December 28, 2013 |
NEW YORK - This has been the season of the concert hall. The one named after Walt Disney turned 10. How that venue has revolutionized musical life in L.A. and beyond has been the subject of much consideration. Though the economy bubbles and bursts, this great space, having lost none of its contemporary luster, continues to inspire an international concert hall building boom. That makes this latest push to get music the heck out of Disney and every other concert hall all the more a remarkable phenomenon in 2013.
December 20, 2013 |
Much that was old was new again in 2013, which turned out to be a very good year for the classics. It wasn't a bad year for new work either, even if too many of today's most provocative playwrights are getting short shrift from this town's nonprofit heavyweights. I was especially glad to see Samuel D. Hunter's "The Whale" at South Coast Repertory, but to catch "The Flick," the latest from Annie Baker (for my money, the most exciting American dramatist working today), I had to hop a flight to New York, where Playwrights Horizons was presenting the world premiere.
December 18, 2013 |
As records pressed in 1969 go, it's an obscure one - far from "Abbey Road" or "Let It Bleed. " But however many copies remain of it, two found their way recently into a quiet room in UC Irvine's music department. With one of the discs on the turntable, the needle touched down and crackled before a soaring baritone rang from the speakers. Seconds later, a full chorus joined, its harmonies vivid beneath the surface gravel. With the record sleeves spread out in front of them, James Dunning and Rita Major listened closely and sometimes smiled and nodded in recognition.
December 1, 2013 |
NEW YORK - Tea time at Sardi's, and in rushed Bette Midler too busy to give her caricature on the far wall an admiring glance. She had just finished taping an appearance on Katie Couric's talk show and, like me, had plans to see Mike Nichols' starry production of "Betrayal" later that evening. (Unlike me, her companion was Glenn Close.) In short, it was a typical run, run, run New York day. For the moment, however, Midler's attention was focused on "a creature of Beverly Hills," the late Hollywood super-agent Sue Mengers.
November 28, 2013 |
"Judas Maccabaeus" is the Hanukkah "Messiah. " Or it would be if choral groups had an equal-oratorio policy with Handel. Such a policy, in addition, would give us regular airings of another 23 Handel oratorios, all late works (the composer turned to oratorio when the opera business in London went bust) and all of exceptional quality. This year, though, the Pacific Symphony and Chorale, conducted by John Alexander, are offering a major "Judas Maccabaeus" on Sunday, the fourth day of the eight-day holiday that celebrates the victorious Maccabean revolt by 2nd century Judean Jews against the Seleucid Empire.
November 24, 2013 |
As if to underscore the classic status of Britten's "War Requiem," a swarm of new and old recordings of the piece has been released this fall. Coming this week will be a new recording led by Antonio Pappano, with a glittering trio of soloists (Anna Netrebko, Ian Bostridge and Thomas Hampson) on Warner Classics. That's not close to all. - From the Czech Radio archives comes a live 1966 performance led by Karel Ancerl two years before the Soviets marched into Prague (Supraphon). Despite the mediocre sound and some flaws (the boys' chorus comes in four bars early in the Offertorium, nearly causing a train wreck)