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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

Alex Ross Mistakes at the LA Phil

It’s unfortunate that the Los Angeles Philharmonic, one of the world’s leading orchestras, has been suffering from poor leadership on the part of its board of directors. When Deborah Borda left the LA Phil’s top administrative post in 2017, the board had the opportunity to promote Chad Smith, the orchestra’s longtime chief of programming. Instead, it decided to bring in Simon Woods, who had had success in previous jobs but who lacked Smith’s vision and imagination, not to mention his deep knowledge of the organization. Woods’s early departure, announced Monday, gives the board a second chance to make the right choice. Let’s hope they take it.

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Alex Ross Petrenko in Berlin

Safe Space. The New Yorker, Sept. 16, 2019.

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Alex Ross Nightafternight playlist

New and recent recordings of interest.
Feldman, For Bunita Marcus; Aki Takahashi (Mode)
Beethoven, Complete Piano Sonatas; Igor Levit (Sony)
Clara Schumann, Piano Concerto, Piano Sonata in G Minor, and other works; Isata Kanneh-Mason with Holly Mathieson conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Decca)
Mark Andre, hij 1 and 2; Mariano Chiacchiarini conducting the WDR Symphony, Marcus Creed conducting the SWR Vocal Ensemble (Wergo)
Weinberg, String Quartets Nos. 11–13; Silesian Quartet (Accord)
Ronald Stevenson, Piano Works vol. 2; Kenneth Hamilton (Prima Facie)
Luke Bedford, Through His Teeth; Opera Factory Freiburg (bastille musique)
Christopher Cerrone, The Pieces That Fell to Earth; Lindsay Kesselman, Theo Bleckmann, Christopher Rountree conducting wild Up (New Amsterdam)
Catherine Lamb, Point / Wave; Cristián Alvear (another timbre)
John Luther Adams, Become Ocean; Ludovic Morlot conducting the Seattle Symphony (Cantaloupe)
in manus tuas: works of Andrew Norman, Caroline Shaw, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir; Lanzilotti, Karl Larson, Sarah Mullins (New Focus)

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Alex Ross Korngold at Bard

Surround Sound. The New Yorker, Aug. 19, 2109.

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Alex Ross A Trevor Bača moment

Ashley Walters performing Bača’s Nähte at a WasteLAnd Music event, Nov. 16, 2018.  Walters will play the same piece live at Outhaus in LA on Aug. 1, as part of a three-day Underwolf Records festival (July 31 – Aug. 2). Many more videos from WasteLAnd’s recent concerts are now online, including works of Liza Lim, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Barrett, Katherine Young, Nicholas Deyoe, and Andrew McIntosh. I especially recommend Klaus Lang’s missa beati pauperes spiritu, which I was lucky to witness live; I am somewhere behind Michael Pisaro.

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Alex Ross Bookshelf

Melissa Burrage, The Karl Muck Scandal: Classical Music and Xenophobia in World War I America (Boydell and Brewer)
Cate Haste, Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler (Basic Books)
Shayne Carter, Dead People I Have Known (Victoria UP)
Mark Stryker, Jazz from Detroit (University of Michigan Press)
Katherine M. Kuenzli, Henry van de Velde: Designing Modernism (Yale UP)

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Alex Ross The Karl Muck affair

For the New Yorker website, I’ve written a Cultural Comment on two recent books that describe the absurd and frightening Karl Muck hysteria of 1917-18. Above is a cartoon from the period. One rumor pegged Muck as Wagner’s illegitimate son, prompting a poem from Lincoln Kirstein: “Karl Muck conducts the symphony; a steel svelte villain, he— / Ma says he’s Wagner’s bastard son (‘Daddy, what’s bostordy?’)” Other eminent German- and Austrian-born musicians suffered consequences during the First World War, including Ernst Kunwald, who was interned; Frederick Stock, who temporarily stepped down from the Chicago Symphony; and Fritz Kreisler, who stopped performing for the duration of the war.

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Alex Ross Miscellany

“No musical administrator is more widely respected or well liked than Ara Guzelimian,” I wrote on this blog in 2007, shortly after Ara left Carnegie Hall to become Dean of Juilliard. Ara recently announced that he would be stepping down from Juilliard after a thirteen-year term, and nothing has changed. During his tenure, Juilliard diversified and deepened its mission while retaining an exalted status among American conservatories. I look forward to seeing what institution will next profit from Ara’s wisdom and warmth…. The keen critic and Bruckner authority Richard Lehnert has left Stereophile after thirty-four years of service as the magazine’s copyeditor. He’s written a delightful memoir of his adventures in editing…. The Louth Contemporary Music Society, whose leader Eamonn Quinn won the Belmont Prize last year, has an entrancing new CD out, KLANG, on which the Goeyvaerts String Trio plays Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s Sounds on Schön Berg La Monte Young…. On August 10, Indexical will take over much of the Californian city of Santa Cruz as Carmina Escobar leads a daylong event entitled Feast of Beams, Keepers of Light. Indexical is seeking musicians, dancers, artists, surfers, and bicyclists…. The NYC activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished ends its season on July 11 with a program devoted to climate change and its effect on communities of color.

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Alex Ross Miscellany

“No musical administrator is more widely respected or well liked than Ara Guzelimian,” I wrote on this blog in 2007, shortly after Ara left Carnegie Hall to become Dean of Juilliard. Ara recently announced that he would be stepping down from Juilliard after a thirteen-year term, and nothing has changed. During his tenure, Juilliard diversified and deepened its mission while retaining an exalted status among American conservatories. I look forward to seeing what institution will next profit from Ara’s wisdom and warmth…. The keen critic and Bruckner authority Richard Lehnert has left Stereophile after thirty-four years of service as the magazine’s copyeditor. He’s written a delightful memoir of his adventures in editing…. The Louth Contemporary Music Society, whose leader Eamonn Quinn won the Belmont Prize last year, has an entrancing new CD out, KLANG, on which the Goeyvaerts String Trio plays Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s Sounds on Schön Berg La Monte Young…. On August 10, Indexical will take over much of the Californian city of Santa Cruz as Carmina Escobar leads a daylong event entitled Feast of Beams, Keepers of Light. Indexical is seeking musicians, dancers, artists, surfers, and bicyclists…. The NYC activist orchestra The Dream Unfinished ends its season on July 11 with a program devoted to climate change and its effect on communities of color.

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