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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: The recently retired principal horn player of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dale Clevenger, was born on this date in Chattanooga, TN in 1940; Dale is 75 today. Who was the Music Director of the CSO who hired Dale as principal horn? Answer >>

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      Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg

      David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights. more...

      QUIZ: What American Composer Are You?

      Take this quiz to find out which dean of American music you're most like! Are you sparse and minimal like Philip Glass? Or do you prefer the sis-boom-bah John Philip Sousa? Do you prefer Samuel Barber's sonic landscapes of America, or Scott Joplin's Ragtime portraits of American life? more...

      Our Country, ‘Tis of Thee: How Marian Anderson Broke Boundaries for Singers of Color

      Younger generations of Americans take it for granted that the United States has been legally desegregated. But, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, segregation was the norm, including in concert halls across America. more...

      15 Queer Composers You Should Know

      June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. We celebrate the music of LGBTQ composers all year long since it’s hard to escape a concert season without hearing works by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Britten, and others. But we wanted to recognize a few notable figures, past and present, who do did not or do not identify as heterosexual. Some more... more...

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      CBSO/Gardner review – stormy romantic pleasures

      Town Hall, Cheltenham
      Edward Gardner led an outstanding CBSO who proved their imposing potency travels well beyond Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

      The City of Birmingham Symphony is currently without a chief conductor – Andris Nelsons conducted his last concerts as music director two weeks ago and no successor is yet in sight. That makes Edward Gardner’s role as the orchestra’s principal guest conductor more important than ever, and he was in charge for its visit to the Cheltenham festival.

      It’s always fascinating to hear the CBSO away from Symphony Hall and the fabulous orchestral sound there. As multi-purpose municipal buildings go, Cheltenham’s town hall is by no means an acoustic disaster, but textures still tend to thicken and homogenise there, so that even the relatively small band that Gardner used for the first half of his concert, with just four double basses, was imposing enough.

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      Edward Greenfield obituary

      Classical music critic at the Guardian for almost 30 years, who sought to ‘appreciate’ rather than let nitpicking spoil enjoyment

      The kindest and most considerate of critics, the conductor Sir Antonio Pappano said of him – and few who read Edward Greenfield, who has died aged 86, in his almost 30 years as a Guardian music critic, or who followed his reviews in Gramophone magazine, or who listened week by week to The Greenfield Collection, his long-running series on the BBC World Service, would have disagreed.

      Yet this accolade was in a sense controversial. There were those who read him, who sat alongside him as critics, or among those who oversaw his copy at the Guardian, who found him too kind, too considerate; who wanted more of a cutting edge. They were not going to get that from Greenfield. He was against that approach temperamentally, but also on principle, as he explained in a statement he called his credo, which he wrote on his retirement as chief music critic in July 1993. Critics, he wrote, are “expected to be sour. I would much prefer it if, instead of ‘critic’, we could find a crisp word meaning ‘one who appreciates’ … My own consistent belief is that the music critic must aim at appreciation above all, trying never to let the obvious need for analysis in nitpicking detail get in the way of enjoyment … My aim always is to go to a concert, or put on a CD, wanting to like.”

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      Dukas: Works for Piano CD review – a precious glimpse into a fascinating musical mind

      Hervé Billaut

      (Mirare)

      Paul Dukas was the most ruthlessly self-critical of great 20th-century French composers. He allowed just 15 of his works to be published in his lifetime. While a host of early pieces did come to light after his death in 1935, among the mature scores that he is thought to have destroyed were four operas, two ballets, a symphony (which would have been his second) and a symphonic poem. What Dukas did leave for posterity, then, is precious, and reveals one of the most fascinating musical minds of his time. He was a contemporary of Debussy and Ravel who hovered around the edges of modernism in the first decades of the 20th century, without ever quite making that final commitment, but who nevertheless did produce a series of wonderfully crafted and often ravishingly beautiful scores. Yet he is known now almost exclusively for one relatively early, and in some ways atypical orchestral showpiece, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

      Almost half of the pieces that Dukas did acknowledge were composed for piano. Hervé Billaut’s well-filled disc omits three of the smaller-scale ones, but does include the two major works, both composed around the turn of the 20th century – the huge, imposing and rather Beethovenian Piano Sonata in E flat minor, and the Variations, Interlude and Finale on a theme of Rameau. He plays them both with just the right combination of rigour and flair, bringing out every colour in the more virtuosic Rameau variations. These are just as dazzling as anything in Ravel, and he lays out the huge form of the sonata – the longest surviving piece that Dukas wrote, apart from his opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue, which was composed at much the same time – with total authority and clarity.

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      new releases

      Sugarloaf Mountain

      Avie AV-2329

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      Glass: Piano Music

      Decca 478 8079 (2 CDs)

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      Gidon Kremer: New Seasons

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4817

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      Keith Jarrett: Concertos

      ECM B0022987-02

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      American Chamber Music

      Hyperion CDA-68094

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