Posted inPages Turned

Through the Rubble

There’s a decent case for Felix Mendelssohn being the most important figure in the history of Western classical music, though primarily for the music he programmed, rather than for the music he wrote. Answering the impassioned cry of Bach’s biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel for an increased visibility of masterpieces if music wished to be taken […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

In These Times

“Beethoven” It’s always fun when an album nearly slips past your radar until it becomes the catalyst for controversy. This isn’t a slight to Alice Sara Ott, whose early recordings of Chopin’s complete waltzes and Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata are among my favorite interpretations. More likely, her Beethoven compendium—including a live performance of the First Piano […]

Posted inEssay

Abstracting Evil

In 2012, Austrian film director Michael Haneke criticized Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Holocaust drama, “Schindler’s List,” for the way it manipulates its audience. “The idea, the mere idea of trying to draw and create suspense out of the question of whether gas or water is going to come out of the showerhead to me is unspeakable,” […]

Posted inBreaking

Queer, Dangerous, Exciting

James Jorden, who died earlier this week at 69, is almost certainly one of the most influential people in my life who I never met. In 1994, frustrated with his own floundering career as a stage director, and by the sorry state of both opera writing (overly academic guff or reformatted press releases) and opera […]

Posted inOpinion

Immoral Decisions

Update, 10/6/23: WCPE announced via its website that, “After careful deliberation, due consideration, and hearing from our supporters, listeners and the public, The Classical Station has decided to broadcast the entire 2023-2024 season of New York Metropolitan Opera.” Last month, Berlin’s newly-nomadic Komische Oper opened its first season in exile with Hans Werner Henze’s “Das […]

Posted inInterview

Out of Hand

John Holloway plays the Baroque violin with a sinewy sweetness, his lines as textured and alive as the bark of a tree or the hand of a nonagenarian. That his career started on the modern violin in a conventional orchestra—after conservatory, Holloway was briefly principal second in the Bournemouth Sinfonietta—now seems as improbable as late […]

Posted inEssay

Hopelessly Devoted

Paul and I say our goodbyes in the dingy half-light of a Berlin bar. His fastidious punctuality has given way to a soft fatigue brought on by the end of long night’s work, but his professional guard remains firmly in place. The hug is cordial, measured in its familiarity. We ask one another the unobtrusive […]

Posted inBreaking

The Politics of D Major

Like a panel of elementary-school teachers, music critics weren’t mad—just disappointed yesterday. That was when the Staatsoper Unter den Linden announced that conductor Christian Thielemann would replace Daniel Barenboim as music director starting with the 2024-25 season. Stern and badly-spelled I expected better of yous rang out across the land, directed at the city’s center-right […]

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