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Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
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Michele Zukovsky, who just retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic after 54 years, most of them as its principal clarinetist, talks with blogger CK Dexter Haven about the changes that orchestras have gone through in her career.

Symphonic performance has become more generic, she finds:

“I used to have a vast collection of [recordings of] Beethoven symphonies, and I put together my ideal Beethoven 9th, movement by movement. It was like Mengelberg, Furtwängler, and two others that were perfect.

“That tradition has been diluted through the years. You’re not looking necessarily at the way Brahms did it when he was alive, we’re not going to hear or feel the way Brahms did it in the 1890s. It’s not being passed down very much longer.

“Now, you’ve got these great young performers doing Vivaldi violin concertos where they’re making it a whole new thing. It’s like alive and they’re improvising. It doesn’t have to be the way Vivaldi did it, and they’re phenomenal and I can feel it. That’s the way we’re going now.

“Music can be very boring now when you’re just trying to repeat the same old thing over and over instead of making it your own. Now, even with the period instrument orchestras, they’re starting to all sound the same. I used to listen to [recordings] and could tell within the first three downbeats who the conductor was and where the orchestra was from. Now, not so much.”

Zukovsky’s full interview, in two parts:

Part 1: http://allisyar.com/2015/12/19/a-chat-with-michele-zukovsky-part-1-of-2-the-la-phils-outgoing-principal-clarinet-reflects-on-how-her-54-year-tenure-began-the-audition-process-and-more/

Part 2: http://allisyar.com/2015/12/20/a-chat-with-michele-zukovsky-part-2-of-2-on-german-clarinets-german-conductors-life-after-the-la-phil-and-more/
1 month ago | |
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The American composer and musical comedian Peter Schickele, who turned 80 this year, celebrates the 50th anniversary of his (in)famous P.D.Q. Bach concerts in New York with concerts on Dec. 28-29 at Town Hall.

“[S]o beloved is Mr. Schickele among musicians,” The New York Times’ James R. Oestreich reports, that to recruit his New York Pick-Up Ensemble of 35 players, “he needed to make only 36 phone calls.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/arts/music/peter-schickele-brings-pdq-bach-back-to-the-stage.html

Schickele’s comic alter ego continues to produce unheard(-of) works, including a concerto for pianist Jeffrey Biegel, Oestreich writes. “[A]s Mr. Schickele pointed out, P. D. Q. is the only dead composer who still accepts commissions.”
1 month ago | |
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Kurt Masur, the most prominent German conductor of his generation, who as music director of the New York Philharmonic (1991-2002) was credited with refining the artistry of the orchestra and taming the egos of its musicians, has died at 88.

During his long tenure as chief conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig (1970-96), Masur maintained the stature of that venerable ensemble under the East German regime, and was one of the public figures instrumental in peacefully ending communist rule in 1989.

At the Gewandhaus, Masur made a practice of advocating composers, German and foreign-born, who had worked or studied in Leipzig.

In 1986, during a US tour with the Leipzigers, the conductor prolonged a visit to Richmond to hear Frederick Delius’ “Appalachia: Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus,” performed by the Richmond Symphony and Symphony Chorus, Peter Bay conducting. Taking the chance to fill a gap in his experience, Masur said – he had never heard “Appalachia,” and the English-born Delius was a prominent alumnus of the Leipzig Conservatory.

An obituary by The New York Times’ Margalit Fox:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/arts/music/kurt-masur-new-york-philharmonic-conductor-dies.html

ADDENDUM (Dec. 21): The British author and critic Norman Lebrecht, who knew Masur for more than 30 years, recalls “a Kapellmeister of the old school” who also was a moral force. Link to a BBC interview via:

http://slippedisc.com/2015/12/what-kurt-masur-said-when-they-asked-him-to-become-german-president/
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Music for Advent and Hanukkah: a reconstruction of a 17th-century Lutheran Advent service with pieces by Michael Praetorius and Handel’s oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus.” 

Dec. 10
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM
www.wdce.org

Michel Corrette: “Symphonie de Noël” No. 4
La Fantasia/Rien Viskuilen
(Brilliant Classics)

“Awaiting the Messiah: a Lutheran Advent Service”
Michael Praetorius:
“Polyhymnia caduceatrix,”
“Musica Sionae,
Puericinium” &
“Terpsichore” (selections)
Apollo’s Singers
Apollo’s Musettes
Apollo’s Fire/Jeannette Sorrell (Avie)

Giovanni Gabrieli: Canzon X
Academy of Ancient Music/Paul Goodwin (Harmonia Mundi)

Handel: “Judas Maccabaeus”
Jamie McDougall, tenor
Emma Kirkby, soprano
Catherine Denley,
mezzo-soprano
Michael George &
Simon Birchall, basses
James Bowman, countertenor
Choir of New College, Oxford/
Edward Higginbottom
The King’s Consort/Robert King (Hyperion)
1 month ago | |
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of this season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Richmond Symphony, Symphony Chorus and guest soloists:

http://www.richmond.com/entertainment/music/article_b171c301-db49-56c6-9868-12d55523e769.html
2 months ago | |
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Tennessee’s Knoxville Opera advises its patrons: “Our annual gala event this Saturday is ‘The Prima Donna Ball,” not ‘The Pre-Madonna Ball.’ ”

(via www.slippedisc.com)
2 months ago | |
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My review for the Richmond Times-Dispatch of this season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Richmond Symphony, Symphony Chorus and guest soloists:

http://www.richmond.com/entertainment/music/article_b171c301-db49-56c6-9868-12d55523e769.html
2 months ago | |
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Rafael Payare, chief conductor of the Ulster Orchestra and principal conductor of the Castleton Festival in Virginia, was denied entry to the US by customs officials on his way to a date with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The Venezuelan-born Payare was to have conducted a program featuring his wife, cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Janelle Gelfand reports:

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/12/03/visa-snafu-causes-cso-guest-conductor-turned-back-us-customs/76727524/
2 months ago | |
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Symphony orchestras do not perform contemporary music to make money.

Playing new works rarely boosts ticket sales; score rentals, royalty payments to composers and extra rehearsal time that may be needed for unfamiliar or complex music make it more expensive to program than a Beethoven symphony.

An orchestra’s principal motivation for presenting new music is artistic, with prestige value as a secondary factor.

The Seattle Symphony’s performance of John Luther Adams’ “Become Ocean,” subsequently released on a recording on its in-house label, seemed to be such a venture. It paid off on the prestige front when the work won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for music.

Now it could be a profit-maker, too, thanks to the pop singer Taylor Swift, who was so taken with “Become Ocean” that she has donated $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony. Her endorsement of the piece also could lead to more sales of the recording.

Swift’s gift will be used to start an educational program and to bolster the orchestra musicians’ retirement fund, The New York Times’ Michael Cooper reports:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/taylor-swift-gives-50000-to-seattle-symphony/
2 months ago | |
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Sampling the season’s new recordings, including several Christmas discs . . . 

Dec. 3
10 a.m.-1 p.m. EST
1500-1800 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM
www.wdce.org

Beethoven: “Egmont” Overture
Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano (Analekta)

Janácek:
“On the Overgrown Path”
Stephen Hough, piano (Hyperion)

Lyons: “Corpus Christi Carol”
anon.: “Gresley Dances”
(arrangement by William Lyons)
The Dufay Collective & Voice (Avie)

François-Joseph Gossec: Symphony in E flat major, Op. 12, No. 5
Les Agrémens/
Guy Van Wass
(Ricercar)

Schubert: Fantasia
in F minor, D. 940
Leon Fleisher &
Katherine Jacobson,
piano four-hands
(Sony Classical)

J.S. Bach: Suite No. 3
in E flat major, BWV 1010
Matt Haimovitz, cello (Pentatone/Oxingale)

Liszt: “Valses oubliée” Nos. 1-3
Olivia Sham, piano (Avie)

Mendelssohn: Quartet
in D major, Op. 44, No. 1
Cecilia String Quartet (Analekta)

trad. English: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
trad. Scottish: “The Traveler Benighted in Snow”
trad. Irish: “Early in the Morning”/“The Ivy Leaf”/
“Christmas Comes But Once a Year”
(arrangements by Nikolaus Newerkla)
Quadriga Consort (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)
2 months ago | |
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