Originally published on Mon October 8, 2012 9:25 am
All this week, we'll be focusing our lens on the music of Robert Schumann and the lasting impact of his work. Leading the conversation is pianist Jonathan Biss, who's making a 30-concert project out of this Schumann exploration all season long and who has written a series of essays on Schumann. Starting things off for us today is musicologist and Schumann expert Eric Frederick Jensen.
Among the 23 recipients of the MacArthur "genius" grants this past week: an economist, a mathematician, a photographer, a neuroscientist, and a Boston-based stringed instrument bow maker.
Benoit Rolland acknowledges that the violin reigns supreme as the star of the strings, capable of fetching millions of dollars at auction. But what about the bow? "A violin with no bow is not a violin, that's clear," says Rolland.
Guitarist Ernest Ranglin is an elder statesman of Jamaican music. A self-styled composer and improviser, he has traveled and collaborated widely during his 80 years. In California last year, he teamed up with three much younger musicians from South Africa, the U.S. and Israel. The four musicians bonded and quickly recorded an album, named for the San Francisco street where they rehearsed: Avila.
Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 1:07 pm
Most would agree that Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) was Denmark's greatest symphonist after Carl Nielsen and Rued Langgaard. So it's something of an occasion that the three chamber symphonies from the latter half of his career finally see the light of day on this new release on the Dacapo label.
Without a wasted note, this is rigorously compact, sinewy music that grows on you with each listening. The composer's principle of thematic metamorphosis is evident throughout these world premiere recordings.
I can't think of anything I loved more than talking to Leonard Bernstein. Or, more accurately, listening to him talk — about music or any topic under the sun. I remember a long discourse we had about one of my favorite books, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and Bernstein's summarizing statement: "Well, of course, every author spends his whole life writing the same book."
This Sunday, a landmark composition of the 20th century will be webcast by NPR, and led by the quintessential 21st century conductor: 31-year-old Gustavo Dudamel, who will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). Dudamel spoke about his experience of this earthshaking piece with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.
The biggest news of the week was the walkout at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which forced the cancellation of the first Saturday night concert of the 2012-13 season. Management and the players wrestled over players' health care contributions. How does their compensation stack up, you may ask? "The current average salary of CSO musicians, who have a base salary of $145,000, is $173,000.
Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 6:10 pm
Happy John Coltrane birthday on Sunday.
Pianist Michael Wolff talks about his Cal Tjader tribute for the San Jose Mercury News. I do know Wolff as a New York pianist but didn't know he was musical director of The Arsenio Hall Show or that he's from the Bay Area.
Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:25 pm
The Washington Post has a long, fascinating piece on Dietmar Machold, the 63-year-old violin dealer/con man who went on trial in Vienna this week: "It is the largest fraud case in the history of a trade that goes back to at least the middle of the 18th century: Apart from criminal charges, Machold faces civil claims estimated at $200 million. ...