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April 23, 2019

Patrick Prince Art Garfunkel is the guest on the Goldmine Magazine Podcast

With his autobiography, “What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from an Underground Man,” being released in paperback this year, Art Garfunkel elaborates on the records that changed his life as a guest on the Goldmine Magazine Podcast.

The post Art Garfunkel is the guest on the Goldmine Magazine Podcast appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Alex Ross The last grandchild

Verena Wagner Lafferentz died on April 19, at the age of 98. She was the last surviving grandchild of Richard Wagner — and it is astonishing to contemplate that the grandchild of a man born in 1813 was still alive until last week. Mark Berry makes the striking observation that Verena must have been one of the very last living people to have known Hitler personally. Hitler doted on the Wagner grandchildren from the mid-1920s onward, and while Wieland received most of his attention he appears also to have enjoyed Verena’s company. Her husband, Bodo Lafferentz, was a high-ranking SS officer who oversaw the Strength Through Joy program that brought wounded soldiers to Bayreuth during the war. In later years, Verena appears to have felt no responsibility to help us understand Hitler or to shed light on her family’s complicity in the regime. At least she avoided dying on the Führer’s birthday.

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Music Freelance A guide to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7

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Vienna, 8 December 1813

After the titanic adventures in sound-colour, form and dramatic expression of Symphonies Nos 5 and 6, the Seventh might initially seem a return to safer, more classical ground. Except that Beethoven doesn’t really do ‘safer’ – not by this stage in his career, anyhow.

 

Madness and rhythmic patterns:

 

Composed after a much-needed restorative spa holiday in 1811, Symphony No. 7 sounds like what Beethoven would later call a ‘return to life’. The key of A major is often associated with light and buoyancy (Mendelssohn’s Italian, Schubert’s Trout Quintet), but here the sheer physical energy – expressed in dancing muscular rhythms and brilliant orchestration – can, in some performances, border on the unnerving. Confronted with one particularly obsessive chain of repetitions (possibly the spine-chilling final crescendo in the first movement), Beethoven’s younger contemporary Carl Maria von Weber pronounced him ‘ripe for the madhouse’.

But there’s nothing mad about the way Beethoven draws together the seemingly diverse dance rhythms in this work. Just over a minute into the substantial slow introduction, the woodwind intone a rhythmic pattern: DA de-de – in classical metric terms, a ‘dactyl’.

This same pattern pulses expectantly in the audacious sustained one-note transition to the Vivace, then springs to life in its main theme. The wonderful veiled Allegretto that follows is haunted by the same rhythm, the Trio of the scherzo repeats it like a playground game, while the finale is positively possessed by it, right up to the ferocious elation of the final bars.

 

 

Dynamics: 

 

Just before the end, for the first time ever in an orchestral work, Beethoven uses the marking ffffortississimo: ‘louder than as loud as possible’. There are times listening to this astonishing finale that one wonders if it wasn’t here that Stravinsky got the idea for the ‘Sacrificial Dance’ from the Rite of Spring – except that it is life, not death, that triumphs.

 

Tonality:

 

It isn’t all joyous assertion, of course. Like TS Eliot, Beethoven realised that it is darkness that ‘declares the glory of light’. The voluptuous nocturnal world of the Allegretto opens on a minor-key wind chord which, after the glowing A major that ends the first movement, feels like the deft extinguishing of a light. 

Beethoven expands his tonal universe as never before in a symphony, allowing the bright A major to be continually undermined by a remote (and, in context, darker) F major – if that sounds technical, the effect in performance is fully visceral. But ultimately, the Seventh Symphony is testimony to Beethoven’s enduring ability to find energy and hope amidst inner and outer desolation, and as such it’s indispensible.

 

 

Recommended recording:

 

Riccardo Chailly achieves the near-impossible, combining the classicising insights of period-style performers with the tonal richness and expressive gravity of old-school master interpreters such as Otto Klemperer or Carlos Kleiber. The rhythms are crisp and vital, the colours gorgeous, the expression intense and broad-ranging, and all is captured in superb recorded sound.

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly Decca 478 3496

 

 

Words by Stephen Johnson. This article first appeared in the December 2015 issue of BBC Music Magazine.

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Goldmine1 R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ reissued on vinyl

Craft Recordings to reissue R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ on 180 gram vinyl in June.

The post R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ reissued on vinyl appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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Goldmine1 R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ reissued on vinyl

Craft Recordings to reissue R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ on 180 gram vinyl in June.

The post R.E.M.’s ‘In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003’ reissued on vinyl appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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“I hadn’t done a lot of performance photography until David came along. It was all designed to…

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letters@jazzwise.com (Mike Flynn)

EFG LJF May

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs from 15 to 24 November with a number of key additions now confirmed by organisers Serious. Chief among these will be a Kings Place residency from multi-Grammy Award winning drummer, singer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington (above centre) throughout the first weekend of the festival. Known for her work with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding, Carrington has also led her own Mosaic Project to huge acclaim. Her residency will feature her band of saxophonist Morgan Guerin, vocalist Debo Ray and drummer Kassa Overall who will collaborate with a range of UK-based musicians.

Concerts marking the ECM label’s 50th anniversary in the programme include a previously announced headline slot for Norwegian sax star Jan Garbarek at the Royal Fetstival Hall on 17 November, as well as new labelmate Joe Lovano (above left) who’ll be playing music from his ECM debut as a leader, Trio Tapestry, at Queen Elizabeth Hall on the same night. The US tenor titan is joined by the record’s line-up of pianist Marilyn Crispell and percussionist Carmen Castaldi. ECM-signed Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski also appears with his Trio (Cadogan Hall, 15 Nov). Elsewhere UK free-improv sax heavyweight Trevor Watts, marks a more personal anniversary with his 80th Birthday Celebration at the Purcell Room featuring a stellar line-up of bassist John Edwards, drummer Mark Sanders and his key collaborator Veryan Weston on piano (15 Nov). Also announced is highly-rated US pianist Christian Sands who tops a double-bill with London-based saxophonist Camila George (Cadogan Hall, 19 Nov); and renowned Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez brings his new Global Messengers band to town for its UK debut (QEH, 22 Nov).

Further concerts include Swiss jazz singer Lucia Cadotsch (above right) who performs music from her album, Speak Low (Purcell Room, 19 Nov), and the hard-swinging legacy of Art Blakey is fired-up over two concerts with former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint delivering originals from his Blakey-inspired album, Brother Raymond, for a matinee show, while drummer Ralph Peterson brings a crack-troupe of fellow Messengers alumni – bassist Essiet Essiet, saxophonists Bobby Watson and Bill Pierce, trumpeter Brian Lynch and keyboardist Geoff Keezer – for an evening show (23 Nov). And there’s a chance to see SEED Ensemble, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi’s talent-packed 10-piece, at the Jazz Cafe (24 Nov).

These concerts join those already announced in Jazzwise (media partners for the festival) and include: Jazz Voice (RFH, 15 Nov); Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner (Barbican, 16 Nov); CrossCurrents (Cadogan Hall, 17 Nov); Lars Danielsson Group: Liberetto III (Wigmore Hall, 19 Nov); Makaya McCraven (Village Underground, 19 Nov); Marius Neset: Viaduct (QEH, 21 Nov); Eliane Elias, plus Vinicius Cantuária (Barbican, 22 Nov); Omar Puente and Friends (Kings Place, 22 Nov); BBC Concert Orchestra, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, String Ting, Misha Mullov Abbado (QEH, 23 Nov); Swingin’ With Strings feat. Claire Martin (Cadogan Hall, 24 Nov) and Dan Tepfer: Natural Machines (Kings Place, 24 Nov).

Mike Flynn

For full details and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

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letters@jazzwise.com (Mike Flynn)

EFG LJF May

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs from 15 to 24 November with a number of key additions now confirmed by organisers Serious. Chief among these will be a Kings Place residency from multi-Grammy Award winning drummer, singer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington (above centre) throughout the first weekend of the festival. Known for her work with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding, Carrington has also led her own Mosaic Project to huge acclaim. Her residency will feature her band of saxophonist Morgan Guerin, vocalist Debo Ray and drummer Kassa Overall who will collaborate with a range of UK-based musicians.

Concerts marking the ECM label’s 50th anniversary in the programme include a previously announced headline slot for Norwegian sax star Jan Garbarek at the Royal Fetstival Hall on 17 November, as well as new labelmate Joe Lovano (above left) who’ll be playing music from his ECM debut as a leader, Trio Tapestry, at Queen Elizabeth Hall on the same night. The US tenor titan is joined by the record’s line-up of pianist Marilyn Crispell and percussionist Carmen Castaldi. ECM-signed Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski also appears with his Trio (Cadogan Hall, 15 Nov). Elsewhere UK free-improv sax heavyweight Trevor Watts, marks a more personal anniversary with his 80th Birthday Celebration at the Purcell Room featuring a stellar line-up of bassist John Edwards, drummer Mark Sanders and his key collaborator Veryan Weston on piano (15 Nov). Also announced is highly-rated US pianist Christian Sands who tops a double-bill with London-based saxophonist Camila George (Cadogan Hall, 19 Nov); and renowned Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez brings his new Global Messengers band to town for its UK debut (QEH, 22 Nov).

Further concerts include Swiss jazz singer Lucia Cadotsch (above right) who performs music from her album, Speak Low (Purcell Room, 19 Nov), and the hard-swinging legacy of Art Blakey is fired-up over two concerts with former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint delivering originals from his Blakey-inspired album, Brother Raymond, for a matinee show, while drummer Ralph Peterson brings a crack-troupe of fellow Messengers alumni – bassist Essiet Essiet, saxophonists Bobby Watson and Bill Pierce, trumpeter Brian Lynch and keyboardist Geoff Keezer – for an evening show (23 Nov).

These concerts join those already announced in Jazzwise (media partners for the festival) and include: Jazz Voice (RFH, 15 Nov); Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner (Barbican, 16 Nov); CrossCurrents (Cadogan Hall, 17 Nov); Lars Danielsson Group: Liberetto III (Wigmore Hall, 19 Nov); Makaya McCraven (Village Underground, 19 Nov); Marius Neset: Viaduct (QEH, 21 Nov); Eliane Elias, plus Vinicius Cantuária (Barbican, 22 Nov); Omar Puente and Friends (Kings Place, 22 Nov); BBC Concert Orchestra, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, String Ting, Misha Mullov Abbado (QEH, 23 Nov); Swingin’ With Strings feat. Claire Martin (Cadogan Hall, 24 Nov) and Dan Tepfer: Natural Machines (Kings Place, 24 Nov).

Mike Flynn

For full details and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

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Music Freelance The best classical music for St George’s Day

St George's Cross

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The Medieval period (1250-1485)

 

Dunstable: Veni Sancte Spiritus – Veni Creator Spiritus

Dunstable, referred to now as Dunstaple, was born in 1390 or thereabouts, worked in France between 1422-37 at the court of Henry V’s regent, the Duke of Bedford, and died in 1453. Many sources, in his lifetime and shortly after, acknowledge him as a crucial inspiration to Binchois (1400-1460) and Dufay (c1400-1474), who was arguably the most eminent composer of his time, and perhaps the main bridge between medieval and Renaissance music.

One measure of Dunstaple’s importance in the eyes of his contemporaries is the number of surviving manuscripts of his works, which have been found across Europe as far as Estonia. Dunstaple was a master of contenance angloise, the style characterised by sweet-sounding thirds and triads, with all voices consonant with each other.

 

 

Veni Sancte Spiritus – Veni Creator Spiritus is probably the most illuminating example of his wonderful blending of technical complexity with emotional directness and warm humanity. It’s a motet built around a late 12th-century hymn and is, to use a 20th-century term, ‘isorhythmic’. That’s to say that rhythms and melodies are repeated but with varying results due to both being of differing lengths. Though quite short (five to seven minutes, depending on the interpretation), it is packed with fascinating detail: in the second section Dunstaple reduces the note values by one third, then further reduces them by half in the third section, giving a ratio of 3:2:1.

 

What happened next…

Dunstaple helped to popularise English discant, where the chant that formed the basis of a piece would be harmonised by adding voices at intervals of a third and a sixth above. Until his time these intervals were considered dissonant in mainland Europe, whereas they had long been regarded as acceptable in England. Dunstaple’s use of triads, the brightness of his harmonies and the airiness of his melodies, were adopted and developed by Dufay and thus contributed to the evolution of mainstream European music.

Barry Witherden

 

 

The Tudors (1485-1603)

 

Tallis: Miserere nostri

Thomas Tallis steered a remarkable passage through the choppy waters of religious upheaval, faithfully serving four monarchs (Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth I). Somewhere along this difficult journey he composed his Miserere nostri, a three-worded, three-minute work whose construction, symbolism and sheer aural beauty make this one of the shortest yet most compelling masterpieces of all time. It was quite possibly during the short reign of Queen Mary that Miserere nostri was composed.

When Elizabeth I later granted Tallis and his younger contemporary William Byrd an exclusive licence to publish music, Miserere nostri quickly appeared in print. The piece is set for seven voices. The Seven Joys and the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary had significance during the reign of Queen Mary. And when Tallis and Byrd published the Cantiones sacrae in 1575, Miserere nostri was printed as the final piece in the collection – the last word, as it were, in the musical achievements of the day.

 

 

Miserere nostri contains a ‘Canon 6 in 2’: the Tenor part is freely-composed, but the other six voices are built from only two musical building blocks. For all of its breathtaking craftsmanship and numerological significance, Miserere nostri is also achingly beautiful. It moves inexorably to its conclusion as it offers up its gut-wrenching Tudor prayer: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord’.

 

 

What happened next…

At the end of the 16th century, Thomas Morley recognised that canons were a highly effective means of compositional education (‘whosoever will exercise himself diligently in that kind, may in short time become an excellent musician’). However, while far from neglected, Tallis’s canonic tour de force is these days often overshadowed by his 40-voice motet Spem in alium. Yet both are great works. When in 1585 William Byrd poignantly wrote that ‘Tallis is dead and music dies’ he was speaking too much for his own time.

Tallis wrote spectacular music whose influence allowed the English Golden Age to extend from the House of Tudor into the House of Stuart and beyond.

Jeremy Summerly

 

 

 

The Stuarts (1603-1714)

 

Purcell: Hail, bright Cecilia

During his short but prolific career, Henry Purcell graced St Cecilia’s Day celebrations with a series of impressive odes and a large-scale ceremonial setting of the Te Deum and Jubilate. Hail, bright Cecilia was the fourth and final ode commissioned from Purcell by the gentlemen of the Musical Society at Stationers Hall in London.

The first performance of his new ode was given on 22 November 1692 with at least 13 soloists (including the first female singer in such a work) and a full orchestra of trumpets, drums, recorders, oboes, bassoon and strings. Lasting 50 minutes, this was Purcell’s longest, grandest and most carefully structured choral work, the like of which audiences had never heard.

The grandeur of the music is apparent from the very first bars. A ringing fanfare shared between trumpets, oboes and strings develops into a ten-minute Italianate symphony – one of the longest such overtures of the time. In the solos, Purcell took the art of writing arias over a repeated ‘ground bass’ to new heights of sophistication, and ‘Tis Nature’s voice’, with all its extravagant ornamentation, ranks as Purcell’s most expressive declamatory song.

But what must have surprised and impressed listeners most was the massive choral writing which opens and closes the work and provides its core – the richly expressive ‘Soul of the world’. With Hail, bright Cecilia a favourite at some of the country’s earliest public concerts, it marked the start of the British secular choral tradition.

 

What happened next…

Judging by the number of surviving manuscript copies of the piece from the late-17th and 18th century, Hail, bright Cecilia became Purcell’s most popular large-scale work and, along with the ceremonial St Cecilia Te Deum and Jubilate of 1694, kept his style alive in an England which increasingly worshipped at the altar of George Frideric Handel.

The British secular choral tradition, borne of works like Hail, bright Cecilia, blossomed during the 19th century, giving rise to masterpieces like Parry’s Blest pair of sirens. During the 20th century Purcell’s music was revived by a wide spectrum of composers from Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippet to Peter Maxwell-Davies and Michael Nyman.

Simon Heighes

 

 

The Georgian era (1714-1837)

 

Handel: Messiah

Messiah was the seventh and most famous of Handel’s oratorios. Premiered in Dublin in April 1742, it confirmed the wisdom of his decision to expend much of his creative energies during the latter part of his life to writing oratorio.

It is interesting to note that Messiah was unique among Handel’s oratorios. Whereas works like Israel in Egypt and Samson were essentially biblical dramas that happened to have been performed without stage action, Messiah is essentially a narrative, its text drawn from the Bible (mostly the Old Testament) and constructed in three parts, the first celebrating Christ’s birth, the second the Passion and the third a powerful affirmation of faith. In choosing to set such material outside the realms of the church, Handel realised that he was courting controversy and when the work was eventually performed in London at the Kings Theatre in 1745 it was simply billed as a ‘new sacred oratorio’ in the hope that clerical sensibilities would not be offended.

 

 

The real breakthrough for Messiah occurred five years later when he mounted annual performances of the work at the Foundling Hospital (an organization for underprivileged children) which from 1750 onwards attracted ever increasing popularity. Some 30 years later the historian Charles Burney was to write most aptly of Messiah that ‘this great work has been heard in all parts of the kingdom with increasing reverence and delight; it has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, fostered the orphan and enriched succeeding managers of the oratorios, more than any single production in this or any other country.’

 

What happened next…

Frederick Delius’s frequently quoted remark from 1909 that Handel ‘paralysed music in England for generations and they have not yet quite got over him’ holds more than a grain of truth. Quite simply, British composers were totally intimidated by Handel’s achievement and during his lifetime and for many years later no one could possibly match the brilliance and majesty of its invention.

 

 

Ironically, while the popularity of Messiah was to stifle the development of British oratorio until the landmark first performance Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in 1900, it was to prove liberating for composers on the continent. For example, Mozart’s musical style was immeasurably richened by his experience of re-orchestrating Messiah in the 1780s. Some years later Haydn, attending a performance of Messiah, claimed that ‘this man is the master of us all.’

Erik Levi

 

 

 

The Victorian age (1837-1900)

 

Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens

Though popularly portrayed as the nadir in the history of ‘the Land without Music’, Queen Victoria’s long reign actually teemed with music-making, and arguably integrated music into the social fabric more thoroughly than before or since.

But at the height of Continental Romanticism, gifted native composers could hardly compete with the acclaim lavished on visiting continental stars, while British opera, symphonic and instrumental music languished in the shadow of the cathedral-dominated ‘cantata market’. A movement for reform and subversion was early active, however. George Grove founded London’s National Training School for Music – forerunner of the Royal College of Music.

The great movement for increased excellence in music which gave rise to the phenomenon we call the ‘British Musical Renaissance’ was initiated by idealistic Victorians, including the Englishman Hubert Parry. Parry, who joined the staff of the RCM as soon as it opened and eventually became its principal, was skilled as no British composer had been for a century in choral, orchestral and chamber music. He proposed a bolder choral music, stemming from Purcell, that would complement the riches of English poetry with vigorous and sophisticated music, robust and idiomatic in its wordsetting.

 

 

Most influential was his magnificent setting of Milton’s ‘Ode on a Solemn Music’, Blest Pair of Sirens, composed for the Bach Choir in 1887. With its huge, ardent melodic paragraphs, perfect in proportion and enacting, rather than depicting, the essence of Milton’s paean to the ‘sphere-born, harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse’, Parry’s work established itself more firmly than any composition by his colleague and rival Stanford. It made manifest a new and visionary strain in British music which impressed and inspired his successors.

 

What happened next…

Parry’s work was highly influential – especially on his pupils such as Vaughan Williams, Howells and Dyson, but also on Elgar, from an essentially different background, who in 1904 called Parry ‘the head of our art in this country’. The choral tradition that he rejuvenated continued to be one of the glories of British music in succeeding decades. And though the composers who came of age in the 1930s often affected to dismiss Parry, even Tippett’s Child of Our Time and even Britten’s War Requiem ultimately owe him a significant debt.

 

 

 

Calum MacDonald

 

The 20th century (1900-present)

 

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

The story of English music’s rebirth in the 20th century takes in some legendary happenings. Regarding what’s truly meant by ‘influential’, let’s consider a work for strings – lasting only 15 minutes, and first heard at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral in 1910. The setting was appropriate. The Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis was the first great flowering of an interest in English church music that Vaughan Williams had been pursuing for some years.

While compiling a new edition of the English Hymnal, he had been impressed by Tallis’s sombre Phrygian-mode tune for the 1567 Psalter for Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Fantasia that was to grow from this had another source also. Vaughan Williams naturally knew the Baroque concerto grosso, with its solo and collective string groups, and Elgar had taken up the same idea with brilliance in his Introduction and Allegro of 1905. 

 

 

The Tallis Fantasia uses similar resources, but in a different way: not as a virtuoso display of symphonic-style development, but an anti-virtuoso summoning of musical space. On one level this is achieved by the presence of three distinct ensembles: a string quartet, the main string orchestra, and a smaller one placed at a distance.

These multiple perspectives create a remarkable equivalent, in musical terms, of the proportions of cathedral architecture. Everything grows from different elements of the same idea – the Tallis tune itself which moves and breathes with a particular kind of ease and freedom, bypassing classical tradition altogether.

 

What happened next…

Reaching back to the realm of Tudor church music, the Tallis Fantasia had come up with a new vision of what music itself actually was, and of how it could work. Spatial deployment of voices and instruments has since become a standard musical resource: Britten’s War Requiem is one major example, Tavener’s Ultimos Ritos another. And the application of pre-Classical methods in a modern context has encouraged some of English music’s boldest explorers – for instance the ritual, medieval-style structures of Birtwistle, or Maxwell Davies’s use of cantus firmus techniques. Sometimes the unlikeliest musical revolution is indeed the deepest.

Malcolm Hayes

 

 

This article was first published in the October 2008 issue of BBC Music Magazine. 

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