Opera & ballet
  • «Musica viva» will present Mozart’s opera of «Idomeneo»

    «Musica viva» will present Mozart’s opera of «Idomeneo»

    On December, 5th in the Moscow Tschaikovsky Concert hall within the limits of the philharmonic subscription «Opera masterpieces» the Moscow chamber orchestra and chorus «Musica Viva» under the direction of Alexander Rudin will present the concert version of an opera of Mozart of «Idomeneo». It already the fourth opera premiere «Musica Viva», after the past with stunning [...]

Symphony music
  • Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic

    Simon Rattle and Berlin Philharmonic

    The Berlin Brahms Bombers victory tour came to a premature finish Tuesday night. The leader of the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle, received a hero’s excited welcome. The Second Symphony proved smashing, as had the first night from this inimitable orchestra’s two-evening visit to Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Chamber music
  • Chamber Music Festival Features Professional Performers

    Chamber Music Festival Features Professional Performers

    The Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival is entertaining audiences in Chittenden County, with most performances at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester’s Fort Ethan Allen. Other shows have taken place at the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street. The festival is new this year, and features concerts as well as classes for students. Soovin Kim started the [...]

Instrumental Music
  • Finnish Composer Bursts Some of Her Own Myths

    Finnish Composer Bursts Some of Her Own Myths

    One of the perils of conducting a public interview with a composer is that you are likely to have your deeply held beliefs about your interviewee’s work shrugged off. That happened to the composer George E. Lewis during his interview with Kaija Saariaho during a Composer Portraits concert at the Miller Theater on Sunday evening. Mr. [...]

Vocal art
  • Ekaterina Shcherbachenko – «I live with sensation something new»

    Ekaterina Shcherbachenko – «I live with sensation something new»

    Ekaterina Shcherbachenko, the winner of competition BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009 in Cardiff, has arrived to Moscow at 2 o’clock in the morning. And already early in the morning the call was distributed and we have agreed about interview time, this afternoon. Ekaterina knew that Classica.FM, has first informed on its victory, therefore with [...]

Persons
  • Ingo Metzmacher – I can’t believe it!

    Ingo Metzmacher – I can’t believe it!

    The well-known maestro, active propagandist of modern music, the one, who all Europe worships – Ingo Metzmacher has visited Moscow. Despite a number of possible difficulties – some heavy days, and, in addition, Friday 13, good luck has smiled to our magazine, and we managed to meet the adherent of modern music world and ask [...]

Editor's Column
  • Stuart Lawson: «Time-proven Pursuit of Excellence»

    The hero of today’s interview is like no other. First, he is not a musician but a banker. But obviously he is not an ordinary banker as we are not a business publication and write only about things related to classical music. Stuart Lawson is CEO of HSBC Russia. The bank has won praise for [...]

Dates of classical music

Classical Music Takes Center Stage at the White House


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Wednesday was classical music day at the White House. The festivities and performances were sponsored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, created by executive order in 1982. The first lady serves as honorary chairwoman of the committee, and Michelle Obama, fully embracing that function, has created a White House Music Series.

Joshua BellEarlier daylong programs celebrated jazz, country music and Latin music. Classical music had its turn on Wednesday. The celebration ended with a concert in the East Room with President and Mrs. Obama as hosts, and featuring performances by four acclaimed American musicians: the violinist Joshua Bell, the cellist Alisa Weilerstein, the guitarist Sharon Isbin and the pianist Awadagin Pratt.

Mr. Obama opened the concert with welcoming remarks, sketching the history of classical programs in the East Room, which go back 120 years. Not afraid to show himself a bit of a classical music novice, he counseled those who did not know where to applaud not to worry, but added: «I have Michelle to help me. The rest of you are on your own».

The program was a sampler, ending with the finale of Mendelssohn’s First Piano Trio, but substantive. It included Mr. Pratt’s herculean transcription of Bach’s organ Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor and Ms. Weilerstein’s volatile account of the final movement of Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello.

An event of special meaning took place in the afternoon, when Mrs. Obama welcomed a group of some 120 students from community music schools across the country to a workshop. The four guest artists played for the students and also played with several of them, having worked with them in private morning sessions at the White House.

If Sujari Britt, a perky 8-year-old cellist who studies at the Manhattan School of Music, was nervous about playing a Boccherini duo for two cellos with Ms. Weilerstein in the East Room as Mrs. Obama looked on from the front row, she did not show it. She played the genial melody with mature sound and shapely phrasing and, when the roles switched, nimbly dispatched the undulant accompanimental figure.

Ms. Weilerstein also played «The Swan», the familiar Saint-Saëns cello piece, in an arrangement for cello and marimba. Here she was joined by a lanky, shaggy-haired 16-year-old percussionist, Jason Yoder, a junior in the music department at the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, who played gently flowing accompanimental patterns as Ms. Weilerstein brought plush beauty to the yearning melody. Both of the performances with the young musicians were repeated at the evening concert to standing ovations.

Mr. Bell, who had worked with a group of young violinists in the morning, gave them an inadvertent and useful lesson that any performer, no matter how accomplished, can get into a jam. Playing a lyrical Cantabile by Paganini for violin and guitar with Ms. Isbin, he mistakenly jumped ahead near the end of the piece, then stopped. «I’ve taken a wrong turn», he said. He had skipped a couple of phrases, he explained. So he and Ms. Isbin simply ended the piece a little early.

Mr. Bell’s self-effacing demeanor seemed to delight his young listeners as much as his brilliant account of a splashy piece by Vieuxtemps, a virtuosic fantasy on «Yankee Doodle».

The day had begun in the State Dining Room with Mrs. Obama honoring the winners of the committee’s Coming Up Taller Award, given to successful programs across the country intended to reach students who have insufficient opportunities to explore the arts. Awards were also given to arts programs in the committee’s partner nations, Mexico, Egypt and China.

The name of the award evokes the pride that students feel when given the chance to find their voices through the arts, Mrs. Obama said. She praised the teachers and mentors of these influential programs, who show young people not just «the power of their imaginations» but «the power of discipline and hard word and of teamwork as well».

She spoke movingly of children who grow up in major cities where arts institutions thrive yet feel that those resources might as well be miles away. The arts and music have a place not just in our museums, theaters and concert halls, she said, but in “the halls of this White House.” She wants the White House to be a showcase for the arts, she added.

Asked after the workshop whether the Obamas’ gesture in celebrating classical music at the White House will help demystify the art form and bring it needed attention, Ms. Weilerstein said, “If that doesn’t do it, I don’t know what does».

NY Times

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Russian composer files a response to Charles Ives

Russian composer files a response to Charles Ives

When american composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) composed a piece he called «The Unanswered Question» in 1906, he couldn’t have dreamed that a Russian composer born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1953, would, if not quite «answer» his question, at least posit a tantalizing musical meditation on it more than a century later.

This new piece, called «Post-scriptum» by its composer, Victor Kissine, will receive its world premiere with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, in concerts scheduled for 8 p.m. March 4, 5, and 6 and 2 p.m. March 7 at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.

Kissine — who makes his home in Belgium, where he is a professor of music at two important conservatories — writes that he was a student at the Leningrad Conservatory when he first discovered Ives’ piece. Considering it a «revelation», he assiduously studied the details of its score, noting that Ives used a trumpet to repeatedly intone his so-called «Perennial Question of Existence». The piece continues, as a series of other instruments offer comments on his question but cannot «answer» it. In his «Post-Scriptum», Kissine engages a series of five sounds, each of which evolves into either a major or minor pitch interval of a third to deal with «the question». During our recent e-mail exchange, I asked Kissine if, in his judgment, an average listener would consider his music in general, and «Post-Scriptum» in particular, to be «beautiful», «pleasing», «interesting» or «shocking» following a first hearing.

He replied, «If the listener finds my music ‘beautiful,’ I’d be overjoyed. I have nothing against ‘pleasing’ or ‘interesting,’ but if he is ‘shocked,’ I’d be disappointed, because this wasn’t my intention at all». Kissine has written a great deal of film music, as well as chamber and orchestral music. However, his approach to composition departs significantly from the assertive, agitated, often ear-grating styles issuing from the fin de siecle era at the beginning of the 20th century.

He explains that his musical language expands to include elements of classical Western-style tonality, 20th-century atonality, minimalism, aleatory sounds and 12-tone techniques, adding that he also uses micro-intervals (notes that fall «between the cracks» of notes on the piano). Further elaborating on his style, he wrote that beyond the four basic parameters of music — duration, pitch level, intensity and timbre — there is yet another: Silence, which he uses to great effect in his compositions.

«Silence», he says, «does not stop the music. It’s part of the music. It’s the flip side of music. Sound without silence wouldn’t exist». In his e-mail, Kissine asserted that he can’t imagine being anything other than a musician and composer. “I started music when I was 5,” he wrote. “So, it was the first language I learned to read. And, the first score I sight-read by myself was ‘Sonata quasi una Fantasia,’ Op. 27, No. 2 by Beethoven (the famous “Moonlight Sonata”). I remember having had enormous problems with the left-hand octaves».

Because his family lived near the Philharmonic Hall in Leningrad, he was taken to musical performances from a very early age. «I especially remember a recital by Sviatoslav Richter which made a great impression me», he wrote. «He was playing ‘my’ Beethoven sonata»! Kissine, father of two and grandfather to a 4-year-old, is a citizen of Belgium, living with his wife in Court-Saint-Etienne, a suburb of Brussels.

Other works scheduled for the S.F. Symphony’s March 4-7 program will be Ravel’s «Valses nobles et sentimentales», Liszt’s «Tasso: Lament and Triumph» and the unabashedly exultant Violin Concerto by another great Russian composer, Peter Tchaikovsky. Its soloist will be Christian Tetzlaff, prizewinning German violinist, who also performs the work with the symphony during its mid-March national tour.

Nobel Prize Concert Classical Music

Nobel Prize Concert Classical Music

Nobel Media, in association with the Stockholm Concert Hall, is proud to present this year’s Nobel Prize Concert – an event of world class stature. The concert is to take place on 8 December as part of the official Nobel Week programme of activities. Tickets will be released to the general public on Friday 29 May.

Stockholm Concert HallMartha Argerich, headstrong, charismatic and technically brilliant pianist, is this year’s soloist at the Nobel Prize Concert. Yuri Temirkanov, Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic will be leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme comprises Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Prokoviev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet.

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires in 1941, and had her performing debut at the tender age of eight. Her breakthrough came in 1965, when she won the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She has worked with most of the world’s leading conductors, and her repertoire includes Bach, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Prokoviev.

Ms Argerich is passionate about supporting young talent. The year 1999 saw the first International Martha Argerich Piano Contest in Buenos Aires, a competition that she founded and of which she is now the chief judge. She has also instituted the Martha Argerich Music Festival in Japan, with concerts and masterclasses.
The Nobel Prize Concert is held to honour the year’s Nobel Laureates, who attend with their respective parties. Also present are members of the Swedish Royal Family and guests of the Nobel Foundation.

The TV broadcast of the Nobel Prize Concert will be produced by EuroArts and distributed internationally. In Sweden the concert will be broadcast by SVT. The Nobel Prize Concert is sponsored by DnB NOR and Statkraft.

For further information contact:
Camilla Hyltén-Cavallius, CEO Nobel Media +46 (0)8-663 14 83 or +46 (0)70-524 57 70
Stefan Forsberg, CEO Stockholm Concert Hall +46 (0)8-786 02 20 or +46 (0)70-786 02 50

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – «Alexander Nevsky»

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – «Alexander Nevsky»

Sounds that kept provoking smells and colors: Thursday was synesthesia night at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Prokofiev’s cantata based on his score for the film Alexander Nevsky took pride of place on conductor Jaap van Zweden’s enterprising program. Before intermission, he typically plugged gaps in the orchestra’s repertoire.

Alexander NevskyWolfgang Rihm currently bears the flag for German modernism and post-modernism. Memoria marked his Dallas Symphony debut – an American premiere and indeed only the third performance of the work anywhere. Like Stravinsky’s late Requiem Canticles, it offers shards of a formal lamentation – in this case for chorus, two soloists and an odd assortment of orchestral personnel. The chorus sometimes hummed and shouted. Offstage batteries of percussion made a furious clamor. I loved the work’s quirky solemnity, and the audience gave it a surprisingly enthusiastic welcome.

One of the orchestra’s own stars, Christopher Adkins, then got his moment in the sun with Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major. Lost until 1961, the piece is one of the few Haydn concertos that suggest his preeminence as a composer. Thank goodness van Zweden is making up for all the years the Dallas Symphony neglected his genius.

The sweet richness of Adkins’ tone, closely matched by the orchestral strings, evoked vocabulary you’d associate with tasting dessert wines: I detected overtones of honey, vanilla and tobacco. The cellist’s extended family has been active on the local early music scene, so I was surprised by the frankly romantic, though not self-indulgent, approach here.

The great filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was fulfilling a commission to prepare the Soviet public for the approaching World War II in Alexander Nevsky. Prokofiev’s soundtrack is inseparable from the images of medieval knights – good Russians, bad Germans – who battle onscreen. The cantata the composer arranged from the score made a great pairing with Rihm’s memorial to the dead of that same war.

Van Zweden seemed to be hurling gobs of paint onto a mighty canvas as he led the piece. The winds produced pungent, saturated colors, underpinned by tubas and contrabassoon, while the pitched percussion overlaid the picture with enamel splashes. Violins shaped delicate transitions between the climaxes piled on climaxes.

The huge Dallas Symphony Chorus blazed brightly when individual sections could revel in exposed lines. All together, the sound could be muddy. Prepared by interim director Terry Price, the chorus managed a convincing attempt at the language, even if the basses lacked that sepulchral low end of their Russian counterparts. Mezzo Gigi Velasco-Mitchell proved a wonderful alternative to the beefy Slavic contraltos we usually hear in the solo. Her singing was as elegant as it was earthy, confirming the excellent impression she (and treble Bryan Leines) had made in the Rihm.

Dallas News

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