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Claude Debussy

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Classical iconoclast

February 23

More than a sum of parts : Jurowski, Berg, Denisov, Shostakovich

Classical iconoclastVladimir Jurowski, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, London Philharmonic Orchestra,  photo : Sven Lorenz, Essen Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Patricia Kopatchinskaja presented Alban Berg's Violin Concerto.  Kopatchinskaja, Jurowski and the LPO recorded Stravinsky's Violin Concerto and Prokofiev's Violin Concerto no 2 nearly four years ago, and the disc is a best seller, for good reason. Sine Berg's Violin Concerto is perhaps even more popular, the prospect of  hearing it with Kopatchinskaya, Jurowski and the LPO at the Royal Festival Hall was hard to resist. Hopefully, it will be released at some stage. In the meantime, listen to the repeat broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  But this concert was also memorable because it connected Berg's Violin Concerto with Edison Denisov's Symphony no 2 and Shostakovich's Symphony no 15. Jurowski has a genius for devising programmes that are greater even than the sum of their parts.  Anyone can put a programme together; very few can do so on this level.  Please read my review of  Jurowski's Kancheli, Martinů and Ralph Vaughan Williams concert.  This evening's inspired combination drew out the  more esoteric levels from all three pieces, absolutely justifying  the theme "Belief and Beyond Belief". Although so much about South Bank marketing is gimmick, Jurowski's "Belief and Beyond"  is genuinely well thought through, and adds considerable depth to this year's series of LPO concerts.  By no means is the term Belief limited to conventional, organized religion.  The concept of Belief  informs the whole way we respond to the human condition, even when we don't believe in fixed concepts.  Jurowski's programmes relate to much wider ideas of spiritual and intellectual questioning.  Comic book rigidities go against the grain of creative expression. Edison Denisov's Symphony no 2 (1996) is typical Jurowski territory: stretching boundaries. Although Denisov lived under Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, he didn't conform. His perspectives were modern and international. He learned from Debussy, Messiaen, Boulez and Stockhausen and eventually was able to move to Paris, where his music was supported by IRCAM.  Denisov's Symphony, written after he'd moved to Paris, inhabits a world of shimmering almost micro tonality,  sounds blending yet separate, like fluids of different densities flowing together. The voice of a violin emerges from the complex confluences, then  a group of low winds, then a murmur of bassoons and a rumble of percussion.  Swirling figures, very high tessitura, creating forward thrust, broken by staccato cross-currents. Harps and gunfire, I thought.  Savagely angular discords, and the music stops dead. Perhaps literally. Denisov was seriously ill  and passed away six months later.  On the broadcast, Jurowski says there's a quotation from a bassoon solo in Tchaikovsky's Pathétique,  transposed for double bass. In programmes as esoteric as Jurowski's, it's wise to beware of clichés. Following the obvious idea that Berg's Violin Concerto represents Manon Gropius who died aged 16, South Bank marketing plays up the "Memory of an Angel" aspects of the piece. But Berg, being Berg, is cryptic, hiding behind surface appearances. Kopatchinskaja reminds us of Albina, Berg's secret love child, whom he never really knew. Listen to Kopatchinskaja sing the Carpathian (not Austrian) folk song Berg quotes in the piece! Her singing voice is sweet and bird like, which enhances what the piece represents.  When she plays, she defines the part with strong, affirmative poise. The melody is bittersweet, yet undaunted, even when the orchestra storms around her.  Disquieting shapes in the violin part and crashing chords in the orchestra: this isn't  dewy-eyed sentimentality but something far more profound.  Tonality hovers on the point of breaking and then dissolves, when no more can be said.  The quote "Es ist genug", is a reference to Bach. Jurowski understands that Berg, even at his most passionate, uses structure with the clarity of a mathematical mind. Puzzles and patterns are integral.  Hence the innate  power of this piece, and this very strong performance. Shostakovich's Symphony no 15 starts with exuberance, rushing forward into quirky march with references to Rossini's William Tell.  Is Shostakovich thinking of military oppression or slyly satirizing music for the movies? Perhaps both, for this symphony is in many ways Shostakovich's memoir.  Was he a puppet in an insane toy shop, or was he pulling  strings?  The poignant Adagio might be a reflection, but, like Berg, Shostakovich can be enigma.  The single chord progressions suggests isolation, yet the violin takes up the pattern, leading the orchestra in a dance that is deflated by  typical Shostakovich raspberries.  Though the protagonist may be alone, he's surrounded by other voices.  The orchestration lets many individual instruments have their moment.  This symphony might be an ironic parody of film, unfolding in different scenes, with quotations from Shostakovich's own work and others.  Thus the dramatic chorale of percussion, complete with crashing gongs.  Yet the underlying melody flows, its way lit by unearthly celesta and xylophone.  A thoughtful performance,  highlighting the many individual sections in this excellent orchestra. Definitely a concert that was more than the sum of its parts.

Guardian

Yesterday

Pelléas et Mélisande review – raptly beautiful, classy production

Theatre Royal, Glasgow The cool, subdued interiors of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi inspire David McVicar’s fine staging of Debussy’s bleak symbolist opera Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande is the quintessential symbolist opera, sharing its aesthetic with painters such as Odilon Redon and Gustave Moreau. But for David McVicar’s raptly beautiful new production for Scottish Opera it’s another artist contemporary with Debussy who provides the visual starting point, the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi.The reclusive Hammershøi specialised in subdued colours and quiet, cool interiors, and they are the stuff of Rae Smith’s designs, with costumes that fix the production at the end of the 19th century, when Maeterlinck wrote the play on which Debussy based his libretto. As the opera goes on, the trees of the forest in which Roland Wood’s Golaud first discovers Mélisande (Carolyn Sampson) encroach more and more on the gloomy castle home of the almost blind King Arkel (Alastair Miles). Continue reading...




My Classical Notes

February 20

Christiane Karg Sings Strauss and more

I have written before about soprano Christiane Karg. However, I felt that a reminder is due: Christiane Karg sings Strauss, Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc A long time has passed since I last wrote about this fine German singer. While this recording is not new, it offers an excellent cross section of her art. The selections are: Alban Berg: Sieben frühe Lieder Debussy: Green (No. 5 from Ariettes Oubliées) Spleen (No. 6 from Ariettes Oubliées) Fauré: Nell, Op. 18 No. 1 Les roses d’Ispahan Op. 39 No. 4 La rose Op. 51 No. 4 Poulenc: Fleurs Strauss, R: Die erwachte Rose, TrV 90, AV 66 Rote Rosen, AV76 Mädchenblumen (4 songs), Op. 22 Die Nacht, Op. 10 No. 3 Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op. 29 No. 1 Weißer Jasmin, Op 31 No 3 Wolf, H: Verschwiegene Liebe (No. 3 from Eichendorff-Lieder) Die Nacht (No. 19 from Eichendorff-Lieder) Unfall (No. 15 from Eichendorff-Lieder) Nachtzauber (No. 8 from Eichendorff-Lieder) All performed by Christiane Karg (soprano) with Malcolm Martineau (piano) Ms. Karg is a regular guest at the world’s leading opera houses, singing roles from Musetta (La bohème) to Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea), she is also renowned throughout the world for her enchanting performances of Lieder on the concert platform. This colllection features two themes to link the program together: botanical songs in the first half, and nocturnal in the second. Exploring celebrated jewels of the art song repertoire alongside lesser-known, but equally charming, discoveries, the program moves from rarely heard floral songs from Strauss’s teens, through dreamy settings by Fauré, Debussy and Poulenc, mysterious and nocturnal Lieder of Wolf to Berg’s ‘Sieben frühe Lieder’. Here is Christiane Karg in Richard Strauss’ “Standchen”:



ArtsJournal: music

February 16

Newport Music Festival - Executive Director

The Executive Director (ED) will be an exceptional leader who will take NMF into its next period of growth and distinction by creating an organizational vision that embraces entrepreneurism, creative thinking, and an unparalleled artistic aesthetic.OrganizationA national treasure and musical legacy, the Newport Music Festival (NMF) has played a significant cultural role in the world of chamber music. More than 2,000 concerts have been hosted in many of Newport’s grandest residences and other remarkable community venues in the past 49 years. Annually, NMF offers 60 classical concerts in 17 days with an unparalleled history of presenting young international artists in their North American debuts. More than 1,000 artists, including 130 American debuts of artists, have performed on NMF stages.The Newport Music Club began to produce monthly concerts in the 1920s and eventually sponsored two summer festivals in 1953 and 1954 with members of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Following the success of these early festivals, the organizers founded the Rhode Island Arts Foundation at Newport, Inc. in 1966 to secure the festivals’ future for decades to come. Soon after, a partnership with the Preservation Society of Newport County realized the possibility of performing chamber music in the historic Newport Mansions.Under the leadership of Dr. Mark P. Malkovich III, NMF gained prominence both in America and around the globe. Upon his father’s death in 2008, Mark Malkovich IV became General Manager of the festival. In 2018 NMF will celebrate its 50th anniversary season. While still dedicated to the compositions of the Romantic era, the festival now features premieres of new works by both established and emerging composers as well as rare discoveries of forgotten minor masterpieces. Recent examples include the world premiere of a four-hand Andante Cantabile by Claude Debussy found in a manuscript at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York and an unknown Prelude of Rachmaninoff found at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. As a leader in the greater cultural landscape, NMF values collaboration and strong associations with other nonprofit, advocacy, and cultural entities such as the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport Art Museum, and the Newport Visitor Center. NMF will be partnering with the Newport Opera House, which is currently being renovated and modernized to create a year-round center for the performing arts. NMF understands the importance of strategic alliances and the impact they can have on the community. Through inclusive programming these partnerships build audiences, support artists, and create economic development.NMF is governed by a five-member executive committee and a 15-member board of directors, led by Board President Virginia Gambale. Mark Malkovich serves as the General Manager. In the 2015-16 fiscal year NMF had total revenues of $1,098,397 and total expenses of $800,648. Sixty percent of total revenues is attributable to contributed revenue, including gifts to both the annual fund and capital campaign. Revenues from 2015 to 2016 increased by 56 percent.CommunityRevered as one of the world’s most exquisite seaside towns, Newport, Rhode Island has rich culture, history, and vibrant natural features, including spectacular coastal scenery. This small but thriving city boasts unspoiled beaches, world-class sailing, awe-inspiring architecture, distinctive shops, restaurants, and outstanding events. The city’s go-to attractions are the famous Gilded Age mansions. These exquisitely ornate, late-19th century palaces were owned by the wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts and the Astors. The over-the-top mansions were built by some of the era’s best architects and triggered the founding of the New York Yacht Club, which turned the city into the sailing capital of the world. Its yacht-filled harbor hosted the America’s Cup, a renowned annual regatta, for many years. History enthusiasts are also drawn by the large collection of Colonial-era architecture, including Trinity Episcopal Church, Touro Synagogue, and the Colony House. Due to the four distinct New England seasons, Newport is a wonderful place to experience the outdoors all year long. Two of the most popular outdoor attractions are the Norman Bird Sanctuary, a 325-acre wildlife refuge, and the Newport Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile public access walkway designated as a National Recreation Trail. Although Newport is known for its natural beauty and historical significance, it has a palpable modern undercurrent, including an ambitious art scene, many upstart restaurants, and an active night life, especially in the summer months. Newport is the location of several large institutions, including the Naval Station Newport and the Naval War College. Additionally, the city is home to the Newport Hospital, Salve Regina University, and the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS). These institutions are among Newport's larger employers. Over the last 30 years, tourism in Newport has grown substantially. As Rhode Island's principal visitor center and resort community, Newport is frequented by approximately 3.5 million individuals annually who attend special events, sail, and view the city's mansions and other attractions. Newport’s popularity has stimulated significant private investment in retail shopping facilities, hotels, timeshare units, restaurants, clubs, and other tourist-oriented enterprises. Sources: Discovernewport.org, City-data.com, Foeders.com, Zillow.com PositionThe Executive Director (ED) will be an exceptional leader who will take NMF into its next period of growth and distinction by creating an organizational vision that embraces entrepreneurism, creative thinking, and an unparalleled artistic aesthetic. As NMF’s chief executive officer, the ED will be responsible for overall management of the organization, business planning, and institutional development. Reporting directly to the board of directors and with a strong relationship to the Board Chair, the ED will be a financially savvy and sophisticated leader who will raise NMF’s profile, enabling major fundraising efforts to support annual operations and strategic initiatives. The ED will oversee all aspects of programming, operations, marketing, and development while enhancing the organization’s visibility throughout the national and international music world.Roles & Responsibilities Leadership Lead NMF into its next era, working with the board to define and execute its future mission. Create a cohesive, creative, and collaborative vision that inspires and motivates the entire organization. Develop an entrepreneurial and forward-thinking organizational culture. Engage in regional, statewide, and national industry initiatives, raising the profile of NMF. Serve as the face of the organization, representing NMF at national chamber music festivals, conferences, and events. Plan and celebrate NMF’s 50th anniversary in 2018. Represent NMF in relations with key industry executives, local and regional government officials, strategic partners, donors, members, patrons, and the business and non-business communities. Nurture an environment of professionalism, inclusion, and empowerment for all levels of constituents. Embrace a transparent, straightforward approach in readily sharing information with diverse constituents to generate awareness, understanding, and appreciation from stakeholders. Strategy and Branding Create and implement a strategic plan that guides the organization into its next era of growth. Create an invigorating branding initiative, ensuring that the public, funders, arts organizations, business leaders, and elected officials understand NMF’s role, value, and impact in the community. Actively engage with community partners to attract new audiences and strengthen relationships with existing audiences. Identify and cultivate collaborative community and promotional partnerships in support of the strategic plan. Development and Fundraising Lead NMF’s fundraising strategies and provide organizational leadership in all aspects of development. Create an annual fundraising strategy and campaign. Galvanize existing donors and sponsors and develop new ones to secure a robust and diverse support base for NMF. Establish personal relationships with key funders and donors, facilitating the creation of new and renewed sources of major gifts, grants, and sponsorships. Financial Oversight and Resource Development Develop the annual budget assume overall financial responsibility, and direct fiscal management, including operating within the approved budget, ensuring maximum resource utilization, and maintaining a positive financial position. Ensure that sound financial structures and accurate reporting systems are in place. Direct the use of capital and operating funds. Supervise finance office activities, including the data analysis of donor and ticket system revenues. Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations Formulate and execute comprehensive marketing and branding strategies to enhance revenue. Design and execute promotion and sales plans, including advertising campaigns, events, group sales, program book advertising sales and production, and business partnership development. Collaborate with marketing consultants and oversee website and social media strategies for the entire organization. Develop and cultivate key media relationships. Programming and Artistic Leadership Design and deliver innovative programming. Oversee the selection, booking, preparation, marketing, and presentation of all performances and events. Maintain and cultivate relationships with guest artists, agents, and promoters. Ensure the delivery of programs and concerts at the highest professional level. Oversee all offers, contract negotiation, and execution. Board Governance and Advocacy Establish a strong working relationship with the board of directors in financial, service, and performance activities of NMF. Identify new board members whose talents, background, interests, experience, and commitment will further NMF’s mission and expand support. Communicate with the board regarding strategic initiatives, financial results, and operations. Administration and Overall Operations Direct all day-to-day operations and communication of NMF. Oversee the organization’s structure, policies, system controls, and procedures. Ensure the maintenance of official records and documents, complying with federal, state, and local regulations. Hire, train, and supervise administrative staff and volunteers in accordance with NMF policies and all applicable laws; plan and oversee work; appraise performance; and address complaints and problems. Traits & CharacteristicsThe ED will be an assertive and bold leader who is motivated by a demanding environment and embraces the values of teamwork and collaboration. This individual will be versatile and able to rapidly adapt to changing priorities while always maintaining a positive and friendly demeanor. The leader of NMF must be able to move deftly from dialogue to action, making on-the-spot decisions with good judgement and confidence. The selected individual will have a deep and long-term commitment to the future of NMF. The ED must truly enjoy engaging with a myriad of stakeholders and possess people management and relationship building skills. Other key competencies include the following: Leadership – Inspires and stimulates others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of stakeholders. Goal Achievement – Establishes goals that are relevant, realistic, and attainable. Identifies and implements required plans and milestones to achieve specific business goals. Stays on target to complete goals regardless of obstacles or adverse circumstances. Self-Management – Prioritizes and completes tasks necessary to meet or exceed the mutually agreed upon expectations of the role and assumes accountability for personal actions. Planning and Organizing – Utilizes logical, systematic, and orderly procedures to meet objectives. Prioritizes tasks for optimum productivity and anticipates probable effects, outcomes, and risks. Develops procedures, processes, and systems for order, accuracy, efficiency, and productivity. Flexibility – Organizes and motivates others to accomplish goals and embraces and implements change when needed. QualificationsQualified applicants will have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred, and a minimum of 10 years of progressively advanced senior management experience in the arts and culture sector or an equivalent industry. This individual will have a knowledge of and passion for the chamber music genre. A proven track record in fundraising and marketing is required. A strong working knowledge of concert production, electronic media, and cultivating volunteer leadership is highly desirable.Compensation & BenefitsA competitive compensation package commensurate with experience includes health, dental, and life insurance, vacation, holiday, and sick pay, and an employee retirement plan with an employer contribution.Applications & InquiriesPlease submit a letter and resume (electronic submissions preferred) with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments to:Ms. Pamela A. PantosVice President, Arts Consulting Group 292 Newbury Street, Suite 315Boston, MA 02115-2801Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 204Fax (888) 284.6651 E-mail NMF@ArtsConsulting.com Newport Music Festival is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes any qualified applicant and values diversity of all kinds.

Claude Debussy
(1862 – 1918)

Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 - March 25, 1918) was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions. Debussy is among the most important of all French composers, and a central figure in European music of the turn of the 20th century. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1903. His music is noted for its sensory component and for not often forming around one key or pitch. Often Debussy's work reflected the activities or turbulence in his own life. His music virtually defines the transition from late-Romantic music to 20th century modernist music. In French literary circles, the style of this period was known as symbolism, a movement that directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant.



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