Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy birthday, Shostakovich

Today marks the birthday of Dmitry Shostakovich. NPR marked the occasion with a feature on "Morning Edition," tied to essays on its main web site. Meanwhile, the essential Arts and Letters Daily has a roundup of articles in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Moscow Times.
Malcolm Arnold dies

British composer Malcolm Arnold is dead at 84. Obituaries are noting his "unfashionable tonality," as the New York Times puts it, and the fact he won an Oscar for writing the soundtrack for "The Bridge Over the River Kwai."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Beatle Paul's new classical album

Paul McCartney's latest classical music work, "Ecce Cor Meum," will be released Tuesday. Early reviews for Paul's fourth classical release have generally been good. Jason Newman of the Associated Press writes, "Where past efforts seemed disjointed and scattershot, 'Ecce' revels in its majestic fluidity within, and between, movements and is beautiful scored for choir and orchestra." Newman also says it is "a mature, stunning piece of work."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Free music: Steve Coleman's "Alternate Dimension"

On the theory that listeners who enjoy modern classical music also might be open to avant garde jazz, I wanted to let you know that one of Steve Coleman's albums is an Internet-only release, available as a free download. I enjoy Alternate Dimension Series One and listen to it quite often. Many of Coleman's other albums also are available as a free download.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Review: Hakan Hardenberger plays three trumpet concertos

Hakan Hardenberger, Gruber, Eotvos, Turnage, Deutsche Grammaphone

The Week magazine, which does a rather good job of running reviews of modern classical recordings, quotes three reviews of a new album of modern trumpet concertos, and all three reviews give the album good marks. The good notices come from newspapers in the United States, England and Ireland. Michael Dervan in the Dublin "Irish Times" writes, "This single disc may well contain more viable trumpet concertos than the entire 19th century managed to yield up."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

He's got a little list

Emusic is a great resource, because it sells music cheap and provides recommendations from experts on many different kinds of music -- including modern classical music. See, for example, a list of Hip Classical Music compiled by critic John Schaefer which includes music composed by Arvo Part, Steve Reich, John Adams and other moderns.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Glass, Bolcom works premiere

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a new $200 million concert hall debuted in Orange County, Calif., over the weekend with performances of new works by Philip Glass and William Bolcom.

The dispatch by the Union-Tribune's arts editor, James Chute, says the Pacific Symphony's performance of Glass' "The Passion of Ramakrishna" was met by "Absolute silence. And then a thunderous ovation began."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Look to Internet for our radio stations

The other day when I was hanging out in the electronics section of Target, I looked at brochures for the two satellite radio services, Sirius and XM. Both offer nearly-identical classical music channels: A mainstream channel, one focusing on vocals, and "pops" broadcast. None offer a modern classical music channel.

So it's obviously important to support the Internet radio stations which offer contemporary music. I've included a link on this site to the Contemporary Classical Internet radio station. See also Modern Times Music.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

John Adams: Read all about me

Composer John Adams is promoting the release of "The John Adams Reader: Essential Writings on an American Composer" edited by Thomas May. The book includes essays, critical articles and interviews. Details here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

News: We add the Pulitzer Prizes

We've just added links to a list of Pulitzer Prize winners for music. We'll be adding other useful links as they come to our attention.

In case you missed it, Yehudi Wyner won this year for his piano concerto, "Chiavi in Mano."

Friday, September 15, 2006

News: Gloria Cheng live in LA

One of my favorite artists, pianist Gloria Cheng, will star in a concert recital in Los Angeles Tuesday. Modern works are prominent on the program, as they usually are when Cheng takes the stage. Details available here .

Cheng has released three solo albums, available at Amazon and other such venues.
Free Music: Tim Crowley

Yeah, I know you've never heard of him, but I went to a concert of Crowley's compositions several years ago at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and I enjoyed it. The first half of the show was Crowley's computer music, followed by a choral piece.

I remember that the music dean praised Crowley's compositions and the dean's stunningly beautiful daughter was one of the singers. Despite this supportive creative atmosphere, the young composer left Cameron (where he was an assistant professor) and went to Fort Hays State University in Kansas (where he is a full professor.)

Crowley's personal web page with downloadable Windows Media and Real Player files of his music is available here

The files don't have a lot of tags and I had to add "Tim Crowley" as the artist tag to my copy of "Canonic Dances" to get it show up on my MP3 player.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Review: Early and late Elliott Carter

CARTER: Piano Concerto / Symphony No 1 / Holiday Overture. Mark Wait, piano. Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Kenneth Schermerhorn, conductor. Naxos, 2004.

Most albums try to present a consistent program of similar music. This album has a really weird mix -- two tonal pieces which sound like Aaron Copland, along with the very modern, atonal piano concerto.

The symphony (1942) and overture (1944) is very early Carter, written in a style he later disparaged as "a masquerade in a bomb shelter."

Yeah, well, all I know is he wrote really good masquerade in a bomb shelter music. The symphony is shamelessly enjoyable, and I like the overture only a little less. The Nashville Symphony and Schermerhorn should be commended for excavating those early pieces and making them available.

The piano concerto (1965) is very modern, but the sounds are interesting and dramatic, if not melodic. It's been growing on me each time I listen to it.

Consumer alert: The album is available at The cheapest plan there is 40 tracks for $10. That works out to 25 cents a track. There are six tracks on this album, so you get a pretty good recording for $1.50.

Addendum: I've been listening to the piano concerto more and more, and I like it. It's like Stravinsky, with the melodies removed but the tone colors emphasized. I'm going to look for more of Carter's modernist work.