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      Conductor Lorin Maazel Dead at 84

      Orchestral musicians, opera singers, and fans around the world are mourning the loss of American conductor Lorin Maazel. He died of complications from pneumonia on Sunday, July 13, 2014, in Castleton, Virginia, where the festival he founded is in full swing. more...

      La Marseillaise, The Beatles to the Bastille

      Arrangements and send-ups of "La Marseillaise" range from Stravinsky to Monty Python. Film critic Roger Ebert listed the singing of "La Marseillaise" in "Casablanca" as one of the "100 Great Movie Moments." How many incarnations can you name? more...

      Canadian Pianist/Radio Host, Monday from Ravinia

      You may have caught Alain Lefèvre on WFMT's Impromptu. He's not only a whiz at the keyboard, but on the broadcast board as well. The French-Canadian pianist and composer is passionate about music: playing music, talking about music, and working as an advocate for music with educators, broadcasters more...

      Are Your Ears Thirsty? Q and A with Seth Boustead

      WFMT and Seth Boustead of Relevant Tones present the 2014 Thirsty Ear Festival, Saturday, July 12 at the City Winery. "The name comes from a friend of mine who was talking about an event he went to years ago and he said of the audience, "they were incredible, they had such thirsty ears." I thought it was a funny and imaginative way to describe people open to new sounds" more...

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      Orfeo ed Euridice review Buxton celebrates Gluck's 300th

      Buxton Opera House
      Michael Chance's Orfeo is patchy, but Barbara Bargnesi's wounded Euridice is entrancingly sung in this updating of the Orpheus story

      With few exceptions, the UK's leading companies are celebrating the 300th birthday of Christoph Willibald Gluck with total silence. Buxton, honourably, steps up to the mark with a new production of his most popular work in its original Italian-language version of 1762.

      Designed by Francis O'Connor, Stephen Medcalf's staging is not the first to suggest a connection between the status of Orpheus as the iconic singer of Greek mythology and the modern rock star. Here countertenor Michael Chance becomes singer-songwriter Orfeo, who is giving a concert before his adoring fans when his wife, Euridice, dies of a drug overdose. Amore (alias Cupid) remains on stage throughout Orfeo's journey into the underworld, where the singer's persuasive vocal powers enable him to regain Euridice, only to lose her again by breaking the divine injunction not to look at her, and then by special dispensation finally seeing her brought back to life a second time for the obligatory happy ending.

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      Lorin Maazel's key recordings

      Tom Service selects his five essential recordings made by the US conductor, who directed many of the top orchestras in Europe and the United States including Cleveland, Paris and Munich for more than 40 years. Maazel died on 13 July

      Obituary: Lorin Maazel, conductor and composer, dies aged 84

      1. Sibelius: Complete Symphonies (Vienna Philharmonic)
      Huge sound, huge thrills, and a hugely important cycle that brought Sibelius to the centre of the Austrian's repertoire in the 1960s. 1.

      2. Mahler: Symphonies (Philharmonia Orchestra)
      Maazel's last cycle of Mahler's symphonies; listen and discover what you think of Maazel's interpretative insights and idiosyncrasies.

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      Lorin Maazel: controversial to the end

      Maazel was an uncompromising technician and orchestral leader, a conductor whose sometimes baffling interpretations were inimitably his own, writes Tom Service

      Lorin Maazel never minded courting controversy. He left the Vienna State Opera and what was then the worlds most prestigious job in opera after just two years in 1984 because the reforms he wanted to introduce were questioned by the Viennese Culture Minister. Maazel couldn't compromise, and so he resigned. At the Cleveland Orchestra, which he led for a decade from 1972, he presided over a continually rocky relationship, as he described it, which started because the orchestra were not convinced that he was of the right stature to lead them. His strength and determination saw him through that period, just as it did in his relationships with orchestras in Pittsburgh, in Paris and Berlin. Later, at the New York Philharmonic and in his guest-conducting of orchestras from the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics to the Philharmonia in London, the British orchestra with whom he had the closest partnership, Maazel was an uncompromising technician and orchestral leader, a conductor whose interpretations were inimitably his own.

      That was controversial because Maazels performances especially those in the last two decades of his life - were occasionally inspired but sometimes baffling in their mix of interpretative intervention and emotional coolness, as in the cycle of Mahlers symphonies he performed and recorded with the Philharmonia. But there was never any doubt in any Maazel performance of the technical brilliance he drew from his players and the unimpeachable standards of preparation and execution he routinely delivered. Thats no surprise, given the unique longevity of Maazels career as a conductor, which was consecrated by Arturo Toscanini when Maazel was 11: invited to conduct the NBC Orchestra, the musicians taunted him with lollipops in their mouths, but when the diminutive maestro soon spotted a wrong note, the players realised they had a conductor on their hands. Maazel cemented his career by becoming the first American conductor to lead a production at Wagners theatre in Bayreuth, and made his name with his partnerships in Berlin, Paris, and Munich, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

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