La Scena Musicale

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's Birthdays in Music: January 30 (Finley, Harrell)

1960 - Gerald Finley, Montreal, Canada; opera bass-baritone

Official website

Gerald Finley sings "Batter, my heart" from John Adams's Doctor Atomic (Metropolitan Opera, 2008)

1944 - Lynn Harrell, New York City, U.S.A.; cellist


Lynn Harrell's Cello Workshop

Lynn Harrell and James Levine play Mendelssohn's Cello Sonata No. 2 in D, 1st mvt.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today's Birthdays in Music: January 10 (Milnes, Maisky)

1935 - Sherrill Milnes, Downers Grove, IL, U.S.A.; opera baritone

Unofficial website

Sherrill Milnes sings The Prologue from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (Arena di Verona, 1985)

1948 - Mischa Maisky, Riga, Latvia; cellist

Official website

Mischa Maisky performs "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns (introduction by Roger Moore; Richard Hyung-ki Joo, piano; Julian Rachlin and Friends Chamber Music Festival)

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Shostakovich Cello Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Dimitri Maslennikov, cello; NDR Sinfonieorchester / Christoph Eschenbach
Phoenix Edition 128 (67 min 52 s)
**** $$$$
Daniel Müller-Schott, cello; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks / Yakov Kreizberg
Orfeo C659081A (66 min 31 s)
**** $$$$

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote what are probably the two most important cello concertos of the past 100 years. They both came late in his career – 1959 and 1966 respectively – and the one grew out of the other. Both are anguished and brooding, except when they lurch forward into a kind of danse macabre. This is music that was inspired by cruelty and ugliness in the Soviet Union and one is left with very dark thoughts indeed after hearing either of these pieces.
Two new recordings have appeared almost simultaneously, each one containing both concertos. And the soloists – both in their twenties – are among the most gifted performers on their instrument to come to prominence in years. Müller-Schott won the Tchaikovsky Competition at age fifteen, while Maslennikov won the International Young Soloists Competition in Moscow at the age of twelve. On the basis of these recordings I would have to say that both cellists are wonderful artists up to the greatest technical challenges and able to make the instrument express the full range of human emotions. What is more, I could not possibly choose between them. The soloists play well, their orchestras and conductors are excellent and the recording engineers have done fine work. And one can’t even choose between the instruments either: both cellists are playing Goffriller cellos made around 1700!

- Paul E. Robinson

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Today's Birthdays in Music: January 1 (Verreau, Greenhouse)

1926 - Richard Verreau, Château-Richer, Canada; opera tenor

Biography (Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)

Richard Verreau sings "Du moment qu'on aime" from Zémire et Azor by André Grétry

1916 - Bernard Greenhouse, Newark, NJ, U.S.A., cellist (a founding member of Beaux Arts Trio) (some sources give birthdate as January 3)

Conversation with Bernard Greenhouse (1998)

Bernard Greenhouse: Introduction

The Beaux Arts Trios (Isidore Cohen, violin, Bernard Greenhouse, cello, Menahem Pressler, piano) plays Ravel's Piano Trio, 4th (final) mvt. (1970s)

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: December 29 (Casals)

1876 - Pablo Casals, El Vendrell, Spain; cellist, composer

In Search of Pablo Casals

Pablo Casals plays J.S. Bach's Suite No. 1 for Cello Solo (filmed at the Abbaye Saint-Michel-de Cuxa, France, August 1954)

Maynooth Chamber Choir sings "O vos omnes" composed by Pablo Casals

Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No. 1 played by Pablo Casals, cello, Jacques Thibaud, violin and Alfred Cortet, piano (HMV recording, 1927)

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Debussy/Poulenc : Sonate pour violoncelle et piano

Jean-Guihen Queyras, violoncelle ; Alexandre Tharaud, piano
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902012 (62 min 47 s)
***** $$$
Le tandem Queyras-Tharaud nous avait donné, il y a deux ans, une interprétation remarquable de la Sonate "Arpeggione" de Schubert. Il lui avait accolé des pièces de Webern et de Berg, comme pour marquer une filiation entre le premier et les seconds, tous trois nés à Vienne mais à un siècle d'écart. Dans ce nouvel enregistrement, les interprètes rapprochent deux compositeurs dont les univers ne se touchaient pas mais qui se réclamaient l'un et l'autre de la grande tradition française représentée par Couperin et Rameau, qu’ils estimaient menacée par l’influence germanique. L’un et l’autre ont écrit une sonate pour violoncelle et piano. Celle de Debussy est souvent jouée. Celle de Poulenc, en revanche, est sous-estimée. Elle présente pourtant des qualités et son deuxième mouvement, une Cavatine, est fort beau. Diverses pièces plus légères, dont des transcriptions, complètent le programme. L’interprétation, autant chez Queyras que chez Tharaud, est d’une finesse toute française. Les notes du livret, très intéressantes, sont signées Anne Roubet.

- Alexandre Lazaridès

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: December 19 (Isserlis, Reiner)

1958 - Steven Isserlis, London, England; cellist

Personal website

Steven Isserlis gives a masterclass on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces"

1888 - Fritz Reiner, Budapest, Hungary; conductor


Fritz Reiner conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in two movements from Respighi's Pines of Rome

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: December 6 (Górecki, Harnoncourt)

1933 - Henryk Górecki, Tschirne, Germany (now Czernica, Poland); composer


Symphony No. 3 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs") - Lento e Largo (Isabel Bayrakdaraian with the Sinfonietta Cracovia, conducted by John Axelrod; taken from "Holocaust - A Musical Memorial Film from Auschwitz")

Górecki Piano Sonata, 1st mvt. (Roger McVey, piano; Mercer University, Georgia)

1929 - Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Berlin, Germany; conductor, cellist, violist

Biography and Pictures
Interview (November 2000)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt leads the Concentus Musicus Vienna and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir in J.S. Bach's Cantata BWV 147 "Heart and mouth and deed and life" (Advent Concert, Benedictine Monastery of Melk)

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: December 2 (Callas, Barbirolli)

1923 - Maria Callas, New York, U.S.A.; opera soprano


Maria Callas sings "Suicidio" from Ponchielli's La Gioconda

1899 - John Barbirolli, London, England; conductor and cellist

Biography and pictures

John Barbirolli conducts the Hallé Orchestra in Berlioz's Le Corsaire Overture

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: October 7 (Dutoit, Ma)

1936 - Charles Dutoit, Lausanne, Switzerland; conductor

In Conversation
A Glance Back (La Scena Musicale, April 2002)

Charles Dutoit talks about the music of Debussy and Ravel

Charles Dutoit conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal as Ewa Podleś sings "La Mort de Cléopâtre" by Berlioz (2003)

1955 - Yo-Yo Ma, Paris, France; cellist

Official website

Yo-Yo Ma plays the first movement of Elgar's Cello Concerto (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted hy Daniel Barenboim, 1997)

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 5 (Starker, Landowska)

1924 - János Starker, Budapest, Hungary; cellist

Wiki entry

János Starker plays Cassadó's Suite for Solo Cello, 1st mvt. (1989 recital, Tokyo)

1879 - Wanda Landowska, Warsaw, Poland; harpsichordist

Wiki entry

Wanda Landowska plays:

Bach, Prelude & Fugue no. 21 from The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (recorded 1949-51)

Folk Dance

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: June 24 (Fournier)

1906 - Pierre Fournier, Paris, France; cellist

Wiki entry
Brief biography

Pierre Fournier plays Schumann's Cello Concerto Op. 129 (ORTF National Orchestra, conducted by Jean Martinon)

Pierre Fournier and Jean Fonda play Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante for cello and piano, Op. 3 (Paris, 1965)

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Todays' Birthdays in Music: April 17 (Piatigorsky, Jerusalem)

1903 - Gregor Piatigorsky, Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk), Ukraine; cellist

Wiki entry

Piatigorsky plays Fauré's Elegie (Bell Telephone Hour, 1959-61)

1940 - Siegfried Jerusalem, Oberhausen, Germany; opera tenor

Wiki entry

Siegfried Jerusalem in concert singing "Winterstuerme" from Wagner's Die Walküre (1979)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: April 14 (Vivier, Lloyd Webber)

1948 - Claude Vivier, Montreal, Canada; composer

Wiki entry
Analyse de Zipangu (La Scena Musicale, March 2008)

1951 - Julian Lloyd Webber, London, England; cellist

Wiki entry

Julian Lloyd Webber plays Bach's 'Arioso'

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: March 27 (Rostropovich, Labadie)

1927 - Mstislav Rostropovich, Baku, Azerbaijan; cellist and conductor

Wiki entry
Slava (La Scena Musicale, May 2007)

Rostropovich plays Bach Cello Suite No.1 - Allemande

1963 - Bernard Labadie, Québec City, Canada; conductor (Les Violons du Roy)

Short bio/pictures
Interview (La Scena Musicale, Sept. 1997)

Bernard Labadie conducts Pieter Wispelwey and Les Violons du Roy in Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, 3rd mvt.

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Today's Musician Birthday: February 1

1859 - Victor Herbert, Dublin, Ireland; composer, conductor, cellist

Wiki entry

Mason & Hamlin AMPICO reproducing piano plays Victor Herbert Favorites

1922 - Renata Tebaldi, Pesaro, Italy; opera soprano

Wiki entry

Renata Tebaldi sings "Un bel di vedremo" from Madama Butterfly, telecast of February 2, 1959

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Today's Musician Birthday: January 30

Born on January 30:

1944 - Lynn Harrell, NYC, cellist

Wiki entry

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today's Musician Birthday: January 26

Born on January 26:

1945 - Jacqueline du Pré, Oxford England, cellist

Wiki entry

Documentary about Jacqueline du Pré

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