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 […]

Posted inReport

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 […]

Posted inInterview

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 […]

Posted inInterview

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

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 that bother some of […]

Posted inEssay

Border Lament

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 says. “I don’t want them to deport him.” The response […]

Posted inInterview

Sudden Shattering

In May, a new staging of Handel’s “Semele” premiered at the Komische Oper in Berlin. Allan Clayton, in coattails, a three-piece suit, and pink socks, played a sprightly Jove, who has just fallen in love with a mortal woman. When he sang the lines “Where’er you tread the blushing flow’rs shall rise / And all […]

Posted inInterview

A Memory of Violence

An Interview with Mark Barden By · Title Image Polka Dots by Yayoi Kusama (Public Domain, via Pixabay) · Date 5/31/2018 The Berlin-based, American composer Mark Barden writes music that is both technically refined and irresistibly gripping. He has an ear for rhythmic propulsion and microtonal chords that make sense and sound beautiful without falling […]