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 […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Only Connect

Nicholas Phan, Brooklyn Rider, et. al.: “Stranger – Works for Tenor by Nico Muhly” (Avie) London Choral Sinfonia, Michael Waldron, et. al: “Colourise” (Orchid Classics)  In his program notes for “Stranger,” Nico Muhly writes that he “almost always” prefers prose to poetry as a composer; setting prose “offers a more oblique entry-point into the text.” […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Between Cosmos and Chaos

Martin Fröst, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra: “Jesper Nordin: Emerging from Currents and Waves (Live)” (BIS) Angélique Kidjo, Filharmonie Brno, Dennis Russell Davies: “Philip Glass: Symphony No. 12, ‘Lodger’” (Orange Mountain Music) Nightingale String Quartet: “Vagn Holmboe: String Quartets, Vol. 2” (Dacapo) If Elon Musk’s Twitter deal had gone through, would there have been […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Empty Spaces

Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Heinz Holliger: “Schönberg: Kammersymphonie Op. 9, Sechs Kleine Stücke, Op. 19; Webern: Symphonie, Op. 21, Fünf Sätze, Op. 5” (Fuga Libera) Zehava Gal, Laurence Dale, Veronique Dietschy, Carl Johan Falkman, et. al. “La tragédie de Carmen” Bertrand Chamayou: “Messiaen: Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus” (Erato) “I can take any empty […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Richard Taruskin Playlist

Musicologist Richard Taruskin, who died on July 1 at the age of 77, once recalled a note he’d received from his colleague Susan McClary, saying that the two were “among the few comic writers in an otherwise grim and humorless discipline.”  At times, this could be “funny ha-ha.” After quoting a set of debatable claims […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Time Future

Danish String Quartet: “Prism IV” (ECM) Wild Up: “Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy” (New Amsterdam) “Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future,” writes T.S. Eliot at the beginning of his Four Quartets. The work was in part inspired by Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 132, which Eliot found “quite inexhaustible” […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

An Elegant Matrix

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Joonas Ahonen: “Le monde selon George Antheil” (Alpha Classics) Florent Ghys: “Ritournelles” (Cantaloupe) Florent Ghys: “Mosaïques” (Cantaloupe) Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava: “John Cage: Choral Works” (Ondine) The fact that you are reading this article right now owes much to a request posed to composer George Antheil in 1940: “Hedy Lamarr wants to […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Still Somewhere

Alexandre Kantorow, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow: “Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2” (BIS) Joanna Goodale: “Debussy in Resonance” (Paratay) Lavinia Meijer: “Are You Still Somewhere?” (Sony) As the composer himself tells the story, when Camille Saint-Saëns was six years old, he composed a romance for a singer. The 12-bar work left its interpreter’s father […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

A Little Tenderness

Reinis Zarins: “Pēteris Vasks: Solo Works” (Ondine) Nicky Spence, Christopher Glynn: “Schubert: The Fair Maid of the Mill” (Signum) Overheard last week in Tempelhof Field—a public park fashioned, in true Berliner style, out of an abandoned airport:  “I hate it here.” “Berlin?”“No, this plane of existence.” A relatable feeling. Fortunately, there’s a new Pēteris Vasks recording. […]