Browsing: Contemporary

BERLIN – Sending Achim Freyer after Hänsel und Gretel was both a mortifying and an intriguing concept. The German director is one of the stars of Regietheater and rarely lets an operatic story tell itself. While the opening on Dec. 8 of Engelbert Humperdinck’s seasonal charmer at the renovated Staatsoper Unter den Linden was generally family-friendly, it was also overwrought, self-consciously surreal and cussedly hard to get involved in at any basic emotional level. All of which criticisms this 83-year-old Brecht protégé might well take as compliments. Credited with direction, design and costuming, Fryer applied himself most extravagantly to the…

Share:

On the first anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death, November 7, 2017, Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) opened a vast exposition devoted to Cohen, his work, and his work as interpreted by other artists. This expo, despite its occasional weaknesses, is certain to become the largest and most successful show in the museum’s 53-year history. It displays such a richness of Your Man to make it moving and deeply satisfying. Cohen, or rather Leonard, to use the affectionate case, spoke to a worldwide audience and was beloved on all continents, as few Montrealers have ever done. In his final years, reflecting…

Share:

Montreal’s second orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, got positive press for their concert at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall (Elbphilharmonie) last Friday (December 1, 2017). Joachim Mischke, Hamburg’s leading and most knowledgeable music critic, wrote a comprehensive and inspiring review about the event (Hamburg Abendblatt, December 4). Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin was described as a bundle of energy who got the ball rolling in Pierre Mercure’s Kaléidoscope, demonstrating in detail the orchestra’s collective articulation accuracy. “Berlioz’s orchestral songs cycle Les nuits d’été became the finest moment, as the orchestra conjured nuances and played enchantingly discreet. But above all, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux savored…

Share:

Originally published on November 15, 2007 in The Music Scene, Winter 2008 Hvorostovsky was a sex symbol in 1998 and he still makes women swoon today, as viewers of last February’s Met’s Live Telecast of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin would attest. As Anson reported, “Hvorostovsky is more than just another ‘barihunk.’ He is a serious artist struggling to balance artistic and commercial pressures at ‘a very difficult time for classical music’ he said, ‘when even excellent musicians are being dropped by record companies.’ ” At the time, Hvorostovsky was a Philips Classics artist. Seven years ago, for artistic reasons, he signed…

Share:

Originally published on June 1st, 1998 in La Scena Musicale, June 1998 Everyone’s first question about Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky: “Is he as handsome in person?” Yes, the Siberian tiger lives up to his billing as the world’s sexiest baritone. When he walked into the café of New York’s elegant Stanhope Hotel wearing dark glasses and a black leather jacket, he radiated movie star glamour. Call it charisma or animal magnetism, Hvorostovsky is one of nature’s physical aristocrats. Those sardonically sensual lips, that trademark mane of silver hair and those hooded Slavic eyes suggesting cruel Tartar ancestry – the…

Share:

PARIS – Ever seen a conductor cry on stage? I mean, other than Leonard Bernstein? We can add to this exclusive list the name of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who was seen wiping his eyes discreetly on Sunday after Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a performance that marked the official conclusion of a six-city, seven-concert European tour by the Orchestre Métropolitain. There would be an encore: Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, done in the supplest tones imaginable. We must resist the temptation to deem the last thing heard as the best. But goodness, what a sound. And what an ovation from the Parisians, who packed…

Share:

HAMBURG – “Suche Karte.” Seeking ticket. This is always a good sign, quite literally, in German-speaking lands, where it is common to advertise your unhappy condition with two words writ large on a piece of cardboard. Sure enough, a visit to the box office of the Elbphilharmonie confirmed that the fifth installment  of the Orchestre Métropolitain’s tour of Europe was quite sold out. Eight thousand requests, 2,100 seats. Suche Karte. The huge demand cannot be reconciled with the usual explanations. Soloists Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Jean-Guihen Queyras are reputable enough, but hardly the stuff of a sellout. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is recognized everywhere.…

Share:

If I look back on what they now call “the roaring Twenties”, it is like looking at a rich tapestry of almost blinding color. So much happened in those years which were marked by abundant prosperity in America and a cultural liveliness which was breathtaking. Music of our time all of a sudden became a matter of interest, and everybody felt like jumping on the bandwagon. So wrote Canadian mezzo-soprano Eva Gauthier, an artist ideally suited to a ­period that invariably attracted the ­sophisticated, the exotic, the adventurous and the new. She had already sung Satie’s music-hall tunes, was familiar…

Share:

On October 17 the OSM gave a much-anticipated concert with celebrated violinist Maxim Vengerov. Together they performed a masterwork of the repertoire, Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major. Also on the program were Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Samy Moussa’s A Globe itself infolding, for organ and orchestra. Notably, the following evening the same musicians played the same program at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Happily for the Montreal performance the Maison symphonique was packed and the audience fully engaged. One of the best artistic decisions of the night was taken before the concert even began: the order of the…

Share:

George Martin: Film scores and orchestral music (Atlas Realisations/Pias Classics) How good a musician was the Beatles’ producer? I talked to George Martin three or four times and, while I found him very likeable, was unimpressed by his musical curiosity. Like many other producers I knew at Abbey Road, he was a purposeful fixer who knew what needed to be done to make a track work and which of London’s hundreds of freelancers he had to call in to patch up a session that, somehow, lacked the finishing touch. String quartet for ‘Yesterday’, piccolo trumpet for ‘Penny Lane’, George Martin…

Share:
1 2 3 29