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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: One more Luciano Pavarotti question today. In Sir Georg Solti's final season as Music Director of the CSO, he conducted Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, and others in concert performances of what opera? Answer >>


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      Chicago audiences will know pianist Conrad Tao from his time as Composer-in-Residence with Music in the Loft, and from WFMT’s airwaves. Earlier this year, we featured the 21 year old pianist as one of our 30 Under 30. I spoke with this talented young performer and composer about his recently released album, Pictures, which is Lisa Flynn’s New Release of more... more...

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      QUIZ – What Fairy Tale Opera Are You?

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      GrauSchumacher Piano Duo review – rigorous listening challenges

      Wigmore Hall, London
      A programme featuring the UK premiere of Manoury’s hugely ambitious Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi alongside Kurtág and Busoni made few concessions to the audience

      Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher have been playing as a piano duo since their teens, and over three decades and more together they have encouraged a wide range of contemporary composers to write pieces for them. One of their most substantial recent commissions has come from Philippe Manoury; GrauSchumacher gave the first performance of Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi (Time, Instructions for Use) in Witten last year, and brought it to London as the second half of their Wigmore Hall recital.

      Manoury’s hugely ambitious 55-minute piece, in which the sound of the two pianos is digitally transformed and projected through eight speakers around the auditorium, is, he says, “a large musical fresco on various ways to express time”. Its soundworld owes much to Boulez’s Répons and ... explosante-fixe ... with their myriad electronic reflections, as well as to the multiple piano textures of his Sur Incises, while the regular use of what sounds like 60s-style ring modulation of the keyboard sounds inevitably conjures up memories of Stockhausen’s two-piano Mantra. The writing is sometimes strikingly beautiful, especially in the moments of stasis that are coloured by the decaying electronic sonorities echoing around the hall, but it is sometimes densely, hectically overwhelming too, when the sheer complexity of the layers of live and virtual keyboards seems self-defeating.

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      Carmen review – Gringyte impresses in Scottish Opera's robust production

      Theatre Royal, Glasgow
      Mezzo-soprano Justina Gringyte’s voice is steel-clad in this fail-proof Carmen that will never ruffle too many feathers

      Related: Facing the music: Justina Gringyte

      This production by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser premiered in Cardiff in 1997 and has resurfaced at Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera several times since. It’s easy to see why. It’s a fail-proof Carmen, dark and sumptuous, full of soft-lit Seville oranges and sultry poses. It will never look old or ruffle too many feathers. It doesn’t really push a particular reading of Carmen either as feminist maverick or figment of male fantasy, but there’s just enough subtlety in the power play to keep things tantalising. The final confrontation between Carmen and Don José happens on a stripped-back stage with a sudden emotional starkness that lingers after the curtain falls.

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      Die Entführung … review – visual delights and strong cast for Glyndebourne's tour

      Glyndebourne, Lewes, Sussex
      The comedy of Mozart’s culture-clash piece does not stifle the complexity at the heart of the opera

      David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s clash of cultures comedy returns to Glyndebourne for the autumn tour, somewhat shorter than in its original form as staged in the summer, but still including far more dialogue than usual and offering a more serious view of the work than regularly presented.

      That’s all to the good. Although there’s plenty of broad humour in Ian Rutherford’s revival, the show never loses sight of the complexity at the heart of the piece, in which two Christian couples find themselves in Muslim territory, and at the mercy of an equivocal Turkish overlord. That the latter – the non-singing role of Pasha Selim, here performed with a riveting combination of dignity and menace by Franck Saurel – is a Christian who has converted to Islam only enriches the ambiguity of response that the work demands of its audience.

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      travel feature

      Discover WFMT's Classical Italy next May! Join Peter van de Graaff on this exclusive twelve-day classical music lover's journey to "Bella Italia" next May. Imagine staying in the heart of Venice in a restored old abbey and experiencing Donizetti' opera La favorite at the historic La Fenice Opera House!

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      new releases

      Bach: Gamba Sonatas

      Hyperion CDA-68045

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      Divine Redeemer

      Naxos 8.573524

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      Prokofiev: Works for Violin

      Onyx 4142

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      Conrad Tao: Pictures

      Warner Classics 0825646056941

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      What Artemisia Heard

      Sono Luminus DSL-92195

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