Saturday, February 22, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890) York Bowen (1884-1961) Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963) Joseph Kerman (1924-2014) George Zukerman (1927) Steven Lubin (1942) Lowell Liebermann (1961) Rolando Villazón (1972) and George Washington (1732-1799) Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) Edward Gorey (1925-2000) Gerald Stern (1925) Ishmael Reed (1938) Terry Eagleton (1943)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Preview of Brotons concerto for bass clarinet in The Columbian

My article about the Vancouver Symphony concerts this weekend appears in the online edition of The Columbian newspaper here. The concert will give the world premiere of Salvador Brotons' Bass Clarinet Concerto with guest artist David Gould. The orchestra will also play Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's “Celebration for Orchestra” and Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra."

Today's Birthdays

Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Charles Marie Widor (1844-1945)
Kenneth Alford (1881-1945)
Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Elena Duran (1949)
Simon Holt (1948)

and

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
Ha Jin (1956)
Chuck Palahniuk (1962)
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Johann Peter Salomon (1749-1815)
Charles‑Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)
Mary Garden (1874-1967)
Robert McBride (1911-2007)
Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)
Toshiro Mayuzumi (1929-1997)
Christoph Eschenbach (1940)
Barry Wordsworth (1948)
Cindy McTee (1953)
Riccardo Chailly (1953)
Chris Thile (1981)

and

Russel Crouse (1893-1966)
Louis Kahn (1901-1974)
Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Robert Altman (1925-2006)
Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
Louis Aubert (1877-1968))
Arthur Shepherd (1880-1958)
Grace Williams (1906-1977)
Stan Kenton (1912-1979)
Timothy Moore (1922-2003)
George Guest (1924-2002)
György Kurtág (1926)
Michael Kennedy (1926-2014)
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932-1988)
Smokey Robinson (1940)
Penelope Walmsley-Clark (1949)
Darryl Kubian (1966)

and

André Breton (1896-1966)
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
Amy Tan (1952)
Siri Hustvedt (1955)
Jonathan Lethem (1964)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632-1692)
Pietro Giovanni Guarneri (1655-1720)
Gustave Schirmer, Jr. (1864-1907)
Marchel Landowski (1915-1999)
Rolande Falcinelli (1920-2006)
Rita Gorr (1926-2012)
Yoko Ono (1933)
Marek Janowski (1939)
Marlos Nobre (1939
Donald Crockett (1951)

and

Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916)
Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957)
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Len Deighton (1929)
Toni Morrison (1931)
George Pelecanos (1957)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Hadelich astonishes with awe-inspiring performance of Paganini's First Violin Concerto

Augustin Hadelich returned to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on February 8th to give another phenomenal performance. This time, he conjured the magic of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, turning that flashy piece into an awe-inspiring artistic statement. His impressive control of dynamics allowed him to shape each line in intriguing ways, such as when he soared into the highest notes yet made them fade ever so slightly. Whispery clean lines that alternated with pizzicatos phrases looked mind-numbingly easy in his hands. The lyrical melody in the second movement had just the right amount of sweetness and tenderness, and he iced it perfectly with a section of eerie glissandi. In the final movement, his fingers raced alone like the wind and at one point he flawlessly produced tones that seemed to whistle. It was just amazing.

The audience immediately responded to Hadelich’s performance with a standing ovation that would have gone on for a long time, but Hadelich quieted everyone down by performing his transcription of Francisco Tárrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra. Again, Hadelich stunned everyone by impeccably playing the piece. It looked like he used his bow to generate one line and the fingers of his left hand to create the other. However, he did it, it was truly astounding, and he received another standing ovation.

Gabriella Smith’s Bioluminescence Chaconne received its world premiere the night before by the orchestra in Salem. Commissioned by the Oregon Symphony and conducted in the series by Carlos Kalmar, this piece offered a lot for the ears. The music had a light, yet layered touch that generated a shimmering, glowing sound. With trumpets and trombones fading in and out, it was easy to imagine whales or other creatures of the sea swimming nearby and then disappearing into the background. A distinct rhythmic drive became more prominent with the percussion section laying it on a bit thickly and three piccolos adding their voices. I distinctly heard the chaconne when the timpani took its turn (all sections of the orchestra had a go on it). I felt that Smith took us on a luminescent journey. It would be terrific if the orchestra put in on a recording.

Missy Mazzoli’s Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) offered a sonic excursion into the heavens. Lots of suspended sounds, an underlying buzz or drone, crescendos emanating from the low brass, random strikes from the percussion section, repeated glissandos in the strings, and a march-like section that suddenly cut away, did give the sense of spheres moving about somewhere in the galaxy. It was a piece that I would’ve liked to have heard again. Maybe the orchestra could add it to a future recording as well!

The orchestra delivered an incisive interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the popular arrangement by Ravel. Each movement of the piece received a polished sound. Highlights included brilliant contributions on the trumpet (Jeffrey Work), French horn (John Cox), Carin Miller Packwood (bassoon), tuba and baritone (JáTtik Clark), and the guest saxophonist who absolutely sparkled in her playing. The one odd thing was that the “Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells” didn’t generate any chuckles from the audience (like it usually does). Perhaps that was because it wasn’t spontaneous enough. In any case, there are mysteries about music that will probably remain a mystery.

Today's Birthdays

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)
Sr. Edward German (1862-1936)
Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947)
Andres Segovia (1893-1987)
Marian Anderson (1893-1993)
Paul Fetler (1920-2018)
Ron Goodwin (1925-2003)
Fredrich Cerha (1926)
Lee Hoiby (1926-2011)
Anner Bylsma (1944)
Karl Jenkins (1944)

and

Ronald Knox (1888-1957)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Chaim Potok (1929-2002)
Ruth Rendell (1930-2015)
Mo Yan (1955)

From the New Music Box:

On February 17, 1927, a sold-out audience attends the world premiere of The King's Henchman. an opera with music by composer, music critic and future radio commentator Deems Taylor and libretto by poet Edna St. Villay Millay, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The New York Times review by Olin Downes on the front page the next morning hailed it as the "best American opera." The opera closed with a profit of $45,000 and ran for three consecutive seasons. It has not been revived since and has yet to be recorded commercially.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Today's Birthdays

Charles Avison (1709-1770)
Willem Kes (1856-1934)
Selim Palmgren (1878-1951)
Maria Korchinska (1895-1979)
Alec Wilder (1907-1980)
Machito (1908-1984)
Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992)
Eliahu Inbal (1936)
John Corigliano (1938)
Sigiswald Kuiljken (1944)

and

Nikolai Leskov (1831-1895)
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963)
Richard Ford (1944)