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
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.
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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
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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。
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。
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
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!
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Bachs Matthäuspassion in New York
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.
Mon, February 25, 2013
Washington Chorus gives impassioned concert of Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’
The Washington Post
On Sunday, Julian Wachner conducted the Washington Chorus, nine vocal soloists and an orchestra in an impassioned performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s massive oratorio “Elijah” at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall…
The part of Elijah was sung with commanding majesty and with fine shades of emotion by bass Stephen Salters. In solos and at times joined in a double quartet, Janice Chandler Eteme, Laura Vlasak Nolen, Benjamin Butterfield, Mitchell Galloway-Edgar, Steven Combs, Natalie Conte, Pamela Terry and Jerry Kavinski were as effective in portraying the heavy drama as they were in their tonal ebullience.
Early on, the choral mob scenes exploded with onslaughts of triple fortes…Later episodes were beautiful and had careful entrances and well-delineated rhythms.
Mon, February 18, 2013
As the Cantatas Unfurl, a Reprieve Is Affirmed
The New York Times
Trinity is now collaborating with the early-music vocal group Tenet on TENEbrae, six rich weeks of concerts reflecting on the Lenten period. The series opened on Sunday evening with a performance of Dieterich Buxtehude’s 1680 cantata cycle “Membra Jesu Nostri Patientis Sanctissima,” which served as a reminder, if yet another was needed, that Julian Wachner, Trinity’s director of music, has taken the church’s program to new heights.
Fri, February 8, 2013
Grammy Nominee and Conductor Julian Wachner
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
The choir and baroque orchestra of Trinity Wall Street have been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Handel’s “Israel in Egypt.” Watch the choir and orchestra rehearsing the oratorio, and listen to our interview with director of music Julian Wachner about the hymns he loves and the mission of music both in the church and in the classical music world.
Wed, January 9, 2013
Exploring The Classical Field Nominees
Best Choral Performance: The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Israel in Egypt by George Frederic Handel, conducted by Julian Wachner.
Wachner has one nomination this year, marking the first GRAMMY nomination of his career.
Mon, January 7, 2013
MUSIC REVIEW: Christmas Oratorio at St. Paul’s Chapel
The New York Times
As Zachary Woolfe suggested in his review of the Trinity “Messiah” presentation at Alice Tully Hall last month, there is nothing tentative about a Wachner performance. That was again evident from the opening moments of the first cantata on Wednesday, when the excellent choristers raised the rafters of the tiny chapel to the words “Rejoice, exult, arise, glorify the days.”
That text, like so many exciting moments in the oratorio, gains added impetus from the exuberant use of trumpets and timpani. And the presence of John Thiessen, who represents the state of the art on the intractable Baroque trumpet hereabout, was invaluable throughout.
Mr. Wachner’s bold approach paid dividends again on Thursday, when the players of other tricky instruments, like the Baroque hunting horn, struggled at the start of the fourth cantata. Fearlessly Mr. Wachner only exhorted them to redouble their efforts in energy and volume with, ultimately, stirring results.
But he could also exercise notable restraint, as in “I stand by thy manger bed here,” a chorale in the sixth cantata on Friday. Mr. Wachner dispensed with the orchestra and kept the choristers seated as they sang softly to breathtaking effect.
Fri, December 28, 2012
For 12 Days of Christmas, 6 ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos
The New York Times
...this week Mr. Wachner kicked off the second annual Twelfth Night Festival, a rich musical celebration of the 12 days of Christmas that continues through Jan. 6.
The festival delves into lesser-known repertory, from early British Christmas music and Russian works to premieres, including one by Mr. Wachner. But Thursday afternoon brought the evergreen: the first part of a two-day survey of Bach’s six “Brandenburg” Concertos, by the Chamber Players of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, at St. Paul’s Chapel…
...The Concerto No. 5 comes close to harpsichord concerto territory. After strange harmonic wanderings in the first movement, the work turns to a long, dazzling solo that was handled with flair by Avi Stein. The intimate second-movement Affettuoso, by three of the city’s finest early-music artists — Mr. Stein, the violinist Robert Mealy and the flutist Sandra Miller —alone was worth the trip to Trinity.
As tight as the entire ensemble was, I was consistently drawn to the pleasures of individual players. From the start of the Concerto No. 5, Ms. Miller played with a mellow, quietly penetrating tone. As the knotty rhythms of Concerto No. 1’s third-movement Allegro careened near chaos, Daniel Lee attacked his piccolo violin with alarming yet ravishing vehemence. The oboist Gonzalo Ruiz had a tender solo in that work’s second-movement Adagio.
Mr. Wachner announced before leading the Concerto No. 1 that his interpretation, unlike many, would not let the horns recede into the background. R. J. Kelley and Sara Cyrus played their hunting fanfares with blaring joy, giving the full measure of the work’s irresistible exuberance.
Sun, December 23, 2012
Culture City: A Song Is Worth 1,000 Words
The Wall Street Journal
While pop music is of its time, there were also concerts of timeless choral music. At Trinity Wall Street, the choir and orchestra presented Bach’s Mass in B Minor, a masterpiece that connects to the highs and lows of human life and reaches beyond the moment. “The singing human voice can just touch the soul in a way that nothing else can,” said conductor Julian Wachner. “There is intimacy and a directness to seeing 24 singers 10 feet away from you as opposed to at Madison Square Garden or on the radio.”
Sun, December 16, 2012
From Seething to Earnest, a Work Raises Passions
The New York Times
Led with both fearsome energy and delicate grace by Julian Wachner, the Trinity performance [of ‘Messiah’] was, like last year’s outing, a model of what is musically and emotionally possible with this venerable score…
Done right the oratorio should raise you from your seat. It should not be a passive entertainment, a way to relax after a long day of holiday shopping. It should frighten and galvanize, puzzle and inspire.
The Trinity “Messiah” did all that. It is hard to feel comfortable within the work, which abandons narrative for abstract meditation and consistency of tone for febrile shifts. This performance had inexorable, tense momentum through Handel’s violent mood swings.
The Trinity performance displayed a dazzling range of textures, from the starkness of the chorus “He trusted in God that he would deliver him” to the miraculously dissolving and rebuilding sound of the orchestral Pifa, the pastoral symphony in Part 1…
...to experience the full, formidable range of “Messiah,” from the furious flames of the “refiner’s fire” to the delirious party of the finale, next year let Trinity be your guide.
Mon, December 10, 2012
50 years in, Rolling Stones still a gas, gas, gas
The Boston Globe
The band also played host to three guests: Mary J. Blige came out to testify on “Gimme Shelter,” the choir of Trinity Wall Street lent grandiose vocal ballast to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and buzzed-about blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. erupted all over “Going Down.”
Mon, December 10, 2012
With a flourish, the Rolling Stones take Brooklyn
After an encore break, the group re-emerged, flanked by the Trinity Wall Street choir, who replicated the vocals on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Suddenly they were the smoky filling in a sandwich made on slices of angel food cake.
Mon, December 10, 2012
Rolling Stones Joined by Gary Clark Jr. and Mary J. Blige in Brooklyn
The Rolling Stones were joined by Mary J. Blige, Gary Clark Jr. and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street during their show at Brooklyn, NY’s Barclays Center last night. The band played a set that was heavy on the classics, though they did perform versions of their new singles “One More Shot” and “Doom and Gloom.” Blige made her appearance on “Gimme Shelter,” just as she had during the Stones’ November 25 show at London’s O2 Arena. Meanwhile, Clark brought his blues guitar wizardry to a rendition of Don Nix’s “Going Down,” while The Choir of Trinity Wall Street contributed some grandiosity to the opening of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Mon, December 10, 2012
Rolling Stones Celebrate 50th Anniversary At New York Show
As was the case with [The Rolling Stones’] massively successful shows at London’s O2 Arena last month, the band had a few surprises under their sleeves for the eager crowd, and as was the case in London, Mary J Blige joined the rockers on stage to belt out the hit ‘Gimme Shelter.’ The band also brought out blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr and the Trinity Wall Street Choir to perform on ‘Going Down’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ respectively.
Sun, November 11, 2012
An Opera Lover’s Buffet of What Is in the Works
The New York Times
New York City Opera hosted its annual speed-dating event on Thursday night at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. The 13th installment of the company’s Vox Contemporary American Opera Lab allowed suitors from opera companies across the country to size up six works in progress for potential production, as scenes from each were sung by a fine roster of young singers under the direction of Julian Wachner.