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The Constraints of the Present

Since founding the early music ensemble Le Poème Harmonique in 1997, Vincent Dumestre has brought Palmeritan puppeteers to perform a forgotten opera about the mad Roman emperor Caligula; collaborated with circus players on 17th-century church music; and invited a diverse array of contemporary theater directors and choreographers to stage, among other things, a Spanish Baroque […]

Posted inEssay

Wood Made Flesh

“If Marina Abramovic had been a violinist, she would’ve been drawn to” Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s “Rosary” or “Mystery” Sonatas for violin and continuo, violinist Daniel Pioro tells me. With organist James McVinnie, Pioro performs the complete “Rosary” Sonatas at London’s Southbank Centre on January 22. The cycle is spread across three performances in […]

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The Direction of History

Gambist and conductor Jordi Savall has recorded over 200 albums, most featuring music written before 1750—the year most mainstream conductors’ repertoire begins. Then, in 2018, Savall began a plan to perform multiple projects of Mozart and Beethoven. He was dipping his toe into the 19th century. Last week in Barcelona, Savall performed Schubert’s Eighth and […]

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 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 inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

For Your (Re)consideration

Patricia Petibon, La Cetra, Andrea Marcon: “La Traversée” (Sony) BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, Peter Donohoe: “Dora Pejačević: Piano Concerto & Symphony” (Chandos) Giulia Semenzato, Kammerorchester Basel: “Angelica Diabolica” (Alpha) We’re in the middle of a renaissance for historically-maligned women: Tonya Harding, Monica Lewinsky, Britney Spears, Lorena Bobbitt, and Pamela Anderson are among those whose […]

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The Desire to be Human

Andreas Scholl is one of the best-known German countertenors. His popstar potential can be measured by the fact that he was the first countertenor to be a guest at Last night of the Proms and on a few late-night talk shows. He’s played a key role in shaping the countertenor renaissance of the last 30 […]

Posted inInterview

Hit Me in the Belly

On March 18, the trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger celebrated his 60th birthday with a concert with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he performed Brett Dean’s trumpet concerto “Dramatis personae,” and smiled gamely (and sipped champagne) through an encore rendition of the theme from “Superman” in his honor. (Disclosure: As with my recent interview with […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Wild Locusts and Honey

Raphaël Pichon, Pygmalion, et. al.: “Bach: ‘Saint Matthew Passion’” (Harmonia Mundi) John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, et. al.: “Bach: ‘Saint John Passion’” (Deutsche Grammophon)  Harry Bickett, The English Concert, et. al: “Handel: ‘La Resurrezione’” (Outhere Music) In the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, a post-crucifixion Jesus returns to earth. He tells his […]

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A Vigil to a Life

When the world falls to pieces, it’s hard to stick to a single story. The best I could do in these three weeks was to put up signposts. It’s my way of trying to remember some important things. The first day of the war, I woke up and read the news. The world had crumbled […]

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