Browsing: Romantic

Let’s get this out of the way: singer and songwriter Lewis Furey has a style like Rufus Wainwright ­– you either like his timbre and affected singing style or you don’t. When the evening of Furey’s Brahms Lieder concert began, I have to admit that I didn’t. His sforzando word play and sporadic British-like accent sapped the melody out of the opening song Wie Melodien zieht es mir, which he translated as Just a Feeling. But after the second song, I started to forget about his voice – the 67 year old Furey doesn’t pretend to be a virtuoso – and began to…

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PROFILE AND INTERVIEW:  An advance discussion with Avner Dorman about his new opera: Wahnfried “When I started working on this project,” recalls Avner Dorman, “there were people who said it could be controversial.” Those people were probably right, but it doesn’t faze Dorman in the least. From my point of view,” the celebrated American-Israeli composer replies, “I think that’s a good thing for an opera.” Dorman, best known to date for his “intricate craftsmanship and rigorous technique” in a dazzling array of orchestral, chamber, dance and vocal works, is about to have his first opera, Wahnfried, premiered at the Badisches…

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Whenever I watch any opera by Mascagni and Leoncavallo other than ‘Cav’ and ‘Pag’ I have no trouble understanding why the two composers went down in history as one-hit wonders. True, there are those who make claims for Leoncavallo’s La Boheme (Mahler deemed it vastly inferior to Puccini’s) and others are thrilled by Mascagni’s sex-slave Iris, but neither work has struck me as more than a barrel-scraping of the short-lived 1890s verismo craze, deservedly occupying the fringes of musical memory. All the more reason, then, to eat a few of my words on this first encounter with Guglielmo Ratcliff, a…

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REVIEW AND COMPANY PROFILE:  LoftOpera’s unique, found-site production of Verdi’s Macbeth (viewed December 14, 2016) The production has run its course, the drums are silent. But a rising subterranean tattoo of enthusiasm for the vibrant LoftOpera brand of alt-opera experience goes on, and it’s well worth logging a memoir of the company’s most recent happening. A Drum, a Drum! Macbeth Doth Come! Fate has calendared a rendezvous for you in the wilds of Brooklyn. You trek through hell and high water – not to mention some of the borough’s more recherché endroits – to get there. Witches gambol and do…

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Les Grands Ballets performs The Nutcracker with loving attention to detail and 53 years of experience. The author of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Prussian storyteller, jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776–1822), rebelled against Enlightenment excess, with its emphasis on rational philosophy and the curtailing of the imagination. He and his German Romantic confrères strove to honour nature, memorialize innocence, and reclaim an authentic way of living. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the 1960s in a Nutcracker—er, nutshell. Hoffmann’s satirical and self-parodying tales pioneered the fantasy genre. His taste for the macabre combined with…

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Most critics pick their album of the year from the ones they reviewed over the past 52 weeks. I’ve decided to choose from the ones I haven’t, the ones that for one reason or other failed to make the weekly cut. So much good stuff out there. Try Peter Donohoe’s new set of the Scriabin sonatas (Somm ****), the early ones especially showing where Rachmaninov might have gone if he had followed fantasy to the end of the flight. And Boris Giltburg’s account of the Rachmaninov’s Etudes-tableaux (Naxos ****) has not strayed far from my player all year long. I…

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If there was an award for surprise of the year, this unpretentious release would win both the jury and the public vote. Adolph von Henselt, born 1814, was written off by music history as an also-ran, one of those stern faces in the back row of romantic group portraits, somewhere behind Chopin and Liszt. Unable to make his name or much of a living in Germany, Henselt went off to teach in St Petersburg, where the Tsar added a ‘von’ to his name. His influence on Russian pianism is considerable – he taught Zverev, Rachmaninov’s teacher – and he still…

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Let’s get this out of the way. Singer and songwriter Lewis Furey has a style like Rufus Wainwright; you either like his timbre and affected singing style or you don’t. When the evening began on Furey’s Brahms Lieder concert, I have to admit that I didn’t. His sforzando word play and sporadic British-like accent sapped the melody out of the opening song Wie Melodien zieht es mir which he translated as Just a Feeling. But after the second song, I started to forget about his voice – the 67 year old Furey doesn’t pretend to be a virtuose – and…

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COMPANY REVIEW: On Site Opera (New York City); PERFORMANCE REVIEW:  An Evening of Monodramas – La Morte de Cléopâtre by Hector Berlioz; and Miss Havisham’s Wedding by Dominick Argento; The Harmonie Club, 4 East 60th Street, New York, New York (September 29 and 30, 2016; viewed September 30). “Waiter! There’s a diva in my soup!” Actually, there wasn’t any soup – but a double helping of diva was definitely on the menu at Manhattan’s Upper East Side Harmonie Club on the evenings of September 29th and 30th. That’s when On Site Opera, a spry and peripatetic company that has been…

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For a troubled London teenager in the 1960s there were three available sources of relief. One was illegal, one was immoral and the third was available every other week at the Royal Festival Hall. I took myself to hear the Tchaikovsky Pathétique more often than I remember, sitting in the backless choir seats, watching the wealthier part of the audience indulge in plush catharsis. Over time, the relief wore thin. Tchaikovsky gave way to Mahler and the Pathétique became a rare item, out of fashion, off the concert menu. Semyon Bychkov’s new Tchaikovsky series on Decca is well timed to…

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