The Well-Tempered Ear

See and hear The Cliburn piano competition for FREE via streaming. It runs through June 18

June 4, 2022
5 Comments

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By Jacob Stockinger

The 16th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition got under way this past Thursday, June 2, and will run through Saturday, June 18, when the winners will be announced.

2022 marks the 60th anniversary year of the competition, which the American pianist Van Cliburn founded at Texas Christian University after his 1958 Cold War victory in the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow,.

You can follow it all online. The complete impressive competition is being broadcast on medici.tv and on YouTube.

But The Ear has used the competition’s own streaming website and finds the videos, sound quality, contestant biographies and background information very professional and helpful. So far, it has been a thoroughly satisfying, enjoyable and engaging experience. I highly recommendation it for students, amateur pianists and all music lovers.

For The Ear, one of the most impressive performances from yesterday was given by the 21-year-old Chinese pianist Yangrui Cai (below), heard in the YouTube video at the bottom. Such beautiful and subtly virtuosic but shaded Liszt and Brahms is not often heard.

Here is a link to the home page (below): https://cliburn.org

From there you can hear live performances, past performances and many facts , including the complete schedule, about The Cliburn, as it is now called. All times are Central Daylight.

Starting at 10 a.m. today — Saturday, June 4 — will see the final 10 performances (3 in the morning and night, four in the afternoon) of the preliminary round, which has featured 30 pianists in 40-minute solo recitals. Except for a specially commissioned “Fanfare Toccata” by Sir Stephen Hough, who is also on the jury, the choice of programs is entirely up to the individual contestants.

The road to the Cliburn is not easy.

It started with 388 applicants. That was trimmed down to 72 by preliminary judges. Out of 72, 30 were chosen by jurors to compete.

After today, it will be on to the quarter-finals with 18 contestants in 40-minute recitals with no repetition from the preliminary round; then the semi-final round with 12 contestants in a combination of 60-minute solo recital along with a Mozart piano concerto accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony conducted by the Nicholas McGegan, who is famous for his interpretations of Baroque and Classical era music; and the final concerto round with each contestant play two concertos with Fort Worth Symphony under famed conductor Marin Alsop, who is also the head juror.

The Ear will be posting his own thoughts as he experiences the extensive competition, maybe after each round or even each day.

But The Ear also wants to hear from you.

Do you have thoughts about the various contestants?

Who are your favorites and why?

Thoughts about the programs and repertoire being played?

Other thoughts about the competition in general?

The Ear Wants to hear.

 


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Classical music: Got a holiday gift card or Christmas cash to spend? Here are the choice picks of classical music in 2012 by the New York Times – with an emphasis on new artists, niche labels and smaller name performers.

December 26, 2012
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

So, did you get a gift card for the holidays?

Perhaps some extra cash to spend?

Earlier, I offered several holiday gift-giving guides, including a list from The New York Times music critics that listed CDs, DVDs and books that represented the Best of 2012.

classicalCDs

Here is a link to that posting and to the other gift guides that appeared here:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-1-of-2-plus-the-uw-russian-folk-orchestra-and-madison-handbells-pe/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/classical-music-the-classical-music-nominations-for-the-2013-grammy-awards-can-provide-a-helpful-holiday-gift-shopping-guide-part-2-of-2/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/classical-music-here-is-part-2-of-the-ears-holiday-gift-giving-guide-featuring-nprs-top-10-classical-recordings-of-2012/

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/classical-music-here-is-part-4-of-the-ears-holiday-gift-giving-guides-to-classical-music-compliments-of-the-new-york-times/

But it turns out that was only the first installment, a down payment, if you will from The New York Times.

Here are many more recordings by such fine Ne wyork Tikes critics as Anthony Tommasini, Vivien Schweitzer, Zachery Woolfe, Corinna da Fonseca-Wolheim and James Oestreich (whose choices were absent from the previous list, as I recall.)

The choices cover virtually all genres of music – symphony orchestra, opera, solo piano and solo violin, vocal and choral, chamber music. (All photos below are by Tony Cenicola for The New York Times.)

NY Tmes best of 2012 1 Tony Cenicola

I myself haven’t heard all of them. But I have heard many of them –- recordings by pianist David Greilsammer, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Inon Barnatan, pianist Andras Schiff, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan — and I heartily concur with the choices. I don’t think you can go wrong.

NY Tmes Best of 2012  2 Tony Cenicola

And if you want to sample some of the, you can always go to amazon.com and see the website offers samplings from certain tracks. Plus, you can see the number of stars form buyers as well as comments or mini-reviews from others who bought the recordings and listened to it.

NY TImes Best of 2012 3 Tony Cenicola

Here is a link to round-up by the critics of The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/arts/music/the-best-classical-music-recordings-of-2012.html?_r=0


Classical music CD review: The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra of San Francisco can stand up to the best of the large European early music, period-instrument ensembles.

October 7, 2012
2 Comments

 

By Jacob Stockinger

For several decades now, the gold standard of early music, period-instrument music has been located in Western Europe, with many groups established in Great Britain and Germany, although France, Italy and the Netherlands have also produced their share.

Just some of the big names that come to mind are the Academy of Ancient Music and the English Concert, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra,  Musica Antiqua Koln, Concentus Musicus of Vienna, La Petite Bande, the English Baroque Soloists and Il Giardino Armonico.

But increasingly America has joined the trend. Major music schools now offer degree programs and majors in early music and period instruments. Early music festivals regularly take place around the country, including here in Madison.

And the U.S. increasingly has some larger early music groups as well as smaller, very accomplished ensembles such as Chicago’s Newberry Consort and Piffaro, which often take part in the Madison Early Music Festival each summer.

There are more, to be sure.

But the one group, now 30 years old, that seems most on the ascendant is the Phiharmonia Baroque Orchestra (below top), which is based in San Francisco and performs around the Bay area. It has been led for 25 years by veteran conductor Nicholas McGegan (below bottom), one of the world acclaimed pioneers of historically informed performances.

As has happened with many famous performing arts organizations large and small, the state of the recording industry has led the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra to produce its own recordings.

The results are very good. They have now released several CDs and I am convinced from listening to them that the group can stand beside the best of their European counterparts. True, the Boston Baroque may also be a competitor. But so far, I give the edge to the Philharmonia Baroque, which recently received rave reviews for its performance of Haydn’s ‘The Creation”in San Francisco and Handel‘s “Messiah” at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Take a look at the orchestra’s home website and you will be impressed just by the current season.

You will notice that this season even such a renowned mainstream musician as pianist Emanuel Ax (below top) is scheduled to join them in an all-Beethoven concert, when he will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 on a fortepiano. The group will also see Japanese scholar and performer Masaaki Suzuki (below bottom), who had recorded a masterful set of Bach cantatas and orchestral works. And the alcclaimed British baroque violinist Rachel Podger will join them.

Here is a link:

http://www.philharmonia.org

I have listened now to several of the more recent CDs, including the one that will be released this week, of Brahms’ two Serenades (below).

That one goes right to the top of the list – right beside the touching CD of the late singer Lorraine Hunt Lieberson doing Handel arias and Berlioz’ “Les Nuits d’Ete” and the great CD that featured three Haydn symphonies, Nos. 88, 101 “The Clock” and 104 “London,” which was nominated for a 2011 Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance. McGegan has a clear affinity for Haydn and it shows in his recordings.

There is also an all-Vivaldi CD with the “The Four Seasons” and several other violin concertos on it. I am less fond of that CD, but it has to do more with the repertoire than with the quality of the performances.

Another recording that is a winner and shows a future path for the group is of the Handel opera “Atalanta.” Vocalists and instrumentalists alike do the ensemble proud in an area — the rediscovery of Handel operas — that has become a major event.

But there are many more if you go to their website and click on SHOP, you will find a complete listing of recordings of Arne, Corelli, Haydn, Handel, Purcell and many other composers – although, surprisingly, no J.S. Bach and just a little Mozart and Beethoven!

Here is a direct link to the catalogue, current and back reissues, of CDs:

http://www.philharmonia.org/shop/recordings-for-purchase/

In any case, I hope the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra one day comes to the Madison area on tour. In the meantime I intend to listen to its recordings and follow its career as it continues to pick up speed and put American early musicians on par reputation-wise with their more famous, but not necessarily better, European counterparts.

 


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