Letter V
Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
999 Entries

A quartet of busking fiddlers are playing Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3 in a New York subway station, when who should turn up but . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh8AcKzm3Uw

As several commenters observe, only in New York.

via www.jalopnik.com
21 hours ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be substituting for Mark Lederway on WDCE’s Tuesday Classics. The Christmas Eve-eve program is an all-English affair, with a complete performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” a set of carols by Peter Warlock, and Vaughan Williams’ Christmas cantata “Hodie (This Day).”

Dec. 23
noon-4 p.m. EST
1600-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM
www.wdce.org

Handel: “Messiah”
Lynne Dawson, soprano; Hilary Summers, contralto; John Mark Ainsley, tenor;
Alastair Miles, bass
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Brandenburg Consort/
Stephen Cleobury
(Argo)

Peter Warlock:
“Benedicamus Domino”
“A Cornish Carol”
“A Cornish Christmas Carol”
“Corpus Christi”
“I Saw a Fair Maiden”
“As Dew in Aprylle”
“The Birds”
“Carillon, Carilla”
Margaret Cable, mezzo-soprano;
Julian Empett, baritone
Allegri Singers/Louis Halsey
Matthew Morley, organ
Rosemary Barnes, piano
Rosamunde String Quartet (Somm)

Vaughan Williams: “Hodie (This Day): a Christmas Cantata”
Elizabeth Gale, mezzo-soprano;
Robert Tear, tenor;
Stephen Roberts, baritone
London Symphony Chorus
Choristers of St. Paul’s Cathedral
London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox 
(EMI Classics)

* * *

Letter V Classical Radio will not air on Christmas Day, but will return for a four-hour special on New Year’s Day.
1 day ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
(Re-posted from Nov. 18)

A celebration of the life of James Erb will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 20 in Cannon Memorial Chapel at the University of Richmond.

Erb, the former music professor and choral director at the university and founding director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, died on Nov. 11.

The memorial service will include congregational singing, with music provided to those who wish to join, as well as quiet time for reflection.

Following the service, a reception will be held at River Road Church, Baptist, River and Ridge roads, near the UR campus.
5 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
James Wilson & Beiliang Zhu, baroque cellos
Dec. 16, Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter

In the beginning (or nearabouts), there was Bach in the dark: James Wilson, in one of the early installments of what would become the concert series of the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, played three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s suites for solo cello to 150 or so patrons in a room lit very dimly by a pair of candelabras.

As part of the society’s 10th anniversary season, Wilson reprised that remarkable recital. Doubled down on it, in fact, as he and the Chinese cellist Beiliang Zhu, a winner of the 2012 Bach Competition in Leipzig, alternated in playing all six of the Bach suites – as before, with sparse lighting.

It was, as Wilson said, a presentation of music experienced rarely in a lifetime. And not surprisingly so: A nearly three-hour program of works nearly identically formatted – prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, minuet/bourée/gavotte, gigue – for a single instrumentalist, distantly visible to most of the audience, sitting in the dark in a spacious church sanctuary, is almost as challenging to the listener as playing a Bach suite is to a cellist.

A sizeable audience turned out. About half left during the second intermission, having heard the first four suites.

Wilson and Zhu played baroque cellos, his a five-stringed English instrument from the 1720s, hers a four-stringed modern reproduction (by John Terry) of a period cello. The tones and timbres of the two instruments and instrumentalists differed markedly. Zhu produced generally heftier bass and more focused high-register tones. Wilson summoned greater variety of voicings from his instrument, although with more variable intonation.

Zhu’s performance of the Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009, was the evening’s showpiece. An overtly virtuosic treatment of the prelude gave way to an unusually long-lined, lyrical reading of the allemande. The closing gigue was another display of dazzling technique, although at some cost to the rhythmic “groove” of the piece.

Her borderline-romantic approach to the stylized expressiveness of baroque music – affectus, in period parlance – was displayed again in the sarabande of the Suite No. 6 in C major, BWV 1012.

Wilson, behaving like a considerate host, took on the relatively less familiar and somewhat less decorous Second, Fourth and Fifth suites.

His interpretive approach and instrumental sound cast the cello as a surrogate human voice, with differentiated chest, throat and head tones and phrasing that at times seemed translatable into German sung in a guttural Eastern accent. He sustained the dance rhythms of these pieces, even in their most elaborated or distended passages.
5 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
Dec. 18
noon-2 p.m. EST
1700-1900 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM
www.wdce.org

Corelli: Concerto in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8
(“Christmas Concerto”)
Brandenburg Consort/
Roy Goodman
(Hyperion)

Past Masters:
Wagner: “Siegfried Idyll”
Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Bruno Walter (Sony Classical)
(recorded 1959)

Michel Corrette: Sinfonia
“de Noël” No. 5
La Fantasia/
Rolf Voskuilen
(Brilliant Classics)

Adolphe-Charles Adam: “Cantique de Noël”
(“O Holy Night”)
Depue Brothers Band
(Beat the Drum Entertainment)

Beethoven: Piano Trio in
B flat major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”)
Kyung-Wha Chung, violin;
Myung-Wha Chung, cello;
Myung-Whun Chung, piano
(EMI Classics)

Past Masters:
Mozart: Sonata
in A major, K. 526
Yehudi Menuhin, violin; Hephzibah Menuhin, piano (Membran)
(recorded 1933)
6 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

No show this week – a sinus infection has stopped me up and laid me low. The program planned for this week will air on Dec. 18.
11 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
Dec. 11
noon-2 p.m. EST
1700-1900 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM
www.wdce.org

Corelli: Concerto in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8
(“Christmas Concerto”)
Brandenburg Consort/
Roy Goodman (Hyperion)

Wagner: “Siegfried Idyll”
Berlin Soloists (Teldec)

Michel Corrette: Sinfonia
“de Noël” No. 5
La Fantasia/
Rolf Voskuilen
(Brilliant Classics)

Adolphe-Charles Adam:
“Cantique de Noël” (“O Holy Night”)
Depue Brothers Band
(Beat the Drum Entertainment)

Beethoven: Piano Trio
in B flat major, Op. 97 (“Archduke”)
Kyung-Wha Chung, violin;
Myung Wha-Chung, cello;
Myung-Whun Chung, piano
(EMI Classics)

Past Masters:
Mozart: Sonata in A major, K. 526
Yehudi Menuhin, violin; Hephzibah Menuhin, piano (Membran)
(recorded 1933)
13 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

The Richmond Symphony and its musicians have agreed to a new four-year contract that during its course will restore income concessions the musicians absorbed under management-imposed terms in 2012.

The musicians, members of Local 123 of the American Federation of Musicians, continued to perform after cuts of about 15 percent in their total compensation, which the symphony said were necessary because of strains on the orchestra’s budget.

In recent years, demands for concessions in pay and benefits have led to lengthy lockouts and departures of musicians at the Minnesota Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony, a threat of a work stoppage at the Metropolitan Opera, and contention between musicians and management at a number of other orchestras.

The new Richmond contract calls for the symphony players to receive wage increases of 1.5 percent in 2014-15, 2.5 percent in 2015-16, 2.5 percent in 2016-17, and 1 percent in 2017-18.

Under those terms, musicians will be earning in 2016 what they had been making in 2011. In the final year of the contract, full-time section players will earn $34,210.80; assistant principals, $39,003.12; and principals, $46,007.52.

The agreement also lengthens the musicians’ working season from 38 to 39 weeks in 2017-18.
13 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

NBC’s Dec. 4 telecast of “Peter Pan” drew 9.1 million viewers. Discovery Channel’s “Eaten Alive,” a documentary about very large snakes, drew 4.1 million viewers on Dec. 7.

The US population is about 319.5 million, according to the Census Bureau’s most recently published (Nov. 1) estimate.
13 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story

Classical music’s tempest du jour is about the Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung, who in a London recital, her comeback after nine years off the stage due to a finger injury, reacted verbally to coughing in the audience.

The account that’s circulating most widely has Chung singling out a child, suggesting that the youngster wasn’t old enough to be there. Outrage has ensued in mass and social media: Chung is cast as a highbrow bully who picked on a tot to compensate for her own nervousness and artistic shortcomings.

Others who were at the concert, however, report that the violinist suggested that the child be given a glass of water, and that the child was fidgeting and making assorted noises before the coughing fit. Everyone who was there seems to agree that the adults in the audience were noisy enough, never mind the underage contributions.

As is so often the case in classical concert contretemps, this one boils down to a question of etiquette, also known (in some quarters) as good manners.

Is it acceptable for a performer to correct an ill-behaved audience? Or should the artist stare silently but meaningfully at the offender(s)? Or just soldier on, no matter what?

Is it out-of-bounds to tell parents that their children aren’t ready to sit through a classical recital (if indeed that’s what Chung did), and if so, in response to what degree of disruptive behavior? How about grownups? (Ever sat next to someone who hums or sings along?)

Nothing I’ve read about this incident mentions the concert hall’s ushers or management. Do the people running the house have some responsibility to intervene when things get out of hand? The hands-off approach to audience misbehavior has led to some confrontations among patrons in recent years – nothing too physical yet, as far as I recall; but I suspect it’s only a matter of time before blows are exchanged somewhere.

I don’t for a minute buy into the notion that this was a temperamental artist trying to impose an outdated, persnickety code of conduct on paying customers, further alienating people from classical music.

How many in Chung’s audience paid – handsomely, we may safely guess, for such a high-profile performance – to hear other people cough, fidget and otherwise insert themselves between the musician and listeners?

Some undoubtedly attended to see and be seen at a heavily publicized celebrity event; but I think we can be reasonably sure that, in a program of Mozart, Prokofiev, Bach and Franck (glitzy showpieces notably absent), the vast majority came to hear Chung make music.

What got in the way of that exchange was the problem. Chung’s response to it may not have been an ideal solution. But an outrage? Hardly. 
17 days ago | |
Tag
| Read Full Story
1 - 10  | 123456789 next
InstantEncore