Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

In the Wake

Classical music isn’t known for being in-the-moment: Seasons are planned years in advance, and there are people who still refer to “The Rite of Spring” (1913) as “contemporary” music. Even in this deferred environment, however, lockdown albums and works composed in the mindset of social distancing are nothing new. With so much downtime and so […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Autumn Equinox Playlist

I’m not here to shit all over Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” but I do believe that the Venn Diagram between people who consider the composer’s “Autumn” to be the epitome of fall-inspired classical music and people whose image of autumn stops at Pumpkin Spice Lattes and rewatches of “Hocus Pocus” is a circle. On the eve […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Amateur Hour

Lisa Moore: “Frederic Rzewski: No Place to Go but Around” (Cantaloupe) The Crossing, Donald Nally: “Born” (Navona Records) Anthony Cheung: “All Roads” (New Focus Recordings) When did “amateur” become an aspersion? The late 1780s, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. But the etymology of the word is written across its forehead: Its roots are in […]

Posted inReview

The Indifferent Cosmos

In July 1996, Gérard Grisey was at work on the first movement of what would be his final composition, the “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil”  (“Four songs for crossing the threshold”) when he made a note to himself in his journal. “If I ever compose an opera,” he wrote, “make the stakes and the […]

Posted inHistory

Caller of Spirits

When pianist Mark Austin began researching composer Peter Warlock, ahead of recording an album of his songs with the mezzo-soprano Anna Harvey, Austin focussed on the music and not the life. “I started to read a biography of Warlock and I got about halfway through,” he says. “This is unusual for me, as I’m normally […]

Posted inStuff I’ve Been Hearing

Only Connect

Nicholas Phan, Brooklyn Rider, et. al.: “Stranger – Works for Tenor by Nico Muhly” (Avie) London Choral Sinfonia, Michael Waldron, et. al: “Colourise” (Orchid Classics)  In his program notes for “Stranger,” Nico Muhly writes that he “almost always” prefers prose to poetry as a composer; setting prose “offers a more oblique entry-point into the text.” […]

Posted inInterview

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

A Little Tenderness

Reinis Zarins: “Pēteris Vasks: Solo Works” (Ondine) Nicky Spence, Christopher Glynn: “Schubert: The Fair Maid of the Mill” (Signum) Overheard last week in Tempelhof Field—a public park fashioned, in true Berliner style, out of an abandoned airport:  “I hate it here.” “Berlin?”“No, this plane of existence.” A relatable feeling. Fortunately, there’s a new Pēteris Vasks recording. […]

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 […]

Posted inInterview

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 […]

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