Browsing: Romantic

Johannes Brahms was in a foul mood one evening while dining at the house of the pianist Ignaz Brüll, a popular host in Vienna in the 1880s. “Don’t you think it strange,” he blurted out, “that a Jew should set a text of Martin Luther’s to music?” Everyone present was meant to hear him, including the Jew in question, Brahms’s long-suffering friend and colleague, Karl (or Carl) Goldmark. While this was far from the first social occasion that Brahms spoiled with an insensitive remark, the composer’s biographer Jan Swafford deems it to be “the only time on record when Brahms…

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A critic’s dilemma. The cellist Steven Isserlis is a pal. He lives around the corner and we bump into each other at local amenities. He knows I have received his latest release for review. He will be disappointed if I ignore it and grumpy if I find fault. To review or not to review? If I ruled out reviewing friends I’d have to turn down half the record output. By the same token, if I mentioned a friendship every time I reviewed, readers would switch off. So what to do? I made a rule a while back that I would…

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PROFILE/REVIEW: of the 2018 Glimmerglass Festival Season: Silent Night by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell; West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim; Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček; and The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini and Cesare Sterbini. “It’s remarkable how many important things happened in 1918,” observes Glimmerglass Festival artistic and managing director Francesca Zambello, speaking at a recent pre-show audience address in Cooperstown. “The end of World War I. The birth of Leonard Bernstein. And the premiere of this piece” – this last a reference to Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, which was…

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REVIEW: of the 2018 Bard SummerScape production of Anton Rubinstein’s 1871 opera Demon; and INTERVIEW: with Dr. Leon Botstein (American Symphony Orchestra founder and SummerScape festival artistic director). A warning to all princes of the Caucasus – lock up your daughters! The devil is on the prowl, and he’s feeling amorous. Russian composer Anton Rubinstein’s 1871 opera, Demon, weaves a fascinating yarn of ultimate forbidden love. Based on an earlier, censored poem by Russian poetic genius Mikhail Lermontov, a demon (depicted as the very model of the proud, lonely, passionate Byronic tragic hero) finds himself smitten by the beauty of…

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Last night, Opéra de Montréal presented Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, the last opera of their 2017-18 season to a full house. A production with beautiful set designs by Claude Girard, the production bets on the quality and appeal of young Canadian singers; Andalucían tenor making his company debut was the only foreign singer. Almost all the supporting roles where performed by the members of the company’s training program. What you missed All the singers did an agreeable job, including the chorus. However, Jordi was the true revelation of the show. He exhibited a charming light lyric tenor voice and…

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Bruckner: 4th symphony/7th symphony (DG) Andris Nelsons prefaces two Anton Bruckner symphonies with small bites of Wagner – the prelude to Lohengrin and Siegfried’s funeral march. This makes sense inasmuch as Bruckner worshipped the ground that Wagner trod, but the effect is vaguely disorienting, as if one were to precede Schoenberg’s orchestral variations with Mahler’s Adagietto. The Leizpig Gewandhaus Orchestra can play this stuff in their sleep and sometimes it sounds as if that’s just what they are doing. There is a lack of momentum in the fourth symphony that is close to soporific and, though the seventh comes to life with…

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Berlioz: Harold in Italy (Hyperion) The pianist Emanuel Ax remarked the other day that performance quality has risen so high in his lifetime that you hardly ever encounter a sub-standard orchestra. On the evidence of this release Bergen in Norway, the rainiest city on earth, boasts a Philharmonic that could be mistaken on a dull day for one in Berlin. Playing Berlioz, grand master of the art of orchestration, Bergen come through with maximum points in all departments and a deep coherence across the spectrum. My only quibble is why the local engineers record the orchestra at a level so…

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William Sterndale Bennett: piano concertos (Hyperion) In half a century of listening to music, I have never attended a work by the foremost English composer of the Victorian era, a man who lived and died a few streets from my London house. Bennett (1816-1875) was acclaimed in his teens as the next Mendelssohn for a D minor piano concerto that Mendelssohn himself, sitting in the audience, found promising. Two more concertos followed before the lad was twenty, the third being praised in Leipzig by no less a contender than Robert Schumann. Bennett, on the strength of these successes, became the…

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Fanny Hensel, ‘the other Mendelssohn’: Complete Songs (Champs Hill) I’m uncomfortable with the album title. Rather than being ‘the other Mendelssohn’, Fanny was the heart of the Mendelssohn family and a fine composer in her own right – despite patriarchal suppression by her father and angry resentment from her brother, Felix. Fanny, married to a Berlin artist, kept her works in a drawer until her late 30s, when she went out and got them published, to Felix’s amazement and grudging admiration. Sadly, there was little time for her to enjoy the reviews. Fanny died of a stroke at 41 and…

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Nous sommes de retour cette année avec une nouvelle édition de levée de fonds des Valentins Chantants. Offrez un cadeau original à votre douce moitié par l’entremise d’une chanson d’amour performée au téléphone par un de nos 7 chanteurs participants. Pour le prix d’un bouquet de fleurs, un de nos artistes invités contactera votre proche  et lui chantera la chanson sélectionnée au téléphone! Réservez votre Valentin Chantant dès maintenant! Trouvez toutes les informations ici: http://myscena.org/fr/valentins-chantants-2018/ We are back this year with our new edition of the Singing Valentines fundraising. Offer an original gift to your loved one through a love…

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