Browsing: Classical Music

New contender in the battle of the upper shelves by Norman Lebrecht / February 23, 2000 MORE trouble between the sheets. Word leaks from New Grove, the once and future bible of musical lexicography, that its esteemed editor, Stanley Sadie, has left his desk. All perfectly amicable, it seems. Dr Sadie, who made such a fine job of the 1980 New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians that Macmillan entrusted him with the next edition, was given a whole week to clear his drawers rather than the customary hour. “I’m 69, you know,” says Sadie, “and it’s a good thing…

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The Singing World’s Golden Couple# ##by Norman Lebrecht / February 16, 2000 THE Alagnas are splitting up, one hears. Word of their separation has been spreading like greenfly on the musical grapevine. My date to see the celebrated lovebirds gets changed at the last minute to separate interviews, two months apart. Angela Gheorghiu sits alone before Christmas on a sofa in Chelsea, Roberto Alagna confronts me in February across a Mayfair coffee table. A less prudent ornithologist might be tempted to give credence to the rumours of a rift. Totally false, of course. For the record, Angela Gheorghiu, 34, and…

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Why artists have a duty not to ostracise Austria by Norman Lebrecht / February 10, 2000 TO boycott or not to boycott? That is the burning question. Whether to ostracise Jörg Haider’s Austria until it returns a government we can approve of is one of those conflicts of conscience and self-interest that bring out the best and worst in cultural leadership. Gérard Mortier has led the exodus, resigning this week a year early as artistic director of the Salzburg Festival and precipitating instant withdrawals from a leading sponsor and conductor. More painful is the loss of Betty Freeman, who helped…

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Domingo goes solo There could be a new lease of life for the aging tenor, says Norman Lebrecht ON Sunday afternoon, Placido Domingo did something different. In front of a packed Carnegie Hall, with Daniel Barenboim at the piano, Domingo sang a solo recital for only the third time in his life. The first was last spring in Berlin, the second last week in Chicago. Is this a trend, or just making amends? When Domingo started singing 40 years ago in Mexico City there were two-and-a-half career options for a good-looking tenor. He could sing opera; he could do recital…

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Can he see off the gremlins? Disaster has dogged the new Royal Opera House. But closure is not an option, says boss Michael Kaiser. Norman Lebrecht reports LET’S face it: nothing works. The London Eye is glazed over, the Jubilee Line to the Dome keeps stalling and the Royal Opera House can hardly raise a curtain without having to make an apology. So far, the great British public have displayed high forbearance and the spirit of the Blitz. Many are aware that any new theatre crawls with ghosts and gremlins. It took a dozen years to get all systems working…

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Dissident notes What Shostakovich is really all about, by Norman Lebrecht THERE is a striking symmetry between the Holocaust “denial” issues that are being heard in the High Court and the publication of a purportedly authoritative biography of Dmitri Shostakovich which argues that he was essentially an obedient Soviet citizen. The historian David Irving, who has acknowledged that millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis, maintains that this cannot properly be attributed to Adolf Hitler’s instigation since no one has ever seen a signed Führer order for the prosecution of genocide. The American musicologist Laurel Fay follows similar thinking…

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A great time to give Norman Lebrecht on how the Gordon Brown is about to create a Third Way of paying for the arts THIS may not be the first place you would come looking for tax advice, but a couple of tips that have come my way could be worth a fortune to the performing arts, if they play their cards right. In last November’s pre-Budget report, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced a number of measures, to take effect this spring, that will help national charities stricken with Lottery blight. Among them were two concessions for givers, great and…

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How will this century sound? Classical music faces a new age in unexpectedly buoyant form. It is livelier and more surprising than at any time since Rachmaninov, says Norman Lebrecht THE final decade of the 20th century brought a measure of relief to the agonised search for a musical identity. Warily, the art looked into a mirror and accepted what it saw, an image fractured and more complex than any in its history. Unlike former centuries which wore a uniform musical face – the 19th century being broadly Romantic, the 18th Classical, the 17th Baroque – the 20th century had…

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How Does Smoking Affect the Voice? Smoking kills both smokers and their voices. Countless scientific reports have established the causal connection between tobacco smoking and cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, and esophagus. The relative risk of developing cancer of the larynx is doubled in those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day. Alcohol and tobacco appear to act synergistically to elevate this risk still further. It is not the nicotine in tobacco which causes cancer. Tobacco smoke is dark with tar — a mixture of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that is markedly carcinogenic. The heat of the smoke in…

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In 1984 young Japanese-Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker shot into the spotlight taking the top prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in Britain. As a laureate of the Leeds Competition he joined the impressive fraternity of past winners which includes Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia. I first heard Parker live about ten years ago in concert with the Edmonton Symphony at the Jubilee Auditorium. Parker has a virile stage presence that immediately commands attention. His performance of Prokofiev’s daunting Piano Concerto No 3 was unforgettable. With a rich, round piano tone he communicated both the lyricism and the sometimes…

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