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Issues in the Arts

On A Break From Audio, Fabulous Live Sound Of Opera And Concert Hall

PERSPECTIVE – During my annual coverage of the Munich High End audio show, I managed to catch two great performances: the Beethoven Ninth by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein and Tannhäuser at Munich's Bayerische Staatsoper.

Even In Twilight Years, Andrew Davis Brought Lifelong Zest To Podium

APPRECIATION – This was a shocker. Not because 80 is an unseemly age at which to make an exit, but because Andrew Davis, the British conductor who died April 20, had cut such a convivially youthful figure onstage for so many decades. 

A Cacophony Of Voices, Human And Planetary: Songs Of World As One

PERSPECTIVE – Composer Matthew Aucoin's new Music for New Bodies, directed for the stage by Peter Sellars, is a “synesthetic song cycle” that reflects the interconnectedness of individuals and collective humanity with the wider natural world.

Sampling Art Of Song, Will Liverman Leaves Final Lyric To His Mom

PERSPECTIVE – The baritone's new album Show Me the Way, with pianist Jonathan King, is shared by a variety of guest artists, but the last word goes to Will's mother, gospel singer Terry Liverman, accompanied by her versatile son at the piano.

The Ormandy Mystique Captured In A Box, But Then Again, Not Really

PERSPECTIVE – Whatever conclusions arise in the ever-evolving reputation of Eugene Ormandy and his Philadelphia Orchestra era, a new 88-CD box covering the years 1958-1963 is likely to prove everybody to be absolutely right and dead wrong.

International Harmony Via Cultural Exchange: It’s Major In Minor Steps

PERSPECTIVE – The victory by pianist Van Cliburn (pictured with Nikita Khrushchev) at the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition helped to calm the Cold War. Even In today's fractious world, cultural exchanges offered in good faith are worthwhile.

Seiji Ozawa, Exceptional And Inspiring, Left His Stamp On Music World

APPRECIATION – In a career spanning half a century, the Japanese conductor, who died Feb. 6 at age 88, first took Toronto by storm, then turned a blazing light on the Boston Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna State Opera.

‘X’ At Last Marks Spot For Anthony Davis In World Of Modern Opera

EVANSTON, Ill. – When the New York City Opera premiered Anthony Davis’ first opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, in 1986, his career seemed poised for launch. It didn't happen. But a Met staging in 2023 has brought vindication.

Quartet Mulled Summit Before Beginning Climb To Beethoven CD Cycle

PERSPECTIVE –To record that matchless body of string quartets, said the first violinist of the Dover Quartet, stamps a group "trying to carry the torch" of great ensembles. The Dover completed its well-received cycle on the Çedille label in 2022.

Beloved Maestro, Back On Home Ground, Talks Vernacular Americana

PERSPECTIVE – Leonard Slatkin, music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1979-96 and relocated to the city since 2018, will lead concerts of works displaying non-classical influences by American composers and others.

Classical Critic Found Own Way Into Craft Via Creative Portal Of Jazz

BOOK REVIEW – Mark Stryker, former classical and jazz music critic for The Detroit Free Press and author of Jazz from Detroit, says he fell in love with jazz at age 9 and progressively made his way back from new music to Mozart and Beethoven.

Japanese Orchestras, Polished And Thriving, Rival Best In The West

PERSPECTIVE – Not many music lovers outside Japan are aware of the treasure trove of great orchestras this country possesses. Virtually every concert I have heard in Japan over the past decade has been a highly gratifying experience,

Three For The Show: Spate Of Sondheim, Old And, Well…‘Here We Are’

PERSPECTIVE – Two years after his death at 91, New York offers a Sondheim trifecta that includes boffo revivals of Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along as well as the posthumous Here We Are. But ticket prices are piggy-bank breaking.

In Lenny’s Garden: ‘Maestro’ Tunnels Deep Into A Magical Persona

MOVIE REVIEW – Far better than expected, the Leonard Bernstein biopic starring, directed, and co-written by Bradley Cooper is an Oscar-baiting artwork unto itself. It's not for nothing that Carey Mulligan, as Bernstein's wife, gets top billing.

Balanchine’s NYC Ballet Leaps To 75th Year, Still Looking Bold, Brilliant

PERSPECTIVE – The works of George Balanchine, founding artistic director of City Ballet, pass from generation to generation through a lineage of dancers going back to the master himself. A fall season of Balanchine deserves a 21-gun salute.

As The Emerson Exits, Several Fine Quartets Are Poised To Ascend

PERSPECTIVE – With concerts Oct. 21 and 22 at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, the Emerson String Quartet will end its celebrated 47-year career. The Dover Quartet (right) is among younger groups displaying the potential to hit such heights.

Heggie’s Opera Bounty And Diversity Mirrored In Swell Of Productions

PERSPECTIVE – As the Met Opera unveils an impressive take on Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, other companies are cueing works by this lyrical and resourceful composer who keeps pushing to bring new perspectives to his art.

Tapping Into Music As Unconscious Chronicle Of Post-Holocaust Era

BOOK REVIEW – What do we want to remember, and how should we? What monument or artwork can appropriately perpetuate a memory? These enigmatic questions underlie Jeremy Eichler's perspective on music in the wake of World War II.

Thomas Schippers Bio Explores Art, Glamour Of A Meteoric Maestro

BOOK REVIEW – Nancy Spada's new book provides an overdue portrait of the prodigious American conductor, known as much for his movie-star looks as he was for his expertise in opera, who died of cancer in 1977 at age 47.

Portrait Of A Composer Still Living Tradition Of Elgar, Vaughan Williams

DIGITAL REVIEW – Composer-pianist Penelope Thwaites, 79, performs at the center of a CD offering a retrospective on her purposefully “retro" body of work. Her music is rightly archived here as a last vestige of a lush British sound.
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