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      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...

      Winners of Genius Grants “Inspire us all”

      People who win don't even know they've been considered, but on Wednesday they were identified by international news agencies as "21 extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all." Some are scientists; others are historians, poets, or lawyers. There's an artist, a jazz musician, and a cartoonist. They are the 2014 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of what's often called the genius grant, a $625,000 cash prize – no strings attached more...

      Fisching for Excellence in Chamber Music

      This week's Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert welcomes the 2014 Fischoff Competition gold medalists. They had walked away with the silver medal in 2012, before clenching the gold in 2014. In July, the Akropolis Reed Quintet was presented with the 2015 Fischoff Educator Award for their imaginative programming for children more...

      The Devil Gets a Second Act

      "L'histoire du soldat" ("The Soldier's Tale") is a curiosity. It's theater. It's a musical composition. It's a work rich in orchestral color, but has only six players. With a unique ensemble of actors, dancers and instruments, it's been a one-of-a-kind for nearly 100 years – until now. more...

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      Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2 CD review very fine but too short

      Trpeski/Royal Liverpool PO/Petrenko
      (Onyx)

      For many years, when it was heard at all, Tchaikovskys Second Piano Concerto was played in the edition by Alexander Siloti that was published after the composers death. He had made a small cut to the first movement and a much more substantial one to the central andante. In recent years, most pianists have gone back to the original, uncut version of the score, but Simon Trpeski opts for Silotis abbreviated version of the slow movement, even though in a foreword to the sleeve notes he confesses there was no special musical reason for his decision. So where, in his recent recording with Valery Gergiev, Denis Matsuev takes more than 14 minutes for that movement, Trpeski dispatches it in just eight, losing a lot of very beautiful music, with its violin and cello solos, as a result. Its an enormous pity, for Trpeskis light, silvery touch lightens up so much of a work which, as Matsuev revealed, can become bombastic, and Vasily Petrenko and the Liverpool orchestra accompany him so attentively. Their account of the First Concerto is very fine without sweeping all before it; its the Second that should have been the highpoint, and there is not enough of it.

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      Dusapin: Morning in Long Island; Reverso; Uncut CD review strong but patchy

      OP de Radio France/Chung
      (Deutsche Grammophon)

      Reverso and Uncut are the final two works in a seven-part cycle of Solos for Orchestra that Pascal Dusapin assembled piecemeal between 1992 and 2009. There are musical connections between all the pieces, as well as an overarching shape to the sequence the whole of it appeared on a Naive disc four years ago. But they are designed to be performed separately, too. Reverso, and especially Uncut with its thrilling opening volleys for six horns, make a much stronger individual impression in this context than they do as part of the whole cycle. Coming to terms with Dusapins recent music means accepting the fact that the rhythmic interest is often distinctly patchy, and that his orchestral music now builds by accretion, adding instrumental layer upon layer. The rather shapeless, half-hour-long Morning in Long Island from 2011 shows the limitations of his approach, relying on a spatially separated brass trio and, in the last of the five movements, a cosmetic application of Latin American percussion to provide the glitter.

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      Mozart: Arias CD review Sandrine Piau is wonderfully stylish

      Salzburg/Bolton
      (Naive)

      Soprano Sandrine Piau may be best known as a baroque specialist, but as anyone who has ever heard her in a song recital will confirm, her wonderful musicality and refinement are just as effective in a much wider repertoire. Her first collection of arias 12 years ago was devoted to Mozart; this sequel is a reminder of what a fine Mozartean she is. Opera from Mitridate to Don Giovanni are represented, and the album comes with the title of Desperate Heroines. This may be stretching things as far as the two numbers from Figaro are concerned Barbarinas tiny Lho Perduta from the fourth act, and Susannas Deh Vieni from the third but fits Donna Annas Non Mi Dir from Don Giovanni, Ilias Se Il Padre Perdei from Idomeneo, and two of Sandrinas arias from La Finta Giardiniera well enough. Piau may be just too knowing to convince as Barbarina, but shes a thrilling Anna, and wonderfully stylish in the extracts from the early opera serias, Mitridate and Lucio Silla. Shes a very fine, intelligent artist, and Ivor Bolton and the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra accompany her most sympathetically.

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