Friday, October 28, 2016
Wolfgang Rihm (file photo) Regarded as one of the most important contemporary composers in Germany since the late 1970’s, Wolfgang Rihm initially associated with a movement called the “New Simplicity”, which evolved in opposition to the rigid serialist aesthetic that dominated at the time. He is almost preposterously prolific, with nearly 400 works to his name: seven of them are being presented by Sound Icon in two sequential concerts “Celebrating Wolfgang Rihm.” The first concert, a collection of five works for small chamber forces, played Wednesday night at the Goethe-Institut Boston. A solo piano work from 1985, Brahmsliebewalzer had the most accessible surface. Its ruminated in late-Romantic language that sounded much like Brahms, but its sense of suspension called to mind Schumann. Near the end I was reminded of the most adventurous harmonies used by William Bolcom in his piano rags, but without the rhythmic structure of a rag—or of a waltz, even, as the predominant rhythm was a steady, square tread. Yoko Hagino executed with restraint, even reticence. None of the other works shared the same harmonic language, but they all had a similarly elusive quality; as the evening progressed I found it challenging to retain an overall impression. Despite his earlier associations, Rihm does not write simple music. The subsequent works were all in an atonal (but not serialist) idiom whose surface is distinctly modernist. Antlitz (meaning “countenance” or “face”) for violin and piano, spoke in dissonant fragments, often very quietly. Hagino was joined by the indefatigable Gabriela Diaz, who gave a mini-clinic on muted tone color for much of the piece. The sparseness at the beginning eventually congests significantly in the piano, and a tentative sense of opening up ensues before the work concludes. While a palpable dialog obtained between the two parts, I struggled in vain to discover its organizing evolution in time. Something similar happened in the two works written for a low-voiced string trio, in the hands of Mark Berger (viola), Stephen Marrotto (cello) and David Goodchild (bass). Verzeichnun –Studie (Distortion – Study, 1986), the more traditional piece, featured tight rhythmic ensemble, dueling harmonics, echoing pitches, and generous and creative writing for the bass that Goodchild executed with rich resonance. Nuce (1994), by contrast, offered hisses and thumps, extra-musical noises juxtaposed with deep chords, by turns rebarbative and excitable. In the most ambitious work, 12. Streichquartett (2001), violinist Lilit Hartunian joined Diaz, Berger and Marrotto. Cast in one large movement broken by occasional silences, it used yet another sonic vocabulary, including a storm of pizzicato at the opening, plucked glissandi, and a wide selection of motives that in their rhythmic and tonal violence recalled Bartok and Ligeti. Listening to the three ensemble pieces, one can hear Rihm acquire a surer and tighter sense of craft; in the quartet, any given episode of a minute or so repays close attention, as the musical material gets battered about and passed around by an adept intelligence. It changes rapidly, fast to slow, loud to soft, dry to rich. The material often thrills, and the contrasts catch the attention, but I find entirety difficult to recall. Sound Icon’s Artistic Director Jeffrey Means afterwards suggested to me that unlike, say, Helmut Lachenmann (whose prickly sound-constructions resembled moments in In Nuce), Rihm is not linear or traditionally dramatic, operating more by surprise and by personal intuition, and that this might account for my difficulties characterizing the work. Means’s insight seems to reveal something I had not registered in the playing, and perhaps I was seeking to discover processes and ends that simply did not interest the composer. During the second half we were treated to Means’s brief interview with Rihm from earlier this year, in which he revealed both a keen mind and a puckish sense of humor, producing sudden laughter with a look or a dramatic pause. Jeffrey Means, conductor (Jesse Weiner photo) As is usually the case with Sound Icon execution was at a high level. The three gentlemen on the lower strings played with a relaxed assurance, conveying calm even in the stormier parts of In Nuce. The exuberant, even contentious quartet, always kept the musical conversation audible even when everyone was talking at once. On Friday, a much larger group takes on two large works, Frage and Pol – Kolchis – Nucleus at the Fenway Center at Northeastern. Highly recommended to fans of the modern, who have a love for detail and a tolerance for the digressive and open-ended. Brian Schuth graduated from Harvard with a Philosophy degree, so in lieu of a normal career he has been a clarinetist, theater director and software engineer. He currently resides in Boston after spending the last 15 years in Eastport, Maine. The post Wolfgan Rihm Iconized appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .
By Jacob Stockinger This past week, on Tuesday night, the critically acclaimed Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer), artists-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , performed its third concert of the semester. This time it was a terrific program of music by Hugo Wolf, Dmitri Shostakovich and Antonin Dvorak . (You can hear the Pro Arte perform Ernest Bloch ‘s Prelude in the YouTube video at the bottom. Plus, YouTube has many more samples of the Pro Arte Quartet.) The string quartet, which celebrated its centennial five years ago, is the longest lived string quartet in history. It has been at the UW-Madison ever since it was exiled here 75 years ago while on tour during World War II . That is when Hitler and the Nazis invaded the quartet’s homeland of Belgium . (Below is the Pro Arte Quartet in 1940.) Yet despite such a distinguished history, the existence of the Pro Arte Quartet has had some close calls before and has even been on the endangered species list, only to get a reprieve. Now, given the current state of steep budget cuts and tenure reforms at the UW by Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican-dominated Legislature and the Board of Regents, there are concerns about what will happen in the near future, especially if one or more of the quartet members leaves or retires. One ambitious solution is now under way. A fund at the UW Foundation has been started to endow a chair at the School of Music for each member of the quartet in the strings department. Rebekah Sherman is the Foundation’s liaison to the project. The proposal needs to raise $4 million with an additional $1 million for other activities such as touring, new commissions, research, outreach, student activities and recordings. (Below is the Pro Arte Quartet, which has always pioneered new music) in 1928.) If you want to know more about the project, contact Robert Graebner at email@example.com The Ear will provide more information in the near future about how to join the project and receive updates as well as how to donate. But at least now you know and can figure out how you can help if you want to help. Tagged: Arts , Beethoven , Belgium , Cello , Chamber music , Classical music , commission , Dmitri Shostakovich , Dvorak , Franz Schubert , Hitler , Hugo Wolf , Jacob Stockinger , Johannes Brahms , Madison , Mozart , Music , Nazi , New Music , recording , teaching , tour , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Viola , Violin , Wisconsin , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , World War II , YouTube
“Arts administrators are united in the belief that spreading music as far as possible, in both the digital and physical worlds, is more than just a marketing gimmick: It’s a strategy for survival. The world is full of intellectually curious, artistically adventurous young people who would no more buy a ticket to hear Brahms’s Requiem in concert at Geffen Hall than they would stick a stamp on a handwritten letter.”
Venue: Walt Disney Concert Hall 111 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, California, 90012 Date: Wednesday, 26 October 2016 – 8:00 PM Presenter: Los Angeles Philharmonic 323-850-2000 www.laphil.com Artists: Hilary Hahn (Violin), and Robert Levine, piano Program: J. S Bach: Sonata No. 6 in G Major for Violin and Piano, BWV. 1019 Anton Garcia Abril: Solo Partita for Violin Mozart: Violin Sonata in E-flat Major for Violin and Piano, K. 481 Intermission Hans Peter Türk: Träume (solo piano, written for Robert Levin) Schubert: Rondo in B Minor for Violin and Piano, D. 895 Here is Hilary Hahn as soloist, performing the violin concerto by Johannes Brahms:
The English musician Thomas Adès, esteemed composer, pianist, and conductor who this season becomes the BSO’s first Artistic Partner, looks to be settling into a large role as contributor to the local classical scene. On October 28th he performs Schubert’s Winterreise at Jordan Hall with the acclaimed tenor Ian Bostridge, in a joint presentation of the BSO and the Celebrity Series. Two days later, October 30th, Adès joins the BSO Chamber Players and mezzo Kelley O’Connor as pianist and conductor to open the ensemble’s with his own own Court Studies from the Tempest, the Trout Quintet, Britten’s Sinfonietta for Winds and Strings, plus chamber arrangements of Shakespeare-oriented songs by Brahms, Stravinsky, and Purcell. Wednesday November 2 at the Goethe-Institut, he will participate in a free “conversations with creators”; student composers from Boston-area music schools will also attend Adès’s BSO rehearsal the next day and participate in a conductor / composer Q&A afterward. That day and the next two, the new Artistic Partner leads the orchestra and soloists Christianne Stotijn and Mark Stone in his own acclaimed Totentanz for mezzo, baritone, and orchestra, Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, and Sibelius’s Tapiola. Premiered in 2013 at the BBC Proms, Totentanz sets a 15th-century text telling of a charismatic and gleefully macabre Grim Reaper and the procession of his many victims, whom the audience meets in descending order of social standing. Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem is dramatically expressive, while Sibelius’s atmospheric final orchestral poem, Tapiola, is one of the composer’s many works based on Finnish legend; the BSO hasn’t performed it for 40 years. Adès’s rich commitment to the BSO as Deborah and Philip Edmundson Artistic Partner will span over the next three years a range of activities reflecting his gifts as one of the great musical minds of the 21st century. Britten’s dramatic early orchestral work was written in 1940 for a commission from Japan to celebrate its 2600th anniversary. But the government found its Christian underpinnings, Latin movement titles, and contemplative mood unacceptable. By the time it was premiered, by the New York Philharmonic in 1941, Pearl Harbor had been attacked and Britten had taken up residence in the US as a conscientious objector. “I’m making it just as anti-war as possible,” wrote the pacifist composer. I don’t believe you can express social or political or economic theories in music, but by coupling new music with well-known musical phrases, I think it’s possible to get over certain ideas.” Tapiola was written in 1926, its subject the frigid, forbidding Finnish pine forests and Tapio, their ﬁerce god-spirit, who rules over the trees and wildlife. After a blustery opening, all sense of time is suspended, and for nearly 20 minutes the music creates a remarkable picture of the stark landscape via the composer’s archetypical orchestration: breezy sighs and freezing gusts from the strings and high winds rustling leaves on branches and on the forest ﬂoor, brasses and timpani creating a shifting sense of three-dimensional space. Thomas Adès’s Dance of Death was composed in 2013 and sets a text that accompanied a 15th-century German frieze depicting Death (the baritone) dancing with individuals from all strata of humanity (the mezzo), from pope and cardinal to maiden and child. The work is both macabre and funny and reminds the listener that totentanz is the one dance none of us may refuse—“one we all have to join in,” the composer points out. “[The music] is supposed to be at the same time terrifying, leveling, and funny—absurd … the thing that makes it comic is the total powerlessness of everybody, no matter who they are.” Thomas Ades leads the Boston Symphony (Stu Rosner photo) Adès joins frequent collaborator the English tenor Ian Bostridge for a performance of Schubert’s song cycle for voice and piano set to 24 poems by the poet Wilhelm Müller depicting the journey of a lonesome, griefstricken traveler who leaves love behind and contemplates his mortality on a frozen winter road. Six excerpts from the composer’s 2004 opera the Tempest make up Court Studies, for violin, cello, clarinet, and piano. Three other Shakespeare-inspired works are included: Brahms’s Ophelia-Lieder, arranged by John Woolrich for voice and chamber ensemble; Stravinsky’s Three Shakespeare Songs; and Two Songs from Purcell’s Tempest arranged by Adès for voice and piano. All three feature mezzo Kelley O’Connor. To open the BSCP program, the musicians perform music by another groundbreaking English composer, Britten’s three-movement Sinfonietta, written in 1932. Occupying the second half of the program is Schubert’s surpassingly tuneful Trout Quintet for piano and strings, which the composer completed when he was just 22. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players feature first-desk string, woodwind, and brass players from the BSO, and the October 30th concert features Malcolm Lowe, violin; Haldan Martinson, violin; Steven Ansell, viola; Mihail Jojatu, cello; Edwin Barker, bass; Elizabeth Rowe, flute; John Ferrillo, oboe; William R. Hudgins, clarinet; Michael Wayne, clarinet; Richard Svoboda, bassoon; and James Sommerville, horn. The post Thomas Adès Now: Present and Peripatetic appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .
Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 - 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms' popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the Three Bs. Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he also worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed many of his works and left some of them unpublished. Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined method of composition for which Bach is famous, and also of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by J. Haydn, W.A. Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Brahms aimed to honour the "purity" of these venerable "German" structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as the progressive Arnold Schoenberg and the conservative Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.
Great composers of classical music