Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Few More Reasons to See Chora Nova Tonight

We had a great dress rehearsal Friday night; our soloists absolutely floored me. Beautiful voices, great singing: Jennifer Paulino and Michele Byrd, sopranos; Paul Flight, countertenor; Brian Thorsett, tenor.

Also, if you come to this concert, maybe you can tell me what a Handelian rage aria is doing in the middle of Galuppi's Nisi Dominus. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard it.

Once more with feeling:

8 p.m.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
Corner of Dana & Durant (it's the brick building at that ocrner. Diagonally across the street is First Presbyterian, where we also sing sometimes. Don't go there. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vivaldi Discovered!

Chora Nova concert this weekend! We're sounding great, certainly the best I have heard in the chorus's existence. Wonderful, sparkling music. So if you're around this long weekend, come by First Congo:

Chora Nova
 Saturday, May 28, 2011
 8 p.m.
 First Congregational Church of Berkeley
 2345 Channing Way
 Berkeley, CA 94704
 Vivaldi, Dixit Dominus, RV807
 Pergolesi, Confitebor Tibi Domine
 Galuppi, Nisi Dominus
 Tickets: $20 general / $18 senior / $10 student - purchase on line or at the door

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Personal to AT

Found in the Times:
A novelty was the Andante movement from Glière’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra (1943), a piece I did not even know about. Ms. Dessay brought such lovely nuances and intensity to her singing that actual words would have seemed superfluous.
Joan Sutherland recorded the work in the 1960s; I heard it on LP in the 1970s, paired with the composer's Concerto for Harp, thanks to my friend David Urrows, who also introduced me to Isaak Dinesen. Sutherland's recording is still available through ArkivMusic; MDT has two subsequent recordings by less illustrious sopranos (you'll have to search; use the terms Gliere coloratura).

Gustav Mahler

The composer died a century ago today. To commemorate his death, listen to his music, live or on record.

Around the blogosphere, many fine postings:
I heard Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony perform Mahler's Second and Sixth Symphonies the other week; they're now touring Europe with those and the Ninth.

You might read Henry-Louis De La Grange's enormous Mahler biography, or Alma Mahler's And the Bridge is Love. And be sure to listen to Tom Lehrer's "Alma," which was my long-ago introduction to Mahler ("Composer of Das Lied von der Erde and other light classics," as Lehrer described him in the spoken introduction to the song).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let's Clear Up Some Terminology Here

Found in KDFC's latest email to me:
KDFC’s DROID app has arrived.  If you have a DROID phone download the free Classical KDFC app and you can listen to KDFC anywhere.  You can look up music we play, and local events too.  i-Phone users, look for an update to the free KDFC i-Phone app in a few days.
Um. The Droid is a phone made by Motorola. I believe it comes in a couple of different flavors.

KDFC has an app made for one specific phone that's not the iPhone? Really?

I'm guessing that they have a new app for the Android cell phone operating system - but I'm not testing that guess on my Nexus S. Not that I could even if I wanted to....because there is no link to the location of this new app.

P. S. I've sent email to KDFC asking what exactly they mean.

Congratulations on the New View, Alex!

Condé Nast will be the anchor tenant at World Trade Center 1.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How Many "Songs" is Goetterdaemmerung?

Google announces cloud-based music storage:
Users can store 20,000 songs free, as opposed to Amazon’s service, which stores up to 1,000 songs without charge.

S.F. Opera Ring Cycle Cast Change: Fricka

Liarissa Diadkova out, for personal reasons; Elizabeth Bishop in.

Bishop covered the role in 1999, too, and stepped in for an indisposed Marjana Lipovsek. Janos Gereben had this to say about her at the time, though others who also posted to opera-l were less happy:

Luck was with SFO tonight: the last-minute illness of Marjana Lipovsek brough her cover to the stage, and Elizabeth Bishop stepped into the role of Fricka gloriously. Besides her exceptionally clear and strong vocal performance, Bishop also provided a far more restrained and believablewronged wife than the usual shrill portrayal.

Matthew Guerrieri on the "Cost Disease"

A must-read blog posting for anyone interested in the health of orchestras. Unfortunately, Greg Sandow probably won't see it - he doesn't read other bloggers much.

Monday, May 09, 2011


My review of Mahler's Second at SFS is up. What a performance!
Reviewing a piece this long is challenging. You can go long, if you have extensive notes and your editor is willing to publish 3,000 words. (Mine won't, and he's right.) Or you can go short, try to hit the high points, and do your best to sum up the whole adequately. Let me say, there were way more high points - transcendently gorgeous chords, brilliant solos - than I could list. I did not quite figure out how to say that I was on the verge of tears from the beginning of "Urlicht" until the final release. How'd they do it??? If yesterday hadn't been Mother's Day, I would have gone again.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


At Davies tonight, for the Mahler Second -

  • Matias Tarnopolsky, Director of Cal Performances, seen near the ticket windows beforehand, chatting with a slender gent who turned out to be...
  • John (Coolidge) Adams, whom I also saw 1) while he was apparently looking for his seat shortly before the lights went down and 2) right after the concert ended. We were about two feet away from each other, and I did not manage to get out what I was thinking, which was "Nixon in China was incredible, congrats on your Met debut, can't wait to see it in SF."
  • Jeffrey Kahane, seen leaving a center seat around row M or N after all the cheering had stopped and the hall was mostly cleared. I wish I'd buttonholed him, and what I would have said was "We were talking over dinner about your crazy 2005 Music@Menlo program and remembering how great it was." (He'd played the Goldberg and Diabelli Variations on the same program; when he came out for the Q&A afterward, the first thing he said was "Well, I never have to do that again!" It was an amazing feat of musicianship, concentration, and endurance.) 

Friday, May 06, 2011

More on the BSO

  • Matthew Guerrieri does the numbers on next year's repertory. The winner: that rarely-played master, Beethoven!
  • Jeremy Eichler reports broadly on the season; Mark Volpe divulges that the search committee to replace James Levine has not even met. Indeed, it sounds as though next season was planned on the assumption that Levine would still be music director. There must have been plenty of scrambling to deal with that.

Levine Cancels

I know, it's the least-surprising post title you'll see this year. But this cancellation is of all performances from now until mid-October, excepting the two upcoming Met performances of Die Walkuere. Here's the press release:

Following his doctors’ advice, James Levine is taking the summer off to rest and recuperate from his ongoing back condition. While he will conduct the remaining performances of Die Walküre at the Met (May 9 and 14 – a matinee performance that will be transmitted live in HD), he will not join the Met on its Japan tour this June or conduct the MET Orchestra’s Carnegie Hall concert on May 15. Fabio Luisi, the Met’s principal guest conductor, will replace him for these engagements, conducting Verdi’s Don Carlo and Puccini’s La Bohème in Japan, and the May 15 concert at Carnegie featuring soprano Natalie Dessay. 
Levine will return to the Met in the fall to conduct the new production of Don Giovanni, which opens October 13.
The Carnegie program will remain the same except that Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Opus 20 will replace Debussy’s Images pour orchestre.

Maestro Luisi is currently conducting a run of Rigoletto at the Met and leads the first of three performances of Ariadne auf Naxos tomorrow.

This Week in the Death of Classical Music

Busy week, presumably stimulated by the bankruptcy filing of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
  • Soundcheck had a discussion called "Orchestral Bright Notes," with critic Anne Midgette and Brooklyn Phil artistic director Alan Pierson.
  • Anne Midgette had a follow-up column in the Washington Post. I'm interested to see that in the first paragraph, she mentions good and bad boards, and visionary or phlegmatic music directors, leaving out management, which has a vast amount of responsibility for the health of an organization.
  • Drew McManus says Relax, It's Not a Crisis (be sure to read the comments!), in response to...
  • American Orchestras: Endangered Species? at WQXR.
  • Greg Sandow has a lot to say (read all May and recent April postings)....
  • Alex at Wellsung has a bone to pick with Greg.
  • 24/7 Wall Street has a Sandow-esq piece called "The Death of Classical Music in America." Repeat after me: institutions are not the same as the art form itself.
  • Proper Discord has a serious, serious bone to pick with 24/7 over giant errors in the piece.
  • Daniel Wolf has a few remarks about Perfect Careers.
  • UPDATE: Adding Matthew Guerrieri's great posting on the so-called "cost diease," which amounts to hand-wringing over a few things: 1. The fact that ticket sales do not now (and have not ever) covered costs, thus the model includes (gasp!) fund-raising and endowment-building as major tasks of management 2. Musicians are the largest cost of any orchestra (this should be a self-evident factor of an orchestra - it would be much, much worse if administration were the largest cost, hmm?) 3. Certain industrial efficiencies are not possible.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Now We Know

Back in March, I speculated about the Boston Symphony Orchestra's programming and leadership options for 2011-12, given James Levine's resignation from the position of music director there. The press releases related to the season just landed in my in-box, and here's the story: it's a season of guest conductors.

They'll be led by (in order) Anne-Sophie Mutter, Sean Newhouse (BSO Assistant Conductor), Juanjo Mena, Kurt Masur, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos (two weeks), Myung-Wun Chung, Ludovic Morlot (two weeks), Jiri Belohlavek, Andris Nelsons, David Zinman, Riccardo Chailly (two weeks), Charles Dutoit, Jaap van Zweden, Stephane Deneve, Kurt Masur (again), Christoph Eschenbach, Juraj Valcuha, Leonidis Kavakos (yes, he is playing and conducting), Christoph von Dohnanyi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Bernard Haitink (3 weeks).


That is quite a line-up, running the gamut from the up and coming (Newhouse, Morlot, Nelsons, van Zweden) to towering figures like Haitink, Chailly, and Dohnanyi. Plenty of tasty programming as well. I'm seriously curious whether the BSO had two schedules planned, one with and one without Levine, or if they had to scramble mightily to figure out who was available when and get them under contract.

Of local interest: Ludovic Morlot, the incoming music director of the Seattle Symphony, is taking the West Coast tour dates, which include two programs in S.F. He'll be leading the already-announced program - another big whew, because I really really want to hear the Carter Flute Concerto.

In any event, the season is a good one, and if I lived in Boston, I'd just get a ticket to everything. Well, almost everything, anyway.

Much of the press release is after the cut.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Fox Hunt Found.

In the comments to a wise and perceptive posting about Anthony Trollope,  Vicki Baker,  Joshua Kosman and Patrick Vaz lament Trollope's foxhunts. Here's JK:
Yeah, the fox hunts....God help us. They're tedious, and they're a cheap plot trick on those occasions when Trollope wants to kill off a character, or give someone a long recuperation in the home of the person he wants them to fall in love with. I didn't mention them because — well, I figured I'd let people discover them on their own.
Well, not always. I'm re-reading Can You Forgive Her?, because I plan to read all of the Palliser novels this year, and just stumbled across the fox hunt, which comes at about page 200 in the print edition I'm reading. There's more to it than cheap tricks, at least this particular fox hunt.

This fox hunt introduces Burgo Fitzgerald, a major character in the novel; he was the first serious suitor for Lady Glencora, who is now married to Plantagenet Palliser. And we learn a good deal about Burgo's character and that of George Vavasor, the first serious suitor for the hand of Alice Vavasor, his cousin, the character who may or may not be forgiven by the novel's close. Burgo rides his horse to death; Vavasor keeps to himself on the hunt, far from the pack of both dogs and men, and is among those who are in for the kill. He also rides, then sells, a fine horse for less than its value because of its bad reputation.

Those things are not insignificant. Perhaps the other Trollope fox hunts are cheaper and more tedious!

I would have preferred a trial.

A trial was sufficient for the leaders of the Third Reich, who started a war that killed 60 million people, including military and civilian deaths and those murdered by the Third Reich in the death camps. I grant the risk that a trial would have meant extended grandstanding and a stance of martyrdom, but the latter status may be awarded him anyway.

And I can't celebrate this death, or wave a flag. I can only contemplate soberly.