Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sympathetic communion of minds

"The sympathetic communion of minds necessary for art appreciation must be based on mutual concession. The spectator must cultivate the proper attitude for receiving the message, as the artist must know how to impart it. The tea-master, Kobori Enshu, himself a daimyo, has left to us these memorable words: 'Approach a great painting as thou woudst approach a great prince.' In order to understand a masterpiece, you must lay yourself low before it and await with bated breath its least utterance."

From The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


"Lovers of Brahms were much disturbed by large numbers of people leaving the hall between movements of the C minor symphony....It must be admitted that to the larger part of our public, Brahms is still an incomprehensible terror."

-Boston Evening Transcript, November 16, 1885, as quoted in Nicolas Slonimsky's Lexicon of Musical Invective

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The subtle charm of tea

"There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innoncence of cocoa."

From The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wendell Berry On Things That Stay Stuck

"Good artist are people who can stick things together so that they stay stuck. They know how to gather things into formal arrangements that are intelligible, memorable, and lasting. Good forms confer health upon the things that they gather together. Farms, families, and communities are forms of art just as are poems, paintings, and symphonies. None of these things would exist if we did not make them. We can make them either well or poorly; this choice is another thing that we make."

From Life Is A Miracle by Wendell Berry.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dance Series gets props from the Phoenix

In other year-end wrap news, The Boston Phoenix's trio of dance judges gave honors to 3 dance engagements that your Celebrity Series had a thing or two to do with...Jeffrey Gantz, Marcia Siegel and Debra Cash put their heads, and presumably pens, together and came up with a top ten list that featured honors for The Royal Ballet's Manon from June of this calendar year ("three delectable Manons in Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru, and Zenaida Yanowsky"), The Kirov Ballet and Orchestra's Swan Lake from this past November, ("gray and gorgeous")and the Mark Morris Dance Group's L'Allegro il penseroso ad il Moderato in January ("one of his defining works"). Full text

Lloyd Schwartz on Angelika Kirchschlager


Annette Bening

Lloyd Schwartz had kind words for mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager in his Boston Phoenix review of her December 1 Celebrity Series debut recital:

"Kirchschlager is glamorous (a cross
between Helena Bonham Carter and Annette Bening) and projects a large
personality. Pushing her mop of dark curls out of her eyes, she laughs
out loud or winks when she finds the end of a song amusing; when she’s
serious or heroic, she seems to elevate in stature." 
Complete text of review

Schwartz picked Kirchschlager's recital as one -well, part of one- of his top ten classical music events of 2006, also for The Boston Phoenix. Kirchschlager shares the #10 slot with a recital by mezzo-soprano Delores Ziegler with accompanist John Greer. Of the two recitals, Schwartz said:

"Both these events were true lieder
recitals, presenting great songs beautifully, honestly, and with no
gimmicks. Maybe it’s not a dying art."
Complete text 

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ohlsson says Beethoven piano sonatas are "a full accurate portrait"

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson recently spoke with pianist Jospeh Smith for Playbill Arts. Here is an excerpt:

"The piano was Beethoven's own instrument — it is the most intimate of
instruments, and also the most complete of instruments. No wonder it served as
Beethoven's workshop — the sonatas span all the periods of his development. If a
man from Mars were dropped on the earth and the only Beethoven left was the
piano sonatas, he could actually form a pretty complete idea of who Beethoven
was. They present a full, accurate portrait."

Read the full transcript here.

Garrick Ohlsson will play an all-Beethoven recital at NEC's Jordan Hall on Saturday, February 10.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Daniel Pinkham, 1923-2006

Daniel Pinkham

Composer, conductor, teacher, organist and harpsichordist Daniel Pinkham died yesterday at 83. Among the many things that made Mr. Pinkham remarkable, was his status as a contemporary composer whose work was popular with music connoisseurs as well as the larger, general music audience.

Jeremy Eichler wrote Mr. Pinkham's obituary for today's Boston Globe:

"A pioneer of the local early music movement, Mr. Pinkham served on the faculty of New England Conservatory since 1959 and taught at many other local schools. He served at King's Chapel as music director and music director emeritus for more than four decades. Widely admired by colleagues for his generosity and quick wit, he was also an active performer on harpsichord and organ, playing for many years in a duo with the violinist Robert Brink. His orchestral music was once performed by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein." Read the complete text of the article.

Though we are a mere footnote in Daniel Pinkham's career, the Celebrity Series was fortunate to have commisioned work from him. His composition Blue Blazes appeared as one of six segments of The Rainbow Hexameron, (each segment by a different Boston composer, the others being Julia Carey, Christopher Trapani, Joseph Johnson, Michael Gandolfini, and Alan Fletcher) premiered by pianist Sergey Schepkin at NEC's Jordan Hall in April 2005.

In the program notes for the premiere, Pinkham described Blue Blazes this way:

Sergey Schepkin, in explaining to me his vision and plan of The Rainbow Hexameron, assigned me the color blue. He also specified that the piece be “turbulent”. The title jumped out at once — Blue Blazes — and immediately the form and shape of the work emerged. It would be a succession of musical fragments alternating extremely fast and brilliant fireworks contrasted with passages of tranquil and reflective lyricism.

Richard Dyer, reviewing the concert for The Boston Globe, said of Pinkham's Blue Blazes that it is, " light passing through a cobalt bottle that contains a message."

Boston Globe obituary

Daniel Pinkham's web site (site has posted information on donations in lieu of flowers)

Daniel Pinkham's NEC faculty page

Extensive biography of Pinkham from Notable Unitarians at

Daniel Pinkham's wikipedia entry

A list of Pinkham's compositions for organ available from Thorpe Music Publishing

Monday, December 18, 2006

Keillor on Christmas letters

If you're over 30 you get them every year, if you're under 30, you're probably in them. In his latest column, Garrison Keillor looks at a time-honored, often immodest tradition, The Christmas Letter:

"I get a couple dozen Christmas letters a year, and I sit and read them in my old bathrobe as I chow down on Hostess Twinkies. Everyone in the letters is busy as beavers, piling up honors hand over fist, volunteering up a storm, traveling to Beijing, Abu Dhabi and Antarctica; nobody is in treatment or depressed or flunking out of school, though occasionally there is a child who gets shorter shrift. 'Chad is adjusting well to his new school and making friends. He especially enjoys the handicrafts.' How sad for Chad."

Read all of Christmas Letter: Can I get some modesty with that?

Friday, December 15, 2006

All the Mozart that's fit to play...

You may have seen this elsewhere, but seeing as how Boston is just lousy with music students, I have to share. The International Mozart Foundation is celebrating Mozart's 250th birthday by making all his works available online. That's not a typo and they are not kidding. Interest in this project has been so great that their server has been crashing, so be patient:

Neue Mozart-Ausgabe / Digital Mozart Edition

All cadywampus


Personal rainstorm

It's a surreal morning in the Back Bay, at least on the face of it. The Arlington T station is all meshuge from rennovations; there is already (hey, it's December!) a crowd of Sox fans loitering in front of the Four Seasons Hotel for a glimpse of Dice-K (what is Lugo, chopped liver?); behind the hotel, water is (or was) splattering down onto Park Square like one of those personal rainstorms Charlie Brown gets over his head; we aren't on the front page of the Globe today, and we don't have an event until January 5 or a concert until January 12. So, all you CS Blogginators, repeat "Celebrity Series Gift Certificates Make Great Gifts" seven times to yourself and call our box office (617-482-6661, M-F, 10-4). In the holiday spirit, I'm going to have another bourbon ball and keep surfing. I'll let you know if I come across anything good.

Jennifer Dunning reviews "Portrait of Billie" at City Center

Jennifer Dunning reviewed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's performance of John Butler's “Portrait of Billie” at New York's City Center for today's New York Times:

"After a decade or so of increasingly hectic, high-energy plotless choreography,
John Butler’s 'Portrait of Billie' looked mighty good. Created in 1959 as a
vehicle for Carmen de Lavallade, the great dance actress, the piece follows the
singer Billie Holiday from stardom to drug-addled solitude."

Read the complete review.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Susan Graham announces her January 21 program

Frflag_1There is Celebrity Series news large and small today. This post is going to focus on a small bit of news, but one of importance to lovers of singing. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham has announced her January 21 recital program for NEC's Jordan Hall. Ms. Graham will a program entirely of works by French composers, and a dizzying array they are: Bizet, Franck, Fauré, Gounod, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, Paladilhe, Debussy, Chausson, Bachelet, Duparc, Ravel, Caplet, Roussel, Messiaen, Hahn, Satie, Honegger, Sauguet and Poulenc. Whew!

Malcolm Martineau, who recently accompanied Angelika Kirchschlager in a Celebrity Series recital, will accompany Ms. Graham as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shunning the big time

Hear the news that beat Yahoo by .6 billion page views in November? That's right, 38.7 billion to 38.1 billion. I'm not sure I can compute those numbers effectively enough to care.

And I got excited when this blog passed 22,000 page views...since August. Um, that's August 2005. But numbers are clearly not a measure of your sustaining love.

Ralph Gomberg, 1921-2006

Oboist Ralph Gomberg

Not that I expect you to view the passing of a revered artist through the prism of the Celebrity Series, but since you stopped in, and since we are proud to have presented him, if only once, here goes:

Oboist Ralph Gomberg, long the BSO's principal on that instrument, was a founding member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players. The Celebrity Series presented the ensemble along with soprano Phyllis Curtin at Jordan Hall in January of 1973. The program included Stravinsky, Schubert, Villa-Lobos and Shostakovich, plus an unprogrammed L'Invitation au Voyage by Chabrier, but it was Bach's Stumme Seufzer from Cantata No. 199, and Gott versorget from Cantata No. 187 that featured Mr. Gomberg.

Louis Snyder, reviewing for The Christian Science Monitor, wrote of the concert, "The house was full, attentive, and boundlessly enthusiastic."

Boston Globe obituary

New York Times obituary

Article on Mr. Gomberg from the Boston Symphony Orchestra newsletter
(posted on the International Double Reed Society web site)

Regina Carter's band

We have just gotten word which musicians Regina Carter will be bringing to Sanders Theatre besides vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. They are as follows:

Alvester Garnett, drums
Xavier Davis, piano
Matthew Parrish, bass
Darryl Harper, clarinet

The group is currently on tour in Thailand. Here's a slide show of the tour from Matthew Parrish's web site. Nice hotel, guys.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Globe Review of Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, with a Little Raging Controversy Thrown In

Dietrich Buxtehude

Along with our distinguished colleagues at the Boston Early Music Festival, we were privileged to present the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir at Symphony Hall on Friday evening. The Boston Globe's classical music critic, Jeremy Eichler, reviewed the performance and made note of an attribution issue with the evening's first work, Magnificat primi toni, BuxWV 203, said to be by German (or Danish) composer Dietrich Buxtehude:

"The evening opened with a lovely and meticulous performance of a Magnificat setting by Buxtehude, the composer and organist whose music was an important inspiration to Bach. Though in an odd twist, the erudite program notes by Steven Ledbetter informed audience members that the piece's attribution to Buxtehude was quite dubious, leaving one to wonder why Koopman had chosen this particular work to represent a composer whose music one rarely gets to hear performed at such a high level." Read all of Jeremy Eichler's Boston Globe review.

And here is the segment of Mr. Ledbetter's program notes to which Mr. Eichler refers:

"The work to be performed here is a Magnificat setting discovered in an anonymous manuscript in Uppsala, Sweden, and published by Bruno Grusnick in 1931 as a work by Buxtehude. But Grusnick later discovered that the manuscript had come from a source in central Germany, far from where Buxtehude lived and worked, so that the attribution to him was almost certainly incorrect."

Read all of Steven Ledbetter's program notes for the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir performance.

Being an expert in few, if any things, especially not the music of Dietrich Buxtehude, I have only one thought to offer to this (anything but) raging controversy. Okay, two thoughts:

1) Thanks to Mr. Eichler for reading the program notes and validating our ongoing effort to bring them to our audiences. This may be the most important part of this post. Really, thank you, Jeremy.

2) In the rhetorical spirit, and not to take anything away from Mr. Eichler's point, is it possible Mr. Koopman programmed Buxtehude's Magnificat primi toni not to "represent the composer" but to represent the piece of music and that the attribution simply came along for the ride? Or is it possible Mr. Koopman was making his own case for attribution using the piece as evidence on a program which included J.S. Bach?

Wherever Dietrich Buxtehude is now, his ears must be burning. To quote A.A. Milne, I, being of "little brain," had just gotten past how to pronounce "Buxtehude," and now this. Seriously, though, one part of this concert was free of controversy, it was a lovely performance.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pilobolus reviewed

Karen Campbell reviewed Friday night's performance by Pilobolus at The Citi Shubert Theatre for The Boston Globe:

"Mendez and Manelich Minniefee gave a gorgeous performance of Tracy's moving 2001 "Symbiosis," which explored the delicate balance of mutual need in a relationship that was sensual and primal yet without a trace of sexuality. It was instead a study in vulnerability and trust portrayed through the organic physicality of intricate partnering and careful balances."

Read all of Pilobolus picks up the pace, with mixed results.

Tedd Bale reviewed for The Boston Herald.

And last, but not least, Sue Katz reviewed for

VCB encore

The Vienna Choir Boys encore yesterday afternoon was the traditional Christmas carol, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Not that it should surprise anyone...

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir encore

The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir made its Boston (and Celebrity Series/Boston Early Music Festival) debut last night at Symphony Hall. Their encore was J.S. Bach's "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier" from the Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, Part 6, No. 59.

For those that did not attend, the rest of the program can be found here.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Pilobolus in the house

Pilobolus has arrived, and it turns out they are really interesting dancers, not fungi. Heck, I say go!

They're here through Sunday. That's their Trevi Fountain pose above.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A million subscribers in the Naked City...

A small group of us from the office ventured into darkest Cambridge earlier this week for a meeting with our always delightful colleagues at World Music (psst, it was about Cirque Eloize, more on that later). Our post-meeting cab driver turned out to be a 20-year Celebrity Series subscriber, and - smashing every factoid cliche we have come to believe about our subscribers - a father of four from a burg well out Route 2 into the North Country. As we drove, I remembered an old Doonesbury cartoon featuring an erudite bricklayer.

The man seemed absolutely shocked when our marketing VP remembered his name and his subscriber status. David explained later that this man is one of the handful of subscribers so dedicated to acquiring quality seats that they show up at the office first thing in the morning the day after the brochure is mailed. We know these people. We are in awe of these people.

"Are you sure you've never been in my cab before?" We lurched from one stoplight to the next as the cabbie took calls from fares, writing the info on a notepad resting on his knee as he drove, pausing only to stare at the three of us in disbelief. "Where am I taking you again?" he finally asked, the new WCRB buzzing in the background. "Oh, right." He careened to the right and down an alley to what must be a secret entrance to Storrow Drive and whipped out into the oncoming traffic as the notepad slid onto the floor (along with our stomachs).

When we pulled up at the office, he grabbed a handful of tickets wedged behind his visor, and fanned through them, "Here's one of yours. Evgeny Kissin." We all nodded. It was indeed a Kissin ticket with our logo on it.

When we got out of the cab, feeling certain that preferred rider status was ours for the asking (he's in the phonebook, you know), we asked David how he had remembered the man's name. "You don't forget someone like him, do you?"

How many more like him walk the mean streets of Greater Boston?

Soho the Dog

Thanks to The Exhibitionist (and Jeremy Eichler), I've taken another look at Matthew Guerrieri's blog Soho the Dog, a local treat. Love yesterday's satirical post based on a musical propaganda poster. He found one in the National Archives and then went on to create a few himself. My favorite: Remember, Only Communists Clap Between Movements.

How could I have not noticed how cool this blog is the first time I saw it? Wait, don't answer that.

Click through to it, you'll be glad you did (or your money back).

Hilary Hahn gets a bodyguard

Naples, bring your bodyguard

Think a classical musician's blog would be one obscure, exceedingly dull, treatise after another? Think again. Violinist Hilary Hahn's blog (she calls it a journal) is always a fascinating glimpse into her busy life. Last month she was given a bodyguard in Naples because of the mafia crime wave there:

"I haven't yet left this city, but it's probably safe to say that I've survived the mob war intact. An antique ring, a favorite of mine, disappeared sometime yesterday, much to my chagrin - but that's probably more the work of pickpockets or thieves than murderous mafia hitmen. While we were here, a 17-year-old was buried, having been stabbed seven times while trying to break up a fight in the city. Perhaps that's why we were warned away from side streets. A bodyguard was assigned to me, a tall man in black with a police badge, hair slicked back, sleek shades perched on his pointed nose. His assignment was to wait in the hotel lobby until I went anywhere, then to accompany me outside until I returned to the hotel. The city felt safe for the most part, but it was reassuring to have a protective presence around."

Read Hilary Hahn's entire post. And here is Hilary's web site from the top.

Hilary Hahn plays for us in Boston on January 12, I presume without a bodyguard.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Kathy Mattea and An Inconvenient Truth

Country singer Kathy Mattea tried a new vocation on for size on December 2 when she presented An Inconvenient Truth, the slide show about global warming put together by former Vice President Al Gore, at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek, Michigan:

"An audience of some 250 people was viewing a picture of Earth snapped by the Voyager I spacecraft from the edge of the solar system. What they saw was a pinprick of light just barely distinguishable in the grainy image.

'That's our home,' Mattea said of the tiny speck, her voice choking up with emotion. 'That's why this is so important.'"

Read Singer takes up global warming fight from The Battle Creek Enquirer.

Kathy Mattea makes her Celebrity Series debut with a concert at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge on February 3.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Wynton gets political

Wynton Marsalis' new Bluenote CD, From the Plantation to the Penitentiary comes out March 6. Marsalis says it is his most political album in years.

He is quoted by Nekesa Moombu Moody in the Associated Press as saying:

"It's been in my mind for a while. Every decade I like to do one piece that has
that kind of social involvement with American culture."

Another unusual aspect of the recording is that it features some of Marsalis' vocals (That's right, you heard me). Something he says comes naturally to him:

"I always try and do something different. I don't try to make any of my
records the same," he said. "I'm always singing and chanting all over my house.
I grew up doing it in New Orleans, chanting and singing and making up rhymes;
long before there was rap music we were doing that. That's the New Orleans'

Read all of Nekesa Moombu Moody's article, Marsalis' New CD Deals with Politics.

Wynton Marsalis comes to Boston March 28 with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

David Perkins reviews Kirchschlager for Boston Globe

David Perkins was tantalized by Angelika Kirchschlager's Friday night recital and left wishing to hear  her covering more various territory and different composers. His review appears in today's Boston Globe:

"A glimmer of what she might do if she cut loose in recital came in an encore.
After Poulenc's 'Hotel,' one wished she'd done a whole set by that composer, or
something even edgier, like Schoenberg's 'Cabaret Songs.'"

There's more to this singer, one suspects, than cherries and cream. How about
some olives? Figs? Even some New England cranberries?"

Read all of: Recital is tasteful, if a little too sweet.

It's time to give interactivity another plug. I'm curious, did any blog readers attend Ms. Kirchschlager's recital, and if so would you care to post your own thoughts? They can be as brief or as long as you like (there's this button right under these words, see, and you just click it, and...

Monday, December 4, 2006

Wintry weather brings virtual battle of the holiday programs

Surely this morning's weather helped you to realize that the holidays are approaching. Well, we have a couple of holiday programs for you to consider: in this corner, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Ton Koopman, brings a Christmas program of Buxtehude, Corelli and some guy named J.S. Bach. this Friday, December 8 at Symphony Hall.

And in this corner, not to be outdone, the Vienna Choir Boys bring their angelic voices to Jordan Hall on December 10 where they will sing a holiday program that includes music by Mozart, Felix Mendelsson-Bartholdy, and Johan Strauss, Jr.; and holiday music from around the world, including an Uzbek folk song, Indian bhajan, and a Peruvian/Quechuan Hymn. And it wouldn't be the same without an avalanche of Christmas songs, like Adeste fideles, O, Come, O Come Emanuel, Joy to the get the idea.

Alright, I've said enough. You want holiday music? We have a holiday music duel!

Chatting with Arnold Steinhardt beside the Postcard Pantheon

Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, was kind enough to talk with me at Jordan Hall before yesterday's concert. After following him up the stairs to the green room where the Quartet was milling about and chatting, I noticed his case on a chair and thought how rare it is to meet someone whose work you are reading, and to see the objects of their story in the present.

The pantheon of violinists in Arnold Steinhardt's violin case: Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Niccolo Paganini, Eugene Ysaÿe were wedged gently into the lid, just as he described them in Violin Dreams (yes, one last pass at this marvelous book).

He placed his violin gently in the open case. Knowing their stories from the book, I wondered aloud which of his violins this was, his Guarneri del Gesu? the Pressenda? the Lorenzo Storioni?

Steinhardtwviolin_4 He held up his violin. "This was made by a wonderful violin-maker, Samuel Zygmuntowicz, in Brooklyn," came the answer. Right. Brooklyn.

"So it' then."

He laughed, "Yes, it's just a few months old. But new violins are like new wine."

Arnold Steinhardt and his
Samuel Zygmuntowicz violin

Sunday, December 3, 2006

The Guarneri String Quartet's encore

The Guarneri's only encore this afternoon, following their concert of Mozart, Beethoven and the Boston premiere of Lukas Foss' String Quartet No. 5 (a Celebrity Series co-commission, thank you very much), was the third movement (Menuetto) from Mozart's String Quartet No. 8 in F major, K. 168.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Notes on the charming Ms. Kirchschlager

The audience at Jordan Hall last night for Angelika Kirchschlager's Celebrity Series debut was thoroughly charmed by the mezzo-soprano's program of Haydn, Grieg, Brahms, Schubert and Liszt, a fact made abundantly clear by their enthusiastic ovations. For encores, Ms. Kirchschlager sang Liszt's Es muss ein Wundesbares sein, and Poulenc's Hôtel.

Immediately before walking onstage, she confessed, "I'm so hungry now! Some chocolate and some nuts would be nice!" and laughed.

Backstage, after the performance, Ms. Kirchschlager seemed as enraptured by her recital experience as her audience was with her, "What a lovely hall, everyone is so close to you...and the acoustics! And everyone followed so closely, they seemed to understand without reading the translations."

A staff member who regularly works with artists of all demeanors confessed, "I may have a new favorite."

Friday, December 1, 2006

Arnold Steinhardt's "Violin Dreams"

Lots of accomplished musicians write autobiographical books of one sort or another; some, but certainly not all, even do it successfully. Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist for the illustrious Guarneri String Quartet, has succeeded with his entry, Violin Dreams, an autobiography thick with the stories of his professional development, the history of the violin and its importance in Jewish culture, and of his many encounters with the famous and/or the brilliant along his own professional musical path. Violin Dreams is a smart book that is about its author, but without talking about him ad nauseum.

Here's an excerpt describing his experience with pianist, scholar and author Arthur Loesser after he playing Bach's D Minor Partita for him:

"'Now, let me show you how to dance the D Minor Partita,' he said. He took off his glasses and let them dangle from a silken cord around his neck; then, smiling sweetly, the elderly Loesser danced the serious Allemande, the lively Courante, the sensuously graceful sarabande, the high-jinks Gigue, and finally the lusty Chaconne around his living room...When he finally came to a stop, he looked at me, eyes glistening, and said, quite out of breath by now, 'This the noble style of French court dancing, and you must make us want to dance while playing your D Minor Partita.'"

For a second opinion (albeit pre-selected by me), read Richard Eder's review of Violin Dreams for The Los Angeles Times.

Arnold Steinhardt will sign copies of Violin Dreams following The Guarneri String Quartet's performance this Sunday at Jordan Hall (3pm).

Addendum: As I read more of Violin Dreams (yes, following the habits of some in the book review business, I posted on it without having finished the book), I realize that I previously omitted one of the important musical themes of Steinhardt's project, that of J.S. Bach's D Minor Partita, a solo violin tour de force and a musical spectre throughout the book. There is a CD lodged in the back of the book, containing two recordings by Steinhardt of the piece, one from 1966, one from this year. Another reason to consider adding Violin Dreams to your library.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lang Lang's program and personal reflections


Lang Lang and his broad reach

Pianist Lang Lang has announced the program for his January 28 Celebrity Series recital at Symphony Hall. It is typically expansive and challenging, taking the piano star from Mozart and Liszt to Catalan pianist, composer (and even painter) Enrique Granados and traditional Chinese songs. Lang Lang has also offered his personal reflections on the program (to be included in the concert's program book), available here.

Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 13 in B flat major, K. 333
Schumann, Fantasie for piano in C major, Op. 17
6 Traditional Chinese Works
Granados, Goyescas, H. 64
Liszt, Isoldens Liebestod: Schlußszene aus Tristan und Isolde, transcription for piano (after Wagner), S. 447
and Hungarian Rhapsody for piano No. 6 in D flat major, S. 244/6

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving (plus Pilobolus links)

I'm taking the break that virtually everyone is taking...

I'll be back next week, but in the meantime, here are a few Pilobolus links submitted for your approval:

Pilobolus on

Pilobolus on (video, tour schedule, photos, blog, etc.)

Pilobolus dancer Ras Mikey C on

Pilobolus Official web site

Lois Greenfield's Pilobolus photo gallery

And the link to our performance (December 8-10)...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mutter and Fuller (and Orkis) on WGBH-FM

Those of you who missed Cathy Fuller's chat with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis last week on Classics in the Morning are in luck. The 27 minute (give or take) conversation, just as it was broadcast, is available in streaming audio on the WGBH-FM Classical web site (look on the right-hand silo).

Look on the same page (same right-hand silo) for an approximately hour-long interview with soprano Dawn Upshaw, scheduled to sing a Celebrity Series recital on Sunday, February 25.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Have violin, will hip hop

Daniel Bernard Roumain

Get a load of this: Violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain on performing his Voodoo Violin Concerto with the Vermont Youth Orchestra this past September. DBR, as he is known, comes to the Celebrity Series and the Berklee Performance Center March 31 with his band, THE MISSION.

Then there is his turn on the CBS Evening News, also a post. Not the best video quality, but it has an overview.

The Boston Phoenix: Phat and 40

The Boston Phoenix is turning 40 and the editor(s) celebrated last week with a spiffy 40th anniversary issue - identifying the photos on the cover made for easy sport in the print edition, which is still available on the street. Maybe it's because I am of similar age myself that I feel a certain kinship with the Phoenix (is the B.P. a Sagittarius, too?). In any case, I have been an avid Phoenix reader (along with several other local publications, naturally) for quite a while.

Not to compare any one publication to any other, nor am I backscratching because they often cover our performances, but if you, Bostonian, care about the performing arts, you shouldn't miss the Boston Phoenix each week. If you are of a certain age (or beyond), you probably regard the Phoenix as being full of pop culture and for students, and it is, but not exclusively.

Now, just to make a liar of myself, here's a link to Jeffrey Gantz' second review of the Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake and also a link to Lloyd Schwartz' fond remembrance of the restaurants, theatre and lively life of Harvard Square's past.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chuckle and back away...

"The piano is a monster that screams when you touch its teeth."
                                                                      -Andrés Segovia

Exploring the ancient ruins of Steinway

Composer Ross Bolleter is obsessed with ruined pianos. He makes a kind of accidental (sorry) music with them and he has created something called the World Association for Ruined Piano Studies, or WARPS. Here's a bit of the introduction from his web site:

"A piano is said to be Ruined (rather than Neglected or Devastated) when it has been abandoned to all weathers and has become a decaying box of unpredictable dongs, clicks and dedoomps, with not a single note (perhaps excepting D) sounding like one from an even-tempered upright piano."

There's a sort of John Cage meets Tom Waits character to this concept, but of course I haven't actually heard any of it...yet. Bolleter's CD, Secret Sandhills and Satellites, on Emanem Records can be ordered here.

Visit the WARPS Music web site - there's a lot to find here, it's well worth a look.

Do I even have to say it? Thanks to The Well-Tempered Blog.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mutter and Orkis do some heavy lifting

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis got up early yesterday morning so she could be interviewed by Cathy Fuller on WGBH-FM. After the interview they went to rehearsal for two hours, then lunch, then another rehearsal, a half-hour wait, a Symphony Hall concert with two encores, followed by a CD signing that went until after 11pm. Without even getting into the fact that they were on the road or that they performed at an extremely high level, that is a dilly of a schedule (that's right, I said a "dilly" of a schedule).

So anyway, I took a few photos at the CD signing:







Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Congrats, Eileen!

Let me take a moment to extend a hearty congratulations to Eileen Reuter, our Director of Ticketing Services on her 10-year anniversary at the Celebrity Series. Many happy returns and thanks for all the hard work!

The Assads reviewed in The Boston Globe

Kevin Lowenthal, reviewed Sergio and Odair Assad's Saturday evening concert for today's Boston Globe, here's a wee bit, but you'll want to follow the link and check out the whole thing:

"The Brazilian-born Assad brothers, a guitar duo, perform with almost telepathic unity. Barely glancing at each other, eyes often closed, they trade lead and supporting roles with astonishing fluidity. With your own eyes closed, it's impossible to tell who's playing what."

Read Brazilian brothers offer dazzling guitar duet.

Hilary Hahn wows 'em in Baltimore, then gets her tonsils removed


Hilary Hahn, with her tonsils

Hilary Hahn leads the voting for trooper artist of the year (last season it was the Soweto Gospel Choir for surviving their lengthy tour). Here are some of critic Tim Smith's comments on her recent lecture/demonstration in Baltimore from his Baltimore Sun review:

"The morning after a long trip from Austria, and a day before facing a
tonsillectomy, stellar violinist Hilary Hahn captivated an overflow house in the
intimate recital room at An die Musik..."

"Relaxed and articulate, Hahn discussed details of her 19th-century French
fiddle, the interpretive process, and the value of playing second violin. She
also explained how she dealt with making mistakes. 'I just say 'bleh' and start
over,' she said..."

"I don't feel I fit in with business-class travelers," she said. "And if you
travel first class all the time, you start to feel you're an important person -
but you're really not."

Read all of Hahn captivates in informal concert from The Baltimore Sun.

Hilary Hahn returns - sans tonsils - to a Celebrity Series stage on January 12.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mutter and Orkis on WGBH radio

Tonight's chamber musicians, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (violin and piano respectively), paid a visit this morning to WGBH radio's Classics in the Morning, hosted by Cathy Fuller.

L to R: Lambert Orkis, Cathy Fuller and Anne-Sophie Mutter

Their interview will likely be available soon on WGBH's HD channel will be available for download. I'll post the URL when I get it.

Anne-Sophie talks to The Boston Globe

Anne-Sophie Mutter spoke with The Globe's David Perkins yesterday on topics ranging from rumors of her retirement (not true), to the world premiere of Sir André Previn's double concerto for double-bass and violin in April with the BSO, to tonight's Symphony Hall program of Mozart sonatas:

"Mutter has spent the Mozart anniversary year performing Mozart concertos and sonatas, to the accompaniment of CD releases by Deutsche Grammophon. It's also the 30th anniversary of her debut at the Lucerne Festival, where she was discovered. Can you have too much Mozart? 'A musician can never get tired of him, and the violin repertoire covers such a large life span,' she said. 'In our recitals, Lambert [Orkis, her accompanist] and I arrange the Mozart sonatas from three different periods of his mature career, so that you have this great crescendo of compositional imagination.'"

Read all of Mutter still takes her music seriously

Wynton Marsalis on Ed Bradley


Wynton Marsalis, trumpeter, jazz musician, icon, band leader and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, talks with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes about his friend, the late Ed Bradley:

"He embraced himself. He didn't run from himself. He understood that the
Afro-American culture is at the center of the American culture, and he was the
type of person that embraced the totality of our culture, meaning Afro-American
culture and American culture. They're inseparable, and he understood that. And
he represented that."

There is plenty of good video accompanying this article, too; video of both Marsalis and Bradley.

Read all of Wynton Marsalis on Ed Bradley.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra make their next Celebrity Series appearance on March 28 at Symphony Hall.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Arnold Steinhardt meets Igor

"He's God and I'm just a kid. A kid can't call God."

Edward Reichel of Utah's Deseret Morning News, recently interviewed Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet on staying together for the long haul, meeting Igor Stravinsky and program selection:

"Programming concerts for the Guarneri String Quartet is a simple proposition, according to Arnold Steinhardt.

"'We have selfish reasons,' Steinhardt said. 'We play music that stimulates us.'

And after more than 40 years of performing together, the group certainly has the right to be picky. 'We're not in the position to play works the audience loves but which don't appeal to us. Nor do we feel obligated to do modern pieces, either.'"

Read Quartet has right recipe for success

The Guarneri String Quartet returns to Jordan Hall on December 3 with a program of Mozart, Beethoven and a Lukas Foss Boston premiere co-commissioned by the Celebrity Series.

Another fine evening of music from The Assads

Sergio and Odair Assad came to Jordan Hall on Saturday night with a program of Jean-Philippe Rameau, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Joaquin Rodrigo, Astor Piazzolla, Egberto Gismonti, Roland Dyens, Radames Gnattali and Sergio Assad. The evening's lone encore was Sergio Assad's lovely Farewell.

I wrestled with what category under which to list this performance, because so much of the program, in fact and in spirit, qualifies as "New Music." Of course, "Folk/World" was, naturally, a possibility. But the formality of the setting (despite Sergio's quite helpful amplified introductions) the frequency in which composers and works in the first half make the rounds of classical guitar recitals, and the likelihood that readers will actually find this post, tipped the scales in favor of chamber music.

Having said that, the Assads, and "classical" guitar repertoire in general, do more than most other branches of the classical musical tree to explode old boundaries. The ubiquitous driving rhythms in any Assad program are proof of this.

I sat in the balcony and took a few photos of the ovations and encore:


Sergio Assad (top right) introducing the first and only encore, his own Farewell



Daily papers weigh in on Kirov Ballet

Boston's daily papers joined us for opening night of The Kirov Ballet and Orchestra.

Karen Campbell reviewed for The Boston Globe:

"The most surprising thrill is the corps. For the most part, they display not only impressive technical facility, but expressive unanimity and stylistic cohesion. They seem to breathe as one, dancing as if the music is in their bones."

Read Stripped of tragedy, Kirov's 'Swan Lake' still dazzles.

The Boston Herald's Ted Medrek reviewed for The Herald:

"Let there be no doubts: The dancing on Thursday was sublime at every level. The
11th Swan on the left, for instance, danced with the same extraordinary
suppleness and dazzlingly complete technical freedom as the stars - on opening
night, Igor Zelensky as Prince Siegfried (the not-too-bright fellow who betrays
his beloved Swan Queen, Odette, with her evil twin, Odile) and Uliana Lopatkina
in the dual Odette/Odile role."

Read Kirov turns in a beautiful ‘Swan.’

The New York Sun reviews Kirov in Boston

Joel Lobenthal, writing for The New York Sun, was pleasantly surprised by this version of The Kirov. Here's a snippet of his comments on Uliana Lopatkina, who danced Odette/Odile on November 9:

"Ms. Lopatkina was Odette/Odile on Thursday night, giving one of the best performances of Swan Lake I've seen her dance. As the White Swan she employed few mannerisms — or rather exactly the right ones, employed judiciously. While always strikingly regal and slightly aloof, she was more vulnerable than she has sometimes been, which is all to the good. As the Black Swan, she evinced or simulated an unusual abandon and her fouettés were flawless. Her extensions are now higher, and, as always, her long, long arms are extraordinary, seemingly devoid of sinew or bone, their line perfect to the tips of her fingers."

Read the entire review in The New York Sun: A New and Improved Course for the Kirov.

Friday, November 10, 2006

"It's Christmas in November"


Eminent dance critic Iris Fanger reviewed Thursday night's Swan Lake by The Kirov Ballet for The Patriot Ledger. Here is a sample:

"Despite the prominence of Odette the Swan Queen, performed last night by the
company’s leading ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina, the soul of 'Swan Lake' belongs
to the corps de ballet of 32 swans who surround her in the second and fourth 'white' acts. Moving as a single entity, with tempos, gestures and height of
raised legs in unison, the Kirov corps seems to inhale and exhale on a single
shared breath, a marvel of grace and beauty. Their exemplary performance is
testament to the level at which the entire company is dancing."

Read all of It’s Christmas in November



KLR Trio at its peak...

This one almost got by my bloginat- er, bloginess. David Perkins reviewed last week's KLR Trio concert for The Boston Globe; read Chamber trio at its peak delivers a lovely musical present.

Jeffrey Gantz of The Boston Phoenix reviews Swan Lake

Boston Phoenix Arts Editor Jeffrey Gantz reviewed last night's Kirov Ballet performance of Swan Lake for Here is his opening gambit:

"Swan Lake is ballet’s ultimate act of yearning. For just an
instant, that opening F-sharp from the oboe hovers, between B major and B minor,
flock and flight, castle and forest, sex and love, black and white. It’s a
ballet for women who aren’t quite women and for men who kill the thing they

And his take on the corps:

"The female corps are darting salmon and blushing roses in the first act,
milkweed soft and swift in the pas emboîté and arabesque sautés of their swan
entrance in the second, a template for Boston Ballet beyond even what the Royal
presented here in its 2001 Swan Lake."

Personally, I always find Mr. Gantz informative, even a week or so after the performance, but it's especially nice to read an overnight review from him with the performance still fresh in mind.

Read all of Water Music.

Can we pick a winner, or what?

Our friends The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (we hosted them in Symphony Hall back on October 15) were awarded the National Medal of Arts yesterday by the President. It couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving bunch. Congratulations, fellas!

Read about the award in NOLA Updates from the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Kirov Ballet rehearsal photo essay

Hope you enjoy my little visual diary from The Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake rehearsal this afternoon.








In case you haven't heard...

Our colleagues have a new name, or at least they will soon.

Johnny Sain, RIP

(L to R) Spahn and Sain

Today everything is Kirov Kirov, Celebrity Series Celebrity Series and Wang Wang, etc., but take a moment to consider the passing of a Boston legend once immortalized in poetry:

"First we'll use Spahn, then we'll use Sain
Then an off day, followed by rain.
Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain
And followed, we hope, by two days of rain."

This poem, published by the Boston Post, was later shortened to the popular baseball euphemism, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain."

Boston Braves (and other teams) pitcher Johnny Sain died Tuesday in Downers Grove, Illinois at the age of 89. Boston Globe obituary.

Boston Globe "Kirov Brings Swan Lake with a Happy Ending"

Kirov Ballet principal Uliana Lopatkina in Swan Lake

Writer Valerie Galdstone spoke with Kirov principal dancers Uliana Lopatkina and Diana Vishneva the Kirov Ballet and Swan Lake (opening tonight!) for today's Boston Globe:

"Lopatkina treasures the Kirov's legacy. 'We are at a very high point,' she said by phone. 'It is an honor to be part of it. I never take it for granted.'"

Read Kirov brings Swan Lake with a happy ending.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Tedd Bale talks with Kirov Ballet's Diana Vishneva

Tedd Bale of The Boston Herald spoke with principal dancer (and Friday night's Odette/Odile in Swan Lake) Diana Vishneva last week:

“I thought some life experience, some artistic experience should help me to feel this role and be ready,” she said. “I take it very seriously, and now I am glad that I was prepared very well.”

Read all of For ballerina, ‘Swan Lake’ still Russian to the corps

The Kirov Ballet and Orchestra's Swan Lake opens tomorrow night at The Wang Theatre.

What do you know about The Kirov Ballet?

The Mariinsky Theatre, circa 1890

It's back to wikipedia for some facts-we-bet-you-didn't-know about The Kirov Ballet (Nov 9-12, that's this week, by the way...):

1. Though the company still tours the United States and Europe under the name Kirov, the famed ballet troupe was originally called the Imperial Ballet and is now called the Mariinsky Ballet in Russia after St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, the company's home.

2. One of the company's greatest choreographers, Marius Petipa, is considered by most to be the father of classical ballet. Lev Ivanov helped a little, too.

3. Agrippina Vaganova, the company's ballet master after the Revolution of 1917, is credited for saving the Russian-style of ballet, and her teaching methods form much of the basis of what is considered classical ballet today.

4. The choreography school of the Mariinsky Ballet, named after Vaganova, has produced some of the most famous dancers of the 20th century. Notable alumni include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tony award-winning dancer Natalia Makarova and the late Rudolf Nureyev

5. Throughout the years, the company has premiered many works that have later gone on to become classic ballets. These include The Nutcracker, Don Quixote and Sleeping Beauty.


Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Well, look who's here...


French conductor Paul Mauriat, 1925-2006

Paul Mauriat

Conductor and songwriter Paul Mauriat died November 3 in the town of Perpignon. He was 81. Mr. Mauriat, best known for his 1968 hit, Love is Blue, began conducting during World War II and during the 1950s he was music director for Maurice Chevalier. Mr. Mauriat's orchestra still tours the world.

On a more contemporary note, those inclined to current popular music may have heard Mr. Mauriat's  I Will Follow Him as a sample in rapper Eminem's Guilty Conscience. I'm just saying...

The Celebrity Series presented Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra twice, in 1969 and again in 1970.

New York Times obituary

Undercover Obituary obituary

Paul Mauriat wikipedia page

Paul Mauriat fan page