and again I was positively impressed and had a perfectly good time. Charming domestic interludes, adorable children's chorus, some truly remarkable harmonic language. The work got a fine performance, too, with Ramon Vargas in the title role and Alice Coote an extremely strong Charlotte. (Vocally, at least; from the balcony, I found her acting chilly.) 


This afternoon, I got to hear a serious rarity, Sapho, performed by OperaLab, a group of singers who put on concert versions - okay, public read-throughs, with very minimal rehearsal time - of unusual repertory that interests them.


You already know the plot: young man from the provinces - literally; like Alfredo Germont, he's from Provence - moves to the big city, meets and falls in love with an attractive woman, moves in with her, discovers she has a Scandalous Past, leaves her, goes back to her, she leaves him, realizing he'll always be suspicious of her and jealous of her Past. Yes, it's La Traviata, or, more precisely, La Rondine, on a rather different scale. Nobody dies, however much unhappiness there is.


Well, it's a lovely opera! Five acts of consistently interesting and beautiful music; I'm pretty sure that it's perfectly stageworthy, as well. Much charm in the domestic music (the tenor's parents and adorable cousin make appearances); considerable beauty to the arias given to the tenor and the leading soprano, several good character roles. 


Everyone sounded great and sang gorgeously: Tania Solomon as Fanny (Sapho); tenor Ray Chavez as Jean; Elizabeth Wells as Jean's mother; Roger McCracken double-cast as Jean's father and a good friend; Cass Panuska as his cousin Irene; Wayne Wong in several small roles. Robert Ashens played piano quite marvelously. Big kudos to all; I'm so glad to have heard this rarity done with such style and grace.



Masses by Mozart

I'm not singing with Chora Nova this year, but I am sure many would find their first program a tasty one!

Chora Nova's sixth season launches with two beautiful, powerful, and popular Masses by Mozart: his Requiem, left unfinished as he raced to complete it on his deathbed, and the lovely Mass in C ("Coronation"). Dr. Paul Flight directs the chorus, orchestra, and four excellent soloists: Michele Byrd, Ruthann Lovetang, Brian Thorsett, and Paul Murray. This year, we also initiate a series of pre-concert talks, free to all who attend the concert.

Tickets are $20 general, $18 senior, and $10 student with ID. Tickets are available through the Chora Nova website,www.choranova.org, at the door or from any chorister.

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Location: First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, Dana St. between Haste and Channing
Time: Pre-concert talk 7:30 p.m.
Concert 8:00 p.m.
Program: Mozart: Requiem, K. 626; Mass in C, K. 317, "Coronation"
Tickets: www.choranova.org, at the door
$20 general, $18 senior, $10 student with ID

Saturday, November 12, 2011

If You're Wondering...

...why I haven't had a lot more to say about the S.F. Opera fall schedule, here's the scorecard:

  • Turandot: attended the dress rehearsal. Though it just fine, with the exceptions of terrible stand-and-deliver direction, blocky chorus movement, and Luisotti's decision to go for huge grandeur at the expense of some momentum. Like Irene Theorin; found Marco Berti about four times better than as Manrico (who knew??); though Leah Crocetto lovely. Still love the opera and the lurid Hockney production.
  • Heart of a Soldier: couldn't stomach the thought.
  • Don Giovanni: Not for a few more years, thanks; the 2007 production was great, don't need to see for a while.
  • Lucrezia Borgia: see previous posting.
  • Xerxes: seeing it this coming week as I woke up the day of the primo with a sore back.
  • Carmen: Only if it's Conchita Supervia back from the grave. Maybe in another five or ten years. 
So, right, I am only seeing two of the fall operas during their run. And I'm only planning to see Attila and Nixon in China in June, unless Magic Flute turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread. Hoping for better luck next season, but I have less and less interesting in spending money to see operas for the third, fourth, fifth time unless they're works I particularly love. The SF Symphony Bluebeard will be my fourth over 19 years and I'm not tired of it yet.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

To the surprise of many, including myself, my opera subscription this year included a ticket to see Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, starring soprano Renee Fleming, who hadn't sung in San Francisco in a decade. Surprise because, of course, I am a fan of neither Donizetti nor Fleming. I've even walked out on two Donizetti operas (La Favorite and Elisir) and one performance with Fleming (but it wasn't her fault).

I'm surprised to report that I enjoyed the opera itself greatly. If I'd heard large chunks of it blind, I would have said it was some early Verdi opera or another. Shades of Rigoletto, which wouldn't be actually be written for another 18 years; you could certainly hear where much of Verdi's musical and gestural language came from.

Not that the opera comes close to matching Rigoletto's emotional impact or its formal perfection. How could it? The title character is a cross between Lady Macbeth and Rigoletto, and Donizetti simply did not have the musical vocabulary to portray those extremes of emotion and personality. Still, there's plenty of lovely music, even when it falls short of matching the drama.

And, of course, the plot is preposterous: the title character somehow misplaced her son as an infant, apparently handing him over to a lower-class person for caretaking, then lost track of him completely. At a ball, about to fall in love with him, and with him definitely falling for her, she realizes he's her long-lost offspring. Her jealous husband thinks the son is her lover, and tries to kill him. She has the antidote to the poison - look, she is a notorious poisoner - and saves him.

Then, attempting to kill off a large group of political enemies, who quite rightly hate her because she mudered some of their relatives, she accidentally poisons him too. Because he and his buddy Maffio Orsini have sworn to live and die together - we've heard this before, or, rather, we'll hear it again, in Forza and Don Carlo - he refuses to take the last bit of antidote.

By and large, the opera got an excellent performance. Debuting conductor Riccardo Frizza moved the music along well and in shapely fashion; the proportions were good, tempos appropriate and varied, nothing sagged, nothing was out of place. Tenor Michael Fabiano, making his SF Opera debut, was a terrific Gennaro, displaying a lovely voice with good size and projection, lots of ping, and plenty of stage presence. As his brother in arms, Maffio Orsini, mezzo Elizabeth DeShong sang with swagger, and handled the decorations in the last-act drinking song with aplomb. (If you know anything from this opera, it's the drinking song, quite possibly in a famous recording made about a century ago by the great contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink). Vitalij Kowaljow made a menacing Duke of Ferrara, overcoming a slightly wobbly start. A sprinkling of Adler Fellows took the minor roles and sang them well.

Now for the bad ...

The set is a rather dark unit set, with various parts moved around to create a ballroom, the Ferraras' basement, a street, etc., etc. Inoffensively uninteresting, in other words. The costumes are a mixture of more-or-less accurate 15th c. dress and leather steampunkish fantasy Renaissance outfits. Now, I like steampunkish fantasy Renaissance as much as the next opera goer, but we've seen this before, done better, in the wonderful Lamos/Yeargan DiChirico-influenced Rigoletto, with its stylized outfits, lurid colors, and sickly lighting. Next to that production, this looks mighty tame.

Worse, the direction is limp and, well, directionless. Too much stand-and-sing, not much interaction among the characters. And it shies away from showing the possibilities in the Gennaro/Maffio relationship, too.

....and the ugly.

Lucrezia Borgia has never been perfomed before at San Francisco Opera, and given the weakness of the libretto and the failure of the music to rise above the enjoyable and energetic, it's easy to see why. The piece is a novelty that will not, and should not, earn a place in the standard repertory, regardless of how many Sutherlands and Caballes and Gencers perform the title role.

SF Opera staged it solely as a vehicle for yet another diva; crucially, one utterly lacking the chops brought to it by those earlier singers. I would have to say that it was the worst performance I have ever seen live by a major singer: dramatically vapid and uninvolved, vocally wayward. Fleming's voice has no core to speak of; it's lovely and round and smoothly-produced without having much projecting power or edge or character. She trills nicely (and did, a few times) and can sustain a floated high note that soars over an ensemble (and she did, in the one place the score calls for this particular effect).

But the role calls for so much more: passion and theatricality; dramatic range and easy coloratura that sounds tossed off rather than labored over. Of this, Fleming had nothing. Her coloratura had no dramatic feel, no sense of outburst or passion; rather, she sounded careful, the kiss.of death in virtuoso music. She lost the line utterly in trying to get through the little notes. Dramatically, she was simply absent, smiling vacantly when passion or tenderness were called for, and certainly never seeming like a murderous poisoner. Joshua Kosman had a few things to say about her, you bet. (I agree with him straight down the line.)

And however much the press releases about her and this opera call Lucrezia a "signature role," she has sung it in perhaps two productions before this. For me, "signature roles" are the roles that immediately come to mind when you think of a singer: Nilsson and Isolde, Bruennhilde, Elektra, Turandot; Sutherland and the bel canto repertory; Zajick and Amneris, Azucena, and other big-gun mezzo roles.

When I think of Fleming, I think of the Marschallin, Countess Almaviva, Donna Anna, the Cappriccio Countess. This is Kiri te Kanawa territory, the roles that can be brought off with a beautiful voice and a generalized vacant nobility. (Well, maybe not Donna Anna; it's not possible to sing "Or sai chi l'onore" without some degree of brilliance.)

I know I've written before about the gala performance at the War Memorial where I heard Ruth Ann Swenson and Fleming in close proximity. The differences were surprising: Swenson had by far the larger, better-projected, more brilliant, and more beautiful voice than Fleming. Believe me, I know that Swenson was  not the deepest actor to be found on the operatic stage, but only once did I come out of a performance of hers feeling seriously let down, a Manon where she, her co-star, and half the rest of the cast was announced as indisposed. We used to hear Swenson nearly annually at San Francisco, though she seems largely, and prematurely, vanished from the major houses. You bet that I spent about half the opera thinking how much better a Lucrezia Swenson would have been in her prime than Fleming was; she would have sung with more sweep and assurance and very likely considerably more drama and passion.

Nadine Sierra, Here and There

Young soprano Nadine Sierra, one of the winners of a recent Metropolitan Opera auditions, is variously in the news.

  • Nicholas Romeo's new book Driven: Six Incredible Musical Journies follows several young musicians who've appeared on NPR's radio show From the Top. It has a chapter about Sierra; you can read it here.The book is available through your local bookseller or on line.
  • The soprano sang locally in San Francisco Performance's Salons at the Rex series. John Marcher has the story. She's now an Adler Fellow at SF Opera.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ojai Music Festival, 2012

This might trump the ticket I have to see Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra on June 9:


66th OJAI MUSIC FESTIVAL, June 7-10, 2012
Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Leif Ove Andsnes, Music Director
Concerts at the new Libbey Bowl unless otherwise noted

Thursday June, 2012
location TBA
Festival Symposium
3:00pm-4:30pm
Ara Guzelimian, symposium director
Topics and guests to be announced

Thursday, June 7, 2012
SPECIAL FREE BEYOND THE BOWL EVENT
5:00pm
Libbey Park
            John Luther Adams: Inuksuit (for 48 percussionists)                                                         
                        Steven Schick, director

Thursday, June 7, 2012
8:00pm
            Program to include:
Shostakovich: Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, Op. 143a 
                        Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Ives: Concord Sonata                                                                
            Marc-André Hamelin, piano

Friday 9, 2012
Ojai Community Church
Festival Symposium
1:00pm-4:30pm
Ara Guzelimian, symposium director
Topics and guests to be announced        

Friday, June 8, 2012
8:00pm
Janáček: String Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters”    (arr. for string orchestra)
            Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
            Reinbert de Leeuw: Im wunderschönen Monat Mai (“In the Merry Month of May”):    A Cycle of 21 Songs on Schumann and Schubert”                           
                        Reinbert de Leeuw, piano                                                           
                        Barbara Sukowa, actress
                        Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
                       
Saturday, June 9, 2012
11:00am
Eivind Buene: Langsam und Schmachtend                                             
            Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
            Wagner (arr. Mottl): Wesendonck Lieder                         
            Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano
                        Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
                                    interspersed with
            Berg: Four Pieces Op. 5                                                  
                        Martin Fröst, clarinet
                        Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Berg: Four Songs, Op. 2                                                
Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
            Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 n C Major, Op. 53 “Waldstein”                                                    
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano                                                
        
Saturday June 9, 2012
8:00pm
Haflidi Hallgrímsson: Poemi, Op. 7                                                                     
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Terje Tønneson, violin
Bent Sørensen: Piano Concerto No. 2 “La Mattina”   American premiere
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Anders Hillborg: Peacock Tales (version for clarinet and tape)
Martin Fröst, clarinet
Mozart: Trio in E flat “Kegelstatt”  K. 498                         
                        Martin Fröst, clarinet
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Antoine Tamestit, viola
György Kurtág: Hommage à Robert Schumann                            
                        Martin Fröst, clarinet and bass drum                                           
                        Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
                        Antoine Tamestit, viola

Sunday, June 10, 2012
11:00am
            Bartók: Contrasts                                                                      
            Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Martin Fröst, clarinet
Øyvind Bjorå, violin
            Grieg: Holberg Suite (arr. for string orchestra)
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra   
William Bolcom: Cabaret Songs  (selection)                                            
            Marc-André Hamelin, piano
            Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano
Copland: Clarinet Concerto                                                        
                        Martin Fröst, clarinet                                                                 
                        Norwegian Chamber Orchestra

Sunday June 10, 2012
5:30pm
            Debussy: Danses sacrée et profane                                           
                        Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
            John Adams: Shaker Loops                                                       
Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
                        Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
            John Luther Adams: Dark Waves (version for two pianos and tape)
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano                                                
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Stravinsky: Sacre du printemps                                      
                        Leif Ove Andsnes, piano                                                
            Marc-André Hamelin, piano