Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Beauty in Shadows

Daisy Press: “You Are the Flower — Music from Hildegard von Bingen, Vol. 1” (StorySound Records) Kotoka Suzuki: “Shimmer, Tree” (Starkland) Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir: “strengur” (Carrier Records) “The quality that we call beauty,” writes Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, “must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Autumn Equinox Playlist

I’m not here to shit all over Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” but I do believe that the Venn Diagram between people who consider the composer’s “Autumn” to be the epitome of fall-inspired classical music and people whose image of autumn stops at Pumpkin Spice Lattes and rewatches of “Hocus Pocus” is a circle. On the eve […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Reaching the Surface

John Wilson, Sinfonia of London: “Ravel: Orchestral Works” (Chandos) Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, Marc Minkowski: “Haydn: ‘London’ Symphonies” (Naïve) Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset, et. al.: “Lully: ‘Armide’” (Aparté)  In 1980, the city of Lausanne, Switzerland commissioned Jean-Luc Godard to create a short film in celebration of its quincentenary, one of two that they would […]

Posted inInterview

More Than a Symbol

Opera is often a long game. Voices take time to mature (which is why so many 40-something singers play teenage lovers). Singers also face pressure to commit to a career early on in order to get into the right schools and study with the right teachers. The economics of an opera house or major recording […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

The Best is Noise

Raven Chacon, percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, and bassist Carlos Santistevan: “Inhale/Exhale” (Other Minds) Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica: “ppp” (SKANI) In an ongoing effort to spend as little time as possible with my own thoughts, I often have something on: A new album, a podcast, an audiobook, the same recording of “Chess” that I’ve been playing into […]

Posted inInterview

Closing the Timeline

In 2020, British mathematician Sir Roger Penrose was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory that black holes are “inevitable and perfect,” as cosmologist and author Janna Levin summarized his work: “A black hole is like a fundamental particle in its flawlessness. The event horizon hiding any individuality, they become indistinguishable.”  One year […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Under the Influence

Colin Jacobsen, Eric Jacobsen, Karen Ouzounian, The Knights: “The Kreutzer Project” (Avie) Vladimir Jurowski, Bayerisches Staatsorchester: “Beethoven: Symphony No. 2, Brett Dean: ‘Testament’” (BSO Recordings) Let’s talk about Beethoven’s second violin concerto. By which I mean his “Kreutzer” Sonata.  Of course, the “Kreutzer” Sonata isn’t a concerto in the strictest sense of the word. But […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Amateur Hour

Lisa Moore: “Frederic Rzewski: No Place to Go but Around” (Cantaloupe) The Crossing, Donald Nally: “Born” (Navona Records) Anthony Cheung: “All Roads” (New Focus Recordings) When did “amateur” become an aspersion? The late 1780s, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. But the etymology of the word is written across its forehead: Its roots are in […]

Posted inReview

Is This What You Wanted?

“Is this what you wanted,” Leonard Cohen asks in the refrain of his eponymous song, “to live in a house that is haunted by the ghost of you and me?” With the Bayreuth Festival traditionally opening the house for each performance by having members of the orchestra’s brass section play an appropriate snippet of the […]

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