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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Alexander Borodin, the Russian composer, doctor, and chemist is best remembered for his opera Prince Igor, his symphonies, and his string quartets. Although he died in 1887, he won a Tony Award (Broadway's annual award) in 1954. Why? Answer >>

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      Songs about Life: the Jewish Cabaret

      The New Budapest Orpheum Society is an ensemble-in-residence at the University of Chicago. The ensemble is part of the Humanities Division and draws upon a wide range of repertories. Some tunes are all but forgotten, many have been rediscovered in European archives; all celebrate the tradition of Jewish cabaret. Jewish cabaret tended to be urban, edgy, and packed with social commentary and adult situations more...

      CSO at Millennium Park: Allegro con Muti

      Update: 7:43 pm CDT Friday's crowd is estimated at over 20,000 people. Hundreds more are being turned away at the park entrance. Riccardo Muti brings the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Millennium Park on Friday for a free, all-Tchaikovsky concert. It's been four years to the day since Maestro Muti gave his inaugural concert in the park's more...

      Documentary Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT

      When Phil Grabsky looks out into the world, he sees stories that need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, he's followed his passion from Brazil to Angola, from Chernobyl to Afghanistan. He also has a fascination for great composers. Phil Grabsky is in Chicago to introduce his new film In Search of Chopin more...

      CSO Will Roll Out with a Bang

      The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise this weekend, performing to capacity crowds. Riccardo Muti opens the concert season with four sold-out performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and a free Tchaikovsky concert at Millennium Park. With orchestra and chorus declaring Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy more...

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      Get to know Rachmaninov, inside and out

      On the eve of the London Philharmonics season-long celebration of Rachmaninov: what conductors can learn from the composers own inspirational performances

      The London Philharmonic embarks on its 11-concert Rachmaninov: Inside Out series next week. The season-long series includes performances of all the symphonies (including the Symphonic Dances that Vladimir Jurowski conducts in the opening concert on 3 October), the piano concertos in all their respective versions (that means the originals and revisions of the 1st and 4th), concert performances of his opera The Miserly Knight, and his choral masterpiece The Bells - and much, much more. Its a unique chance to immerse yourself in Rachmaninovs creative world, and - I hope - to overturn once and for all the wretchedly myopic view that Rachmaninovs only achievement was to turn sentimentality into sound. Nothing could be further from the truth, and if you need one piece to disprove it, the Symphonic Dances, his last work, is the perfect, adventurous, ghoulish, nightmarish, yet consoling place to start.

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      Il Barbiere di Siviglia review an uncommonly satisfying team

      Royal Opera House, London
      Mark Elders elegant conducting, and old and new faces on stage make for a very enjoyable revival

      Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leisers production of Rossinis Barber of Seville has been a vehicle for some very starry stars since its 2005 debut. The cast for its third revival is less familiar, but makes an uncommonly satisfying team. Thats partly down to Thomas Guthries taut revival direction, which brings out the heart in this stylised production even if some of its trappings the false noses and buttocks for the servants are now looking a bit tired. Its also down to Mark Elders spacious, elegantly phrased conducting. Now and then the orchestra sounds slightly edgy at this, the second performance, the tuning wasnt always spot-on but thanks to Elder even the most familiar numbers never sound routine.

      The two lovers are both new faces here, and on this evidence well be seeing a lot more of them. Michele Angelini sings lovestruck Count Almaviva in an easy, honeyed tenor that goes right to the top; its a gentle voice, not huge but substantial, and it bounces off the candy-striped walls of Christian Fenouillats set to fill the auditorium. He throws in some audacious embellishments, and brings off every one. Serena Malfi may not have quite the comic gift of Joyce DiDonato, the original Rosina of this production, but she gets some laughs, and sings with an agile, creamy yet glinting mezzo-soprano with low notes as bright as the top ones.

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      The Riders: Tim Winton's novel is now an opera with a few surprises

      The author gave librettist Alison Croggon and composer Iain Grandage free rein with his novel about unexplained loss

      The Riders is probably the only opera to feature an American Express office. But then Tim Wintons novel, on which it is based, is a nightmarish travelogue as much as a story of unexplained loss. So the credit facilities and travel hubs (Shannon airport, Pariss Gare de Lyon) make sense.

      Wintons story racks up a lot of frequent flyer points: loveable knockabout Scully, an innocent Australian abroad, wants to fulfil his wife Jennifers desire to live in rural Ireland. He does up an old bothy while she goes back to Western Australia for a couple of months with their young daughter Billie to settle affairs. On the day of their return, however, only the child comes through the airports sliding doors, traumatised and unable or unwilling to explain what has happened to her mother en route.

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      new releases

      Kraus: Arias & Overtures

      Naxos 8.572865

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      Stile Antico: From the Imperial Court

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807595

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      Organ Polychrome

      Reference Recordings RR-133

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      Works of Saint-Saens

      Warner Classics 0825646281442

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      Wagner Without Words

      Signum Classics SIGCD-388 (2 CDs)

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