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