Posted inInterview

A Hero’s Journey

Editor’s note: A few weeks after announcing his retirement from the opera stage due to incurable bile duct cancer, tenor Stephen Gould died at the age of 61 on September 19, 2023. Gould met with VAN writer Volker Hagedorn in early 2019 while headlining “Tannhäuser” at the Dresden Semperoper. In honor of the singer, much-loved […]

Posted inReview

Smeared in Gold

In his program interview with theater writer A.J. Goldmann, Barrie Kosky described his new production of the Royal Opera House “Ring” cycle as “stripping opera back to the quintessential human condition,” taking inspiration from the distilled purity of Greek dramas over the expanse of Norse and Germanic myths. This spare, brutal, yet lubricious production sets […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Children of History

The late (do I even have to say “great”?) Tina Turner’s first songwriting credit remains an anomaly in her canon: a riff on “City Called Heaven,” with some of the original text interspersed with Turner’s own lyrics. It’s a delicate arrangement, just Turner’s voice in its fathomless low range and Ike Turner’s slightly hollow-sounding blues […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Dichterliebe” All-Stars Playlist

It’s almost the “wondrous month” of May, and while Berlin has clearly decided that the 2023 vibe is icy weather and police brutality, not birds and blossoms, it’s never too late manifest the tardy appearance of spring. In that spirit, here is a playlist that, taken together, forms an “ultimate” version of Robert Schumann’s “Dichterliebe,” […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Winterreise” All-Stars Playlist

I came here as a stranger. Actually, no: I was very familiar with “Winterreise” before this latest exploration. But, after listening to 75 recordings of the work in quick succession, I’m beginning to question whether I really knew “Winterreise” before now.  While the winter solstice is behind us and days are now officially getting longer, […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Leagues of Nations

Among the cameos in Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, Kira Thurman’s jam-packed history of Black performers in German-speaking Europe, is Claudio Brindis de Salas Garrido. Thurman describes the virtuoso violinist as “a mirror reflecting German conversations about Black masculine musicality in the Kaiserreich,” or the German Empire. […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Sense and Sensuality

Simon Zaoui, Pierre Fouchenneret, Raphaël Merlin, Marie Chilemme, and Quatuor Strada: “Gabriel Fauré: Horizons II” (Aparté) Marie-Eve Munger, Les Boréades de Montréal, Philippe Bourque: “Maestrino Mozart” (ATMA Classique) Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Kirill Gerstein, Marie-Christine Zupancic: “Mieczysław Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7, Flute Concerto No. 1” (Deutsche Grammophon)  […]

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