Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
John Stanley (1712-1786)
Johann Gottfried Müthel (1728-1788)
François‑Joseph Gossec (1734-1829)
Henk Badings (1907-1987)
Oscar Morawetz (1917-2007)
Annie Delorie (1925-2009)
Donald Erb (1927-2008)
Jean Barraqué (1928-1973)
Sydney Hodkinson (1934)
Dame Gillian Weir (1941)
Anne Queffélec (1948)
Augustin Dumay (1949)
Nancy Argenta (1957)
Gérard Pesson (1958)

and

Anne Brontë 1820-1849)
William Stafford (1914-1993)
Luis López Nieves (1950)
Sebastian Junger (1962)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1919, Polish composer and pianist Ignaz Jan Paderewski becomes premiere of Poland.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Niccoló Piccinni (1728-1800)
Daisy Kennedy (1893-1981)
Ernesto Halffter (1905-1989)
Roger Wagner (1914-1992)
Ernesto Bonino (1922-2008)
Pilar Lorengar (1928-1996)
Marilyn Horne (1934)
Richard Wernick (1934)
Gavin Bryars (1943)
Brian Ferneyhough (1943)
Katia Ricciarelli (1946)

and

Robert Service (1874-1958)
Anthony Hecht (1923-2004)
William Kennedy (1928)
Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
Mary Karr (1955)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (1980)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Ivor Novello (1893-1951)
Elie Siegmeister (1909-1991)
Malcolm Frager (1935-1991)
Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet (1941-2010)
Aaron Jay Kernis (1960)

and

Molière (1622-1673)
Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872)
Andreas William Heinesen (1900-1991)
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1941 Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time" was premiered at Stalag VIII-A, a German prisoner of war camp in Görlitz (Silesia), with the composer at the piano and fellow-prisoners Jean Le Boulaure (violin), Henri Akoka (clarinet) and Etienne Pasquier (cello).

Monday, January 14, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Ludwig von Köchel (1800-1877)
Jean de Reszke (1850-1925)
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Louis Quilico (1925-2000)
Zuzana Ruzickova (1927-2017)
Siegmund Nimsgern (1940)
Mariss Jansons (1943)
Kees Bakels (1945)
Nicholas McGegan (1950)
Ben Heppner (1956)
Andrew Manze (1965)

and

John Dos Passos (1896-1970
Emily Hahn (1905-1997)
Maureen Dowd (1952)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Funny stuff. Oregon Symphony delivers a quirky, rewarding Zimmerman, Shostakovich program.

Johannes Moser
The Oregon Symphony put together a program of divers emotional effect on Saturday January 12th. Pairing the brooding intensity of Shostakovich's first cello concerto with Bernd Alois Zimmerman's absurdist Music for the Suppers of King Ubu (with some Rossini and Rimsky-Korsakov thrown in to boot), the programming was ambitious and imaginative.

The eclectic opening work by Zimmermann, known for his quotations and pastiche,  consisted of eight short movements with a short standup routing by local comic Jason Traeger in between each one. Traeger's bits were (by and large) pretty funny; some were downright scarily insightful and hilarious, fitting for a work that is by Zimmerman's own words a cautionary tale about what can happen to a liberal elite when a dictator takes over.

Featuring quotations from Mussorgsky, Bach, Wagner, Richard Strauss and others, the farcical nature of the work established itself right off the bat. The work was littered with honking, squawking eructations from the brass, syncopated eruptions by the percussion--the entire piece was a giant finger in the eye to the elite and their pretensions. Delightful and joyous baroque dances and quotations by Bach ensued in the third movement. In the fourth, entitled Pile, Cotise and the Bear, the tuba and contrabasses seemed to dare the audience not to hear the great beast shambling onto the stage. The Phynancial Horse and the Lackeys of Phynance had all the stentorian stuffiness of a wealthy captain of industry putting on public airs with no pants on. Glorious dissonances from the ensemble, strangely delicate and clunky simultaneously, preceded and ominous, fast-paced executioner's march heading into a quote of Die Walkure and the finale. This was a weird and wonderful piece that was almost too much fun for everyone involved.

Following a delightful Tancredi overture by Rossini, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major was the meat of the evening. Cellist Johannes Moser, beginning a 3-year artist-in-residence position with OSO, displayed an emotional dexterity immediately. Playing with an almost understated sonority--a pure, thorough and direct realization--he quickly metamorphosed into intense perturbation--a wailing, warbling tremolo that grabbed at the heart strings. Technically, the evenness of the difficult chordal passages and remarkable cantando he brought to bear were absolutely vital to understanding this piece which, like most Shostakovich, couldn't be described as upbeat or effortlessly accessible. His singing passages were subsumed by an incessant, suffocating motility from the orchestra; Moser bore up like a beset wanderer at the center of a tempest.

The Moderato was completely different--Moser played it like a lyrical threnody, but almost too weary to be terribly sad. In the high registes he played with the tenderest tremolando, so like a violin, and the trio between the soloist playing harmonics, clarinet and celesta was otherworldly. A prosaic intro in to the Cadenza exploded into an impassioned outburst--varying styles of pizzicato, and a his flawless realization of a fantastically difficult simultaneous pizz and arco section highlighted the amazing breadth of the palette from which Moser can draw. His tenure as OSO's artist-in-residence should be an exciting and rewarding one indeed.

The overture from Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Festival closed out the evening. Concert master Sarah Kwak was in fine form with several lonely, mysterious solo segments, and the trombones were simply glorious in their perfect unisons. This was a great showcase for the ensemble, and an energetic finale to a fascinating, daring and diverse all-around program from Maestro Kalmar and Co.

Today's Birthdays

Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690-1749)
Vassili Kalinnikov (1866-1901)
Richard Addinsell (1904-1977)
Daniil Shafran (1923-1997)
Renato Bruson (1936)
Paavo Heininen (1938)
William Duckworth (1943-2012)
Richard Blackford (1954)
Wayne Marshall (1961)
Juan Diego Flórez (1973)

and

Horatio Alger (1832-1899)
Lorrie Moore (1957)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739)
Jacques Duphly (1715-1789)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948)
Pierre Bernac (1899-1979)
William Pleeth (1916-1999)
Leo Smit (1921-1999)
Morton Feldman (1926-1987)
Salvatore Martirano (1927-1995)
Anne Howells (1941)
Viktoria Postnikova (1944)
Lori Laitman (1955)

and

Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Jack London (1876-1916)
Haruki Murakami (1949)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Christian Sinding (1856-1941)
Reihold Glière (1875-1956)
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)
Mark DeVoto (1940)
York Höller (1944)
Drew Minter (1955)
Alex Shapiro (1962)

and

William James (1842-1910)
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
Alan Paton (1903-1988)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1925, Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra was premiered at Aeolian Hall in New York City by the New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, with Nadia Boulanger the soloist.