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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: The English pianist Gerald Moore was born on this date in 1899. He was best known as an accompanist for some of the world's finest musician--especially singers such as Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Angeles, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He wrote two memoir--name either one. Answer >>

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      Does Music Have Meaning or Not?

      Do you think music has meaning? Music can move you; music can make you want to move. For most listeners, it's a simple transaction. There are those who look deeper into our relationship to music, however, and wonder why it affects us so. Igor Stravinsky was one of them. Not always inclined to subtlety more...

      David Robertson Puts Youth in Spotlight

      On Monday evening, David Robertson returns to the Chicago stage, this time with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. There is the notion that some conductors work with youth orchestras while hoping to move on to professional orchestras – not so with David Robertson. He has the big career more...

      Summer Migration, Payoff for Chicago

      If you've ever seen a nature documentary about the Serengeti, you might have some sense of the migratory patterns of classical musicians. There are music centers, like watering holes, to which players journey in order to refresh, commune with others, and nurture the young. The Aspen Music Festival is one of those places. One only has to read the biographies of Chicago's top musicians more...

      Chicago’s Joan Harris to Receive National Medal of Arts

      On Monday, July 28th, the President and First Lady will recognize Joan Harris for her tireless support of the arts. It was announced on Tuesday that she would be a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. The visage of Joan Harris is a familiar one around the lobbies of the Civic Opera House and Symphony more...

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      Prom 17: Les Arts Florissants/Christie familiar finesse, classy soloists

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      Rameau's vivid, emotionally immediate Grand Motets brought a flavour of his importance as a composer of sacred music to the anniversary celebrations

      The Rameau anniversary celebrations have tended, inevitably perhaps, to focus on his importance as an opera composer. He only began writing for the stage late in his career, however, and for their late-night Prom, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants turned their attention to an earlier period in his life and the three Grand Motets, his important contribution to sacred music.

      The pieces are shrouded in mystery. They date from around 1715, though the third of them, In Convertendo Dominus, was revised in 1751. We don't know whether they were intended for church or concert performance. Their style pictorial, vivid and emotionally immediate pre-empts that of his operas, leading to discussion as to whether they are ultimately to be understood as devotional or dramatic.

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      Prom 16: Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic/Goetzel review

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      This was a classy, enthusiastic ensemble and Sascha Goetzel the consummate showman at this Middle East-inspired evening

      Founded in 1999, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic is the second orchestra to make its Proms debut as part of this year's "global visitors" series, and the impact it made with its flamboyant principal conductor, Sascha Goetzel, was tremendous. The bulk of the programme consisted of western European works inspired by the Middle East, some of them over-the-top, some teetering uncomfortably on the edge of orientalism. But they're a classy, enthusiastic ensemble, and Goetzel is the consummate showman.

      The programme allowed them to display their technical security over a wide stylistic range. Mozart's overture to Die Entführung aus dem Serail whirred dexterously, while Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, which they played without Goetzel, was all lightness and grace. A group of works from the 19th and early 20th centuries, meanwhile, showcased Goetzel's fine sense of orchestral colour and the virtuosity of the BIPO's playing.

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      Tannhäuser review dramatic momentum, distinguished performance

      Norwich Theatre Royal
      Theater Freiberg's production of Wagner's complex opera was impressively sung

      Once one of the most popular of Wagner's operas, Tannhäuser is something of a rarity in the UK nowadays, so its appearance as the second work in Theater Freiburg's brief visit to East Anglia was all the more welcome. Perhaps its hero's inner conflict between sexual and spiritual love no longer seems as dangerously compelling as it did in the Victorian era, though Wagner's treatment of the subject is characteristically complex. In any case, Eva-Maria Höckmayr's direction gives it further ambiguity by diminishing the distance between Venus who is here initially dressed as the Virgin Mary and Elisabeth, who in physically resembles and draws close to draws close to the pagan love goddess in the final scene, as opposed to representing her complete antithesis.

      As in all Wagner productions these days, there are idiosyncrasies. Venus's acolytes in the Venusberg orgy are religious zealots, including nuns, who extend inviting hands in an attempt to lure Tannhäuser into joining in their pleasurable activities. Later, the singer of the title role is doubled by an actor (Edward Martens) representing "the old Tannhäuser", who is presumably recollecting the action as he mouths the words both he and Elisabeth once sang.

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