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Sound And Stasis

An Interview with Daniil Trifonov By · Illustrations · Date 1/24/2019 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 […]

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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 inEssay

The Death and Life of Spectral Music

Illustrations Carine Kuntz Something is killing spectral composers. Gérard Grisey, the pioneer of the genre, died of a stroke at age 52, immediately following the completion of his funereal work “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil.” Claude Vivier, the Quebecois Jonathan van Ness of new music, was murdered at 34 by a man he picked […]

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Rules of Engagement

In Wieland Hoban’s composition “Hora’ot Pticha Be’esh (Rules of Engagement I),” from 2013-14, we hear distorted microtones, low glissandi, plucking, instrumental squealing. This music accompanies testimony by a Sergeant First Class in the Armored Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in the winter of 2008-9. The soldier speaks in […]

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Faked Silence

An Interview with Salvatore Sciarrino By · Title Image Eugen Bracht “The Shore of Oblivion” (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons · Date 7/5/2018 Listening to Salvatore Sciarrino’s “Sei Capricci” for solo violin might best be compared to spending 20 minutes in a butterfly garden. The music rustles, flickers, alights for the briefest moment somewhere, and […]

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The Human Comedy

An Interview with Norman Lebrecht By · Title Image © Istvan Bielik · Date 6/28/2018 “The dirty world printed in the newspapers is our own,” wrote Thomas Bernhard in his final novel, Extinction. The same might be said of Norman Lebrecht’s blog Slipped Disc, perhaps the only publication to write about classical music the same […]

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Simon Said

Photography Jeffrey Arlo Brown Simon Rattle grits his teeth and flares his nostrils. He raises his silver eyebrows, opens his mouth in vowel shapes, closes his eyes again in an ecstatic expression, bounces his baton off the air. These are his ways of expressing how the music makes him feel. They are also the tics […]

Posted inEssay

Border Lament

Analyzing the Sounds of State Terror By · Date 6/21/2018 For a second or two it could be a playground: tiny voices cry. Then they keep crying, panting for air from the crying, their voices wavering from the exhaustion from the crying and the panting. “I don’t want them to stop my father,” a child […]