Saturday, August 27, 2016
Tanglewood veteran and 2016 Koussevitsky Scholar Charles Dutoit began Friday evening’s program with the overture to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. I’m a sucker for Figaro, though perhaps not to the extent of some writer who called it the supreme achievement of human civilization. Dutoit’s spirited reading served as a welcome corrective to a bad experience I had with a Figaro conducted by James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera House. Since that great conductor’s legacy is in no danger from the likes of me, I can use my bad experience to make a musical point I believe to be of general interest. In 1999, Levine led the Met company through the most glorious Figaro I ever heard, with Bryn Terfel, Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming (aided by the brief, charming, and fully production-integrated appearance of her then young daughter), Susan Denzer, and a startling realization of the Count by Met stalwart Dwayne Croft. A few years later Levine had apparently agreed with the proposal of famous stage director Sir Richard Eyre—who had little previous experience in opera—to do Figaro as an 18th-century romantic comedy, with Mozart’s contributions tinkling away in the background. The spectacle of great singers singing in a subdued way, while also trying to ham up stage business for which they had neither natural nor developed skill was painful throughout. Figaro has not been in continuous production somewhere in the world since Mozart brought it into being because it is an 18th-century romantic comedy. Levine went badly wrong when he subordinated his great talent to Eyre’s opera-insensitive words-first initiative, however much credit is due him for an inner drive to try something new. Tonight, at least for me, Charles Dutoit set things right again. * * * In Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, keyboard icon Menahem Pressler felt underpowered relative to the orchestra most of the time despite Dutoit’s strenuous effort to achieve balance. If at times, in the quieter, slower passages, occasional tentativeness, along with apparent lack of consistent agreement between soloist and conductor about exactly where a beat should be seemed to prevail, those impressions might be traceable to my insensitivity to the subtler nuances of interplay between two great artists. Following a standing ovation that he deserved as richly as any great musician who ever received one, Pressler settled himself once again, this time able to set his own dynamic registers. The sheer magic of his virtuosity in Chopin’s C-sharp Minor Nocturne empowered us to face whatever challenges life may bring us. Was that Chopin’s ghost leaning over to me and saying Was I that good? * * * Wagner wrote a famous and highly derogatory piece about Rossini’s Stabat Mater when it was first performed in 1842. Under cover of a pseudonym, the then young German composer attacked it as a product of popular modishness due to degenerate Italianate taste, and money crassly generated both by Rossini’s spectacular commercial success (from 38 operas before he was 40) and lawsuits concerning the complicated composing history that resulted in the final Stabat Mater. For years, I bought the standard music program between-the-ads-and-appeals-for-donation opinion that Wagner was a major genius and Rossini a minor one, with the soul of a hack, because he quit composing at his peak and spent his next three decades enjoying life before bestowing his “Sins of Old Age” upon us. Now, I think the young Wagner wrote that anti-Rossini diatribe because he was just plain scared that he would never be able to realize in music the idea of suffering as expiation necessary for sublime aspiration as thoroughly as Rossini did in Stabat Mater. I’m pretty sure that such considerations never crossed Rossini’s mind. Early in life, he discovered how to use for personal advantage an inborn skill acquired as all skills are by random gene mixing due to equally random choices made by his parents, and he ran with it. His unprecedented and not yet exceeded success at doing that is just as accidental, but who cares? Charles Dutoit then led 200+ highly talented instrumentalists and singers in a dramatic re-demonstration of musical creativity so extraordinary that it will be celebrated long after our own startled exaltation has died down, and even that will take a lot of time. The choral work that opens the masterpiece (Stabat mater dolorosa) immediately established the high standard that was to prevail throughout the performance. Prepared by guest chorus director James Burton, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus once again displayed the smooth voice blending and comfortable control over a wide dynamic range that Boston audiences came to expect from them during the long tenure of founding director John Oliver. In the first solo section (Cujus animam), Slovakian tenor Pavol Breslik quickly served notice that the standard set by the opening chorus was to be maintained. Hearing any tenor for the first time is always a little suspenseful, because quality variations in that voice range are somewhat greater than in the others, even among world-class performers. In his first few bars, Breslik’s solid tone and confident technique assured us that all was going to be well, including the exposed high note near the end, and it was. The third section (Qui est homo) introduced the female soloists, both of whom have superb voices, but also skill at using them together that is not in the technique ensemble of all singers otherwise able to perform at the highest level. Soprano Simone Saturová, also from Slovakia – which on the evidence of this program has discovered some special formula for incubating vocal talent, has a clean, clear, steady tone made to appear effortless by a level of vocal technique that surely was not acquired effortlessly. Sicilian mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato’s tone was equally clear and steady, but round, full, and warm – the angelic mezzo tone rather than the smoky kind so effective in other parts of the vocal repertory. Their passages together were a pure delight. Italian bass Riccardo Zanellato nearly walked away with the evening. His deep, rich sound is inherently capable of such menace independently of word meaning that his Faust-tempting Mephistopheles and murderer-for-hire Sparafucile in Rigoletto must have frightened any children whose parents allowed them to be in the audience for works of that nature. Yet he had turned that menacing quality entirely off for this work’s Pro peccatis – one just knew it was there, available to him any time he wanted it. No other single effect in singing quite matches that of sensing massive resources still in reserve while a great vocal artist fully realizes the expressive potential of a specific passage. Jessie Norman singing gospel is one kind of example. Zanellato’s tender evocation of Mary’s sorrow at the foot of the Cross in the work Tanglewood heard tonight was a supreme one. Charles Dutiot leads 200+ (Hilary Scott photo) From there, the performance moved on at a level of excellence no longer of any concern. By the last note of the Amen, which combined shocking novelty of emphasis—Amen! AMEN (dammit!) —seamlessly with a comforting return to the traditional quiet sort of prayer ending, followed by a final Rossinian flourish, the Tanglewood audience could have been forgiven if it had leaped out of chairs with a might whoop: Composer! Composer!! He’s dead? Well then go out and find more like him! James Prichard, a Yale physician and scientist, occasionally pinch-hits as a music critic. Additional reflections: Every time I sit in the Koussevitzky Shed feels like the first time. I haven’t the slightest memory of what we heard so many years ago when I drove on a Sunday afternoon trip up from New York City with several other Bellevue Hospital interns, then back late the same night so we could all show up on the wards Monday morning, but my memory of the shed itself is unchanged, because it is so simple: Wow! Room for more than 6000 people in more or less comfortable seats under a roof secure against rain if not heat and humidity, but no walls to make reflected sound do funny things. Plus a lawn able to accommodate at least 10,000 more, seated or lying on grass in whatever ways they can manage, while hearing events from the stage over a sound system so technically refined that you don’t realize it’s there. Sic EST gloria mundi. The post Stabat Mattered at Tanglewood appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .
By Jacob Stockinger Today The Ear has a simple question: What piece of classical music best embodies Donald Trump (below), the Republican nominee for president of the United States ? Maybe an aria — by either a villain or a hero — from an opera by Giuseppe Verdi , Giacomo Puccini or Richard Wagner ? Maybe an instrumental piece? Maybe a song? Think about it. Listen to some choices. And let us know what you think with a COMMENT and a link to a YouTube performance. The Ear wants to hear. Tomorrow is it Hillary Clinton ‘s turn. Tagged: aria , Arts , Chamber music , choral music , Classical music , Donald Trump , Giacomo Puccini , Giuseppe Verdi , hero , instrument , Jacob Stockinger , Madison , nominee , President , Puccini , Republican , Republican Party , Richard Wagner , song , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Verdi , villain , vocal , vocal music , Wisconsin , YouTube
By Jacob Stockinger Here is an overview of the upcoming 27th Token Creek Chamber Music Festival , which starts this Saturday, Aug. 27, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 4. TOKEN CREEK, WIS. – Years in the planning, summer 2016 marks the completion of a major ecological restoration project on the Token Creek Festival property in the northeast corner of Dane County , part of the watersheds vital to the hydrology of Madison and southeastern Wisconsin . During the 1930s, one of the most important feeder streams in the area, and its only cold-water trout stream, was ruined when it was widened to support short-lived commercial interests and development. Now, decades later, in a monumental effort, that stream has at long last been relocated, restored and rescued. Festival-goers will be able to experience the project firsthand on the opening weekend, when each concert is preceded by an optional stroll along the new stream, with conversation guided by restoration ecologists and project managers. Celebrating this monumental ecological project, the season theme of this year’s Token Creek Chamber Music Festival is: Water Music . Virtually all of the works programmed evoke brooks and streams and rivers and water in its many forms, with its ritual meanings, associations, allusions, and as metaphor. In keeping with the theme, the Festival has adopted Franz Schubert (below) as the summer’s featured composer. His poetic, melancholic, ultimately organic and inevitable relationship to the natural world was expressed in composition after composition, wedded to his intense involvement with the poetry of his era, itself so infatuated with birds, fields, clouds and streams. The second program emphasis continues the festival’s most persistent theme: the music of Johann Sebastian Bach . Three strands of Bach’s music previously explored at Token Creek will be taken up again. We will present our third complete cantata performance, O heiliges Geist und Wasserbad, a mysterious and poetic piece from early in the composer’s career, with soloists from the Madison Choral Project (below). We will conclude our survey of the three Bach violin concertos, this year the E major, co-artistic director Rose Mary Harbison (below top) again as soloist. And we take up our sequence of fugues from The Art of Fugue , co-artistic director and composer John Harbison (below bottom), who has won the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur “genius grant,” adding three more to his personal odyssey with this work, due to conclude in 2030. NEW ARTISTS Token Creek is pleased to introduce several new artists this season, including Grammy Award -nominated mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, who has been praised for her “glorious instrument” and dubbed an “undisputed star…who has it all – looks, intelligence, musicianship, personality, technique, and a voice of bewitching amber color.” Ms. Lattimore will offer works of Franz Schubert and John Harbison on the Festival’s opening concerts, By the Brook (August 27 and 28), where she will be joined by pianist Molly Morkoski. www.margaretlattimore.net Ms. Morkoski (below), who last appeared at Token Creek in 2013, consistently garners praise for her refined virtuosity and “the bold confidence and interactive grace one wants in a devoted chamber music maker.” In addition to the opening program, Morkoski will also be heard on the season finale in Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet (Sept. 2 and 4). http://www.mollymorkoski.com/ On that same concert, tenor William Hite and pianist Kayo Iwama join forces in Schubert’s devastating and tragic song cycle, Die Schöne Müllerin (The Beautiful Miller’s Daughter), in which a brook functions prominently as the protagonist’s confidante. (You can hear the legendary baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sing “The Miller and the Brook” from the flowing song cycle in the YouTube video at the bottom.) New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini has called Hite (below) a “breathtaking communicator of spoken nuance” for his ability to reveal the meaning and emotion embodied in the text and the music, solidifying his reputation as an engaging and expressive artist. http://www.williamhitetenor.com/ Kayo Iwama (below) is associate director of the Bard College Conservatory of Music graduate vocal arts program, the master’s degree program for classical singers, and she also coordinates the vocal studies program at the Tanglewood Music Center. Her frequent concert partners include Dawn Upshaw and Lucy Shelton. http://www.bard.edu/academics/faculty/details/?action=details&id=1838 VIOLS AND WILLIAM WARTMANN Finally, the “technically faultless and consistently sensitive and expressive,” consort of viols, Second City Musick (below), based in Chicago, will offer a guest recital on Tuesday, Aug. 30, anchored by John Harbison’s The Cross of Snow. Craig Trompeter, Russell Wagner, Anna Steinhoff at the Planetarium, Chicago, May 30, 2013 Commissioned by local businessman and philanthropist William John Wartmann (below) in memory of his wife, mezzo-soprano Joyce Wartmann, this evocative new piece, on texts of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, blends the ethereal lushness of violas da gamba with the haunting clarity of the countertenor voice, here Nathan Medley (below bottom), to explore the emotions of grief, loss and love. At its first performance in Chicago last May, a local critic praised both the work and the musicians: “The Chicago-based ensemble was ideally suited to premiere this profoundly affecting work, and the shared sensibility between composer and performers was noticeable.” Tuesday’s program will also include works of Henry Purcell, William Byrd, John Jenkins and Johann Sebastian Bach. www.secondcitymusick.org Other festival artists this season include vocalists Rachel Warricke, Sarah Leuwerke, Daniel O’Dea, and Nathan Krueger; violinists Rose Mary Harbison, Laura Burns, and Isabella Lippi; Jen Paulson, viola; Karl Lavine, cello; Ross Gilliland, bass; Linda Kimball, horn; and John Harbison, piano. HERE ARE FESTIVAL PROGRAMS AT A GLANCE: Program 1: By the Brook – Schubert, Bach and Harbison Saturday, Aug. 27: 6:45 p.m. – optional guided stream stroll*; 8 p.m. – concert Sunday, Aug. 28: 2:45 p.m. – optional guided stream stroll*; 4 p.m. – concert *(The stream stroll is free, but reservations are recommended) Program 2: Music for Viols, Then & Now Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m. Program 3: Water Colors = Two Schubert Masterworks Friday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. Concert tickets are $32 (students $12). The preview stream stroll on opening weekend is free to concertgoers, but advance reservations are recommended. Reservations can be made in several ways: Online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/token-creek-chamber-music-festival-2016-tickets-26070692142 Website (printable order form): www.tokencreekfestival.org Phone: 608-241-2525 (voicemail only, please leave a message) Email: email@example.com U.S. mail: P.O. Box 5201, Madison WI, 53705 Performances take place at the Festival Barn, on Highway 19 near the hamlet of Token Creek (10 minutes north of Madison) with ample parking available. The venue, indoors and air-conditioned, is invitingly small—early reservations are recommended. More information about the Token Creek Festival and all events and artists can be found at the website, www.tokencreekfestival.org or by calling 608 241-2525. Tagged: accompaniment , accompany , allusion , Art of Fugue , Arts , association , Bach , Bard College , baritone , Baroque , bass , birds , Byrd , Cantata , Cello , Chamber music , Chicago , choral music , Classical music , clouds , commission , composer , concerto , countertenor , Dane County , Dawn Upshaw , development , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Early music , ecology , fields , Franz Schubert , fugue , genius grant , Grammy , grief , Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , Horn , Jacob Stockinger , Jenkins , Johann Sebastian Bach , John Harbison , John Jenkins , Kayo Iwama , lieder , loss , Love , Lucy Shelton , MacArthur Fellow , Madison , Madison Choral Project , Margaret Lattimore , metaphor , Mezzo-soprano , Molly Morkoski , Music , natural world , nature , New York Times , organic , Piano , poetic , Poetry , premiere , Pulitzer Prize , Purcell , restoration , Rose Mary Harbison , Second City Musick , sing , singer , solo , Sonata , song , song cycle , stream , streams , Tanglewood Festival , tenor , Token Creek Chamber Music Festival , Trout , Trout Quintet , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Viol , Viola , Violin , vocal music , vocalist , water , Water Music , watershed , William Hite , William Wattmann , Wisconsin , YouTube
This is a sad review, for after calling the preceding concert (Barenboim/Argerich/WEDO) the event of the year, readers may expect a rather enthusiastic response to the last session of the Festival. But I went to the Colón in morose mood, for three facts were inexorable: the programme was too short; it presented the famous tenor in baritone repertoire; and it´s simply and irrevocably unethical to repeat a major score in the same subscription series. What drove me mad was the fact that the season programme, distributed in March, says: "we will present the dashing debut of German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who will delight our public with the music of Richard Wagner, avid to know one the maximal lyric expressions of our time". And this is what we got: the Prelude to the Third Act of Wagner´s "The Mastersingers"; Gustav Mahler´s "Songs of a Wayfarer"; and Mozart´s Symphony Nº41, "Jupiter". I can accept the first item (it was the encore of Concert Nº5; the encore, not one of the announced fragments). But baritone Mahler? And the repetition of Mozart´s "Jupiter" (played in the initial concert along with Nos. 39 and 40)? Sorry, there´s a limit to arbitrariness, even coming from world figures like Kaufmann and Barenboim. About Mahler: was it the tenor´s wish? Or did he propose something else and Barenboim vetoed it? I don´t know, but I give you a piece of news: Kaufmann will sing in Santiago de Chile a programme of operatic arias from Italian and French composers: "Tosca", "Aida", "Carmen", "Cavalleria Rusticana", "Le Cid", "Andrea Chenier" and "Turandot". Mouth-watering indeed, although it has no Wagner. Two ways to have done a decent programme: a) change the Wagner symphonic pieces in the concert with Argerich with, say, Brahms´ Fourth Symphony, and play the same symphonic fragments around Kaufmann, singing arias from "Lohengrin", "Die Walküre" and "The Mastersingers" (he has just sung the complete "Mastersingers" in Munich). b) Do the same programme as in Santiago, adding symphonic opera music to round it off. I have perused the CD R.E.R. catalogue of 2000 in the entry: Mahler: "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" ("Songs of a wayfarer"). The character of the songs is clearly manly, but several ladies of great career haven´t resisted the temptation and have recorded the lovely music. But not one tenor risked recording it and for good reason: hear the young Fischer-Dieskau with Furtwängler and then recollect what you heard at the Colón with Kaufmann, and what a falling off! Is it an experiment and he decided to try it here? For I read that he has an even stranger idea: to sing both the tenor and the baritone parts in Mahler´s masterpiece "Das Lied von der Erde" (Song of the Earth"); and that lasts an hour! The voice sounded veiled and out of register, but the man is an artist and of course he phrased with expression and taste, splendidly accompanied by Barenboim and his WEDO (West-Eastern Divan Orchestra). Then came the very partial saving grace, after just 18 minutes of singing: the lovely "Winsterstürme", Siegmund´s aria from "Die Walküre". There his real voice appeared. And then, helpers moved the piano and Barenboim accompanied him in the Tristanesque "Träume", last of the Five Wesendonk Lieder: beautifully done, though he was poaching in soprano repertoire. At least in this case Kaufmann has two antecedents: Melchior and Kollo, but both with orchestrations not done by Wagner. Readers may remember that two years ago I wrote enthusiastically about his Alvaro ("La Forza del Destino") in Munich: even in a horrid staging there was no doubt about his exalted category. So he owes us a second visit singing opera and has shown bad judgment in his debut. I do hold great hopes for his forthcoming Lieder recital. It transpired that both Argerich and Barenboim were affected by the flu, markedly so when they repeated the fifth programme, in which there were no encores; and that Barenboim wasn´t cured on the concert with Kaufmann. There was no encore after the "Jupiter", to my mind played with less rhythmic bite than on the first concert (of course everyone was fresher then). I do hope that next year Barenboim will be more careful and ethical: he owes it not just to the public, but to himself. This is a very expensive series, and two concerts in it were clearly below par; a third one is a controversial decision, that of Arabic music. Let´s have a real Festival where everything is topnotch. A personal desire: he has expressed his enthusiasm with Elgar: wouldn´t it be a great contribution to bring the powerful Second Symphony? For Buenos Aires Herald
The Colón concert of Thursday, August 4th, was truly memorable. It was the fifth of the Abono Azul (Blue Subscription Series) and was repeated the following day (Función Extraordinaria, non-subscription). The artists were Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim leading the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO). This time the programme was long and satisfying, and all concerned were at their best. One general conclusion: Argerich and Barenboim are at the top of their profession and in their early seventies they show no decline. And the WEDO has improved greatly: it is astonishing that young people on a seasonal (not permanent) orchestra should show such maturity, both in the command of their instruments and in the integration of a common concept. There´s real talent in all of them, though of course they have the privilege of a great conductor that gives them style and unity. The concert began with a première: "Con brio" by Jörg Widmann. Barenboim had already promoted him in two chamber concerts with different programming of the Mozarteum Argentino (in the second he also played clarinet). This score for full orchestra lasts 11 minutes and although it isn´t divided into two parts it changes sharply after the first minutes, characterised by violent attacks followed by deep silences and by the mixture of musical sounds with noise as defined by Britannica: sound that interferes with other sounds that are being listened to. I wasn´t attracted so far, but later we hear recognisable melodies as well as fanfares and the mix becomes intriguing. My wife´s imaginative phrase accords with my reaction: "noises, echoes and resonances of bellicose actions in an inhospitable jungle". Barenboim led the piece with strong impact and the WEDO responded with exemplary discipline. The author made his bow and was warmly applauded. Franz Liszt´s Piano Concerto Nº1 is the most innovative and personal of Romantic concerti. In it (as in the Sonata) rhetorics are never vain; the ideas are substantial, moving and coherent. It is terribly difficult to play: Liszt did for piano technique what Paganini had done for the violin: an extraordinary expansion of the possibilities of each instrument. And his orchestration gives lovely solos for diverse players dialoguing with the piano. You need a true virtuoso that is also a great artist, and a very attentive and collaborative conductor: Sviatoslav Richter and Kyrill Kondrashin are a good reference, and so is Argerich on record with Abbado; live with Barenboim on this occasion will long be in the memories of those who were at this concert. I heard Argerich with Dutoit and the National Symphony in this concerto back in 1969; she was young and an amazing powerhouse. Forty-seven years later her incredible technique and stamina remain untouched (if I except her rushed and not altogether clean first entrance). The final minutes were as exciting as they were musical, always abetted by the best collaboration from the WEDO and Barenboim. There was a wonderful surprise: her encore wasn´t a short and easy piece from Schumann´s "Scenes from childhood" as she generally does, but an ideal performance of the best of Ravel: "Ondine", first number of "Gaspard de la Nuit". The fluidity of the playing in this devilishly intricate piece and the subtlety of her touch were an object lesson of Impressionism (as is her recording of 1974). The second part was simply the best Wagner playing heard here in a very long time. Maybe as far back as Leitner and Leinsdorf in the Sixties. Barenboim conducted at the Bayreuth Festival from 1981 to 1999, and he did the unparelleled feat of doing the ten great operas in a period of a few weeks in Berlin. Wagner is perfect for him: music of enormous technical accomplishment in which the system of Leitmotiven proves to be an astonishingly flexible array of moods and emotions. Wagner´s continuity imbricates easily with Barenboim´s rich intellect. The chosen 45 minutes are among the greatest orchestral music of the Nineteenth Century and had glorious performances: the interpretations were simply beyond reproach and the playing proved that the WEDO is strong in all departments, very minor smudges apart: the mellowness and musicality of the brass, the fine woodwind solos, the mahogany-hued strings always disciplined and intense, all made for a constant state of direct communication with the music. The "Tannhäuser" Overture (Dresden version) went swimmingly both in the solemn pilgrim melodies and in the bacchanical frenzy of the Venusberg. The most dramatically complex music came from "The Twilight of the Gods": the Dawn after the Norns´ scene is joined in the concert adaptation with the final pages of the Siegfried-Brünnhilde duet and goes straight on to the jubilant "Siegfried´s Rhine Journey". But Barenboim cunningly omitted the brilliant coda and went on as in the opera, where the atmosphere becomes gloomy as the hero approaches the Gibichung Palace, for in it looms Hagen, who will kill him in the Third Act; and this version even adds a transformed fragment from the end of the Second Act, that terrible conspiratorial Trio. It would have been better to go on without applause to "Siegfried´s Funeral Music" but that was not to be; anyway, that magnificent evokation was spine-tingling in this version. And the best possible conclusion for the programme, the Overture to "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg", to my mind the greatest ever written. The encore was complementary: the serene and sad Prelude to the Third Act of the same opera. For Buenos Aires Herald
On this day in 1876 Wagner’s Götterdämmerung premiered at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPmldLR3bJw Born on this day in 1686 composer Nicola Porpora. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-3Fs0xa6Kk Born on this day in 1893 actress and playwright Mae West //www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6HBqcoEyTg Born on this day in 1903 conductor Georges Sébastian. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHhRIeHZTDo Born on this day in 1936 bass Nicola Ghiuselev. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Nnt8viOfY8 Happy 67th birthday soprano Linda Zoghby. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=09oMg7txoQA
Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 - 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, theatre director and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas", as they were later called). Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex texture, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs: musical themes associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. Unlike most other opera composers, Wagner wrote both the music and libretto for every one of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works such as The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser which were in the romantic traditions of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner transformed operatic thought through his concept of the "total work of art". This would achieve the synthesis of all the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, and was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised this concept most fully in the first half of the monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. His Tristan und Isolde is sometimes described as marking the start of modern music. He had his own opera house built, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which contained many novel design features. It was here that the Ring and Parsifal received their premieres and where his most important stage works continue to be performed today in an annual festival run by his descendants.
Great composers of classical music