Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Symmetries of Desire

There are tenors who fuck, and then there are tenors who fuck. Sure, hearing Jonas Kaufmann pump out “Winterstürme” is good for some heady thrills, and I wouldn’t not tuck Jussi Björling’s “Ch’ella mi creda” in my hope chest. But let’s talk for a moment about the ténor de grâce. At first blush, they may […]

Posted inEssay

A Chained Man’s Bruise

“You get this idea of someone knowing that something is not right,” experimental vocalist Elaine Mitchener says of Peter Maxwell Davies’s “Eight Songs for a Mad King.” “It’s askew. You know the headache you have when you have a migraine—you can’t actually see something in front of the eye? That’s how I feel with this: […]

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 inInterview

Upsetting Simplicity

In April, tenor Ian Bostridge released his latest book, a brief meditation on the intricacies of vocal interpretation in music by Monteverdi, Ravel, and Britten titled Song and Self: A Singer’s Reflections on on Music and Performance. In May, he gave a recital at the Boulez Saal in Berlin, with pianist Julius Drake, of works […]

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 inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Organized Systems

Among Leo Tolstoy’s many near-death experiences (he did, after all, serve in the army, receive multiple threats against his life, and lived in a time before antibiotics) was one that took place when he was 25. In January 1854, the young count was lost overnight in a snowstorm with his servant while traveling by troika […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Historical Pauses

Early on in “The Factotum,” Will Liverman and K-Rico’s setting of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” in a Black barber shop, Liverman’s Figaro-ish character, Mike, sings about the legacy of carrying on the barber shop he inherited from his father. When Lyric Opera of Chicago shared a sneak peek of “The Factotum” in 2021, it included […]

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, […]

error: This content is protected