Classical Music on WPVM

LEBRECHT LISTENS | We May Never See The Likes Of Krzysztof Penderecki Again

Krzysztof Penderecki: Credo (Hänssler Classics)★★★★☆🎧 Spotify | Apple Music | AmazonThe Polish composer died a year ago next week and still awaits a funeral. The constraints of COVID and the demands of family and friends for a state occasion have led to delays and deferrals, a sad coda to a life of service to God and man.Although acclaimed as a modernist, Penderecki never supped easily with the atheistic avant-garde and always lit up when opportunity arose to compose a work that celebrated his Roman Catholic faith. The Credo, co-commissioned in 1996 by Stuttgart’s Bach academy and the Oregon Bach Festival, is infused with a sense of liberation, a release from having to please anyone below the angels.It is richly textured and profusely melodic. There are passages which recall Stravinsky of the Symphony of Psalms and Maher’s Resurrection Symphony, but Penderecki does not look over his shoulder for long. He finds moments of memorable originality for five soloists — soprano Juliane Banse, bass Thomas Quasthoff, tenor Thomas Randle and mezzos Marietta Simpson and Milagro Vargas — keeping them fresh for a huge apotheosis with the Oregon orchestra and chorus, conducted by Helmut Rilling. The climaxes are sensational, some of the strongest music Penderecki ever created. This live recording of the Oregon premiere takes us back to a time when a remote American campus festival was ambitious enough to engage with the best living composers. We may never see its like again.To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all) Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all)

Getting past James Levine’s brother Tom

The conductor Kenneth Woods has a chilling tale about the firewalls that protected James Levine from mere mortals.A friend of mine was, for a time, producer and engineer of the radio broadcasts of the orchestra at Verbier when Levine was conducting regularly there. As is the case with the broadcasts of most festivals and orchestras, where there is more than one performance, either the producer or a member of the musical staff (at the Cincinnati Symphony it was usually one of us on the junior conducting staff who had been in the audience for all the performances) will select what they think are the best options and run those by the maestro before the ‘broadcast performance’ is edited together.

The situation my friend found himself working with Levine in was truly bizarre. At the end of each run of performances he would go to the maestro’s office. There he would see Levine and his brother Tom. My friend was not allowed to speak to Levine directly, but would say to Tom something like “I thought the first movement was the best on Sunday and the other three better on Saturday.” Then Tom would turn to James Levine and say “_________ says “the first movement was the best on Sunday and the other three better on Saturday.””
Bear in mind, my friend is in the room.
Jimmy would then say to Tom “Tell ______ that I would like to use the first and last movements from Sunday and the two middle movements from Saturday.” After which, Tom would turn to my friend and say “Maestro Levine says to use the first and last movements from Sunday and the two middle movements from Saturday.” My friend would confirm to Tom that, of course, that was a far better selection. Those would, indeed, be the movements he would use. Tom would relay that to Levine, who would nod silently. After which, my friend would be dismissed. And this is how he treated one of the top Tonmeisters in Europe…
Read on here.

THE SCOOP | Yannick Nézet-Séguin Breaks Silence On Met Opera’s Treatment Of Musicians

After nearly a year of silence regarding the Metropolitan Opera’s musicians being furloughed without pay, music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin has officially weighed in.In a letter obtained by the New York Times, Nézet-Séguin stated the Met should work towards a deal with musicians or the risk of losing them.According to the Met Orchestra committee, 10 out of 97 musicians have formally left the orchestra since the Met stopped paying them.“Of course, I understand this is a complex situation,” Nézet-Séguin wrote in the letter, “but as the public face of the Met on a musical level, I am finding it increasingly hard to justify what has happened.”“Protecting the long-term future of the Met is inextricably linked with retaining these musicians, and with respecting their livelihoods, their income and their well-being,” Nézet-Séguin added.“The orchestra and chorus are our crown jewels, and they must be protected. Their talent is the Met. The artists of the Met are the institution.”The letter was sent to Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, members of the negotiating committees representing the chorus and orchestra, and Met Opera’s board of directors.The Met replied to the letter stating, “We share Yannick’s frustration over the lengthy closure and the impact it has had on our employees.”This past week, the Met orchestra musicians accepted $1,543 a week on a temporary basis. It made a similar deal with the Met chorus just over a month ago. This marked the first time they have been paid since April 2020.Met Opera musicians were among the last professional organizations to reach a deal to compensate musicians financially amid the pandemic. Despite being furloughed without pay, Met artists were kept on contract, which was viewed as a mandatory unpaid leave rather than layoffs by the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus and singers.#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all) Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all)

THE SCOOP | Summer Music In The Garden’s Tamara Bernstein Announces Retirement

Summer Music In The Garden/FlickrSummer Music in the Garden Artistic Director Tamara Bernstein will retire after heading the series for 20 years.Appointed in 2001, Bernstein’s tenure saw the growth of Summer Music In The Garden from infancy at the iconic Music Garden, and most recently online.Many artists presented under Bernstein’s tenure have gone on to have celebrated careers, including soprano Jane Archibald, the Cecilia String Quartet and cellist Elinor Frey.Tamara Bernstein’s taste for programming was often indicative of the multi-cultural audiences in Toronto. Artists ranged from traditional chamber music, Indigenous works, as well as music from Brazil, Mumbai, Japan, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.“For 20 years as Artistic Director, Tamara has created opportunities for hundreds of artists and brought world-class programming to the Toronto Music Garden,” said Marah Braye, CEO, Harbourfront Centre.The series will continue through 2021 at the Music Garden in Toronto, with new works commissioned for 2022.“It was an enormous privilege to bring music and dance to Toronto’s central waterfront, free of charge, for 20 years,” said Bernstein in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who made these fleeting moments of urban utopia possible…”#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all) Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all)