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The NEA Music Critics Institute and a Cultural Sea Change

It's again my good fortune to be Artistic Director of the National Endowment for the Arts' Music Critics Institute, which -- as was recently announced -- will take place Oct. 9 to 19, hosted by Columbia University. I mention this partly in the hope that some readers of this blog may be interested in applying (email: nea.institute@gmail.com). We accept 25 applicants from all over the US. Some call themselves critics, some are bloggers, many do other things as well. Evenings are spent attending concerts. During the day, there are workshops, … [Read more...]

Jeremy Denk and the Non-Russian Stravinsky

Two days after the conclusion of Valery Gergiev's three-week New York Philharmonic "Russian Stravinsky" festival (cf. my Stravinsky blogs of March 23, May 3, May 9), I found myself listening to "Non-Russian Stravinsky": the Concerto for Piano and Winds as rendered by the singular American pianist Jeremy Denk and a terrific orchestra of young musicians - Ensemble ACJW - led by John Adams at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. The differences were startling. With the Philharmonic Gergiev invested the concerto's opening Largo with a liturgical gravitas. As … [Read more...]

Rehearing Stravinsky’s War Symphony

Readers of this blog will appreciate my keen interest in Valery Gergiev's performances of Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements on the final two days of the New York Philharmonic's three-week "Russian Stravinsky" festival (cf. my postings of March 29 and May 3). This work, so complexly monogrammed with the composer's layer upon layer of identity, is one of the most impressive products of his long and ambiguous American exile. Gergiev's intense understanding of the symphony as a "war symphony" promised a revelatory reading, and fresh insights … [Read more...]

Stravinsky, Self-Denial, and Self-Renewal

The New York Philharmonic's three-week Stravinsky festival is in full swing. It offers a singular opportunity to hear no fewer than 16 Stravinsky works conducted by Valery Gergiev - who proposes a much different Stravinsky than, say, Pierre Boulez or Esa-Pekka Salonen: darker, earthier, weightier. In effect, Gergiev furnishes phase two of a new Stravinsky template, supplanting the image of the cosmopolitan modernist blithely transplanted in Paris and Hollywood. The new Stravinsky is, of course, essentially Russian. In the US, we first came to … [Read more...]

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