Ballets Russes Arts Initiative placed cellist Mickey Katz and pianist Hua Ye in the 19th-century confines of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts at Faneuil Hall for an attractive stream running through March 7th.    [continued]

In an ongoing stream of contrasts, Andris Nelsons leads the BSO in superb renderings of the master’s fifth and seventh symphonies to conclude the online Beethoven series Music in Changing Times. With nimbleness and clarity, the players also delivered Carlos Simon’s Fate Now Conquers and Schoenberg’s Phantasy, Op. 47.    [continued]

Violinist Yevgeny Kutik’s Music from the Suitcase, mostly recorded at Shalin Liu, preserves the nature of a live concert while adding elements of a documentary—with astonishing forthrightness and inspiring musical engagement.    [continued]

While Andris Nelsons’s conducting streamed, video acted as guide to Beethoven’s Eroica plus works by Hannah Kendall, and the Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Shaw. John Ferrillo’s eyebrows spoke as eloquently as his instrument.    [continued]

A cat and a five-month-old baby shared the latest BSO stream with me. The thematic thread of “home” perhaps helps us reexamine our own situations, but as a jocular aside, how much do we really want to hear about “Home” after 2020?    [continued]

Boston Camerata’s An American Christmas 2020 served as a balm and a comfort this week because it captured a unique and infrequently heard repertoire in a historical space of visual and auditory beauty. It functioned both as a replacement for a concert, and as a formal record of a many-years-long performance tradition.    [continued]

Something of a misbegetting resulted from shoehorning an abridgment of Handel’s Messiah into an aspiringly slick chimeric Covideo to fill a 55-minute public TV slot. Expert singing and playing jousted for screen time with a sometimes inane travelogue of Boston. The H+H – WGBH production runs free for the next couple of months on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.    [continued]

The third concert of this streaming BSO season, and the concluding radian of its somewhat disappointing narrative arc on America’s Promise, proffered music by Copland, Tower, Barber, and Adu-Gilmore to illustrate the thematic “optimism and openness as well as resilience and self-reflection.” Marcelo Lehninger carried the baton on December 3rd.    [continued]

The first segment of Emmanuel Music’s Britten Chamber Festival sensitively streamed some of composer’s lesser-known, small-scale vocal and instrumental music. The second and third installments of this festival follow this weekend. All three parts will stream HERE for the next 60 days.    [continued]

Thanksgiving Thursday saw the BSO unlock its second “American Promise” stream, in which Thomas Wilkins conducted Harlem Renaissance-centered works by Jessie Montgomery, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, and chamber music by Osvaldo Golijov.    [continued]

With solo pieces for oboe, violin, and piano in compressed time-space, Radius recently livestreamed the out-of-the-ordinary by giving ear to a lesser known contemporary composer cluster.    [continued]

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Emmy Award-winning, stage, screen and TV director Habib Azar talks about his approach to BSO streams and to telling stories visually.

FLE: What’s your method of preparing for shooting — do you basically consult the score and chase the instruments across the pages? 

HA: Every project is completely different — it may sound obvious, but of course a director is first and foremost a storyteller. So step one is deciding what story one wants to tell. Is the space a character? Is the story about the conductor? About an event? About the musical interpretation? About a group of artists gathering during covid against all odds?

Once I decide on what the story is, I see what technical capacities are available (camera types and positions, lighting, etc.) and then decide how best to deploy everything to make it work. At that point, I’ll start diving into the score and try to come up with a detailed plan for how to shoot it. On top of that I try to stay nimble so I can adjust organically to what is actually happening in the performance. [continued…]

Big BSO news this week comes in the announcement of Gail Samuel as the orchestra’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. HERE is the BSO press release. Last week, as a welcome extra, BSO Spirit of Beethoven offered a nostalgic and moving remembrance of BSO past .

It was 1975. WGBH, then a major content producer for PBS, was doing expensive and seriously produced live TV from Symphony Hall once a month. The nearly 50-year-old relic on offer, Channel 2’s take on Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony under Seiji Ozawa with soprano Susan Davenny Wyner and contralto Maureen Forrester and the NEC Chorus, replete with love beads, fros, and the ponderously pontificating, lockjawed, but much-loved announcer William Pierce, totally nailed the Zeitgeist.

In that nascent era of transmitting images over a distance, a major crew with a through-composed shooting script would turn a live concert into an art form we could savor on our 27-inch Living Color TVs. The relaxed and artful television began with the departure of an elegant model couple from their Beacon Hill townhouse and ended 92 minutes later with Ozawa’s clenched fist at the climax. Have a look HERE.

Something beyond nostalgia impelled me to dig deeper into those old shows and ask a retired producer thereof to contrast the BSO onscreen then with now. Among his many accomplishments, freelance director and producer William Cosel worked for WGBH and the BSO for 42 years, from 1963 to 2005. [Next week BMInt expects to publish an interview with current director of BSO Now shows Habib Azar]

FLE: Am I a fuddy-duddy when I observe that there are too many two-second and shorter shots, too much quick cutting, in today’s BSO online? [continued…]

My oldest personal copy of the Rite of Spring full score is a crumbling Kalmus pirated edition of the revised 1921 score published by Edition Russe I bought in 1959;  it is now peppered with annotations in pencil and three different colors of ballpoint [click HERE to see a page]. The cover fell off years ago. I hope to find time to copy all these notes and corrections into a virgin copy, but it will take hours, if not days. My other references here are two color facsimile volumes: The Rite of Spring / Sketches 1911-1913, published in 1969 by Boosey & Hawkes, with a preface by François Lesure and a separate folder of detailed notes, letters, and commentary by Robert Craft; and Le Sacre du Printemps: Facsimile of the Autograph Full Score, edited by Ulrich Mosch, published by the Paul Sacher Foundation and Boosey & Hawkes, 2013. Added to this is an original edition of the piano-duet score, Le Sacre du Printemps: Tableaux de la Russie païenne en deux parties d’Igor Strawinsky et Nicolas Roerich, with title page in Russian and French, published in 1913 by Édition Russe de Musique. I remember buying this hardbound score for $8.50 some decades ago at Patelson’s, where it was on the shelf next to a new Boosey & Hawkes paperbound revised reprint of the same score for $35. [continued…]

When you have observed [slavery’s] horrors as I have, when you have seen thousands of victims die through unimaginable tortures, then you would condemn without forgiveness the greatest of the inequities which the ages of barbarity bequeathed to us.    LMG

It was probably not only the upcoming Black History Month which caused known NOLA native and BMInt publisher Lee Eiseman to advocate for someone, or two, or more, to serve up a gumbo bowl of Louis Moreau Gottschalk three weeks ago in the superb Harvard Musical Association YouTube live series. It might also have been the sore need, right after the Inauguration of this new political era and year, for some musical freshness of openhearted sincerity.

The pianist and composer Gottschalk, with one parent French Creole and and the other German Jewish by way of London, was this young country’s first international musical sensation and celebrity: a son of its most cultured city, a youth prodigy in Europe publicly singled out for praise by Chopin no less and presently taught by a teacher of Saint-Saëns, raved over by famous critics like Berlioz (“Mr. Gottschalk is one of the very small number of those who possess all the different elements of the sovereign power of the pianist, all the attributes which environ him with an irresistible prestige … his playing strikes from the first, dazzles, astonishes …”), and himself a writer of articles in the American and French press — but today overlooked in the recital world. [continued…]

Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik has announced “Finding Home: Music from the Suitcase in Concert,” a five-installment “docu-recital” series based on his 2014 CD of mostly the same name. Each half-hour episode interweaves works from the album with Kutik’s personal narrative. Episodes will premiere weekly on his Facebook and YouTube channels every Thursday at 7pm beginning February 11th. “Finding home” explores antisemitism in the Soviet Union, the Kutik family’s months as “stateless” refugees, the challenges of starting a new home in the United States, and Kutik’s teachers and mentors. It also posits lessons for the future.

Kutik has produced the series and offers it free to viewers. Click HERE to register.

In 1989, when Kutik was five years old, his family emigrated from the deteriorating Soviet Union to the United States, leaving most of their possessions behind and fitting what they could into just two suitcases. Kutik’s mother, a violin teacher, filled one with sheet music from the family’s collection, believing that their music was a significant part of their family’s musical history. Years later Kutik began to explore the music from the suitcase, became enthralled with his discoveries, and recorded a selection for the critically acclaimed album, “Music from the Suitcase: A Collection of Russian Miniatures” (Marquis Classics), which debuted at no. 5 on the Billboard Classical chart and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and in the New York Times

Kutik recently talked to BMInt about his undertakings. [continued…]

My immediate inspiration for an addendum to “The Rite of Spring: Confronting the Score” [BMInt 2008 HERE] comes from a Sony’s “Le Sacre du Printemps: 10 Reference Recordings” (87254 61742), from its 100th-Anniversary Collection (2013). Ranging over nearly 70 years, the collection begins with dubbed 78s from the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski in 1929 and Stravinsky’s own platters with the New York Philharmonic in 1940. The composer’s last preserved version of The Rite came in 1960 at the beginning of the stereophonic era. The collection reaches forward to 1996.

One might well imagine that in the decades after 1913, The Rite of Spring would be considered a conductor’s challenge, especially because the orchestra is so large and the textures so variable and colorful. But only the Danse sacrale, the Sacrificial Dance, presents any real challenge to time-beating. As to indicating the measure, all of the rest of The Rite seems quite straightforward. When the curtain rises in Part I on motionless dancers (Les augures printaniers [Spring Fortunetelling], No. 13, mm. 76-247), the conductor beats in an uninterrupted 2/4 pace for 171 bars, accentuating either with sharp downbeats or with offbeat bounces, as needed. In the “Dance of the Abduction” that follows, where the basic compound-meter pulse is in dotted quarters with cross-accents abounding, the conductor’s time-beating task, and the orchestra’s task in following the beat, encounter relatively few difficulties. Back in the Diaghilev days it may not have been always so, but today’s orchestra players tend to worry more about getting the notes out when the patterns are fast, high, or strained than about counting the beats, as long as they can feel the measures with an occasional nod from the conductor. [continued…]

In musical notation, “moto perpetuo” doesn’t so much describe a physical impossibility but rather a state of uninterrupted, uniformly moving notes—as realized by various composers in their own distinctive manners….    [continued]

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