Category Archives: Classical

Boner for Brahms

For the benefit of anyone who happens to live in the Twin Cities, a good friend of mine who does as well had the following to say about the classical concerts being offered by the Minnesota Orchestra in the second half of their 2011-2012 season.

The 1/14, 1/21, 2/9 though 2/11 and 3/22 through 3/24 concerts are the top-tier. None of their pieces should have you checking your watch. As for the 1/13, 2/16 and 2/17, 4/19 and 4/20, and 5/17 through 5/20 concerts, each features one really good piece and the remainder shouldn’t be too unpleasant.

1/13 – Bravo Brahms! Serkin and Piano Concerto No. 1
BRAHMS – Piano Concerto No. 1 (42′)
BRAHMS – Serenade No. 1 (40′)
Concerto is wonderful. The serenade is solid.

1/14 – Bravo Brahms! Ehnes Plays the Violin Concerto
BRAHMS – Variations on a Theme by Haydn (19′)
BRAHMS – Violin Concerto (36′)
BRAHMS – Symphony No. 3 (33′)
All three pieces are extremely good.

1/20 – Bravo Brahms! Serenade and Song
BRAHMS – Hungarian Dances (15′)
BRAHMS – Nänie (15′)
BRAHMS – Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) (15′)
BRAHMS – Serenade No. 2 (29′)
If you can’t shake your boner for Brahms, then go. Otherwise it’s not worth it.

1/21 – Bravo Brahms! Serkin and Piano Concerto No. 2
BRAHMS – Piano Concerto No. 2 (50′)
BRHAMS – Symphony No. 1 (45′)
Brahms, the original emo kid. Arguably the best piano concerto ever.

2/9 through 2/11 – Ross, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky
MUSSORGSKY – Dance of the Persian Maidens, from Khovanshchina (07′)
PROKOFIEV – Sinfonia concertante (37′)
TCHAIKOVSKY – Symphony No. 6, Pathétique (45′)
First two very good. Symphony outstanding.

2/16 and 2/17 – A Russian Spectacular: Prokofiev and Shostakovich
PROKOFIEV – Violin Concerto No. 2 (26′)
SHOSTAKOVICH – Symphony No. 7, Leningrad (70′)
Replace the Brahms with this if you want something, well, Russian.

2/18 and 2/22 – Home Away From Home
STRAUSS – Don Juan (Running Time Not Given)
RAVEL – Mother Goose Suite (Running Time Not Given)
BARBER – Adagio for Strings (Running Time Not Given)
ELGAR – Enigma Variations (Running Time Not Given)
Not a terrible lineup, but not one that excites me much.

2/23 and 2/26 – Schumann’s Piano Concerto
ELGAR – In the South (19′)
SCHUMANN – Piano Concerto (31′)
WALTON – Symphony No. 1 (43′)
I like Elgar and Schumann. Totally stumped for something to do? Check it out. Otherwise, no.

3/16 and 3/17 – Vänskä Conducts Sibelius
SIBELIUS – Symphony No. 4 (32′)
SZYMANOWSKI – Violin Concerto No. 1 (23′)
KODÁLY – Dances of Galánta (16′)
Nothing special here.

3/22 through 3/24 – Varga, Haydn and Schumann
MENDELSSOHN – Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (11′)
HAYDN – Symphony No. 52 (22′)
SCHUMANN – Symphony No. 3, Rhenish (32′)
This should be a good show. All three pieces are very lovely.

4/11 through 4/14 – Vänskä Conducts Beethoven
GINASTERA – Estancia (12′)
STEPHENSON – Violin Concerto (World Premiere)
BEETHOVEN – Symphony No. 6, Pastoral (40′)
I always hate to see a Beethoven masterpiece next to atonal hacks. But that’s the only way to lure people in sometimes.

4/19 and 4/20 – Skrowaczewski Conducts Bruckner
BRUCKNER – Symphony No. 8 (74′)
Either this or the Mozart [takes seventh place in the second half of the 2011-2012 season]. Bruckner’s symphonies are heavy, but not effed up dissonant.

4/27 and 4/28 – Daphnis and Chloe
BERKELEY – Oboe Concerto (25′)
RAVEL – Daphnis and Chloe (Complete) (50′)
Snore, unless you love Ravel’s impressionism.

5/3 through 5/5 – Järvi Conducts Rachmaninoff
STRAVINSKY – Symphony in Three Movements (21′)
SHOSTAKOVICH – Cello Concerto No. 1 (28′)
RACHMANINOFF – Symphonic Dances (35′)
Shouldn’t be a bad show, but I get nervous with the 20th century composers.

5/10 through 5/12 – Romeo and Juliet
BORODIN – Polovtsian Dances, from Prince Igor (11′)
GLAZUNOV – Violin Concerto (19′)
PROKOFIEV – Selections from Romeo and Juliet (35′)
Nothing special here.

5/17 through 5/20 – Vänskä, Sudbin and Mozart
PROKOFIEV – Classical Symphony (13′)
MOZART – Piano Concerto No. 24 (31′)
SIBELIUS – Symphony No. 1 (38′)
I would go for the Mozart alone. The others are enjoyable, but not among my faves.

6/7 through 6/10 – An Orchestra Hall Celebration: Deborah Voigt Sings Salome
STRAUSS – Dance of the Seven Veils and Final Scene, from Salome (25′)
MAHLER/COOKE – Symphony No. 10 (67′)
Yeah, Mahler died before he could finish No. 10. The Beethoven curse pwnd another.

There you have it, an incredibly brief preview of one city’s upcoming classical concerts.

/s/Mohammed Chang

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Link Dump No. 2

/s/CLT and Mohammed Chang

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From All of Us

To all of you and yours.

/s/Minor Scratches

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Link Dump No. 1

  • Vox Popoli – The True and Obscure History of Psykosonik, Part I
  • Standpoint. – What Happens When the Band Stops Playing?
    (The orchestra I live closest to performed Handel’s Messiah on a single night this month to a sold out house and didn’t bother to schedule any other performances of the work. This isn’t completely dissimilar to the owner of the Upper Level in Day’s post above not welcoming the success of a dance cover band like the NoBoys in spite of audience reaction.)
  • John AugustNo Trombones
    (What would the reaction be from those who trumpet the benefits of music education were it proposed that only piano be taught to middle/high school students?)
  • Village VoiceWheelchair Sports Camp’s Crip Life
    (3,500+ words written to introduce readers to the group and only a couple of paragraphs give any indication of their sound.)
  • JazzWax – Why Sonny Rollins Matters
    (Contrast this with the Village Voice article linked above. It doesn’t shy away from mention of politics, but gives the unfamiliar an idea of what Rollins did musically, why that was special and how doing so was political – and in fewer words. For Myers, the political content of Rollins’ music sheds light on the depth of his artistry. For Dodero, Wheelchair Sports Camp provides her merely an opportunity to champion a set of political views. Heffernan doesn’t come across in the interview as a particularly insightful political mind, Dodero is left applauding the existence of an artist that can play a strong hand in victimhood poker and has to quote Riggs to provide the article’s best musical insight.)
  • Baseball ProspectusBaseball, Sex and Sheet Music

/s/Mohammed Chang

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