Category Archives: Music

Shostakovich Symphony #4 – Gergiev

Tweet Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony is unlike any of his other 14 works in this genre. To begin with, it calls for about 125 musicians. The demands on the players are extraordinary. Though it has only three movements, it typically takes more than an hour to perform. It was written in 1936 and was scheduled to…


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Maestros and Their Music – Book review

Tweet Subtitled The Art and Alchemy of Conducting, John Mauceri has written an illuminating book which is more about the art and craft of leading an orchestra than it is about alchemy. Maestro Mauceri has had a distinguished career which has taken him to many of the world’s top orchestras and opera houses. Among the…


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Shostakovich – The Gadfly

Tweet Dmitri Shostakovich’s music seems to be in the process of eclipsing that of all other 20th century composers, again proving Verdi’s dictum that the only critic that counted, in the long run, was the audience. The Russian composer was a prolific composer of film music. His most famous piece from that ouvre is the…


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Moon Meditations

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tARtQkWdZSM

Tweet There’s more to the moon than that round object in the sky. You can hang it if you see someone doing something superlative. Of course, if someone does something the opposite you can moon him or them if your object of scorn is plural. You can give it to your object of intense desire…


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LA Phil Plays Yi, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev

Tweet Passing through LA I noticed that the local band was playing on my only free afternoon  – Sunday December 10. It’s appropriate that the concert hall in La La Land is named after the creator and voice of Mickey Mouse. There were three numbers on the program. The 8 minute opener was Antiphony by…


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Toscanini: Musician of Conscience – Book Review

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsMGLst43dg

Tweet Harvey Sachs has made a career, well part of one, writing books about the eminent conductor. Sachs wrote his first Toscanini biography in 1978. Why a second one almost 40 years later? Sachs cites the additional material now available that was denied him during his first go around with the conductor. The book’s subtitle,…


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La damnation de Faust at the Proms

Tweet On August 8, this year John Eliot Gardiner directed the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in a performance of Berlioz’ La damnation de Faust for the BBC Proms. The soloists were Ann Hallenberg, Michael Spyres, and bass Laurent Naouri. The great choral part was sung by The Monteverdi Choir and the National Youth Choir of Scotland….


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Adolf von Henselt

Tweet Adolf von Henselt (1814-89) was a German composer and virtuoso pianist. A native of Schwabach in Munich, he went to Vienna to study under Hummel. He soon became a noted piano soloist. He was famous for his cantabile and legato playing. Even Liszt admired his playing. He also composed. Most of his compositions were…


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Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk – Orchestral Excerpts

Tweet Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District is the greatest Russian opera of the 20th century and among all Russian operas is matched only by Boris Godunov.  Set to a libretto by the composer and Alexander Preys, it depicts the brutality of mid 19th century Russian life and the plight of women enmeshed in…


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Word Salad

Tweet Another damned thick book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?  Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh I got a package from Amazon that was gift wrapped and had a note attached to it. The note read: “I can tell from reading your work that you are running out of words. So give…


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