Bernstein Videos: Eloquent Tristan, Rollicking Haydn

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Leonard Bernstein’s only full-length Wagner opera recording features a starry cast led by Peter Hofmann and Hildegard Behrens, while the Vienna Philharmonic delivers crackling Haydn 88, 92 and 94.

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Amahl Production Connects Artists With Community

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – For On Site Opera’s version at Church of the Holy Apostles, host to Manhattan’s largest soup kitchen, audience members were asked to donate food in lieu of cash. Tickets released online went in 20 minutes.

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In A Vast Space, Tragic Spectacle Floods The Senses

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By John Rockwell

NEW YORK – The Head and the Load, William Kentridge’s fusion of music and acting with dance and visual images, filled the cavernous Park Avenue Armory Drill Hall with the saga of a million Africans in the maw of World War I.

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Turnage’s Greek Shows It All (Plus Maggots) At BAM

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By Anne E. Johnson

BROOKLYN ‒ Mark-Anthony Turnage channels Sophocles in his deconstruction of classic tragedy, Greek. Alex Otterburn stars in the luridly comic opera, which is making audiences squeamish at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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Yannick Salvages Met’s Garish New Take On Traviata

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By Vivien Schweitzer

NEW YORK – Yannick Nézet-Séguin makes a galvanizing, earlier-than-expected debut as the Met’s new music director. The orchestra played with a sense of nuance, energy and precision not always matched by leads Violetta and Alfredo.

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MTT, Back In LA, Offers Riposte To ‘Exceptionalism’

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Native son Michael Tilson Thomas returned to his roots to lead the LA Philharmonic in his Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind, an ironic spin on American exceptionalism based on poetry of Sandburg.

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Happy Marriage: Italian Style With French Accents

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – In a concert exploring Italian-influenced French music dating from the reign of Louis XV, the ensemble Les Talens Lyriques expressed the virtues of authentic-minded musicianship and a historical approach.

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Anthracite Fields Honors Hard Life Of Coal Miners

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By Leslie Kandell

NEW YORK – Julia Wolfe’s hour-plus, five-movement oratorio, performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Bang on a Can All-Stars led by Julian Wachner, celebrated the addictive culture around a dirty job.

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Sexual Assault, Refracted Through An Operatic Prism

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – An intense new opera by composer Ellen Reid and librettist Roxie Perkins, p r i s m explored the anguish of post-assault trauma in its premiere, but the murky narrative left one wishing for some clear story-telling.

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The Good Swimmer, Song-Cycle Opera, Only Treads Water

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By David Patrick Stearns

BROOKLYN – Much of the novelty in Heidi Rodewald’s work, based on the Red Cross life-saving manual, came from the clash of blunt instructional prose incongruously jammed into pop-music contours. That technique quickly wore thin.

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BEMF Pays Stylish Visit To Alcina’s Bewitched Island

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By Anne E. Johnson

NEW YORK – The composer (Francesca Caccini), patrons, and good and evil protagonists of this comedic 1625 Alcina were all women. In look and sound, the Boston Early Music Festival’s semi-staging hewed to the style of the period.

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Around the U.S.

Saariaho’s Sound Casts Subtle Spell In U.S. Premiere

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – Only the Sound Remains, a chamber opera by Kaija Saariaho directed by Peter Sellars, is based on two Japanese Noh plays, each about a man trying to make contact with a ghostly spirit from another dimension.

Schoenberg Moves To Tinseltown In Clever New Opera

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By Keith Powers

BOSTON – Tod Machover’s Schoenberg in Hollywood tries to straddle the line between serious biography and parody. The opera works splendidly as theater, thanks in great part to the clever libretto and a score that doesn’t get in its way.

For This Orchestra Every Year Is Year Of The Woman

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By William Allbright

HOUSTON – Music by women is prominent on the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s seasons. A recent concert held works by four women, ranging from an 1847 symphony by Louise Farrenc to a world premiere by Heather Schmidt.

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Around Canada

Warsaw Winner Seong-Jin Cho Poetic, Virtuosic

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – In music by Chopin and Debussy, the 2015 Chopin Competition gold medalist gave an impressive demonstration of pianistic métier while leaving room for reservations regarding his willingness to communicate.

In Wainwright’s Hadrian, Musical Merit, Iffy Libretto

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – Despite a story of fiery passion and a score with many highlights, Rufus Wainwright’s second opera needs a rewrite. The Canadian Opera Company brought a dream production team and a stellar cast to the premiere.

Chang’s Ferocious Mahler Fifth Pulls Out All The Stops

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By Arthur Kaptainis

TORONTO – Can there be too much energy on the podium? Cellist-turned-conductor Han-Na Chang’s intensely kinetic approach to Mahler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra was a nonstop spectacle but became a bit exhausting.

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International

Modern Rendering Of Rameau Opera Fizzles In Berlin

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The first production of Rameau’s first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by choreographer Aletta Collins, was more ambitious than revealing.

Tireless Trotters, Mariinsky Shines In Stravinsky Bill

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By Richard S. Ginell

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Sometimes the results are galvanic. Other times, they can be numbingly routine: On this occasion, Valery Gergiev and the ever-touring Mariinsky Orchestra delivered the goods in two Stravinsky symphonies.

Semyon Bychkov Leads Czech Phil Into A New Era

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By Rebecca Schmid

PRAGUE – Only the fourth non-native chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic,
Semyon Bychkov wants the orchestra to be known for more than Dvořák and Smetana. A 13-city U.S. tour begins on Oct. 27.

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Issues in the Arts

A Musical Mystery: Beethoven’s ‘Lost’ Tenth Symphony

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By Paul E. Robinson

BOOK REVIEW – This brilliantly researched novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Kluger will have scholars rechecking what they thought they knew about Beethoven, and mystery lovers delighting in the deft plotting.

Season Of Verdi Reflects Lifelong Passion Of Conlon

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By Kyle MacMillan

INTERVIEW – American conductor James Conlon will lead 39 performances of the Italian composer’s works in 2018-19, reaching his 500th Verdi performance overall. He’s not yet saying where that landmark performance will be.

Pulitzer Compass Key To Mapping American Music

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By Johanna Keller

TOKYO – At the recent institute on Music From Japan, I was asked to sum up musical trends in North America today. A brief survey of the last eight Pulitzer winners reveals a rich landscape: chaotic, diverse, experimental, many-faceted.

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Disc and Stream

Reflecting On 1968 Through The Glass Of Berio’s Sinfonia

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – On a CD with the Seattle Symphony, departing music director Ludovic Morlot cleverly casts Luciano Berio’s musical collage of a tumultuous year in the heat of Boulez’s Notations I-IV and Ravel’s La valse.

Back To Blitzstein, Political Roots Of Cradle Will Rock

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By Paul Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – The premiere of this highly political piece proved to be one of the seminal moments in American musical theater. More than 82 years later, we finally have a recording of the original orchestration.

(R)evolution-ary Opera About Steve Jobs Arrives On CD

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – One of the biggest immediate successes of the 2017 music season was the world premiere of Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution Of Steve Jobs, which is now available in a recording from the inaugural Santa Fe Opera production.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Monterey Jazz Salutes The Year Of The Woman

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

MONTEREY, Calif. – The 61st Monterey Jazz Festival Sep. 21-23 was billed as a salute to “The Year Of The Woman” – and they weren’t kidding. Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and alto saxophonist Tia Fuller were designated as the artists-in-residence, singer Dianne Reeves was the 2018 Showcase Artist. The schedule was loaded.

Unreleased Coltrane CDs Stir Up The Jazz World – Again

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Everyone in jazzland seems to be weighing in on the release this week of Both Directions …

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.”

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