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.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Today's Birthdays

Jean Martinon (1910-1976)
Sidney Griller (1911-1993)
Dean Dixon (1915-1976)
Milton Babbitt (1916-2011)
Max Roach (1924-2007)
Sherrill Milnes (1935)
Rod Stewart (1945)
James Morris (1947)
Mischa Maisky (1948)
Rockwell Blake (1951)
Charles Norman Mason (1955)
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (1961)

and

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
Philip Levine (1928-2015)
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Chamber Music Northwest names new artistic directors

From the press release:

Chamber Music Northwest is pleased to announce that it has selected Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim as its next artistic directors to succeed current Artistic Director David Shifrin after his final Summer Festival in 2020! A husband and wife team, both are internationally-renowned performers – Gloria a pianist, Soovin a violinist – and experienced music presenters. Gloria and Soovin are co-artistic directors of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, founded by Soovin in 2008. Gloria is also the artistic director of the String Theory chamber music series in Chattanooga, TN – which she founded in 2009 – and has been director of the Chamber Music Institute of the Music@Menlo Festival since 2010.

Chamber Music Northwest Executive Director Peter Bilotta says “We are very pleased that the opportunity to lead Chamber Music Northwest drew interest from many of today’s top musical artists. From a field of exceptional musicians and artistic leaders, we are confident we’ve made the best choice for Chamber Music Northwest’s next chapter, and are thrilled to have Gloria and Soovin on our team.”

For more than two years, Chamber Music Northwest has conducted a thorough, international search for its new artistic director. Gloria and Soovin will assume the artistic director position after David Shifrin, Chamber Music Northwest’s artistic director for nearly 40 seasons, steps down after the 2020 Summer Festival.

“I have been honored to share my talents and artistic vision with Chamber Music Northwest audiences for the past 40 years and am proud of how Chamber Music Northwest has grown and evolved in that time” says David Shifrin. “I have collaborated with both Gloria and Soovin on many occasions. I am very proud to have performed at the first Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival and first season of String Theory in Chattanooga. I brought Gloria to Chamber Music Northwest as a Protégé Project artist and Soovin to the Chamber Music Society Two program at Lincoln Center. Gloria and Soovin have become an amazing force in service of the future of chamber music. I am confident they will bring the greatest music and finest musicians to Portland for years to come.”

“Under David’s leadership, Chamber Music Northwest has become one of the most important American chamber music institutions” says Soovin Kim. “Chamber Music Northwest’s vibrancy is closely tied to the artistic values of the Portland community. Gloria and I relish the idea of accepting the baton of leadership from David and nurturing those values while injecting a new energy and fresh perspective that will transform Portland well into the 21st century.”

Gloria and Soovin will perform under Shifrin’s artistic leadership at Chamber Music Northwest’s 2019 and 2020 Summer Festivals, and then succeed him as artistic directors in the fall of 2020. In the interim, they will begin their own artistic planning for their first Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival in 2021.

Carlos Kalmar interviewed in Chicago Tribune

Kalmar talks about the expansion of the Grant Park Music Festival in this Chicago Tribune article. Sounds like the Festival is doing great things. Kalmar is in his 20th season there as its artistic director and principal conductor.

Today's Birthdays

John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)
Rudolf Bing (1902-1997)
Herva Nelli (1909-1994)
Henriette Puig‑Roget (1910-1992)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Joan Baez (1941)
Scott Walker (1944)
Jimmy Page (1944)
Waltraud Meier (1956)
Hillevi Martinpelto (1958)
Nicholas Daniel (1962)

and

Karel Čapek (1890-1938)
Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935)
Richard Halliburton (1901-1939)
Brian Friel (1929-2015)
Michiko Kakutani (1955)