Classical Music Buzz > The Classical Beat
The Classical Beat
Anne Midgette takes the measure of the classical music scene.
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For all of you Marta Eggerth fans out there — and there appear to be a lot of you, to judge from the enthusiastic response to last week’s feature story — Chicago’s WFMT is doing a radio show on Monday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time (8 p.m. in Chicago), on the eve of her 100th birthday, featuring her and her son in conversation, with lots of music clips from 1932 to 2011. You can listen live on the Web.

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This weekend, I checked out two local start-up opera companies: the fledgling Urban Arias, devoted to contemporary music, and the established Opera Lafayette, specializing in the French Baroque. Urban Arias offered a world premiere; Opera Lafayette offered Paisiello’s version of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” written more than 3 decades before Rossini’s.

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Marta Eggerth, the wonderful singer who was a big star of the European screen in the 1930s, made films with Judy Garland, and headlined “The Merry Widow” on Broadway with her husband, Jan Kiepura, will turn 100 on Tuesday. I use this as an excuse to profile Eggerth in Thursday’s Washington Post.

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Stephen Brookes profiles the company Urban Arias, which is presenting its second season of short contemporary opera at Arlington’s Artisphere, starting with the world premiere of a new opera by Conrad Cummings and Michael Korie on Friday night. The festival runs through April 22.

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Catching up with reviews from around the holiday weekend.

Robert Battey heard the NSO and Helmut Rilling in Mendelssohn’s ”Elijah.”

Stephen Brookes kept busy. He reviewed the opening of the
Overtures series, a group of seven concerts at the Kennedy Center commemorating the centenary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to Washington, starting with the soprano Maki Mori. (The final concert in the series is a recital by the pianist Yu Kosuge, tonight.)

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A couple of days ago, I expressed regret that we weren’t able to review the world premiere of Lembit Beecher’s new piano trio on March 31, commissioned by the Southwest Chamber Players, in the Washington Post. Now, I’m offering something even better: a high-quality video of the piece itself.

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A couple of really strong concerts this week. Mark-Andre Hamelin, who seems to have become one of my favorite pianists, offered a refreshingly intriguing program of Chopin and Alkan for Pro Musica Hebraica on Monday night. If I were going to carp, my one reservation was that his playing of the Nocturne in D-flat Major was a little more earthbound than Leon Fleisher’s, but that’s not really a fair criticism, particularly given my vulnerability to the charge of personal bias.

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UPDATED VERSION, 4:50 pm: The National Symphony Orchestra has finally confirmed that, as has long been rumored, it is going to Latin and South America in June. It’s the orchestra’s first international tour under Christoph Eschenbach.

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There are plenty of competitions for young opera singers, and plenty of awards for the very, very established — the Birgit Nilsson Prize and the NEA Opera Honors come to mind. But the group that needs it most are mid-career singers: those who are established enough to be performing regularly, but not enough to be household names or, perhaps, even to be paying all the bills.

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This weekend, Paul Mathews wrote a nice piece for the Washington Post on Schoenberg’s “Pierrot lunaire,” which eighth blackbird will be performing at the Kennedy Center Tuesday night.

The Bach Sinfonia recreated Bach’s 1723 audition for the post of cantor of Leipzig on Saturday night, and asked the audience to vote. In a shocking upset, Kauffmann edged Bach. Thank goodness the Leipzig city council didn’t have real-time voting technology.

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