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 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 […]

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 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

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 […]