Posted inReview

 Love, Anger, Agency

Kate Molleson begins Sound within Sound: Opening Our Ears to the Twentieth Century with a loud call for change. “I write this book out of love and anger. The love, because I want to shout from the rooftops that classical music is gripping, essential, personally and politically game changing. The anger, because I can’t shout proudly about a […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Time Future

Danish String Quartet: “Prism IV” (ECM) Wild Up: “Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy” (New Amsterdam) “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future,” writes T.S. Eliot at the beginning of his Four Quartets. The work was in part inspired by Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 132, which Eliot found “quite inexhaustible” […]

Posted inInterview

Title Change

Has New York’s Metropolitan Opera, led by manager Peter Gelb since 2006 and probably at once the most beloved and most hated institution in all of classical music, been going through an astonishing rough patch? Or has its visibility simply made it a lightning rod for systemic issues facing the entire field? The last seven […]

Posted inOpinion

Cartographies of Meaning

At the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky posed the question: “What is more opposite to music?” and answered, “The silence of ruined cities and killed people.” Dressed in his now-iconic khaki t-shirt, Zelensky evoked in a short video the silence which Ukrainians are facing in their own land, and exhorted musicians […]

Posted inInterview

The Birth of a New Ritual

As a child, Alvin Curran would lie in bed at his parents’ Providence, Rhode Island home and listen to the counterpoint between the booms of trains shunting together at a nearby rail yard and foghorns down at the harbor a few miles away. “Was that a piece of music?” I ask him. “Absolutely,” he replies. […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

An Elegant Matrix

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Joonas Ahonen: “Le monde selon George Antheil” (Alpha Classics) Florent Ghys: “Ritournelles” (Cantaloupe) Florent Ghys: “Mosaïques” (Cantaloupe) Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava: “John Cage: Choral Works” (Ondine) The fact that you are reading this article right now owes much to a request posed to composer George Antheil in 1940: “Hedy Lamarr wants to […]

Posted inEssay

Method Singing

“Operatic performers quickly learn how to make a declaration of love, to suffer, to meditate, to die, and so on, and they repeat these forms in all analogous situations that they happen to be in. These are well-known, rubber-stamp effects. Nearly everyone knows them all, and speaks of them scornfully, yet…a majority of singers go […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Ulysses” Playlist

James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses has hummed with sound for one hundred years. “Mrkgnao!” goes Leopold Bloom’s cat while he makes breakfast; “Pprrpffrrppffff” goes his posterior after dinner later. We hear the chattering of the telegraph in the “Aeolus’” episode, the clattering of cutlery and clinking of glasses as Bloom eats and drinks his way […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Still Somewhere

Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow: “Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2” (BIS) Joanna Goodale: “Debussy in Resonance” (Paratay) Lavinia Meijer: “Are You Still Somewhere?” (Sony) As the composer himself tells the story, when Camille Saint-Saëns was six years old, he composed a romance for a singer. The 12-bar work left its interpreter’s father […]