What follows is simply gripping. The 1956 Weinberg Fantasy, of which there appear to be only two extant recordings, has an arresting opening melody and the best atmospherics I can think of outside the moody-blues songbook of Jacques Brel. Looking at the orchestration, I see that Weinberg has thrown in three saxophones, tenor, soprano and bass, and a Sarrusophone, which does exactly what its name suggests. And a Hammond organ, to leave you with a sense of unfulfilled longing….
The theatre in Duisburg, home to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Ballett am Rhein, the Schauspiel and the Duisburg Philharmonic, has suffered disastrous flooding overnight as a result of a sprinkler malfunction. Some 80,000 litres of water gushed out.
The fire services have pumped the place dry but it’s not known when it will be fit to reopen.
The rest of the Duisburger Akzente festival has been cancelled.
These are Snøhetta’s designs for the Shanghai Grand Opera House.
The Norwegian firm Snøhetta was announced today as winner of the international contest to design the house.
The city of Samara, formerly Kuybyshev, is erecting a statue to the composer who enshrined its moment of greatest fame.
Dmitri Shostakovich was evacuated to the city – Russia’s sixth largest – where he attended the premiere on March 5 1942 of his seventh symphony, which was broadcast across the country.
He dedicated the work to his besieged hime city of Leningrad.
Cantor Sherwood Goffin of Lincoln Square Synagogue has died at 77.
Commonly known as The Chaz, he taught thousands of New Yorkers their barmitzvah portion.
Breitkopf has brought out an edition of Mahler’s first symphony based on Erwin Stein’s 1960 version, which includes the discarded Blumine movement.
Nothing wrong with that, though personally I wouldn’t bother with the Blumine bits.
Universal Edition, however, have reacted with fear and loathing. They flew Marina Mahler, the composer’s granddaughter, to the Frankfurt Music Fair yesterday and got her to declare that anyone who does not use the Universal edition is acting ‘against the will of Gustav Mahler’.
The Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft has also been wheeled out to trumpet the ‘scientific accuracy’ of the Universal score.
Those boys and girls need to calm down.
Read what Mahler said and did about the first symphony, then make up your own minds.
As I sit on the airplane, heading to Montreal to start my final tour as a member of the Artemis Quartet, I am awash in memories of a life-long relationship with Schubert‘s “Death and the Maiden” String Quartet. I first played the quartet as a high school student, as first violinist with my youth orchestra weekend gig quartet. We made a decent amount of pocket change doing parties, weddings, and the occasional funeral. Family and friends of the family initially hired us, but as the word spread, we began to see more and more of each other. We had compiled a nice set of huge music binders (which would sway precariously on our metal stands during outdoor events), filled with things like Flonzaley Favorites, the Brandenburgs, Music for Weddings, and an odd mix of random stuff including Cannon in D, musical medleys, Ritual Fire Dance, and Death and the Maiden.
We would start each gig well enough – playing through the most innocuous of selections. Once the bride had come and gone, the cake eaten, and people dispersing, our self-control naturally began to slip. Trying to make someone laugh so hard a booger would come out, or playing your whole piece on backwards bowings, or on only one string, finally gave way to our favorite game – “Respect the Flip“. Taking turns, closing our eyes, a member would flip through the enormous book, and wherever they stopped, we would have to play. Medleys from Elvis or, if we were lucky enough, Ritual Fire Dance, would erupt from the group, with rarely a complaint from our slightly inebriated audience. And it’s true – if one of us could somehow pilfer a half-drunk glass of beer off a table, we considered ourselves that much more fortunate.
It was at these moments when someone would suggest playing the Death and the Maiden, which rivals Ritual Fire Dance as just about the most inappropriate background music available. Tightening our bows, staring each other down, we would dig in. Usually, somewhere between the development and the recap, there would be a series of small miscalculations, piling higher and higher like a grotesque musical baklava, until there was either a spectacular quadruple explosion, or rather, having one member, then the next, kindof dribble away, as if a victim in a game of Wink Murder. The final member would then slow down, diminuendo, and try to confidently end by themselves, just in case anyone was looking.
The next time I played the Schubert was as the violist of the Avalon Quartet. We learned that piece to within an inch of its life, having lessons with Emerson, Vermeer, Tokyo and just about anyone we could drag off the street to teach us. Eventually we brought that piece to the ARD Quartet Competition. And now, as second violinist of the Artemis Quartet, I have nearly completed the circle of knowing all of the parts. Maybe someday I can play the cello part in an adult amateur festival. It looks really hard though.
When we play a chamber work, there are always these legendary moments for each instrument – the viola opening of the Smetana Quartet, cello harmonics at the beginning of Shostakovich Trio, but more than that – a little detail here or there that you always wished you could have a chance to play. I am just in seventh heaven with my handful of magical second violin moments – here are my favorite bits. If you can find them in the piece – email me and I will let you know if you are right! Enjoy….