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Issues in the Arts

Missing ‘Part Of Life,’ Andsnes Returns To U.S. Concert Touring

PERSPECTIVE – An eight-year hiatus from a recital tour in the U.S. has been unprecedented for 52-year-old Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who begins a nine-city North American swing Jan. 19 in La Jolla, Calif. He finishes Jan. 31 at Carnegie Hall.

In Chicago Symphony’s Celebration Of Women, Augury Of Sea Change

PERSPECTIVE – Julia Wolfe's fierce and exultant oratorio Her Story, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lorelei Ensemble led by Marin Alsop, capped CSO weeks that have defined the concert hall ascendancy of women.

The Everlasting Fight For Women’s Equality: An American Oratorio

PERSPECTIVE – Conductor Marin Alsop, who will lead a Chicago Symphony presentation of Julia Wolfe's Her Story, a multimedia work dealing with the generations-long struggle, reflects on the concert drama's import in politically frayed times. 

Pianist’s Autobiography Mirrors His Playing: Perceptive, Refreshing

PERSPECTIVE – Jeremy Denk’s book Every Good Boy Does Fine is a coming-of-age story: how a gifted child living in a dysfunctional family discovers music and a love of the piano and advances through his youth to a career in music.

In Generational Relay, Bright Young Maestro Takes Baton And Flies

PERSPECTIVE – Henry Kennedy, a Shropshire lad and graduate of London's Royal Academy of Music, exemplifies a promising new wave of conductors who are acquiring music's great traditions – and wisdom – from the old guard.

Resurgent Post-Covid, Opera In South America Gives Voice To Netrebko

PERSPECTIVE – The season's final operas at Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón and Santiago’s Teatro Municipal offered a chance to assess how two iconic houses are emerging from the pandemic and to hear the widely banished Anna Netrebko.

Verdi’s ‘Don Carlo(s)’ Given Both Treatments In New York, Chicago

PERSPECTIVE – The Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago have revived one of Verdi's greatest operas. While New Yorkers got the work in its traditional Italian version (photo), Chicago heard the French libretto for the first time.

In 3 Recitals, Pianists Take Old-School Turn (With Nary An Encore) 

PERSPECTIVE – It was heartening to see three recitals in Southern California by pianists from three generations: Stewart Goodyear, 44, András Schiff, 68, and Stephen Kovacevich, 82. The fare was iconic; when they were done, they were done.

Gazing at Salome Twice, Through His Lens, Hers; One Is, Like, Really Goth

PERSPECTIVE – Two productions of Strauss' lurid opera, in Basel directed by Herbert Fritsch and in Paris directed by Lydia Steier, contrasted Alice-in-Wonderland airiness with a heavy dose of ghoulish dystopianism, bloody and grim.

As A Musical Olympian, In Sprint And Marathon, Salonen Shows Mettle

PERSPECTIVE – Esa-Pekka Salonen likens the difference between composing and conducting to "running a marathon and a 100-meter race." Concerts in San Francisco and Seattle offered a glimpse of the Finnish artist in both capacities.

When Opera Orchestras Take To Concert Halls, Lyric Energy Abounds

PERSPECTIVE – Opera orchestras, whose players are possibly the hardest-working instrumentalists in show biz, don't often enjoy prestige among Beethoven and Brahms audiences, but wide listening experience brings surprising rewards.

With Virus In Retreat, Music Bug Is Back At Southeastern Festivals

PERSPECTIVE – After two years of canceled or severely curtailed performances, summer music festivals in the Southeast are roaring back at 100 percent capacity. Offerings include the opera Stinney: An American Execution in Greenville, S.C.

In Sea-Change Summer Of U.S. Music Festivals, Women Rule The Waves

PREVIEW – After decades when women were all but absent from concert podiums, the American orchestral world is racing to bring some gender equilibrium to its choices of conductors. Marin Alsop will preside as music director at Ravinia.

Maestro, Adored Mentor Putting Down Baton For Retirement’s Adventure

EVANSTON, Ill. – Bernstein, Kondrashin, and Oistrakh all factored in the remarkable life of conductor Victor Yampolsky, but his hundreds of former students at Northwestern University will tell you he made his biggest impact leading them.

Adroit Pianist Of Parts Arranges Life Between Stage, Transcriptions

PERSPECTIVE – Pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov has built a formidable reputation for both his technical and creative abilities. Besides concertizing all over the world, he carries on the transcription legacy of Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

David Schiff’s Complex Musical Lines Lead To Friendly Guy Next Door

PORTLAND – The composer's rigorous work ranges all over the musical map, but Schiff, who has two world premieres pending, remains a guy with whom you can sit down and chat about everything except sports. His favorite sport: piano.

Reich In Many Words: Images Of The Artist, Still Awaiting The Man

BOOK REVIEW – The pioneers of minimalism are getting on in years, and memoirs have been flowing. John Adams wrote one. Philip Glass wrote one. Now Steve Reich has added another, but as is his habit for music, he did it his own way.

Confessions (And Tips) From An Unrepentant Collector Of Toscanini

PERSPECTIVE – There was a time in my life when I thought I would be happy to have all the commercial Toscanini records. Then I dreamed of hearing all the conductor's broadcasts (and rehearsals!) at the New York Public Library'.

A Pianist Transcribes Her Polytonal Life As Mesmerizing Memoir

BOOK REVIEW – Montreal-born pianist Janina Fialkowska's memoir A Note in Time is a skillfully drawn portrait that will appeal not only to music lovers and industry insiders but also to anyone who responds to a story well told.

Like Hymns To Ukraine: Music’s New Meaning In Time Of A Personal War

PERSPECTIVE – Every concert I’ve heard since the Ukraine invasion has been about the war, no matter what was being played. We all know Ukrainians and will come to know many more as refugees arrive. Rarely has war been so personal.
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