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Articles by Sudeep Agarwala

March 20, 2009
Elisabeth Hon Hunt G performed a recital of works largely from the early twentieth century fin de siècle as part of MIT’s Emerson Fellowship Recital Series on March 13, 2009. Her performance was virtuosic in both technique and musical understanding. The recital began with a piano reduction of Richard Strauss’s Grossmächtige Prinzessin...Noch glaub’ ich dem einen ganz mich gehörend (Pei-Shan Lee, piano), a thrilling dramatic aria from Ariadne auf Naxos. Although a bit tentative at first, Hunt’s performance warmed into nothing less than the acrobatic bravura music offers, gracefully careening through Strauss’s hair-raising feats with sparkling tone and devastating ease.
March 6, 2009
Collage New Music, performing in Longy School of Music’s Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall this past Monday, articulated contemporary voices in music with a unique and refreshing ability. This isn’t a complaint about contemporary music performances: it’s not difficult to see that most contemporary music is performed by competent musicians and that it takes a very talented musician to play contemporary music in the first place.
March 6, 2009
Stereophiles have ruined music as I love it.
February 13, 2009
Johannes Ockeghem was writing in the fifteenth century, a time whose musical traditions may already have been lost to the ages. Ockeghem’s music, still a matter of active research and lively debate in terms of its performance and practice, was written in a time that preferred vacuous perfect intervals to plump triads at the close of cadences, when tritones were still considered diabuli in musica, when audiences were still intimately familiar with the melodies of Gregorian chant and plainsong.
February 3, 2009
Fundamentally, choral music is difficult to listen to. Certainly, there are technical issues that are prevalent throughout all of music — unusual dissonances, uncompromising forms and lengths — but choral music, in particular, adds another significant complexity.
January 21, 2009
Hearing the all-star cast of the Tashi quartet (Peter Serkin, Ida Kavafian, Fred Sherry, and Richard Stoltzman) record Messiaen’s quartet in 1976 feels much like looking at pictures of your parents before they had any children. Each of these musicians has gone on to an illustrious musical careers of his own, and this particular recording was made before much of their serious careers as musicians. Although younger at the time of this recording, the quartet realizes Messiaen’s work with a mature exuberance and an intense attention to motive and detail that vaulted Messiaen’s music to the fame it currently enjoys: the vast litany of recordings of the work all seem to begin with this one in mind. Though this is an older recording, there is still no surprise that it was recommended by Alex Ross in his recent work, “The Rest is Noise”.
January 14, 2009
Who would’ve ever thought George Crabbe? In fact: who’d ever heard of George Crabbe?
November 21, 2008
Part of the joy of listening to contemporary music is to have the composer as reference and concordance for the works. For those trying to discover a suitable niche for Ezra Sims work on Friday evening’s Boston Musica Viva Concert, Mr. Sims delivered such a discussion on his piece Four Landscapes (2008). Speaking at Boston University’s Tsai Center for the Performing Arts, where the concert was held, he described Landscapes as a microtonal piece utilizing twelve-tone principles. As crucial as this exegesis was, what was particularly informative were Mr. Sim’s thoughts on how these pieces fit within his entire opus. Comparing himself to Chopin, he observed that this work was his “so-called Preludes.”
November 4, 2008
Sometimes I worry that my particular brand of love for Jane toes a fine, but distinct, line between nuisance and comedic relief. She puts up with a whole lot: I constantly talk to her during lecture, disturb her while she’s in the middle of her experiments, push my fiber pills on her like I were a dealer, tell her dirty jokes (loudly) when we’re in public and insist on detailing the most horrific details of my ever-faltering love life.
October 24, 2008
From all accounts, Gustav Mahler was a formidable grouch. It’s not hard to hear this in his music — his ninth symphony is nearly an hour and a half’s worth of rich, Wagnerian lines, rife with paranoid navel-gazing over his imminent death. His orchestral song-cycle, Das Lied von der Erde is a meditation on eastern philosophy and a hidden symphony meant to cheat fate (Beethoven had nine symphonies, so did Dvorak, Schubert1, Mahler knew where this was headed).
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