Live Music

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Live Music

Postby owlice » Sat Apr 12, 2003 11:54 am

Post comments about live music you've heard and/or are making here!<P>(Fair warning: I'll be making some long posts to this thread soon...!)
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Re: Live Music

Postby OperaTenor » Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:25 pm

Does making live music in my head count(all I can do at this juncture)? <P>BTW, great idea for a thread! :D
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:41 pm

If it's in your head, is it really live? :D<P>Been meaning to ask you... you posted next year's operas, but couldn't remember the Czech one. Is it <B>Janacek</B>'s <I>Vec Makropulos</I>?<P>I'll be posting stuff here soon; got sidetracked!
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:54 pm

(Most of this previously posted elsewhere.)

April 6, 2003
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
The Washington Chorus and Orchestra, Robert Shafer conducting
Washington Men’s Camerata
Annandale High School Women’s Chorus
Tamara Hardesty, soprano
Aimé Sposato, soprano
Byron Jones, tenor
Scott Williamson, tenor
Michael Forest, tenor
Juan D. Dunn, baritone
Tianxu Zhou, bass
William Neil, harpsichord
Paul Skevingon, organ

(Whew!)

Program:
MonteverdiMarian Vespers of 1610

Orchestration: two flutes, three oboes, two bassoons, three trombones, strings, harpsichord, organ.

Ooooh, there are many ways to perform the works collected in Monteverdi’s volume. In this performance, the psalms were separated by antiphons, and the concerti, the text of which allude to the Song of Solomon, were included.

My overall impression was that the individual parts involved in this undertaking, and it did seem quite an undertaking, were fine, but the ensemble overall was not cohesive and smooth. I suspect another full rehearsal would have been of great benefit.

The Monteverdi is a wonderful work (though it do go on just a bit!), and the main chorus (Washington Chorus) sounded great. Actually, all the choruses sounded good, but the high schoolers needed more strength and way better enunciation.

Most of the soloists had little to do; Mr. Jones was used the most and had a little trouble with coming in at the wrong time, croaking on a high entrance, and other such things; his voice, however, is quite nice. Perhaps he was nervous. The other two tenors were fine, particularly Mr. Williamson.

The two soprani had very different voices; Ms. Hardesty’s is tight, light, and bright and had just a hint of a tendency to sit on the sharp side of the note. Ms. Sposato’s voice is dusky; I was a little surprised to hear that quality of voice in a soprano and wish I’d heard more from her. She was squarely on pitch and struck me as a solid performer, not at all rattled. The baritone and bass were okay; I do like them velvet vibration low notes! None of the soloists struck me as stellar, but certainly adequate. I would like to hear Ms. Sposato again, just because I found her voice quality so interesting.

Harpsichordist William Neil is a fixture in early music performance around here; I’ve heard him and performed with him many times. A thorough professional; it’s always a pleasure to hear him. The orchestra played well; no worries there.

Shafer is the music director of the Washington Chorus; he prepares his chorus very well and they are very responsive to him. He is a good conductor – always on and aware in performance (some aren't... no names will be mentioned...), economical in his gestures, and able to be because he prepares so well. This performance just had too many parts to pull together with whatever time he had for full rehearsals; one more would probably have fixed the small problems and increased the confidence of all the performers.

My companion for the concert really enjoyed it; he was most complimentary. I tend to be fussy about choral performances; this really was a good concert, just not quite all it could have been and, I suspect, not quite what the assembled forces were hoping for. (I know just exactly how they felt!)

I could write tons more about this concert –where the concerti were placed, who sang what, where the second tenor sang from when he was not singing from the stage, where the choruses were, how many people were onstage, and so on, but ... enough!

<small>[ 08-14-2003, 07:21 AM: Message edited by: owlice ]</small>
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:59 pm

(Previously posted elsewhere, henceforth PPE.)

April 5, 2003
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi conducting, Vadim Repin violin

Program:
SibeliusFinlandia
SibeliusViolin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
StravinskySuite from The Firebird (1919)
RavelBoléro

Sibelius

Orchestration: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, five horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, and strings.

Yes, I know this work, though not very well; that theme, however, is exceedingly familiar. ‘Tis the beginning of the work I do not know so well, but perhaps that is because it is overshadowed with the later music.

A good opener. The orchestra played well, and not just in this work, but throughout. Interesting to contrast the very opening of last night’s concert, the NSO with a guest conductor, to this opening, an orchestra with its music director. One cohesive unit throughout, no hesitancy or ambiguity onstage.

Sibelius

Orchestration: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, five horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings plus solo violin.

I’m not much a fan of solo violin and especially of solo violin pyrotechnics, but if I have to listen to both, let it please be a violinist who has the marvelously warm, rich tone that Repin gave out this afternoon! He was wonderful.

This three-movement work is … okay, with the last movement the most attractive to me. I'm not likely to seek this work out, but it's not because of today's performance, believe me!

Stravinsky

Orchestration: two flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, harp, celesta, piano, timpani, bass drum, marimba, cymbals, triangle, tambourine, triangle.

Well, hey, I loved it, but then, this work is the reason I picked this concert! It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, and this is the work that caused me to make the comment above that this orchestral can really pump out sound. (I just wish a very sniffly, throat-clearing usher hadn’t sat behind me moments before this work started, but I suppose that’s what I get for changing seats.)

The orchestra seats itself a bit differently than the NSO does, and I think this is to its benefit. The trumpets, trombones, and tubas were stage left rear, with no one directly in front of them, on slight platforms, the 'bones and tuba behind, but offset, from the trumpets.

No plastic shields, in other words, between them and other orchestra members. Sometimes, I like to feel the sound, and there was one moment in this work where it seemed the brass, indeed the whole orchestra, but especially the brass, really let loose. And WOW! It was fabulous.

Ravel

Orchestration: piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, oboe d'amore, English horn, three clarinets, bass clarinet, saxophones (sopranino, soprano, tenor), three bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, four trombones, tuba; timpani, percussion; strings.

I hate listening to this work, and don’t; it’s something that gets turned off the second I hear it on the radio (and I certainly would never put this in the CD player at home!). That said, I quite enjoyed it today; seeing it live made a huge difference to me. There are some funny bits in it, almost campy – the little trombone slides in the melody, for example – and the plucking (strumming) of the violins, that made it fun to watch. There is a lot of color in this work, too, and watching and hearing the melody (that darn melody, which has been stuck in my head since the concert) move from instrument to instrument, getting to hear the trumpet’s treatment versus the tenor saxophone’s, for example, made listening to the work enjoyable.

I do like sax with my orchestral music; the sound is very sinewy and lithe and seductive, and the saxophonist’s tone today was all those things and more. Ditto the oboes and English horn. Yowza!

Järvi has a completely different conducting manner than does Vanska (I will post about the Vanska concert next). Where Vanska is fluid, Järvi is straight (I don’t mean this in a bad way, BTW). Järvi is erect, elegant and efficient and controlled in his movements. Vanska dances and showers the orchestra with emotion. He’s great to watch, but of the two, I think I’d feel more comfortable as a performer with Järvi on the podium; he is precise without any stuffiness.

Good orchestra, this.

<small>[ 08-14-2003, 07:20 AM: Message edited by: owlice ]</small>
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Sat Apr 12, 2003 1:04 pm

(PPE)<P>April 4, 2003<BR>Kennedy Center, Washington, DC<BR>National Symphony, Osma Vanska conducting, Christian Lindberg trombone<P>Program:<BR><B>Sibelius</B> - <I>Pohjola's Daughter</I><BR><B>Aho</B> - <I>Symphony #9 for Trombone and Orchestra</I><BR><B>Brahms</B> - <I>Symphony #3</I><P><B>Sibelius</B><P>Orchestration: piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, harp, and strings.<P>This is not a work I knew. Perhaps I’ve heard it before, perhaps not; it was not familiar. I really liked it – it shows off an orchestra very well -- and will eventually get a recording of it. Despite a not-quite-together opening, the orchestra sounded great. I was struck with the writing for the strings in the middle of the work; reminded me a great deal of <B>Mahler</B>! (I usually find it’s the brass that gives <B>Mahler</B> away to me when I chance upon the middle of something of his I don’t know.)<P>What a colorful work this is! The English horn, the harp, all that brass... oh, yeah, I’ll be getting this, for sure!<P><B>Aho</B><P>Orchestration: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, alto saxophone, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, baritone horn, trombone, tuba, timpani, snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, cymbals, tam-tam, bells, claves, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, harpsichord, celesta, strings, plus solo trombone and sackbut.<P>The <B>Aho</B> I would listen to again, a couple of times, but I will not seek out a recording of it (unless I come across one that is very very inexpensive, perhaps). It's a three-movement work I'd characterize as light (as opposed to dark and serious and heavy). There were some humorous moments, especially with the changes from big ol' fat orchestral sound to the light, Baroque-ish sections interspersed in the second movement. There were lots of good bits throughout the symphony, but I tired of their repetition before <B>Aho</B> did. <P>The orchestra played all very well. The sackbut stuff strikes me as a little gimmicky, as did the trombone cadenza at the end, where the soloist vocalizes along with the brrrrrratty trombone tones. The sackbut tone was good, nice and smooth. It seemed to me there were quick bits which perhaps got away from the soloist with both the sackbut and the trombone.<P>(An aside: the trombone soloist has an alarming sense of fashion. I'll leave the description at "shiny dark red hip huggers” and “lounge lizard gone bad.” You can’t imagine, nor would you want to. Oog!)<P>Lots of cool percussion, though, and I only wish I’d been on the other side of the hall and could have seen it all! (Nosebleed side seat, obviously wrong side.) <P>The trombonist got huge applause and honored us with a very short encore. <I>Flight of the Bumblebee!</I> It was very cute, cleverly presented and warmly received. He played through part of it and ended his encore by just petering out after two long notes which bent him double, much to the amusement of the crowd.<P><B>Brahms</B><P>Orchestration: two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, and strings.<P><B>Brahms</B>’s symphonies have never fused with my soul; of them, however, this is my favorite. What struck me about this work that hadn’t before is how much <B>Brahms</B> must have loved the clarinet. Surely the wonderful lines in the second movement for the clarinet demonstrate an affection for that instrument. Parts of the second movement seem almost as calling duets, with the clarinet leading the others to his song. <P>Tempi were a tad on the brisk side in the inner movements; I’d have liked just a bit of a slower pace in the third movement particularly. (My favorite movement of the four, I like to tarry there just a bit.)<P>The orchestra sounded great; big brass, warm strings, lovely woodwind playing, particularly from the oboes and the first clarinetist. <P>Vanska is of the “get up there and dance” school of conducting. The man moves! If there were scores for covering the small conductor’s box, he’d get a 10; bet he’s fallen off a couple of times in his career! He used a baton a good bit, but I noticed that in the second movement of the Brahms, he put it down on the stand and conducted without it for the entire movement. Sometimes he’d move the baton to his left hand so as to punctuate or cajole or led with his right unimpeded by the stick. <P>I wish the man sitting to my left had had a different and not so obvious fragrance and the trombone soloist had opted for a penguin suit or jeans or khakis or sweats or nearly ANYthing but what he wore, but a fine evening at the symphony nonetheless.<P>Also, the crowd was quiet. During the opening work, it seemed almost as if no one breathed, so still was it in the audience! Really a pleasure to be at a concert where not only were the performers concentrating on the music, but so too was the audience.
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Re: Live Music

Postby OperaTenor » Sun Apr 13, 2003 12:22 pm

Hi Owlice,<P>Great posts! I will find out which opera it is & let you know.
"To help mend the world is true religion."
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Mon May 05, 2003 12:16 am

This past weekend, I heard two excellent concerts in Philadelphia. Saturday evening, I heard the <B>Philadelphia Orchestra</B> under the direction of <B>Hugh Wolff</B> and with violist <B>Roberto Diaz</B> play:<P><UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI><B>Kodaly</B> <I>Dances of Marosszek</I><LI><B>Penderecki</B> <I>Viola Concerto</I><BR><LI><B>Tchaikovsky</B> <I>Sixth Symphony</I><BR></UL><P>On Sunday, I heard <B>Anton Kuerti</B> play the last five <B>Beethoven</B> sonatas.
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Re: Live Music

Postby Valerie » Mon May 05, 2003 8:11 am

did you like the penderecki? i like it<P>but then again, i tend to favor 20th century music ;)
Stravinsky
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Re: Live Music

Postby bignaf » Mon May 05, 2003 12:22 pm

owlice also likes 20th century music. I'm now into 21th century music. it's the best!
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Re: Live Music

Postby Valerie » Mon May 05, 2003 1:35 pm

very good big! :p
Stravinsky
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Re: Live Music

Postby OperaTenor » Mon May 05, 2003 1:55 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by owlice:<BR>[QB]If it's in your head, is it really live? :)
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Re: Live Music

Postby shostakovich » Mon May 05, 2003 5:31 pm

On Saturday I attended a rehearsal of Mahler's 5th (Hartford Symphony). The stops and starts PLUS the complete run-throughs of movements beat the standard concert, at least on this occasion. I think I can never enjoy recorded Mahler again, as much as I did before this experience.<P>The review of the concert in Sunday's paper was not a review of a concert. It was an essay on Mahler and the 5th. No mention of the performance. No mention of the 2 other works on the concert. There seems to be a cult aspect to Mahler lovers.<P>The reviewer also recommended some recordings. Lenny with NYPO is inspired, but with playing and sound suspect. Lenny with VPO is less inspired, but without the other 2 caveats. Solti-Chicago was recommended for the set of 9, with only slight misgivings for the fact it was pre-digital sound. The reviewer then wrote of Benjamin Zander's few recordings in glowing terms.<P>Question: Was Zander once conductor of the MIT Symphony orch?<BR>Shos
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Re: Live Music

Postby thornhill » Mon May 05, 2003 5:42 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR> Solti-Chicago was recommended for the set of 9, with only slight misgivings for the fact it was pre-digital sound. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>That's a first.
Well - There it is
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Re: Live Music

Postby bignaf » Mon May 05, 2003 10:29 pm

better thasn his succesor in Chicago, which is not saying much at all. Chicago have beautiful strings and WW I don't like their brass. but when did they last have a decent music director? Boulez probably does some decent stuff, he's principal guest conductor.
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Re: Live Music

Postby owlice » Wed May 07, 2003 11:56 pm

Shos,
Zander's bio doesn't mention anything about MIT. I know someone who plays with his orchestra and would be happy to see if I can find out for you.

bignaf,
I like some 20th century music, just as I like some 19th century music, 18th century music, 17th century music, and so on. Please don't presume I like something just because of when it was composed.

stravinsky,
I would like to hear the Penderecki again, but will not seek out a recording of it. I will look for a recording of the Bartok; that was my favorite work on the program.

operatenor,
Thanks for the info on the opera! I'll pass that along.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just saw the biggest red ant I've ever seen in my life walking across my pillow. Oog! I went to smoosh it, but dropped it and now he's run off.

Ants should not be allowed to be that big. He was carrying the cat....

<small>[ 05-08-2003, 12:56 AM: Message edited by: owlice ]</small>
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Re: Live Music

Postby OperaTenor » Thu May 08, 2003 9:59 am

Oog!? I tried to give voice to that one, gotta be in a special place to make that kind of an exclamatory sound, don't you? :p
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Re: Live Music

Postby bignaf » Thu May 08, 2003 10:52 am

owlice. I didin't say you liked the Penderecki. I just thought that Strvinski was thinking that you are a non-20th century music person. so I said you weren't. :roll:

<small>[ 05-08-2003, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: bignaf ]</small>
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Re: Live Music

Postby shostakovich » Thu May 08, 2003 3:16 pm

Thanks Owlice, in advance, for following up the Zander query. I checked an on-line bio, also, and found no reference to the MIT Symphony. What I heard on the radio was a re-broadcast of a concert, years ago. Since he was in the Boston area, a guest performance might explain it. I look forward to any more info you might be able to glean.

And what on earth did you do to embarrass that big ant? :o
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Re: Live Music

Postby OperaTenor » Sat Jun 21, 2003 11:53 am

Saw a group called The Bootles last night (hey, nuthin' said about it needing to be classical at the top). They did a great job on pre-White Album Beatles stuff.
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