• Electra, Oresteia and an execution: the daring designs of Hildegard Bechtler – in pictures
    by David Jays on October 23, 2019 at 5:00 am

    The theatre designer on creating a family dinner at Agamemnon’s, an election night Oedipus and the night Fiona Shaw got stuck‘You never know anything, you can only do your best.” Hildegard Bechtler is modest, but this soft-spoken, keen-eyed designer has created a host of memorable productions. Raised in Stuttgart, Bechtler moved to London in 1970, initially to train in fine art. She then worked in film, and likes the idea that she brings an outsider’s eye to British theatre. “Being a designer is constantly changing, depending on the people you work with,” she says. “Ideally, you forget everything. Collaborators are crucial, and the skill of the director is in creating the team. I’ve only had one bad experience with a director in my 30-odd years.”Linda Nylind for the GuardianNatasha Parry as Clytemnestra and Fiona Shaw as Electra at the Pit, Barbican, London, in 1988. Photograph: Neil LibbertPhoebe Nicholls as Rivera and Fiona Shaw as Galactia at the National theatre, London, in 2012. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The GuardianPhotograph: Manuel HarlanPhotograph: Manuel HarlanPhotograph: Jan VersweyveldAn early model above and a later version belowPhotograph: Monika Rittershaus/Salzburg FestivalPhotograph: Monika Rittershaus/Salzburg FestivalPhotograph: Tristram Kenton/The GuardianModel storyboard for The Damnation of Faust Continue reading...

  • Mundell Lowe: Tape Followup
    by Marc Myers on October 23, 2019 at 4:05 am

    Back in June, I posted on a Mundell Lowe album from 1961 that RCA released only on reel-to-reel tape. Tape was in its infancy then for the home market and was likely an extension of the stereo revolution taking place...       Related StoriesMundell Lowe: Lost RecordingAlice Darr and Kevin GavinJ.J. Johnnson: Broadway Express 

  • THE SCOOP | Annual General Meeting Shows The COC Continues To Do More With Less
    by Michael Vincent on October 22, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    The Canadian Opera Company's Annual General Meeting celebrated milestones, and an operating year where the company continues to do more with less.

  • Raymond Leppard, Versatile Maestro Who Led Baroque Revival, Dies at 92
    by By Daniel J. Wakin on October 22, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    After beginning as a 17th-century specialist, Mr. Leppard became a conductor with a broad repertory, leading the Indianapolis Symphony for 14 years.

  • The Jazz Gallery Presents: Abdulrahman Amer
    by Kevin Laskey on October 22, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    This Thursday, October 22, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome trombonist Abdulrahman Amer and his Ba Akhu project back to our stage for two sets. In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Amer talked about the meaning of band’s name: It’s a combination of ancient Egyptian words—I’m Egyptian, it’s part of my heritage, and

  • Free Download: Ning Feng plays Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1
    by Freya Parr on October 22, 2019 at 9:00 am

    'Even in a market flooded with Paganini Ones, Ning Feng's seemingly effortless, unflashy virtuosity really takes some believing' This week's free download is the third movement, Rondo, of Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1, performed by violinist Ning Feng with the Orquesta Sinfonia del Principado de Asturias under Rossen Milanov. It was recorded on Channel Classics and was awarded five stars for both performance and recording in the November issue of BBC Music Magazine. DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page. read more

  • Charles Tolliver's Big Bands
    by Marc Myers on October 22, 2019 at 4:05 am

    One of the finest jazz trumpeters around today who began his career during the 1960s Blue Note period is Charles Tolliver. If you're familiar with Jackie McLean's It's Time (1965), Action Action Action (1967) and Jackknife (1975), then you know...      Related StoriesStanley Cowell: Games 

  • Review: Mark Morris’s Dancing ‘Orfeo’ Returns to the Met Opera
    by By Anthony Tommasini on October 21, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    This revival of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” opened as one of the Met’s popular new Sunday matinees, a welcome series that may also be straining the company.

  • CRITIC’S PICKS | 10 Concerts You Absolutely Need To See In Toronto This Week (Oct. 21 – 27)
    by Joseph So on October 21, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of October 21 – 27.

  • The Arts Are Shunning Big Oil. The Salzburg Festival Isn’t.
    by By Alex Marshall on October 21, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    As some institutions shy away from oil and gas money, the prestigious music event has a new sponsor: Gazprom.

  • Diana Panton: Cheerful Earful
    by Marc Myers on October 21, 2019 at 4:05 am

    Diana Panton's voice is irresistible. It's not just that her phrasing is rich with mischief and joy. Or that she has great taste in songs and that she gleefully avoids tired songbook standards. For me, it's her sound and skills....       

  • Why Barenboim is the Ring master of our age
    by Martin Kettle on October 20, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    The chance to see a complete Ring cycle is all too rare these days. Martin Kettle reports from Berlin’s Staatsoper, where Daniel Barenboim might be hidden from view, but his Wagner is revelatoryThere was a time when it was unusual for a season to pass in a British opera house without the complete Ring being performed. The first Ring cycle to be mounted in postwar Britain was premiered in 1949 at Covent Garden. Thereafter (with the sole exception of 1952), the Ring, or parts of it, was an annual fixture at the Royal Opera House for two decades. Finally there was a fallow year in 1969. By this time, however, Sadler’s Wells Opera (later English National Opera) was building its own cycle, sung in English. The Ring – or parts thereof – continued to be performed most seasons into the 1980s at both houses, with Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera also mounting Rings and - just as significantly - touring them around Britain.Little of this period of plenty remains today. This is not to downplay some important recent Ring cycles, such as those put on by Opera North and Longborough festival, or the concert performances at the Proms and elsewhere, let alone the cycle directed by Keith Warner for Covent Garden in 2007 and revived in 2012 and 2018. But the gaps are increasingly large and obvious. Though there are many different causes for this change, the steady decline in Britain’s public subsidy to the opera sector is certainly one of the most decisive in making Wagner’s opera cycle an increasing and sometimes very expensive rarity on our stages. The result is that younger newcomers to the Ring are no longer able to get access to this most important and ambitious of 19th century European musical art works.The Berlin cast, a mix of newer and fresher voices with some Barenboim veterans, is close to being as good as you will hear these days Continue reading...

  • The Mask of Orpheus review – travesty of a production is nothing to laugh about
    by Andrew Clements on October 20, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Coliseum, LondonIt’s been three decades since Harrison Birtwistle’s challenging opera has been staged. Musically this might be excellent, but the gaudy and self-indulgent staging does nothing to illuminate the work’s complexitiesWhen English National Opera presented the premiere of The Mask of Orpheus at the Coliseum in 1986, I doubt many of us in the audience thought we would have to wait 33 years to see it on stage again. In the meantime both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, other productions of what was acknowledged as the defining work of Harrison Birtwistle’s early career and a landmark in 20th-century British opera, had regularly been promised, only for plans to be abandoned sooner or later, because of the sheer financial and technical challenges of realising them.But now this monumental work is back at the Coliseum, the centrepiece of ENO’s Orpheus season. For that, at least, much thanks. Those who were not around to experience the work in 1986, or the concert staging performance at the Royal Festival Hall 10 years later, will need to catch this version, if only to experience the magnificence of much of the music, which is an immense achievement for conductor Martyn Brabbins and everyone else involved. But those who have fond memories of the original production, might be advised to stay away from what in most other respects is a travesty of what Birtwistle and his librettist Peter Zinovieff envisaged, and of what the work represents. Continue reading...

  • A guide to Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
    by Music Freelance on October 20, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Rating:  0  Die Meistersinger von NürnbergComposed: 1862-7
Premiered: 21 June 1868, MunichIn 16th-century Nuremberg, the goldsmith Pogner causes a stir by announcing that he is to hold a song contest with the hand of his daughter, Eva, as first prize. Walther, a young knight who is in love with Eva, decides to take part, despite not belonging to the town’s guild of mastersingers.His effort is ruled out on technical grounds by Beckmesser, who also has his eye on Eva. Beckmesser’s own song gets sabotaged by Hans Sachs, the most famous mastersinger of all, who then helps Walther to win the contest. A guide to Wagners Die Walküre With three unperformed and immense operas on his desk, Wagner decided, in the early 1860s, to write a comedy, a compact work which would immediately earn him some desperately needed cash. Although the end of his political ban had at last seen him move back to Germany, times had otherwise been hard and his financial situation perilous.Scarcely had he begun Die Meistersinger, though, his fortunes took a considerable upturn with the succession of Ludwig II to the throne of Bavaria – a major champion of his music, Ludwig also paid off Wagner’s debts at a stroke.And so, in 1867, emerged the longest score that had ever been published, a work which lasts four and a half hours. People are often surprised that Wagner wrote – could write – a comedy, but they ignore how much humour, usually sly, there is in most of his other works. The 20 Greatest Operas of all time Anyway, Die Meistersinger is not primarily a comedy. It concerns, once more, the relationship that might or can exist between an unusually demanding individual and the community of which he wants to become a part – so long as it accepts him for what he is. That gives Wagner the chance to celebrate the great German tradition of music from Bach through to Beethoven: there is ceaseless counterpoint and a general delight in musical showing-off in Die Meistersinger. A guide to Wagner's Der fliegende Höllander The opera really has two heroes: the impetuous headstrong young knight Walther von Stolzing, who arrives in Nuremberg and upsets the Masters who legislate the rules of composition; and Hans Sachs, himself a Master, but the only one who realises that tradition needs constantly to be renewed if it is not to grow stale, so that the individual genius can make his fellows aware of fresh possibilities.Wagner’s plot – a brilliant one, and wholly of his own devising – plays this contrast out in terms of a song competition, with the heroine Eva’s hand as the prize. She is loved, or at least wanted, by Sachs, who has known her all her life; by Walther, who naturally fell in love with her at first sight; and by Beckmesser, the archetype of all pedants, who wants to woo her with a song which conforms to all the strictest rules. It is given to the townspeople of Nuremberg to adjudicate the winner, and it comes as no surprise that they pick Walther.   The best recordings of Wagner  That is the surface of Die Meistersinger. Beneath that, in Sachs’s great monologue in Act III, we learn that the whole thing, the whole world, is illusion, and that the most we can settle for is choosing consoling illusions, such as love, over wretched ones. So Die Meistersinger, like all the greatest comedies, conceals a depressing view of things beneath laughter and celebration, all set to the most glorious music. 

  • The week in classical: Don Pasquale; Rigoletto; Zauberland – review
    by Fiona Maddocks on October 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Royal Opera House; Glyndebourne, East Sussex; Linbury theatre, LondonEverything revolves around Bryn Terfel’s tremendous, tragicomic Don Pasquale; Verdi holds his own in a concept-laden Rigoletto. And second-guessing Schumann…On its polished surface, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (1843) is a criss-cross of stock comic characters: rich, ageing bachelor-lech; poor, feckless nephew; glamorous minx of a widow; scheming doctor. With its lampooning and cruelty, it isn’t easy to love. How can we laugh when a young woman slaps an old man, a gesture so shocking the music stops, bright harmony and bustling orchestration shriven into abrupt retreat. Discomfort is part of the work’s gleaming weaponry. The Royal Opera’s new production, directed by Damiano Michieletto, conducted by Evelino Pidò and starring one of opera’s all-time greats, the Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, recognised these tensions, at times nastily, at others disarmingly. I warmed to this piece, after long avoidance, for the first time.Michieletto and his designer Paolo Fantin have borrowed from the language of cinema, the go-to source for so many updated opera productions: two this week alone featuring director’s chair, film studio paraphernalia and wheel-on classic cars (see also Rigoletto below). The pinging and dinging of smartphones – even the doddery Don can read an SMS – are absorbed into the aural and visual narrative. Fantin’s skilful set, with neon-outline roof and some clever business with doors, conjures a vulgar world of greed and bad taste, in which Norina – here a makeup artist to the celebs – revels. Soon, in her mock marriage to Pasquale, she’s the one in glitter and furs, steamrolling her “husband”, and his house, into a wholesale makeover.Don Pasquale is at the Royal Opera House, London, until 2 NovemberRigoletto is at Glyndebourne, East Sussex, until 2 November, then tours to Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Woking and Norwich until 7 December Continue reading...

  • A guide to the music of Downton Abbey
    by Music Freelance on October 19, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Rating:  0 We all know it. Accompanied by spasmodic strings and the occasional contrasting legato from a violin, a minimalistic tune made of just a few notes on the piano conjures up a nostalgic atmosphere. It’s the theme of ITV’s Downton Abbey.Written by Scottish composer John Lunn, this simple melody appears in all six seasons of the acclaimed series and also sets the tone in screenwriter Julian Fellowes’s full feature film. Alongside the original theme, Lunn incorporates elements of popular 1920s styles like upbeat jazz arrangements and contrasting waltz motifs, fitting the film’s setting in autumn 1927.When asked about his musical plans for the film, Lunn commented, ‘At first it was like discovering a long-lost friend, but gradually I realised that we’d never really been apart; by the end it was just such a joy to revisit this material and have the opportunity to take it to a whole new level.’  Read more: Who composed the music of HBO's Chernobyl? The original music for the series earned Lunn two Primetime Emmy Awards (in 2012 and 2013) and an Emmy nomination in 2014, and two BAFTA nominations (2012 and 2016).In 2015, an album entitled ‘Downton Abbey - the ultimate collection’ was released, with the Chamber Orchestra of London playing Lunn’s score. Read more: What's the music on the BBC's Wimbledon TV coverage? Born in 1956, Lunn started his musical career as a member of the 80s systems music band Man Jumping. The seven-man band toured Britain and experienced relative success until splitting three years after its formation. Lunn has since encountered more long-lasting success in the business of film and TV composition. Besides working as a music consultant for the 1994 cult romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, he scored BBC One’s murder mystery Shetland as well as The Last Kingdom.The composer has been particularly prolific in the field of period drama, with the music of the BBC’s reworks of Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2013), Little Dorrit (2008), nominated both for the BAFTA and the Emmy awards, and Bleak House (2006) all under his name. 

  • SCRUTINY | Russian Pianist Denis Matsuev Dazzles In Impressive Program Of Liszt And Tchaikovsky
    by Stephan Bonfield on October 18, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Matsuev knew when to take his time and when to dazzle with speed in this impressive return to the Toronto stage for the renowned Russian virtuoso.

  • LEBRECHT LISTENS | Two New Beethoven Recordings, But Only One Gets It Right
    by Norman Lebrecht on October 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    In a year full of Beethoven, these workshop scrapings exert a haunting fascination. Vetter’s the one to try.

  • Abomination: the riotously high-camp opera about DUP homophobia
    by Stephen Moss on October 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Inspired by remarks made by a unionist MP, an incendiary opera is about to unleash gay cake and drag on Belfast. Will Arlene Foster be in the front row? We meet its creatorThe Newtownards Road in the heart of Protestant, unionist east Belfast is the unlikely setting for rehearsals of Abomination: A DUP Opera, the incendiary work that will open the Outburst Queer arts festival in the city next month. The building is surrounded by murals recording the unionist struggle; there is a memorial to Ulster Defence Association volunteers nearby, and union jacks adorn many houses and lamp-posts. Yet here, in the heartland of the Democratic Unionist party, composer Conor Mitchell is hatching an opera that dramatises an incident that showed the socially conservative, Christian evangelical party at its most bigoted.That incident was a phone interview in June 2008 in which Radio Ulster presenter Stephen Nolan talked to Iris Robinson, then a DUP MP and wife of Northern Ireland’s first minister, Peter Robinson. In the interview, which came soon after a homophobic assault on a gay man in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, Robinson branded homosexuality an “abomination”.A few years after I heard those remarks on the radio, I was drinking myself to death Continue reading...

  • Fifteen of the best Romantic composers
    by Music Freelance on October 18, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Rating:  0 The Romantic era was a time where composers embraced virtuosity and expression. Many composers during this era tackled themes such as nature, the supernatural and the sublime through ever-expanding forms, taking inspiration from art and literature. Let's take a look at 15 of the best composers from this era and their works. 1. Clara SchumannClara Schumann was a gifted composer at a time where the profession was highly male-dominated. Her career began as a child prodigy pianist, taught by her father Friedrich Wieck who insisted on spending time teaching her harmony and counterpoint so she could go on to perform her own works.Her talent earnt her a prestigious place at the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. Undoubtedly her marriage to Robert Schumann influenced her music. The couple were known for sharing musical ideas with each other, and their close friend Johannes Brahms.  Best works:Three Romances for Violin and Piano, 1853A display of sophisticated lyrical lines and daring complexity.  Five of the best Clara Schumann recordings Piano Concerto, 1836This concerto was written when she was only 16. The bold first movement demonstrates her original voice. Five of the best works by Clara Schumann  2. Franz Schubert Schubert wrote over 600 songs in total, and was at the forefront of the Romantic Lieder tradition. He is also known for his thrilling orchestral and chamber works. Schubert had a gift for shaping a melody and creating beautiful themes.  Best works:Symphony No. 8 ‘Unfinished’, 1822:The first phrase comes from the cellos and basses playing low in register and pianissimo. After a few bars, agitated shimmering strings enter alongside a more lyrical oboe and clarinet line. This dark introverted opening is unlike other symphonies of the time which often open with a bold statement. Four of the best Schubert recordings Gretchen am Spinnrade, 1814: This song depicts a girl, Gretchen, spinning yarn and worrying about her feelings for her new lover, Faust. The right hand of the piano accompaniment is busy yet flowing, capturing the spinning wheel but also Gretchen’s agitation. Above floats a fluid vocal melody.  Five essential works by Schubert 3. Richard Wagner Wagner was a revolutionary operatic composer. He worked according to his theory that music, poetry and drama are inseparable. He used Leitmotifs throughout his music. Leitmotifs are musical phrases that represent specific characters so listeners can identify physical action in the music. Wagner's Leitmotifs Best works:De Ring de Nibelungen (The Ring Cycle), 1876:An epic story of a magic ring spread across four full-length operas.Wagner, The Ring Cycle: Ride of the Valkyries Six of the best productions of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde Tristan und Isolde, 1865: Based on a greek tragedy of two lovers, Isolde and Tristan mistakenly drink the elixir of love instead of death. This causes the pair huge trouble as Isolde is engaged to marry the King. Wagner Tristan und Isolde, Prelude A guide to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde  4. Johannes BrahmsBrahms followed the principles of form and counterpoint that were familiar to composers of the Classical era. The spirit of his music is, however, much more Romantic. At times his music is intensely dark, and notoriously difficult to play. Best works:Violin Concerto, 1879: This extremely virtuosic concerto, full of gypsy inflections, was written for violinist Joseph Joachim. Joachim advised Brahms while he composed the concerto, as Brahms had no experience of playing the violin. Brahms Violin Concerto, 1st movement Five essential works by Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, 1868: Written in response to his mother’s death, a full symphony orchestra plays with this setting of passages from the Lutheran bible. Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem, 1st Movement 'Selig Sind' Brahms's A German Requiem Text  5. Giacomo PucciniItalian composer Puccini made his mark on opera. His music is effortlessly lyrical, influenced by Wagner and Verdi, and sharing similarities with more contemporary composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky.  Best works:La Bohème, 1895: The tragic opera tells the story of a young poet who falls in love with a seamstress, but obstacles of poverty and illness get in their way.Puccini La Bohème, Musetta's Waltz Six of the best operatic demises Madam Butterfly, 1904:A story of unrequited love. The emotional score of Madam Butterfly reflects the heart breaking story of a young Japanese girl Cio-Cio San. Puccini Madame Butterfly, Un bel di vedremo The 20 Greatest Operas of all time 6. Hector BerliozBerlioz’s music is often technically difficult. His use of harmony was seen at the time as unconventional. He treated harmony as a tool for expression rather than function. Other stylistic qualities are his use of irregular rhythms and long melodies, while still being clearly influenced by the Classical period.  Best works:Symphonie fantastique, 1830:Considered the first tone poem, the work's main theme is notably long, running for 30 bars. A tone poem is an orchestral form that was born in the Romantic era. It is a composition which is based around a story or programme, which the title usually alludes to.  <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AF8mds4VULE" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique, 4th Movement: 'March to the Scaffold' The love story behind Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique Les Nuits d’été, 1834-40:A song cycle set to the poetry of Gautier. Originally written for baritone and piano, it has also been arranged for soprano and orchestra. Berlioz, Les nuits d'été, 'Le Spectre de la Rose' Five essential works by Berlioz 7. Antonin DvořákCzech composer Dvořák was experimental in his early compositions. As his primary job was as a viola player, he did not rely on these works for an income. His style became more Classical as he became influenced by the works of Liszt and Brahms. His music from the mid 1870s has a more nationalistic feel, as heard in his Slavonic Dances.  Best Works:String Quartet in E minor, 1868-1869:The height of his experimental phase, this string quartet pushes Romantic tonality to its limits.  Six of the best string quartets about life and death Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’, 1892-95:This symphony contains a range of memorable themes, hugely popular with audiences. Dvořák wrote this after taking the position as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York in 1892. The work incorporates influences from American music and culture. Dvorak Symphony No. 9, 2nd Movement Five essential works by Dvorak 8. Jean Sibelius When studying literature, the Finnish composer discovered Kalevala, a mythological epic about Finland. This influenced his composing as many of his tone poems are inspired by it, including the Lemminkäinen Suite. Sibelius’s music became very popular in Europe, and he received a salary from the government to allow him to live comfortably and keep composing.  Best works: Violin Concerto, 1904:This work was one Sibelius wanted to play as he was a violinist himself. Sadly, he didn’t posess the technical ability to play it. Sibelius Violin Concerto, 1st Movement A guide to Sibelius's Kullervo Finlandia, 1899:A nationalistic tone poem calling for Russia to allow Finland to remain independent. Today, the piece is regarded as the country’s unofficial national anthem.  Top five Sibelius works  9. Felix Mendelssohn Felix Mendelssohn was the most talented child prodigy of all time. At fifteen his teacher claimed Mendelssohn’s talents were equal to those of Bach, Haydn and Mozart. His music incorporates the elegance and balance of the Classical era, while still evoking the fantasy of the Romantic. Best Works:Piano Concerto No. 1, 1831: The concerto was inspired by Mendelssohn’s trip to Italy (1830-31). The premiere of the work was a triumph, with Mendelssohn playing the piano himself.  Five of the best lesser-known Mendelssohn works to discover Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, 1826:The music was written to accompany Shakespeare’s play, and its overture quickly became popular across Europe. Five essential works by Mendelssohn  10. Fanny MendelssohnFanny Mendelssohn was the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn. Despite often being overlooked, she composed around 500 brilliant works. As a woman, she was not encouraged to pursue music as a career in the way her brother was, so did not get the same opportunities of travelling and education. Nevertheless, her music contains the complex virtuosity exhibited by her male contemporaries. Her work is light and poised in character.  Best works:String Quartet, 1834: The quartet begins with short phrases being passed around between players creating an echoing effect. The second movement is the most lively and shows baroque influences. The final movement is the most moving of the three.  The best recordings of Fanny Mendelssohn's String Quartet Overture in C: Fanny Mendelssohn's only orchestral work displays her characteristic gracefulness alongside virtuosic string parts.  Six of the best works by Fanny Mendelssohn  11. Gustav Mahler Mahler is best known for his nine complete symphonies. His contemporaries did not have a high opinion of him, accusing him of being morbid, self-indulgent and derivative. But Mahler is actually a synthesiser of music. He brings together folk music, military marches, waltzes, chorales and Lieder.  Best Works:Symphony No. 2, 1888-94: The symphony tells the story of life. It is huge in scale - an hour and a half long. It is written for symphony orchestra, two vocal soloists and a chorus. Mahler Symphony No. 2, 1st Movement Who was Alma Mahler? Symphony No. 9, 1909:This was Mahler’s last completed symphony. It expresses complicated feelings of someone nearing the end of their life, and is particularly poignant as Mahler himself died soon after composing it. Mahler Symphony No. 9, 4th Movement Five essential works by Mahler 12. Pyotr Il’yich TchaikovskyThe Russian composer is known for his rich orchestration and tuneful melodies. He was hugely prolific, writing 7 symphonies, 11 operas and 3 ballets. He also wrote concertos and chamber music.   Best works:The Nutcracker, 1892:Tchaikovsky’s third ballet is based on a story by the German fantasy writer ETA Hoffmann. The Nutcracker is innovative in terms of the sounds Tchaikovsky uses in the orchestra. In Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy he uses a celesta. Tchaikovsky had heard one in Paris in 1891 and asked his publisher to buy one, hoping to keep it a secret so that no other Russian would compose music for the instrument before him.Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker, 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' Nine unexpected uses of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Piano Concerto No. 1, 1874-75:The opening chords of this concerto are some of the most famous in history. The first movement is highly virtuosic, while the second is more focused on interplay between the piano and orchestra. The final movement is a powerful rondo.Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, 1st Movement Six of the best American ballets  13. Robert SchumannGerman composer Robert Schumann was known for his piano music, Lieder and orchestral works. Before his marriage, Schumann was mostly seen as a miniaturist composer due to his fondness for writing short piano pieces and songs. Most of his music is inspired by literature and poems.  Best works:Piano Quintet in E flat, 1842:Schumann's quintet for piano and string quartet is famous for its instrumentation which was later made popular by composers like Brahms and Elgar.  Five of the best works by Clara Schumann Kreisleriana, 1838:A set of eight pieces for solo piano. Schumann dedicated these to Chopin and saw them as his best work. They were inspired by stories by Romantic writer ETA Hoffmann.  12 of the best books featuring classical music  14. Fryderyk ChopinThe Polish composer was a virtuoso pianist, child prodigy and master of Romantic composition. Most of his musical output was for piano, writing 59 mazurkas, 27 études, 27 preludes, 21 nocturnes and 20 waltzes. Best works:24 Preludes, Op. 28:Similarly to Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Chopin moves through every key in sequence. The pieces are very short, yet filled with character. Chopin Prelude No 15, 'Raindrop' Forgotten piano concertos Polonaise-Fantaisie, 1846:The opening to this ten-minute piece has an improvisatory feel. The middle section is a lullaby, which then returns to the main theme. The piece ends with a bold flourish, which suddenly fades away finishing with a couple of trills. Five essential works by Chopin 15. Giuseppe Verdi Verdi is best known for his 25 celebrated operas, including La Traviata and Falstaff. His career really took off after his first opera, Oberto, which was put on at the La Scala opera house in Milan in 1839. The La Scala opera house offered him a contract to put on three more operas directly after. Best works:La Traviata, 1853:La Traviata was based on Alexandre Dumas' play The Lady of the Camellias, and remains Verdi’s most popular opera. Verdi La Traviata, 'Brindisi' (The Drinking Song) A quick guide to Verdi's Requiem Requiem, 1874:Milan's cathedral put on the first performance of Verdi's Requiem Mass. He composed it in tribute to the famous novelist and poet Alessandro Manzoni, who died in 1873. The Requiem demonstrates Verdi's composing abilities outside of the field of opera.Verdi Requiem, Dies Irae e Tuba Mirum

  • 6 Classical Music Concerts to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend
    by By David Allen on October 17, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera happening this weekend and in the week ahead.

  • “Old Songs New” and the Lee Konitz Nonet: Ohad Talmor Speaks
    by Noah Fishman on October 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    When Lee Konitz makes music, folks stop and listen. This may be due to his deep connection to the repertoire, his constant search for new sound, his adoration and celebration of the tradition. It may also be because he just turned 92 years old. How does someone like Konitz stay engaged in the music after

  • Tosca review – Scottish Opera's opulent staging still has plenty to say
    by Rowena Smith on October 17, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Theatre Royal, GlasgowIts three central performers make this latest revival of a 40-year-old production feel vital and engaging.Scottish Opera’s venerable production of Tosca belongs to a different era of opera staging, when faithful recreation of scene was more the order of the day, rather than radical reinterpretation. That said, Anthony Besch’s production, here receiving its umpteenth revival in four decades, has aged remarkably well. Peter Rice’s hyper-realistic sets, which bring the opulence of church/palace/fortress to the stage in loving detail, still look splendid, and if Besch’s decision to update the action to fascist-era 1940s Italy doesn’t seem as radical now as it did 40 years ago, then it is still a choice with something to say about the nature of power and corruption.If there is a drawback to such an opulent, old-fashioned staging it is the risk it encourages “stand-and-deliver” performances. This was somewhat apparent in the opening night of this production, particularly in the first act, which felt rather static. Gwyn Hughes Jones delivering Cavaradossi’s aria as an old-school set piece wasn’t a problem; however the ensuing violence, particularly when Roland Wood’s Scarpia and his police thugs hassle Paul Carey Jones’s Sacristan, was not believably threatening. And for all its pomp and splendour, Swiss Guards, Cardinals and even a cameo appearance from Il Duce himself, the first-act climax, where Scarpia’s secular moment of triumph is juxtaposed with the religious celebrations, didn’t entirely come off. There was the feeling of the performers finding their way as the menace and drama of the subsequent acts came across as vital and engaging. Continue reading...

  • THE SCOOP | Toronto Mendelssohn Choir Announces New Executive Director
    by Michael Vincent on October 17, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Toronto's leading professional choir has announced the hiring of Anna Kajtar as Executive Director of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

  • Review: A New Opera Pays Poetic Tribute to the Creative Process
    by By Joshua Barone on October 17, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Hannah Lash’s “Desire,” an allegorical chamber work for three singers and the JACK Quartet, had its world premiere in New York.

  • Podcast: Magna Sequentia II. A quick step through J. S. Bach’s keyboard dances.
    by Naxos on October 17, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    If playlists had been available in the 18th century, Magna Sequentia II would undoubtedly have enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, with its varied track list embodying a theme of music by association. In her second of three Magna Sequentias, pianist Sonia Rubinsky leads with J. S. Bach’s Overture in the French Style and follows by building Read More ...

  • The Jazz Gallery Presents: Jaleel Shaw
    by Kevin Laskey on October 17, 2019 at 10:00 am

    After hosting The Jazz Gallery’s Roy Hargrove Birthday Jam on Wednesday evening, saxophonist Jaleel Shaw returns to the Gallery stage on Saturday with his working quartet. Featuring guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Rashaan Carter, and drummer Justin Brown, the group will perform Shaw compositions both new and old. Before coming to hear this top-flight band at

  • An introduction to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12
    by Music Freelance on October 17, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Rating:  0 Symphony No. 12 ‘The Year 1917’ Op. 112 (1961)Premiered: Leningrad, 1961Symphony No. 12, like the 11th, was written for a revolutionary commemoration, dedicated to Lenin. Shostakovich was invited to attend the 22nd Congress as a new Party member, where it was performed.VASILY PETRENKO: The Twelfth is probably the most cryptic of them all, and a big discovery for me. It’s a hugely powerful piece, especially if you understand what’s behind it. He makes use of the traditional “People of Russia” from Musorgsky. There’s a three-note theme representing the people, while Lenin is heard in a two-note theme (I subscribe to the view that he denotes a brutal leader or anti-human force in two note themes, and “humanity” in three-note ones). You can hear how Lenin moves the people towards catastrophe in the first movement. He then follows Lenin to Razliv in Finland, where he reflects on his strategy. We hear a theme from Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen in Tuonela which deals with the hero’s death, when he is cut into pieces and thrown in a river – later his mother pulls out the pieces and only by her tears is he restored again. The message is clear. It’s one of the most clever calculations he made: firstly, to quote Sibelius – the necessary people would understand the message – and to put in the revolutionary songs as a cover. You can sense how songs start with a clear intention but are altered and warped. In the final part, “the dawn of humanity”, he was raising a question for himself: if the 1905 revolution had been successful, would a parliamentary regime have 
been established? The politics of Dmitri Shostakovich Vasily Petrenko is, like Shostakovich, a son of Leningrad/St Petersburg, and grew up singing the composer’s songs in its Capella Boys Music School. In 1997 he won first prize in the Shostakovich Choral Conducting Competition and was made chief conductor of the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, during which time he took on the principal conductorship of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.On his arrival in the city in 2006, at just 30, he launched a project with Naxos to record all Shostakovich’s 15 symphonies. The series has drawn international acclaim and, as the final instalment is released, he looks back on his nine-year journey. ‘To work with an orchestra on one composer for so many years has meant we could build a style, an approach to his language,’ he says. ‘At first, it felt like an exhilarating challenge: there are huge demands. Now, we are of one mind.’  Five of the best Shostakovich conductors Petrenko, born a year after the composer’s death, grew up in the Soviet Union. A beneficiary of its uniquely rigorous teaching system, he witnessed its dissolution when he was 15, the re-writing of history books, and even the emergence of a nostalgia for that dark era. He’s in touch with those who remember Shostakovich, and the times through which he lived, but has experienced the Western view of this controversial figure.‘When I conduct these symphonies in Russia, there’s still an unspoken understanding of the songs, the messages. We talk more about the composer’s personal life. When I conduct in the West, it’s important to give the historical context. There’s still so much we don’t know; the family destroyed many letters when Shostakovich died. The State would probably have requisitioned them anyway.’ 

  • THE SCOOP | National Ballet Of Canada Basks In Operating Surplus For 10th Consecutive Season
    by Anya Wassenberg on October 16, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    In contrast with many arts institutions in Toronto, and across Canada, the National Ballet of Canada recently announced that it had achieved an operating surplus for the 2018/19 season. This marks the 10th consecutive year when the organization's financial operations have landed firmly in the black.

  • The Jazz Gallery Presents: Micah Thomas
    by Kevin Laskey on October 16, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    This Friday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist Micah Thomas and his trio back to our stage for two sets. Since coming to New York to study at Juilliard, Thomas has become a Gallery regular, collaborating with pears like Immanuel Wilkins and established veterans like Melissa Aldana and Lage Lund. In particular, Thomas

  • 6 of the Best: Beethoven's overlooked works
    on October 16, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Rating:  0 We explore Beethoven's revolutionary nine symphonies. But not every piece he wrote is that well known today. So here's our guide to six of the great German composer's overlooked works. Wellington’s Victory/The Battle Symphony, Op. 91This 15-minute orchestral piece was composed in 1813 to celebrate the defeat of Joseph Bonaparte, king of Spain and brother of Napoleon, by British troops led by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria.Beethoven's music dramatises the battle, splitting the orchestra into two and incorporating live cannon and musket fire for added excitement. Well-known national tunes represent the two sides with God Save the King and Rule Britannia for the British and Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre for the French.Today the piece is often seen as a novelty, but at the time of his death it was publically considered one of his best works. The best recordings of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 12 German Dances, WoO 8Beethoven wrote these 12 German Dances in 1795, at the age of just 25, for the Redoutensaal, a salon frequented by the Viennese upper classes. This is Beethoven on a small scale, displaying concise craftsmanship – not one of the dances breaks the two-minute mark.Though Beethoven originally orchestrated the dances, they became popular enough for him to make a piano arrangement to be played at home. A guide to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5The best recordings of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata British folk song arrangementsBeethoven’s 179 settings of folk songs earned him a substantial amount of money. He was commissioned by publisher and folk-song collector George Thomson, who paid the composer four ducats per song – twice as much as Haydn initially received. Thomson had transcribed many of the melodies on his travels around Great Britain and he also commissioned great British poets like Robert Burns and Walter Scott to write new texts for existing folk songs. A mixture of simple solo, duet, and trio arrangements, the songs were suitable for social use in the houses and salons of the Viennese middle-class. The songs range from the jolly (Put round the bright wine) to melancholy (On the Massacre of Glencoe). There is even a lively arrangement of Auld Lang Syne (below). The greatest virtuosos of all time Cantata On the Death of Emperor Joseph II, WoO 87When news of the Emperor’s death reached Bonn, the University began preparations for a memorial ceremony that would take place just a month later. Theology student Severin Anton Averdonk wrote a text, and an open invitation was extended to composers in Bonn to set it to music.19-year-old Beethoven leapt at the chance to prove his talent as a composer. Established composers were reluctant to attempt the work on such a tight deadline, so Beethoven won the job. However, for unknown reasons, the initial performance was cancelled and it was never performed in his lifetime. The best recordings of Beethoven's Moonlight SonataBeethoven: What did the 19th century think? Three Equale for Four Trombones, WoO 30Beethoven wrote this set of 'equale' works for All Soul’s Day in Linz Cathedral, 1812. They were later performed at his own funeral in an arrangement for male voice choir, with the words of the Miserere added by Ignaz von Seyfried.'Equale' or 'Aequale' is a Latin musical term that means 'for equal parts,' or put simply, for the same instrument. Beethoven writes for his four trombones in long, homophonic phrases, creating a rich sombre tone throughout the set.  10 female composers you should know Italian songsBeethoven wrote a great number of Italian songs while studying composition with Antonio Salieri, often as exercises. Very few of his early works have survived, but those he composed or revisited in later life are far better preserved. The songs have a very different mood from Beethoven's famous song-cycle An die ferne geliebte. Some of the songs, the brief, lyrical Ecco quel fiero istante (WoO 124) for example, could almost be by Mozart.In questa tomba oscura (WoO 133) is entirely different. Here we can see more dramatic elements and the accompaniment contributes to the development of the song as it transitions from calm, slow chords to thunderous quaver-movement and back again.   Elinor Cooper

  • The Royal Northern College of Music
    by onlineads on October 16, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Website:  https://www.rncm.ac.uk Tel:  0161 907 5200 Email:  info@rncm.ac.uk The Royal Northern College of Music is a leading international conservatoire located in the heart of Manchester with a reputation for attracting talented students, teachers, conductors and composers from all over the world.Founded in 1973 through the merger of the Royal Manchester College of Music and Northern School of Music, the RNCM is home to around 320 teaching staff and more than 800 students from 60 countries.read more

  • Best classical music inspired by autumn
    on October 16, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Rating:  0 Autumn, with its golden leaves and misty mornings, is here. To keep you company as the nights draw in, we present some of the best classical music inspired by the season. Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, 'Autumn' (1723)What seasonal playlist could fail to include Vivaldi? From the Allegro’s post-harvest celebrations in 'Autumn', Vivaldi’s programmatic music transports us to the somewhat less vibrant morning after, where slow moving suspensions come as close to a musical hangover as anything you’ve ever heard. In the stately final Allegro, ‘The Hunt’, a virtuosic violin solo represents the hunter’s fleeing quarry, which they eventually catch and kill. Not so fun for the quarry, but a jolly old time for all the hunters. Six of the best pieces for Firework Night Bax – November Woods (1917)Though ostensibly inspired by nature, Bax’s November Woods also acts as a musical portrait of his turbulent love affair with pianist Harriet Cohen. An often unsettling work, the tone poem fluctuates between stormy drama and quiet ecstasy, yet fades to a quiet and unresolved finish. What are the best recordings of Schubert's Winterreise? Fanny Mendelssohn – Das Jahr (1841)Fanny Mendelssohn wrote the piano cycle Das Jahr as a musical diary of the year she spent with her family in Rome. The 12 months are represented by 12 individual movements. In 'September' a flowing accompaniment overlays a dark melody in the left hand. 'October' is a brighter, march-like song, but 'November' returns to introspection and a minor key. She instructs the performer to play sadly. Six of the best works by Fanny MendelssohnSix of the best pieces inspired by birdsong Richard Strauss – Four Last Songs, ‘September’Sometimes considered Strauss’s own musical epitaph, all of the Four Last Songs are themed around death. ‘September’ is a shimmering and uplifting work, which calmly compares the passing of the seasons with the passing of life. Strauss also includes a poignant and wistful solo for his father’s instrument: the French horn.   The best recording's of Holst's The Planets Imogen Holst – The Fall of the Leaf (1963)The Fall of the Leaf was written as a study piece for Holst's friend, the cellist and pianist Pamela Hind O’Malley. It is based on a tune by Martin Peerson that Holst found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (1572-1651). Unified by this melody, all six movements expand on it using a variety of different string techniques, from pizzicato to double-stopping.  Six pieces to celebrate winter Massenet – Pensée d’Automne (1887)‘The year slips away like a flowing stream,’ mourns the soprano soloist in the opening lines of Massenet’s Pensée d’Automne (Thoughts of Autumn). Based on a poem by Armand Silvestre, the song perfectly expresses the melancholy that comes as the summer ends. The best classical music for spring Listen to our playlist of autumnal music here:

  • Six of the best... works by Kaija Saariaho
    by Music Freelance on October 16, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Rating:  0 Born in Helsinki in 1952, Kaija Saariaho did not come from a typically musical background. The daughter of a metal worker, her break into composition came after studying at the Sibelius Academy with Paavo Heininen, and later in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough. Her diverse repertoire includes operas, orchestral works and experimentation with electroacoustic music. Here’s our pick of six of her best pieces. L’Amour de loin Saariaho’s first opera, L’Amour de loin tells the story of Jaufré Rudel, a troubadour longing for a ‘love from afar’. When a pilgrim tells him that such a love really exists in Tripoli, Jaufré begins his pursuit, becoming sick with anguish on the journey. A beautifully dark and brooding opera, L’Amour de loin received its premiere in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, a co-production with the Théatre du Chatelet, Paris and the Santa Fe Opera. Recommended Recording:Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin Ekhaterina Lekhina (soprano), Marie-Ange Todorovitch (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Belcher (tenor); Berlin Radio Chorus; Berlin Deutches Symphony Orchestra/Kent Nagano Harmonia Mundi HMC801937/38   Graal théâtreWritten as a concerto for violin and orchestra in 1994 and arranged in 1997 for chamber orchestra, Graal théâtre takes its name from the book by Jacques Roubaud. According to Saariaho, ‘the title expresses the tension between the efforts of the composer when writing music and the theatrical aspect of a performance.’ The piece’s two movements are characterised by the gritty and sometimes aggressive sound of the solo violin, originally performed by Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, to whom the piece is also dedicated. Recommended Recording:Kaija Saariaho: Graal théâtre / Château de l'âme / Amers Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Gidon Kremer (violin), Avanti!, BBC Symphony/Esa-Pekka Salonen Sony Classical G010001403109B    Verblendungen This piece sees Saariaho experimenting with electroacoustic music by manipulating pre-recorded sounds on a tape, resulting in eerie textures. Verblendungen – commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company – was written in 1984 and used a tape produced in the GRM Digital Studio for treating sounds. Saariaho has created her own unique string orchestra by using two manipulated violin sounds which are layered over a chamber orchestra. Recommended recording: A Portrait of Kaija SaariahoFinnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen BIS - BISCD307 The best electronic orchestral musicSix great contemporary operas Orion This haunting orchestral piece is inspired by the titular figure in Greek mythology, the mortal son of Poseidon whom Zeus placed in the sky as a constellation after his death. Split into three movements – Memento Mori, Winter Sky and Hunter – Orion immediately seems to evoke the vastness of space through its drawn-out ethereal strings and sudden passages of dramatic orchestral eruptions, all of which come to an abrupt finish with a closing triangle chime. Composed in 2002 for Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, it is Saariaho’s largest purely orchestral work to date.  Recommended recording:Saariaho: Notes on Light / Orion / Mirage Karita Mattila (soprano), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Orchestre de Paris/Christoph Eschenbach Ondine ODE11302   Petals Petals – a 10-minute piece for solo cello and live electronics – is impressive, if a bit harsh on the ears. The performer utilises a whole range of different tones from airy harmonics to nail-bitingly rough bass notes, sharp tremolos and glissandos. Petals was composed in 1988 and is the natural stylistic successor to 1987’s Nymphea, a comparable work for string quartet and electronics. Recommended recording: Kaija Saariaho: Chamber Music Scott Roller (cello), Thomas Neuhaus (electronics) Kairos KAI00124129 of the best contemporary female composers  Du Cristal … à la fumée Du Cristal … à la fumée is a single orchestral diptych formed by two separately commissioned pieces – translated as ‘From crystal’ and ‘…into smoke’. The pieces can be played separately or together, with the closing cello trill of Du Cristal leading seamlessly into the introduction of its successor. In Saariaho’s own words, ‘to my way of thinking, Du Cristal … à la fumée is a single work, two facets of the same image, but both drawn in, living and independent.’ Du Cristal … à la fumée is deeply cinematic and, like other works such as Orion, is full of ghostly strings and sudden orchestral timpani-driven crescendos. Recommended recording: Saariaho: Du cristal - …à la fumée - 7 Papillons - Nymphéa Anssi Karttunen (cello), Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen Ondine ODE1047-2  Words by Gareth Thomas  

  • Don Pasquale review – Bryn Terfel softens Donizetti's hard edges
    by Tim Ashley on October 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Royal Opera House, LondonTerfel sounds wonderful and is deeply touching as the elderly bachelor in Damiano Michieletto’s overly fussy, modern-dress staging Damiano Michieletto’s Royal Opera staging of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is a co-production with the Paris Opéra, where it was first seen earlier this year. Its transfer to London to some extent forms a vehicle for Bryn Terfel, strikingly cast as the elderly bachelor conned into thinking he is marrying a supposedly demure convent girl, only to find her a domineering even tyrannical wife the moment the ring is on her finger.A work that is easy to admire but often hard to love, Donizetti’s hard-edged little comedy is nowadays apt to make us uneasy. For all the brilliance of its music, its depiction of the amatory follies of age and the unthinking certainties of youth has a sardonic quality that tips towards cynicism and cruelty. Its shifting balance of sympathies makes it a difficult prospect for directors, and Michieletto’s modern-dress staging is hampered by uncertainties of tone and a busy quality that sometimes hinders its impact. Continue reading...

  • The Jazz Gallery Presents: Martin Nevin
    by Kevin Laskey on October 15, 2019 at 10:00 am

    This Thursday, October 17, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome bassist Martin Nevin and his ensemble back to our stage for two sets. In 2018, Nevin released his debut album as a leader, Tenderness is Silent. Featuring all original compositions, the album reflected Nevin’s wide range of influences, both musical and extra-musical. In a previous

  • Five uses of classical music in cartoons
    by Music Freelance on October 15, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Rating:  0 The Cat ConcertoIn this 1946 Academy-Award winning Tom and Jerry short film, Liszt’s virtuosic showpiece, the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, provides the musical inspiration for a hilarious cat and mouse skirmish across the grand piano. Six of the best British television tunes What's Opera, Doc?Bugs Bunny meets Wagner in this six-and-a-half-minute cartoon from 1957 parodying the German composer’s operas. Rabbit-hunter Elmer Fudd singing the words ‘Kill the wabbit’ to the theme from the ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ is unmissable. What's the music used in TV news programmes? Fantasia With everything from elephants and ostriches dancing to Ponchielli’s The Dance of the Hours, the creation of the earth accompanied by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Mickey Mouse doing a turn as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Walt Disney’s 1940 full-length animated film has become a children’s classic. The best recordings of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring The Simpsons When America’s favourite cartoon family head to Italy in The Italian Bob, they stumble across Krusty the Clown performing in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. You may recognise ‘Vesti la giubba’ as the aria sung to the words ‘No more Rice Krispies... we are out of Rice Krispies.' Six of the best pieces of television theme music Peter and the Wolf The first in Breakthru Films’s projected trilogy of classical music-inspired stop-motion animations (a technique made famous by Aardman Animations’s Wallace and Gromit) brings to life Prokofiev’s characterful orchestral score. With a soundtrack performed by the Philharmonia, Peter and the Wolf won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2008. Six of the best classical pieces on film

  • Where the Bookshelves Are Filled With Shoes
    on October 15, 2019 at 9:00 am

    The Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth’s decorating style is Art Deco meets Hollywood Regency, with a bit of the 1960s (and a lot of shoes) thrown in.

  • SCRUTINY | Fantasy Meets Fabulous Vocalism In A Winning COC Rusalka
    by Joseph So on October 14, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Sondra Radvanovsky, an impeccable orchestra, and fanciful staging make COC's Rusalka a not-to-be-missed highlight of the opera season.

  • The Jazz Gallery Presents: Roy Hargrove Birthday Jam Session
    by Kevin Laskey on October 14, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    This Wednesday, October 16, The Jazz Gallery will host a special birthday celebration concert and jam session for trumpeter and Gallery co-founder Roy Hargrove. Beginning at 9 P.M., longtime Hargrove associate saxophonist Jaleel Shaw will lead his quartet in a performance of Roy’s music. Afterward, Shaw will open the floor to a jam session, honoring

  • SCRUTINY | Amplified Opera’s ‘The Queen In Me’ Offers Woke Resistance
    by Hye Won Cecilia Lee on October 14, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    In this hour-long musical monologue, Amplified Opera presents a mixed bag of opera ladies.

  • An 18th-Century Opera, Supercharged for Our Time
    by By Zachary Woolfe on October 14, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    The Paris Opera’s new production of “Les Indes Galantes” has freshness and energy that elude its “La Traviata.”

  • CRITIC’S PICKS | 12 Concerts You Absolutely Need To See In Toronto This Week (Oct. 14 – 20)
    by Joseph So on October 14, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Classical music and opera events happening in and around Toronto for the week of October 14 – 20.

  • Snedronningen (The Snow Queen) review – Abrahamsen's opera fails to melt hearts
    by Andrew Clements on October 14, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Opera House, CopenhagenThe fairytale is patchily told and a drab staging means Hans Abrahamsen’s long-awaited opera debut doesn’t get the production its music deserves For a Danish composer who has written a much admired, glittering ensemble piece called Schnee (Snow), the idea of basing an opera on Hans Christian Andersen’s Snedronningen (The Snow Queen), one of his country’s most celebrated stories, must have seemed irresistible. Hans Abrahamsen has cherished the idea of such a work for many years, and it’s now finally reached the stage, given its premiere by the Royal Danish Opera, in a production by Francisco Negrín, conducted by Robert Houssart.Andersen’s “tale in seven stories” is one of his longest and most intricate fables, depicting the efforts of a young girl, Gerda, to find and rescue her boy-next-door friend Kay, who has been bewitched by the Snow Queen and spirited away to her ice palace in the far north. Abrahamsen and his librettist Henrik Engelbrecht have pared the story and its characters right down, and Negrín’s staging takes the process even further, making three of the characters, the Snow Queen, the Reindeer and the Clock, who are all sung by the same baritone in Abrahamsen’s score, into manifestations of a single “universal being”. Continue reading...

  • A Syos Saxophone Summit
    by Kevin Laskey on October 14, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    This Tuesday, October 15, The Jazz Gallery and Syos Mouthpieces will host a saxophone summit featuring six of Syos’s acclaimed New York-based artists—Jure Pukl, Tivon Pennicott, Chelsea Baratz, Zem Audu, Tomoaki Baba, and Eden Bareket. Syos’s brightly-colored, custom-designed, 3D-printed mouthpieces have become increasingly conspicuous in recent years, becoming the mouthpiece of choice of several Gallery regulars, including Dayna Stephens, Godwin

  • Review: ‘Madama Butterfly,’ Without Its Flesh-and-Blood Intensity
    by By Seth Colter Walls on October 13, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Hui He and Piero Pretti star in the Metropolitan Opera’s revival of the film director Anthony Minghella’s production.

  • SCRUTINY | The Flick Highlights The Mundane, In A Good Way
    by Paula Citron on October 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    What makes The Flick so remarkable is that over three hours, nothing really much happens. This is all about the small moments.

  • Home listening: a world premiere recording for… Puccini
    by Fiona Maddocks on October 13, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Mark Elder conducts a star cast in the original one-act version of Le Willis. Plus, a thrilling new account of Bluebeard’s Castle• Opera Rara, half a century old next year, is a goldmine for anyone on a quest for rarities. You don’t expect Puccini to be among its composers, yet its latest release is the world premiere recording of his first opera, Le Willis (1884), in the original one-act version. Based on the legend of the sylph-like Vila, who appear in the ballet Giselle, it is better known in its 1889 two-act revision, called Le Villi (music from which is included here).Unlikely to be staged, this is the ideal way to explore Puccini’s youthful gift for lyricism and melody and to hear how, even in his early 20s, despite the static drama, he could shape a duet into a heartfelt emotional episode. The conductor is Opera Rara’s former artistic director, Mark Elder, with Ermonela Jaho in the title role and Arsen Soghomonyan as her faithless lover, Roberto, deftly accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Continue reading...

  • In 1919, an Opera Tried to Heal a Broken Europe
    by By Larry Wolff on October 12, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    “Die Frau ohne Schatten” imagined an enlightened, democratic empire.

  • ‘Desire’ Is an Operatic Glimpse Into a Secret Garden
    by By Ryan Ebright on October 11, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    Hannah Lash’s new chamber work, for just three singers and string quartet, moves freely between realism and abstraction.

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