Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

By Richard S. Ginell

Notes From The L.A. Mahlerthon – Part Two

     Gustavo Dudamel wanted to complete his Mahler Project with a performance of the Eighth Symphony that mirrored the 1910 premiere of the piece – with a thousand or more performers.  There was a little problem, though – Walt Disney Concert Hall only seats 2,265 customers, and with so many performers taking up so much room, not many tickets would be available. Also, it was winter – and though temperatures turned out to be on the mild side, who would take a chance on booking a big outdoor arena many

Notes from the L.A. Mahlerthon

    Here in Los Angeles – suddenly the Mahler capital of the world for three-and-a-half weeks in winter – we are two-thirds of the way through Gustavo Dudamel's audacious journey from memory through all nine completed symphonies, plus the Adagio from the Tenth and Songs Of A Wayfarer. Time to take a breather before resuming the Mahlerthon, and gather a few thoughts together:  – As a rule of the thumb, the best performances have been of those symphonies with which Dudamel has had the most

For The First Time Anywhere – Shostakovich’s Orango in Los Angeles

The first performance of the prologue to a hitherto-unknown unfinished Shostakovich opera, "Orango," arrived at Walt Disney Concert Hall Dec. 2-4 – and it was everything I had hoped it would be.   "Orango" dates from 1932, when Shostakovich was still in prime satirical mode before the darkness of Pravda's denunciation shrouded his life a few years later.  The prologue introduces the proposed opera much the way Berg's "Lulu" begins – an "entertainer" leads spectators

Dazzled by the BSO in Disney Hall

    The Boston Symphony Orchestra doesn't come out to the West Coast very often; indeed, "the Aristocrat of Orchestras," as they were marketed in the Erich Leinsdorf era, hadn't been to Los Angeles in 20 years. So when they do make it here, you go – especially since it was their first time playing in Walt Disney Concert Hall Dec. 10.       True, I wish that James Levine's original program had been retained, for Bartok's "Miraculous Mandarin" Suite and Wagner's Prelude

And Then There Were Three … plus, A New Shostakovich Cycle

    Random thoughts and comments about some happenings in recordland ...     The news that EMI's recordings division is about to be gobbled up by Vivendi's Universal behemoth – unless the EU tries to block it – will set a lot of collectors' minds reeling.  Ironic that Deutsche Grammophon – originally spawned as a German spinoff of EMI's ancestor, the Gramophone Company – is now part of the group that will take over its parent.  Amazing that virtually all of the

Steve Jobs: Done Too Soon

A giant has fallen before his time should have been up – and I got the news minutes after it was announced on my Apple MacBook laptop.  Which shouldn't come as a surprise, since my laptop has become my office, my typewriter, my publishing arm, my archive, my primary research tool, my CD and DVD player and burner, my satellite music collection, my television set, my mailbox, my newspaper, my photo lab, my musical instrument, my road map, my weatherman, my shopping mall, my consumer guide ... and I'll bet that's not even

Kurt Sanderling: The Last Man Standing

       I’m listening right now to a treasurable recording of Kurt Sanderling – who died Saturday just two days short of his 99th birthday – conducting Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 with the Dresden Staatskapelle circa 1971 or ‘72.  It’s slow but beautiful and flowing, each phrase curling up and inevitably leading to the next with a firm pulse underlying everything.  There are other roads to Brahms 3 than this, but while you’re immersed in Sanderling’s vision, you

One More DVD From Cleveland

      During the Franz Welser-Möst regime – which looks to be a long one – the Cleveland Orchestra’s preferred recording medium has been the DVD over all audio formats.  So far, this policy has paid off with an excellent collection of Bruckner videos that may turn into a complete cycle if we’re lucky. Symphonies Nos. 5, 7 and 9 have been out for awhile; No. 5 is the pick of the lot with the added advantage of being performed in Bruckner’s own reverberant St. Florian Church

A Cornucopia of Mahler videos for the Centenary

      There is a growing stack of new Mahler DVDs on my shelf, and it cannot be a coincidence that this cornucopia of video has come during the centenary year of Mahler’s death.  For decades, Mahler on video consisted mainly of Leonard Bernstein’s pioneering, still-magnetic Mahler video symphony cycle of the 1970s (plus one last outburst of songs in 1988-90) and a cloud of dust.  But Mahler belongs to the whole world now, and while this new burst of video doesn’t replace Lenny’s unique

Chamberfest Ottawa: No Longer Just Canada’s Secret

By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Spanning exactly two weeks, Chamberfest Ottawa just completed its 18th season, with a staggering 94 events (down from a high of somewhere in the low 100s) often in overlapping concerts so that no one can possibly hear it all. The emphasis remains mostly upon Canadian performers but the range of idioms is burgeoning outward, expanding into jazz, tango, Asian and mariachi music, street events, and more.

Wagner, Jazz and Pop: An Alliance of Limited Success

By Richard S. Ginell
One hundred and thirty-five years since its 1876 premiere, Richard Wagner's Ring remains the biggest operatic show on earth, and the composer's influence... has, ever since, been immense and amply documented. Yet what influence has this irresistible force had upon the popular and jazz fields? Not a hell of a lot, if the truth be told. Upon jazz, for the most part, Wagner's actual language has had little impact.
Classical Voice North America