In New Opera, Music Pries Open A Sealed Mind

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By Charles T. Downey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – What goes on in the minds of those diagnosed with autism? Penny, with a tonal score by Douglas Pew and libretto by Dara Weinberg, attempts to delve into this mystery through the medium of music.

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Beyond The Galop, Dancing Horses Sashay To Mozart

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By Rebecca Schmid

SALZBURG – Conductor Mark Minkowski and horseman-impresario Bartabas staged Davide penitente and other late works as equestrian ballet. The sight was mesmerizing at times, but some movements lacked dramatic orientation.

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In Recaptured 7th, Echo Of Great One That Got Away

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Dudamel’s recording from Caracas, with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, has many of the qualities that made their Los Angeles performance something to savor, but not the same electrifying intensity.

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Adams Embraces Beethoven’s Spirit In Second Quartet

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By Jeff Dunn

PALO ALTO – Introducing his high energy new opus with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, John Adams spoke colorfully about his attempt to “caress” one of Beethoven’s motives, only to have it “get away like a misbehaving dog.”

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Orfeo Takes Turn Toward The Bard At Royal Opera

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By George Loomis

LONDON – For Monteverdi’s 17th-century masterwork, the London opera company left its Covent Garden home for an old railroad turntable-cum-theater in the round, under the engrossing direction of Shakespearean Michael Boyd.

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Belated Górecki Symphony Falls Short Of Hit 3rd

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Composer Henryk Górecki spent four years on a Fourth Symphony but died leaving only a piano short score and some details of orchestration. The LA Phil helped bring it to life, yet it still came off as unfinished.

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Racette’s Salome Puts Lurid Seal On Opera San Antonio

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By Diane Windeler

SAN ANTONIO – In her first staged portrayal of Strauss’ young femme fatale, Patricia Racette delivered ringing high notes and lower phrases of mahogany hue, weaving a tapestry of increasing madness that was downright chilling.

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Around the U.S.

Rihm’s Thorny Concerto Leaves Listener In Lurch

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By Robert Battey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – His music toys with antecedents and expectations; it is full of ideas and contrasts; there is often a dramatic arc. But when all is said and done, Wolfgang Rihm’s new piano concerto is much ado about very little.

Another Try, Same Dubious Result For Shchedrin Opera

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By Leslie Kandell

NEW YORK – Gypsy Grushka (Kristina Kapustinskaya) meets wandering monk Ivan (Oleg Sychov) in Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer, on Mariinsky Theatre’s U.S. tour. The opera needed more enchantment, less wandering.

MTT, Accelerating At 70, Recharges Missa Solemnis

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – For his first act since reaching his eighth decade, Michael Tilson Thomas unveiled with the LA Phil his reimagined, tradition-defying, multimedia setting for one of the most formidable blocks of the choral literature.

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Around Canada

Marionettes Bring Charm, Finesse On Trek From Austria

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – The Salzburg Marionette Theatre has toured North America with a playful show built around Schumann’s Papillons and Debussy’s Boîte à joujoux. Remarkably life-like puppets teamed with pianist Orion Weiss. Paris is next.

Toronto Symphony Shines Spotlight On Nielsen At 150

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Danish composer Carl Nielsen is still on the fringes of the canon, but his music has a chance to find a wider audience this concert season, with a mini Nielsen-fest in Toronto, and more to come in the U.S. and Europe.

Les Violons du Roy Take Regal Sound To Canadian West

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON, Alberta – An eight-stop tour by the Quebec chamber orchestra has an early romantic flavor, with an arrangement of Schubert’s String Quartet in D Minor (Death and the Maiden), plus Mendelssohn and Schumann.

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International

Bubbly New Year’s Concert Tradition Airs From Vienna

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By Paul E. Robinson

Helping to ring in the new for worldwide audiences will be Zubin Mehta, whose bond with the Vienna Philharmonic dates back to his student days. This will be the conductor’s fifth appearance at the orchestra’s New Year’s Day celebration.

Brussels Giovanni Obscures Mozart Amid Wild Erotica

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By Susan Brodie

BRUSSELS – Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new X-rated production at La Monnaie explores the more lurid instincts unleashed by the Don’s uncontrollable urges, but manages only to confuse and distract from the music.

Born Of Tumult, Butterfly Glistens At Teatro Colón

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By James L. Paulk

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Chaos surrounds the Teatro Colón these days, the result of the country’s economic crisis. But great artistry often rises from the disorder, as it did with director Hugo De Ana’s ambitious Madama Butterfly.

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Issues in the Arts

Exhaustive Tome On Schubert Songs Is Beguiling, Too

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By Rodney Punt

BOOK REVIEW – Graham Johnson’s definitive survey of Schubert’s lyric art is at one stroke the indispensable reference for singers, pianists, scholars, lovers of music in general, and Schubert fans in particular. It arrives Dec. 16.

5-Day Boot Camp Drills Reality Of Music Criticism

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By Mike Telin

SAN FRANCISCO – One budding writer chosen to train with the pros at the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism likened the experience to competing in a TV reality show like Top chef, complete with a $10,000 prize.

Classical Radio’s Magic Still Rules In Face Of Change

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By John Fleming

How is classical music radio adapting to the digital world? Directors of enduring stations and programs in the U.S. paint a picture of an industry in flux. They pledge to compete by accenting on-air programs that are live – and lively.

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Disc and Stream

Stellar DVD Set Offers Cavalcade Of Strauss Operas

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – As part of the 150th Richard Strauss birthday celebrations in 2014, descendants selected seven of his operas captured on video from as early as 1965 for an impressive compilation that would enhance any collection.

Chailly’s Brahms Redux: Luminous Via Blu-ray Audio

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By Lawrence B. Johnson

DIGITAL REVIEW – How could anyone be blasé about holding a substantial chunk of Brahms’ life’s work on one little disc? Yet these Leipzig Gewandhaus performances with Riccardo Chailly transcend by far the slim form of the medium.

In Piano Duets, Schubert Sings, Rite Isn’t Quite

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By Robert Battey

DIGITAL REVIEW – Former Buenos Aires child prodigies Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim often collaborate as soloist and conductor, but before a concert caught on DG they had played duo pianos together only once.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

It’s Back to the Future for Electric Keyboards at NAMM

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Last Saturday, on a wind-swept 81-degree winter’s day (ha!), I slipped behind the Orange Curtain to attend …

Figaro! (90210); It’s a Hoot … and it Works.

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Hallelujah! An opera update that works.
I am speaking of a romp called ¡Figaro! (90210), a surprisingly …

La Monnaie Chief Conductor Ludovic Morlot Resigns

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Ludovic Morlot, Chief Conductor of La Monnaie, resigns post midway through a poorly received run of Don Giovanni. Brussels’s loss is Seattle’s gain, but budget cuts make it a difficult time for La Monnaie to scramble for new talent.

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