Plácido Domingo, 77, has sung his 150th role. …
Architect Frank Gehry has designed a new concert hall for L.A. Phil’s youth orchestra. …
The music director of the Long Beach Symphony adds the Portland Symphony (Maine) to his resume. …
The Philadelphia Orchestra is going to test drive new works by six young women composers. …
The Concertgebouw Orchestra has fired its celebrated chief conductor. …
George Walker, the first African American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize, has died at 96. …
At the Bayreuth Festival, Wagner gets a timely update. …
None other than Yo-Yo Ma offers a sampling of Bach for his Tiny Desk Concert. …
Here’s one of my favorite concert videos. It features pianist Alexis Weissenberg playing Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka. The director is Ake Falck, and while he didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, the lighting and the camerawork here are superb. Notice how they actually focus your listening rather than distract, as visuals often do. Weissenberg reportedly recorded the piano part in the studio and synced to the recording for the film. –TM
The neoclassical Piano Concerto No. 1 by Lukas Foss (1922-2009), recorded by Pacific Symphony, Carl St.Clair, conductor and Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Released 2001. The piece was first written as a clarinet concerto when Foss was 17. He made this version of it four years later.
Leonard Bernstein conducts the Royal Danish Orchestra in the Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonia Espansiva,” by Carl Nielsen.
The Lyric for Strings by George Walker.
We noticed the new trailer (kind of violent) for “Outlaw King” on Netflix uses a famous classical tune as underscoring.
The tune? Albinoni’s Adagio, of course, which probably wasn’t actually composed by Albinoni, but by 20th-century musicologist Remo Giazotto. Here’s how it normally sounds.
The piece has been heard in many films before, including “Gallipoli” in 1981.
Shostakovich composed his Festive Overture for full symphony orchestra, of course, and that’s the version that conductor Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony will perform at the annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular on Sept. 8. Meanwhile, here’s another version, amusing but impressive all the same, performed entirely on ocarinas by Jordan Moore, a student at the Eastman School of Music. –TM
The ocarinas used are:
Focalink Double Soprano G
Rotter 12-hole Soprano C
Rotter 10-hole Soprano G
Rotter 12-hole “Fairy” Alto C
Claudio Colombo Alto G
Claudio Colombo Bass C
Claudio Colombo Bass G
Claudio Colombo Contrabass C
Tickets to individual concerts in Pacific Symphony’s 2018-2019 season go on sale today. This next season marks the orchestra’s 40th anniversary.
The offer includes classical concerts, pops concerts, and special events.* Go to pacificsymphony.org or call (714) 755-5799.
Go to the All Concerts page if you would like to scroll through the season schedule.
But wait, there’s more. If you’re having trouble choosing a concert you’d like to buy tickets for, I’m here to help. As a longtime music critic, and before that a record store clerk, I have plenty of experience making recommendations.
So, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a suggestion or two of concerts that I think you’ll enjoy. For my reference, please include some of your favorite pieces and/or favorite performances you’ve attended. I’ll send you a personalized selection in response. For free.
By TIMOTHY MANGAN
Two autobiographies …
“The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz” by Hector Berlioz. Berlioz was the archetypical Romantic — sensitive, poetic, experimental, nostalgic, given to flights of fantasy, easily wounded, progressive, dramatic verging on melo-. He was also a terrific writer. In addition to the adventurous and colorful narrative — which includes his bewitchment with the Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson, for whom he wrote the Symphonie fantastique, their marriage and not so eventual separation — and entertaining bouts of score settling, there are deep insights into the music. This must surely be one of the greatest autobiographies written by an artist.
I had been greatly struck by certain episodes in the life of Benvenuto Cellini. I had the misfortune to believe they would make an interesting and dramatic subject for an opera, and I asked Léon de Wailly and Auguste Barbier — the powerful poet of the Iambes — to write a libretto around them.
The result, according to even our mutual friends, lacked the essential ingredients of what is known as a well-made drama, but I liked it, and I still do not see in what way it is worse than many that are performed daily. The then director of the Opéra, Duponchel, regarded me as a kind of lunatic whose music was a conglomeration of absurdities, beyond human redemption; but in order to keep in with the Journal des débats he consented to listen to a reading of the libretto of Benvenuto, and appeared to like it, for he went about saying that he was putting on the opera not because of the music, which he knew would be preposterous, but because of the book, which he found charming.
Accordingly he had it put into rehearsal. I shall never forget the horror of those three months. The indifference, the distaste manifested by most of the singers (who were already convinced that it would be a fiasco); Habeneck’s ill-humour, and the vague rumours that went around the theatre; the crass objections raised by that whole crowd of illiterates to certain turns of phrase in a libretto so different in style from the empty, mechanical rhyming style of the Scribe school — all this was eloquent of an atmosphere of general hostility against which I was powerless, but which I had to pretend not to notice.
(Here’s an interview with composer John Williams that I wrote for England’s Gramophone magazine back in 2005. Richard Kaufman conducts Pacific Symphony in Williams’s Oscar-winning score to “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” for a screening of the film Saturday night. Tickets here.)
By TIMOTHY MANGAN
It must have been a proud moment for the young John Williams – the red carpet premiere of William Wyler’s How to Steal a Million at the Egyptian Theater in 1966. It was one of the composer’s first major film scores. Walking out afterwards, there stood Mr and Mrs Igor Stravinsky two couples ahead, and Williams’s wife, Barbara, encouraged him to introduce himself. But Williams was terrified, he recalled recently. ‘I was convinced that he probably would have said to me, “So you’re responsible for the rubbish I just heard for these two hours.”’
Things are different now, but Williams is still a modest person. Sitting down to an interview in a faux-rustic (this is Hollywood, after all) meeting room at DreamWorks’ offices on the Universal Studios back lot, the man who never met Stravinsky had just received his 44th and 45th Academy Award nominations, for the film scores to Munich and Memoirs of a Geisha. He pronounces himself delighted, a sliver of a smile lightening his features.
‘It’s not something that you get used to, or that has happened so much that it’s not a kick or a thrill.’ Williams (though he didn’t win this year) is now tied in second place, behind Walt Disney, for the most Oscar nominations with composer Alfred Newman, who, as it happens, first hired young ‘Johnny’ Williams as an orchestrator in the 1950s at 20th Century Fox.