Friday, April 27, 2007

Isang Yun’s home in Berlin to become memorial

From Classical-Composers.org - 19 March 2007

The “Yun Isang Peace Foundation” has announced that it will buy the home in Berlin where Isang Yun lived. They plan to turn it into a memorial venue called “Yun Isang House”.
The goal of the foundation is to turn the house into a base for Asian and European musical exchanges. It is scheduled to open at the end of this year or maybe early next year.

Adams' new opera 'A Flowering Tree' rooted in Mozart's 'The Magic Flute'

Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic
From SFGate.com - Saturday, February 24, 2007

Like some fairy tale spring that never runs dry, the eloquence and freshness of Mozart's music continue to inspire composers two and a half centuries after his death.
The latest opus to draw on those strains is "A Flowering Tree," John Adams' new opera of love and redemption that gets its U.S. premiere beginning Thursday with the composer conducting the San Francisco Symphony.
The libretto, which Adams crafted with his longtime collaborator Peter Sellars, is based on a folktale from southern India. But the original impetus behind the work, Adams says, is "The Magic Flute," that miraculous blend of subtle craftsmanship and pop accessibility that Mozart wrote just months before he died.
"This was about three years ago, and Peter had been appointed to run this festival in Vienna based on the last year of Mozart's life," Adams told a press gathering last month.
"I remember we were standing around backstage at the Barbican Centre in London talking about this, and I just said, 'I want to do "The Magic Flute" -- let Kaija (Saariaho) do the Requiem.' It was a bunch of deeply irresponsible people, none of whom had their schedules with them, getting deeply involved with something without thinking."
Adams had less than a year to write the piece, and originally planned a terse 50-minute score. But by the time of last year's premiere, at the New Crowned Hope festival in Vienna (named for the Masons), the work had burgeoned into a full two-act opera.
The story, which is related with help from a narrator as well as Spanish-language choruses and Javanese dancers, tells of Kumudha, a poor, beautiful maiden who has the mystical ability to transform herself into a blossoming tree.
At first, she and her sister merely sell the flowers to help support their elderly mother, but soon a prince discovers her powers and successfully woos her. Further complications ensue, spurred on by the jealousy of the prince's sister, before the two lovers -- now sadder and wiser -- are finally reunited.
For Adams, the link to "The Magic Flute" lies both in the theme of "moral and spiritual transformation" and in the expressive directness that both pieces share.
"I remember a long time ago reading Charles Rosen's book 'The Classical Style,' " he said during a recent phone conversation, "and being very affected by the realization that 'Magic Flute' and some of Mozart's other very late music went in the direction of being popular music.
"And of course in my own work, I go in and out of embracing the vernacular. And coming out of the dark psychological turmoil of 'Doctor Atomic' " -- his 2005 opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the first atomic bomb -- "I felt the need to do something about hope and simplicity."
Adams has immersed himself in popular music before, most notably in his hard-to-classify 1995 music theater piece "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky." But the score of "A Flowering Tree," as heard in a recording of the Vienna premiere, nods less to the world of the pop song than to the kind of open, straightforward writing of Mozart's populist vein.
The rhythms are bright and ebullient, the harmonies are relatively free of complexity, and the melodic lines move with a sinuous clarity. Getting to that level of expressive transparency, Adams says, was a daunting task.
"I almost killed myself last summer getting this done. Writing something simple is much more difficult, because you have to keep saying, 'No, not that,' and refining it down into something that pleases you."
Most striking is the phantasmagorical orchestral music that Adams has composed for Kumudha's metamorphoses. It's an echo of Richard Strauss' opera "Daphne," whose protagonist also changes into a tree, although Adams claims not to like Strauss.
"Unlike Strauss, who got only one transformation to compose, here there's four. And the transformations are much more disturbing than Kumudha anticipates. It's as though she had casually dropped acid, and now it's not going to be just a regular Saturday night."
"A Flowering Tree" is the latest in a long string of collaborations between Adams and Sellars, one that also includes the operas "Nixon in China" and "The Death of Klinghoffer" as well as "Ceiling/Sky" and the Nativity oratorio "El Niño."
They met in 1983 at the Monadnock Music Festival in New Hampshire, and Adams says he was impressed by Sellars' "deep love and knowledge of music."
Sellars, in turn -- with his first astonishing theatrical productions of the operas of Handel and Mozart still ahead of him -- was dazzled by the combination of intellectual seriousness and sensual allure in Adams' music.
"They played this piece called 'Shaker Loops,' " he recalled, "and it was so hot compared with other American music of the time that just tried to impress you with its braininess. There were these touching Beethoven parts and these deep Bruckner structures.
"John's music was brainy too, but it also had great legs."

Lights in the north, Finns at the BSO

By Jeremy Eichler, Globe Staff
From Boston.com - February 23, 2007

I have never actually witnessed the atmospheric wonder known as the Northern Lights, but with its bright bursts of color against a vast arctic sky, it must be similar to the music of Kaija Saariaho. This excellent Finnish composer is a master of sonic iridescence, a creator of blazing nightscapes for orchestra. One of her earlier works was actually inspired by the aurora borealis , and her newest piece is called "Notes on Light."
Commissioned by the BSO to mark its 125th anniversary, "Notes on Light" received its world premiere last night at Symphony Hall, with the orchestra led by the Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste . The program also included early works by Debussy and Sibelius . There seemed to be more empty seats in Symphony Hall than I have seen at most BSO concert s this season. A shame, as the program was richly rewarding, even if it was not buoyed by standard household names.
Saariaho wrote this fascinating new work for her longtime collaborator, the Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen , who was naturally the soloist last night. Interesting, while many new works struggle for an initial boost beyond their world premiere, "Notes on Light" already has numerous performances scheduled by different orchestras well into 2008, an indication of how Saariaho's fame has spread since the 2000 premiere of her entrancing opera "L'Amour de Loin."
Previous Saariaho works written for Karttunen tended to focus the ear on the minute surface details of sound, with pieces that often resemble extended studies in acoustic texture, often with the help of electronic input. In this case, she has written a far more extroverted work, a cello concerto in all but name, with the orchestra and soloist engaged in an ever-shifting dialogue that is loosely divided into five movements.
At work from the start is Saariaho's sensitive ear and highly individual feel for orchestral color, later enhanced by bright splashes of percussion. In the first movement, downward-sloping glissandi in the strings suggest movement towards an interior domain. The solo cello, often in stratospheric registers, volleys passionately with the orchestra. Saariaho uses many of her signature extended techniques, including notes purposefully crushed with the bow until they resemble noise. In the fourth movement, the cellist falls silent for long stretches as the life seems to slowly drain from the orchestra. The fifth movement, titled "Heart of Light" after a quote from "The Waste Land," ends with a long-held pianissimo F-sharp, a fade to white, and a capacious silence.
Saariaho's music sounds like no one else's, but the influence of Debussy is often palpable. Last night began with a vivid account of that composer's "Printemps," but Saraste was at his most inspired after intermission when leading the orchestra in an exciting rendition of Sibelius's "Four Legends From the Kalevala." He used sweeping gestures from the podium to chisel out expressive lines from the orchestra , and Robert Sheena provided delicately inflected English horn solos in the famous "Swan of Tuonela ." The strings played with strength, flexibility, and a tone of dark beauty.

Trying to grasp the wonders of Wuorinen

By Jeremy Eichler, Globe Staff
From Boston.com - February 17, 2007

When the BSO turned 125 last season, the orchestra celebrated with a raft of commissions. The completed works have been trickling in, and the coming weeks will bring premieres of pieces by Kaija Saariaho and Gunther Schuller. This week, the orchestra, under James Levine, is unveiling Charles Wuorinen's Eighth Symphony ("Theologoumena"), which received its premiere Thursday night in Symphony Hall, together with Haydn's Symphony No. 22 and Brahms's Symphony No. 4.
Wuorinen is an unreconstructed modernist, a composer of bold and thorny music that does not cajole a listener into being friends but rather hurls its abundant content at you, ready or not. The high-modernist tradition Wuorinen represents is in retreat over much of the American orchestral map, but not here in Boston. Levine is one of Wuorinen's staunchest advocates, and he believes in this music passionately. The new Eighth Symphony is a three-movement work lasting a half - hour, but it also has a 21-minute preface, a symphonic poem called "Theologoumenon" that Levine premiered with the Met Orchestra just last month in Carnegie Hall.
In case you were wondering, a theologoumenon, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, is a theological statement "distinguished from an inspired doctrine or revelation." It is "non-dogmatic" in Wuorinen's words. One might wonder whether this subtitle is also a veiled reference to Wuorinen's continued voluntary allegiance to a 12-tone tradition that was itself once unhealthily viewed as dogma.
Whatever the case, both the tone poem and the symphony, we are told, were inspired by an ancient neo-Platonist theologoumenon about our inability to grasp or express the wonders of the divine essence. It all sounds appropriately Schoenbergian, in the manner of "Moses und Aron."
But all this intellectual scaffolding feels irrelevant when the Eighth Symphony comes charging out of the gate, hitting you with waves of heterodox sound. The brass fire off jaggedly clipped fanfares; short slivers of rapid melody snake their way from the percussion through all different parts of the orchestra.
The second movement softens the focus and slows the pace, bringing out interesting rhythms, colors, and shifts of timbre. Percussion scampers restlessly in the finale, and in the end, massive squawking chords all but bring down the imagery curtain, though a short coda slips out first.
It is easy to admire this vigorous, confident, masterfully crafted score. But it was also easy to sympathize with large portions of the audience, who received this work with only polite applause. Frustrated muttering could also be overheard at an open rehearsal earlier in the day. The work is so dense and saturated with information that it is nearly impossible to fully grasp with just one or two hearings. But even so, I suspect that many more renditions would not make the piece much easier to love unless you were predisposed to Wuorinen's musical language.
The BSO's execution was superb. Those who never warmed to the premiere were given ample compensation by way of some crisp Haydn and some luxurious yet forceful Brahms.

Esa-Pekka Salonen finds composing a tough assignment

"I'm not going through this again in a hurry", says composer-conductor after New York concerto première

By Vesa Sirén in New York City
From HELSINGIN SANOMAT - Friday 27.4.2007

Esa-Pekka Salonen is threatened with a new experience in New York: a day off! "It will be the first since August", says the Finn, who has just put himself through the mill in composing - and then conducting - a new piano concerto as a commission for the New York Philharmonic. "This concerto really took it out of me, I can tell you."
The 48-year-old conductor sits looking exhausted in an armchair in his suite on the 10th floor of the Trump Tower International Hotel on Columbus Circle. "I'm not going through this again in a hurry."
Once again, time to compose was seriously rationed, since Salonen is still the Music Director and Chief Conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and one of the world's most in-demand guest conductors. Hence it was hardly a surprise that the new concerto, promised to soloist Yefim Bronfman already back in the 1990s, was only completed at the last minute. "It ended up with some old-fashioned burning of the midnight oil", admits Salonen. "The whole of the Christmas break went in composing, too. My family were understanding, but I did get to hear that this was not exactly the most brilliant piece of planning ever."
While the composing process was at its most heated, Salonen also had to cancel a week of conducting engagements in Paris on health grounds. "I'd been sitting in my studio writing for seven weeks and my shoulders had simply seized up. It didn't seem as though it was in anybody's best interests to have me getting up on stage to conduct rehearsals as a half-fit zombie." Salonen was pondering the mysteries of the piano and the orchestra in the studio in his home in Brentwood, in L.A. There he has the computers and the keyboard apparatus that helped in the shaping of the new work. "My own piano playing is pretty rudimentary bashing of the keys, but it was important to retain some kind of physical contact with the instrument. I used a sequencer to upload the piano part onto the computer and then corrected the wrong notes for the right ones."
When the piano score for the first movement was completed in October last year, Yefim Bronfman had observed to the composer that it didn't look to be too difficult an assignment for the soloist. This stirred a defiant response in Salonen. "I had the feeling that I had better ratchet things up a bit! Towards the end of the concerto I got this fit of sheer devilment, and I ended up composing the most difficult piano music I could imagine. Then again, Fima [Yefim Bronfman] will play it all the same. He'll swear at me, and he'll play it."
Bronfman only received the piano score for the finale in December. As for the orchestral part, Salonen was still making last-ditch adjustments in this hotel room on the night before the first performance. Outside it is beginning to get dark. The hotel windows overlook Central Park. Next to Salonen's laptop on the table is a gold-plated telescope! What's this? Do you always travel with one of these? "No, no, it's part of the hotel requisites. Apparently in the summer you can look at what the young couples are getting up to in Central Park - if that's your sort of thing", Salonen shrugs.
Salonen's own voyeurism has been restricted to peering at different aspects of music history in his composing. The concerto contains echoes of the French Baroque, impressionism, the work of Witold Lutoslawski, and folk music from the Balkans. "And there was also something Russian in there. Maybe Bronfman's background [the pianist was born in Tashkent in Uzbekistan] had some kind of subconscious effect. My concerto is like a jigsaw puzzle with very sharp edges to the pieces. There's a sort of film-like montage construction about it."
Salonen is clearly very enthusiastic about his major work, in which serious elements and clowning share the stage by turns. He talks amusingly about a passage where "clumsy winds and brass in the lower register" start to think they are actually piccolos and get into behaving "like hippos trying to perform a pirouette".
"I guess their image of themselves has started to get bent out of shape, as it does with us middle-aged men! The mind is still that of a teenager, but the body is starting to say no, and the joints are aching." A-ha. So was that a bit of autobiographical self-irony thrown in there? Salonen admits at least that he's not going to get any younger. "Unfortunately." Hence he has to adapt and evolve. Salonen has cut back on his conducting schedule, from as many as 40 weeks a year down to twenty-five. "That will also leave me more time for composing", he believes. From one year to the next, Esa-Pekka Salonen has been repeating that he will give up his post in Los Angeles "in the next few years" to concentrate more on his composing side. Once again, he says he will carry on in L.A. "for a few more years".
"I've led the Philharmonic for fifteen years now. If I could beat Zubin Mehta's record, even just by a day or two! He conducted the same orchestra for seventeen years." Salonen's best-laid plans seem full of contradictions. To cap it all, he agreed late last year to become the Principal Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. How on earth does he think he is going to find more time for composing, when he will soon enough have not one but two orchestras under his charge? "I'll cut down on my guest conducting appearances", he explains. "Around 10 to 12 weeks will be spent in Los Angeles, 8-10 in London and then I will conduct only a couple of weeks each year elsewhere."
Salonen is attracted by the idea of reducing the number of individual programmes to be rehearsed, but with the Philharmonia he plans also to take them on the road on short hops to Europe after the London Royal Festival Hall concert performances. He will be spending at least a part of his free time in the next few days in an airplane seat. "I'm flying from New York to Helsinki to see my mother, and I'll spend a few nights hanging out in the bar with Limperi (composer Magnus Lindberg). Then I fly back to Los Angeles and I'll check in to some spa or other to drink foul-tasting health juices and do some yoga-ing and levitation stuff", he says with a mixture of a grin and a grimace. His next big composition should be ready by early in 2009. This is a work for soloists, choir, and orchestra, and has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic. "I think that will have to be the last of my commissioned works, so that I don't get caught in the mill of deadlines again. It is better to compose something in all peace and quiet and get it practically ready, and only then to decide where and when to have the first performance."
Salonen's dreams also include finally getting around to composing his first opera, some time after 2009."It could be based on texts by Joseph Brodsky [the Nobel Literature Laureate in 1987], since I have got permission from his estate to compose something around his last anthology."
The first performance of the concerto arrives, and the applause, long and sustained. After the concert, Salonen and Bronfman, friends as well as colleagues, raise a glass and wonder aloud at what a huge task it has all been. "For nine months I was working on it practically every day", sighs Salonen. "And then in half an hour it is done and dusted."
But it is not: the work itself has only begun to live its life. Next it will travel to the Proms in London, and at the earliest it can be expected in Helsinki some time in 2008. "It is an important work, and I intend to play it a lot", says Bronfman, and the big man squats down to Salonen's size as a press photographer approaches them. "You see, I want to look up to a great composer", says Bronfman, and there is no flicker of a smile on his face as he says it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

London's Southbank Centre Announces 2007-08 Program

By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 31 Jan 2007

London's Southbank Centre has unveiled the lineup for its first season in the renovated and acoustically improved Royal Festival Hall.Following two years of refurbishments costing a total of £111 million, the RFH will reopen on June 8 with a 48-hour celebration featuring professional and amateur musicians, from choirs to marching bands.
On June 11, the Centre's four resident orchestras — who have, in effect, been homeless during the renovations — will join together to perform a single concert. The London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment will offer, in a three-part event, music from Purcell and Handel to Ravel's Bolero to a new commission from Julian Anderson.
The Philharmonia announced last year that Esa-Pekka Salonen will be its principal conductor starting next season; Vladimir Jurowski takes the baton of the London Philharmonic at the same point. Subsequent concerts at the RFH feature Salonen conducting the Philharmonia; Jurowski conducting the LPO and Daniele Gatti with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The roster of visiting conductors also includes Pierre Boulez, Mark Elder, John Eliot Gardiner, Roger Norrington, Charles Mackerras and Riccardo Muti.
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will celebrate its 21st birthday on June 30 with an extended concert featuring four conductors (Elder, Jurowski, Mackerras and Norrington), two fortepianists (Robert Levin and Richard Egarr), vocal soloists and a choir. The music will range from Purcell odes and Rameau dances to a Haydn symphony and Mozart double piano concerto to the Wolf's Glen scene from Weber's Der Freischütz; Mackerras will close the evening with Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Simon Rattle, who reportedly once declared he would not return to the Royal Festival Hall until it sorted out its dire acoustics, will return at last to conduct the OAE in Schumann. There will also be a 70th birthday concert for the conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Other highlights across the Southbank Centre's venues during the following 12 months include Bryn Terfel in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, a Luigi Nono festival, including the U.K. premiere of his opera Prometeo, and Klaus Obermaier's 3D digital staging of The Rite of Spring.
Pianist Alfred Brendel, who played the last recital in the Royal Festival Hall before it closed in 2005, will give the first one after reopening — a program of Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven on June 14.
The piano lineup also includes Daniel Barenboim performing the complete Beethoven piano sonatas during a two-month residency, Pierre-Laurent Aimard performing Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus, and a focus on Richard Goode, in which the pianist will give a recital, master-class, lecture and appear as duo partner and song accompanist.
In addition to the specially commissioned piece by Julian Anderson for the grand re-opening concert, the Centre will host performances of new works by John Tavener, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Thomas Adès and Heiner Goebbels.
The Centre announced one other change this past week: the official "rebranding" of the complex's name from "South Bank Centre" to "Southbank Centre." According to a statement, the spelling alteration is intended to distinguish the Centre itself from the broader South Bank area.
The Independent quoted Jude Kelly, the Centre's artistic director, as saying that the Southbank's renaissance matched the original idealism that led to the building of the complex as a postwar "tonic to the nation" in 1951. "It was 'The People's Place' and it should be 'The People's Place'," she said.
Improved acoustics aside, female visitors to the South Bank Centre will appreciate one major feature of the renovation: there has reportedly been a 70% increase in the number of women's toilets. (The men's toilet count remains as before.)

Houston Symphony Announces 2007-08 Lineup

By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 30 Jan 2007

Hans Graf will mark his seventh season as music director of the Houston Symphony with such leading soloists as Evelyn Glennie, Martha Argerich and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; the world premiere of a trombone concerto; and a semi-staged performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn's complete incidental music.

The season opens on September 8 with Russian pianist Denis Matsuev making his Houston Symphony debut in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1; the program also includes Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Matsuev's countryman Kirill Gerstein joins Graf later in the month for Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini.
A semi-staged version of A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring actress Maureen Thomas will be performed September 20-23. In January, the orchestra will play Strauss's Alpine Symphony with a photographic montage by Tobias Melle. In late Feburary Graf will lead Orff's Carmina Burana with the Houston Symphony Chorus and the Houston Children's Chorus.
On October 18-21 former Houston Symphony resident conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto leads music by Aaron Copland, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays the violin solos in Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.
Guest conductors next season include Michael Christie, Kwame Ryan, Bernard Labadie and Hannu Lintu making their Houston Symphony debuts; Claus Peter Flor, Louis Langrée, Christoph Campestrini and former Houston Symphony music director Lawrence Foster return.
Making his Houston Symphony debut will be baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, who sings alongside soprano Twyla Robinson. Also in Houston for the first time will be Peter Schickele in "PDQ Bach: The Vegas Years," featuring Oedipus Tex and Schickele's infamous Songs from Shakespeare.
Other soloists include Emanuel Ax in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1; percussionist Evelyn Glennie; mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, continuing Graf's Mahler song cycle with the Rückert-Lieder; Stephen Hough playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.
There will even be a visiting orchestra: the UBS Verbier Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit with piano soloist Martha Argerich. One major event of the season will be "The Beethoven Experience," a full day of programming on March 8, 2008 with Graf and the orchestra; the lineup includes family events, symphonic performances, solo piano and chamber music concerts.
New music on the season lineup includes John Adams's Tromba Lontana, Einojuhani Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus and Kevin Puts's Symphony No. 1, Exalted Virelai.
The orchestra will give the world premiere of Texas-based composer Cindy McTee's Trombone Concerto (a Houston Symphony commission), the latest in a series of commissions for the principal players of the orchestra. Principal trombonist Allen Barnhill will perform the work under Graf in January.
The season ends on May 18 with Graf conducting guitarist Eliot Fisk in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and pianist Shai Wosner performing de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain; the program also includes de Falla's El amor brujo Suite and Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol.

Lincoln Center Gets a Galaxy of Great Performers for 2007-08

By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 24 Jan 2007

Pianists Martha Argerich, Murray Perahia and Marc-André Hamelin; violinists Midori and Anne-Sophie Mutter; conductors Colin Davis, Osmo Vänskä and William Christie; singers Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Joyce DiDonato; the Russian National, Budapest Festival and London Symphony Orchestras — these are among the many stars set to appear during Lincoln Center's 2007-08 Great Performers series.
The Great Performers season opens on October 17 with an 80th birthday celebration for Colin Davis, who will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra (of which he has just become president, following a dozen years as principal conductor). The three-concert mini-festival features an all-Mozart program including the Requiem, Haydn's The Creation (with soloists Sally Matthews, Ian Bostridge and Dietrich Henschel), and an all-Beethoven evening featuring the Piano Concerto No. 4 with soloist Paul Lewis.
In November Martha Argerich will perform Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor with the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra under Charles Dutoit; the concert also features Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
The orchestral offerings continue in February with concerts led by Iván Fischer and Vladimir Jurowski. Fischer leads the Budapest Festival Orchestra in two programs focusing on Bartók: the first includes the rarely-heard music for the ballet pantomime The Wooden Prince; the second features Duke Bluebeard's Castle. Later in the month, Jurowski conducts the Russian National Orchestra in Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Stephen Hough) and the New York premiere of Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony (No. 8) — "completed" by 33-year old Russian composer Anton Safronov. The third movement (Scherzo) is a reconstruction by Safronov from Schubert's surviving, almost-complete piano score; the music for the fourth-movement finale is Safronov's own. (This completion was first performed in 2005 by the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra.)
Come March, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard perform an all-Beethoven program, with Piotr Anderszewski as soloist for the Piano Concerto No. 1. April brings the Great Performers debut of conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra; the concert includes works by Sibelius and Mahler, along with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, with soloist Lars Vogt.
The orchestral concerts wrap up in May, when Kurt Masur leads the Orchestre national de France in Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2, with 25-year-old French pianist David Fray making his New York debut. Anne-Sophie Mutter is the soloist for Beethoven's Romance in F major and Romance in G major on the second program, which also includes music of Dutilleux and Tchaikovsky.
The lineup for the Virtuoso Recitals series includes pianists Marc-André Hamelin performing works of Haydn, Chopin and Debussy; Richard Goode playing Chopin, Bach, Debussy, Beethoven and Fauré; and Christian Zacharias performing Scarlatti sonatas and music of Schubert and Ravel. The final Virtuoso Recitals concert unites violinist Gil Shaham and long-time collaborator pianist Akira Eguchi in works by Walton, J. S. Bach, Rodrigo and Sarasate.
American lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani opens the Art of the Song series (which will decamp to the Rose Theater for the duration of Alice Tully Hall's renovation) in December, joined by pianist Julius Drake for works by Beethoven, Britten, Ives and Schubert. In January, soprano Christine Schäfer sings Schubert's Winterreise with pianist Eric Schneider; in February, baritone Russell Braun and tenor Michael Schade offer a duo-recital, joined by pianist Carolyn Maule (Braun's wife), of Mendelssohn duets and Viennese songs arranged by John Greer. American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato wraps up the series in March with works by Vivaldi, Rossini, Chausson, Bolcom and Copland, accompanied by pianist David Zobel.
In a three-concert mini-series in February 2008, Midori will explore the parallels and contrasts between Alfred Schnittke and Toru Takemitsu. Joining her will be guest artists including harpist Nancy Allen, clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Daedalus and Miró Quartets. Rounding out the programs are works by Bach, Ravel, Debussy and Shostakovich.
On the early music front, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants offer the New York premiere of the rarely-performed 17th-century Italian opera Il Sant'Alessio by Stefano Landi. The Lincoln Center performances in October will feature countertenors in most of the sung roles, including those of Saint Alexis (Philippe Jaroussky) and his wife (Max Emanuel Cencic). The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment returns to Lincoln Center with Handel's Messiah, led by Laurence Cummings, harpsichordist, conductor and Head of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
In April the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and its principal guest conductor, Murray Perahia, offer Mozart's "Paris" Symphony, Haydn's "London" Symphony and concerti of Bach and Mozart, with Perahia conducting and playing the piano.
Other Great Performers highlights include the Emerson String Quartet (celebrating its 30th anniversary this season), playing two all-Brahms programs, and the English a cappella sextet The King's Singers performing a program of seasonal and sacred works from the Middle Ages to the present in December at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. In November, the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky celebrates his homeland with 19th- and 20th-century sacred and popular songs; he will be joined by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of Choral Art led by Constantine Orbelian.
In spring 2008, a mini-festival called "Stravinsky Onstage" will present works by dancer/choreographer Michael Clark and puppeteer Basil Twist. Twist's Petrushka (a Great Performers commission) features Czech and Japanese puppetry techniques accompanied by Stravinsky's score, which will be performed in a two-piano version.
Following previous film series devoted to Verdi, great conductors and Glenn Gould, Great Performers will present a seven-part series on Beethoven called "The Art of the Symphony." It will focus on interpretations of his masterworks over the past 50 years, with archival footage of performances and rehearsals by Klemperer, Solti, Kleiber, Boulez, Gardiner, Norrington, the Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw and Karajan — the last rehearsing and conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in a 1967 performance of the Fifth Symphony in Paris.
Leon Botstein takes the podium for the 45th season of the American Symphony Orchestra, with six concerts focusing on lesser-known works. The ASO's series opens on September 30 with a concert version of the rarely performed 1906 English opera The Wreckers ("Les naufrageurs") by late-Victorian composer and women's suffrage activist Ethel Smyth. Later programs focus on works by Russian Futurist composers, early 20th-century Italian music and 20th-century works that "explore outer, and inner, space" by Takemitsu, Ligeti, Ruud Langgaard and Andrzej Panufnik.

A quick symphony - then bed

Philip Hensher on the trouble with classical music and child prodigies
Wednesday January 24, 2007 - The Guardian

The London Symphony Orchestra is not best known for its interest in new music. So when the LSO records the Fifth Symphony of a contemporary composer, you would be right in thinking there was something unusual about it - even before seeing the oddly fresh face of the composer on the CD sleeve. The unusual thing is this: Jay Greenberg is 15 years old.
Five symphonies by the age of 15 is rather extraordinary. Greenberg, the son of a Slavic linguist, entered New York's Juilliard School at 10, and has been taught by Samuel Adler, an academic composer of traditional symphony-and-string-quartet tendencies.
Greenberg came to attention when, shortly after the attacks of September 2001, he wrote his Overture to 9/11 - but bad taste of this sort was surely forgivable in a 10-year-old boy. The word has been getting around. One of his sponsors at Juilliard has said: "We are talking about a prodigy of the level of the greatest prodigies in history, when it comes to composition. I am talking about the likes of Mozart and Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns."
Mozart's K1, a tiny piano piece, was written in 1761 when he was five. Mendelssohn's 12 early string symphonies were written in the early 1820s, from the ages of 12 to 14. Saint-Saëns made his first public appearance, accompanying a Beethoven piano sonata, in 1841 when he was five, and his first compositions are thought to date from this time as well.
It is worth pointing out, though, that even these prodigies did not produce a significant and original piece until later. Mozart's first strikingly new work is the Jeunehomme concerto, written when he was 17; Mendelssohn's was the remarkable string octet, written at 16.
Performing prodigies are not so rare: currently, there is the amazing 13-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. Like such performers, very young composers can become striking through a mastery, principally, of craft. They often appear to convey emotions deeper than they could actually be capable of, but that is largely an illusion.
Composers in the 18th and 19th century had a body of accepted harmonic practice they could master as a matter of craft. The 20th and 21st centuries were different. The avant garde, which rests on a notion of individual expression and innovation, is not at all likely to produce a very young composer. There is not much likelihood of a 15-year old doing something really new any more; there has not been for a century.
Of course, it does sometimes happen. Erich Korngold's first compositions, written from the age of 10 onwards, occupy a convincingly late-Romantic idiom. Oliver Knussen created a stir at 16 by conducting his own first symphony with, again, the LSO; if that was an early essay, not quite in an original voice, there is no question about the wonderfully weird second symphony, premiered when Knussen was 19. But by that age, many serious composers are on their way.
I would love to hear something genuinely new from a US composer of any age, let alone Jay Greenberg at 15. But if you were thinking of using Cilla Black's wonderful putdown - "I've got tights older than that" - be warned that Greenberg's musical language is on the antique side. The fifth symphony is an impressively skilful exercise in academic harmony, orchestration and counterpoint, with no sense of anything new in the voice at all.
The first movement begins with a standard, late-19th-century unison string tune answered by a woodwind chorus; the harmony is Mahler, the orchestral style Dvorak. The galumphing scherzo shows that Vaughan Williams's reputation had gone further into the US than anyone knew - the model here is the Sinfonia Antartica, which even in 1952 was an incredibly conservative piece. The kindest thing to say about the finale is that it made one wonder whether the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra is still under copyright.
Strikingly, there is nothing more recent in Greenberg's ears than some very conservative music from 60 years ago. I do not think this is a matter of personal taste; that is the last moment in history when serious art music was still being written within a set of academic rules.
Greenberg will either grow up and use his dusty technical command to produce something vital and original, or he will stay exactly where he is and go and make a killing in Hollywood. After all, that's where the main market for orchestral music is these days. What can be said for certain is that serious art music could never be written by a child. The only things that are left for even the most brilliant of them are reheated gestures from a museum.

Philadelphia Orchestra Announces 2007-08 Season, Eschenbach's Last

By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 22 Jan 2007

Christoph Eschenbach will mark his last season as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra with premieres, homages to the upcoming Bernstein and Messiaen anniversaries, and a performance of Mahler's gargantuan "Symphony of a Thousand."
Given Eschenbach's impending departure — announced last October and reportedly due to tension with the Philadelphia musicians over repertoire and interpretative matters — particular attention will be paid to guest conductors, some of whom could be under consideration to replace him.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, one possible interim music director could be the 73-year-old Spaniard Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who is reportedly popular with both audiences and musicians. Frühbeck made his debut with the orchestra in 1969 and has returned dozens of times; he will conduct Brahms's Symphony No. 3 and excerpts from Wagner's Götterdämmerung on April 3-5, 2008.
One guest conductor who will be closely scrutinized, according to the paper, is the 34-year-old Russian Vladimir Jurowski, who made a very successful debut with the orchestra in 2005. Jurowski will lead the Philadelphians in mostly Russian repertoire next month; in April 2008 he returns to conduct Ligeti's Atmosphères and Lux aeterna; Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra and Nikolaj Znaider in Brahms's Violin Concerto.
Simon Rattle returns for one week in November to lead the orchestra's first performance of Schumann's seldom-performed oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri. Other returning conductors include Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who conducts Revueltas's La Noche de los mayas in November; Robert Spano, who conducts Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks and Capriccio for piano and orchestra with pianist Peter Serkin in February; and James Conlon, who leads Varèse's Amériques and Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor") with Hélène Grimaud in December.
Charles Dutoit, who is music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer season in Saratoga Springs, New York, leads two programs in February, including Debussy's Jeux and Strauss's Alpine Symphony. Antonio Pappano makes his debut with the orchestra in December with Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff; also making first appearances with the orchestra are conductors Stéphane Denève and Eschenbach protégé John Axelrod.
Other prominent guest conductors on the 2007-08 lineup include Osmo Vänskä, who returns to Verizon Hall with Sibelius in October; Jirí Belohlávek, who brings Martinu in November; and Alan Gilbert, Leonard Slatkin, Nicholas McGegan and Peter Oundjian.
The intergenerational pianist lineup includes Radu Lupu, Peter Serkin, Rudolf Buchbinder, Leif Ove Andsnes, Horacio Gutiérrez, Grimaud, Stephen Hough, and Simon Trpceski. Guest violinists are Anne-Sophie Mutter (whom Eschenbach conducts in Brahms's Violin Concerto for the season's opening night on September 29), Znaider, Vadim Repin, Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell and Jennifer Koh.
Eschenbach will lead the U.S. premiere of a new (and as yet unnamed) work by Marc-André Dalbavie, co-commissioned with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Messiaen's birth. Recent compositions by living composers Wolfgang Rihm, Herbert Willi, Thierry Escaich and Anders Hillborg will also be performed.
The orchestra and Eschenbach finish their Mahler cycle, which began in the 2003-04 season, with the Symphony No. 8 (the "Symphony of a Thousand") in late April and May. The cast of singers includes sopranos Christine Brewer, Michaela Kaune and Marisol Montalvo, mezzos Charlotte Hellekant and Stephanie Blythe, tenor Paul Groves and bass James Morris, along with the Philadelphia Singers Chorale, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. Except for a performance under James Levine at the Mann Center in 1977, it will be the first time the piece has been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra since Stokowski gave the work its U.S. premiere in 1916.
In January and February, Eschenbach will lead a Leonard Bernstein festival to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the composer's birth. For the occasion, the orchestra has commissioned two works from Philadelphia-based composer Jennifer Higdon to be premiered during the festival: Concerto 4-3 for string trio and orchestra, and a still-untitled work for violin, chorus and orchestra, with Jennifer Koh making her Philadelphia Orchestra debut.
Eschenbach finishes up his tenure on May 17 with two symphonies by Schubert: No. 8 in B minor ("Unfinished") and No. 9 in C major ("the Great").

Conductor Michel Tabachnik Acquitted of Contributing to Cult Killings

By Vivien Schweitzer
From PlaybillArts.com - 21 Dec 2006

Swiss conductor Michel Tabachnik, 64, was acquitted for the second time yesterday of his alleged role in the mass suicides of members of a doomsday cult in the mid-1990s, report the Canadian Press and Associated Press.A French appeals court in Grenoble upheld Tabachnik's 2001 acquittal by a lower court; the new trial reportedly produced no new evidence that Tabachnik was involved in killings perpetrated by the Switzerland-based Order of the Solar Temple cult.
Prosecutor Jean-Pierre Melendez did not request a prison term, citing "the difficulty in getting to the truth of Michel Tabachnik," according to the CP.
The Order of the Solar Temple lost 68 members in mass suicides in Switzerland, Canada and France between 1994 and 1995. In one incident fourteen members of the cult were found burnt and lying in a star formation in the French Alps.
Tabachnik, who studied with Pierre Boulez and Iannis Xenakis, was accused of supporting the cult's founder and leader, Joseph di Mambo, who died in a 1994 mass suicide. He was also accused of inciting the deaths in his writings for the cult, but according to the BBC, Tabachnik's lawyer argued that the drafts were "esoteric ramblings" that could not have inspired violence.
Di Mambo founded the cult in the 1980s and pursued wealthy followers, persuading them to part with their money in return for the chance to join a small elite who would be reborn on a star called Sirius. They would only reach Sirius by ritualized suicide.
Tabachnik called the trials a "nightmare," adding that "It has taken 11 years of slander, humiliations and disgrace for the French courts to finally give me justice," according to the AP.