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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich was born on this date in 1906; he died in 1975. After listening to a phonograph record of a popular song, Conductor Nicolai Malko bet Shostakovich that he could not orchestrate that song from memory in the space of one hour. The song was Tea for Two by Vincent Youmans. What was the title Shostakovich gave to his orchestral version? Answer >>

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      A Grande Dame, Dame Kiri at Ravinia

      When she made an appearance on Downton Abbey as the turn of the century opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, producer Gareth Neame told "The Telegraph" the whole crew rushed to hear her sing, "It was the sight of all these tough electricians and grips and all the people you see on a film set with tears more...

      Lyric Opera Opening Night

      The 60th season at Lyric Opera of Chicago begins on Saturday with a bit of nostalgia: Mozart's Don Giovanni, the same opera that launched the company 60 years ago. Lyric Opera's new production won't look much like the original, however. It is directed by Goodman Theatre Artistic Director Robert Falls, who is putting a more modern spin on the classic tale. more...

      Channeling Johnny Cash on The Midnight Special

      October marks the 50th anniversary of the Johnny Cash concept album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, a collection of songs intended to raise awareness of the plight of the native American. In typical "Man in Black" fashion, Cash eschewed the musical trends of the day – and even the societal trends – to identify a minority who needed a voice in the American Civil Rights more...

      Early Music Specialist Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)

      Conductor and early music specialist Christopher Hogwood died on Wednesday at the age of 73. As one of the original proponents of what came to be called "historically informed performances," he helped reshape the way musicians around the world approach Baroque music. After studying at Cambridge in the early 60s, Christopher Hogwood became the keyboard more...

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      Les Paladins/Correas/Piau review a beguiling love letter to Rameau

      Wigmore Hall, London
      Sandrine Piaus voice hovered and soared ecstatically in this classy concert marking 250 years since the composers death

      The French period band Les Paladins take their name from Rameaus last comédie lyrique, so it was apt that they and their director, Jérôme Correas, should mark 250 years since the composers death with a classy concert at the Wigmore. They were joined by soprano Sandrine Piau for a programme examining the nature of love in his output an immense subject to which one evenings music ultimately cant do justice. Even so, we were reminded of why he is remarkable. Rameau was 50 when he wrote his first opera and his palpable delight at the exploration of a new medium, combined with his subtle understanding of sensual pleasure, make him utterly unique.

      Piau is one of the great interpreters of his work, technically secure and immaculate in her fusion of sound and sense over an exacting dynamic and emotional range. The shock and grief beneath the surface beauty of Tristes Apprêts from Castor et Pollux were unnerving. At the opposite extreme, Follys eruption into the comic world of Platée to bless the preposterous union of Jupiter and a frog dipped into the surreal. Best of all was Je Vole, Amour from the opera Les Paladins, a breathtaking evocation of desire in which Piaus voice soared and hovered ecstatically in the stratospheres.

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      BSO/Karabits review ecstatic playing and darkly atmospheric colours

      Colston Hall, Bristol
      Kirill Karabits demonstrated his acute feel for texture and harmony as the BSO began their Bristol season with Strauss

      Strausss 150th anniversary year is getting a further boost as orchestras begin their new season. Kirill Karabits and his Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra chose the tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra for this first concert of their Bristol series. Its massive instrumentation meant a BSO lineup far in excess of the usual complement of players, in itself a cause for celebration, and the sheer resonance of the opening sunrise seemed to fill them with as much delight as it did the audience.

      Yet having achieved that effulgent blaze, the test for the conductor is only just beginning, and Karabits demonstrated once again his acute feel for the interplay of texture and harmony. He coaxed some ecstatic playing from his strings and the darkly atmospheric colours he conjured in the final Nachtwandererlied lent the right degree of questioning to balance the seeming optimism of sunrise.

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      BBC Singers/Fretwork/Carwood review versatility and evangelical zeal

      Cadogan Hall, London
      Works by Thea Musgrave, Orlando Gibbons and Christopher Tye were confidently handled in this varied show

      This programme by the BBC Singers under conductor Andrew Carwood emphasised the choirs confidence and versatility in moving backwards and forwards between the Elizabethan period and our own; the collective skill of the members of the viol consort Fretwork added subtle colourings to their accompanying textures in the two biggest pieces.

      The first of these, Thea Musgraves Wild Winter II, was written to commemorate the siege of Lichfield during the English civil war and dates from 1996. Musgraves chosen texts concerning the inhumanities of war range from Petrarch, Pushkin and Victor Hugo to Lorca, Trakl and Wilfred Owen, and her ability to find appropriate choral and instrumental gestures to match these varied poetic expressions remains remarkable, providing worthy testimony to her inventive powers.

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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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      Haydn: String Quartets, Vol 7

      MDG 307 1860-2

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