Articles by Sudeep Agarwala
October 29, 2010
Thursday evening’s BSO performance found it hard to separate artist from opus: Marcelo Lehninger’s performance with the orchestra marked the 31-year-old conductor’s premiere as assistant conductor of the ensemble. Not a daring program, the performance somehow begged a divination of the young maestro’s future career than a complete synthesis of the evening’s works.
October 15, 2010
Mahler’s second symphony, the “Resurrection,” holds its place among a handful of symphonic works that will necessarily end in a standing ovation. This is no mystery: Mahler’s symphony is the logical extension of Beethoven’s gargantuan Ninth, the<i> “</i>Ode to Joy,” in scope, Mahler’s second symphony more than doubles the number of performers in Beethoven’s work in both orchestra and choir; Mahler’s work extends the choral sections across two independent movements and the use of orchestral recitative far beyond Beethoven’s work. In content, while Beethoven text is an exhortation to brotherhood and peace, Mahler’s text is somehow more personal, more aligned with modern aesthetics — a call for personal growth and achievement, a prayer for personal actualization, a spiritual resurrection.
September 24, 2010
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s new conductor-less resident orchestra, A Far Cry, presented a thoughtful synthesis of works spanning five hundred years ofWestern music in their program entitled Primordial Darkness during the museum’s Sunday afternoon concert series on September 19th.
September 10, 2010
As best as these things can happen, he was the Cincinnatus of our musical world. Born November 5, 1940, in Tackley of Oxfordshire, England, Anthony Rolfe Johnson came relatively late to music, spending the majority of his twenties as a farmer, beginning his formal training at nearly thirty years of age at the Guildhall School of Music in London. Initially unable to even read music, Mr. Johnson eventually learned, continuing on to study with Benjamin Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, and making his operatic debut in 1973.
May 11, 2010
They’re clearly the most fun to make fun of in middle school and high school. Among a sea of athletes and garage bands, the pianists, percussionists, the trumpeteers, the clarinetists, and even violinists are social outcasts in the grand scheme of ridiculous adolescent social circles. But in the musical hierarchy, they’re somehow top dog. They’re cool; they sit at the back of the bus during band tours. Somehow they exude confidence, knowing they command the respect of the small circle of art aficionados, of the small enclave adults and peers that cultivate this sort of erudition.
April 30, 2010
Given the short shrift faced by choral music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it’s surprising that Dominick Argento has attained the status he has. Argento’s creative output includes a vast array of operas, choral works and song cycles (one of which, <i>From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, </i>earned him the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2004), yet a surprisingly small output of orchestral works: a relatively small number of symphonies and concerti, and practically no chamber works.
April 23, 2010
Of the languages that are most frequently performed in the Western canon (Latin, Italian, French, German and sometimes Russian and Spanish), French is most often eschewed, most usually because of the difficulty in its diction. At least in English speaking countries, it seems there are as many schools of pronunciation as there are people willing to subscribe to them. And this is in modern French; how many different ways to pronounce Medieval French? franco-Latin? Least of all to mention the difficulties of twentieth-century French music which, after the daring harmonic advancements of Claude Debussy and Francis Poulenc, became some unholy amalgam of jazz imbued with traditional choral forms.
April 9, 2010
For as beautifully and thoughtfully as Saturday evening’s performance was conceived, programmed and performed, the third concert of Musica Sacra’s 50th anniversary season also managed to present significant challenges to both audience and performer. In a program entitled <i>The Spirit is Still Speaking: Sacred Choral Music of the Modern Era</i>, Musica Sacra performed five works; wo were world premieres, and all were written within the last forty years.
March 19, 2010
The string section is a staple of any orchestra: The largest of the instrumental sections, the strings are the most prominently displayed. Strings are usually the most constant factor in any orchestral score, while woodwinds, brass, percussion are the variables. Perhaps it is ironic that the fate of the string section is to play some of the least sonically interesting parts. Strings are often consigned to betraying their vast range of timbre and tone color to complement and support more strident colors of other sections of the orchestra.
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February 19, 2010
I anticipated bloodshed, broken bones, or at least tears. On Feb. 7, Jonathan Biss and Richard Goode, two of the greatest pianists alive, played a program of duets. Would these two prima donnas play nice?