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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Iphigénie en Tauride

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By Carole Carter
 · February 28, 2011

Iphigenie en Tauride
Courtesy of The Met
Paul Groves as Pylade, Susan Graham as Iphigenie & Placido Domingo as Oreste

I attended this Live in HD Met performance Saturday with friends and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know this opera composed by Gluck in the 1700s, but found much to recommend it.

To begin with, the small cast was led by mezzo Susan Graham, Plácido Domingo in a baritone role and tenor Paul Groves, who came up through the ranks at the Met. After studying at Juilliard, he ‘graduated’ to the Met’s Young Artists Development Program.

We were momentarily anxious when a gentleman came out to do a curtain speech. That generally means someone isn’t singing that performance. However, he only said that both Susan and Plácido were suffering from colds but were singing through them. Whew!

There were no on-stage coughs, only beautiful melodic lines.


Iphigenie sets
Courtesy of The Met
Opening set for Iphigenie

The sets were sparse but effective. Lighting effects were really well done. There were few minor roles. Male, female and mixed choruses were employed and there was a dancing chorus. The story is based on Greek mythology.

The opera is in four acts, but very short – about 2 ½ hours. They took only one intermission. The music is very lyrical and elegantly clean. Very Mozartian. And the recits are accompanied by orchestra, not just harpsichord.

In short, it’s a perfect opera for university and college music departments to perform!

Of course, you have to have a good mezzo; she is the lead. And how often does that happen? The mezzo is usually relegated to a supporting or even pants role

The encore is Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 pm if you missed it.

The backstage host is Natalie Dessay, lead soprano in the next HD live production, Lucia di Lammermoor which airs at the same theaters Saturday, March 19 at 1 pm.

If you listen to classical music on WV Public Radio or read Mona’s Classically Speaking blogs, I’m sure she’ll offer tickets the week before – so stay tuned! Check us out on our website or catch us on Facebook.

Brahms (without violas or raisins)

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 24, 2011

Today, I fell in love with Johannes Brahms's Piano Trio No. 1. It's so beautiful that I will even forgive it for not having a viola part.

 

Eugene Istomin, Isaac Stern, and Leonard Rose play Brahms Piano Trio No.1 1st Mvt - Part 1

(In the library here, I've been listening to Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, and Dame Myra Hess, but this trio in the video above also seems to have a rather good idea of what they're about. As I write this post, they are stealing my heart).

And for those who like to travel from the sublime to the ridiculous...don't forget to feed your family Raisin Brahms.  :P

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Classical Fish

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 23, 2011

Hat tip to my friend and music theorist extraordinaire Bill Guerin who pointed out that Arby’s is using Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony in a commercial for their fish sandwich:

 

Bruckner and I have had a complicated relationship over the years, but I’m pretty sure that he deserves better. Bruckner isn't fast food; he's crockpot-slow; he's a buy-the-dried-beans-instead-of-the-canned-and-soak-them-overnight kind of composer.

And as I think about it, I’m sure there are probably better, fishier classics for this commercial. Do you have any suggestions?

I’ll start with an easy answer: something from The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet.

“Au fond du Temple Saint,” duet from Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers

 

Now, your turn. Post your suggestions in the comments.

Oh, and here’s the Bruckner, sans fish.  

Bruckner, Symphony No. 7, Movement 1

Bruckner Arby's Symphony


(Bruckner Symphony cover redesign thanks to composer Jonn Sokol)

 

Folk Music & Nature with the Wheeling Symphony

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 17, 2011
Mark O'Connor 2
Mark O'Connor

 

Mark O’Connor is in Wheeling this week. He’s performing his American Seasons with the Wheeling Symphony on Friday (the concert also includes two by Beethoven: the Sixth Symphony “Pastorale” and the Coriolan Overture).

Smith, Andre Raphel
Maestro André Raphel

Wheeling Symphony Music Director Maestro André Raphel spoke with me before the season started for a few minutes about looking forward to this concert and the festival: 

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Interview with Maestro Andre Raphel

On Wednesday, O’Connor and Raphel presented a lecture concert about folk music and nature. Today Mark O’Connor is speaking at several schools in the area. Tonight there will be a lecture called “The Music of Nature: Soundscape Recordings as Art Forms.” Tomorrow, there is the concert, as well as a pre-concert talk and reception. You can find event details on the Wheeling Symphony website.

 

Related links:

* Mark O’Connor

    * Violin or Fiddle? O’Connor and Cooper Discuss
      * Symphonic Appalachia: Interview with Mark O’Connor

* Wheeling Symphony

    * Wheeling Symphony 2010-11 Season
      * Opening Night in Wheeling

Love is Everywhere!

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 16, 2011
Love is Everywhere

Lucy Mauro and Donald George recently released the first of their two planned albums featuring music of American composer Margaret Ruthven Lang (1867-1972).  The album, on Delos, is called Love is Everywhere: Selected Songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang, Volume 1.

You may have heard about this album on the radio, but I just realized that I hadn’t posted about it here on the blog. Check out the story from the radio that was on WV Morning on Valentine’s Day: Love is Everywhere in Overlooked Songs”

Lots of interesting anecdotes and reflections on the music couldn’t make it into the radio story, due to time limitations. You can hear them here online in the extended interviews with tenor Donald George and pianist Lucy Mauro:

 

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Interview with Donald George

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Interview with Lucy Mauro

Presidential Music

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 11, 2011

With Lincoln’s birthday tomorrow, Washington’s later this month, and Nixon in China by John Adams at the Metropolitan Opera now (and at the movies this Saturday!), presidents and music have been on my mind.

 

Today’s program features music with connections to presidents, through inaugurations, favorite performers and composers, and music inspired by various presidents and their office. 

 

Not much time to write before I’m on the radio, but here are some links to read and hear more (and tune into WV Public Radio from 11am to 3pm for today’s president-inspired classical music program.)

 

After an Inauguration, The Stars Come Out to Play (Smithsonian Magazine)

Leonard Bernstein’s Counter-Inaugural

Sing Out, Mr. President: Npr Music Premieres New Presidential Songs (Deceptive Cadence)

Lincoln & Music

I’m sure there are many more connections and details that I haven’t yet found (including the program for the NSO concert that Copland conducted for Carter’s inauguration). Let me know in the comments any presidential music connections that you find.

 

Road Trip: Tchaikovsky in Pittsburgh

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 4, 2011
Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky: The man of the hour in Pittsburgh

Looking for a cool adventure with a lot of great music? It’s time to head to Pittsburgh. They’re having a Tchaikovsky festival from February 2 through 12 . The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is then bringing an all-Tchaikovsky concert to Morgantown on February 13, but if you want to get beyond the concert hall, Pittsburgh is the place to be.

They're presenting a conference, movies, lectures, cylinder recordings, masterclasses, chamber music, song recitals, and orchestra concerts – it’s a cool opportunity to explore Tchaikovsky's music and life, whether you can make just an event or two, or want to spend days immersed in all things Tchaikovsky. 

You can start here by listening to interviews with several of festival participants.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music Director Manfred Honeck discusses the concert in Morgantown and the festival in Pittsburgh:

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Maestro Manfred Honeck

 

Dr. Richard Kogan, a psychiatrist and musician, presents about “Tchaikovsky: Music and Melancholy.” Listen to Kogan discuss these connections and his approach to combining psychiatry and music:

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Dr. Richard Kogan

 

Conductor Gianandrea Noseda speaks the music he's conducting at the festival and his approach to Tchaikovsky:

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Maestro Gianandrea Noseda

For more about the festival, visit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Tchaikovsky Festival website. Check back here next week, when I’ll also have an interview with Festival Curator Joseph Horowitz to share with you here on Classically Speaking. 

 

 

Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky in Ken Russell's movie "The Music Lovers" (1970)

Cedille Records: Jim Ginsburg Interview

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 4, 2011
Cedille Records logo

Cedille Records is a non-profit classical record label based in Chicago. The label started as James Ginsburg recording solo piano music during his breaks from law school, and over twenty one years, it has grown to an organization that records orchestras and operas, as well as solo and chamber music recordings.

Cedille is now an integral part of Chicago’s classical music scene and a source for quite a few of my favorite classical recordings.

Their catalog includes performances by West Virginia native Larry Combs (of the Chicago Symphony and the Chicago Chamber Musicians).Other recordings that have been featured here on the blog include Trio Settecento and Rachel Barton Pine and the Warner-Nuzova Duo’s recording of Russian cello music.


James Ginsburg, Cedille Records
Nat Silverman
James Ginsburg

Cedille Records founder and president Jim Ginsburg spoke with me about the label and its history and the connections that have made in Chicago and throughout the world. We also spoke about discovering and listening to music. Both when we spoke last August and as I’ve listened to the interview as I prepare to post it here, I’m caught up in his knowledge about the music and his enthusiasm for discovering and presenting music, while making connection to art, literature, history, and his community. 

This is a long interview that is worth listening to for the whole 37 minutes. You can stream it on the site here, or download it to hear as a podcast. 

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Interview with Jim Ginsburg

You can explore more about Cedille on their website and read about the ongoing festival inspired by Shostakovich at The Soviet Arts Experience, and you can check out previous posts on Classically Speaking that have connections to Cedille:

* A German Bouquet: Trio Settecento
* Larry Combs named to WV Music Hall of Fame
* Russian Cello and Chopin Essentials

The Beethoven Project Trio

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WarnerNuzova on Performance Today

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WV Classical Calendar - February

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 1, 2011

February 2011

Feb. 1: Andrew Kohn, double bass (WVU Faculty Artist Recital)

Feb. 2: Robert Trent, guitar (Marshall University Guest Artist Recital)

Feb. 2-3; 5-6: Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (WVU Opera Theater)

Feb. 4-6, 11-13: Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (Shepherd University)

Feb. 6: “Three Con Men” Pipesounds Concert  (Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church, Hurricane)

Feb. 6: Montclaire String Quartet "Romance"

Feb. 8: WVU Jazz Band

Feb. 11: WVU Wind Symphony

Feb. 10: Bret Hoag guitar masterclass (Marshall University)

Feb. 11: Bret Hoag, guitar (Marshall University Guest Artist Recital)

Feb. 11: Shenandoah Conservatory Wind Ensemble

Feb. 11-12: WV Symphony; Rich Ridenour, piano “Piano Pops”

Feb. 12: Met Opera Live in HD: John Adam’s Nixon in China (Barboursville; Morgantown; Germantown, MD; Ashland, KY; Charlottesville, VA; Pittsburgh, PA; and many other locations).

Feb. 12: Rich Ridenour, piano masterclass

Feb. 12: “Blast Off!” with the WVSO

Feb. 12: Huntington Symphony “A Winter’s Delight”

Feb. 13: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at WVU

Feb. 13: West Virginia Horn Trio (Fairmont Chamber Music Society)

Feb. 13: Peter Frankl, piano (Shenandoah Conservatory)

Feb. 14: WVU Chamber Winds

Feb. 17: The Music of Nature: Soundscape Recordings as Art Forms, a lecture by Lang Elliot (Oglebay Schrader Environmental Center)

Feb. 17: Ju Young Lee, pipe organ (WVU Recital)

Feb. 18: Wheeling Symphony; Mark O’Connor, violin “Seasons of an American Life”

Feb. 18: Shepherd University Wind Ensemble

Feb. 18: WVU New Music Concert

Feb. 19: Dieter Hennings, guitar (Fairmont State University)

Feb. 19: Songs of a Wayfarer (Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra)

Feb. 20: WVU Choir

Feb. 20: Christopher Barrick, saxophone (West Liberty University Faculty Artist Recital)

Feb. 21: Jim Walker, flute (WVU Guest Artist Recital and Masterclass)

Feb. 22: Brian Plitnik and Keith Jackson, trombones (WVU Joint Faculty Artist Recital)

Feb. 23: Marshall University Faculty Brass Ensemble

Feb. 24: WVU Orchestra

Feb. 25: Voces 8 (Shepherd University Friends of Music)

Feb. 25: Glenville State College Brass and Woodwind Ensembles Concert

Feb. 26: WVU New Music Concert

Feb 26:  Met Opera Live in HD: Gluck's Iphégenie en Tauride (Barboursville; Morgantown; Germantown, MD; Ashland, KY; Charlottesville, VA; Pittsburgh, PA; and many other locations).

Feb. 27: River Cities Symphony Bach Choral Concert (Marietta, OH)

Feb. 27: Audubon Quartet with Michael Stepniak, viola (Shenadoah Conservatory)

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