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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Another "who am I" today--and a fascinating one. I was born 121 years ago today. My mother was a Russian princess who married her teacher at the Paris Conservatory. He was 77 when I was born. Our family friend Gabriel Faure discovered that I had perfect pitch when I was 2. I won the Prix de Rome at the age of 19 but I died at the age of 24. My famous sister lived for another 61 years before she was buried next to me in the Montmartre Cemetery. Who am I? Answer >>

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      Sax and the City

      From Charlie Parker to Kenny G, John Coltrane to Clarence Clemons, the sultry sounds of the saxophone have been a mainstay for American music. Many have praised the saxophone's vocalism, range of color, and expressivity. Nevertheless, it's been a tough road for classical soloists. more...

      When Pink Floyd Meets Mingus and Bach

      It's hard to describe Chicago composer/guitarist Jason Seed, other than as a well-rounded musician. As such, he delights in music and doesn't worry so much about iTunes categories. Jason Seed's credits include jazz bands, rock bands, collaborations with Baroque Band and Bill Frisell. He's also been around the "new music" scene more...

      Passings: Licia Albanese, Carlo Bergonzi

      He gave more than 300 performances at the Metropolitan Opera. She exceeded 400. Two Italian-born, 20th century opera stars passed away in recent weeks: tenor Carlo Bergonzi and soprano Licia Albanese. Bergonzi in particular had a long performance history in Chicago, making his American debut at Lyric Opera in 1955; while Albanese worked primarily in New York more...

      Video: William Bolcom and Grant Park

      It's fitting that the Grant Park Music Festival should commission a piece by William Bolcom to celebrate its 80th anniversary. The two have had a long relationship. In fact, it was at a 1986 Grant Park Orchestra performance of Bolcom's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" that then Lyric Opera General Director Ardis Krainik more...

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      Prom 46: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra/Barenboim review an occasion as much as a concert

      Royal Albert Hall
      The Middle Eastern orchestra's assured handling of four pieces by Ravel highlighted its impressive progress under Barenboim

      The achievement that is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra feels unusually precious at present, and Daniel Barenboim and his Middle Eastern ensemble were greeted with unmistakably special warmth to the Albert Hall. In their 15th year, it is the way the orchestra plays that is now so impressive, not merely the fact that it plays at all.

      Barenboim's programme was a characteristic statement. The overture to the Marriage of Figaro tipped the hat to universal genius. Two new works, one from an Israeli, the other by a Syrian, underlined the barrier-busting nature of the project. Finally, four Spanish-influenced orchestral works by Ravel paid tribute to the orchestra's annual meeting place in Seville.

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      Michael Houstoun performs Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin for the Edinburgh international festival

      In this exclusive video for the Guardian, New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun introduces Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin his piano suite dedicated to friends who were killed in the first world war. Houstoun performs the 5th movement from the suite, a menuet, dedicated to Jean Dreyfus.

      Produced in association with the Edinburgh Film Company and the Edinburgh international festival.

      More videos in this series:
      Collegium Vocale Gent perform Bach
      The Hebrides Ensemble perform Stravinsky Continue reading...






      Wagner Without Words review Llr Williams' entrancing, technically superb set of piano works

      Llr Williams
      (Signum)

      As Llr Williams points out in his introduction to this collection, Wagner wrote more original piano music than is realised almost two hours of it in all. He includes six pieces here, only two of which are really substantial a rather long-winded Fantasy from 1831, when Wagner was 18 and clearly in thrall to Beethoven, and the much more cogent and interesting Sonata for the Book of Mrs MW of 1853. MW was Mathilde Wesendonck, whom Wagner had met the previous year; the single-movement sonata that he dedicated to her was composed just before he started work on Das Rheingold, yet some of its chromaticisms look even farther forward, to the world of the most significant work that Mathilde would inspire, Tristan und Isolde.

      Williams interleaves these and the other, slighter original pieces a Song without Words, the little set of Zurich Waltzes, a couple of Albumblätter between the operatic transcriptions that are the main business of his discs. All Wagner's major stage works are represented, from Rienzi to Parsifal, though only two pieces are based on parts of the Ring. Most of the transcriptions are by Liszt, but two of Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Götterdämmerung, and the Prelude to Die Meistersinger originated with Glenn Gould, who arranged the music for two pianos, the second of which he overdubbed in the studio; Williams does the same, but refines them even more, adding an extra episode to the Götterdämmerung extract. He is also responsible for the sequence from Parsifal a 20-minute, three-movement suite that consists of the Transformation Music from the first act, part of Parsifal's encounter with the Flower Maidens from the second, and the Good Friday Music that ends the third.

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