Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

YOUTH MUSIC MONTEREY concert on Zoom with piano soloist Bryan Kim and Danko Druško conducting the Junior Youth and Honors Orchestras on Sunday afternoon. INSIDE ANDY WARHOL (see Warhol’s blue Beethoven above) webinar by Carol Marquart on Sunday. ENSEMBLE MONTEREY archival concert. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

THREE NEW FANFARES FOR BIDEN

THE US MARINE BAND performed at Wednesday’s inauguration. This is Peter Boyer’s.

VIRTUAL INAUGURATION CONCERT

RENÉE FLEMING leads a cast from the Washington National Opera. PS Keep your ears and eyes open for mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell after her stunning performance of Gene Scheer’s American Anthem. SM

 

‘FROM HALL TO HOME’

SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY new streaming service. Click HERE

LETTERS

I SAW “I’m so Excited” (Tony Coates’ dance video on last week’s Weekly Magazine) three times tonight and will probably see it a few more times tomorrow. Every time I look, I find more delight. Thank you for bringing this wealth of entertainment to us all. In these very dark times, it’s a reminder to embrace joy and live our best lives. It’s all we can really do. ~Layne Littlepage, Carmel

THE HEALER

THE JANUARY 29–30 PREMIERE of The Healer, a new quartet for four women choreographed by Katerina Wong of RAWdance, will include livestream screenings of the performance, a presentation by a healing practitioner, and a moderated talk with artists involved in the project. The conversations with the online audience are led by Yutian Wong, an author and professor of dance in the School of Theatre & Dance at San Francisco State University.

PUTTING VIDEOS TOGETHER WITH MUSIC

LOVERS OF FAMILIAR MUSIC frequently resent the ‘distraction.’ Click HERE

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

I MUST CONFESS that when I saw this name I imagined a Dutch fast-food drive-through. Therefore, apologies to this outstanding Canadian composer here represented by two new CD releases. Born to a Jewish family in 1959 in Amsterdam, he began to study music at age three. But upon moving to Canada got a “real” job as a cardiac surgeon in Vancouver. Having gained fame for his medical practice he decided to return to music, specifically to become a classical composer. His two chamber symphonies, the first performed by Ensemble Caprice directed by Matthias Maute and titled Remember to Forget, the second by Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal under Vincent de Kort titled Children’s War Diaries, are programmatic. Remember to Forget, in two movements and lasting about 17 minutes, is described as “both a chamber symphony and an opera without words, inspired by a biography of one of the great composers of our time, György Ligeti.” Each movement is a clearly laid out narrative tone poem divided into several short sections. The grim first movement begins with A Train to Death and ends with Returning to Home No Longer There. The second begins with A Train to Life and ends with The Third Train. It contains quotes from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and a Yiddish folk song. Hamburger’s mastery of musical resources is both familiar and surprising, just what you want in composers of new music. The 15-minute Chamber Symphony No. 2 is based wordlessly on five diaries of children who did not survive the Holocaust, dating respectively from the years 1940 to 1945. In the 1944 movement voices are heard, or synthesized. At the end of the 1945 movement, a choral outcry suggests the end of the war. Hamburger has the wind instruments play bending notes adding even more colors to his orchestration. On the other CD, the 22-minute piano concerto, in three movements, gets even more unpredictable. Once again Vincent de Kort’s orchestra does the honors with soloist Assaff Weisman. The first movement, beginning with bells and winds and Mahlerian horn calls, is all orchestral, rising to a climax, until at last the piano quietly appears alone during the last minute of its five minutes duration. Then comes the longer Molto allegro, a propulsive romp between solo and orchestra, including sirens in the manner of George Antheil and Edgar Varèse, and quiet solos on string instruments and percussion and a large solo cadenza for the piano followed by a goodly rip of a finish. Longer still is the final Molto adagio, which broods and growls while the piano goes for a long, measured walk with ominous punctuations and ends with a sigh. All these performances, on the Leaf Music label, were recordied in Montréal in 2019. SM

CRISTIAN MĂCELARU CONCERT IN PARIS

CABRILLO FEST music director conducts l’Orchestre national de France last week including a violin concerto by Pascal Zavaro with gifted soloist Julia Fischer. Click HERE

MAUREEN McGOVERN’S SIGNATURE

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

2021 Kennedy Center honorees: Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Allen, Garth Brooks, Joan Baez and Midori. Celebration to be telecast this May. 

NEW THIS WEEK

THE CATALYST STRING QUARTET plays three black composers, Florence Price and George Walker, both American, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, tomorrow. THE CALIDORE STRING QUARTET performs virtually for Chamber Music Monterey Bay on Saturday. PIANIST ANDREW LI performs for the Steinway Society. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

COMPOSER PETER BOYER’S NEW FANFARE

AMERICAN COMPOSER Peter Boyer has been commissioned to write an original piece—Fanfare for Tomorrow—to be premiered by the US Marine Band at the inauguration of Joe Biden tomorrow.

‘THE MAGIC OF CALLAS’

NEW GREAT PERFORMANCES chapter on PBS focuses on Maria Callas’ return to the stage in 1964 at Covent Garden for Puccini’s Tosca. Act II is the focal point as she sings the title role opposite Tito Gobbi as Scarpia. Don’t miss it. If you loved Callas this performance will break your heart.

NICK McGEGAN CATCHES COVID-19

FORMER PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE music director was to have conducted the Dallas Symphony in three Mozart concerts before he tested positive for Covid-19. Two of the three were canceled. McGegan last appeared in Carmel one year ago.

PHIL ‘WALL OF SOUND’ SPECTOR DIES

CONVICTED MURDERER and record producer died in custody at 81. Click HERE

INIMITABLE NICOLAS SLONIMSKY

FRIEND OF STRAVINSKY and Frank Zappa, editor of Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, author of The Lexicon of Musical Invective and a hilarious autobiography, Perfect Pitch, causes Johnny Carson to forget which century he lives in.

 

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

AWARD-WINNING Edward Smaldone’s Once and Again offers a sampling of his songs and instrumental works written or revised in the years since the millennium began. Smaldone’s attention to craftsmanship certainly accounts for the waves of commissions he has received. The caliber of musicians in this New Focus Recordings CD could not be surpassed. But for all its fabulousness, at the end of the day and after multiple listenings I could not recall any details of Smaldone’s music. That usually means a failure of musical architecture, or form. And that has to do with counterpoint, the operative syllable being ‘point.’ Counterpoint and harmony are incompatible. Yet JS Bach displays an uncanny use of counterpoint that always somehow makes lucid structures and harmonic references. Not so with Smaldone; he adds new melodic lines to his original idea that take little account of what else is going on in the overall textures. His music, therefore, is busily crafted but without being particularly coherent. Too bad because he has many good ideas. From 2009 his three Cantare di Amore, using anonymous madrigal texts and a verse from Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Conquered, for soprano (Tony Arnold), flute and harp should ideally flow with unencumbered lyricism. His Letters from Home (2000-2014) for soprano (Susan Narucki), flute and piccolo, clarinet and bass clarinet (Charles Neidich) and piano are excessively congested and use texts that do not favor musical settings. Likewise congested is his Double Duo for flute, clarinet, violin and cello (Marcy Rosen.) Most successful is Duke/Monk (2011) for clarinet and piano, homages to Ellington and Thelonious. His Sinfonia for string orchestra, revised 2010, goes back to busy for the sake of busy. SM

JULIAN LOIDA’s debut CD (Nine Athens label) is titled Wallflower. To make the most of it a little synesthesia helps. The Boston-area percussionist composed and performs all ten tracks on this recent release—he plays keyboards including xylophones and synthesizers and other percussion, joined by a couple more musicians on harp and Hammond organ. Loida explains his synesthesia in his program notes: “When music is played I experience it first in my ears, but quickly followed by my eyes, body, and most recently my tongue. When I play the note “A” I see red. When I play “E” I see yellow. “C” is orange, A-flat is burgundy and so on. That does not mean I am blinded when I hear music, but I do have a deep connection between color, texture and sound.” SM

BACH RULES

 

WHEN YIDDISH PUPPET THEATER FLOURISHED

EDDY PORTNOY reports for Smithsonian. Click HERE

DANCE, INEVITABLY INDISPENSABLE

 

FRESH REVIEW

HOWARD BURNHAM’S new one-man play, The Greatest Game. Click HERE

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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor