Who doesn’t love Bach for his fugues? In Bach’s 1738 instructional book on counterpoint, Precepts and Principles for Playing the Thorough-Bass, he writes: “It is played with both hands on a keyboard instrument in such a way that the left hand plays the written notes, while the right hand strikes consonances and dissonances, so that this results in a full-sounding Harmonie to the Honour of God and the permissible delight of the soul.”
High stakes. The Brentano String Quartet is adding to them with their Art of Fugue, presented as part of Da Camera of Houston’s season next Friday, March 3. Read my interview with first violinist Mark Steinberg at Houstonia Magazine.
Chamber music has always been my favorite genre to perform. It’s a thrill, but one that is often underestimated. Performers like Lars Vogt and Christian Tetzlaff show how deep the art form can go. Read my preview of their Da Camera Houston debut together at Houstonia Magazine.
I have a lot of memories of this work, and with an opera company at the helm, it was a refined performance. But the thing I’ll remember probably won’t be the music (Sasha Cooke, resilient hero, my hat is off to you). Read my review at Houstonia.
I really can’t express what an inspiration it was to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform. You read about these prodigies, but seeing is believing. Read my review at Bachtrack.
PS: For all those curious audience members, his serene encore was the “Appalachia Waltz” by Mark O’Connor. If you have chance, check out their collaborative album of the same name.
I’m proposing a session about my favorite things at the 2018 Modern Language Society Convention in NYC and I would love to get your proposals! See the call below. (And wide range really means wide range, but if you have questions you can email me too.)
Special Session: Opera and Literature
Throughout the history of opera and literature, the two have overlapped and informed each other. This session welcomes a wide range of papers on the topic. 300-word abstracts by 15 March 2017; Sydney Boyd (firstname.lastname@example.org).
And pianist Denis Kozhukhin returns to play the Rach 3. Read my review at Bachtrack.
On Inauguration Day, this opera hit close to home. Read my review at Houstonia Magazine.
If I had to choose just one piece of music to listen to for the rest of my life, Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto might be it. It’s the human experience, majestic and honest. At the Houston Symphony on Thursday, it was less than perfect, but pianist Behzod Aduraimov wasn’t to blame. Read my review at Bachtrack.
I had such lovely conversations with Yvonne Chen and Jerry Hou, the intrepid co-founders of Loop38. There was so much to say about the new music collective and so little space, but read a portion of my chat with them at Houstonia’s On The Town blog and check out their upcoming concert January 19.
In 1978 at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, György Ligeti premiered his opera Le Grand Macabre. It’s sort of the opera that has everything, running the gamut from tragedy to comedy. Wild, dramatic, absurd, but still philosophical, the opera offers two perspectives that feel incredibly relevant to our present times: to live in fear of tyrants and monsters, always anticipating the worst, or to embrace what joys are within immediate reach.
I’ve long admired it, but never had the pleasure of seeing it in person. Instead, I’ve scoured many recordings and youtube videos. Recently, a friend shared a video that is unlike anything I’ve seen: Barbara Hannigan sings an arrangement of three arias for soprano, “Mysteries of the Macabre,” with conductor Sir Simon Rattle (recorded in January, 2015). I don’t want to give anything away, but—wow. Incredible stuff.
But wait! There’s more: Your conception of what opera is can be radically redefined too. Watch it here.