New Music Band Esprit Shows Its Singular Palette

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – There aren’t many orchestras with an exclusive commitment to new music like Esprit, led by Alex Pauk. Ives’ 1906 Central Park in the Dark, on a recent bill, may be the oldest work the group has ever performed.

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In Berlin, Hélène Not So Belle And Tosca Is Teutonic

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Komische Oper and Staatsoper opened the season with new productions that fell flat. Barrie Kosky’s La belle Hélène offered strangely little Offenbach, and ‘Tosca,’ led by Daniel Barenboim, veered toward Wagner.

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Pianist Or Artistic Chief, Buchbinder Is Purist At Heart

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By Rebecca Schmid

VIENNA – Rudolf Buchbinder, who will play Stateside with the Boston Symphony under Thierry Fisher Oct. 16-21, is not a man of compromises. For several years, he has made only live recordings and usually travels without scores.

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SF Opera Extends Long History Of Triumphs In Ballo

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By Robert Commanday

SAN FRANCISCO — With Julianna Di Giacomo in her San Francisco Opera main stage debut as Amelia, the current Un ballo in maschera ranks with some of the better ones of a past illuminated by the great stars of the last 83 years.

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Bach’s St. Matthew Transfigured By Sellars, Berlin PO

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By Susan Elliott

NEW YORK – Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival opened at the Park Avenue Armory with the Evangelist (Mark Padmore) alone onstage, in Peter Sellars’ “vividly experiential” Bach with Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic and Radio Choir.

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Rattle, Berlin PO At Carnegie: With Poetry, Rare Power

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By Lawrence B. Johnson

NEW YORK – Drama coaches often talk about muscularity in Shakespeare’s language. In a vivid, almost verbal sense, the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle reveled in the muscularity of music in concerts at Carnegie Hall.

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New Music Fuels Carolina Concerts By Pittsburgh SO

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By Roy C. Dicks

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – From last year’s Composer of the Year program, which was a celebration of local talent, the Pittsburgh Symphony hit the road with Elements, a suite of brief sound portraits by five Steel City composers.

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Around the U.S.

Director’s Insight Sharpens Giovanni At Chicago Lyric

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By Andrew Patner

CHICAGO – A Robert Falls production with Ana María Martínez and Mariusz Kwiecień sets the action in a kind of free-floating Spain, close enough to our own era to show that the Don and Mozart are ever our contemporaries.

San Francisco SO Ives-Kubrick Fete Bizarre, Well Knit

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By Jeff Dunn

SAN FRANCISCO – The plan looked puzzling on paper: two unaccompanied choral works in a bimodal program honoring Ives and Kubrick. But in his concert with orchestral and choral forces, Michael Tilson Thomas made clear his intent.

Picker’s Fox Tale Merrily Romps At Opera San Antonio

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By Diane Windeler

SAN ANTONIO – Is it wise to launch a new opera company in a new hall with a children’s opera? The answer, based on Opera San Antonio’s offering of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, after a story by Roald Dahl, appears to be yes.

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Around Canada

In Montreal’s Fine Nabucco, Thoughts Fly To Curious Set

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By Earl Arthur Love

MONTREAL – With a superb cast including Ukrainian soprano Tatiana Melnychenko in the mercilessly difficult role of Abigaille, Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ offered a powerful beginning to the opera season despite anachronisms and tired paint.

Keyed For Europe, Toronto Symphony Crowns A Festival

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – Kicking off a European tour for the city back home, maestro Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed a festival concert for Toronto Summer Music, now in its ninth season. Next stop, Vienna.

Intimate Brahms From Bremen At Lanaudière Fest

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By Earl Arthur Love

JOLIETTE, QUEBEC – In a bucolic setting some call “Tanglewood North,” the small but first-rate Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Paavo Järvi kicked off a final summer festival week of three visiting orchestras.

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International

Da Vinci’s Design For Gamba-Organ Voiced At Festival

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By Rebecca Schmid

WROCŁAW – Leonardo da Vinci sketched a wheel-bowed keyboard instrument that he never built. At Poland’s festival Wratislavia Cantans, Sławomir Zubrzycki performed on his realization of the viola organista, completed at last.

Updating Strauss: Daphne In Denim, Up A Wall St. Tree

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By Susan Brodie

BRUSSELS – In Guy Joosten’s high-concept production, Daphne’s a dreamy heroine, quite literally a tree hugger, protesting against the technology-obsessed world of her parents, dissolute one-percenters in evening dress.

Rossini Festival Revives Aureliano In Vocal Splendor

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By Rebecca Schmid

PESARO – In the seaside town where Gioachino Rossini was born, opera has persevered with an unrivaled standard of authenticity. All productions this year, including Aureliano in Palmira, were based on recent critical editions.

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Issues in the Arts

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.

Warmed Over Gala Fare Stirs Hunger For Fresh Entrees

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By Barbara Jepson

Orchestras tend to pack their inaugural concerts with the tried and true, but The Bass Whisperer, featuring soloist and co-composer Victor Wooten, for the Nashville Symphony, is one of this season’s intriguing departures.

At Cedille Records, 25 Years Rounded By A Little Curve

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By Kyle MacMillan

CHICAGO – James Ginsburg, founder of Cedille Records, quit law school to focus on his Chicago-based label, which is marking its 25th anniversary of off-beat and new compositions packaged in unexpected ways.

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Disc and Stream

Crumb’s Spanish, American Songs Make CD Debuts

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Before long, it seems, the words of Federico García Lorca will be set almost as many times as those of Shakespeare. For George Crumb, Sun and Shadow (2009) is his eleventh go at the Spanish poet.

Stravinsky’s Dim Hollywood Years Conjured on DVD

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – In just 52 minutes, Marco Capalbo’s new film summarizes how Stravinsky’s stay in Southern California prompted a rebirth of his creative energies even though he was rejected by the Hollywood movie industry.

Swinging, Soulful B’way Cast Clicks In West Side Story

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By Richard S. Ginell

Rejecting Leonard Bernstein’s disjointed operatic approach, Michael Tilson Thomas’ new recording is all of a piece, the sound of 1957 Broadway stretching confidently into fresh, tragic territory instead of a work at war with itself.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

John Luther Adams’s Become Ocean Floats In on CD and DVD

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Pulitzer Prizes are no guarantee of quality or the lasting value of a piece of music, …

Philharmonie de Paris vs. Salle Pleyel: Sudden Death Play

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By Susan Brodie: Toi Toi Toi!

The long-delayed Philharmonie de Paris is on target to open January 14. But a sudden divorce court action threatens the non-compete stipulation, a linch pin of the hall’s operating budget.

CD Roundup: Tchaikovsky miniatures, Rococo flute pieces and duo-violin works

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By Roy C. Dicks: What’s the Score?

CD Reviews: Tchaikovsky miniatures, Rococo flute works and duo-violin pieces

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