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Becoming Sound

On stage, there is something of a Monsieur Hulot-esque quality to Joëlle Léandre. She hunches over her big double bass, leaning forward with furrowed brow, huffing and puffing as she plays, sometimes letting those huffs and puffs emerge as full-throated vocalizations, each one a triumphant bof! of simultaneous exultation and exasperation. Watching her solo set […]

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Conscious Decoupling

“Hi, my name is Flora and I am an instrument.” With these words, Flora Marlene Geißelbrecht introduced her program, titled “Viola and Voice, Sybils and Songs,” for the Berlin Prize for Young Artists. But it wasn’t just a welcome—it was also a description and a summary, in typically laconic Viennese fashion. The young Austrian was […]

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

Moth Elegies

If there was ever a case for establishing a middle ground between separating the art from the artist and not, it’s Othmar Schoeck. Born in 1886 by the shores of Lake Lucerne, Schoeck found himself in the unfortunate position of being a dyed-in-the-wool Romantic working in a world that was trending inexorably towards the modern […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Night Music

Justina Jaruševičiūtė: “Silhouettes” (Piano and Coffee Records) Camerata Zürich, Igor Karsko: “Leoš Janáček: On an Overgrown Path” (ECM) Golda Schultz, Jonathan Ware: “This Be Her Verse” (Alpha Classics) Justina Jaruševičiūtė describes the “Wolf Hour” as “that time of night in which people wake up without any particular reason and can’t fall back asleep.” It’s an […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Floating in Gesture

Belcea Quartet, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Guihen Queyras: “Brahms String Sextets” (Alpha Classics) Rebeca Omordia: “African Pianism” (SOMM Recordings) Two things have been stuck in my head lately. The first comes from Anna Stavychenko’s recent interview with my colleague Hartmut Welscher, given just before Russia’s invasion, while the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra director was on permanent red alert. […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

You Want It Darker

Gidon Kremer: “Mieczysław Weinberg: Sonatas for Violin” (ECM) Stéphane Degout, Simon Lepper: “Epic: Lieder & Balladen” (Harmonia Mundi) Anna Prohaska, La Folia Barockorchester, Robin Peter Müller: “Celebration of Life in Death” (Alpha) There are several moments in the Torah when a figure, called on by God, answers that call with a single word: Hineni. It’s […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Different Trains

Eric Nathan, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, et. al.: “Missing Words” (New Focus Recordings) Danielle Eva Schwob, PUBLIQuartet, et. al.: “Out of the Tunnel” (Innova) Judd Greenstein, yMusic: “Together” (New Amsterdam) A few weeks ago, in this column, I wrote about that moment when you’re driving along a highway at consistent speed and you […]

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Form and Function

With a rough scratch, the young cellist Valerie Fritz drenches the hair of her bow in sticky rosin. The vibrations of this ritualistic rubbing motion are amplified for the listener via contact microphones. So begins Fritz’s own work, “Additional Value” for cello bows and electronics.   Three weeks ago, the 24-year-old Fritz won the Berlin Prize […]

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Input

Look through older interviews with violinist Julia Fischer, and you’ll find a disturbing mix of chauvinism and sleaze: “A desirable German export with doe eyes and blond, angelic hair”; “young, sexy, and classical”; “ready for the runway.” One television anchor says she has the “looks, talent, and intelligence of a superwoman,” only to ask her […]

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