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Gershwin

This tag is associated with 24 posts

Violinists: CEASE AND DESIST

Man, I was so happy, cruising through the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 13-14 season. My beloved Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is doing the Shostakovich violin concerto: AWESOME. Itzhak mothereffin’ Perlman is back with his ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT rendition of Beethoven’s Romance No. 1; as far as I’m concerned his is the only version that matters. Hell, they’re playing the score to Casablanca while screening the film! I love Casablanca! Here are your winnings, sir!

There’s more! Mahler’s “Titan” symphony! Holst’s The Planets! Gershwin! Bernstein! My favorite Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto! And look, Mendelssohn’s violin conc – STOP RIGHT THERE.

I’ve said it before but apparently no one was listening, so this time I’m going to try it with more shouty capitals: STOP PLAYING THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO. EVERY SINGLE SEASON, SOMEBODY PLAYS THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO. THERE IS NOTHING SO VERY GREAT ABOUT THE MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO THAT WE NEED TO HEAR IT INTERPRETED BY EVERY CONCERT VIOLINIST ON EARTH. IT IS NOT THAT DEEP, PEOPLE. IT’S NOT EVEN PARTICULARLY IMPRESSIVE. IT’S, LIKE, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT VIOLINIST’S FIRST REAL CONCERTO. I PLAYED IT. NO ONE CARES. KNOCK IT OFF. LEARN ANOTHER FREAKING PIECE OF MUSIC.

And let us not say another word about it. (Please don’t make me say another word about it.)

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Concert Roundup Got Rhythm

  • Who doesn’t love Gershwin? NO WAIT DON’T ANSWER THAT I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. And neither does the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; their program this week is all-Gershwin, with big’uns like An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, and more. July 25 at Strathmore; July 26 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra continues to pound them out with multiple concerts at Wolf Trap over the next couple of days: Tchaikovsky‘s 1812 Overture on July 26; a patriotic program of GershwinCopland, and the Brubecks on July 27; and Broadway favorites on July 28. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Free summer outdoor concerts continue, plus outdoor concerts for kids. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

The Concert Roundup Cycle

  • Spear, magic helmet! This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra tackles Wagner and his Ring of Nibelung, the straight ahead way, just music, with good ol’ Colin Currie on percussion. April 18 & 21 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • But! If you prefer, BSO conductor Marin Alsop will regale you with one of her Off the Cuff concerts, diving into the complicated topic of Wagner and his relationship to mad King Ludwig. Did I say he was mad? Hearsay, hearsay. All I’m saying is, I’ve been to Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein castle and there were caves. Like, just as a room. I’m sure Alsop can explain to us how this is perfectly normal and healthy and I mean everybody’s obsessed with Wagner anyway, right? April 19 at Strathmore; April 20 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Meanwhile, the National Symphony Orchestra takes off in a different, presumably slightly less crazy direction with an NSO Pops concert centered around jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. Anyway he doesn’t look crazy, and they’re promising jazz, pop, AND classical. April 18 – 20. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Exploring the connection between art and neuroscience; Gershwin scion Michael Feinstein. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Concert Roundup Cool

  • Hey, remember that bit in Amadeus where Salieri pretends to be Mozart’s dead father and Wolfie freaks the hell out and composes a requiem and then dies? The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra does! So they’re playing Mozart‘s Requiem, which even I, an inveterate Mozart skeptic, admit is pretty darn good. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society helps out with the singing; Part‘s Tabula Rasa rounds out the program. February 28 at Strathmore; March 2 & 3 at the Meyerhoff. It looks like they might also be doing some version of it at the Weinberg  Center in Frederick on March 1. [ See it! ] [ See it in Frederick! ]
  • Or! If you tend to feel jazzy in the morning, the BSO is offering a matinee performance on March 2 centered around the African American influence on music. Specifically mentioned: Duke Ellington, Gershwin‘s Rhapsody in Blue, and a tap master. [ See it! ]
  • This week the National Symphony Orchestra gets glacial, chills out, cools it, and other puns about cold with an all-Nordic program, featuring SibeliusLindberg, and Saariaho. Even the solo violinist is Nordic – the awesomely named Pekka Kuusisto. February 28 – March 2. [ See it! ]
  • This week at StrathmoreViolinist Jennifer Koh explores the farther reaches of Bach, Parisian jazz, a snazzy marching band. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

I just want you to be prepared

Hey, remember a month or two ago how I picked out some Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts that tickled my particular fancy? Let’s do the same thing for Strathmore, which offers such a dizzying array of concerts over the course of the season that I’m sure attempting to process it all can be daunting. Never fear – I’ve picked out all the classical concerts that have so far been announced, so you’ll know what not to miss in advance. You’re quite welcome.

  • Duo Amaral, Oct 12 – Classical guitar featuring composers like Rodrigo and Albeniz.
  • Guido’s Ear, Oct 18 – Pre- and early Baroque – think Monteverdi, Zanetti, Merula.
  • Dali Quartet, Oct 28 – Spice things up with some Latin American chamber music.
  • Jennifer Koh’s Bach and Beyond, Part 1 (Nov 14) and Part 2 (Feb 28) – Bach violin partitas and sonatas mixed with newer works influenced by the great composer.
  • George Li, Jan 12 – A prodigal pianist, playing Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin.
  • China National Symphony, Feb 1 – A bunch of new works by Chinese composers plus BEETHOVEN’S SEVENTH SYMPHONY.
  • Mattias Jacobsson, Mar 21 – The classical guitarist plays the Bach Lute Suites.
  • Kristin Lee, April 4 – Gershwin’s Three Preludes on the violin! Fun!
  • Cameron Carpenter, April 12 – Well. I dare say I’ll never look at the organ quite the same way again.
  • Maurizio Pollini, April 14 – As if I needed to introduce this one. Not sure what he’s playing, but my money’s on some Chopin.
  • Marian Anderson String Quartet, April 25 – Prize-winning and Dvorak-playing. Nice.
  • Mak Grgic, May 9 – Another classical guitarist, this one has put together a bunch of neato transcriptions of works written by Ravel, Debussy, Brahms, and more, plus traditional guitar pieces.

So there you have it – all the straight-up classical music programs in the Strathmore season. SO FAR. Don’t worry; I’ll keep you apprised of these and other concerts as the year goes by. Good heavens, is it almost autumn already?

The Compleat Concert Roundup

The summer seasons now begin! And so far they look exactly like summer seasons usually do: full of light fun… and John Williams. Seriously, he was here last week too; what’s the deal?

  • Maybe you don’t like pop classical. That’s fair. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has you covered with a concert featuring EVERY SINGLE ONE of Bach‘s Brandburg concerti. All of them. Okay, that’s six – try to remember next time, okay? July 13 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you DO like classical pop, the BSO also offers Star Wars and Beyond! The Star Wars is John Williams; the Beyond is a bunch of other blockbuster movie scores. July 14 at Oregon Ridge. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra toes the classical-classical pop line with a night of Gershwin standards like Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. July 13 at Wolf Trap. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you’d rather, the NSO also offers a recreation of the classical movie The Wizard of Oz, with the orchestra playing the full score live along to the original movie. July 14 at Wolf Trap. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: a free outdoor concert tonight, a cappella for kids tomorrow, a cappella for everybody Saturday with Afro Blue Vocal Band. [ See the calendar! ]

Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match

ROUND ONE

  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian

ROUND TWO

  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin

ROUND THREE

  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*

ROUND FOUR

  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*

ROUND FIVE (PLAY-IN ROUND)

  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms

ROUND SIX

Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

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Composer Cagematch! Round 4: Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky

Oh now just what in the hell was that.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Brahms over STRAVINSKY? Whatever happened to Team Igor? I feel like I went in for the trust fall and you didn’t catch me, readership. Harrumph.

Well, fine. I have some devilish plans for Johannes in the future. For now, I must collect myself and announce that in this corner, he turned Verdi Blue! It’s

GEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORGE GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERSHWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN

And in this corner, he serenaded Copland right out of the ring! It’s

PIOTR! ILYICH! TCHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVSKYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Tchaikovsky discovers America, indeed.

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Copland vs. Tchaikovsky

Triumph of the American spirit!

I’m not going to beat around the bush, so to speak — it was a tough fight, with both parties taking the lead at times, but ultimately Gershwin eeked it out over Verdi. People, THIS is what the Composer Cagematch! series is all about. I have seen Verdi listed on a number of top 10 great composer lists, and Gershwin none. If pressed, I bet even a lot of the Gershwin voters would admit that, technically, Verdi is the better composer. But Gershwin! Gershwin, it seems, is the composer you love. And that’s why he proceeds to the next round.

Well done, George, you scrappy little American, you. You’ve done your country proud. Can you brother in citizenship do the same? It’s time to find out, because in this corner, he pushed Britten over a cliff! It’s

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAROOOOOOOOOOOOON COOOOOOOOOOPLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND!

And in this corner, he stabbed Rimsky-Korsakov with a spindle and sent him to bed! It’s

PIOTR! ILYICH! TCHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIKOOOOOOOOOOOOOVSKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

I don’t think anyone’s going to argue over who’s the better composer (although who knows?). But! Who. Do. You. Love?

Pulsating with Gershwin

Speaking of current contender Mr. Gershwin, remember that epically awesome post about the “Rhapsody in Blue” segment of Fantasia 2000 I gifted to the world like two years ago? Of course you do; it was epically awesome. And now: here’s what it would look like as a live action sequence with the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat.