MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Contemplating End Times with the Emerson Quartet

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Emerson String Quartet Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

My review of the Emerson Quartet’s performance for the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center for Musical America (paywall):

NEW YORK—“Conclusions are the weak point of most authors,” George Eliot famously declared, “but some of the fault lies in the very nature of a conclusion, which is at best a negation.” That may hold true for fiction, but composers glory in the powerful statements they can make when a piece approaches the double bar line. And, in the case of certain composers, music written when their own lives are nearing the end possesses a special mystique.

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Filed under: Beethoven, Emerson String Quartet, Musical America, review, Shostakovich

Music for Troubled Times: Seattle Symphony’s Shostakovich Concerto Festival

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Violinist Aleksey Semenenko, with Pablo Rus Broseta conducting the Seattle Symphony; photo (c)Brandon Patoc

My review of Seattle Symphony’s remarkable, two-part Shostakovich Concerto Festival is now available on STRINGS:

The Seattle Symphony just offered a rare chance to hear all six of Dmitri Shostakovich’s solo instrumental concertos back-to-back in a two-day marathon (January 19–20) featuring three young virtuosos, all led by the ensemble’s associate conductor, Pablo Rus Broseta.

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Filed under: review, Seattle Symphony, Shostakovich

Shostakovich Concerto Festival at SSO

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Soloist Aleksey Semenenko with the Seattle Symphony and Pablo Rus Broseta conducting; (c) Brandon Patoc

The Seattle Symphony’s Shostakovich Concerto Festival started off last night with a powerful program covering half of the Russian master’s six concertos for solo instruments.

It’s a fascinating opportunity to hear, compare, and contrast each of the pairs of concertos for piano, violin, and cello in a two-evening marathon. Ditto the three young artists appearing as the soloists: pianist Kenvin Ahfat, violinist Aleksey Semenenko, and cellist Edgar Moreau. Leading the Seattle Symphony is its marvelously talented associate conductor, Pablo Rus Broseta.

I’ll have a report on the whole festival later on in Strings magazine. In the meantime, based on the caliber of the performances — not to mention the new relevance of Shostakovich at the dawn of an era of profound political and cultural angst — I highly recommend Part Two this evening. On the program tonight: the Second Piano and Cello Concertos and the First Violin Concerto.

Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Shostakovich

Heavy-Metal Dmitri

Getting in the mood for the start of Seattle Symphony’s two-concert Shostakovich Concerto Festival.

Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Shostakovich

Pairing Masterpieces by Shostakovich and Stravinsky

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Here’s my new story for the Seattle Times on this week’s upcoming Seattle Symphony program:

On Jan. 28, 1936, Dmitri Shostakovich woke up to read a sternly worded condemnation of his music in the official Soviet newspaper, Pravda.

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Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, Shostakovich, Stravinsky

Opening Night of the Berliner Philharmoniker

The new season opened with a masterful pairing of early Britten and Shostakovich: in fact, with what is arguably the most thrilling and audacious symphony Shostakovich ever wrote, the — bafflingly, frustratingly rarely programmed — Symphony No. 4.

Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliners will bring the same program to the Lucerne Festival on Tuesday.

Here’s more info and a link to the performance in BP’s Digital Concert Hall.

Filed under: Berlin Philharmonic, Britten, Shostakovich

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