Liszt: Orpheus; Ligeti: Violin Concerto; Bartok: Suite from The Wooden Prince

Renaud Capuçon; Berliner Philharmoniker/David Robertson

Philharmonie, Berlin, 9 May 2010

The first work on the programme was Liszt’s Orpheus. It was in Weimar, under contract as court Kapellmeister, that Liszt embarked on the composition of a new genre of orchestral music, the symphonic poem. This genre was to give full embodiment to the breadth of the composer’s aims, philosophical and poetic as well as music. But what at the time must have been vanguard has since settled comfortably into the category of easy-listening as far as classical music is concerned.

Appropriately enough the work opens with two harps acting as mimesis of the Greek poet’s lyre. Themes follow each other unevenly, signalling an extension of the sonata form towards something purely evocative, a searching by way of music for something only music can search for. As a concert-opener it’s perfect, not too long or demanding, lush on the ears. And here it was brought off well, Robertson measuring the work well in gradually bringing us to the crescendo at the work’s end.

This was followed by Ligeti’s Violin Concerto. A couple of years ago I saw this work performed by the London Sinfonietta along with its dedicatee and original soloist, Saschko Gawriloff. It was excellent then, but this performance by the Philharmoniker with the young Renaud Capuçon was if anything even better.

Read the full review in on musicalcriticism.com here.

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Indie and modern classical music: the quixotic links

Before I’m away for a week, a belated catchup with a good post over at flavorwire.com (thanks to Peter Meanwell, breakfast researcher, Ligeti and ukulele fanatic, and Radio 3 producer, for alerting me to it) on the links between today’s indie scene and yesterday’s – well, and today’s – classical composers. Max Willens has come up with a quixotic concatenation of influences, from echoes of Stockhausen in a recent album from Dirty Projectors, John Adams’s subliminal inspiration on Owen Pallett and Arvo Pärt’s effect on Radiohead.

Read the full blog posting in The Guardian here.

New York Philharmonic Press Conference Live on Twitter

Tune in at Noon as we tweet live from our press conference as Alan Gilbert & special guests announce the 2010/11 season!

Alan Gilbert and the Philharmonic begin 2010/11 with a world premiere by Wynton Marsalis, performed with the JALC orchestra.

Director/Designer Doug Fitch is back to stage Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen.” He wants to create a “meta-forest” in Avery Fisher Hall.

Composer-In-Residence Magnus Lindberg returns in 10-11; Gilbert conducts his groundbreaking Kraft, with instruments made from car parts!

Anne-Sophie Mutter is the NYP’s new Artist-In-Residence. She’ll perform premieres with Gilbert and MTT; chamber music, a recital and more.

Hungarian Echoes: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts three weeks of Bartok, Haydn & Ligeti. Guests include Aimard, Mustonen & Michelle DeYoung…

Alan Gilbert and the Phil will play the Brahms triple with Shaham, Ax, and Ma for the @CarnegieHall 120th Anniversary!

Read more in The New York Times here.

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Martin Scorsese's new film 'Shutter Island' has bold soundtrack

Alex Ross of The New Yorker notes that millions of Americans will enjoy music by an unusually long list of intrepid composers when Martin Scorsese’s film “Shutter Island,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opens Feb. 19. The list includes names from — surprise! — the heart of avant-garde classicism: Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Lou Harrison, György Ligeti, Morton Feldman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Nam June Paik, Ingram Marshall and John Adams.

“This fairly bold lineup of composers, which would cause the average orchestra subscriber to flee in terror, appears on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film “Shutter Island.”Scorsese’s music supervisor is Robbie Robertson, the former lead guitarist of The Band, who has consulted on many of the director’s movies, notably “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy.” “This may be the most outrageous and beautiful soundtrack I’ve ever heard,” Robertson says, in a press release. It’s hard to argue with the claim, given that the playlist includes Cage’s “Music for Marcel Duchamp,” Scelsi’s “Uaxuctum,” Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel,” and Ligeti’s “Lontano.” Ligeti and Penderecki come out of the familiar Kubrick playbook—“Lontano” figured memorably in “The Shining”—but many of the other selections are unexpected, most of all the choice of Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor. (Via Bryant Manning.)”