Nagano, Montreal Play New Work For One of Their Own

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By Arthur Kaptainis

MONTREAL – A new concerto commissioned and performed by Ali Kian Yazdanfar, who is principal bass of the Montreal Symphony, comes from Tehran-born composer Behzad Ranjbaran. It is inspired by poetry of a Persian mystic.

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Unparsable Lines + Beautiful Music = 6. 20. Outrageous.

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By Anne E. Johnson

NEW YORK – When reality becomes so unraveled that the brain processes it as gibberish, poetic nonsense can help give the whole mess a kind of meaning. Composer Daniel Thomas Davis’ new chamber opera delivers Gertrude Stein.

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Salonen Summons Three Superstars For Concerto Fest

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES ‒ Yo-Yo Ma, Yefim Bronfman, and Leila Josefowicz gave stellar performances as soloists in Esa-Pekka Salonen’s cello, piano, and violin concertos under his baton with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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New World Players Light The Way For A New Generation

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By Barbara Jepson

MIAMI BEACH  – Free live simulcasts that beam concerts to an adjoining park are but part of the mix at the New World Symphony, where leaders are thinking in fresh ways about invitation, access, penetration, and relevance. 

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Seattle SO Pairs Hero And Un-Hero, But Serves Neither

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By Jason Victor Serinus

SEATTLE ‒ Music director Ludovic Morlot cleverly matched the premiere of symphony without a hero by David Lang, right, with its antithesis, Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. But he didn’t make a case for either work.

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Bernstein’s Mass: Passion Affirmed, If Not Relevance

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By Rick Schultz

LOS ANGELES ‒ Gustavo Dudamel led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a musically well-balanced account of Mass, a “Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers” and a musical omnivore’s attempt to remain relevant.

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‘Spirit’ Of Friend Recalled In Work For Solo Clarinet

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By Mike Greenberg

SAN ANTONIO – Shulamit Ran’s new composition, in memory of clarinetist and friend of 40 years Laura Flax, received its world premiere in a confident and polished account by Stephanie Key. Flax died in 2017 at age 64.

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Around the U.S.

Didactic, Sanitized Staging Abducts Mozart’s Seraglio

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – Wajdi Mouawad’s politically proper staging revisions and Emannuel Clolus’ dreary set design hamper the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio. Vocal satisfactions are partial.

Low Brass Quartet Sings From Depths In Novel Concerto

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – Jennifer Higdon’s new concerto for two trombones, bass trombone and tuba received its world premiere by a foursome of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which brings the work to Carnegie Hall on Feb. 9.

A ‘Too Emotional’ Violin Concerto, Played To The Hilt

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By Jason Victor Serinus

SEATTLE – Violinist Vilde Frang, conductor Cristian Măcelaru, and the Seattle Symphony invested Elgar’s concerto with surges of passion that conveyed the whispered intimacies of a private relationship.

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Around Canada

Symphony Shines In Rich, Rewarding New Music Festival

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – Music director Bramwell Tovey teamed with composer-in-residence Jocelyn Morlock to bring a flair for programming and a spirit of exploration to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s fifth annual New Music Festival.

Solemn Memorial Concert Reflects Afghanistan War

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – In its ambitious Remembrance Day program, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra featured Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, with a libretto by Canada’s first official “war poet,” Suzanne Steele.

Premiere, Sibelius Point Up Canada’s Twin Celebrations

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – Pianist Angela Hewitt was the soloist for the premiere of Nameless Seas by Matthew Whittall on a concert with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 that honored both the National Arts Centre’s 50th year and the 150th for Canada.

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International

Schreker Revival Takes Original To Still Darker Place

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The sexually victimized women of Franz Schreker’s 1918 opera Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized) become preyed-upon young boys in director Calixto Bieito’s production created for the Komische Oper.

Handel’s Jephtha Comes To Life In Dramatic Staging

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By James L. Paulk

PARIS – With the chorus and orchestra of Les Arts Florissants under William Christie’s direction and tenor Ian Bostridge in the title role, Claus Guth offered an imaginative staging of the oratorio at the Paris Opera.

Staging Captures L’Enfance du Christ As Living Nativity

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester ushered in the holidays with a scenic arrangement of Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ that aimed to involve the choristers as witnesses and to exploit the full space of the Philharmonie.

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Issues in the Arts

Seattle’s Maestro Designate Intends To Stir Repertoire

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By Jason Victor Serinus

INTERVIEW – Thomas Dausgaard says his first love “was and is Beethoven,” but that he’s also keen to find new voices in American music for Seattle audiences. “It’s very important for me to keep the sensibilities fresh.”

Toscanini Redux: From New Sources A Fresh Biography

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By Paul E. Robinson

BOOK REVIEW – A staggering number of recently discovered letters and recordings, studied by expert Toscanini biographer Harvey Sachs, allow important new facets of the conductor’s private and public life to emerge from the shadows.

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.

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Disc and Stream

Berliners Embrace Full-Range Adams In Maximalist Box

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL – Departing from custom, Berlin Philharmonic musicians have devoted their lavish in-house recording resources to music by a living composer – an irreverent American one at that: John Adams. They do a terrific job.

Sound, Sight Leap From The Concert Hall To The Web

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL – Video of live concerts can be costly to produce but a more compelling experience, and more effective marketing, than audio-only. Here are seven of the best orchestra websites that offer streaming video of concerts.

Back On Record, Louisville Revives Modernist Legacy

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL – The Louisville Orchestra was down for the count not too long ago, bankrupt. Now music director Teddy Abrams is dusting off the orchestra’s historic calling card – with new recordings of American symphonic music.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Fanciful Turandot Takes The Stage At Lyric Opera Of Chicago

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By Dorothy Andries: Windy City Arts

A China-that-never-was opened on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago, complete with a giant eye-popping dragon, which hovered with considerable menace in Puccini’s “Turandot.”

Richard S. Ginell - From Out of the The West

Muti/Chicago Play it Safe with All-Brahms at Disney Hall

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

The CSO remains a phenomenal instrument – they never miss – yet the most phenomenal features about these performances were the little things.

More on the 60th Monterey Jazz Festival

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
 
MONTEREY, Calif: The stresses of the bebop life took so many valuable lives prematurely, but Jimmy …

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