October 30, 1989 |
In "New Year," the fifth opera by the dean of British composers, 84-year-old Sir Michael Tippett, the reclusive central character clinches her psychological liberation by slamming a door behind her. But she's no Hedda Gabler. The heroine's escape from fear lacks cathartic punch because Tippett's jazzy but uninvolving score doesn't build grippingly to the climactic exit, which is made in anticlimactic silence.
January 14, 1995 |
Simon Rattle achieved the near-impossible Thursday night: He made a Bruckner symphony seem less than interminable. Actually, he did better than that. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the 39-year-old conductor sustained the sense of wonder and tension that Bruckner evokes in his quiet, mysterious opening for the entire hour and 10 minutes of the massive, and in lesser hands meandering, Seventh Symphony.
January 9, 1995 |
Even with a disappointing first half--the world premiere of a tightly wound symphony by the American academic, Gerald Levinson--Simon Rattle's return to the podium of the Los Angeles Philharmonic over the weekend had to be counted a success.
January 24, 2005 |
He's been called naive. His awkward operas have been parodied for being muddled Jungian parables. And worse, he has been accused of amateurism. What a price poor Sir Michael has had to pay for his radiance. When Michael Tippett died in 1998, I predicted that his glowing music would finally find an adoring audience. I was wrong. The British composer wrestled with deep, dark human concerns.
March 4, 1988 |
There were no surprises this year in the classical Grammy awards. The non-pop category received fleeting token recognition, as usual, from the rock 'n' schlock-oriented academy. The winning choices in this vaunted popularity contest have always tended to be conservative. They have been predicated, no doubt, on the visibility factor (a k a hype quotient) of the famous artists nominated.
December 18, 2005 |
SENSATION-SEEKING premature reports of the death of a mature art, classical music, did not cease in 2005. Naysayers howled into the wind. But it was a very good year. Peter Sellars continues to make waves and move mountains. If there had been any question that Sellars is the single most creative force in the world of opera today, he took care of that in 2005.
September 4, 1988 |
After 22 years with RCA, the only label for which it has ever recorded, the Guarneri Quartet has switched to Philips. The group's debut under these new auspices pairs (as usual) Dvorak's "American" Quartet and Smetana's "From My Life" (Philips 420 803, CD). Simultaneously, RCA has reissued in its midpriced "Gold Seal" CD series (6263) the Guarneri's "American" Quartet, initially released in 1972. The differences are considerable, but either way, the playing is magnificent.
March 31, 1990 |
The Los Angeles Philharmonic has picked the first woman ever to conduct a series of subscription concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. British-born Sian Edwards, 30, who has conducted operatic performances at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, is scheduled to appear at the Music Center the week of Nov. 25, 1991.
November 6, 1988 |
With its initial release, Virgin Classics shows commendable interest in truly expanding the compact disc catalogue rather than merely inflating it with still more "favorites." Virgin Classics--an offshoot of Virgin Records, the giant British pop label and retailer (which also happens to own an airline)--scores a coup at the outset. It is offering the recorded debut (7 90710, two CDs) of the American folk opera "Paul Bunyan," composed in the United States by Benjamin Britten, to a text by W. H.