Posted inReport

Inside the Crisis at the Cleveland Institute of Music

On September 13, the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra met at Kulas Hall for its first rehearsal of the academic year. But the orchestra didn’t play. Instead, a group of student musicians, dressed in blue, sat silently without their instruments. Many seats were empty. The dozen or so string players who brought their instruments warmed […]

Posted inInterview

The Possibility for Conflict

Discussing repertoire in VAN last week, pianist András Schiff said, “No one can do everything; we have our limits.” Tell that to Jacob Greenberg. A longtime member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Greenberg performs as a soloist, accompanist, and with orchestras on piano, harpsichord, harmonium, organ, and clavichord. He has recorded repertoire ranging from Bach […]

Posted inInterview

What Ebbs Away

Composer Donnacha Dennehy writes music inflected by the overtone harmonies of the French spectralists and the propulsive rhythms of American minimalism, a combination resulting in something all his own. It’s a captivating blend that perceives the hypnotic thread uniting two genres often considered at odds (and whose practitioners were frequently dismissive of one another). I […]

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Next to a Miracle

On Alexander Melnikov’s latest album, titled “Fantasie,” the Russian pianist performs music by seven composers including two Bachs, Mendelssohn, Busoni, and Schnittke. Despite the Romantic reveries implied by the title—in the feet of a lesser pianist, this would be a washed, pedal-heavy album—Melnikov’s approach to the fantasies is decisive and articulate, full of precision and […]

Posted inInterview

The Sounding Organism

Immediately recognizable in Greek-French composer Georges Aperghis’s works are moments of startling, absurd and often witty theater. In his famous “Récitations” for solo female voice, sensual incantations expand and contract, pyramid-like, on the page and in time; “Les guetteurs de sons” (for three percussionists) delights in the play of sound, movement, and expectation created by […]

Posted inRankings & Roundups

Every Bach Cantata, Ranked

After ranking the complete Scarlatti sonatas and Schubert songs, you might think I’d have learned my lesson, both in time spent and in baffled—or worse—reactions received. Still, I admit when I decided to take on ranking the complete Bach Cantatas, I was a little naive about the time commitment required. With fairly regular listening, this […]

Posted inInterview

Upsetting Simplicity

In April, tenor Ian Bostridge released his latest book, a brief meditation on the intricacies of vocal interpretation in music by Monteverdi, Ravel, and Britten titled Song and Self: A Singer’s Reflections on on Music and Performance. In May, he gave a recital at the Boulez Saal in Berlin, with pianist Julius Drake, of works […]

Posted inOpinion

Exotic Educational Experiences

In October 2020, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) acquired the management company Opus 3 Artists. In May 2022, the conservatory bought the boutique Dutch record label Pentatone. And in December 2022, SFCM added the prestigious London agency Askonas Holt to its portfolio, consolidating Opus 3 under Askonas chief executive Donagh Collins.  These acquisitions […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Dichterliebe” All-Stars Playlist

It’s almost the “wondrous month” of May, and while Berlin has clearly decided that the 2023 vibe is icy weather and police brutality, not birds and blossoms, it’s never too late manifest the tardy appearance of spring. In that spirit, here is a playlist that, taken together, forms an “ultimate” version of Robert Schumann’s “Dichterliebe,” […]

Posted inInterview

The Process of Enrichment

On April 22, Kent Nagano will bring his Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra to Carnegie Hall for a performance of Beethoven, Brahms, and a new work by composer Sean Shepherd, “On a Clear Day” (featuring cellist Jan Vogler and an international youth choir and set to poetry by writer Ulla Hahn). I spoke with Nagano recently […]

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