Links beyond this blog have been known to expire, sometimes rather quickly. I wish things weren't this way (but they are). I will do what I can to choose wisely (but don't say you weren't warned). Click away!
Looking at some videos of David Daniels on YouTube.com (and some
excellent performances, by the way - more on them, later) I came across
one of the oddest video segments I have encountered in this toddler
medium: world-renowned countertenor David Daniels ordering food at the
Beacon Drive-in in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The man relaying the
order, J.C., is really the star of this 13 second gem - and the star of The Beacon.
Countertenor David Daniels has announced the complete program (he had announced only a few tantalizing composers previously) for his January 19 recital with pianist Martin Katz at Jordan Hall. You can find the program and other information about the performance here.
Craig Smith was the founder of Emmanuel Music and an artistic beacon in Boston; that is an inadequate summarization of one so devoted to music, and who touched so many lives. It is well beyond my rhetorical powers to do justice to his remarkable life and career. Others more skilled and more knowledgeable have undertaken that task, since Mr. Smith died on November 14. I have been assembling obituaries and remembrances as they have appeared.
The Celebrity Series had the privilege of presenting three performances in which Criag Smith took part. The first was as part of an evening of collaborative music-making by pianist Judith Gordon in January of 2001. Mr. Smith joined soprano Lisa Saffer, mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal, tenor William Hite, baritone Mark McSweeney and Gordon for Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes. A rather small part of a full evening, but it is testament to Mr. Smith on two counts, both that he was included and that he came.
The second was conducting the ensemble he founded, Emmanuel Music, in an all-Mozart program with pianist Russell Sherman at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall in January 2002.
And in 2006, Mr. Smith conducted Emmanuel Music from the orchestra pit of the Wang Theatre for our engagement of the Mark Morris Dance Group in Morris' L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato (set to Handel's music). He also conducted the work's premiere at Theatre Royal de la Monnaie where he was Permanent Guest Conductor from 1988-91.
In case you are one of those who regard dance as a lot of arm waving and running about, that is, not an art form with anything meaningful to say (oh, I know you're out there), consider this pithy little summary at the beginning of Paul Taylor's biography for this weekend's program book.
"In the 1950s, his work was so cutting edge that it was not uncommon to see confused audience members flocking to the exits, while Martha Graham dubbed him the 'naughty boy' of dance. In the ’60s, he shocked the cognoscenti by setting his trailblazing movement to music composed two hundred years earlier, and inflamed the establishment by satirizing America’s most treasured icons. In the ’70s, he put incest center stage and revealed the beast lurking just below man’s sophisticated veneer. In the ’80s, he looked unflinchingly at intimacy among men at war and marital rape. In the ’90s, he warned against blind conformity to authority and ridiculed the Ku Klux Klan. In the new millennium he has condemned American imperialism, lampooned feminism and looked death square in the face.
Paul Taylor is not through yet."
I recommend you come and see Mr. Taylor's company this weekend. There's no telling what he's been up to.
Know how many keyboard sonatas Domenico Scarlatti wrote? 100? 200? Give up? How about 555? Yep, that's right.
And what's more, The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England performed them all last Sunday in six venues, cramming 34 hours of music into a 12 hour period. That's an astonishing rate of 46.25 sonatas per hour. Now if we convert sonatas per hour into berceuces per hour, you see, we get...
There were many superlative musical moments at the Berlin Philharmonic's Celebrity Series concert on November 19. Here are just a couple of moments that caught my attention:
One that will remain with me is the beatific expression on Ben Heppner's face as he listened (and occasionally mouthed the words) to Thomas Quasthoff singing Der Abschied, the sixth and final song in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Heppner appeared to be as moved as the audience (and why not? it was moving stuff) by the performance. Heppner, of course, sang beautifully himself; and being no fool, he chose to thoroughly enjoy the confluence of Philharmonic, Rattle and Quasthoff.
Following the completion of the Mahler - after which there was, rightly, no encore - before going back on stage for yet another series of bows, Sir Simon Rattle turned to Quasthoff and in reference to Quasthoff's recent forays into jazz singing, suggested an encore, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered? I'll be bewildered if you don't mind."
Extra: I almost forgot how pleased and proud many of us on staff were of the prolonged, cough-free silence that followed the end of Das Lied von der Erde; not only because hacking, cell phone rings, talking, and even snoring are apparently a pandemic in concert halls these days, but because noise became an issue on this very tour. So the silent Celebrity Series audience conjured a mixture of feelings, from "Way to go, Boston!" to "Thank God I didn't cough!"
Jeremy Eichler reviewed the St. Lawrence String Quartet's November 18 performance at Jordan Hall for The Boston Globe. It was, as Eichler points out, the first Boston performance by the Quartet's current lineup:
"How many personnel changes can a string quartet endure while preserving its essential identity? The question came to mind on Sunday afternoon as the St. Lawrence Quartet took the stage of Jordan Hall for its first local performance with its current roster. Any doubts were assuaged by the forceful, nuanced, and well-grounded reading of Beethoven's Quartet (Op. 130) that closed the program."
Jeremy Eichler reviewed last night's Berlin Philharmonic concert for today's Boston Globe. Here is his neat summary of Gyorgy Kurtag's Stele:
"'Stele' is a trio of connected musical tombstones. Enormous orchestral forces are required; the writing is fiercely expressive. Picture a Mahler symphony placed to simmer all day long on a low flame, producing an Austro-German concentrate of great potency. This is the world of Kurtag, and this orchestra knows it well."