Press

Sat, September 7, 2013

Upcoming Classical Music: Cantatas, Concertos and a Big Centennial
The New York Times

Trinity Wall Street’s invaluable music program is best known for its Bach at One series at St. Paul’s Chapel and its annual “Messiah” performances. But it may be the New York musical institution with the most comprehensive commemoration of Britten’s centennial: a four-month festival that has already begun and lasts until January. The composer’s works dot the church’s Sunday-evening Compline by Candlelight services (tonight, the collection “Sacred and Profane”) and Thursday-afternoon Concerts at One series, and will also appear alongside Bach cantatas at certain of the Monday-afternoon Bach at One events. The next Britten concert, at Trinity Church on Thursday, offers the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and “Les Illuminations,” with Vale Rideout and Sarah Brailey as vocal soloists and Julian Wachner conducting Novus NY.

Fri, September 6, 2013

Heartily Proclaiming Their Health in an Exuberant Tribute to Britten
The New York Times

In early 2012 [Trinity] church’s thriving music program was cut to the quick pending a re-evaluation of its goals and finances. Last season it came roaring back to life under the energetic leadership of Julian Wachner, Trinity’s director of music and the arts, not only continuing to solidify its position near the center of the New York early-music scene but also adding outposts in modern and contemporary music.

This season promises to be even more ambitious, and Mr. Wachner wasted no time getting it started on Thursday afternoon with the first program of Britten 100, a four-month festival devoted to the composer in celebration of his 100th birthday (Nov. 22). It will include almost 100 works, woven through the church’s various concert and liturgical settings: Concerts at One on Thursdays and Sunday morning services, at Trinity; and Compline by Candlelight on Sundays and Bach at One on Mondays, both at St. Paul’s Chapel.

Thursday’s program, a little more than an hour long, ranged from early to late, opening with the Sinfonietta (Op. 1, 1932) and closing with Britten’s final vocal work, “Phaedra” (Op. 93, 1975), a dramatic cantata for mezzo-soprano setting a text from Robert Lowell’s verse translation of Racine’s “Phèdre.” In between came the “Nocturne” (Op. 60, 1958), settings of eight poems by Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Wilfred Owen and others for tenor…

...It was an auspicious start to a most exciting and worthy project.

Read Full Text

New York Times Music Review
Heartily Proclaiming Their Health in an Exuberant Tribute to Britten
Benjamin Britten Celebration at Trinity Wall Street

By JAMES R. OESTREICH
Published: September 6, 2013

If and when the Minnesota Orchestra comes back from the near-death experience of its present lockout, you have to hope that it does so as robustly as the music program of Trinity Wall Street has from its own seeming brush with death.

In early 2012 the church’s thriving music program was cut to the quick pending a re-evaluation of its goals and finances. Last season it came roaring back to life under the energetic leadership of Julian Wachner, Trinity’s director of music and the arts, not only continuing to solidify its position near the center of the New York early-music scene but also adding outposts in modern and contemporary music.

This season promises to be even more ambitious, and Mr. Wachner wasted no time getting it started on Thursday afternoon with the first program of Britten 100, a four-month festival devoted to the composer in celebration of his 100th birthday (Nov. 22). It will include almost 100 works, woven through the church’s various concert and liturgical settings: Concerts at One on Thursdays and Sunday morning services, at Trinity; and Compline by Candlelight on Sundays and Bach at One on Mondays, both at St. Paul’s Chapel.

Thursday’s program, a little more than an hour long, ranged from early to late, opening with the Sinfonietta (Op. 1, 1932) and closing with Britten’s final vocal work, “Phaedra” (Op. 93, 1975), a dramatic cantata for mezzo-soprano setting a text from Robert Lowell’s verse translation of Racine’s “Phèdre.” In between came the “Nocturne” (Op. 60, 1958), settings of eight poems by Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Wilfred Owen and others for tenor.

Mr. Wachner conducted Trinity’s orchestra Novus NY in the Sinfonietta, an exuberant compact work in three movements that provides wonderful opportunities for soloistic display, well handled here by Catherine Gregory, flutist; James Austin Smith, oboist; Alicia Lee, clarinetist; and others. The violinists Owen Dalby and Sharon Roffman played in lovely, seamless partnership.

Nicholas Phan, making his name widely as a Britten tenor, sang the “Nocturne” beautifully and strongly. He was almost too strong in the Tennyson setting “Below the Thunders of the Upper Deep,” with its widely fluctuating dynamics. Trinity is one of the better churches in the city for music, especially that for massed voices or instruments. But there is enough reverberation to be problematic for solo voices, and here Mr. Phan’s loud phrases tended to linger in the air, covering the softer ones.

There was no such problem in the other songs, and the Keats setting “What Is More Gentle Than a Wind in Summer?” was particularly gorgeous, with, again, wonderful contributions from those woodwind players. Nor did the acoustics hamper Virginia Warnken’s splendid performance of the more theatrical “Phaedra,” which lent itself better to full-out vocalization.

In “Phaedra,” as in many other works, Britten proved himself a master of the interlude, and those here — for percussion and for strings — showed off the rest of the excellent orchestra. Mr. Wachner joined in at times on the harpsichord.

It was an auspicious start to a most exciting and worthy project.

Works by Britten will be performed on Sunday at morning services at Trinity Church and evening services at St Paul’s Chapel, and on Thursday in the Concerts at One series at Trinity, Broadway at Wall Street, Lower Manhattan; (212)602-0800, trinitywallstreet.org/britten.

Thu, September 5, 2013

Classical Music and Opera Listings for Sept. 6-12
The New York Times

Trinity Wall Street’s four-month commemoration of Britten’s centenary continues with two concerts. Sunday’s, part of the church’s Compline by Candlelight series, features two of the eight unaccompanied medieval lyrics that form the “Sacred and Profane” collection. Thursday’s brings the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (with the singer Vale Rideout and the instrumentalists of NOVUS NY, the church’s new-music ensemble) and his setting of Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” (with the soprano Sarah Brailey). Both programs are conducted by Trinity’s superb music director, Julian Wachner.

Read Full Text

Classical Music and Opera Listings for Sept. 6-12
Published: September 5, 2013

OPERA

★ ‘The Return of Ulysses’ (Tuesday through Thursday) This English-language production of Monteverdi’s “Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” marks a hat trick for the plucky Opera Omnia after sold-out runs of Monteverdi’s “Incoronazione di Poppea” and a sidesplittingly funny Cavalli’s “Giasone” at Le Poisson Rouge. For this production the same creative team of the producer, Wesley Chinn; the music director, Avi Stein; and the stage director, Crystal Manich, move into the acoustically more generous space at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, with a cast featuring the nimble mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn as Penelope and the elegant baritone Jesse Blumberg as Ulysses. At 7:30 p.m., Howard Gilman Performance Space, Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street, Manhattan, (866) 811-4111, bacnyc.org; $20. (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim)

CLASSICAL MUSIC

★ Bargemusic (Sunday and Wednesday) Most music institutions in New York either cut back their offerings or close shop entirely during the summer. Not Bargemusic, the popular and ideally intimate floating performance space for chamber music, moored on Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn. This Sunday afternoon Bargemusic presents the acclaimed, New York-based Cassatt String Quartet in a Masterworks Series program, playing Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8, Beethoven’s “Harp” Quartet and, with the brilliant pianist Ursula Oppens, Fauré’s Piano Quartet in D minor. On Wednesday there will be a free memorial concert on the Sept. 11 anniversary, with works by Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Chopin and David Bottoms. Sunday at 4 p.m., $45, $40 or $25 students; Wednesday at 7 p.m., free (no reservations); Bargemusic, Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, (800) 838-3006, bargemusic.org. (Anthony Tommasini)

★ Celebrating Britten (Sunday and Thursday) Trinity Wall Street’s four-month commemoration of Britten’s centenary continues with two concerts. Sunday’s, part of the church’s Compline by Candlelight series, features two of the eight unaccompanied medieval lyrics that form the “Sacred and Profane” collection. Thursday’s brings the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (with the singer Vale Rideout and the instrumentalists of NOVUS NY, the church’s new-music ensemble) and his setting of Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” (with the soprano Sarah Brailey). Both programs are conducted by Trinity’s superb music director, Julian Wachner. On Sunday at 8 p.m., St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway at Fulton Street, Thursday at 1 p.m., Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street, (212) 602-0800, trinitywallstreet.org; free. (Zachary Woolfe)

Dedalus Ensemble (Monday) Since its founding in 1996, this French instrumental cooperative, now based in Montpellier, has championed Anglo-Saxon experimental and Minimalist music by composers like John Cage, Harry Partch, Cornelius Cardew and Christian Wolff. Surprising, then, that this performance of recent works by nine New York-based composers marks the ensemble’s debut appearance in the United States. At 8 p.m., Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, near Third Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, (917) 267-0368, roulette.org; $15, or $10 students and 65+. (da Fonseca-Wollheim)

★ Festival of New Trumpet Music (Tuesday and Wednesday) This three-week immersion in recent writing for the instrument begins with two concerts at Roulette. Music of Christian Wolff dominates Tuesday’s show, including a new Octet for Brass and Violin, as well as the premiere of a work from the Roy Campbell Jr. Akhenaten Large Ensemble. Wednesday brings John Zorn’s new “Antiphonal Fanfare” for six trumpets, a tribute to the pioneering jazz artist Butch Morris and Henry Brant’s “Flight Over a Global Map” for 52 trumpets and percussion. At 8 p.m., Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, (917) 267-0363, fontmusic.org; $20, or $15 students. (Woolfe)

★ Ian Hobson (Tuesday and Thursday) Though the British-born Mr. Hobson is well regarded as a conductor, educator and scholar, he is best known as a brilliant, probing pianist with a comprehensive repertory. And comprehensive is the correct word. He recently presented a 10-program survey of Schumann’s complete works for piano, also recording the entire canon. Now he brings a 14-program series of the complete piano works of Brahms, including the chamber works featuring piano, to the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. A roster of colleagues will join him for the chamber pieces. The first program, on Tuesday, offers Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 1, “Albumblatt,” and the Scherzo in E flat. Joined by Claude Hobson, he will play the piano work “Variations on a Theme” for four hands by Schumann. Thursday’s program brings Hungarian Dances galore, both for solo piano and piano four-hands, as well as Brahms’s Piano Sonata No. 2. At 7:30 p.m., Benzaquen Hall, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 450 West 37th Street, Manhattan, (212) 594-6100, brownpapertickets.com; $30, or $15 for students and 65+. (Tommasini)

Maverick Concerts (Saturday and Sunday) The summer season finishes this weekend at Maverick, where concerts take place in an atmospheric barn built in 1916. On Saturday the jazz pianist Dan Tepfer offers his impressive solo reconstruction of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations, with each section followed by an imaginative reinterpretation. On Sunday the American String Quartet performs Haydn, Shostakovich and Beethoven. Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., Maverick Concert Hall, 120 Maverick Road, Woodstock, N.Y., (800) 595-4849, maverickconcerts.org; $25 and $40; $5 for students. (Vivien Schweitzer)

★ Miller Theater Pop-Up Concerts (Tuesday) This series is a wonderfully informal way to experience bracing contemporary music. For these early-evening, 60-minute programs, the audience is invited to sit on the stage close to the performers and enjoy complimentary beer and wine. The season’s first Pop-Up concert presents Ensemble Signal, a dynamic contemporary music group. The program offers works for piano by Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez and three pieces by the inventive Mexican composer Hilda Paredes: “Paráfrasis” for trombone (a world premiere); “Chaczidzib” for piccolo (an American premiere); and “Tzolkin” for percussion (a New York premiere). At 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30), Miller Theater, Broadway at 116th Street, Morningside Heights, (212) 854-7799, millertheatre.com; free. (Tommasini)

‘The Named Angels’ (Friday) The prodigious young composer Mohammed Fairouz brings together an assemblage of colleagues to perform a selection of his own works as well as pieces by the violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and Matt Marks’s “Disney Remixes.” At 8 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, near Thompson Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com; $20. (Woolfe)

Resonant Bodies Festival (Friday and Saturday) The ShapeShifter Lab becomes a petri dish teeming with odd and interesting life forms in this festival of contemporary vocal music. Friday features one-hour sets each by Amirtha Kidambi, in music by Darius Jones; the jazz-rooted Jamie Jordan in works by Henri Pousseur, Jacob Cooper, Evan Ziporyn and Paul Coleman; and Megan Schubert in a program spanning Modernist compositions by Milton Babbitt and Luciani Berio, as well as John Coltrane’s preview of “Giant Steps” and her own compositions. Saturday kicks off with a program of virtuosic vocal contortions by Jeffrey Gavett, including the indescribable “I, Purples, Spat Blood, Laugh of Beautiful Lips” by Aaron Cassidy. Christie Finn offers a performance of Georges Aperghis’s “Récitations Pour Voix Seule” while Kjersti Kveli, joined by the Cochlea Freedom Ensemble, offers her own “Animal Stories” and “Vampire Landmine.” At 7 p.m., ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn, (646) 820-9452, resonantbodies.wordpress.com; one-day festival pass $15 (students $10); three-day festival pass $50 (students $40). (da Fonseca-Wollheim)

The Sebastians (Saturday) This excellent period-instrument ensemble offers a program of sonatas, concertos and suites by Bach, Corelli, William Boyce, Handel and Vivaldi. At 7:30 p.m., All Angels’ Church, 251 West 80th Street, Manhattan, (212) 362-9553, sebastians.org; $15, or $10 for students and 65+. (Schweitzer)

World Peace Orchestra (Tuesday) This ensemble, founded this year, consists of young musicians from 50 countries. Kevin Spacey will host the concert, which features the Lithuanian conductor Gintaras Rinkevicius conducting music by Beethoven, Bernstein, Rimsky-Korsakov and Vittorio Monti. The violinist Alexander Markov will play the “Meditation” from “Thaïs” and Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. At 8 p.m., Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, (212) 721-6500, lincolncenter.org; $55 to $1,000 remaining. (Schweitzer)

Sat, August 31, 2013

New York’s Must-See Opera and Song Events in 2013-14
WQXR Blog

Brooklyn Academy of Music spotlights cutting-edge song on November 22 and 23 with 21c Liederabend, Op. 3. Chock-full of world premieres (including scenes from Mohammed Fairouz’s opera-in-progress, Bhutto), the weekend features music by Paola Prestini, Missy Mazzoli, David T. Little, Eric Whitacre, and others; performers include the stellar Choir of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner…

...Wachner and the Trinity forces spearhead local Benjamin Britten centennial festivities with fall Concerts at One featuring his music and an evening with tenor Nicholas Phan on September 21.

Read Full Text

OPERAVORE

New York's Must-See Opera and Song Events in 2013-14
Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 12:00 AM

By Marion Lignana Rosenberg

With summer winding down, Operavores are busy digging out agendas and writing in musical dates. Here are our picks for New York’s most enticing vocal and operatic events in 2013–14.

WQXR's 2013 Fall Preview

SONG RECITALS

Princes of German-language song reign this season: Christian Gerhaher sings Robert Schumann at the Park Avenue Armory on September 29 and October 1; Wolfgang Holzmair performs Schubert at the Frick Collection on February 9; Gerald Finley’s sole New York date is a February 13 Winterreise at Zankel Hall; Matthias Goerne sings the composer’s Die schöne Müllerin at Carnegie Hall on March 5; At Carnegie on February 28, Goerne also takes on the title role in Berg’s Wozzeck with the Vienna State Opera forces under Daniele Gatti; Florian Boesch brings his shattering way with Die Winterreise to Weill Recital Hall on May 9.

Brooklyn Academy of Music spotlights cutting-edge song on November 22 and 23 with 21c Liederabend, Op. 3. Chock-full of world premieres (including scenes from Mohammed Fairouz’s opera-in-progress, Bhutto), the weekend features music by Paola Prestini, Missy Mazzoli, David T. Little, Eric Whitacre, and others; performers include the stellar Choir of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner.

New York Festival of Song’s sparkling season includes a 90th-birthday tribute to Ned Rorem.

Last year Abigail Fischer’s powerful, great-hearted musicianship in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar drew comparisons to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Kathleen Ferrier. On October 30 and November 1 hear Fischer in Respighi and the New York premiere of John Harbison’s Crossroads with the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble at the Morgan. She sings John Zorn at the Miller Theatre and the Metropolitan Museum in September and in Experiments in Opera’s Chorus of All Souls on November 2.

BRITTEN CENTENNIAL

Wachner and the Trinity forces spearhead local Benjamin Britten centennial festivities with fall Concerts at One featuring his music and an evening with tenor Nicholas Phan on September 21.

Rufus Müller and David Leisner perform Britten’s songs for tenor and guitar on October 18 at Symphony Space.

In October the Metropolitan Opera revives A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring the lustrous-toned alto Iestyn Davies as Oberon, who joins Ian Bostridge and Joshua Hopkins on October 20 to sing The Canticles at Zankel Hall.

And Carnegie’s Britten 100 series also includes Peter Grimes starring Anthony Dean Griffey and Susanna Phillips under David Robertson on November 22, and the War Requiem led by Robert Spano.

EARLY MUSIC

Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda is an exemplary 20-minute tragedy, complete with Aristotelian recognition and reversal. At the Miller Theater on October 19, early-music band Le Poème harmonique pairs the Combattimento with a Monteverdi spoof. Later, Gotham Chamber Opera sets it alongside a Lembit Beecher world premiere at the Metropolitan Museum on February 26 and 27.

New Yorkers also have multiple chances to hear Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux enfers, performed by Gotham January 1, 3 and 5 at St. Paul's Chapel and by the Boston Early Music Festival forces March 17 and 18 at the Morgan Library.

THE DEVIL'S OWN JOB

With his smoldering voice and arresting presence, Eric Owens made Alberich the most gripping character in the Met’s recent Ring cycles. On November 6 at Carnegie, backed by the Collegiate Chorale, he takes on the urbane title role in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, a ripsnorting opera too long absent in these parts. (Incidentally, Abdrazakov stars as Boito’s archfiend in San Francisco this season, in the witty Carsen production co-owned by the Met. A future Owens-Abdrazakov satanic smackdown would be a heavenly treat for New York audiences.)

OPERAS OLD AND NEW

The Met gives Verdi a luxe bicentennial gift in December: a new Robert Carsen staging of Falstaff led by James Levine, whose way with Verdi’s magical score is a wonder of this or any other age.

In February Borodin's Prince Igor returns to the Met for the first time in nearly a century, directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov (in his company début) and starring Ildar Abdrazakov. The electrifying maestro Gianandrea Noseda conducts.

This year’s inaugural Prototype Festival left audiences stomping and whooping in delight. Prototype 2014 opens in January and features five new operas, including works by Kamala Sankaram and Du Yun. Experiments in Opera in 2014 offers a program of radio operas and Aaron Siegel’s Brother, Brother, inspired by the life of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

New York City Opera’s season includes Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle at St. Ann’s Warehouse and what promises to be a boisterous and bilious Christopher Alden staging of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, both led by music director Jayce Ogren.

Finally, catch rising stars at New York’s conservatories. Juilliard's opera and vocal season includes Handel’s Radamisto, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Massenet’s Cendrillon, while Manhattan School of Music stages Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All and Haydn’s Orlando Paladino.

To all, happy listening!

Thu, August 22, 2013

Organistinn dansaði steppdans
Fréttablaðið (Iceland)

“One of the most magnificent part of the concert, was not the tap-dancing of the organist, but the jazz like composition of Julian Wachner. It was called Blue, Green, Red. Again the trumpet player walked into the church and played excellently. There was a little hint of Miles Davis in his playing. And just like Davis, Burns produced magical sounds/colors with his trumpet. Everything from subtle hums to colossal sounds.The music was pleasant to listen to. It was a bit cold and distant in parts but endowed with inner harmony and felt true to itself.”

Mon, July 15, 2013

At Caramoor, Verdi Grand Operas, Parisian Style
The Wall Street Journal

The Lincoln Center Festival presents more contemporary exotic fare, and “The Blind” (2001; revised 2013), Lera Auerbach’s hourlong chamber opera, which opened last week, was certainly unusual. Based on the play “Les aveugles” by Maurice Maeterlinck, about a group of blind people left helpless outdoors on an island, far from home, when the priest who cares for them dies, the story is a metaphor for spiritual and emotional blindness. John La Bouchardière’s unusual staging was intended to include the audience in that destitution…

The singers moved among the listeners, and while it was a little overwhelming (and loud) to have an operatic voice right behind you, it certainly heightened the intensity of the experience. The singers were excellent, particularly soprano Yulia Van Doren and tenor Dominic Armstrong (First Blind Woman and First Blind Man), who made the first moves toward comprehension and had a brief, tender interaction about flowers, and mezzo Faith Sherman (Third Blind Woman), whose lush, contraltolike timbre was riveting as she castigated the others for making the priest suffer. Julian Wachner was the capable conductor.

Thu, July 11, 2013

Review: The Blind, Kaplan Penthouse, New York
The Financial Times

Auerbach’s creation rambles and dabbles, often effectively, sometimes monotonously, in electronic distortion, stereophonic movement, stubborn droning and poignant sighing. It embraces ethereal harmony, religious nodding, explosive chant and pathetic recitative.

The musical performance, overseen by Julian Wachner, seemed appreciative.

Wed, July 10, 2013

Lincoln Center Festival’s ‘The Blind’ is a feast for the ears
The New York Post

Though the 1994 score [conducted by Julian Wachner] is a cappella — a dozen voices, with no orchestra behind them — Auerbach creates a disquieting mood with choral muttering of Latin prayers, interrupted by panicky solo cries of realization that the priest may never return.

Director John La Bouchardière’s dramatic concept is mostly effective: Sitting there in the tiny Kaplan Playhouse with mysterious voices swirling around me, I felt blind, all right — vulnerable and strangely alone…

Weird electronic moans and reverbing women’s voices so powerfully evoked a mysterious empty landscape…even temporary membership among “The Blind” does perk up the hearing, making every murmur of the score sound acute.

Wed, July 10, 2013

Audience Enters a Sightless World, Where Listening Becomes a Lifeline
The New York Times

There are some interesting cluster chords and layered choral textures in Ms. Auerbach’s score, which was sung with intensity by the skilled cast under the musical direction of Julian Wachner. Groups of characters are often heard quietly chanting prayers in Latin, which lends the work continuity.

Fri, July 5, 2013

Listening to a Disconnected Society
The New York Times

“He sees! He sees! But what can he see?” sings one of the sightless men in “The Blind,” an a cappella opera by the Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach opening this week at the Lincoln Center Festival [directed by Julian Wachner].

“It’s not the characters who are blind,” she said during an interview at a Manhattan cafe. “The message is that we are the blind. With all our means of communication we see each other less and connect to each other less. We have less understanding and compassion for other people. We have this screen between us.”

A new staging of “The Blind,” based on Maeterlinck’s symbolist play of the same name, has its premiere on Tuesday and continues through July 14 at the Kaplan Penthouse; audience members will be blindfolded throughout its one-hour duration…

Even singers with perfect pitch depend on instrumental accompaniment to orient their pitches, so a cappella opera poses daunting challenges. “It requires brave singers to go through the experience,” Ms. Auerbach said. “It’s like you are naked. There is a fragility and vulnerability and you have no safety net. It takes great courage, trust and openness. I think Maeterlinck’s play is about those qualities.”

Fri, June 14, 2013

Opus 3 Artists Signs Julian Wachner
Opus 3 Artists

Opus 3 Artists is pleased to welcome Grammy-nominated conductor Julian Wachner to our roster. Julian Wachner is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as conductor, composer, and keyboard artist. As Director of Music and the Arts at New York’s historic Trinity Wall Street, Wachner oversees an annual season of over 900 events, including concerts, series, festivals, museum expositions, dance and theatre performances, poetry and literary readings, and educational/outreach initiatives in partnership with New York City’s public school system. Wachner serves as the Principal Conductor of NOVUS NY (Trinity’s resident contemporary music orchestra), and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra & Choir of Trinity Wall Street, recently nominated for a 2012 GRAMMY for its recording of Handel’s complete Israel in Egypt. He also is the director of Bach at One, Trinity’s weekly performances of the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.  To open the 2012-13 Season, Wachner conceived of and directed Trinity’s Twelve in 12 Festival celebrating the Pulitzer Prize in music.  Of this festival, Steve Smith noted in Time Out that “some ideas seem so utterly obvious and right at a glance that you wonder why it took someone so long to hatch them. ‘Twelve in 12’ is that kind of notion…Mark your calendars, and give thanks.”

Recent and upcoming engagements include those with the Lincoln Center Festival, Juilliard Opera Theatre, New York City Opera, Philharmonia Baroque, Portland Baroque, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal and Pittsburgh Symphonies, BAM Next Wave Festival, Virginia Opera, and The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour.

Read Full Text

OPUS 3 ARTISTS SIGNS JULIAN WACHNER

Opus 3 Artists is pleased to welcome Grammy-nominated conductor Julian Wachner to our roster. Julian Wachner  is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as conductor, composer, and keyboard artist. As Director of Music and the Arts at New York’s historic Trinity Wall Street, Wachner oversees an annual season of over 900 events, including concerts, series, festivals, museum expositions, dance and theatre performances, poetry and literary readings, and educational/outreach initiatives in partnership with New York City’s public school system. Wachner serves as the Principal Conductor of NOVUS NY (Trinity’s resident contemporary music orchestra), and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra & Choir of Trinity Wall Street, recently nominated for a 2012 GRAMMY for its recording of Handel’s complete Israel in Egypt. He also is the director of Bach at One, Trinity’s weekly performances of the Cantatas of J. S. Bach.  To open the 2012-13 Season, Wachner conceived of and directed Trinity’s Twelve in 12 Festival celebrating the Pulitzer Prize in music.  Of this festival, Steve Smith noted in Time Out that “some ideas seem so utterly obvious and right at a glance that you wonder why it took someone so long to hatch them. ‘Twelve in 12’ is that kind of notion…Mark your calendars, and give thanks.”

Recent and upcoming engagements include those with the Lincoln Center Festival, Juilliard Opera Theatre, New York City Opera, Philharmonia Baroque, Portland Baroque, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal and Pittsburgh Symphonies, BAM Next Wave Festival, Virginia Opera, and The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour.

Wachner is also Music Director of the Grammy Award-winning Washington Chorus, with whom he won ASCAP’s Alice Parker award for adventurous programming in 2011.  A Baroque specialist, he was the founding Music Director of the Boston Bach Ensemble and the Bach Académie de Montréal, besides serving as Artistic Director of International Bach Festivals in Boston and Montreal.  In 2011 he founded New York City’s newest music festival, The Twelfth Night Festival of Early Music, most recently presented in collaboration with Gotham Early Music Society (GEMS) and featuring many of New York’s leading baroque and renaissance ensembles.

In 2010, Wachner was both conductor and composer at New York City Opera 's annual VOX festival of contemporary opera leading to the invitation to be the sole conductor of this Festival in 2012.  His original music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” (Boston Globe), having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (New York Times).

CRITICAL ACCLAIM
“there was genius here and no mistaking it.”
Boston Globe

“Julian Wachner knows how to draw maximum drama from a score,” and noted that he was “emphatic and theatrical and so at home in opera that he could bring out the requisite sense of drama.”
The Washington Post 

“Few conductors have drawn such focused, committed, and meticulous music-making as Julian Wachner. … [He] built the music, line by line, as an architectural edifice, serving both the music’s emotional and more purely aesthetic elements.”  As a result, Stearns “couldn’t help fantasize that [Wachner] might do an annual Philadelphia Orchestra festival of Bach and Handel.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

Sun, May 5, 2013

Going for Baroque
Crain's New York Business

“New York was really ripe for this kind of music, and then Juilliard jumped into it in a major way,” said Julian Wachner, the musical director of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, which is part of Trinity Wall Street church. Trinity’s orchestra had always had a Baroque-heavy repertoire, but when Mr. Wachner arrived in 2009, he decided to focus on early music to set his group apart because the city is already laden with opportunities to hear modern classical music. It began its Baroque-only focus about two years ago.

Read Full Text

GOING FOR BAROQUE
Musicians strive for authentic sound using priceless instruments.

By Theresa Agovino

WEN YANG became a fan of Baroque music while earning her master's degree at the Yale School of Music. She was especially drawn to the idea of performing with period instruments—either antiques or high-end reproductions—that can cost a small fortune but allow an ensemble to sound as it would have centuries ago.

"I liked the sound; it was richer; it had more color," explained the 31-year-old from China who plays the double bass and the viola da gamba, a cousin of the cello that was commonly used during the Baroque era.

Last year, she started New York Baroque Inc., an orchestra with about 20 musicians who play the works of such composers as Handel, Bach and Vivaldi.

She's not the only one following her passion for music from the 1600s and 1700s. At least four such groups have sprung up in the city in the past three years, with the largest and best-known being the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. They join such longstanding ensembles as the American Classical Orchestra and Early Music New York.

American Classical Orchestra musicians primarily use period instruments. When the group appears at Alice Tully Hall on June 4, for example, the 49 instruments will be worth about $2.5 million, and will include a violin from 1690 worth $175,000 and a bass valued at about $250,000.

By contrast, a high-end modern violin or reproduction can cost $18,000 to $28,000, while a cello could cost $30,000 to $45,000.

At least oboe players get a break. A reproduction of a Baroque oboe costs about $2,000, while a new one can run about $10,000 because it is a more complicated instrument with more keys.
Primed for growth

"The age of the instruments isn't important. It is the sound," said Benjamin Sosland, administrative director of the Historical Performance graduate program at the Juilliard School. Experts contend that even untrained ears can distinguish period instruments and reproductions from their modern counterparts.

Juilliard started the program in 2009, which helped jump-start the early-music movement in New York City. The program at the prestigious institution imbued the genre with more gravitas and brought even more specialized musicians here. Experts said the city was primed for growth in this genre because it was already popular in Boston and San Francisco, among other cities, as well as in Europe.

"New York was really ripe for this kind of music, and then Juilliard jumped into it in a major way," said Julian Wachner, the musical director of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, which is part of Trinity Wall Street church. Trinity's orchestra had always had a Baroque-heavy repertoire, but when Mr. Wachner arrived in 2009, he decided to focus on early music to set his group apart because the city is already laden with opportunities to hear modern classical music. It began its Baroque-only focus about two years ago.

Mr. Wachner is fortunate that his orchestra is attached to a wealthy church. Newer groups, such as New York Baroque Inc. and Dorian Baroque, are still trying to establish themselves. That's never easy, but it can be especially challenging when the economy remains shaky and more established nonprofit music groups are snapping up donations. Founders like Ms. Yang are trying to squeeze developing their orchestras between classes and gigs.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "We are really grassroots and doing everything ourselves."

Marina Fragoulis, who founded Dorian Baroque last year, said she and her husband have spent about $10,000 of their own money on necessities for the group, such as lawyers and sound engineers. They are still waiting to get certified as a formal nonprofit by the state, and then they can decide the budget and fundraising needs.

"We need to figure out how big of a season we want to have," said Ms. Fragoulis.

The orchestras' programs differ vastly in size and scope. Trinity has weekly concerts, while the American Classical Orchestra will have four this season, which ends in June. The group's budget is only $1.1 million.

Vincent Gardino, executive director of the American Classical Orchestra, said the sharp focus on early music can be a benefit when seeking donations because it is less common.

MUSIC APPRECIATION

$175K
VALUE of a 1690 violin to be played at the American Classical Orchestra’s June 4 concert

$2.5M
VALUE of all the instruments at the concert

"The audience for this type of music isn't large, but it is extremely dedicated," said Mr. Gardino. He said the orchestra's concertgoers are typically people who already enjoy classical music and are now finding an appreciation for this niche.

The American Classical Orchestra plays Baroque, romantic and classical music, and Mr. Gardino estimates that about 80% of the orchestra's musicians play original instruments that they either own or rent. Musician John Feeney owns a double bass from 1750 that's worth about $250,000.

Caring for the genuine antique brings its own challenges. Mr. Feeney keeps the instrument in a humidity-controlled room and won't take it anywhere he can't drive, which can be an issue because many musicians have to fly to their gigs.

Some musicians transport their prized possessions by buying them a seat on a plane. Mr. Feeney won't take that chance because he is afraid he will be forced to check his. When that happened years ago, he was allowed to personally place the instrument in the plane's hold, something he said would never be permitted in the post-9/11 era.

"We've all seen the way baggage is handled," he said. "I won't do it."

Ms. Yang isn't focused on buying an antique. Right now, she is working on her bass to make it sound closer to a Baroque-era instrument. She said it's been a problem to find craftsmen to complete the work, so the next time she buys an instrument, she'll likely purchase a reproduction. "I think it is just easier," she said.

If you think it's really difficult to become a successful musician, imagine trying to earn a living making specialty instruments. Gabriela Guadalajara started her Harlem-based business crafting Baroque string instruments five years ago, and said it's still a struggle.

It took a year to sell her first one, and last year she sold just three: a small violin for $5,000 and two violas da gamba for $11,000 each. Of course, it's not a high-volume business—constructing one instrument can take three months. And there's plenty of competition from other artisans, as well as inexpensive reproductions from China. Roughly half her income still comes from repairing instruments.

"This is not something you do for the money," said the Mexico City native. "You do it because it makes people happy to play your instruments."

Ms. Guadalajara discovered the joy that music can bring from her father, who loved listening to everything from classical to Mexican folk. She started playing the cello as a child but eventually realized she didn't want to perform professionally, even though she wanted a career in music. When her mother learned about a violin-making school, Ms. Guadalajara knew she had found her dream job.

She started the five-year course when she was 24 and eventually moved to New York to work for William Monical & Sons Inc., a Staten Island-based business that repairs and restores violins.

Ms. Guadalajara said the combination of working there and playing an instrument has aided in developing her business. She developed contacts at Monical that have led to clients. The 36-year-old added, "It helps to play an instrument. I can try the instrument, really hear how it sounds."

Thu, May 2, 2013

Stravinsky’s Sacred Music, the Trinity Way
Musical America

The Rite of Spring, the centennial of which we celebrate on May 29, has been played everywhere this season and undoubtedly will the next. But while The Rite is forever ubiquitous, much of Stravinsky’s huge output languishes—such as his rarely played sacred works, which New York’s Trinity Church presented in toto in three concerts last weekend (4/26-28). It was a genuine event, well attended, and performed sympathetically by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and instrumentalists from NOVUS NY under the interpretive warmth of Trinity’s music director, Julian Wachner. Appropriate for a festival of such importance, the beautifully printed and illustrated program booklet, with thought-provoking notes by Matthew Guerrieri, was a keeper…

...I could never get into the 1948 Mass before this lovely Trinity performance…Requiem Canticles (1966)—which Stravinsky called his “pocket requiem” and which was performed at his funeral—is his last masterpiece, albeit a small one, and it was given an eloquent account.

The Symphony of Psalms, the final work in the concerts, was performed in a two-piano arrangement by Karen Keating…the superb Trinity chorus could be heard at its full stature without the acoustical confusion of orchestral textures, and the excellent pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, were perfectly balanced.

Read Full Text

Stravinsky’s Sacred Music, the Trinity Way

by Sedgwick Clark

The Rite of Spring, the centennial of which we celebrate on May 29, has been played everywhere this season and undoubtedly will the next. But while The Rite is forever ubiquitous, much of Stravinsky’s huge output languishes—such as his rarely played sacred works, which New York’s Trinity Church presented in toto in three concerts last weekend (4/26-28). It was a genuine event, well attended, and performed sympathetically by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Trinity Youth Chorus, and instrumentalists from NOVUS NY under the interpretive warmth of Trinity’s music director, Julian Wachner. Appropriate for a festival of such importance, the beautifully printed and illustrated program booklet, with thought-provoking notes by Matthew Guerrieri, was a keeper. 

The rarity of Stravinsky sacred-music performances is no surprise. Most of it was written during his last period, when he was adapting Schoenberg’s “method of composing with 12 tones” to his own aesthetic. While the expatriate Russian’s unique voice could not entirely be quelled, the concert-going public has voted on Schoenberg’s technique (and Stravinsky’s use of it) with its feet. After more than a century since its genesis, few 12-tone or serial works are played with any frequency, and even those are capable of emptying a room of non-believers before you can say “boo.”

The real surprise is that Stravinsky, a devoutly religious man, wrote so few works on sacred subjects. On the other hand, Ralph Vaughan Williams, an avowed atheist, composed some of the most affecting music on religious themes in the 20th century. Of all the music performed at Trinity, only the Symphony of Psalms (1930) is an indisputable masterpiece, well known and often programmed. Several critics convened at the end of the first concert, wondering which works we could “cross off the list,” as the New Yorker’s Alex Ross amusingly put it, of music we had never encountered in concert. We both had looked forward especially to Threni (1957-58) and had come armed with our scores. Wachner’s heartfelt reading was a satisfying account, even if it lacked the clarity of the composer’s recording. The same could be said of Introitus: T.S. Eliot in Memoriam (1965) and Abraham and Isaac (1962-63), the latter a minor revelation due to Sanford Sylvan’s expert vocalism. The performance of The Flood (1961-62) was game, but I find the music arid.

I could never get into the 1948 Mass before this lovely Trinity performance, but whatever delights some find in Canticum Sacrum (which Time magazine headlined “Murder in the Cathedral” for its report on the 1956 Venice premiere) escape me still, as do most of the shorter pieces. But Requiem Canticles (1966)—which Stravinsky called his “pocket requiem” and which was performed at his funeral—is his last masterpiece, albeit a small one, and it was given an eloquent account.

The Symphony of Psalms, the final work in the concerts, was performed in a two-piano arrangement by Karen Keating—a decision that on paper seemed disappointing but that largely avoided the one serious drawback of these concerts: the muddying factor of Trinity Church’s cavernous acoustics, which compromised nearly every performance to some degree. Stravinsky’s rhythms and scoring thrive in utmost clarity, and these performances would have been even more successful in the drier Zankel or Tully halls uptown.

Nevertheless, in the Symphony the superb Trinity chorus could be heard at its full stature without the acoustical confusion of orchestral textures, and the excellent pianists, Pedja Muzijevic and Steven Beck, were perfectly balanced. I’d love to hear Bruckner Motets at Trinity someday.

Tue, April 30, 2013

Stravinsky Inspires a Festival to Get It Together, Fast
The New York Times

The Trinity Choir, the resident professional ensemble at Trinity Church on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, is not unfamiliar with the notion of big undertakings. In recent years this superb chorus has released a reference-quality set of Haydn’s masses on the Naxos label, made a Grammy-nominated recording of Handel’s oratorio “Israel in Egypt” for Musica Omnia, and sung with the Rolling Stones in Brooklyn.

Still, you had to admire the behind-the-scenes fortitude that must have gone into the choir’s Stravinsky Festival, a celebration of that composer’s complete sacred works held at the church on Friday, Saturday and Sunday…

...If Sunday’s concert was indicative of what came before it — and anecdotal evidence suggested that it was — the festival was a resounding success.

Sat, April 27, 2013

Pocket ‘Threni’
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

I went last night to the opening of Trinity Wall Street’s festival of the sacred Stravinsky — an imposing program that included Threni, Abraham and Isaac (with the great Sanford Sylvan), and The Flood. In the crowd were more than a few veteran concertgoers and musicians who were hearing Threni for the first time live; the work has been absent from New York for many years. It’s immensely difficult music, and Julian Wachner’s performance wasn’t always immaculate, but the eerie intensity of Stravinsky’s engagement with Lamentations came through. The power and warmth of Trinity Choir banished any sense that this is cold and inexpressive music. The festival continues tonight and tomorrow afternoon, with renditions of Canticum Sacrum, Requiem Canticles, Cantata, Mass, and Symphony of Psalms. The orchestra, NOVUS NY, is well stocked with excellent young free-lancers; Owen Dalby is the concertmaster, and Alex Sopp, James Austin Smith, and Alicia Lee lead the winds. The lavish program booklet contains three characteristically learned and lively essays by Matthew Guerrieri, featuring epigraphs from, respectively, Ralph Ellison, David Bowie, and Pope Pius X.

Read Full Text

POCKET 'THRENI'

I went last night to the opening of Trinity Wall Street's festival of the sacred Stravinsky — an imposing program that included Threni, Abraham and Isaac (with the great Sanford Sylvan), and The Flood. In the crowd were more than a few veteran concertgoers and musicians who were hearing Threni for the first time live; the work has been absent from New York for many years. It's immensely difficult music, and Julian Wachner's performance wasn't always immaculate, but the eerie intensity of Stravinsky's engagement with Lamentations came through. The power and warmth of Trinity Choir banished any sense that this is cold and inexpressive music. The festival continues tonight and tomorrow afternoon, with renditions of Canticum Sacrum, Requiem Canticles, Cantata, Mass, and Symphony of Psalms. The orchestra, NOVUS NY, is well stocked with excellent young free-lancers; Owen Dalby is the concertmaster, and Alex Sopp, James Austin Smith, and Alicia Lee lead the winds. The lavish program booklet contains three characteristically learned and lively essays by Matthew Guerrieri, featuring epigraphs from, respectively, Ralph Ellison, David Bowie, and Pope Pius X.

My Threni score once belonged to the conductor Charles Groves. I picked it up at Travis & Emery, the wonderful music-book store on Cecil Court in London. I go there every time I'm in the city, invariably leaving with a stack of finds that causes headaches when it comes time to pack my suitcase. Much of Travis & Emery's stock comes from musicians' estates purchased at one time or another over the years; I have scores that were formerly the property of the composers Anthony Milner and Howard Ferguson, and my bound copy of the Beethoven piano concertos belonged to the legendary horn player Alan Civil. I'm listening now to Milner's First Symphony, a toughly argued one-movement score that's worthy of occasional revival.

Fri, April 19, 2013

Review: Hong Kong Philharmonic ‘From Bach to Beatles’
Yahoo! Hong Kong

巴哈的D小調觸技曲及賦格曲揭開序幕,經典的旋律,多次成為驚慄電影的配樂。在美國指揮家華卓拿(Julian Wachner)敏捷的手法帶領下,港樂弦樂師奏出尖銳帶緊張的氣氛,木管樂師吹出了神秘的氤氳,令人好像迷失在深山幽林中,驚懼萬分。

Read Full Text

由巴哈到披頭四

(綜合報道)(星島日報報道)放低嚴肅,享受美樂,就是這晚(4月5日)香港管弦樂團的呈獻。

音樂會名為《From Bach to Beatles》(《由巴哈到披頭四》),取名想是為求賣座,結果真的有八成入座率,成績不俗,但與音樂會內容有點名不副實。

包羅萬有音樂會

巴哈的D小調觸技曲及賦格曲揭開序幕,經典的旋律,多次成為驚慄電影的配樂。在美國指揮家華卓拿(Julian Wachner)敏捷的手法帶領下,港樂弦樂師奏出尖銳帶緊張的氣氛,木管樂師吹出了神秘的氤氳,令人好像迷失在深山幽林中,驚懼萬分。

這是一場經過精心策劃的音樂會,不是序曲加主曲目再加終曲如此簡單,而是包羅萬有,除了港樂的交響樂,還有來自內地的鋼琴手朴星吉獨奏了蕭斯達維契的A小調第二前奏曲及賦格曲,樂思源自巴哈,琴音很美,可惜大鋼琴置在舞台最左邊緣,文化中心演奏廳出了名音響差,這種擺位令琴音走了樣。

隨後,有現代作曲家帕特和格蘭格取材自巴哈對位法樂思的二次創作音樂,動聽之中,隱然窺見巴哈的影子,證明巴哈的巴洛克音樂,穿梭時間與空間,有強大的生命力。

結尾選曲有點敗筆

王健獨奏巴哈的第五大提琴組曲中的薩拉班德舞曲,音樂中的愁苦都在王健臉上的表情流露而出,當大家仍未從大提琴的沉吟中走出來,指揮家華卓拿親自彈奏管風琴,巴哈的G大調幻想曲的跳躍與宏大音流,把音樂會推上高潮。

但去到年輕結他手溫逸朗彈巴哈的E小調布雷舞曲,或許怯場,彈得不夠流暢自然,當他為女歌手Jennifer Palor配奏John Lennon的《Blackbird》時,音樂會的編排就讓人覺得有點「無厘頭」,即使麥卡尼曾透露這歌的結他部分,靈感源自巴哈,但筆者一點也辨認不出,流行曲與古典樂的反差太大了。

最不協調的,是終曲奏了柴可夫斯基的洛可可變奏曲,把整個音樂會的感覺,由歌德式的莊嚴丶崇高丶幾何建築,忽然變為奢華丶浮誇丶着重裝飾花紋的宮廷建築,是為結尾的敗筆,雖然王健的獨奏部分如歌地感情充沛,而港樂的伴奏亦把人帶到法國宮廷的盛大舞會中。

不過,筆者太多的分析,又違反了文章開初所說,享受美樂,感動其中,已然足夠!

圖:星島圖片庫

不是一般的港女,她愛消費、看娛樂新聞、喜八卦之餘,也放眼世界,追逐新文化思潮,更醉心藝術音樂文學以至一切有品味的人與事。在《頭條日報》寫了五年專欄,其後開始在《星島》開筆,請讀者多多指教。editorial@hkheadline.com

Kelly Chu

逢星期五刊出

(此中有真意)

今日館

Wed, April 10, 2013

Singing Shadows: Early music finds new life downtown.
The New Yorker

In February and March, during the six weeks of Lent, the vocal ensemble TENET presented a series called “TENEbrae,” given over mainly to Renaissance and Baroque settings of Lamentations. The performances took place at Trinity Church, on lower Broadway, in the late afternoon, as the light was fading…In a related event, the Trinity choir performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with a first-rate Baroque band and soloists drawn mostly from the choir’s ranks, all under the direction of Julian Wachner, the head of music at Trinity. In late April, Wachner will lead a survey of Stravinsky’s religious works, including his Lamentations oratorio, “Threni.” Such fare might be expected to leave a heavy, doleful impression, but I attended all except two events in the Lenten series and repeatedly walked away in an exhilarated state: the music provided illumination of another kind…

...For decades, New York was considered a backwater in the early-music world, secondary in importance to the thriving scenes in Boston and Berkeley.  In recent years, Renaissance and Baroque performance in the city has gained momentum…The ever-growing music program at Trinity is one sign of this revival.

Mon, April 1, 2013

Marveling at the Musical Chairs in a Riotous ‘Passion’ Season
The New York Times

John Scott and the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys opened a run of “St. Matthew” performances on March 21, Bach’s 328th birthday, at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, and Julian Wachner and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra added another three days later at Trinity Church. Regular followers of the New York choral and early-music scenes knew what to expect from those excellent ensembles…

...Mr. Wachner and Mr. Scott routinely work wonders with their disparate choruses: Mr. Scott’s with the soft core of boys’ voices, Mr. Wachner’s with a solid, vibrant center…

...Both performances gave vivid evidence of a newly thriving early-music scene in New York. At long last.

Wed, March 27, 2013

Intensive Passion
Klassik.com

Wachner schätzt ganz offensichtlich keine Ritardandi, die einzelnen Nummern folgten einander teilweise ohne jede Pause; dadurch entstanden geschlossene Spannungsbögen, die der Aufführung sehr gut taten. Die Rezitative waren klug und dramatisch gestaltet, ohne dass es aber übertrieben gewesen wäre. “This was pretty intense” (Das war ganz schön intensiv), sagte beim Herausgehen ein junger Mann zu seiner Freundin. Treffender kann man es kaum ausdrücken. Mein Tipp: Wer an einem Montag in New York ist, der sollte schauen, ob er um 13 Uhr in die St. Paul’s Chapel gehen kann. Der Trinity Chor und das Orchester spielen dort jeweils zwei Kantaten von Bach. Es lohnt sich wirklich!

Read Full Text

Bachs Matthäuspassion in New York
Intensive Passion

In New York wird in diesen Wochen oft Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach gespielt. Nicht nur die "Bach Variations" des New York Philharmonic Orchestra (klassik.com berichtete), die eine eher gemischte Publikums- und Pressereaktion erfahren haben, auch in den verschiedenen Kirchen Manhattans kann man in der Fastenzeit die Musik von Bach relativ häufig hören. Ein Höhepunkt: die Aufführung der Matthäuspassion in der Trinity Church, direkt an der Ecke zwischen Wall Street und Broadway, aufgeführt von dem ausgezeichneten Trinity Wall Street Chor und dem Trinity Baroque Orchestra unter seinem Leiter Julian Wachner.

Die 24 Sängerinnen und Sänger des Trinity Wall Street Chores sind allesamt ausgebildete Musiker und größtenteils auch in anderen professionellen Chören engagiert. Sie sangen nicht nur die verschiedenen kleinen Rollen der Passion, wie den Pilatus oder Judas, sondern auch die teilweise ja doch überaus anspruchsvollen Arien. Manche, aber nicht alle Solisten, halten dabei durchaus mit den sicherlich deutlich besser dotierten international tätigen Sängern mit, besonders die Sopranistin Molly Quinn, deren Arie 'Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben' einer der Höhepunkte des Abends wurde, die Sopranistin Sarah Brailey ('Blute nur') und die Altistin Luthien Brackett ('Erbarme Dich'). Trotz der vielen Solisten bildet der Chor einen homogenen, runden, kräftigen Klang. Nur den Evangelisten und den Sänger, der die Partie des Jesus sang, hat man nicht durch Mitglieder des Chores besetzt.

Der Evangelist wurde von William Hite gesungen, der über eine klare, freie, helle Tenorstimme verfügt und den Evangelisten angenehmerweise eher als Erzähler denn als betroffener Gestalter singt. Anders Stephen Salters als Jesus. Er verfügt über eine kräftige, wenn nicht sogar laute Stimme, die man sich manchmal etwas vorsichtiger hätte eingesetzt gewünscht. Seine Identifikation mit der Rolle, die sich auch in seiner stets betroffenen Mimik zeigte, schien die Amerikaner weniger zu stören, die ihn am Ende mit großem Applaus bedachen - mir war das doch deutlich zu dick aufgetragen.

Das 2009 gegründete Trinity Baroque Orchestra, das viele renommierte Instrumentalisten vereint, die alle auf "historische" Instrumente spezialisiert sind, ist bestens auf seinen Leiter Julian Wachner eingespielt. Wachner gestaltete die Passion mit ausgesprochen schnellen Tempi, ohne dass aber der Eindruck entstand, es werde durch die Partitur gehetzt. Solche Tempi sind nur möglich, weil die Kirche eine sehr trockene Akkustik hat. Wachner schätzt ganz offensichtlich keine Ritardandi, die einzelnen Nummern folgten einander teilweise ohne jede Pause; dadurch entstanden geschlossene Spannungsbögen, die der Aufführung sehr gut taten. Die Rezitative waren klug und dramatisch gestaltet, ohne dass es aber übertrieben gewesen wäre. "This was pretty intense" (Das war ganz schön intensiv), sagte beim Herausgehen ein junger Mann zu seiner Freundin. Treffender kann man es kaum ausdrücken. Mein Tipp: Wer an einem Montag in New York ist, der sollte schauen, ob er um 13 Uhr in die St. Paul's Chapel gehen kann. Der Trinity Chor und das Orchester spielen dort jeweils zwei Kantaten von Bach. Es lohnt sich wirklich!

Kritik von Prof. Dr. Michael Bordt

Tue, March 5, 2013

Performing Arts: Drama of ‘Elijah’
Washington Life Magazine

In recent years, The Washington Chorus has tackled several major choral masterworks, such as Bach’s “Mass in B Minor” and the Mozart “Requiem,” but the recent performance of Mendelssohn’s grand oratorio “Elijah” marked a first for the symphonic chorus. Monumental in scope, its undue length of three hours, requirements for a large orchestra and a varied cast of soloists makes it almost easier for some ensembles to avoid performing it. But music director Julian Wachner, a distinguished roster of vocal soloists and the Washington chorus made time stand still in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, transporting the audience from one glorious vignette to the next.

Wachner has a gift for not just assembling musical forces, but using every element of a performance for dramatic effect…Though “Elijah” is an oratorio, a sacred work generally on a biblical theme, this performance took on the heightened drama of an opera.

Page 11 of 23 pages ‹ First  < 9 10 11 12 13 >  Last ›