This weekend, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is hosting a festival called Women of the World, which is all about every aspect of women’s lives and work and rights and struggles. What it’s not especially about is music. Is this a future for orchestras, establishing themselves in their communities by any means possible, including non-musical ones? My thoughts are in Friday’s Washington Post.
Today in the New York Times, Roberta Smith expressed great enthusiasm for the Whitney Biennial in New York. (And can we take a minute to appreciate what a pleasure it is when a critic really, really likes something – and to remember that this excitement only carries weight when the critic in question is not generally thus excited?)
Lorin Maazel led a very odd concert with the Vienna Philharmonic on Wednesday night. Here’s my review: I found it not only uneven musically, but also technically, which is a startling departure for this brilliant technician.
In January, the New Yorker ran an article by the pianist Jeremy Denk about the process of recording Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata. It’s slightly unusual for an active musician to write a piece for a major publication — the norm is to have the musician speak through a journalist in the form of a profile. Denk, however, has no problem speaking for himself. His rise to prominence has arguably been spurred by his articulate, quirky, and very personal blog, Think Denk, in which he airs his thoughts about music, performance, the pieces he’s working on, and, often, the general wrong-headedness of the critic and program note annotators all around him.
Remember the cellist whom the conductor derided at the Tchaikovsky Competition last year? He got his revenge by winning, and he performed in Washington on Thursday; Cecelia Porter reviewed the recital.
The Washington National Opera unveiled Jonathan Miller’s “Cosi fan tutte” on Saturday night. I found it a disappointment, musically as well as dramatically (click to read review), but I grant that a lot of people apparently enjoyed it.
This week finds the composer Osvaldo Golijov dealing with accusations of plagiarism: his piece “Siderus,” co-commissioned by a consortium of 35 orchestras, premiered in 2010 in Memphis and played by Christoph Eschenbach and the NSO in December, appears to contain chunks of a work by the accordion player Michael Ward-Bergeman. The piece was played by the Eugene Symphony this past weekend, and two men in the audience -- Tom Manoff, a critic for NPR, and Brian McWhorter, a trumpet player -- were startled to recognize large chunks of Ward-Bergeman’s piece, which they happened to know intimately because they had worked together on a recording of it.
Reviews from the weekend past:
Julia Fischer dazzled at the Sixth and I Synagogue, reviewed by Anne Midgette.
The Kronos Quartet joins musicians from Azerbaijan, reviewed by Samatha Buker.
Never heard of Joaquina Lapinha? Don’t worry. She was an obscure Brazilian soprano who briefly lit up the concert halls of Lisbon in the early 19th century. The closest she came to immortality was when a passing Swede caught her act and wrote, with admirable Scandinavian reserve, that she had a “good voice.”
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