Wildly Inventive Rheingold Opens Ring In Houston

By Mike Greenberg

HOUSTON – Is it opera? Is it film? Is it circus? Yes. And the miraculous, acrobatic European production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Das Rheingold,’ in its U.S. debut by Houston Grand Opera is also politically fearless.

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Minimalist Fest Celebrates Genre To Variable Max

By Richard Ginell

LOS ANGELES – As offbeat as things often are around Walt Disney Concert Hall, they got a lot more so as March careened into April. The Minimalist Jukebox – or Minimalist Jukebox 2.0, if you will – was at our throats again.

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What Makes Any Music Classical? Tradition!

By Richard Nilsen

COMMENTARY – Pittsburgh-raised Lorin Maazel soaked up the Viennese tradition like a sponge, reflecting the reality that classical music is “classical” because it has been handed down. A score tells us only so much.

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Visual Bombshells Overwhelm Music In Tribute to WWI

By Jeff Dunn

BERKELEY, Calif. – The Kronos Quartet’s world premiere of ‘Beyond Zero: 1914-1918,’ with music of Aleksandra Vrebalov and film by Bill Morrison, featured vintage deteriorated film cels. Do you see the cannon at left?

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Opera Dark River Honors Struggle For Civil Rights

By Marvin J. Ward

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – In despair and defiance, voting rights champion Fannie Lou Hamer told 1964 Democratic National Convention leaders: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Mary Watkins’ opera honors Hamer.

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Forgotten Russian Masterpiece Has Belated Premiere

By Phlippa Kiraly

SEATTLE – Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week, written in the early 1920s and arguably the last major piece of sacred music composed in Russia after the imposition of Communist rule, has been introduced by Cappella Romana.

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Around the U.S.

Chamber Masters Take Their Swings At Savannah Fest

By Perry Tannenbaum

SAVANNAH – A welcoming and eclectic music festival arrives, like the elite Masters golf upriver, on the cusp of Georgia’s winter and spring. Daniel Hope leads the classical side of things in this unabashedly historic city.

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Death and Light Meld in Rothko And Shostakovich

By Mike Greenberg

HOUSTON — The paintings in Rothko Chapel have death in view, but the life in them cannot be denied. The same could be said of Shostakovich’s last string quartets, which the Jerusalem Quartet played in the tranquil meditative space.

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Bruch’s Oratorio Moses Displays Tablets of Cliché

By Leslie Kandell

NEW YORK – The American Symphony Orchestra zeroed in on another neglected work at Carnegie Hall, but Max Bruch’s behemoth, with baritone Sidney Outlaw in the title role, revealed the reasons for history’s short shrift.

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Around Canada

Pinchas Zukerman Trades Baton For Bow in Ottawa

By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – Pinchas Zukerman has made his mark in this city as music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. But recently the conductor picked up viola and violin to play a recital with pianist Yefim Bronfman.

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Jerusalem Quartet Leads An Intimate Survey of Brahms

By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – Two chamber music societies, one favoring the venerable, the other with a penchant for the rising young, joined forces for a quintet-rich Brahms festival featuring the Jerusalem Quartet, pianist Inon Barnatan and friends.

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New Concertos Headline Toronto ‘Creations’ Fest

By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – For sheer size and scope of ambition, the second piano concerto of Magnus Lindberg was among several works at the New Creations Festival that invited comparison with the greatest works in the genre.

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International

Chausson’s Arthus, Updated to WWI, Can’t Shed Tristan

By Susan Brodie

STRASBOURG – L’Opéra National du Rhin scooped a rarity of the Opéra de Paris 2014-15 season with Le Roi Arthus. But the mixed-era production was cartoonish and the cast struggled with Wagnerian vocal demands.

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Viennese Unleash Twin Thrillers In Wozzeck, Salome

By Patrick J. Smith

NEW YORK – In a highlight of the New York operatic season, Carnegie Hall’s Vienna: City of Dreams festival gave Wozzeck and Salome in consecutive concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic, Welser-Möst and Nelsons conducting.

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Wuorinen’s Opera Misses Tenderness Of Brokeback Mtn.

By Susan Brodie

MADRID – Brokeback Mountain, a new opera by Charles Wuorinen and Annie Proulx about forbidden love between two ranch hands, echoes Wyoming’s mountain grandeur. But one longs for a character to sing his heart out.

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Issues in the Arts

Forget Wagner, Quartet Dials Up New Ring Cycles

By Kyle MacMillan

CHICAGO – Among life’s minor annoyances are cheesy ringtones, but the Spektral Quartet has just the antidote: Mobile Miniatures. It has recorded more than 60 ringtones, alerts and wake-ups by 46 composers.

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CVNA Rounds Up Critics’ Coverage Of Sarasota Verdi Fest

By Members of the MCANA

SARASOTA, Fla. – Ten members of the Music Critics Association of North America headed south in March 2014 to cover Sarasota Opera’s latest installment of its ongoing Verdi cycle. We are pleased to provide links to all of these articles here, in one convenient place.

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Did Dessay Say Adieu Past Manon? Mais Non, Perhaps

By George Loomis

Reports to the contrary, French soprano Natalie Dessay isn’t yet ready to abandon the opera stage. But she’s branching out by planning a monodrama and giving recitals in North America with pianist Phillippe Cassard.

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Disc and Stream

New CD Captures Sonorous Power Of Adams’ Other Mary

By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – John Adams’ ‘The Gospel According to the Other Mary’ has received an enviably high-powered sendoff, with an international tour and now a dynamic DG recording led by Gustavo Dudamel.

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Bernstein Redux: TV Youth Concerts A Lasting Treasury

By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Nearly half of Leonard Bernstein’s 53 Young People’s Concerts were released in 1993 to general rapture. Now, after an exhaustive process of locating, remastering and rights obtaining, we have 27 more.

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Beethoven-To-Be Resonates In Early Cantata From SFSO

By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Beethoven was 19 when he wrote the Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, which the San Francisco Symphony has recorded live, and you can hear him already ripping through the boundaries of his classical upbringing.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Kraftwerk Electrifies Disney Hall

By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
The German electronic band Kraftwerk – which translates into “power station” in English – used to summon …

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Sarasota Opera’s Verdi Project Sets the Standard with Jérusalem

By Roy C. Dicks: What’s the Score?

“Jérusalem,” Sarasota Opera’s latest entry in its Verdi Cycle, is a satisfying, often thrilling production.

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CD/DVD Roundup: Haydn, Heggie, Britten & Vivaldi

By Roy C. Dicks: What’s the Score?

CD/DVD Reviews: New releases of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Britten’s Cello Symphony and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

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