A Tale of Three Orchestras
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West Tchaikovsky is starting to burrow into my soul, wreaking havoc along the way with his tantrums...
The Quiet Maestro, Claudio Abbado –1933-2014
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West Do you believe in ESP? Just this morning (Jan. 20), I was watching one of Leonard Bernstein’s...
Farewell to the great Jim Hall
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West Yet another jazz giant is gone; this time, it's the guitarist Jim Hall, who passed away...
The First Performance of a Britten Masterpiece, and is there a Sibelius Eighth?
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West Wouldn't it be a treat to be able to hear the actual first performance of a...
New Verdi Discs for his 200th birthday
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West Giuseppe Verdi turns 200 on Thursday Oct. 10 – and CD land is full of tributes...
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the WestMichael Tilson Thomas stopped by Hollywood Bowl recently to remind us – perhaps without meaning to – that one of Leonard Bernstein’s many legacies was the Mahler boom of the 1960s, which turned out to be permanent. Tilson Thomas, of course, has since gone on to become a world-class Mahlerian with no need to hang on to the coattails of Bernstein.
RIP the electronic wizard George Duke
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the WestWe should be getting used to the regular passing of our jazz heroes by now, but the death of George Duke Monday at the age of only 67 still comes as a devastating shock. He was still very much an active creative figure; only less than two months ago, he closed the first day of the Playboy Jazz Festival in Hollywood Bowl. Evidently he kept his struggle with leukemia to himself – always a pro putting his best face forward.
Goodbye, EMI Classics
By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the WestThe reason why you won't see these logos anymore is that Universal – which sold off EMI's classical holdings in order to get permission to acquire the bulk of EMI – still owns the rights to these brand names.
All The Rites Of Spring You Can Hear
By Richard S. GinellOn May 29, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring turns 100, and never in my memory has the centennial of a piece of music been so exhaustively commemorated with performances, festivals, symposiums, and recordings – including a massive box containing every recording in Universal’s Deutsche Grammophon/Decca/Philips stockpile. With that in mind, I’d thought I’d share with you a survey of all the recordings of the Rite that I could lay my hands on.
Road Trip, Part Two: John Adams Meets Beethoven, and vice-versa.
Pulling out of Paso Robles on US 101, it was an unseasonably hot early May day, in the 90s at least. But the further north I drove, the faster the temperature dropped – and a fine, cooling fog was rolling into San Francisco by the time I reached the city limits. The city is lucky to have such powerful air-conditioning – and it's free. The following afternoon (May 5), it was off to Davies Symphony Hall to check out for myself the current parallel recording paths of
Road Trip, Part One: A Sonic Facelift in San Luis Obispo
Now and then, these eyes, ears and feet get a little restless, so it was time to wander for awhile up the coast. So I headed out of Frazier Park the afternoon of May 3, gliding over hill and dale on the lonely Cerro Noroeste Road to State Highway 166, which then goes more-or-less directly west through the Coast Range to US 101 just north of Santa Maria. First stop was to drop in on a rehearsal of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, which over that weekend was graced by the company of the
Everest Strikes Again, Sightings of Quincy, and Other Matters
At one time, it would have never occured to me that Everest was considered to be an audiophile label. The Everest that I knew should have been called Neverest – a label that put out of some of the shoddiest, noisiest, tinny-sounding pressings in the classical record field, with bad "electronic" (fake) stereo disfiguring all mono issues. You could find Everests polluting the budget bins of college bookstores or close-out emporiums – and I found myself passing up performances that I would
Lutoslawski and Bach from Los Angeles
Esa-Pekka Salonen's set of the four Lutoslawski symphonies with the Los Angeles Philharmonic – now out at last in the U.S. – stands as one of the longest-gestating recorded cycles in the catalogue, spanning several technologies. To give you some perspective, when the cycle began with the Symphony No. 3 in 1984, a public Internet was still a pipe dream, Lutoslawski was still alive, the Fourth Symphony had yet to be written, Salonen had just made his North American debut with the
Adams’ Gospel, version 2.0 – and finally, a Dudamel/LA Phil CD
As I write this, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic are leaving for Europe, bringing along an unusually massive calling card – John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary in its current, semi-staged form. On one level, this proves that Dudamel is eager to have it both ways, comfortable with his celebrity status yet willing to take risks, refusing to play it safe with predictable popular repertoire (as in the example of the late Van Cliburn). Also,
Van Cliburn – A Hero For Another Time
When Van Cliburn left this planet today, he left a much-different world than the one in which he shot to fame some 55 long years ago. There was a Cold War going on, Sputnik had been launched, and America needed a lift. The country was ready for someone, anyone, who could wrestle the Russian bear to the ground in one field or another. Not only that, classical music had a more prominent place in the mass culture than it does now. TIME Magazine regularly covered classical music news, even
Somewhat Off-the-Beaten-Concert-Track Dept.
Usually, this blogger has enough on his plate running from the hi-fi and the flat screen TV to live concerts and back again. But over the past week, there was a string of interesting music events that were not public concerts per se, so I thought it would be diverting to take them in. First, the young, pretty, heavily-promoted Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti dropped into Los Angeles last week to make her US television debut on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" (nice to
The Perfect American – Walt Disney as Megalomaniac.
I've been watching a live telecast on the computer today from Madrid – courtesy of medici.tv, the invaluable C-SPAN of classical music – of Philip Glass's new opera The Perfect American, which has placed his name temporarily front and center in the mass media. Mind you, this isn't because it is a Glass opera. Rather, it is because it is an opera about Walt Disney – and not a flattering one. Throughout the opera's 104 minutes, we see the buccaneering,
Recordings from California that matter
California's leading musical organizations have been very active releasing recordings this past fall and winter – and yes, I've been listening and watching, though apparently not writing fast enough. So here is an attempt to catch up with what's new. In 2011, Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony revisited Philip Glass's eloquent oratorio The Passion of Ramakrishna – a piece that they unveiled during the opening concerts for Renée and Henry
Glenn Gould – Still Iconic After All These Years
Every few years or so, there is a new eruption of Gouldiana, celebrating and recirculating the strange, visionary, and amazingly durable legacy of Glenn Gould. The Canadian iconoclast would have been 80 on Sep. 25 – and oh, how he would have enjoyed today's technology, with the Internet to hide behind and play with, tweeting endlessly to his heart's and mind's delight, making those wee-hours phone calls via Skype. Today's advanced digital editing techniques would have given him even more
Dave Brubeck 1920-2012
As I was driving home from the doctor's office late this morning, I turned on the jazz station and heard the last strains of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk." Immediately, a feeling of dread arose from somewhere around the solar plexus, although I knew that his 92nd birthday was coming up soon and perhaps this was a preliminary salute. There was no back announcement, no sign that anything was up, and the station immediately segued into Lee Ritenour imitating Wes Montgomery, so I