From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

I struggle to describe my joy at hearing two unknown works by Berthold Goldschmidt, a brilliant composer who fled to London in 1935 and lived in obscurity until a late burst of recognition in the 1980s. I saw a lot of Berthold in his final decade when he was flying around the world for performances, and I remember how he wore acclaim with the same wry modesty as he had endured oblivion.

“The Comedy of Errors” overture is a piano trio he composed for his parents’ 25th wedding anniversary…

Read on here.

And here.

Sir Peter Jonas, former head of English National Opera and Bavarian State Opera, has shared with us two portraits that appear in the next exhibition of photographs by Barbara Luisi, wife of the condutor Fabio Luisi.

These extraordinary compositions require no commentary.

Peter, 72, is undergoing cancer treatment in Switzerland.

Send good thoughts his way.

At the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra music director Yaniv Dinur is including a woman composer in every concert this season.

More here.

Slipped Disc published the first review at midnight. Now other media are starting to flow:

Richard Morrison in the Times:

… by far the biggest thrills in this new English National Opera production are when the specially recruited chorus hurl out these gloriously sonorous affirmations of Christian faith. It’s like the best gospel choir you’ve ever heard, and it reminds you how brilliantly, in their 1935 masterpiece, those white Jewish brothers George and Ira Gershwin succeeded in evoking (or, in today’s loaded jargon, “appropriating”) the faith and music of African-Americans.

And the second most thrilling thing about ENO’s staging is the quality of the solo singing from this ensemble. It’s as if a whole generation of black singers, drawn from Africa and America as well as the UK, are collectively seizing a (still shamefully rare) chance to shine in a leading opera house.

Tim Bano in The Stage:

Eric Greene’s Porgy is great, so is Nicole Cabell’s Bess – though she doesn’t quite cut through above the orchestra, her consonants and clarity get lost – but this isn’t really a showcase for them, it’s a team effort, and what a team.


photo: ENO/Kenton

Ivan Hewitt in the Telegraph:
George Gershwin’s only opera finally comes to ENO, in a lavish co-production with the all-black cast that its creators stipulated. It pleases the eye, and delivers knock-out choruses, sassy orchestral playing under conductor John Wilson, and heart-warming renditions of the big melodies such as “Summertime”. So a hit is pretty well guaranteed.

Michael Church in the Independent:

From the moment when Nadine Benjamin launches into her sweet rendition of “Summertime”, Gershwin’s bewitching string of solos and duets comes over with assurance; one of its high points is a snatch of vocal grace from Nozuko Teto as the Strawberry Woman. Playing under John Wilson’s direction, the orchestra valiantly honours Gershwin’s ambition to combine the drama and romance of Carmen with the beauty of Die Meistersinger.
Mark Shenton in London Theatre:

…what ENO can also bring to it is thrilling musicianship, too, with its resident orchestra under the powerful baton of John Wilson, and a truly massive cast. There are 23 named characters, plus a chorus of over 40, plus six additional actors and eight additional kids. You don’t get this in the West End (not even in 42nd Street).

And it’s downright astonishing that ENO have assembled a company of international black singers of such strength: not that they don’t exist (they clearly do!), but that they’ve gone to the trouble to cast their net so far and wide, including America, South Africa and Britain.

From the plaintive, heartbreaking rendition of “Summertime” with which ENO Harewood artist Nadime Benjamin opens the show as Clara, to the stunning and heartbreaking title performances of Eric Greene and Nicole Cabell, it is performed with alternating notes of tenderness and fury.

Boyd Tonkin on theartsdesk:

This cast, though, shows terrific strength in depth. From Latonia Moore’s commanding gospel fervour as Serena to Donovan Singletary’s smoothly forceful Jake, Catfish Row emerged as a slum crammed with stars. It’s worth pointing out that South African singers took no fewer than five character parts, and they all excelled – whether Nozuko Teto’s strawberry seller or Njabulo Madlala’s Jim. At times, this almost felt like a Cape Town Opera benefit night. Their welcome presence proved again what an extraordinary nursery for the whole world of music theatre has developed at the tip of Africa. 

François Xavier Roth has extended his contract with the Gürzenich Orchester in Cologne to 2022, he announced this morning.

The 2019 Heidelburger Frühling Music Award goes to John Gilhooly, CEO and Artist Director of Wigmore Hall and Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society. Gilhooly will share the €10,000 between Wigmore Hall and RPS.

The Festival said:

John Gilhooly became the youngest director of an internationally acclaimed concert hall at age 35 with his appointment at Wigmore Hall. Since then he has developed the Hall into one of the world’s premiere venues for chamber music, vocal music and music education. Today, a performance in the ‘Temple of Chamber Music’ has become an indispensable addition to the biographies of young musicians. Thanks to John’s intelligent and ambitious programming, alongside his innovative musical education initiatives, Wigmore Hall has opened its doors to wider and more diverse audiences. He has created a space in which the core audience meets the tentative first listener – classical newcomers of today are becoming tomorrow’s classical music connoisseurs. John Gilhooly has managed to create coherence through this juxtaposition; an inspirational musical home for artists and audiences alike. This achievement, alongside his tireless dedication (particularly to art song and string quartets), makes John the perfect candidate for the award, aligning him the social mission of connection and commitment that exemplifies the Heidelberger Frühling. For his outstanding achievements, John Gilhooly is awarded the Heidelberger Frühling Music Award.

Gregor Forbes has been announced in Leipzig as winner of an award named after Eisler, who was born there.

Gregor (right) is 25 and described as a Nachwuchskomponist. I hope they know what that is in Edinburgh.

 

Kristiina Poska has been named music director at Theater Basel, starting next year.

The Estonian, 39, has been a very, very busy kapellmeister at the Komische Oper Berlin.

They are coming thick and fast.

Columbia Artists have signed Marie Jacquot, Kapellmeisterin at Mainfranken Theater Würzburg.

 

She played trombone before she took up the baton.

 

From our diarist Anthea Kreston:

A handful of years ago, my best friend (since age 6), who had made a home for herself in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, told me of her new job. She was the personal assistant to an old photographer – did I know who he was? Then, into my email inbox, flowed snapshots of some of the most iconic images a classical musician would know. Zelda was, in fact, spending upwards of 10 hours per day with the legendary photographer Clemens Kalischer, of Marlboro and Tanglewood fame (and of course internationally recognized for his photos of immigrants landing in NY after WWII).

Daily, Zelda would stop at Clemens’ house, pick him up in her tiny car, and drive him to his gallery, where they would casually interact throughout the day – slowly perambulating with camera in hand, making Campbell’s soup on the individual burner plugged into the back room, chatting and going out for hot tea. She was a mix of a gofer, willing ear, and secretary of sorts – helping around the gallery. His family, he explained, didn’t like him being alone and wandering outside all day by himself – he needed a companion.

Zelda isn’t a musician, you see – she is one of those unique breeds which populate those undulating hills of Western Mass – licensed massage therapist, sculptor, member of the Wednesday night drumming circle. She goes to weeks-long silent retreats, political rallies, women’s seminars in the woods – she has the requisite minimum number of cats. But, because of our long relationship, she knows more about classical music than most chai-drinking, chunky-knitted-hat-wearing members of her circle. I always love her observations after concerts – she notices the most unexpected things – the way someone moves their leg while playing, the smell of the concert hall, somehow being able to perfectly read the emotional health and the relationships between the performers.

This past week, she attended the memorial service for Clemens – held in a rustic main hall of a mothballed summer boy’s camp – the only space large enough to hold the bulging crowd. Seated on long wooden benches, they spent an afternoon and evening listening to music and hearing stories about his time in the Camps in France, his family’s path to America in 1942 (miraculously father and son found each other again after Clemens had been through 8 different camps, and mother sister were found confined in a nearby farm, and together with two family friends, Anna Freud and Princess Marie Bonaparte, a great-grandniece of Napoleon, they escaped. Arriving in NYC, he was 21 years old, and weighed 88 pounds.

He stumbled upon a passion in photography – his natural ability to move as one with the newly arrived immigrants in the late 40’s – and an accidental assignment launched him into a career, one which was based on capturing the natural, non-sentimental nature of humans – honest and intimate. He later moved to the Berkshires, married a fellow Holocaust survivor, and began to photograph for Tanglewood and Marlboro.

Clemens had a deep relationship with the Serkins, with the whole of the musical community, so many of whom were Survivors and escapees, and who had found a new community together in the calm and safety of that part of America – Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine…..

Judith Serkin played cello for the ceremony – Bach and Handel – she is the sister of Peter and daughter of Irene and Rudi. As I sat in my office at home in Berlin, late in the evening, FaceTime chatting with Zelda, I could hear the wonder in her voice – the connection with humanity and the special, unexpected gift she had stumbled on, and shared with me.

 

 

photo (c) Clemens Kalischer

Alexander Neumeister, an Austrian neurological researcher who stole $87,000 from New York University, was discovered by the judge to be a trained pianist. He was ordered to play piano in local old age homes for a while.

After that, he’ll be allowed to go home to Austria. More here.