Our Critics’ Picks: New Music, Opera Sport Fall Colors

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By CVNA Contributors

DATE BOOK – Brimming with new works and milestone celebrations from coast to coast, the classical calendar shows impressive projects at the onset of the fall season such as the U.S. premiere of Blank Out, an operatic thriller.

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Scarlet Professor Recalls Gay ‘Smut’ Target As Opera

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By Marvin Ward

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – An episode in the life of Smith College literary scholar Newton Arvin, forced out for possessing photos deemed pornographic in 1960, but later exonerated, comes to the lyric stage starring William Hite.

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Conductor’s Debut Makes Statement With Daring Music

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON – Alexander Prior launched his tenure as chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with a late-night program of contemporary works new to the orchestra, Xenakis’ Jalons and Adams’ Harmonielehre.

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Serene, Visceral Hillborg Concerto Ends All Too Soon

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By Michael Anthony

MINNEAPOLIS – In its American premiere, Anders Hillborg’s Violin Concerto No. 2, played by James Ehnes and the Minnesota Orchestra, alternated lusty, rock-influenced passages with moments suggesting eternity.

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Swirling Episodes Of Sound Probing New Sonics? Yes!

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Experimental dramaturgy reigned in a Musikfest concert that opened with a Rebecca Saunders world premiere inspired by Molly Bloom’s monologue in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Did Yes justify its 75-minute length? No.

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S.F. Opera Elektra Shocks, Provokes, And Overwhelms

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By Janos Gereben

SAN FRANCISCO – After the breathtaking intensity that filled the opening night of Strauss’s masterpiece at the War Memorial Opera House, the audience exploded in a standing ovation, a mix of relief and admiration.

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Puccini’s Western Finds Comfy Home At City Opera

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By Anne E. Johnson

NEW YORK – With its production of La fanciulla del West, New York City Opera has struck gold. The next opera on a similar subject, John Adams’ and Peter Sellars’ Girls of the Golden West, debuts in San Francisco in November.

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A String Quartet Competition Spawns A Festival

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By Bill Rankin

BANFF, Alberta – Three laureates of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, including 2016 winner the Rolston String Quartet, anchored the inaugural festival over the Labor Day weekend.

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Connections Made, Or Missed, Across Many Cultures

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By Rebecca Schmid

LUCERNE – With a densely packed “special event day,” this city’s illustrious festival deserves praise for tackling classical music’s role in an increasingly globalized society, even if artistic values were sometimes compromised.

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Around the U.S.

Musical Marathon: Intrepid Piano Duo Distills Mahler Six

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By Wynne Delacoma

CHICAGO – For the Ravinia Festival chamber music series, Inna Faliks and Daniel Schlosberg reflected the complexity of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in a transcription for piano, four hands, by Alexander Zemlinsky.

Edgy New Concerto Challenges ‘Safety’ Of Hollywood Bowl

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Daníel Bjarnason’s strange new Violin Concerto performed by Finnish maverick Pekka Kuusisto is not what you would call normal Hollywood Bowl fare. Credit Gustavo Dudamel for spending goodwill capital on a wild ride.

Tanglewood Fest Aims Wide Lens At Modern Music

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By Keith Powers

LENOX, Mass. – As curated by Jacob Greenberg, Nadia Sirota, and Kathryn Bates, the 2017 Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood drew on composers from their 30-something generation and works from the 20th century.

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Around Canada

Vivid, Theatrical St. John Passion Keys Bach Festival

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – Local and imported artists combined under the assured direction of Alexander Weimann to create an impressive performance at the second summer Bach Festival presented by Early Music Vancouver.

Heartfelt Parsifal In Concert Setting At Lanaudière Fest

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By Arthur Kaptainis

JOLIETTE, Quebec – Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducting the score of Wagner’s long opera for the first time, led Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain in a glorious outdoor performance with Christian Elsner as Parsifal.

Summer Festival Spotlights Music By Canada’s Own

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – R. Murray Schafer’s String Quartet No. 3 called for the St. Lawrence String Quartet to do some shouting at this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival, which seems fitting. The 2017 edition salutes Canadian music.

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International

Far-Flung Maestro Flourishes With Ensemble In Japan

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By Robert Markow

TOKYO – American-born Robert Rÿker, a tuba player turned conductor, has led orchestras on four continents over more than 40 years, but he has made his most distinctive mark as music director of the Tokyo Sinfonia.

In Meistersinger, Bayreuth Fest Has Its Prize Winner

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By John Rockwell

BAYREUTH – To assess the non-Ring operas at the 2017 fest is to go from the least successful oldest (Tristan, 2015) through last year’s Parsifal to Barrie Kosky’s intriguing Meistersinger as a musicale in Wagner’s home.

Young Singapore Musicians Conjure A Dream Orchestra

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By Robert Markow

TAIPEI – Showcased at an international festival, Singapore’s aspiring, self-governing Orchestra of the Music Makers, in its ninth season, sounded like a million dollars and was certainly at one with the Force.

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Issues in the Arts

Weill Fest Explores Music’s Advocate For Social Progress

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By Rebecca Schmid

BREVARD, N.C. – Perhaps only in the current age of stylistic pluralism may it be possible to reconcile Kurt Weill’s German and American phases. In a mix of scholarly talks and performances, the Brevard Festival takes a stab.

New Opera Award Goes To Mazzoli, Vavrek For Waves

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By John Fleming

Breaking the Waves, with music by Missy Mazzoli (right) and libretto by Royce Vavrek, is the first winner of the Music Critics Association of North America’s Best New Opera Award. The presentation will be made July 19 in Santa Fe.

Fine Book Details Cliburn’s Victory At Tchaikovsky

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By Colin Eatock

BOOK REVIEW – In When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath, Stuart Isacoff brings a pianist’s insights and historian’s rigor to an event that shook the world nearly six decades ago.

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Disc and Stream

Novák’s Godiva Rides Lusciously On New Buffalo CD

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Everyone knows the story of Lady Godiva riding naked through the center of a town. But what composer would want to write music about that? Vítězslav Novák (1870-1949) did — and did an impressive job of it.

Minnesota Mahler Fifth: Transparent But All Too Cool

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – The Minnesota Orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä bring fine playing to the Fifth Symphony, and the BIS production is an audiophile’s delight. What’s lacking is Mahler’s sense of drama.

A Complete(r) View Of Bernstein For Solo Piano

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Pianist Andrew Cooperstock’s valuable collection is the first that indeed seems to be genuinely complete. His performances are, for the most part, gentler and softer in focus than most renditions.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Three Jazz Veterans Score on CD

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
For every widely-celebrated jazz musician, there may be hundreds of often equally-gifted players who never received …

Richard S. Ginell - From Out of the The West

It’s A Hit!

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
SANTA FE, NM: How often do you go into a concert hall or an opera house …

John Adams on Record – Part Two

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Here is Part Two of my updated, expanded, 70th birthday discographical survey of John Adams’s music, …

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