MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

In Pastoral Vastness, Grand Art Harmonizes With Music’s Intimacy at Tippet Rise

Composer Reena Esmail and cellist Arlen Hlusko

Here’s my report on Tippet Rise Art Center and its opening weekend for the 2022 season, which I wrote for Classical Voice North America:

FISHTAIL, Mont. — Set amid endlessly rolling hills, mesas, and grasslands that are framed by rugged mountains and the vast Montana sky, Tippet Rise Art Center beckons with a unique intersection of pristine nature and interdisciplinary artistic adventure. The surrounding landscape inevitably injects itself into each musical experience, while looming sculptural shapes retune the sounds of wind and distant thunder. The metaphors proliferate so abundantly here that you need to take care not to step on them — to adapt Brahms’ famous observation about a favorite summer idyll that stimulated his creativity…

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Filed under: Classical Voice North America, commissions, Reena Esmail, Schumann, Tippet Rise

Byron Schenkman & Friends: Schumann Fairy Tales & Fantasies

Tonight at 7pm, Byron Schenkman is joined by clarinetist Thomas Carroll and violist Jason Fisher in a program celebrating the Romantic imagination. Here’s the menu:

R. Schumann:

Fairy Tales, op. 132,  for clarinet, viola, and piano

Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen:

Romance for clarinet and piano

Luisa Adolpha Le Beau:

Three Pieces, op. 26, for viola and piano

Max Bruch:

Romanian Melody, op. 83, no. 5, for clarinet, viola, and piano

R. Schumann:

Robert Schumann: Dreams, op. 15, no. 7, for piano 

R. Schumann:

Fantasy Pieces, op. 73, for clarinet and piano

Max Bruch:

Night Piece, op. 83, no. 6, for clarinet, viola, and piano

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news, Schumann

Rethinking Romanticism: Early Music’s Latest Adventures in Time Travel

The fall edition of Early Music America’s magazine carries my new article on encounters between historically informed performance and Romanticism:

 Revolutions have a way of coming full circle. As the HIP movement began spreading more than half a century ago, its bracing challenge to conventional interpretations echoed the rebellious spirit of the 1960s…

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Kent Nagano on his collaboration with Concerto Köln to prepare for a HIP Ring

Filed under: early music, Early Music America, Romanticism, Schumann, Wagner

Guy Braunstein and Martha Argerich

Tonight at Pierre Boulez Saal, Guy Braunstein and Martha Argerich perform a sold-out program of Schumann, Prokofiev, and Franck. My program essay is available here. (It’s their first time collaborating as a duo, so the clip above is of Argerich with Gidon Kremer — not exactly a bad compromise — in Schumann’s A minor Violin Sonata.)

Filed under: César Franck, Martha Argerich, Pierre Boulez Saal, Prokofiev, Schumann

Exceptional Schumann from Beatrice Rana

Such a satisfying experience to hear Robert Schumann’s much-played Piano Concerto with Beatrice Rana as the soloist. It felt like a genuine rediscovery. The clip above is from the 2018 BBC Proms — and if you’re in Seattle this weekend, you have a chance to get the live experience, with Peter Oundjian conducting.
Thursday night’s performance was spellbinding from start to finish — the opening volley of chords precise and powerful, without any need for overstatement or attention-grabbing. Rana conveyed the secrets of Schumann’s work with poetry, sensitivity, honesty, and keen musical intelligence. The reduced size of the orchestral strings allowed for intimacy and transparent, chamber music-like dialogue, with the Seattle Symphony winds (especially Mary Lynch on oboe) providing eloquent exchanges.
The program also included a rich, full-bodied account of what was actually the last symphony by Schumann’s friend, Felix Mendelssohn, though we know it as the Third (“Scottish”). Oundjian built up the details of the slow introduction so carefully that everything else seemed to be spun out from its melancholy atmosphere.
A wonderful complement to the Schumann opened the program: Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, a single-movement piece for string orchestra from 2009. Clyne wrote it in memory of her recently deceased mother. She found inspiration in the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist: “Earth will keep you tight within her arms dear one — / so that tomorrow you will be transformed into flowers — … Flowers that speak to me in silence,/the message of love and understanding has indeed come.”

This music with its understanding of loss and consolation really hit home for me: a loving elegy that never succumbs to the maudlin. A long-sustained bass line symbolizes the grounding of which the monk speaks, before a final, breath-taking release. Clyne taps into a neo-Renaissance sensibility, transforming the simple, descending ladder of notes of the core motif from a standard lamento into searing beauty.

Filed under: Anna Clyne, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Seattle Symphony

Byron Schenkman & Friends Present the Poetry of Schumann

byron-schenkman

Byron Schenkman (Will Austin/Will Austin Photography)

For Robert Schumann, the Romantic concept of poetry was the common denominator that inspired him to compose across a wide range of genres…

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Filed under: Byron Schenkman, Schumann, Seattle Times

Gidon Kremer with Seattle Symphony

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Gidon Kremer; © Paolo Pellegrin

My review of Gidon Kremer’s visit with Seattle Symphony:

It’s entirely characteristic of Gidon Kremer to choose a discovery piece rather than a surefire crowd-pleaser for what was a rare appearance in Seattle…

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Filed under: Gidon Kremer, Ludovic Morlot, Mendelssohn, review, Schumann, Seattle Symphony

Lucerne’s Piano Festival

The third and final installment of Lucerne Festival’s 2016 programming is the Piano Festival. It starts on Saturday (19 November), with Grigory Sokolov in a Mozart-Schumann recital.  And he’s playing one of the pianistic holy of holies, Schumann’s Op. 17.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, piano, Schumann, Uncategorized

For Today

Filed under: Schumann

Brentano Lieder

Part of this week’s excellent program by San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Filed under: San Francisco Symphony, Schumann, Strauss

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