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Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky

Monday, June 26, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

June 8

A unanimous choice for music director

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discIt’s rare for an orchestra to agree on anything without a single dissenting voice. Donald Munro tells us that in Fresno, which yesterday appointed a music director, Rei Hotoda was the unanimous choice among six candidates both of the orchestra’s board and of its musicians’ search committee. That augurs well for Fresno. Donald was laid off last month after 16 years as arts writer for The Fresno Bee. He has started his own blog here. Please share this link among friends. He’s too good a writer to lose. Here’s a sample: On a crisp Sunday in March, the final notes of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 floated into memory at the Saroyan Theatre. The audience broke out in tumultuous applause. Four standing ovations followed. Many people in the audience at the Fresno Philharmonic concert, including me, had just come to the same conclusion: Rei Hotoda nailed her audition. That premonition was confirmed today when the orchestra announced that Hotoda is the eighth music director (and first woman) in Fresno Philharmonic history. Her name was revealed at a standing-room only event at Pardini’s.

ArtsJournal: music

June 24

Van Cliburn Was The Biggest Music Star In The World. and Then He Wasn't. What Happened?

"It seems that what happened was that Cliburn simply stopped growing, as though he was trapped in a creative stasis like a bug in amber. One thinks of James O’Neill, a distinguished actor who was the father of Eugene O’Neill. In later life, he only took on one role—Dumas’s Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo—and eventually played it more than six thousand times around the world. He made a great deal of money, but reproached himself for what he considered the squandering of his gifts. Likewise, Cliburn returned again and again to the Tchaikovsky concerto, long after he had ceased to have fresh insights into it."




Royal Opera House

June 20

10 of opera’s greatest tenor roles

Juan Diego Flórez in La fille du régiment © Bill Cooper Whether cast as heroic warriors, ardent lovers, romantic poets or revolutionary outsiders, tenors are the undisputed kings of opera. We look at a few of the greatest – and most challenging – tenor roles: Idomeneo – Mozart ’s Idomeneo Idomeneo is a rare example of a tenor role with no love interest. However, Mozart more than makes up for it by giving the eponymous King of Crete one of the greatest virtuoso arias in the tenor repertory, 'Fuor del mar', and through his moving musical representation of Idomeneo's struggle to reconcile paternal love and religious duty. Arnold – Rossini ’s Guillaume Tell Arnold famously led to the birth of the ‘modern tenor’ , when his first interpreter, Gilbert Duprez , sang the high C in the Act IV cabaletta ‘Amis, amis’ in full voice rather than the customary falsetto. From the flamboyance of this stirring cabaletta to the lyricism of Arnold’s Act II duet with his beloved Mathilde and his mournful Act IV aria ‘Asile héréditaire’, there are plenty of vocal delights for any tenor bold enough to take on the challenge. Arturo – Bellini ’s I puritani Luciano Pavarotti described the role of the heroic monarchist Arturo, caught between love and political duty during England’s Civil War, as ‘pure tightrope walking’. Particularly demanding episodes include the Act I aria ‘A te, o cara’ and the Act III ensemble ‘Credeasi misera’, in which the courageous Arturo has to sing some of the highest notes ever written for tenor. Aeneas (Enée) – Berlioz ’s Les Troyens Stamina and versatility are the key skills for interpreters of Berlioz’s Trojan hero. Aeneas bursts onto the stage in Act I with high, declamatory music – but the role also calls for a singer capable of delicate lyricism, particularly in the sublime Act IV duet with Dido, ‘Nuit d’ivresse’. Keeping back enough energy for Act V’s heroic and despairing aria ‘Inutile regrets’, with its huge vocal range, is also crucial. Siegfried – Wagner ’s Der Ring des Nibelungen Wagner’s Siegfried is arguably the hardest role in the dramatic tenor repertory. Episodes such as the Forging Song require immense vocal power, easy top notes and boundless energy. But it’s not all about decibels: the singer also has to convince as the tender, sympathetic lover of Act III of Siegfried and of Götterdämmerung ’s death scene. Most importantly, he needs the stamina to keep going throughout two five-hour operas and still sound fresh at the end! Otello – Verdi ’s Otello Otello is perhaps Verdi’s most challenging tenor role. It requires a wide vocal range, and the singer needs to project over a powerful orchestra. Otello also presents a host of dramatic challenges: his interpreter must convince as Act I’s heroic commander, and as the troubled, ultimately broken man of the later acts – and remain sympathetic despite his appalling actions. Gherman – Tchaikovsky ’s The Queen of Spades The role of Gherman not only requires a singer of great stamina – he’s rarely offstage – but also one with the acting skills to convey the character’s mental instability and obsessiveness, while making us sympathize with him in his love for Liza and his loneliness. The rewards for the tenor are great, though: Plácido Domingo described Gherman as ‘dramatically one of the most interesting characters I have ever played’. Rodolfo – Puccini ’s La bohème Rodolfo is a character that many singers find it easy to empathize with: his enthusiasm for life, youthful romantic passion and fun-loving, humorous streak. The role also contains much glorious music, including ‘Che gelida manina’, one of opera’s most beautiful lyric tenor arias. No wonder that great tenors including Enrico Caruso , José Carreras and Pavarotti have listed Rodolfo among their favourite roles. The Emperor – Strauss ’s Die Frau ohne Schatten Strauss never gave tenors an easy time of it, and the Emperor outdoes even the role of Bacchus from Ariadne auf Naxos in its vocal difficulty. He makes his first appearance with a heroic aria set fiendishly high in the voice, and further challenges await in Act II when he sings a 12-minute monologue of almost unbearable intensity. Fortunately, the music is as consistently glorious as it is difficult! Peter Grimes – Britten ’s Peter Grimes Peter Grimes’s ambivalent nature makes him one of opera’s most dramatically interesting roles. Is he a hero or a villain? A murderer or a visionary? And how much should we sympathize with him? Jon Vickers saw him as a Christ-like figure, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson as ‘a dangerous, violent, quixotic and very valuable person for whom things go wrong’. But whoever Grimes is, there’s no doubting his wonderful music, including the Act I aria ‘Now the Great Bear and Pleiades’. Otello runs 21 June–15 July 2017. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 28 June 2017. Find your nearest cinema. The production is generously supported by Rolex and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Alfiya and Timur Kuanyshev, Lord and Lady Laidlaw, Mr and Mrs Baha Bassatne, John G. Turner and Jerry G. Fischer, Ian and Helen Andrews, Mercedes T. Bass, Maggie Copus, Martin and Jane Houston, Mrs Trevor Swete, Beth Madison, John McGinn and Cary Davis, the Otello Production Syndicate, The American Friends of Covent Garden, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and an anonymous donor.



On An Overgrown Path

June 11

Just add complexity and stir vigorously

Music is a multi-sensory experience. Many visionaries have exploited this, notably Alexander Scriabin who extended the multi-sensory experience into the olfactual domain in his uncompleted masterwork Mysterium. In the late 1960s light shows were an integral part of rock music performance, while in the classical tradition visual artists such as the still photographer Siegfreid Lauterwasser - celebrated for his images of Herbert von Karajan - and cinematographer Ken Russell - famed for music related movies such as the Tchaikovsky biopic The Music Lovers - exploited the common ground between the auditory and visual. But the advent of the digital age has diluted music into a mono-sensory experience: the art of the album sleeve is now dead, bland PR images are the stock-in-trade of the music industry, concert halls remain temples of sound and not multi-sensory temples, and Western classical music offers little to nourish the visually literate multi-sensory younger audience. But all is not quite lost. The photos reproduced here are from the website of the photographer Stéphane Louesdon who splits his time between France and Morocco. These remarkable images were captured at a Sufi sama - ritual of divine remembrance - led by Sheikh Hassan Dyck in Essaouira, Morocco. Sheikh Hassan is an adept of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order and a classically-trained cellist, and at the sama he played with his Muhabbat Caravan ensemble and Afghan rabab master Daud Khan. Stéphane Louesdon's atmospheric photos are a salutary reminder that music is a multi-sensory and highly complex emotional force. And that force loses much of its power and appeal when distilled down to a commercial property crammed into the size constraints of Instagram and Twitter message and MP3 files. For years Western classical music has been relentlessly pursuing an audience-chasing strategy of reducing complexity by selective dumbing down. There is no evidence at all that this strategy is working, so surely it is now time to try the alternative of putting brains in gear by adding complexity and stirring vigorously. Related Overgrown Path resources include: * See the light * How sleeve artwork changes the sound of CDs * Learn as if you were to live forever * Why classical music needs to see the light * Classical music must return to its esoteric roots * Music should be dangerous All photos are (c)Stéphane Louesdon. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
(1840 – 1893)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840 - November 6, 1893) was a Russian composer of the Romantic era. His wide ranging output includes symphonies, operas, ballets, instrumental and chamber music and songs. He wrote some of the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the 1812 Overture, his First Piano Concerto, his last three numbered symphonies, and the opera Eugene Onegin. Born into a middle-class family, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant, despite his obvious musical precocity. He pursued a musical career against the wishes of his family, entering the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1862 and graduating in 1865. This formal, Western-oriented training set him apart from the contemporary nationalistic movement embodied by the influential group of young Russian composers known as The Five, with whom Tchaikovsky's professional relationship was mixed.



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