Tuesday, May 05, 2015

SFO Les Troyens Casting Update

It's NOT about Anna Caterina Antonacci (mostly); you can start breathing again.

Davida Karanas is withdrawing from her scheduled performances of Cassandre owing to her pregnancy. Two of those performances, on June 12 and 20, will be sung by Michaela Martens, American mezzo-soprano.

Antonacci is taking the third performance, on July 1, in addition to her already-scheduled performances on June 7, 16, and 25.

Here's the press release:
SAN FRANCISCO (May 5, 2015)—American mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens will make her San Francisco Opera debut as the prophetess Cassandra in the Company’s upcoming production of Hector Berlioz’s grand-scale opera Les Troyens (The Trojans) on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 20. San Francisco Opera today announced that Martens replaces mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas, who has withdrawn from the physically demanding role due to pregnancy.
Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, who was previously announced to sing three performances of Cassandra on June 7, 16 and 25, has now agreed to add a fourth on Wednesday, July 1. Antonacci, one of the most sought-after and acclaimed European singing artists today, also sings the principal role of Cesira in the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s lush and highly dramatic opera Two Women (La Ciociara) for five performances on June 13, 19, 23, 28 and 30.
Recent and upcoming career highlights for Michaela Martens include Gertrud (Hänsel und Gretel), Marilyn Klinghoffer (Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer), Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle), Kundry (Parsifal), and the Second Norn (Götterdämmerung) with the Metropolitan Opera; Gertrud with Munich’s Bavarian State Opera; Herodias (Salome) with Santa Fe Opera; Ortrud (Lohengrin) with the Vienna State Opera and in Graz; Kostelnička Buryja (Jenůfa) in Zurich; Judith, Marilyn Klinghoffer and Kostelnička Buryja with English National Opera; and Amme (Die Frau ohne Schatten) with Lyric Opera of Chicago and in Graz. Additional credits include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, and Spoleto Festival U.S.A. She is a past winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds a degree from the Juilliard School.

Santa Fe Opera 2016 Season Announcement


  • La Fanciulla del West, Richard Jones co-production with ENO. Patricia Racette in the title role
  • Romeo & Juliette, with Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello
  • Capriccio, with Erin Wall, Susan Graham, and Eric Owens
  • Don Giovanni, with Leah Crocetto as Donna Anna (missed the rest)
  • Vanessa, Erin Wall in the title role (and, editorializing, I say this should have been Racette's role, because if anyone can do something with this thing....) and James Morris as the Doctor (which I must, alas, say is not an attraction)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Heart of Darkness at Opera Parallele

My review of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness is up at SFCV. I am generally positive, certainly about the performances and much of the music, but I have more reservations than Joshua Kosman. Georgia Rowe calls out dramatic issues and finds it shapeless.

Philip Skinner was spooky and terrifying; I cannot wait for his Dr. Schoen in West Edge Opera's upcoming Lulu.

Media roundup:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Orchestral Auditions

That photo of Mark Inouye playing in London with the NYPO doesn't mean he is out the door at SFS. Here's how the orchestral audition process works:
  1. Open call for musicians to send tapes.
  2. The tapes are used to cull the field down to those who will audition in person.
  3. Live auditions take place.
  4. If the audition committee and MD don't like any candidates enough, another round is scheduled. (This is currently SFS's situation for timpani and associate principal trumpet)
  5.  If any candidates were good enough, they're offered trial weeks. (This is what Inouye is currently doing with NY. We had Eugene Izotov and a couple of other oboe players sitting in last fall.)
  6. After the trial weeks, the orchestra might make someone an offer. (But not always: Erin Keefe, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, did trial weeks at the NYPO last year, but was not ultimate offered the job.)
  7. If the player accepts the offer and has a job elsewhere, such as Inouye or Izotov, the player usually goes on leave for a year. Izotov will be on leave from the CSO next season. David Herbert, though, is not on leave from SFS. He resigned outright to go to the CSO, and that's why SFS has held timpani auditions this season.
  8. At the end of the year, the player has to either stay with the new orchestra or go back to the old one. Jonathan Fischer is still on the SFS roster (weirdly, on the web site, he is still listed as acting principal even though Mingjia Liu has played most of this season). This is because of the disarray in the oboes, with Fischer in a trial year at Houston when Bill Bennett died. With Izotov's appointment, Fischer has to decide whether he is staying as Houston's principal or coming back as associate principal. I bet he stays in Houston. He has no chance of becoming principal here unless Izotov doesn't work out. Even then, he may well have auditioned for principal and not gotten tapped.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More on the Pulitzers

I tweeted my last post, the one about the Pulitzer Prize and the graphs that someone anonymous posted elsewhere on the web. Joshua Kosman was politely skeptical about the value of the data, noting the small data set of 20. Well, there's only one winner annually, so....

So I dug up a file sent to me a few years ago, a file containing the jurors from 1943 to 2007, and I started making up a spreadsheet. It isn't quite complete, but as of today, the spreadsheet shows the winning work and composer and the jurors for each year. I've also indicated which composers serving on a jury are also Pulitzer winners.

A few things stand out, assuming I've gotten everything right.
  • Chalmers Clifton served on every jury from 1943 to 1960. The Word doc I have claims that he was the only juror in 1947. I hope that is a mistake in the Word file, even though the Pulitzer went to Ives's third symphony. (Who was Clifton? A composer. Has anyone reading this heard any of his music? If so, what is it like?)
  • Robert Ward served on 16 (!) juries between 1954 and 2004 (!).
  • Because there are so many repeat jurors, only 106 jurors have served in the 73 years since music was added to the Pulitzers.
  • The first woman to serve was Miriam Gideon in 1975. Since then, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Vivan Fine, Joan Tower, Melinda Wagner, Shulamit Ran, Ingrid Monson, Maria Schneider, Anne Midgette, Jennifer Higdon, Carol Oja, Caroline Shaw, and Julia Wolfe have served. That's 13 of 106 jurors.
  • I haven't put in affiliations yet, but it sure does look as thought a large majority of the jurors have been based on the East Coast...to the extent that West Coasters such as Martin Bernheimer, Mark Swed, and Olly Wilson stand out.
  • You could say that a few composers didn't get the award for their best works. John (Coolidge) Adams for On the Transmigration of Souls? Well, would you expect him to have won for Nixon in China, given the amount of derision when it was new?
  • It'd be mighty interesting to do a reception history of each of these works. Which had legs? When did you last hear a symphonic work by Hanson or Piston programmed? (Not that I wouldn't like to hear them, but...)
  • And of course it's rather interesting who isn't on the list at all, though again, I would not have expected Einstein on the Beach, one of the greatest theatrical works of the postwar era, to have received the Pulitzer in the year it was eligible. 
  • No prize was awarded in three different years. I will note that Satyagraha debuted in one of those years. Hindsight, I know, but I do have to wonder how much the jurors got out in those three years.
  • A few composers won more than one Pulitzer, if I'm remembering this correctly: Walter Piston, Elliott Carter, Gian-Carlo Menotti, and Samuel Barber. Anyone else?
Oh, yeah, the spreadsheet is here, and it's world-readable. Have fun - I'm sure this stuff would be even more interesting presented graphically.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Concerned About the Music Pulitzers? You Should Be.

I have no idea who put together this set of graphs, but holy cow, it raises more than a few questions about the Pulitzer Prizes in music. Just so you don't have to click through, here are the graphs:

If you've been paying attention, you're probably not too surprised by the gender and race composition of those receiving awards. There's plenty more to worry about in the following:

  • The geographic location of the jurors. Fifty-three jurors, 41 from the east coast. Hello! I know that many of us have The New Yorker's View of the World, and I know that the Pulitzers have their home at Columbia, but there are composers, lots of them, who don't live on the east coast and would make good potential jurors. Try for a little geographic diversity here.
  • The geographic location of schools attended by Pulitzer winners. Eighteen of twenty (90%) attended Columbia, Juilliard, Harvard, or Yale. Anyone with a degree from Chicago or Rice or UC Berkeley can just give up! They weren't educated within the correct 250 mile radius.
  • Symphonic works are getting the largest percentage of awards. This preference naturally restricts the award to those few who get orchestral commissions.
  • Minimalism wins, so I hope not to ever hear another complaint about the hegemony of those awful serialists, considering that serialism is nowhere to be found in the last 20 years.

Friday, April 24, 2015

London Friday Photo

St. Bride's, London, May, 2014

Found in the NYPO's Tour Photos

From a photo by Chris Lee 

Photo taken at the Barbican, London. 'Nuff said.

The Heinrich Schütz of English Literature

Anthony Trollope is 200 today. Celebrate by reading The Way We Live Now, Can You Forgive Her?, He Knew He Was Right, or one of his other 43 novels.

H/T Joshua Kosman for the title. Read his blog posting about Trollope, buy a book, then listen to some Schütz. For example:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Gloire, gloire à Didon!"

Listening to Davis II and concluding that Les Troyes is, in fact, the greatest opera ever, a belief I will hold until my visit to Bayreuth, come the summer.

That said, Davis I vs. Davis II: discuss.


Here's a great posting at Song of the Lark, a blog that I have read sporadically and need to be reading all the time.

It is a thorough takedown of a particularly egregious blog post by Greg Sandow. He starts from the straw man premise that audiences read press releases. No, they don't! Press releases are...wait for it...directed to the press. If he were seriously writing about new audience development, he'd look at orchestral marketing materials, not their season announcements.

Also, starting out with "I don't mean to beat up on X" means that you are about to beat up on X.

The rest of the carnage I leave to Emily Hogstad. Somebody please hire her to write about music. She's that good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Berkeley Symphony 2015-16

Berkeley Symphony has a great season coming up too. Their schedule includes about 33% new or recent music, continuing their long commitment to the music of our time. I am lazy and will copy/paste, but I am happy to see that the first program is on a Wednesday, though whether I want to attend concerts Monday and Wednesday that week and teach classes on Tuesday and Thursday remains to be seen. Pavel Haas Quartet or Berkeley Sympony: perhaps I have to flip a coin...or take a day off that week.

From the press release:

Zellerbach Hall Concert Series
Program I: Magical
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$74
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Simone Osborne, soprano
BerliozLes nuits d'été
Kaija SaariahoLaterna magica (West Coast Premiere)
RavelLa Valse
Program II: Mystical
Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$74
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Geir Draugsvoll, bayan
GabrieliCanzon septimi et octavi toni
GabrieliSonata pian e forte
GubaidulinaFachwerk (U.S. Premiere)
MussorgskyPictures at an Exhibition
Program III: Majestic
Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$74
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Conrad Tao, piano
Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, “Emperor”
Program IV: Monstrous
Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$74
Joana Carneiro, conductor
Simone Porter, violin
Beethoven: Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus
Mark Grey: Frankenstein Symphony (West Coast Premiere, co-commission with Atlanta Symphony)
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
Berkeley Symphony & Friends Chamber Music Series
Artists and repertoire to be announced at a later date.
Program I
Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 5 p.m.
Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont
Tickets: $25
Program II
Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 5 p.m.
Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont
Tickets: $25
Program III
Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 5 p.m.
Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont
Tickets: $25
Program IV
Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 5 p.m.
Piedmont Center for the Arts, Piedmont
Tickets: $25
Under Construction New Music Program
Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 3 p.m.
Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 3 p.m.
Osher Studio, Berkeley
Tickets: $10
“Meet the Symphony” Family Concerts
Saturday, November 14, 2015, 10 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Malcolm X Elementary School, Berkeley
Tickets: Free (Suggested donation: $10)
“I’m a Performer” Family Concerts
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 10 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Malcolm X Elementary School, Berkeley
Tickets: Free (Suggested donation: $10)

San Francisco Performances Season Announcement

San Francisco Performances has a dynamite season of recitals, chamber music, and other performances coming up in 2015-16. (Full season at the link in the previous sentence.)

Some of the high points are bullet lists in the press release:

  • JAMIE BARTON(SF recital debut)
  • DUO PARNAS (SF recital debut)
  • IGOR LEVIT(SF recital debut)
  • TETZLAFF TRIO (SF debut)
  • Jake HeggieThe Work at Hand (West Coast premiere) performed by Jamie Barton, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2015, 7:30pm, San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concert Hall
  • Shulamit RanGlitter, Shards, Doom, Memory (West Coast premiere) - performed by Pacifica Quartet, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2016, 7:30PM, Herbst Theatre
  • Lera AuerbachNew work for solo cello (West Coast premiere) performed by Amit Peled, TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 2016, 7:30PM, Herbst Theatre
  • Vijay IyerBridgetower Fantasy – in conversation with Beethoven’s Kretuzer Sonata (Bay Area premiere) - performed by Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner,WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2015, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Andrew NormanNew work for violin and piano - performed by Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2016, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
  • Anthony CheungNew work for violin and piano - performed by Jennifer Koh and Shai Wosner, SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 2016, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre
New music composed by women! Anna Caterina Antonacci! (San Francisco, in general, is extremely lucky that this great artist performs here at all.) The Tetzlaff Trio is the great violinist Christian Tetzlaff, Tanja Tetzlaff, his cellist sister, and pianist Lars Vogt. Not too shabby, eh (although their program is nothing unusual)?

And some of the others, in my opinion:
  • Pavel Haas Quartet, Beethoven, Bartok, Prokofief (October 12)
  • Thomas Ades & Gloria Chen, piano, Nancarrow, Ades, Barry, Messiaen (October 30)
  • Jennifer Koh, violin, and Shai Wosner, piano, in a four-concert series called Bridge to Beethoven, pairing Beethoven and recent works
  • Alexander Quartet and Joyce Yang, piano, play piano quintets by Schumann, Schnittke, and Brahms (November 10 - this might be my Tuesday program for the season)
  • Anonymous 4, two programs (October 18 and November 15)
  • Fredericka von Stade (supposedly retired) and Jake Heggie (May 13)
  • Roger Woodward, piano, and Robert Greenberg explore the late Beethoven piano sonatas (various dates). (Well, depends on your enjoyment of Greenberg's lecture style.)
  • Duo Parnas plays piano & cello works by Tcherepnin, Honneger, Ravel, and Cassado (April 10)
  • Mark Padmore, tenor, and Paul Lewis, piano; songs by Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, and Wolf (April 14)
  • Quartetto di Cremona plays works of Boccherini, Resphighi, and Beethoven (April 16)
 Some of you will want to see Ian Bostridge's May 21 Schubert recital, with the wonderful Wenwen Du, but I do not expect to be there.

Personal to "Girona Balie"

1. I'm not publishing your comment.

2. The first reason is that it's off-topic. A post noting that Julia Wolfe won the Pulitzer in the here and now is just that.

3. The second reason is I'm not debating someone's bullshit view of feminist scholarship on this blog. If you want to discuss, or, rather, diss, feminist scholarship, start your blog.

4. The third reason is that you have no web footprint at all, and therefore I conclude that you're someone else's pseudonym.

Another Publicity No-No

Email from a prominent opera company dropped into my inbox yesterday, among other things announcing their next season announcement and changes and additions to this season's casts.

The problem is that the document containing changes and additions is an updated version of last year's season announcement PDF....without any indication of what the changes and additions are. I see that there are no apparent changes to the higher-profile leads, but the only reason I know this is that I looked over the company's web site last week. Which means that I have no idea what might have changed, if they've been updating the web site regularly.

Folks, don't do this. If you're announcing changes and additions, add a paragraph to your press release about it, or boldface the changes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cal Performances Season Announcement

Cal Performances announced the 2015-16 season today. I wasn't there and the press release hasn't arrived yet - which has led me to wonder whether I have dropped off their press list - but their web site has performance list posted.

Some highlights include:

  • A residency by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson conducting (of course). They're doing a pair of programs; the first is the new John Adams Sax Concerto with Mahler 5, the second is Des Canyons aux Etoiles. No mention of who will play the virtuoso piano part for the Messiaen, but I will be there regardless.
  • Another residency by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Gustavo Dudamel conducting (of course).
  • A concert by the Ensemble Intercontemporaine, which will include the sublime sur Incises. And some other interesting music.
  • Takacs Quartet, two concerts of old and new music
  • Danish Quartet, two concerts of old and new music
  • Yefim Bronfman plays a lot of Prokofiev
  • Mark Morris / Phil Baroque, L'Allegro, etc.
  • Mariinsky Ballet, Cinderella
  • Twyla Tharp Dance Company
  • Tallis Scholars
  • Brentano Quartet, Bach & Shostakovich
  • Kronos Quartet, Terry Riley's Sun Rings
  • Matthias Goerne singing Die Schoene Muellerin
And more! But very little of it is music by women.

Updated: Because how could I forgot Matthias Goerne?

Julia Wolfe Wins Pulitzer

For her work Anthracite Fields. Congratulations!

David Brooks Gets Something Right, For Once.

Pico Iyer writes, in reviewing Brooks's new book in the Times:
David Brooks’s gift — as he might put it in his swift, engaging way — is for making obscure but potent social studies research accessible and even startling, for seeing consistency as the hobgoblin of little minds and for ranging as widely across the private domain as the public. There aren’t many writers on politics who will study “emotional intelligence” as closely as they do polls, and fewer still extol failure as enthusiastically as they do success. Brooks’s flaws, as he tells us with typical cheerfulness and ease at the beginning of his new book, are that “I was born with a natural disposition toward shallowness” and “I’m paid to be a narcissistic blowhard” (the admission itself, of course, taking some of the edge off that “narcissistic”). He is, in short, a near-ideal public commentator (for this paper and for many other media outlets) because he is happy to sacrifice complexity and nuance in order to spin a hyper-readable, lucid, often richly detailed human story that sounds far less shrill and ad hominem than most of the polarizing rants of the day.
I have to agree, natural inclination to shallowness, which at 53 he has not yet overcome.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means.

Up in Seattle, a business owner named Dan Price decided he was going to raise the wages of all of his employees, over a several-years period, to $70,000 per year.

You can guess what has happened. Some economists and business leaders are showing considerable skepticism about this, which seems reasonable to me; certainly there's plenty of theory and data out there about using wages not only to pay employees fairly and keep them happy, but as an incentive.

On the other hand, I think it is a noble experiment in not privileging certain types of work over others. That administrative assistant is also keeping your company together.

But then there are screamers screaming "Socialism! It never works!"

People, get your definitions straight. Here's the brief Wikipedia definition of Socialism:
  1. Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.
Note: Dan Price voluntarily decided to give his employees this wage increase. He still owns his company. No government or government regulation forced him to do this. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a Socialist move for a business owner to set wages at a rate he deems fair, rather than paying minimum wage or letting the "market" set the wages.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Nothing like slagging a popular recitalist/opera singer and a famous music festival to boost your page views for the week!

This week's minor obsession is Schubert's D. 343, "Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen" (Litany for the Feast of All Souls). After listening to a half-dozen or so performances, I'll own that Ian Bostridge is very good in this; the song's demand for a perfect line brings out the best in him, a kind of concentrated, hushed singing that suits the song well. (Text and translation are here; score is here.)

Consider, also, that Schubert was 19 when he wrote this one. Such is the nature of genius.

Coming Up: West Edge Opera's I Due Foscari

After the great success of Poliuto, I am looking forward to hearing WEO's I Due Foscari, an early Verdi work that's been revived here and there recently....because Placido Domingo wanted to sing the baritone role. I know enough early Verdi to want to hear all of it, so this is a great opportunity.

Here are the details from the press release:

Verdi's I Due Foscari
Sunday, May 3, 1 pm
Rossmoor Event Center, 1010 Stanley Dollar Drive, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek

Monday, May 4, 8 pm
Freight and Salvage 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley

Roy Stevens, baritone
Michael-Paul Krubitzer, tenor
Melody King, soprano
Ellen Presley, mezzo soprano
Paul Cheak, bass
Jonathan Khuner, conductor & pianist
Tickets online: www.westedgeopera,org
Tickets by phone:
Rossmoor: 510-841-1903
Freight and Salvage: 510-644-2020 extension120.

Information: 510-841-1903

The Rossmoor venue happens to be quite nice: it's a multi-function room with a stage, comfortable chairs, and excellent acoustics. The restaurant across the street is perfectly fine, with good sandwiches and other dishes too.

London Friday Photo


Spitalfields, left; Fleet Street, right.
May, 2014

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 1865

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou would’st surely die.)


Walt Whitman, 1865

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ojai Music Festival, You Should Be Embarrassed.

I've just gotten a press release from the Ojai Music Festival, trumpeting the next three music directors, who are:
  • Peter Sellars, 2016
  • Vijay Iyer, 2017
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2018
If you take a look at a complete chronological listing of Ojai music directors, you'll find that in 1988, Diane Wittry was co-director, with Nicholas McGegan and Peter Maxwell Davies, in 1998 Mitsuko Uchida was co-director with David Zinman, and in 2011, Dawn Upshaw was music director. Many of the men who've been music directors are repeats, including Lukas Foss, Pierre Boulez, Salonen himself, Kent Nagano, MTT, and others.

As I've noted in the past, Ojai, a festival of new and unusual music, has played hardly any music by women in the last few years. Upshaw commissioned a piece from Maria Schneider; there were a couple of pieces by Ruth Crawford Seeger recently, and this year, Steven Schick, bless his heart, has programmed a number of works by women.

It's 2015, people. I can, off the top of my head, name 20 or more women who'd make great music directors of this festival. In fact, I'll do so right here:
  • Unsuk Chin
  • Chen Yi
  • Pauline Oliveros
  • Gloria Cheng
  • Leila Josefowicz
  • Kaija Saariaho
  • Jennifer Koh
  • Marilyn Nonken
  • Hilary Hahn
  • Susanna Malkki
  • Nicole Paiement
  • Barbara Hannigan
  • Jennifer Higdon
  • Joan Tower
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
  • Claire Chase
  • Tamara Stefanovich
  • Sarah Cahill
  • Augusta Read Thomas
  • Olga Neuwirth
  • Lera Auerbach
  • Roxanna Panufnik
  • Pamela Z
  • Carla Rees
  • Francesca Zambello
  • Joan Jeanrenaud
  • Alicia Weilerstein
C'mon, I just know that you can do it if you try.

Updated: April 16, because I missed Mitsuko Uchida the other day. I'm also occasionally adding to my 
bullet list of possible MDs.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Now That I Have THAT Off My Chest

I got a ticket to this afternoon's recital for two reasons: I'd been impressed with Ian Bostridge in last fall's production of Curlew River, and the program looked really good.

I'll stand by the program, which was beautifully chosen: three Mahler songs from Das Knaben Wunderhorn, the German composer Rudi Stephan's short song cycle "Ich will dir singen ein Hohelied," written 1913-14, George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad of 1909-11, Weill's Four Walt Whitman Songs, and four songs from Britten's Who Are These Children?

A nicely varied program, from the familiar Mahler to the virtually unknown Stephan. Both Stephan and Butterworth died in the carnage of World War I, and while I liked the Butterworth very much, the Stephan cycle was simply exquisite, and left me wanting more. There is more, according to the program notes, and I will be looking into it. The Weill settings struck me as rather stylistically apart from the poetry. Not that I think Whitman unsettable, but these lightly-bluesey-Broadway-ish settings did not seem right. I'd never heard the Britten before, and now I'll be looking for something that must be out there, a recording with Britten and Pears.

As to the performance - well, this was the first and last time I'll be seeing Ian Bostridge in recital. Briefly, he has no upper register, he has no lower register, and in between all he has is a few tricks and mannerisms. He can hit a note and swell; he can sing softly.

But he can't put across a song. There's no line, just some notes. His phrasing did not illuminate the text.

I was toward the rear of Hertz, which is not a huge venue, and I could understand maybe one in ten words....when he was singing in English. It's as if all of his consonants were lost someplace in the back of his throat. He also has distracting mannerisms; he looks at the floor, he tilts his body, he leans on the piano and looks at the pianist...and his face scrunches up in all sorts of odd ways. He might think he is somehow dramatizing the text, or maybe he's just very nervy on stage.

You might be wondering why I stayed! Well, the pianist, Wenwen Du, was fantastic; most of the music in the hall was coming from her, whether her ferocity in Mahler's "Revelge" or the extreme delicacy in Britten's "Nightmare." I would love to hear her again, in chamber music, paired with a different singer, or in solo recital.


A Friend Earns an "I Told You So"

Email sent at the intermission of today's Ian Bostridge recital:
Beautiful music, great pianist, and you were so right about Bostridge. He is a joke.