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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Today is the 74th birthday of Riccardo Muti, Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and one of the most honored and respected conductors in the world. Maestro Muti is considered one of the leading interpreters of the music of GiuseppeVerdi. Which Verdi opera will he be conducting on this coming season's CSO schedule? Answer >>

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      6 of Muti’s Most Memorable Moments in Chicago

      Riccardo Muti, the celebrated conductor from Naples, Italy, came to Chicago in 2010 when he became the 10th music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Since, Chicagoans have enjoyed many magical moments with the maestro both in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center and beyond, as the CSO extends its reach with performances in the community. more... more...

      From YouTube to Lyric: Composer Jimmy López on his Operatic Debut

      Composer Jimmy López never could have imagined that uploading some of his music on YouTube could have landed him his first opera commission, and at Lyric Opera of Chicago, no less. Read more about the creation of this new opera before it has its world-premiere this fall in a behind-the-scenes interview with the composer during tech rehearsals. more...

      How One Man Designed the Most Musical Park in America

      Chicago’s Millennium Park is one of the most popular parks in the United States, according to TripAdvisor. Part of the Park’s allure comes, no doubt, from the incredible amount of free music that audiences can enjoy there each summer. The Grant Park Musical Festival, the nation’s only free, outdoor classical music series of its kind, has been providing visitors with more... more...

      Chicago Sinfonetta Founder Paul Freeman Dead at 79

      Paul Freeman, the founder of the Chicago Sinfonetta, is dead at age 79. The Sinfonetta announced Freeman’s death on its website, saying the conductor had been fighting several ailments in recent years. He retired in 2011. Sinfonetta director of operations Courtney Perkins says Freeman died late Tuesday in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife, Cornelia, more... more...

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      Yo-Yo Ma: Bach, Big Bird and me

      He has played for eight presidents and jammed on Sesame Street. But Yo-Yo Ma is now facing his biggest challenge yet – a Bach marathon at the Proms

      Something weird happens in Bach’s fifth suite for unaccompanied cello. The soloist, who has been bowing away for the past hour and 25 minutes on the previous four suites, tackling some of the most soulful and demanding music in the western classical canon, is suddenly confronted with a new challenge. And it’s still a good 40 minutes before he or she can get a well-deserved cup of tea.

      “Bach decides he’s going to enrich the sound of the instrument by tuning it down, taking the A string down to a G,” explains cellist Yo-Yo Ma. “He’s saying, ‘If I do that, I can get more overtone, I can make the chords richer, make it more polyphonic.’ He’s trying to make a single-line instrument give the illusion of several voices.”

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      BBCSO/Mälkki/Josefowicz review – committed and astoundingly vivid

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      Luca Francesconi’s very effective violin concerto was played with tremendous commitment by Leila Josefowicz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Susanna Mälkki

      Substantial new works are few and far between in this year’s Proms, but Luca Francesconi’s violin concerto, Duende – The Dark Notes, was an exception: it’s both conceived on a large scale and hugely rewarding. In fact it was carried over from the 2014 season. Leila Josefowicz, for whom the work was written, was scheduled to introduce it at the Albert Hall last year, but then became pregnant and had to postpone; Stockholm got the world premiere last February. This then was the first British performance, with Susanna Mälkki conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

      It was well worth the wait. As the title suggests, Francesconi’s concerto takes the idea of the Duende, the dark, demonic spirit of flamenco, as its starting point, but the music never seems simplistically pictorial or programmatic. Instead, with the violin as protagonist, the five movements (the last two merged seamlessly together) evoke a threatening world of extremes, of heightened emotions and dramatically contrasted colours and registers. The orchestra weaves febrile webs around solo writing whose cracked arpeggios and steep scales manage to be more or less traditionally virtuosic within musical contexts that are anything but conventional, especially in the ferocious cadenza at the heart of the final movement.

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      What would Beethoven have thought of Leif Ove Andsnes's take on his piano concertos?

      Andsnes and the MCO’s fresh and sensitive performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos have been an early Proms highlight. But is there such a thing as ‘authentic’ Beethoven?

      In the glittering wake of Leif Ove Andsnes’s cycle of Beethoven concertos at the Proms – the completion of his four-year Beethoven Journey with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that produced unfettered yet ultra-considered music-making – I’m grateful to David Owen Norris for alerting me to the following Beethoven quote.

      Related: Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Andsnes – music-making of exceptional quality

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      Music of Gaspard Fritz

      Musiques Suisses MGBCD-6283

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      Eschenbach: Romantic Piano Music

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4624 (6 CDs)

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      Vadym Kholodenko: Concertos

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-907629

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      I have set my hert so hy

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      Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow

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