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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: The Italian composer Amilcare Ponchieli was born on this Sunday's date--August 31--in 1834. His most famous melody has been used to accompany dancing hippos in Fantasia and sung as "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" by Alan Sherman. From what opera does that melody come? Answer >>

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      Christopher Maltman Tweets and Sings Beethoven, John Adams

      It is well established that opera singers can sing like canaries. Now we're finding they tweet like them, too. Baritone Christopher Maltman used Twitter to share something of the on-stage and off-stage energy during his concerts with the Milwaukee Symphony earlier this year more...

      Pianist Amy Briggs on What’s New in Music

      Pianist Amy Briggs has a passion for pristine and rugged terrains, be it a trek in the Spanish Pyrenees or a virtuosic piano score that no one's ever performed before. As a working pianist and Director of Chamber Music and Lecturer in Music at the University of Chicago, Ms. Briggs knows her way around the standard repertoire of Brahms and Beethoven. But it is the music of our own time that finds its way more...

      Champion Plays Ravinia

      He calls Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin "a big friend of mine." His heroes are Vladimir Horowitz and star hockey center Sergei Fedorov. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who has "epic technique" according to the Boston Globe, is not shy about talking sports. In a 2009 Impromptu, he told WFMT that as a youth in Siberia, he could hardly be kept indoors. He played either soccer or ice hockey "about seven hours a day. Music was second." Speaking with a gentle Russian growl, he laughs more...

      Cedille Day on WFMT

      With over 30,000 recordings in WFMT's "record" library, the staff seldom focuses on a single record label for very long. When it happens, it's usually because an artist has an exclusive agreement with a label; and the programming staff is featuring that artist. On Friday, WFMT honors a record label that has made it its mission to enhance the cultural life of Chicago. Cedille Records more...

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      Les Troyens review Mariinsky without the magic

      Festival theatre, Edinburgh
      Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera make Berlioz's magnificent opera seem routine

      Many of the productions that Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera have brought to Edinburgh over the last two decades have been truly memorable; sometimes, especially in the Russian repertory, they have proved to be real revelations. But the company's staging of Berlioz's epic, the highest profile operatic event at this year's festival, is in no sense revelatory, and is memorable only for managing to make the uneven magnificence of Les Troyens seem so uninvolving and routine.

      Yannis Kokkos's production was first seen in St Petersburg in May, yet it already seems so tired and routine that it could be an age-old show that has been revived once too often. Kokkos's own designs commute between painterly naturalism, stylisation and something more abstract, with much use of a giant mirror, tricksy gauzes and the occasional video overlay. His costumes (a collaboration with Thibaut Welchlin) suggest Troy is a community perhaps in the Balkans today, and Carthage is somewhere prosperous in the Middle East.

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      Alone again, naturally: women singing in Iran

      Music and theatre directors are in a tug of war with hardliners who find women singing solo too provocative

      A shabby downtown apartment, its air conditioner jutting out of a cracked front window, isnt where you would imagine Irans foremost sopranos to be honing their craft. But behind its storied walls their coach, Austrian-trained opera director Hadi Rosat, may well be rewriting the rules for women singing solo in Iran. Whats more, he began in the dog days of Mahmoud Ahmadinejads conservative presidency.

      Since the Revolution of 1979, restrictions have been placed on women singing. These first prohibited all singing but evolved into a ban on women singing solo in front of men who are unrelated to them. Conservative clerics say womens voices have the potential to trigger immoral sensual - or kinetic - arousal.

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      Harry Partch how Heiner Goebbels bought Delusion of the Fury to Edinburgh

      US composer Harry Partch invented an entirely new musical language and created an orchestra of new instruments to play it on. Heiner Goebbels tells Kate Molleson about his production of Partchs most radical work, coming to Edinburgh this week.

      American composer Harry Partch (1901-1974) had a musical vision for which 12-toned instruments were not enough. His objection to the standard western classical scale wasnt so much along the philosophical lines of Schoenberg and other early 20th-century atonalists; he was mainly frustrated by the musical limitations of the equal-tempered octave, so devised a system that split the octave into 43 notes instead.

      Partchs masterpiece is the bizarre 1960s music drama Delusion of the Fury. It is outlandish and magnificent and it spits you out wanting to dive back in and experience the whole strange thing again. And if it is hardly ever staged thats because it cant be: it requires its very own orchestra of hand-built instruments, each one specially invented by Partch to play his unique microtonal music.

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      new releases

      Reminiscences: Wagner, Liszt & Strauss

      Claves 50-1303

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      Behind the Lines

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 2472

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      Khachaturian: Film Music

      Naxos 8.573389

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      Fibich: Orchestral Works

      Naxos 8.573197

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      Faure: Requiem

      Choir of King’s College KGS-0005

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