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      Your High School Musical Memories

      Heading back to school means auditions are coming up, rehearsals will be starting soon, and before you know it, you’ll be practicing music for a holiday concert even though it’s not even officially fall. For many, one of the best parts of heading back to school is performing with school ensembles. We asked four organizations more... more...

      10 Operas About Poisonous and Medicinal Plants

      As everyone is poised for the corpse plant at the Chicago Botanic Garden to bloom, why not enjoy some music about poisonous and medicinal plants? Operas would be a lot less interesting if poison didn’t seep its way into their plots. Check out this list of 10 operas about poisonous and medicinal plants, taken largely from the research more... more...

      5 Women on Being Modern Women in Dance

      The 9th Chicago Dancing Festival presented its first ever Modern Women program, highlighting the important contributions of women in dance both past and present: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Kate Weare, and Pam Tanowitz, Crystal Pite. I spoke with women from each of the five companies on the program about women’s roles in dance, both as dancers and as choreographers. more...

      Barenboim and Berlin orchestra confirm Tehran concert plan

      Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim is hoping to take one of Germany's top orchestras to Iran to perform a concert there, the Berlin State Opera said Thursday, drawing angry protests from Israel. Barenboim, 72, who is general music director of the German capital's flagship opera house, the State Opera, "is in talks with Iran about a possible concert in Tehran by the Staatskapelle Berlin," the house said in an emailed statement. more...

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      LSO/Gergiev at Edinburgh festival review – a finale designed to dazzle

      Usher Hall, Edinburgh
      Gergiev was at his most lackadaisical as well as his most sensationally insightful as he brought the festival to a close

      Valery Gergiev, never one for abstemious planning, tends to go big in Edinburgh. He is honorary president of the international festival so there’s a prerogative. Recent editions have seen him stage symphonic cycles and epic operas craned in from St Petersburg. This year he closed the festival with the London Symphony Orchestra in The Rite of Spring and The Miraculous Mandarin, plus the brawn and big heart of Yefim Bronfman in Bartók – in other words, a programme of orchestral dazzle designed to leave us on a high.

      But what we got was Gergiev at his most lackadaisical as well as his most sensationally insightful. The concert suite from Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin was weirdly listless – not an adjective belonging anywhere near this tale of grotesque and brutal wizardry. Bronfman was lyrical and uncluttered in the lucid textures of Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto but Gergiev’s accompaniment was lukewarm: he never matched the pianist’s care or colours.

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      Schubertiade 2015 review – world-class musicians in peak condition

      Schwarzenberg, Austria
      András Schiff and Miklós Perényi’s career-long friendship glowed in this alpine festival – though there was a less harmonious moment for one poor page turner

      Many festivals take years – even decades – to settle into a winning formula. The Schubertiade, by contrast, has seen little reason to change much since it first opened its doors in 1975.

      Do not come to the Austrian hamlet of Schwarzenberg in search of novelty or experimentation: you won’t find it. But if you relish the idea of being in the company of world-class musicians as they, like you, revel in the intimacy and staggering beauty of this festival and its surroundings then book early for next year.

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      San Francisco Symphony/Tilson Thomas review – strength and panache from Yuja Wang

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      The Chinese pianist gave a masterful and menacing account of Bartók’s intensely challenging Second Piano Concerto

      Michael Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco players opened their second Prom with an American classic: Charles Ives’s Decoration Day, the second instalment of the composer’s New England Holidays Symphony.

      It’s a typical slice of Ivesian musical Americana, its material borrowing liberally from old civil war songs, hymns, the military bugle call Taps and an uproarious regimental march.

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      new releases

      Wagner, Liszt & Brahms

      Steinway & Sons 30051

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      Brahms: Piano Concertos

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4899 (2 CDs)

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      Chant for Peace

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4709

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      Bach: Goldberg Variations

      Ondine ODE 1273-2

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      The New Goldberg Variations

      Alfi Records 15002

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