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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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Process of Emancipation

Talking to harpsichordists regularly, it’s easy to get the impression that issues of historical performance, musical philosophy, and even fashion weigh heavily on their minds. But how much do they really think about these big ideas while practicing and performing? I spoke with Alina Rotaru, a Romanian harpsichord soloist, continuo player, and teacher at the […]

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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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Uncanny Songs

Before she moved to London as a third-year undergraduate student less than a decade ago, Na’ama Zisser had never even been to the opera. This week sees the production of her very own, “Mamzer Bastard,” by London’s Royal Opera House at the Hackney Empire. Taking place within an orthodox Hasidic community and featuring Jewish cantorial […]

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An Element of Faith

An Interview with Pierre Hantaï By · Title Image Screenshot from a video of Pierre Hantaï performing Scarlatti on a Bizzi harpsichord · Date 6/14/2018 The harpsichord is inextricably tied to the eccentricity and experimentation of the historical performance movement. Any hot new recording of baroque repertoire would be incomplete without a first-rate instrument. But […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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The Calibrated Voice

The voices of singers tend to call forth abstract, flowery adjectives. But when you hear the baritone Matthias Goerne, it’s easy to point out the specific moments that distinguish his art. As Wotan from Wagner’s “Ring,” he sings about the castle of the gods as if it were a tender memory from Schubert’s “Winterreise.” In […]

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In Fuzzy Color

An Interview with Jessica Cottis By · Title Image © Kaupo Kikkas · Date 5/10/2018 Jessica Cottis has always had a hypersensitivity to sound. As she walks into the cafe at the British Film Institute cinema to meet me, she is acutely aware of little noises—like the man at a table on the right tapping […]