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Franz Schubert

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The Boston Musical Intelligencer

July 23

FCM Commemorates Steven Stucky

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Steven Stucky (file photo) The opening of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM) yesterday at Ozawa hall took on melancholy qualities from our hearing the late Festival Directory Steven Stucky commemorated in performance of a solo cello work Dialoghi. Stucky had nearly completed the programs for the Festival before his untimely death at the age of 69 from brain cancer in February. A beloved and influential member of the American musical community, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1989, a composition professor at Cornell University for more than 30 years and a member of Julliard’s faculty since 2014, his death felt especially premature, not merely because of the tendency for modern composers to be long-lived (Elliott Carter had an entire Schubert-lifetime still ahead of him when he turned 69). Dating from 2006, Dialoghi exhibits many of the characteristic qualities of Stucky’s work: clarity, craftsmanship, and a strongly melodic sense that tends often to the lyrical. A set of variations based on a musical translation of the name of his friend, the cellist Elinor Frey, it makes excursions to various unusual neighborhoods while remaining close enough to the musical material to remain comprehensible to the acute listener. It was given an open-hearted performance by Fischer, who produced a singing tone while keeping the interpretation conversational and personal, and who plunged passionately, even recklessly, into the technical challenges. The first night of FCM, which typically encompasses larger works from established composers, did not deviate from that tradition. The ensemble of record on this evening, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, was made up of the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center. The TMC is a summer academy whose attendees are “emerging professional musicians”, in the language of the TMC website. The two outer works on the program provided a platform for individual performers to shine in the context of an ensemble, in works organized with wildly different techniques. The majority of Witold Lutoslawksi’s (1913-1994) Chain 1 from 1983 is performed without a conductor-provided beat. Instead, the performers play much of the music freely, with only the beginning and end of a subsection indicated by the director. Perhaps inevitably much of the music is episodic: instruments variously take a melodic or dramatic lead, with murmurings and commentary occurring around them. Ideas overlap (or “chain”) from section to section, giving a sense of progress if not of development. It was a cacophony of soliloquy and personality, all beautifully expressed. Moments of full ensemble were overly dense, in contrast to the gorgeous clarity that was achieved when subsets of players were involved. As engaging as the performance felt, perhaps a bit too much personality going on simultaneously. TMC Fellow Nuno Coelho conducted when necessary, while otherwise presiding benignly. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s (b. 1958) Five Images after Sappho for mixed chamber ensemble showcased soprano and TMC Fellow Bahareh Poureslami. Salenone wrote Images for TMC Vocal Program Head Dawn Upshaw, who also recorded the work and who performed it at the FCM back in 2004. If having to step into a work stamped by the legendary Upshaw gave Poureslami any qualms, she did not show it. In fact, she recalls Upshaw in her radiant demeanor, her sure-footedness and light touch – even in her judiciously chosen moments of “acting”, which took the form of subtle changes in expression and pose. If her warm-toned and confident instrument gains some heft and strength in the coming years, she will be formidable indeed. Salonen’s piece combines four lovely atmospheric impressionist scenes with a rather clumsy and un-theatrical “wedding” scene which Poureslami wisely sang straight, with minimal italicization, so one could at least enjoy the sound of her voice. The ensemble, under TMC Fellow Christian Reif, couldn’t match the soprano for warmth and tone, providing a rather dry background that ensured Poureslami would steal the show. Inexplicably the FCM chose not to provide texts for the Salonen. Brief and fragmentary as they are, and despite reasonable enunciation from Poureslami, they are not entirely comprehensible, especially in the awkward final scene. One could see confused page-flipping throughout the hall as the audience went hunting for text. If conductor Reif didn’t quite find beauty in Images, he got something equivalent from Magnus Lindberg’s (b. 1957) Marea (1990). Translated as “tide” the work is typical unrelenting Lindberg, though its palette is greyer and blacker than I typically expect from this sometimes hyper-colorful composer. Its dark, dense block of music for full orchestra occasionally thins out to feature individual choirs of instruments. No sooner do they speak their piece than the full group descends on them again. It has an urgency, a pressing forward—but also an inexorable pressing down. Reif and the orchestra found this heavy music to their liking, giving a performance that threatened to choke the breath out of you, until the very end when the oppressive weight of the work suddenly broke like a fever, and dissipated in bright, brittle soprano twitters that echoed like birdsong. Reif has an undeniable charisma which didn’t animate the Salonen, but which knew how to press forward with this bigger, perhaps more ungainly work. Nothing could have been less ungainly than the final work of the evening, Stucky’s Chamber Concerto conducted by the erstwhile Stefan Asbury, who also the heads the TCM Conducting Program. Asbury took the orchestra firmly in hand, producing precise and balanced opening measures that evinced a level of focus and concentration we hadn’t yet seen. The concerto spins out music from a handful of intervals, producing constantly shifting but firmly tonal character, granting every orchestral choir a presiding moment. It is brilliantly crafted and generous to the players, but those virtues are also pitfalls. Over time the attention wanders, the craft becomes a glossy surface, and the generosity becomes extension in time. The excitingly frantic ending felt like it could have been placed in several earlier locations, though I would not have wanted to lose the end sections where the lower strings were finally given license to glow. But the work did its job, allowing the preternaturally gifted players of the TMC to share their individual gifts, while Asbury ensured that the ensemble as a whole excelled. One hopes that this show piece, presented with impeccable taste, sets the stage for somewhat riskier fare in the coming days. Brian Schuth graduated from Harvard with a Philosophy degree, so in lieu of a normal career he has been a clarinetist, theater director and software engineer. He currently resides in Boston after spending the last 15 years in Eastport, Maine. The post FCM Commemorates Steven Stucky appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

The Well-Tempered Ear

Yesterday

Classical music: The Ear offers a big shout-out and good luck to three girl choirs in the Madison Youth Choirs. They are headed this week to a major world youth festival in Aberdeen, Scotland and give a FREE send-off concert this Tuesday night

By Jacob Stockinger Two years ago, it was the boy choirs of the Madison Youth Choirs that were invited to sing at the prestigious international festival in Aberdeen, Scotland . It is, after all, the oldest youth arts festival in the world, about 40 years old and features performers form around the world. This week, on Thursday, 68 members of three girl choirs in the Madison Youth Choirs – the Capriccio (below top, in a photo by MYC director Michael Ross), Cantilena and Cantabile (below bottom) choirs — along with three conductors, are headed to the same festival. NOTE: You can hear a FREE send-off sampler concert on this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Covenant Presbyterian Church , 326 South Segoe Road. It is a BIG DEAL. The repertoire the girls will sing covers classical music (Franz Schubert); folk music from Canada , Serbia, Bulgaria and Peru; and more popular music. Plus, they will sing in several languages. They will also sing a song composed in the Terezin concentration camp , or death camp, in Hitler’s Nazi Germany during World War II. They will also give the world premiere of a piece – based on two Scottish melodies including a traditional walking song and the beautiful “The Water Is Wide” — that they commissioned from composer Scott Gendel, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music . (You can hear James Taylor sing a heart-breaking version of “The Water Is Wide” in the YouTube video at the bottom.) The Ear heard the girls sing live last week on the Midday program with Norman Gilliland on Wisconsin Public Radio . And they sounded great. What an honor, especially in the wake of the concert tour to Italy two weeks ago by the Youth Orchestra of the Wisconsin Youth Chamber Orchestras. Madison sure seems to be doing a fine job providing music education to its young people while many other areas of the state and country are cutting back on arts education and where many politicians and businesspeople are mistakenly trying to turn public support to the so-called STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math — at the expense of the arts. But the arts and the sciences really feed each other, and success in one field often helps to assure success in the other. Here is a link so you can learn more about the tour and how to support or join the Madison Youth Choirs, which serves young people in grades 5-12: http://www.madisonyouthchoirs.org http://www.madisonyouthchoirs.org/aberdeen And here is a link to the festival itself: http://www.aiyf.org And finally here is a link to the Facebook page for the Madison Youth Choirs, with face photos of participants: https://www.facebook.com/groups/448022498728594/ Tagged: Aberdeen , Aberdeen International Youth Festival , Arts , arts education , boy choir , Bulgaria , Canada , choral music , Classical music , concentration camp , death camp , engineering , English , Facebook , festival , Folk music , Franz Schubert , Germany , girl choir , high school , Hitler , Italy , Jacob Stockinger , James Taylor , Madison , Madison Youth Choirs , math , Middle school , Music , Music education , Nazi , Orchestra , Peru , Piano , science , Scotland , Scott Gendel , Serbia , Spanish , technology , Terezin , The Water is Wide , tour , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , wisconsin public radio , Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras , World War II , WYSO , young people , youth arts , YouTube




My Classical Notes

July 23

Christiane Karg

Soprano Christiane Karg is one of my favorite singers. While my reasons are numerous, one of the chief reasons is that I have experienced her performances where she LIVES her art. Via a video, let alone a live performance, I can see her singing come to life, and I feel that the composer smiles… This new recording features the following Arias and Lieder: Gluck: Adieu, conservez dans votre âme (from Iphigénie en Aulide) Sacre piante (from Il Parnaso Confuso) Gretry: Il va venir…Pardonne, o mon juge (from Silvain) Mendelssohn: Infelice – concert aria for soprano and orchestra, Op. 94 Mozart: Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete (from La Finta Semplice) Schreker: Sommerfäden, Op. 2, No. 1 Schubert: Herbst, D945 Schumann: Frühlingsnacht (No. 12 from Liederkreis, Op. 39) Schumann, Clara: Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen, Op. 12 No. 2 (Text: Friedrich Rückert) Strauss, R: Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3 Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4 Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4 Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8 Wolf, H: Auf eine Christblume II (No. 21 from Mörike-Lieder) All performed by Christiane Karg (soprano) Christiane Karg is one of the most-sought-after lyric sopranos of the present day, acclaimed for her embodiment of operatic roles and as a lieder, concert and oratorio singer. She can be seen and heard all around the world: at lieder recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall and in the Vienna Konzerthaus, at La Scala in Milan with her 2016 debut in “Der Rosenkavalier”, at regular guest appearances at the Munich State Opera and the Dresden Semperoper, at the Salzburg Festival and at Glyndebourne. By a wise selection of roles and repertoire, the soprano has continued to develop her voice and strike out in new directions. Christiane Karg tells us that: “All of the recordings I have borrowed from, whether they be pure lieder programs with Burkhard Kehring and Malcolm Martineau, or those with Jonathan Cohen and his ensemble Arcangelo, are the fruit of longstanding ideas, the outcome of hours of sifting through material in libraries and archives, and the result of discussions with artistic colleagues. All of these pieces provide some form of insight into my inner thoughts, my very soul.”



Franz Schubert
(1797 – 1828)

Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death at the age of 31. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th Century. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.



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