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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: German composer Carl Orff was born in Munich on this date in 1895; he lived until 1982. He is best-remembered for his colorful cantata Carmina Burana, written in 1937. He was also influential in developing new methods of music education for children. What are the first two words of Carmina Burana? Answer >>

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      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...

      Free Recital Downtown, Chamber Concert at Ravinia

      Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein returns to Chicago this week for two performances. At lunchtime on Wednesday, he is the featured artist at the annual Al Booth celebration at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. On Wednesday evening, he joins artists from the Steans Institute to perform Mozart and Brahms. Goldstein appeared at the Ravinia Festival last summer alongside Leon Fleischer more...

      Haymarket Opera, Monarchy, a Brutal Crime

      [Live broadcast, Tuesday at 5:45 pm] He was a prince. She was the governor's wife. He went to stay at her house. What happened next toppled a monarchy and inspired over two thousand years of stories, art, and music. The king's son Sextus Tarquinius waited until all were asleep before creeping into the bedchamber of the virtuous Lucretia. more...

      Ravinia’s Back! Hear Concerts Every Monday

      Monday at 8:00 pm Each summer, the Monday night series Live from WFMT takes a vacation so that WFMT can bring you concerts from the Ravinia Festival. Monday’s broadcast features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Joseph Swensen, and cellist Carter Brey. Program Mozart: Piano Trio in G, K. 496 Schumann: Piano Trio in d, Op. 63 more... more...

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      Godard: Piano Concertos 1 & 2; Introduction and Allegro review tour de force for Howard Shelley

      Shelley/Tasmanian Symphony
      (Hyperion)

      Benjamin Godard (1849-1895) is nowadays known solely for the Berceuse from his 1888 opera Jocelyn, regularly performed by classical and popular musicians alike. There was more to him than that, however, as this enterprising disc Volume 63 of Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series admirably proves. Godard distrusted Wagnerism, and his two piano concertos constrain Romantic sensibilities within the classical form in ways that often resemble Brahms, though Godard's thematic and orchestral elegance remain quintessentially French. The First, in A Minor (1875), with its slithery scherzo and funeral-march slow movement, is more immediate in impact than its 1893 successor in G Minor, where the emotional turbulence seems a bit forced. The Introduction and Allegro (1880), meanwhile, has a glorious up-tempo swagger. The disc is a tour de force for Howard Shelley, who, in addition to coping with Godard's often vertiginous piano writing, directs all three performances from the keyboard, which is no mean feat.

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      Nora Gubisch: Folk Songs review nicely sung programme from a streetwise mezzo

      Gubisch/Altinoglu
      (Naíve)

      The slightly misleading title of Nora Gubisch's new recital, with her conductor-pianist husband Alain Altinoglu, comes from Luciano Berio's 1964 Folk Songs for mezzo-soprano and seven instruments, which forms its centrepiece. The rest of the "patchwork" programme (Altinoglu's description) consists of folk-influenced Spanish art songs (De Falla, Granados, Obradors) and Brahms's Op 91 Gesänge for alto, viola and piano, which don't have much to do with folk music. Gubisch's lived-in, streetwise mezzo sounds good in Berio and Falla, but is graceless in Obradors and too self-consciously raunchy for Granados, who aspires to discretion and respectability. Altinoglu is a terrific pianist and a no-nonsense conductor for the Berio. The ensemble for the latter includes viola player Gérard Causée, who took part in the French premiere under Berio himself. His presence is the reason for the inclusion of the Brahms nicely sung, but not on the same level as Kirsten Flagstad or Brigitte Fassbaender.

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      Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle review absolutely unforgettable

      Seefried/Fischer-Dieskau/Swiss Festival Orchestra/Kubelik
      (Audite)

      Conducted by Rafael Kubelík, this terrifying performance of Bartók's only opera was taped live at the 1962 Lucerne festival, with which Kubelík was closely associated at the time. Purists may object to the work being sung in German rather than the original Hungarian, but the extraordinary pairing of Irmgard Seefried's Judith with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's Bluebeard, both totally immersed in their roles, ensures an interpretation like no other. Seefried initially sounds disquietingly girlish, like an innocent walking unwittingly into the world of a psychopath. But her naivety masks horrific depths of obsession, and what she uncovers at the end of her self-destructive quest is not Bluebeard's expected monstrosity, but his profound aridity of soul. Kubelík's restrained approach, probing the protagonists' psyches without resorting to melodrama, adds immeasurably to the creepy atmosphere. As good as the classic recordings by István Kertész and Iván Fischer, and absolutely unforgettable.

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