Wednesday, December 7, 2016

AMC Masetro Series: A Conversation with Hugh Wolff, conductor..

Hugh MacPherson Wolff is an American conductor who was born
in France while his father was serving in the U.S. Foreign Service,
Wolff spent his primary-school years in London. He received his higher
education at Harvard and at Peabody Conservatory. Between Harvard
and Peabody, he spent a year in Paris where he studied composition
with Olivier Messiaen and conducting with Charles Bruck.  At Peabody,
he studied piano with Leon Fleisher. Wolff began his career in 1979
as assistant conductor to Mstislav Rostropovich at the
National Symphony Orchestra, in Washington, D.C., where he worked
until 1995. In June 1985, he was the first winner of the 
He was music director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic
from 1981 to 1986. Wolff then served as music director of the 
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 1993.  From 1988 to1992,
Wolff was Principal Conductor of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra 
and then served as its Music Director from 1992 to 2000. He was
Principal Conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival from 1994 to1997.
In Europe, Wolff was Chief Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Orchestra (which changed its name to the hr Symphony Orchestra in 2005)
from 1997 to 2006. In February 2016, the National Orchestra of Belgium 
named Wolff its next music director, effective with the 2017-2018 season.



A Conversation with Filip Pogady, virtuoso violinist

BORN IN BRATISLAVA (SLOVAKIA), FILIP MOVED WITH
HIS FAMILY TO AUSTRIA AS A CHILD AND BEGAN HIS
VIOLIN STUDIES AT AGE 7. JUST ONE YEAR LATER HE
WAS ADMITTED TO THE BRUCKNER CONSERVATORY
PRE-COLLEGE IN LINZ.  HE GAVE HIS FIRST RECITAL AT
AGE 10 AND MADE HIS SOLO DEBUT WITH AN ORCHESTRA
AT AGE 11 AT THE WIENER KONZERTHAUS IN VIENNA
AFTER WINNING THE FIRST PRIZE AT THE TSUSUKI VIOLIN
COMPETITION.  HIS THREE-TIME PARTICIPATION IN
AUSTRIA'S NATIONWIDE MUSIC COMPETITION
“PRIMA LA MUSICA” GARNERED HIM THREE FIRST PRIZES.

AFTER BEING INVITED BY PINCHAS ZUKERMAN PERSONALLY
TO STUDY WITH HIM, MR. POGÁDY FOLLOWED EARNED
HIS MASTER'S DEGREE IN VIOLIN PERFORMANCE AT THE
MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC, WHERE HE WAS
AWARDED A FULL SCHOLARSHIP. SINCE THEN HE HAS PERFORMED
IN CONCERT VENUES SUCH AS LINCOLN CENTER,
RUDOLPHINUM PRAGUE, WIENER KONZERTHAUS,
SLOVAK PHILHARMONIC HALL, TEL AVIV OPERA HOUSE,
BRUCKNERHAUS LINZ, LE POISSON ROUGE, ED SULLIVAN
THEATER AND THE APOLLO THEATER. HIS TV APPEARANCES HAVE
INCLUDED THE “LATE SHOW” WITH DAVID LETTERMAN AND
A GUEST STARRING ON LOUIS CK'S POPULAR TV-SHOW
“LOUIS,” WHERE HE ACTED AS A SUBWAY VIOLINIST.

FILIP  PLAYS A 1704 ALESSANDRO GAGLIANO VIOLIN, 
GENEROUSLY LOANED TO HIM BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Good first half.....

Three light and nearly error-proof works and one heavy masterpiece marked Laura Jackson’s return to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as guest conductor. Ms Jackson has an interesting conducting style, with an incisive right-hand beat, while employing her left hand and lithe movements to perform almost interpretive dance to the music. While never out of control, and occasionally fun to watch, her full body involvement may not be the most effective way to communicate intent to the musicians. Throughout the program, she would change the intensity of her movements, but it seemed to have little effect on the ASO’s playing.  For the complete review, click here:  https://bachtrack.com/review-avital-jackson-atlanta-symphony-december-2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Converstion with Composer Andy Akiho...

scribed as “mold-breaking,” “alert and alive,” “dramatic,” and “vital” by The New York Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW; a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho has been recognized with awards including the 2014- (CMA) Grant with the Friction Quartet and Jenny Q
Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. He was born in 1979 in Columbia, SC, and is based in New York City. Akiho is a graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition). Akiho is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at Princeton University. Described as “mold-breaking,” “alert and alive,” “dramatic,” and “vital” by The New York Times, He has received numerous awards, including the 2014-15 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, the 2015 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, a 2014 Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University, the 2014 American Composers Orchestra Underwood Emerging Composers Commission, a 2014 Chamber Music America Grant with the Friction Quartet and Jenny Q. Chai, a 2012 CMA Grant with Sybarite5, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, and the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition Grand Prize. Described as “mold-breaking,” “alert and alive,” “dramatic,” and “vital” by The New York Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW; a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho has been recognized with awards including the 2014- (CMA) Grant with the Friction Quartet and Jenny Q Chai,
a 2012 CMA Grant with Sybarite5, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, and the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition Grand Prize. 


Described as “mold-breaking,” “alert and alive,” “dramatic,” and “vital” by The New York Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW; a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho has been 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Julie does Justice to Grieg

The DeKalb Symphony, under Music Director Fyodor Cherniavsky, began their most recent concert with the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, by Wagner.  It is a short piece and the orchestra seemed to have a few warming up problems, but it ended up to be quite a nice performance.   This was followed by Brahms Symphony No. 2. Cherniavsky led a stirring interpretation and the orchestra was very good, albeit a bit thin sounding for the rich sonorities of Brahms.  The final work was Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor with the luminous Julie Coucheron.  She gave a nearly note perfect perfromance that demonstrated her deep committment to her fellow-countryman Grieg.  She effectively presented the work's dynamics, helping to increase the power of the music.  Her performance was the equal of anything heard from major soloisits in Atlanta's Symphony Hall. One can only hope that her solo concert career continues to grow.

Ms. Coucheron performed on a Bechstein grand. Its sound is much tighter than the usual Steinway concert grand, which seemed to make the high end more clear but tended to be less full and vibrant in the low end.

The only disappointment in the concert was the sound of the air handling equipment in the Marvin Cole Auditorium of Georgia State University's Clarkston Campus.  It provided an unwelcome dull noise that occassionally distracted from an otherwise fine evening of music.


Water- now Fire....

In weaving this week’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert, there seems to be several key threads: local talent played a large role in the program; the major works were written in the early part of the 20th century; and all of the works require a really large orchestra.
Robert Spano © Andrew Eccles
Robert Spano
© 
Oliver Knussen’s Flourish with Fireworks is a big, but slight piece. It’s a great way to start a concert, grabbing attention, but not requiring too much mental investment while patrons are still trying to become comfortable and clearing their throats. Based on this work, Knussen seems to believe that if something can be plucked, it should be plucked; if something can be struck, it should be struck; and if something can be loud, it should be loud. The ASO and Robert Spano did a bang-up job in a performance full of high energy and flash. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

I died and went to heaven...

The Franklin College Chamber Music Series at the University of Georgia sponsored a program by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at the Hodgson Concert Hall in Athans, GA.  The program included the Mozart String Quintet in C Minor, (K. 388), the Schoenberg Transfigured Night for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos, and the Brahms Sextet No 1 in B-flat Major.  The Mozart was elegant and it was played impeccably.  It’s not an exciting piece of music but it was a good way to start a concert on a beautiful Fall afternoon.

The Schoenberg was an entirely different matter.  It was written in 1899 before the composer decided to "go modern" and explore serialism.  Transfigured Night is fully in the post-Wagner romantic mode and it is one beautiful piece of music; it is thick, sentimental, rich and replete with wonderful themes.  The performers were Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin), Sean Lee (violin), Richard O'Neill (viola), Mathew Lipman (viola), Keith Robinson (cello), and David Finckel (cello). These are top-notch artisits who play with both passion and accuracy.  Sean Lee's violin has a rich shimmering sound.  Lipman and O'Neill are two of the finest viola players I think I have ever heard.  They never disappear into the mist and are full partners in the music.  Keith Robinson is an incredible cellist, whose commitment and love of the music shows when he is playing. These musicians enjoy playing with each other; keep in frequent eye-contact with each other, which enhances their ensemble and entrances.  I must admit to shedding a tear while immersed in the rich and wonderful late-Romantic music.  The story is based on a Poem by Dehmel and deals with love that endures in spite of an out-of-relationship pregnancy.  But the story isn't necessary to hear the gorgeousness of the music.  This was a breathtaking performance.

And, as luck would have, the Brahms is equally rich and beautiful.  The theme of the first movement is so simply, yet deeply moving that it sets the tone for the entire work.  Brahms was a master of deeply felt and passionate melody and this Sextet is a prime example.  Written early in the composer's career, the work is designed to break free of the mold of Beethoven.  Thus is for a grouping of musicians that the master never employed, so Brahms was free to be Brahms. The same musicians were involved as in the Schoenberg with Lipman being in the outside viola chair.  He was o powerful in this performance, as was Robinson.

This was a perfect concert by some of the very best musicians in an acoustically warm setting.  It was so good that I thought I died and went to heaven!