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Author Topic: DJ and D&D Go to the Symphony  (Read 2269 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #45 on: February 24, 2017, 11:46:20 AM »

The 7th is definitely more famous, but I prefer the 8th.

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« Reply #46 on: February 24, 2017, 04:44:42 PM »

The 7th is definitely more famous
Not my point at all:
Quote
it's the better, more substantial work

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« Reply #47 on: March 04, 2017, 09:21:23 PM »

Just saw this nice interview in The Guardian with Ivan Fischer, from last summer

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/music/2016/aug/12/how-ivan-fischer-found-greatness-with-the-budapest-festival-orchestra

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« Reply #48 on: March 15, 2017, 12:39:27 AM »

DJ and I were at Lincoln Center Wednesday night for The New York Philharmonic, guest-conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, playing Beethoven's 7th and 8th Symphonies.


I just discovered a bit of trivia: "The New York Philharmonic gave the U.S. Premieres of both works, which Beethoven completed in 1812: it performed the Seventh Symphony on November 18, 1843, led by the Orchestra's founder, Ureli Corelli Hill, and the Eighth Symphony on November 16, 1844, conducted by George Loder."  Smiley

http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwclassical/article/STAGE-TUBE-Sneak-Peek-at-Herbert-Blomstedt-Conducting-NY-Phil-in-Beethovens-7th-and-8th-20170220

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« Reply #49 on: June 08, 2017, 01:58:23 PM »

RE: our earlier discussion of the "flash mob" of the choir in the audience for the Budapest Festival Orchestra's performance of Beethoven's 9th at Lincoln Center:
I found on YouTube a performance of Beethoven's 9th in which the trumpeter for the Ode to Joy is in the audience. This is the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, conducted by Mariss Jansons at 51:14 of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYbSNJDDAfk


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« Reply #50 on: October 19, 2017, 11:12:38 AM »

I have been listening to  classical music for years, but I was never at a live performance until January 12: The New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert, with Stephen Hough on piano playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (aka The Emperor Concerto)

 It was appropriate that this was my first classical concert, because the Emperor Concerto maybe the first piece of classical music that I ever fell in love with. About 16 years ago, I heard it on the movie "Immortal Beloved," was hooked on that and hooked on Beethoven.

The second half of the show was Brahms's Third Symphony,  which is an awful piece of crap, so DJ and I left at the intermission. We did not want to ruin our memories of the Emperor with the crappy Brahms piece

This  program ran for several nights; DJ and I went on Jan. 12. The show from the final night (Jan . 14)  was streamed live on Facebook live. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/nyphilharmonic/videos/10154695338457293/

That Jan. 14, 2017 show is available on YouTube

Beethoven's Emperor Concerto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvUlOezxsxE

Brahms's 3rd Symphony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhB_umc9F84

The new symphony season is beginning soon .............  Smiley

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« Reply #51 on: October 19, 2017, 12:31:06 PM »

Drink, thanks for the heads up. Something else you put me onto I appreciate knowing about: On Nov. 3rd there's a performance at Carnegie Hall featuring film music. There's some Korngold, some Herrmann: some kind of Psycho Suite. But also they'll be doing Herrmann's rarely performed Symphony #1. I'm looking forward to that.

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« Reply #52 on: October 19, 2017, 01:09:04 PM »

Drink, thanks for the heads up. Something else you put me onto I appreciate knowing about: On Nov. 3rd there's a performance at Carnegie Hall featuring film music. There's some Korngold, some Herrmann: some kind of Psycho Suite. But also they'll be doing Herrmann's rarely performed Symphony #1. I'm looking forward to that.

 Afro Afro Afro

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« Reply #53 on: October 19, 2017, 01:45:36 PM »

DJ and I got tickets for some 2018 shows but (due to various commitments and scheduling and women) may be going to separate shows.

DJ will be seeing the awesome Ivan Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center on Jan. 14, performing:
 Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3. With pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2
http://www.lincolncenter.org/great-performers/show/budapest-festival-orchestra-2


I will be at Carnegie Hall (my first time!) on Feb. 15: Robert Spano conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke's:
Mozart's Symphony No. 40;
The world premiere of a new work by Bryce Dressner, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, commissioned by Carnegie Hall. With mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor.
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, the "Emperor." With pianist Jeremy Denk.
https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2018/2/15/0800/PM/Orchestra-of-St-Lukes/


And I'll be at Lincoln Center on March 19, with Joshua Bell conducting the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields:
Mendelssohn's overture to "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No. 2. With violinist Joshua Bell.
Beethoven;s Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral"
http://www.lincolncenter.org/great-performers/show/joshua-bell-and-academy-of-st-martin-in-the-fields-1


 Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley

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« Reply #54 on: October 20, 2017, 12:43:02 PM »

awesome video:

7-year-old Yo-Yo Ma, and his 11-year-old sister Yeou-Cheng Ma, perform at the American Pageant for the Arts in 1962, introduced by Leonard Bernstein.

This video is higher quality https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G2QKzp78Zs

This video is lower quality, but it has more of Bernstein's comments at the end https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNvAUobb1y4

Here is a brief clip of a 2017 interview, in which Yo-Yo Ma discusses that appearance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzup9PK3blI

If you want to see the full 2017 interview, here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0E0U-9XOt8

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« Reply #55 on: October 29, 2017, 12:36:16 AM »

There is a new biography of Arturo Toscanini, called "Toscanini: Musician of Conscience," by Harvey Sachs.

Here are some reviews

The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/books/review/toscanini-biography-harvey-sachs.html

Christian Science Monitor: https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2017/0629/Toscanini-Musician-of-Conscience-is-a-feast-of-music-culture-politics
Here  is a review in The Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-lesson-of-the-maestro-1503091854

I will cut and paste that WSJ review below - half in this post and half in the next, because it is too long to have in one post:



The Lesson of the Maestro

By Lloyd Schwartz


I’ve just been listening to Arturo Toscanini conducting Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (“A Masked Ball”), the conductor’s last complete opera performance, recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1954. Harvey Sachs, in his comprehensive new biography, “Toscanini: Musician of Conscience,” describes in detail the process of rehearsal, live performance and post-concert “patching sessions” to correct minor slips in the recordings. The nearly 87-year-old conductor was not in prime health, and there were signs that his phenomenal photographic memory was beginning to fail him. Mr. Sachs finds weaknesses in this performance, as he does in many of Toscanini’s later recordings with the NBC Symphony, the recordings from which modern listeners know him. The performances of this period, the last couple of decades of the maestro’s long life (1867-1957), were often less spacious than his earlier ones—maybe a little rushed to fit broadcast time-frames and vexed by the dry acoustics of NBC’s notorious Studio 8H. “This version of Ballo,” Mr. Sachs writes, “must not be taken as holy writ.”

And yet listening to it, especially after reading Mr. Sachs’s compelling chronicle, I’m once again swept away by Toscanini’s forward momentum, in which incisive, brilliant attack and a flowing, singing line are, for a change, complementary and not contradictory. It’s that singing line that Toscanini’s detractors usually neglect to mention. In a remarkable recording made during a 1946 orchestra rehearsal for Verdi’s “La Traviata,” the conductor croaks all the vocal parts. It’s heartbreaking how much he wants to sing. If he had a beautiful voice, maybe he would have become a singer. But how wonderfully, from the very beginning of his astonishing career, he made the orchestra sing.

One of Toscanini’s most remarkable abilities was conducting from memory, for which he is still being imitated. When, in Preston Sturges’s 1948 comedy “Unfaithfully Yours,” an interviewer asks the Rex Harrison character, a preening conductor, why he conducts from a score, he replies: “It’s because I can read music”—both indirectly condescending to Toscanini and defending himself against the fad of memorization inspired by Toscanini. The Harrison character might be surprised to discover Toscanini’s serious studies of Bruckner —two of whose massive symphonies he led though never recorded. No question about Toscanini’s phenomenal ability to read a score.

He began as a cellist and, at the age of 20, was in the orchestra for the 1887 premiere of Verdi’s late masterpiece, “Otello.” He had already made his debut as a conductor the year before, when, on tour with an Italian opera company in Brazil, he became a sudden replacement for an inadequate conductor and led a performance of “Aida” from memory. He completed the tour leading 25 more performances of 12 different operas. Mr. Sachs reports that Toscanini later said he had “thought about becoming a conductor at twenty-seven or twenty-eight, but not at nineteen.”

His rise was meteoric. By 1898, he was principal conductor of La Scala, Italy’s major opera house, having already conducted the premieres of such classics as Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” and Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Later, as co-director (with Mahler ) of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, he led the premiere of Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” (“The Girl of the Golden West”), and back at La Scala, the premiere of Puccini’s “Turandot.”

Toscanini’s later detractors, especially the German philosopher and musicologist Theodor Adorno, attacked him for ignoring avant-garde contemporary music, especially the 12-tone compositions of the second Viennese school ( Schoenberg, Berg, Webern). But as Mr. Sachs notes, when Toscanini started out, much of the music he conducted was by composers still living or only recently deceased. He gave the first Italian performances of such daring works as Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” and Strauss’s “Salomé.” From early on, he was devoted to the music of that German firebrand Richard Wagner, whose music, both operatic and symphonic, became a cornerstone of Toscanini’s repertoire. Only a dozen years after Wagner’s death, he led the first Italian performance of “Götterdämmerung” and, in 1930, became the first non-German-school conductor to be invited to perform at the Bayreuth Festival, the sanctum sanctorum of Wagnerian opera. By the end of his life, he had conducted a repertoire of more than 600 works.



[WSJ review continued in next post]

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« Reply #56 on: October 29, 2017, 12:39:04 AM »

[WSJ review continued from previous post]


Toscanini became famous for eliminating fat: keeping to the tempo markings indicated by the composer, not transposing keys and eliminating other excrescences of “tradition” (cuts in scores, or unwritten high notes or encores for singers). He returned to the old seating plan of dividing first and second violins antiphonally—that is, positioned across from each other rather than side by side—so that one could hear the dialogue going on between these sections. ( James Levine at the Met has been much praised for carrying this forward.) He even had to fight to turn the house lights off during an opera.

Each performance entailed a passionate new confrontation with the score. Few conductors were ever less on automatic pilot—which explains the intensity of Toscanini’s rehearsals. “Put your blood!” he notoriously screamed at his players. “I put my blood!” His photographic memory gave him an especially important edge as an opera conductor, because he could look at what was happening onstage. And what happened onstage—how accurately the action reflected both the music and the words—was one of his primary concerns. When he brought the La Scala company to Vienna in 1929, 21-year-old Herbert von Karajan wrote: “For the first time I grasped what ‘direction’ means. . . . The agreement between the music and the stage performance was something totally inconceivable. . . . Everything had its place and its purpose.”

Despite Toscanini’s outbursts of temper and occasional insults, most of his musicians loved him for his commitment to how the music should go. No wonder he was so admired by his most “serious” contemporaries— Igor Stravinsky (whose music he played only rarely), Otto Klemperer, Fritz and Adolf Busch, Bruno Walter, violinist Joseph Szigeti, pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski, even his polar opposite, Wilhelm Furtwängler, with whom, Mr. Sachs demonstrates, he had a competitive and uncomfortable relationship.

Toscanini’s passion, as Mr. Sachs vividly demonstrates, was not only directed at music. Drawing on Toscanini’s letters (in 2002, Mr. Sachs edited a volume of them), he allows us to follow not only Toscanini’s career but his sex life. He married in 1897 and would never leave his wife, but he had long and intense extramarital affairs with some of his leading ladies—the sparkling Rosina Storchio, Puccini’s first Cio-Cio San, with whom he had a child; the glamorous Metropolitan Opera diva Geraldine Farrar ; the great German soprano Lotte Lehmann—and many other women, relationships documented in his graphic love letters. His home life was unfulfilling. Constant traveling was a torment. His sense of guilt was another torment. Yet well into his last years he couldn’t stop his more-than-flirtations.

In 1978, Mr. Sachs published an excellent biography of Toscanini, but this entirely new one—not a revision—draws extensively on newly available archival material, especially Toscanini’s own letters, and offers a portrait that even more fully humanizes the Great Man. Toscanini, Mr. Sachs shows, was modest almost to a fault, continuing into his 80s his rigorous studies of music and feeling mostly dissatisfied with even some of his greatest performances (although, on rare occasions, he knew when he had done especially well). He was shy about the tremendous ovations he received and angry when he felt they were undeserved. He could be petty but was more often inordinately generous—supporting people in need, especially musicians, with money and personal recommendations. Has anyone in the arts ever performed more fundraising events or done more benefit concerts without accepting a fee? “What emerges most clearly . . . in all of Toscanini’s correspondence with lovers, friends, or family,” Mr. Sachs writes, “is his seemingly limitless capacity for experiencing a whole panoply of emotions and states of mind as if they were raw, fresh, new.”

And as Mr. Sachs’s subtitle, “Musician of Conscience,” suggests, Toscanini was more than just a famous conductor. He was a true hero of democracy. From the earliest days of fascism, he was an outspoken antagonist. He profoundly regretted supporting Mussolini in the leader’s early socialist phase, given what he turned into. He got into trouble—and was even beaten up—for refusing to play the fascist anthem. He was so widely loved that even Mussolini was forced to return his passport after he had it confiscated. Toscanini stopped performing at Bayreuth after Hitler came to power and refused Hitler’s personal request to perform, in the process alienating Wagner’s daughter-in-law, Winifred Wagner, who essentially took over Bayreuth when her husband died. The idea of anti-Semitism, in a world of so many great Jewish musicians, was particularly loathsome to him—and incomprehensible.

Mr. Sachs is a lucid informant, providing all sorts of interesting details, down to which ships Toscanini took on his numerous Atlantic crossings. I confess that I find the list, in itself, an irresistibly colorful image of a certain aspect of 20th-century life: the Perseo, the Champlain, the Brazil, the Uruguay, the Conte di Savoia, the Vulcania, the Normandie, the Queen Mary, the Constitution, the Saturnia. A last-minute change in plans saved the maestro from boarding the doomed Lusitania.

More important, Mr. Sachs rises to each climactic turning point, creating moving narratives about Toscanini’s first conducting in Rio; his rising from the music directorship of Turin’s Regio to Milan’s La Scala, then to the Met and the New York Philharmonic; appearing at Bayreuth; performing with the BBC Symphony; returning to Italy for the gala re-opening of La Scala after the war; and especially playing a crucial role in the formation of the Palestine Orchestra (now the Israel Philharmonic) when so many Jewish musicians were being forced out of Europe and out of work.

One of the most complex stories comes near the end, with the creation of the NBC Symphony—the period during which Toscanini reached his largest audience and for which he has been most criticized. In 1937, David Sarnoff, the head of NBC and RCA, offered the 70-year old conductor the chance to form his own orchestra and give public concerts that would be recorded and broadcast on the air (and later on television). Toscanini accepted the offer and continued at the post for 17 years.

The broadcasts and recordings are how most of us know Toscanini, and even if some of them are not on the level of his earlier work with the New York Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony, they include much that is valuable, including his overwhelming recordings of Verdi—especially “Otello” and “Falstaff” (his favorite opera and the one he led most frequently). Among the other highlights are incomparable versions of the last act of “Rigoletto” and of the rapturous, almost-forgotten final trio from “I Lombardi”; complete sets of Beethoven and Brahms symphonies; a rhythmically electric Schumann “Rhenish” Symphony; major Wagner recordings (with Wagnerian greats Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior ); Berlioz’s “Harold in Italy” and “Roméo et Juliette” (has any other conductor so completely captured the Berlioz melodic line?); Brahms’s delicately lilting “Liebeslieder-Walzer”; Debussy’s surging “La Mer”; and Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture” (surely the least schmaltzy but most heartfelt and soaring performance ever recorded of that familiar love theme). He even “put his blood” into perfecting such trivia as Ponchielli’s twinkling “Dance of the Hours” in a performance of such delicious buoyancy that I never want to stop listening to it.

Of course popular doesn’t always—or even usually—mean better, and Adorno hated the idea of Toscanini making classical music popular (and even worse, corporate), especially since he ignored the more challenging moderns. As Edward Said wrote in a New York Times review of Joseph Horowitz’s 1987 book critical of the Toscanini phenomenon: “Although [Toscanini] died too early to benefit from the great recent advances in audio technology, his legacy as the man who stripped phony traditionalism and sentimental sloppiness from musical performances will endure.” If you listen to the recordings freshly, with an open mind and an open heart (and in better sound now than when they were first released), you can’t help discovering one of the world’s greatest musical voices. Mr. Sachs’s necessary, authoritative biography reinforces that impression with a portrait of a complex, flawed, but noble human being and a towering artist.

--- Mr. Schwartz, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is the classical music critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

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