Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Incredible performance by soloist in Brotons concerto highlights VSO program

An off-the -harts fantastic performance by guest artist David Rejano highlighted the Vancouver Symphony’s concert on Saturday afternoon (February 24) at Skyview Concert Hall. Rejano, the principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, took center stage to play the “Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra” by Salvador Brotons, the orchestra’s music director who also happens to be a terrific composer.

Written in 1995 (while he taught at Portland State University), Broton’s Trombone Concerto requires a trombonist who can handle the challenge of playing over a full orchestra while negotiating all sorts of tricky and virtuosic techniques. Rejano’sability to create a multitude of fascinating sounds was just stunning. Scattershot tones, basement rattling blasts, high-wire arches, slippery glissandos, and raspy interludes were just easily delivered by Rejano. He also played some super-rapid passages that showed terrific control and articulation. At one point, he elicited two (or maybe more) tones at the same time by playing and singing into the mouthpiece at the same time. That was sort of spooky and weird. He used mutes to sound as if far away and countered that with mellifluous lovely passages.

After the tour-de-force performance, Rejano responded to the extended applause with a beautiful encore, the “Méditation” from the opera “Thais” by composer Jules Massenet. Needless to say, Rejano played the mellifluous piece, accompanied by a few strings, with great sensitivity. His performance, in essence, was a dream.

Beethoven’s Third Symphony received a solid performance by the orchestra, conveying the heroic force of the piece with passion and verve. The strings, led by concertmaster Stephen Shepherd, propelled straight away in the first movement with a sense of purpose. Ends of phrases were well-shaped, often tapering off with a slightly softer sound. The musicians nobly expressed the funeral march of the second movement with the spotlight resting on the expressive playing of principal oboist Karen Strand, principal flutist Rachel Rencher, and principal bassoonist Margaret McShea. The French horns, woodwinds, and trumpets accented the themes with striking clarity. The third and fourth movements overcame a couple of dragging moments to drive homeward and finish the dramatic arc of the piece gusto.

Much like Beethoven’s Third, Brahms “Tragic Overture” also began with forceful blows, followed by a statement that allowed a lot of dynamic contrast. Urged on by Brotons, the musicians created a tapestry that constantly changed between the lush and rhapsodic to stormy and charged to quiet and almost serene. Some passages could have been crisper and more well-defined, but, overall, the ensemble ably conveyed the struggle between a triumphant spirit and one that was defeated.

Today's Birthdays

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
Sergueï Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
Guiomar Novaes (1895-1979)
Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967)
Roman Maciejewski (1910-1998)
George Malcolm (1917-1997)
Joseph Rouleau (1929)
Osmo Vänskä (1953)
Markus Stenz (1965)


Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
Stephen Spender (1909-1995)
Zero Mostel (1915-1977)
Frank Gehry (1929)
John Fahey (1939-2001)
Stephen Chatman (1950)
Colum McCann (1965)
Daniel Handler (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook

On this date in 1882, the Royal College of Music is founded in London.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918)
Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976)
Marian Anderson (1897-1993)
Elizabeth Welch (1904-2003)
Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006)
Mirella Freni (1935)
Morten Lauridsen (1943)
Gidon Kremer (1947)
Frank-Peter Zimmermann (1956)


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)
Ralph Nadar (1934)
N. Scott Momaday (1934)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Anton (Antoine) Reicha (1770-1836)
Alfred Bachelet (1864-1944)
Emmy Destinn (1878-1930)
Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Witold Rowicki (1914-1989)
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino (1928)
Lazar Berman (1930-2005)
Johnny Cash (1932-2005)
David Thomas (1943)
Guy Klucevsek (1947)
Emma Kirkby (1949)
Richard Wargo (1957)
Carlos Kalmar (1958)


Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
John George Nicolay (1832-1901)
Elisabeth George (1949)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Paremski and Oregon Symphony deliver spectacular Prokofiev

Natasha Paremski’s playing of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 took everyone’s breath away at the Oregon Symphony concert on February 10th. She captured the quirky nature of the piece marvelously, bringing a sense of lyricism and whimsy to the rhapsodic passages and fearlessly letting her fingers fly across the rapid portions (such as the second movement), and driving to the finale with room to spare. Paremski demonstrated superb control from beginning to end, bringing out emphatic fortes one moment and then shifting to ultra-soft pianissimos the next. The intoxicating blend of sheer pianism came to a head in the helter skelter fourth movement with its willy-nilly combinations of dynamic twists and turns. The virtuosic candenza in the finale – with its knuckle-crunching sections paired against tender and poignant ones – was brilliantly played by Paremski. To think that she learned the piece in a few months after being asked by Carlos Kalmar, the orchestra’s music director, and then played it so brilliantly from memory is astonishing. The nearly full house at the Arlene Schnizter Concert Hall erupted with applause and cheers.

While Paremski’s memorable performance was tremendously impressive, it was equaled by the orchestra’s scintillating performance of Walter Piston’s Symphony No. 7. Piston won his second Pulitzer Prize (in 1961) with the three-movement work. The orchestra handled the entire piece incisively from its thick and complex opening statement to the powerfully sharp ending with its three decisive blows. The second movement (“Adagio pastorale”) offered lovely solos by principal oboist Martin Hébert and principal flutist Martha Long as well as intriguing pairings with their colleagues in the woodwind section. Lyrical string passages clashed wonderfully against the brass before ending quietly. In the third movement (“Allegro festevole”), the orchestra roared back to life with a section that was like a fast sonic stutter step before gradually building to an emphatic conclusion.

The other large-scale work on program was Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (“Pathétique”), which received an awesome performance from the orchestra. The musicians dug into each passage, each phrase with terrific passion and sensitivity. They explored the depths of despair; they created moments of joy that were tinged with nostalgia; they marched enthusiastically uphill, downhill, and into oblivion; they plumbed every nook and cranny and found a way to make the music exciting and relevant even though probably everyone in the hall had heard the piece a thousand times. It was a mind-melding performance with the orchestra, urged on by Kalmar, delivering all of the goods and then some.

Impeccable playing by all sections of the orchestra contributed to make the performance emotionally fulfilling. Still the French horns played like all stars as did principal timpanist Sergio Carreno. It was mesmerizing to watch the speed and accuracy of mallets as he pummeled the drums.

Overall, this was one of the best concerts of the 2017-2018 season, and many in the audience were left to wonder when Paremski will return and what she will play.

Today's Birthdays

Armand-Louis Couperin (1727-1789)
Antoine Reicha (1770-1836)
Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965)
Victor Silvester (1900-1978)
Davide Wilde (1935)
Jesús López-Cobos (1940)
George Harrison (1943-2001)
Lucy Shelton (1944)
Denis O'Neill (1948)
Melinda Wagner (1957)


Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
Karl Friedrich May (1842–1874)
Anthony Burgess (1917-1993)
John C. Farrar (1896-1974)

And from the New Music Box:
On February 25, 1924, the first issue of the League of Composers Review was published. Under the editorial leadership of Minna Lederman, this publication—which soon thereafter changed its name to Modern Music (in April 1925)—was the leading journalistic voice for contemporary music in America for over 20 years and featured frequent contributions from important composers of the day including Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, John Cage, Marc Blitzstein, Henry Cowell, Lehman Engel, and Marion Bauer. Its final issue appeared in the Fall of 1946.

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1682,Italian composer Alessandro Stradella, age 37, is murdered in Genoa, apparently in retaliation for running off with a Venetian nobleman's mistress.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Article on retiring Club Mod radio host Robert McBride

This morning, the Oregonian published my interview/article with Robert McBride, longtime radio announcer, who is retiring from the airwaves at All Classical (KQAC FM) with his last Club Mod show on March 3rd.  Here is a link to the article.

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Boësset (1587-1643)
Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)
Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)
Luigi Denza (1846-1922)
Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940)
Michel Legrand (1932)
Renato Scotto (1934)
Jiří Bělohlávek (1946)


Wilhelm (Carl) Grimm (1786-1859)
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
George Augustus Moore (1852-1933)
Mary Ellen Chase (1887-1973)
Weldon Kees (1914-1955)
Jane Hirshfield (1953)
Judith Butler (1956)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1955, Carlisle Floyd's opera "Susannah" received its premiere at Florida State University in Tallahassee. According to Opera America, this is one of the most frequently-produced American operas during the past decade.

Preview of Vancouver Symphony concert in The Columbian

Yesterday's edition of The Columbian newspaper published my preview of the Vancouver Symphony concerts that will take place this weekend. Here is the link to the article.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Today's Birthdays

John Blow (1649-1708)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Sir Hugh Roberton (1874-1952)
Albert Sammons (1886-1957)
Dave Apollon (1897-1972)
Elinor Remick Warren (1905-1991)
Martindale Sidwell (1916-1998)
Hall Overton (1920-1972)
Régine Crespin (1927-2007)


Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) - blogger of the 17th Century
W. E  B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
Karl Jaspers (1883-1969)
William L. Shirer (1904-1993)
John Camp (1944)

Tidbit from the New York Times obit: In the early 1930s, Shirer and his wife shared a house with the guitarist Andres Segovia.

From The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1940 that Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land."

The melody is to an old Baptist hymn. Guthrie wrote the song in response to the grandiose “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin and sung by Kate Smith. Guthrie didn’t think that the anthem represented his own or many other Americans’ experience with America. So he wrote a folk song as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” a song that was often accompanied by an orchestra. At first, Guthrie titled his own song “God Blessed America” — past tense. Later, he changed the title to “This Land Is Your Land,” which is the first line of the song.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Video competes with music in Portland Opera’s “Winterreise”

With a stage papered snow-white and a singer clad in all-white garb, Portland Opera’s presentation of Schubert’s “Winterreise” had an edginess that could be felt throughout the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre. But the production on opening night (February 9) would have made more of a lasting impression if it were not for a surfeit of video projections that competed with the superb singing of David Adam Moore. Yet Moore, a New York-based baritone who is also a multimedia artist, designed the video projections, which often overwhelmed the music.

Schubert’s song cycle does have operatic elements that are heightened by the evocative text from the poems of Wilhelm Müller. So the monochromatic projections that Moore and his colleagues at GLMMR (Giving Light Motion + Memory + Relevance) developed were an attempt to go deeper, as demonstrated with the flow of ice cubes that were matched with the “Gefrorne Tränen” (“Frozen Tears”) and the tombstones that were paired with “Das Wirtshaus” (“The Inn”). With the exception of the relatively static images in the final song “Der Leiermann” (“The Hurdy-Gurdy Man”), most of the images were in constant motion, including the comical one of a smart phone that was shot, hammered, and set on fire while Moore sang “Die Post” (“The Post”).

Moore’s singing was top notch from beginning to end. He used little vibrato and created wonderfully soft tones on the highest and lowest notes, which added to the forlornness of several songs. He also had plenty vocal heft to express anger and frustration, such as in “De Wetterfahne” (“The Weathervane”) and “Der Stürmische Morgen” (“The Stormy Morning”). Whether he was squatting, lying supine, or lunging forward, Moore terrifically conveyed a man who wandered outdoors into the indoors of his soul.

Pianist Nicholas Fox, who is also Portland Opera’s assistant conductor and chorus master, accompanied Moore impeccably, helping him to shape the mood and guide listeners along the introspective journey. Towards the end of the piece, the sound of the piano became more and more seductive, drawing the listeners into an almost hallucinogenic experience.

The all-white stage and costume(right down to the tennis shoes), designed by Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, provided a blankly cold canvas. Yet it would have been more effective with slower-moving video projections.

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)


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)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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)


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

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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)


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

Monday, February 19, 2018

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)


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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

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)


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)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

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)
Ron Goodwin (1925-2003)
Fredrich Cerha (1926)
Lee Hoiby (1926-2011)
Anner Bylsma (1944)
Karl Jenkins (1944)


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. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

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)


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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)>
Jean‑François Lesueur (1760-1837)
Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789-1826)
Heinrich Engelhard Steinway (1797-1871)
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927)
Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935)
Walter Donaldson (1893-1947)
Georges Auric (1899-1983)
Harold Arlen (1905-1986)
Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
Norma Procter (1928-2017)
John Adams (1947)
Christopher Rouse (1949)
Kathryn Harries (1951)
Christian Lindberg (1958)


Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Art Spiegelman (1948)
Matt Groening (1954)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676)
Alexander Dargomizhsky (1813-1869)
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Jack Benny (1894-1974)
Wyn Morris (1929-2010)
Steven Mackey (1956)
Renée Fleming (1959)


Frederick Douglass (1814-1895)
Carl Bernstein (1944)


On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London. He wrote the first draft in just 21 days, the fastest he’d ever written anything.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Fernando Sor (1778-1839)
Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)
Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991)
Eileen Farrell (1920-2002)
Yfrah Neaman (1923-2003)
Colin Matthews (1946)
Peter Gabriel (1950)
Raymond Wojcik (1957-2014)
Philippe Jaroussky (1978)


William Roughead (1870–1952)
Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927)
Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Georges Simenon (1903-1989)
Elaine Pagels (1943)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1914, ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is formally organized in New York City, with composer Victor Herbert as its first director.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812)
Roy Harris (1898-1979)
Franco Zeffirelli (1923)
Mel Powell (1923-1998)
Paata Burchuladze (1951)


Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Judy Bloom (1938)

And courtesy of the New Music Box:

On February 12, 1924 at New York's Aeolian Hall, self-named 'King of Jazz' Paul Whiteman presented An Experiment in Modern Music, a concert combining "high art" and "hot jazz." The concert featured newly commissioned works from Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Edward MacDowell, Irving Berlin, Ferde Grofé, and Rudolf Friml, but the highlight of the program was the world premiere performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Rudolf Firkušný (1912-1994)
Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995)
Michel Sénéchal (1927)
Cristopher Dearnley (1930-2000)
Jerome Lowenthal (1932)
Gene Vincent (1935-1971)
Edith Mathis (1938)
Alberto Lysy (1935-2009)
Christine Cairns (1959)


Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
Philip Dunne (1908-1992)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993)
Pico Iyer (1957)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1841, was given the first documented American performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 at the New York's Broadway Tabernacle, by the German Society of New York, Uri Corelli Hill conducting.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765)
Adelina Patti (1843-1919)
Jean Coulthard (1908-2000)
Joyce Grenfell (1914-2001)
Cesare Siepi (1923-2010)
Leontyne Price (1927)
Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)
Roberta Flack (1937)
Barbara Kolb (1939)


Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Åsne Seierstad  (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, Charles Ives hears Igor Stravinsky's "The Firebird" Ballet Suite at an all-Russian program by the New York Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Also on the program were works of Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff (with Rachmaninoff as piano soloist). Walter Damrosch conducted.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)
Franz Xaver Witt (1834-1888)
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
Harald Genzmer (1909-2007)
Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009)
Ryland Davies (1943)
Paul Hillier (1949)
Jay Reise 1950)
Marilyn Hill Smith (1952)
Amanda Roocroft (1966)


Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
James Stephens (1882-1950)
Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
J.M. (John Maxwell) Coetzee (1940)
Alice Walker (1944)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1893, Verdi's opera, "Falstaff," was first performed in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala. This was Verdi's last opera.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651)
André Grétry (1741-1813)
Osian Ellis (1928)
John Williams (1932)
Elly Ameling (1933)
Gundula Janowitz (1937)
Margaret Brouwer (1940)
Stephen Roberts (1948)
Irvine Arditti (1953)


Jules Verne (1828-1905)
Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Neal Cassady (1926-1968)
John Grisham (1955)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
Ossip Gabrilovich (1878-1936)
Eubie Blake (1883-1983)
Claudia Muzio (1889-1936)
Quincy Porter (1897-1966)
Lord Harewood (1923-2011)
Maruis Constant (1925-2004)
Stuart Burrows (1933)
Wolfgang van Schweintz (1953)


Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957
Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)
Gay Talese (1932)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Henry Litolff (1818-1891)
Karl Weigl (1881-1949)
Andre Marchal (1894-1980)
Claudio Arrau (1903-1991)
Stephen Albert (1941-1992)
Paul Esswood (1942)
Bob Marley (1945-1981)
Bruce J. Taub (1948)
Matthew Best (1957)
Sean Hickey (1970)


Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Eric Partridge (1894-1979)
George Herman "Babe" Ruth (1895-1948)
Mary Douglas Leakey (1913-1996)
Deborah Digges (1950-2009)
Michael Pollan (1955)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Ole Bull (1810-1880)
Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798)
Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943)
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Jussi Björling (1911-1960)
Sir John Pritchard (1921-1989)
Luc Ferrari (1929-2005)
John Poole (1934)
Ivan Tcherepnin (1943-1998)
Josef Protschka (1944)
Phylis Bryn-Julson (1945)


Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (1934)
John Guare (1938)
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)
Christopher Guest (1948)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1887, Verd's: opera "Otello" premiered in Milan at the Teatro all Scala, with the composer conducting (and cellist Arturo Toscanini in the orchestra).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Eustache du Caurroy (1549-1609)
Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795)
Aristide Cavaillé‑Coll (1811-1899)
Yrjo Kilpinen (1892-1952)
Bernard Rogers (1893-1968)
Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993)
Jutta Hipp (1925-2003)
Martti Talvela (1935-1989)
François Dumeaux (1978)

and also

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
Gavin Ewart (1916-1995)
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
Robert Coover (1932)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Review of Van Cliburn winner in Piano International magazine

Back in October, I wrote a review of Yekwon Sunwoo's recital that was presented by Portland International Piano.  That review finally appeared in the January/February issue of Piano International magazine.

Here is a copy of the review. You should be able to enlarge it in order to read it.

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Sidney Lanier (1842-1881)
Priaulx Rainier (1903-1986)
Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975)
Blas Galindo Dimas (1910-1993)
Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
Helga Dernesch (1939)


Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Georg Trakl (1887-1914)
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Alvar Aalto (1898-1978)
James Michener (1907-1997)
Simone Weil (1909-1943)
Richard Yates (1926-1992)
Paul Auster (1947)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1844, Berlioz's "Roman Carnival" Overture, in Paris was premiered at the Salle Herz, with the composer conducting.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Vancouver Symphony goes full tilt with New World Symphony

The Vancouver Symphony gave one of their best-ever concerts on Sunday evening (January 28th), at Skyview Concert Hall. The orchestra, led by its music director, Salvador Brotons delivered a vibrant performance of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) and an enchanting and witty rendition of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 (“Farewell”).

Dvořák’s “New World” symphony is one of the most beloved works in the repertoire; so there might be a temptation to play it in a lackadaisical manner, but the musicians of the VSO, urged on by Brotons, were more than up to the challenge, and created a wonderfully fresh and evocative performance. From the gentle and languorous opening to the fast and loud passages, the musicians of the orchestra fearlessly traversed the heights and depths of the piece with thrilling crescendos and decrescendos. Now and then the brass got a little overpowering, but their sound was exciting none the less.

The plaintive sound of the English horn (Kris Klavik) was a highlight of the performance. Other memorable moments included numerous contributions by the flutes (Rachel Rencher and Corrie Cook) , and the woodwinds in general. The French horns glowed, and the brass (trumpets, trombone, and tuba) rocked out. The strings expertly delivered a rich, lovely bouquet that included tight pizzicato passages. Brotons, conducting from memory, was animated to the point of bouncing across the podium – an infectious style that conveyed a marvelous energy that made the music resonate with the musicians and audience.

There’s nothing in the repertoire quite like Haydn’s “Farewell” symphony, because the music stands alone as a serious piece, yet it has the theatrical element in which the musicians walk off the stage during the latter part of the final movement. From the musical side of the ledger, the orchestral strings played with an excellent ensemble sound. The echoing passages (loud then soft), tender sections, and sudden dynamic shifts were done expertly. Several fleet runs in the fourth movement flew by with ease. There were some quibbles here and there regarding intonation in strings, and some bobbles in the horns, but none that got in the way.

On the theatrical side, the musicians must exit (it’s in the score)one by one during the last movement, and they did so quietly, turning off the light attached to their music stands. When Brotons left, he made a gesture as if saying, “Well, there’s nothing more for me to do,” and that caused a few good-natured chuckles from the audience. Finally there was only the concertmaster Eva Richey and principal second violinist Tracie Andrusko to carry on, and they did so gracefully playing the final notes on an almost pitch-black stage. The audience enjoyed it all and gave the musicians a hearty round of applause when they returned to take their bows.

Before the concert began, Kathy McDonald, VSO Board Chair, made some introductory statements that included how panicked she became on Friday morning after she read the headline to my concert preview piece, because the headline: “Vancouver Symphony Orchestra opens 2018 season with ‘Farewell.’” My apologies to McDonald but that title was too good to resist.

Today's Birthdays

Louis Marchand (1669-1732)
Leo Fall (1873-1925)
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987)
Stan Getz (1927-1991)
Skip Battin (1934-2003)
Martina Arroyo (1937)
Sir Andrew Davis (1944)
Ursula Oppens (1944)
Eliane Aberdam (1964)


James Joyce (1882-1941)
James Dickey (1923-1997)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fire destroys Chamber Music Northwest's administrative offices

I've just received the shocking and sad news that a four-alarm fire burnt down the building that held Chamber Music Northwest's administrative offices in John's Landing. Yet, for CMNW, the show must go on!  Here's a link to a brief notice on the CMNW website.

Guest conductor Danzmayr rushes orchestra through Brahms

The Symphony No. 1 by Brahms is usually a shoe-in for the Oregon Symphony, but the rendition I heard on Saturday evening (January 27) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was really off-putting because guest conductor David Danzmayr rushed through the piece for some inexplicable reason. It’s not that the symphony must be taken at a leisurely pace, but Danzmayr never let the music breathe. He just pushed the tempos and didn’t let any fermata firm up. On top of that, a lot of the phrases lacked shape and the volume was often mezzo-forte to forte. That resulted in numerous passages in which you could barely hear small groups of instruments or solo instruments when they had the main theme. For example, the French horns belted the famous lines that cascade down in the fourth movement, yet their sound could barely be heard.

It seemed that Danzmayr got carried away by the music or he just didn’t care and decided to let everyone play out as loudly as possible. Maybe he quaffed too many espressos during intermission. Whatever the reason, the piece verged on going out of bounds, yet the musicians made the most of it – to their great credit. Concertmaster Sarah Kwak, principal clarinetist James Shields, and principal oboist Martin Hébert were able to distinguish themselves in spite of it all. The audience, which filled most of the hall, still loved the performance and gave the conductor and orchestra a loud and boisterous standing ovation.

In stark contrast to the Brahms, was an excellent performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 (“Turkish”). It was elegantly played by guest violinist Benjamin Beilman, who warmed up with his orchestral colleagues through the introduction before embarking on the solo passages. He generated a sweet and secure sound that perfectly embraced Mozart’s music in a way that was elegant yet never stuffy. All of the cadenzas sparkled – even the lovely, unhurried ones. Beilman has a wonderful way of making the most difficult phrases look completely natural and effortless. The orchestra supported him with understated grace, and together, they drew applause after the closing of each movement. After finishing the piece, the audience rewarded him with sustained appreciation, and he returned the favor with an encore, the poignant Largo from Bach’s C Major Sonata.

The concert opened with a short blast from the brass with “Concertgeblaas” (“Concert Blaring”) by German composer Detlev Glanert. The ensemble of horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, and percussion (bass drum, cymbals, and snare drum) delivered an entertainingly jazzy riff that started with extended passages for muted instruments. The tamped-down sound swerved to an unmuted and unbridled big-band, show-tune-like sound and a final clashing jazz chord that sent out a smile across the hall to the listeners.

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Stradivari (1671-1743)
Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768)
Johan Joachim Agrell (1701-1765)
Victor Herbert (1859-1924)
Julius Conus (1869-1942)
Clara Butt (1872-1936)
Sándor Veress (1907-1999)
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri (1907-1993)
Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004)
Ursula Mamlok (1928-2016)
Michael G. Shapiro (1951)


Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
S. J. Perelman (1904-1979)
Muriel Spark (1918- 2006)
Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)