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April 2009 Archives

Curious Timing

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Krystian Zimerman's controversial appearance at Disney Hall

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times

In 1978, an unknown, soft-spoken, 21-year-old Polish pianist appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for its newly appointed music director, Carlo Maria Giulini, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The performances of Chopin's two piano concertos were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Krystian Zimerman's eloquence went far beyond his years, and a major career was launched.

In the '80s, Zimerman became Leonard Bernstein's favorite pianist, the conductor's choice to record the Beethoven and Brahms piano concertos. In 1992, the summer before Esa-Pekka Salonen became music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, he selected Zimerman to perform with the orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.

And now, Sunday, making his Disney Hall debut in a recital sponsored by the Philharmonic, Zimerman, who has become arguably the greatest pianist of his generation, made the surprise and shocking announcement from the stage that in protest to America's military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, he would no longer perform in the United States.

Read more about this at the Los Angeles Times website:

   latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/04/krystian-zimermans-last-us-appearance-at-disney-hall.html

Goodbye to an Institution

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Swan Song for a Music Store and Clubhouse

A crossroads of maestros and tyros, the venerable Joseph Patelson Music House in Manhattan has been like a living room for the classical music world.

By Daniel J. Wakin
New York Times

For more than six decades its shelves bulged with the fruit of Mozart and Bach, Stravinsky and Strauss, to be plucked by shoppers who wore its wooden floors black and sought counsel from expert and sometimes cantankerous sales clerks.

Yes, you know it is coming: Goodbye, Patelson's.

Marsha Patelson, the daughter-in-law of the founder, said she planned to close the store and sell its home, an 1879 carriage house that sits a baton's throw across 56th Street from the Carnegie Hall stage door. It is falling victim to a transfigured world, in which the power of digital retail has made places like used bookshops, record stores and sheet-music dealers little more than quaint relics.

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

   www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/arts/music/13pate.html

NEA Opera Honors

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John Adams

NEA Chooses Five for 2009 Opera Honors

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the second crop of winners of the new NEA Opera Honors, established last year under then-NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.

The five 2009 honorees are composer John Adams; stage director Frank Corsaro; mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne; stage director and former general manager of the San Francisco Opera Lotfi Mansouri; and conductor Julius Rudel.

Read more about this at the Washington Post website:

   www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/26/AR2009042602734.html

Manipulating Recorded Music

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Glenn Gould

Pianist Gould foresaw tech role in music

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who gave his last performance for an audience in 1964 in Los Angeles, foresaw that listeners would be able to use technology to manipulate recorded music in various ways.

By Michael Hiltzik
Los Angeles Times

Forty-five years ago this month, the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould stepped off the stage of the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and became the prophet of a new technology.

Gould's act was an act of omission, not commission. That April 10, 1964, recital in the Los Angeles hall was the last concert he ever gave – a forsaking of the tradition of public performance that was unprecedented for such a young (31) and eminent interpreter of Bach and Beethoven.

Read more about this at the Los Angeles Times website:

   www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik6-2009apr06,0,1861405.column

Juilliard String Quartet by Nana Watanabe/SONY Classical

A First Goodbye to a Departing Violinist

By Steve Smith
New York Times

The Juilliard String Quartet, among the most august and respected of American chamber music institutions, began a farewell of sorts before a sizable audience at Alice Tully Hall on Tuesday night. It was no occasion for remorse: the quartet, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006, will go on. But Joel Smirnoff, the first violinist, was making one of two final appearances with the group before departing to become president at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The configuration featured on Tuesday was not the group's original lineup: Mr. Smirnoff, who joined in 1986, became the first violinist when Robert Mann, one of the founding members, retired in 1997. Ronald Copes, the second violinist, joined at that time. Samuel Rhodes, the violist, came aboard in 1969; Joel Krosnick, the cellist, in 1974.

But this particular alignment has had more than a decade to develop its own chemistry, and it showed in occasionally rough-hewn while always authoritative and lively performances. The program opened with Mendelssohn's Quartet in E flat (Op. 12), in honor of that composer's bicentennial.

Read the complete review at the New York Times website:

   www.nytimes.com/2009/04/10/arts/music/10stri.html

Too Much of a Good Thing

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George Frideric Handel

Handel "was binge eater and problem drinker"

By Ben Hoyle
Times Online

George Frideric Handel was a binge eater and problem drinker whose gargantuan appetites resulted in lead poisoning that eventually killed him, according to a study.

By the time of his death 250 years ago this month, aged 74, the composer of Messiah had for 20 years been fighting severe health problems, including blindness, gout, bouts of paralysis and confused speech.

According to David Hunter, music librarian at the University of Texas and author of more than 60 articles on Handel, these ailments were all linked to lead poisoning brought on by his notoriously heavy consumption of rich foods and alcohol.

Read more about this at the Times Online website:

   entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article6018427.ece

Trumpet