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Sonic Cultures

The Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös has lived in Germany, France, and Holland, and worked closely with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. In 2004, he returned home to Budapest. His primary motivation was the theater. Going to plays abroad, he told me, “you understand the words, but not always what’s behind them. My wife and I […]

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Sophie’s Choice

An Interview with Opera Casting Director Sophie Joyce Text · Title Image © Foto PR · Date 12.6.2019 On May 14, I sat in on an hour’s worth of auditions for the early rounds of the 2019 Neue Stimmen (New Voices) opera competition. Visibly nervous singers entered a cavernous rehearsal space, weary pianist in tow. […]

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Cast Together

An orchestra is like a pendulum. Pull it in one direction—toward a more contemporary, progressive repertoire, say—and eventually it will swing back toward the crowd-pleasers. This regrettable pattern can be observed whenever an enterprising music director leaves. In Boston, the profoundly flawed choice of James Levine nevertheless shaped the idea of what an orchestra can […]

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Sunken Costs

In 2015, the Italian pianist Marco Sanna and his duo partner saw on Facebook that an artist management company called Xenia Evangelista Communications was signing new performers. They sent the company an application, including a cover letter and a CD, in the mail. Soon after, Evangelista, who is based in Munich, emailed the duo expressing […]

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The Elephant In The Opera

On Monday, the Staatsoper Berlin announced its 2019-20 program. Aside from a few potential highlights—René Jacobs leading Scarlatti and a new ballet by Georg Friedrich Haas—the programming reads like a parody of a conservative orchestra season, featuring yet another Beethoven cycle, Brahms cycle, and “Ring.” The soloists are of high quality, but belong firmly to […]

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Sound And Stasis

Using mostly the variable of finger pressure, Daniil Trifonov creates an astonishing variety of colors. Often, in the piano’s higher register, he makes the instrument sound metallic, as if it were prepared. Simple rhythmic accompaniments turn rich and propulsive. In one Shostakovich song, he somehow manages to give a Bösendörfer the exactly timbre of muted […]

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Baby Work

An Interview with Yu Long By · Title Image © Shanghai Symphony Orchestra · Date 12/20/2018 In November, I traveled to Shenzhen, China for a conference on the future of Chinese classical music. Sponsored by Volkswagen China’s cultural initiative—which, full disclosure, paid for my flights—the conference gathered orchestral conductors, managers and administrators to the top […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Chinese Composers Playlist

Music has a way of slipping through the fingers of politicians. In his memoir Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met, the bass Haojiang Tian writes of the way certain songs of the Cultural Revolution, once force-fed to the Chinese population, became sentimental ear-worms, even for the persecuted. The role […]