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

Brahms, Brahms and Spam

Johannes Brahms, in heavy rotation

OK, so it wasn't so much Brahms as to suggest parody, but the timing of the two Brahms programs on Sunday (our Kremer/Zimerman recital at Jordan and the Borromeo and Jupiter Quartets at the Gardner Museum) made it impossible for Boston Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler to hear all of both recitals. But he made a valiant effort, which deserves mention. Mr. Eichler said of Gidon Kremer's performance:

"True to form, his Brahms on Sunday was unlike any rendition I had heard before. These works are often played with a generous, juicy tone and a loving indulgence in the music's heartfelt lyricism. Kremer, by contrast, played them with a focused, wiry tone and his typical allergy to schmaltz."

Read all of Glimpsing two faces of Brahms.

Mattea beguiles in Pittsburgh


Country singer Kathy Mattea (February 3) recently played Pittsburgh's Bynham Theater, John Hayes reviewed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"The West Virginia native and WVU grad offered a fresh, contemporary-acoustic
take on hits including Paul and Gene Nelson's 'Sixteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses'
and Nanci Griffith's 'Love at the Five and Dime.' She played a sprightly tin
whistle on several instrumental Celtic tunes and trailed off on a funny Ben
Roethlisberger riff during a bluesy new song, appropriately titled 'You're Gonna
Hurt Some.'"

Read Mature Mattea beguiles, despite a small crowd

Monday, November 6, 2006

Garrison Keillor, bookseller

Garrison Keillor (February 11) has recently opened an independent bookstore in St. Paul, Minnesota. "Common Good Books" is focused on local and regional authors and Keillor favorites:

"You won't find 'The Da Vinci Code,' Harlequin romance novels or the 'Dummies'
series of how-to books in Garrison Keillor's new bookstore in St. Paul, Minn.,
and if you find the latest John Grisham novel, it could be on the 'Quality
Trash' table."

Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times.

Kremer and Zimerman encores

A packed house enjoyed a brilliant recital program (the three Brahms violin sonatas) by violinist Gidon Kremer and pianist Krystian Zimerman yesterday at Jordan Hall. The afternoon was capped by two delightful encores: Eugene Ysaÿe's Rève d'enfant, Op. 14 and a movement of Mozart's fragmentary Sonata for piano and violin No. 39 in C Major, K. 404. During the Mozart, Zimerman brought a bit of Chico Marx.

After the performance, Mr. Zimerman reminded me of a trap-set drummer, dismantling his piano as soon as the house was cleared, pulling out the specially modified innards and carefully packing them away - the last one to leave "the bandstand."

More on this performance as the reviews come in.

Friday, November 3, 2006

The New York Times on the KLR Trio

Bernard Holland also reviewed the KLR Trio's return to the 92nd Street Y, for The New York Times:

"The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio offers three fine players who are well
aware of one another’s habits. The trio medium, especially on modern
instruments, does not produce the most luxurious of sounds. Add the
less-than-generous acoustics of this hall, not to mention Brahms’s natural
parsimony, and one could hardly expect rainbows of colors. The large crowd,
however, liked what it heard and with reason."

Read all of Three Trios From Brahms: Challenges for All Involved.

The KLR Trio plays together and breathes together


The New York Sun's Fred Kirshnit reviewed The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio's recent return to the 92nd Street Y - 30 years to the day after they first played there:

"KLR is the tightest imaginable unit, so aware of one another's moves — Mr.
Laredo and Ms. Robinson are husband and wife — that the players actually breathe
together. Intelligence and inspired listening characterize their presentations.
Witness, for example, the musicians' elimination of any significant pause
between movements two and three of the B Major Trio, emphasizing the sound of
one continuous movement quenching the most basic of human emotional yearnings in
the uniquely expressive language of tonality. Ms. Robinson's third movement
solos were incredibly beautiful and emblematic of a wonderful evening of music

Read all of Playing Together, Breathing Together.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Mutter on Mozart

Anne-Sophie Mutter's web site offers extensive information on The Mozart Project, her latest musical obsession. Info includes an interview she gave to Viennese critic Walter Dobner on the subject of Mozart's violin sonatas. Here's an excerpt:

"What criteria did you use in deciding which sonatas to programme as part of your three concerts?

I chose the most important works from all three creative periods - the Mannheim period and the middle and later periods in Vienna. And I tried to order them in such a way that they make musical sense but are also manageable from a technical point of view. One would never start a programme with K. 378, for example: that would be utter suicide. And it also goes without saying that the works that one chooses to open a programme should begin with a fanfare or a similar theme and be very straightforward and extrovert. More introverted works tend to be found in the middle of a programme. It is a question of ensuring that each recital represents a self-contained survey and that a constant development is discernible, culminating in the compositional high point of the programme's final sonata."

Complete text of Walter Dobner's interview with Anne-Sophie Mutter, not to mention Ms. Mutter's ten favorite Mozart recordings can be found on her web site.

Anne-Sophie Mutter will play a program of Mozart sonatas with pianist Lambert Orkis on Tuesday evening, November 14 at Symphony Hall.