Thursday, July 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829)
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Ernő Dohnanyi (1877-1960)
Harl McDonald (1899-1955)
Igor Markevitch (1912-1983)
Mario del Monaco (1915-1982)
Leonard Rose (1918-1984)
Carol Vaness (1952)

and

Joseph Mitchell (1908-1996)
Elizabeth Hardwick (1916-2007)
Bharati Mukherjee (1940)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1966, Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Torn Curtain" opens in New York — without the film score that Bernard Herrmann had composed for it. The famous director fired Herrmann during the score's first recording sessions when Hitchcock discovered Herrmann had composed a "symphonic" score and not the "pop" score that Hitchcock had specifically requested.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

John Field (1782-1837)
Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844)
Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)
Serge Koussevitsky (1874-1951)
Ernest Schelling (1876-1939)
Georges Favre (1905-1993)
Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
Alexis Weissenberg (1929-2012)
Anthony Gilbert (1934)
Roger Smalley (1943-2015)
Mick Jagger (1943)
Kevin Volans (1949)
Angela Hewitt (1958)

and

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
Jean Shepherd (1921-1999)
Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CMNW presents Mozart and a surprising Surprise by Haydn

Tuesday July 18th saw the Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival present performances by the Brentano and Calidore String Quartets, and guest musicians as well. The concert at the performance space in Portland State's Lincoln Hall consisted of works by Mozart and Haydn.

Mozart's Quartet for Flute and Strings in C Major, K 285b, opened the first half. Tara Helen O'Connor was the flutist, playing together with Mark Steinberg, violin, Misha Amory, viola, and Nina Lee, cello, all members of the Brentano Quartet. O'Connor played in a classic, dulcet Mozartian timbre, varying her sound and bringing out a husky aspiration in the lower register.  Crisp and spritely, O'Connor navigated her way through tricky sections with amazingly agile octave jumps. As an ensemble the group played with an incredibly light and airy blend, yet always with respect for the integrity of the composition. Lee took front and center in the Andantino with soaring bass lines, and Amory played the marvelous solo lines for the viola with a delicate poco saltando.

The String Quartet No 16 in E-flat Major, K 428 was next, and Serena Canin joined on violin. There were interaction issues on the more sparse, thinner passages; the playing felt almost too polite at times. The phrasing and dynamic shifts were somewhat predictable, and pitchiness kept cropping up as an issue. During the final allegro vivace the group rallied for a powerful, exuberant attack, and the phrasing became more engaging.

The second half saw the Calidore Quartet (Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan violin, Jeremy Berry, viola, and Estelle Choi, cello) joined by O'Connor and Andrea Lam on piano, to present a scaled-down version by Johann Peter Salomon of Haydn's Symphony in G Major, Hob I:94 'Surprise.' 

There was clear and concise execution from the first violin in the Andante, and a mellifluous cantabile.  In the Allegro Molto the violins balanced perfectly during the counterpoint, and throughout O'Connor continued to impress by balancing numerous roles--whether as soloist, accentuator, or stand-in for the entire wind band, she was always in control, keenly aware of the tricky place she occupied however rapidly the roles shifted. 

It was fascinating to hear this chestnut stripped down to such a spare ensemble. The group did not make the mistake of trying to convince the audience that they were a full-sized orchestra for this work--rather the impression they imparted was that just maybe this work was composed for a small chamber ensemble, and a fine and accurate impression it was. 

Today's Birthdays

Alfredo Casella (1883-1947)
Maureen Forrester (1930-2010)

and

Eric Hoffer (1898-1983)
Elias Canetti (1905-1994)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1788 that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart entered into his catalog the completion of one of his most beloved works, Symphony Number 40 in G Minor (sometimes called “The Great G Minor Symphony”). It was written in the final years of Mozart’s life, when things were not going well. An infant daughter had died a few weeks earlier, he had moved into a cheaper apartment, and he was begging friends and acquaintances for loans. But in the summer of 1788, he wrote his last three symphonies: Symphony Number 39 in E-Flat, Symphony in G Minor, and the Jupiter symphony. It is not known for sure whether Mozart ever heard any of these symphonies performed

Monday, July 24, 2017

Article in The Oregonian about Portland Opera double bill

The Oregonian printed my article online about the upcoming David Lang one-act works that will be presented by Portland Opera this weekend. The printed version will appear later this week.

Today's Birthdays

Adolphe Charles Adam (1803-1856)
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
Robert Farnon (1917-2005)
Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012)
Guiseppe de Stefano (1921-2008)
Wilfred Josephs (1927-1997)
Peter Serkin (1947)
Philippe Hurel (1955)

and

Jonathan Newton (1725-1807)
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)
Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)
Robert Graves (1895-1985)
John D. McDonald (1916-1986)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Today's birthdays

Franz Berwald (1796-1868)
Johann Vesque von Püttlingen (1803-1883)
Edouard Colonne (1838-1910)
Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)
Leon Fleisher (1928)
Bernard Roberts (1933-2013)
Maria João Pires (1944)
Susan Graham (1960)

and

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
Vikram Chandra (1961)

and from the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1829 that William Burt received a patent for the "typographer." It was a typewriter that looked more like a record player. It had a swinging arm that picked up ink and then printed a letter, and then the paper was manually adjusted to make space for the next letter.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Luigi Arditti (1822-1903)
Hans Rosbaud (1895-1962)
Licia Albanese (1913-2014)
George Dreyfus (1928)
Ann Howard Jones (1936)
Nigel Hess (1953)
Eve Beglarian (1958)

and

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)
Tom Robbins (1936)
S. E. Hinton (1948)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Anton Kuerti (1938)
Isaac Stern (1920-2001)
Cat Stevens (1948)
Margaret Ahrens (1950)

and

Hart Crane (1899-1932)
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Tess Gallagher (1943)
Garry Trudeau (1948)