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      Carlos Kleiber, A Reclusive Genius

      "Carlos has a genius for conducting, but he doesn't enjoy doing it. He tells me, 'I conduct only when I'm hungry'. And it's true. He has a deep-freeze. He fills it up and cooks for himself and when it gets down to a certain level, then he thinks 'Now I might do a concert'." That more...

      Christopher Maltman Tweets and Sings Beethoven, John Adams

      It is well established that opera singers can sing like canaries. Now we're finding they tweet like them, too. Baritone Christopher Maltman used Twitter to share something of the on-stage and off-stage energy during his concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony earlier this year more...

      Pianist Amy Briggs on What’s New in Music

      Pianist Amy Briggs has a passion for pristine and rugged terrains, be it a trek in the Spanish Pyrenees or a virtuosic piano score that no one's ever performed before. As a working pianist and Director of Chamber Music and Lecturer in Music at the University of Chicago, Ms. Briggs knows her way around the standard repertoire of Brahms and Beethoven. But it is the music of our own time that finds its way more...

      Champion Plays Ravinia

      He calls Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin "a big friend of mine." His heroes are Vladimir Horowitz and star hockey center Sergei Fedorov. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who has "epic technique" according to the Boston Globe, is not shy about talking sports. In a 2009 Impromptu, he told WFMT that as a youth in Siberia, he could hardly be kept indoors. He played either soccer or ice hockey "about seven hours a day. Music was second." Speaking with a gentle Russian growl, he laughs more...

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      Proms 50, 53, 54 review the rough with the smooth

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      Plush Czech and Hungarian orchestras contrasted with John Eliot Gardiner's bracing early music forces

      One of the many glories of the BBC Proms is the opportunity they offer to compare and contrast works by a single composer played by very different ensembles. And this doesn't apply purely to those enjoying special focus this year Strauss, Walton, Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle, for instance but to those we think we probably know too well, even Brahms and Beethoven.

      Take last week. The Czech Philharmonic and Jiri Belohlávek breezed into town with a reading of Beethoven's seventh symphony that took Wagner's description of it as the "apotheosis of the dance" to extremes (Prom 50). It bounced and fizzed a perfect showcase for the Phil's brilliantly refreshing sound world; the strings sleek and glossy, woodwind round and plump and brass edgy and exciting.

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      Joyce DiDonato: Stella di Napoli review dizzying technical virtuosity

      Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra de Lyon/Minasi
      (Warner Classics)

      The latest of Joyce DiDonato's themed discs is a mix of high-impact arias by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti as well as the less familiar Mercadante, Carafa, Valentini and Pacini, several of them world premiere recordings which DiDonato and Riccardo Minasi have retrieved from the archives. They allow this adored US mezzo to display her dizzying technical virtuosity, her acting skills and her extravagant sense of drama. The Opéra de Lyon orchestra give characterful support. The release coincides with DiDonato's residency at London's Barbican and Wigmore Hall, part of a Euro-American tour. You may think bel canto recital discs are not your thing. Let Joyce DiDonato convince you otherwise. She did me.

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      Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas review a tale of two Russians

      Steven Osborne (piano)
      (Hyperion)

      Rachmaninov and Medtner, both late-romantic Russian composers, have fared differently since their deaths in 1943 and 1951. Rachmaninov's popularity grows apace, while Medtner is mostly loved only by pianophiles. A representative work is Medtner's Sonata Romantica Op 53 No 1, extravagant, expressive, packed with fistfuls of notes and tumultuous climaxes. It's not easy to love (unlike his short, charming Skazki which opens this disc) but Steven Osborne puts a persuasive case. In contrast, Rachmaninov's Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, majestic and lyrical, is immediately rewarding. His Variations on a theme of Corelli a work the composer himself doubted, sometimes cutting variations in performance is complete here, and Osborne's imaginative playing makes it seem only too short.

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      travel with wfmt

      travel feature

      Join Peter Van De Graaff for a trip to Montreal & Quebec City this September!

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      Join Lisa Flynn for a tour of Scotland.

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      Join Peter Van De Graaff this October for the treasures of Cuba's rich culture of music, dance, art, and history!

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      new releases

      Reminiscences: Wagner, Liszt & Strauss

      Claves 50-1303

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      Behind the Lines

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 2472

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      Khachaturian: Film Music

      Naxos 8.573389

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      Fibich: Orchestral Works

      Naxos 8.573197

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      Faure: Requiem

      Choir of King’s College KGS-0005

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