Musical highlights across North America
Music@Menlo’s artistic directors
David Finckel and wu han sanTa Fe santa Fe opera The Last Savage (July 23 – August 25) Wozzeck (July 30 – August 17) Though musically and dramatically they could not be more disparate, Berg’s Wozzeck and Menotti’s The Last Savage do share a tenuous connection to barbarism. The differences, however, are like the old Times Square versus new Times Square. Berg’s antihero brutally murders his common-law wife out of jealousy and against a backdrop of jagged 12-tone music. Meanwhile, Menotti’s treatment of high-society–meets–jungle-animalism tempers the harsh reality with an opera buﬀa wink. Albeit a flop (to say the least) upon its world premiere in 1963, Santa Fe hopes for a warmer reception, particularly given the Menotti centennial. Balancing out the dramatic meat of the rest of the season, Savage can be regarded as something of a comic dessert.
A stronger link between Wozzeck and Savage are exciting vocal ensembles: Richard Paul Fink and Nicola Beller Carbone star as Wozzeck and Marie and soprano Anna Christy pairs with Daniel Okulitch (the titular savage). Taking on Berg from the pit is David Robertson while George Manahan tackles Menotti. www.santafeopera.org sanTa Fe santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Schubert and Golijov (July 31 and August 1) Jeremy Denk (August 2) Santa Fe in the warmer months isn’t just about opera and the line-up for this year’s Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is as appealing as that of its summer cousin. Particularly notable are a recital by Jeremy Denk and a double-bill of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden quartet and Golijov’s Ayre. Schubert’s ode to mortality, written when he himself knew the end was nigh, is performed by the Johannes String Quartet before several accomplished chamber musicians, including harpist Bridget Kibbey, join soprano Dawn Upshaw for Golijov’s homage to Southern Spain and its crossroads of Christian, Arab and Jewish cultures. While Jeremy Denk is omnipresent in this season’s line-up (he did, after all, spend a good chunk of his childhood in New Mexico), August 2 is the one time he flies solo.
By happenstance, Denk has spent more than a few weeks this season filling in for such indisposed pianists as Martha Argerich and Maurizio Pollini and he has routinely delivered with probing and gripping accounts of Bach, Ligeti and Beethoven. Santa Fe gets a taste of all three with a Bach Toccata to be announced, Ligeti’s fiendish Etudes Book I and Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata No 32. Granted it’s a trio of seemingly unrelated works, but Denk has a proven talent for convincingly stringing together contrasting pearls on the same thread. www.sfcmf.org
Menlo park Music@Menlo Songs of Love (August 2) Four talented singers assemble for an evening of lusty Lieder as part of Music@Menlo’s Brahms festival. The composer’s own Zwei Gesänge and Liebeslieder Waltzes are included in the menu along with snippets of Schumann (including the Spanische Liebeslieder), Schubert, and Berg with Sieben Frühe Lieder. Berg is certainly the odd man out, but no less enchanting, especially with the balmy, night-time Bay Area setting taken into consideration. Even more enticing are the four singers: Erin Morley’s stratospheric soprano has an earthy grounding that has made her a natural fit in Mozart to Shostakovich. Paul Appleby’s agile tenor won him the 2009 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. And the married couple of mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone
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IV GRAMOPHONE AUGUST 2011
www.gramophone.co.uk The Scene Sounds of America
Kelly Markgraf lend an extra air of romance beyond their equally dusky timbres. Violist Paul Neubauer accompanies, along with top-shelf pianists Gilbert Kalish and Wu Han; the latter is joined by her husband David Finckel for a performance later in the festival. www.musicatmenlo.org oTTaWa ottawa Chamber Festival Afiara String Quartet with Marc-André Hamelin (August 2) Closing Night (August 5) Canada is rife with music festivals this time of year, including more than a few devoted to chamber music. Ontario’s big game for small-scale sounds is the Ottawa Chamber Festival, which attracts some of the country’s best-known homegrown talent. This year is no exception, with Montreal-born but globally revered pianist Marc-André Hamelin joining the Canadian Quartet for Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No 2 in A major. Fellow Juno laureate Isabel Bayrakdarian joins in for the festival’s closing night extravaganza, which features the Lebanese-Canadian soprano in Chausson’s Chanson perpétuelle with pianist Serouj Kradjian. In the same programme, Anton Kuerti also tickles the ivories with the Pacifica Quartet for Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F Minor; the Pacificas also perform Myaskovsky’s String Quartet No 13. www.ottawachamberfest.com lenoX Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music (August 3-7) Stephanie Blythe and Friends (August 10) Standard rep may be the, well, standard at summer festival institutions such as Tanglewood. Still, there’s no denying that contemporary composers are getting their due with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A five-day compendium of new works, featuring the first-listens of works by Vincent Ho, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn, also includes works by Eve Beglarian, Errollyn Wallen and Tobias Picker. Also included is a fitting homage to the recently deceased Milton Babbitt with performances of his More Melismata and No Longer Very Clear. Yet it seems like a double-edged sword to have new music distilled into such a concentrated programme as opposed to iván Fischer conducts the Budapest Festival Orchestra at New York’s Mostly Mozart integrated with works from previous generations. Curious, also, that the rest of the season contains a few additional world premieres, notably one by Alan Louis Smith sung by mezzo Stephanie Blythe. As a prelude to Smith’s An Unknown Sphere, Blythe also sings another work the composer made bespoke to her voice for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman. Accompanying is Smith on piano with violinist Andrew Jennings and cellist Norman Fischer. John Oliver conducts. www.bso.org neW york Mostly Mozart Festival Don Giovanni (August 4 and 6) International Contemporary Ensemble (August 11) Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer has, in the past 18 months, descended upon Lincoln Center with his musical version of shock-andawe. Last spring, he performed a complete Beethoven symphonic cycle, alternating the works with his own Budapest Festival Orchestra and the period ensemble, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Earlier this year, Fischer and the BFO returned with two programmes that contrasted www.gramophone.co.uk elegant Haydn concertos with galvanising renditions of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Firebird Suite. It seems like a match made in heaven, then, for Fischer to return to the Plaza and make his Mostly Mozart Festival debut as both conductor and director of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
In this staged concert version, Fischer constructs all set parts out of the human body, employing a corps of actors clad entirely in white – a nod to Japanese butoh performance practises that often express the taboo and absurd. Fischer draws on a multi-talented and multicultural cast of singers, with Tassis Christoyannis stepping into the eponymous lothario’s shoes. José Fardilha sings Leporello, Laura Alkin lends her riveting soprano to Donna Anna and Myrtò Papatanasiu plays Donna Elvira.
Part of this year’s Mostly Mozart scope is aimed at Stravinsky, but his works almost amplify the adventurous Mozartean pieces that are being showcased. German composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher is reunited with the International Contemporary Ensemble to conduct his own Occulation along with Mozart’s Serenade for winds in B flat major and Adagio, K 356 arranged by Sciarrino. ICE also serve up Schoenberg’s
GRAMOPHONE AUGUST 2011 V
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