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Mahler in Texas

For last Saturday's performance of Mahler's Ninth Symphony at the Round Top Music Festival, an orchestra of 88 gifted young musicians rehearsed for 22 hours over the course of six days; there were also more than four hours of sectional rehearsals. A splendid young Austrian conductor, Christoph Campestrini, used every minute of his allotted time, correcting and exhorting with precision and enthusiasm. The result was formidable: an impassioned and idiomatic account, honed to honor Mahler's kaleidoscopic textures. The previous week, Round Top … [Read more...]

Improvising Stravinsky

One of my standard rants - typically inflicted on young pianists - is called "The Piano in the 21st Century."I begin by asking if anyone can name an important pianist before 1900 who was not also a composer and/or conductor. It's supposed to be a trick question - all the names that come to mind (Liszt, Thalberg, Rubinstein, Pabst, von Bulow, Busoni, etc.) support my point that the "performance specialist" - the pianist who only plays the piano - is a 20th century anomaly. (I had given this talk dozens of times before someone said "Vladimir de … [Read more...]

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