Browsing: Contemporary

PREVIEW: of the new MasterVoices concert presentation of Babes in Toyland by Victor Herbert (Carnegie Hall, New York City, April 27, 2017 at 7 p.m.); and INTERVIEW: with MasterVoices’ musical director Ted Sperling. Long before Sondheim walked on the dark side with Into the Woods, or Disney began issuing its franchise line of tailored fairy-tale musicals, composer Victor Herbert and his Broadway posse had raided the nursery cradle, character-snatching a mother lode of Mother-Goose autochthons to populate the monumental 1903 operetta, Babes in Toyland. They’re all there – Mary Quite Contrary, Tom Tom the Piper’s Son, Little Bopeep, Jack, Jill,…

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Never a big Easter bunny, I generally receive the springtime festival releases with the same excitement as I’d feel about a Placido Domingo Christmas record. What comes round, comes round. This one, however, is pure class. The international Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak opens with a Litany to the Virgin Mary that is slow, devout, soulful and twenty shades lighter than one might expect from a Polish Catholic ritual. Kurzak has never sounded sweeter or more comfortable on record. The little-known Litany is followed by the more familiar Stabat Mater and capped with Szymanowski’s third symphony, the ‘Song of the Night’…

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When: Wednesday April 5, 2017 at 8pm Where: Roulette The name of New York composer Phil Kline is synonymous with the global cult Unsilent Night – the annual one night in December public artwork, which invites members of the public to collaborate in a street performance combining boomboxes and shared soundtracks. The sum of the parts of Kline is one part rock musician, (having co-founded the band Del-Byzanteens with filmmaker and composer/musician Jim Jarmusch), one part performance artist, and one part classical music composer. Kline is an artist who crosses multiple boundaries bringing his diverse immersions in literature, theater, and…

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Samy Moussa, a young Montreal composer, will see his work premiered on the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. At 32 years old, Moussa has just won the 2017 Hindemith Prize, given to a contemporary composer and accompanied by an award of 20,000 euros. This is not the composer’s first collaboration with the OSM, since the soberly-titled Symphonie is his fifth orchestral commission. It is, however, his longest and most ambitious work. In a brief interview, Moussa spoke to us about the circumstances of the creation of the work and…

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First published September 1, 2000 Avant-garde composer Erik Satie created his Première Gnossienne (the first in a series of Gnossiennes) in 1890, when he was 24 years old. Like his Sarabandes and Gymnopédies, it was one of the highly successful works that placed Satie squarely in the Parisian fin-de-siècle scene. Although it first appeared publicly in a musical revue in 1893, it took 20 years to be published by Rouart-Lerolle. The work is typical of his enigmatic style, and like many of his compositions gives us pause for thought. To begin with, the title offers cause for much speculation. Does it refer to the Cretan island…

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Review: Another Brick in the Wall, l’Opéra de Montréal Viewed: March 13, 2017 At first glance, an adaptation of Pink Floyd’s 1979 concept album The Wall seems an odd choice for part of Montreal’s 375th Anniversary. However, a brief reflection on the genesis of the album brings this choice into better focus. According to rock legend, the story for The Wall came to Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters after a performance in Montreal: after allegedly spitting on a fan at show at the Olympic Stadium in July 1977, Waters turned inward and began to reflect on the excesses…

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Mark Adamo, in conversation with Charles Geyer It started as an idea over drinks. It became a quest to “achieve everything.” In 2002, Larry Edelson, then an assistant opera director completing his graduate degree at NYU, and Mark Adamo, the celebrated American composer-librettist of Little Women (one of the most oft-produced and critically lauded new operas of recent decades), were discussing – take a guess – American opera. Not how great it was, or how imperiled it was; not its funding nor its popularity – but something much more fundamental, and mysterious: Where it came from. The opera field was…

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On paper, turning Pink Floyd’s rock opera The Wall into a classical opera was a no-brainer. The 1979 album sold 23 million copies and the 1982 film reached cult status, thereby guaranteeing box office success. Indeed, leading up to its world premiere, Opéra de Montreal (OdM)’s production of Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera had extended its run twice to 10 nights, selling 150% more tickets than for the company’s normal four-performance productions, based upon name recognition alone. But ticket buyers wanting to relive some of Pink Floyd’s catchy tunes were in for disappointment on opening night. Composer Julien…

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In the Hollywood walk of composing fame, Hanns Eisler is the forgotten man. Erich Korngold was the founding father, Waxman and Newman the busy bees, Rosza and Herrmann the atmosphere merchants. Eisler, who wrote the first book on composing for film and treated the craft as an art in its own right, is all but pushed off the sidewalk. A Hitler refugee, Eisler landed in New York in 1938, taught for three years at the New School, then moved to Los Angeles to work with Bertolt Brecht. In 1948, he was forced to leave the US during Senator McCarthy’s witch-hunt,…

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OPERA REVIEW: Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players, presented by the little OPERA theatre of NY; and INTERVIEW: with the work’s creator, acclaimed American composer Carlisle Floyd. “You will be hearing more about Carlisle Floyd,” said Howard Taubman in 1956, writing in The New York Times of “a young composer who teaches at Florida State University,” whom Taubman deemed “meant for the lyric theatre.” And barely three years later, composer, critic, and educator Eric Salzman (also in the Times) already discerned in Floyd a voice that had “prepared the way for the burst of American works that followed.” The young man…

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