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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Last Friday night, more than 20,000 people crowded into Millennium Park for a free concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Riccardo Muti. The all Tchaikovsky concert held the Symphony #4 and a suite from the ballet The Sleeping Beauty. What was the third Tchaikovsky composition on the program? 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

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      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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      Ustvolskaya: Violin Sonata; Trio; Duet CD review Kopatchinskaja projects sharply and ferociously

      Kopatchinskaja/Hinterhäuser/Bieri
      ECM

      Though she produced music for official, public consumption, Galina Ustvolskayas reputation as one of the most tantalising and original of the post-Shostakovich generation of Soviet composers rests on just 21 pieces, composed between 1946 and 1990, most of which, because of their modernist tendencies, were scarcely, if ever, performed in her homeland until the 1990s. Born in 1919, she studied composition at the Leningrad Conservatory with Shostakovich, who thought very highly of her music, though she once said: There is no link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or dead. Towards the end of her life (she died in 2006), she rather angrily distanced herself from him and complained of always being referred to as a Shostakovich pupil. But he, along with Bach perhaps, does seem to have been the starting point for Ustvolskayas singular creative journey, which is represented on this strikingly intense disc by three works the Trio for clarinet, violin and piano of 1949, the Violin Sonata, written three years later, and the Duet for violin and piano, which dates from 1964, and seems to belong to another musical world altogether.

      Its possible the influence went both ways, and that the pared-down sound world and stark gestures of Ustvolskayas music had an effect on her former teachers works, leaving its mark on the almost skeletal textures and expressive exposure of late Shostakovich. Textures in his Viola Sonata sometimes seem close to passages in the extraordinary Duet, though the sonata never dares to explore the musical and emotional extremes that Ustvolskayas music, with its terrifyingly basic thematic material, regularly visits. Nothing is ever resolved in the Duet; catastrophe may be avoided, but it remains close by.

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      Daniil Trifonov review a hugely imaginative musical mind

      Royal Festival Hall, London
      The young Russian pianist played with refinement, unflinching precision and breathtaking clarity

      We have heard enough of Daniil Trifonov in London over the past couple of years in recitals and concertos to know that, for once, piano-competition judges got things right, and that the winner of the Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky prizes is the real deal. Trifonovs latest recital was his first in the Festival Hall, which wasnt anything like full for the occasion. But despite the empty spaces surely a capacity house in the Queen Elizabeth Hall next door would have created an even better atmosphere? Trifonov made it a special occasion, for theres never anything automatic or routine about his performances.

      That doesnt mean that everything he does is equally convincing. But not many pianists can play all 12 of Liszts Transcendental Studies at a single sitting and make the whole experience so consistently rewarding, nor play so many notes with such unflinching precision without ever producing an ugly sound or a smudged texture. Whether it was the ease with which he spun off the dancing double notes of the fifth study, Feux Follets, the control of his rampaging octaves in the seventh, Eroica, or the sheer lyrical beauty with which he invested the ninth, Ricordanza, all were products of a hugely imaginative and refined musical mind, so that one could easily forgive the very occasional moments when he seemed to lapse into the kind of keyboard assault that so many other younger Russian pianists, especially, seem to think is a measure of their virtuoso brilliance.

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      The lockout continues in Atlanta, while in London the LPO looks to the future

      The tide might be turning for Atlanta Symphony Orchestras locked-out musicians; plus Jurowski extends his LPO contract to 2018.

      Two pieces of big orchestral news, one positive, the other a continuing story of a creeping tragedy, but which could yet have a positive outcome.

      In Atlanta, the musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are still locked out by their management over the stalled contract negotiations. Instead of performing the opening night of their season last week, the musicians took part in a vigil they called A Deafening Silence. There has been widespread support for the musicians, to add to the unprecedented interventions of the orchestras Music Director and Principal Guest Conductor, Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles.

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      new releases

      Haydn: String Quartets, Vol 7

      MDG 307 1860-2

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      Alison Balsom: Paris

      Warner Classics 0825646327898

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      Ott & Tristano: Scandale

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 3541

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      Elina Garanca: Meditation

      Deutsche Grammophon B0021327-02

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      Bruckner: Symphony No 9

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 3441

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