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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

Alex Ross Bookshelf

New publications of interest.
Mark Berry, Arnold Schoenberg (University of Chicago Press)
Damon Krukowski, Ways of Hearing (MIT Press)
Oliver Soden, Michael Tippett: The Biography (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Lorraine Plourde, Tokyo Listening: Sound and Sense in a Contemporary City (Wesleyan)
Michael Kater, Culture in Nazi Germany (Yale UP)
Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (Public Affairs) [for emphasis]

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Alex Ross Linda Catlin Smith

The new issue of musicworks, which some kind person sends me regularly from Toronto, has an evocative profile, by Monica Pearce, of the American-Canadian composer Linda Catlin Smith, whose spare, crystalline music has found an international audience in recent years, thanks in great measure to the British label another timbre. The composer and author Allen Shawn, who taught Smith in high school, describes her early efforts: “I felt from the very first encounter that she was a composer. The connection between her and the notes she put down was so deep . . . She meant what she wrote, and she heard it and she felt it, and she needed it. That connection was the manifestation of a part of her that was essential, that she had to put on paper; and to me, that’s a composer.”

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Alex Ross Weinberg’s “Kaddish”

On the New Yorker website, a note about the City of Birmingham Symphony’s outstanding new recording of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphony No. 21, the “Kaddish.”

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Alex Ross Weinberg’s 21st

On the New Yorker website, a note about the City of Birmingham Symphony’s outstanding new recording of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphony No. 21, the “Kaddish.”

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Alex Ross Furtwängler’s wartime recordings

A Cultural Comment on the New Yorker website, May 2, 2019.

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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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Alex Ross Nightafternight playlist

 
Weinberg, Symphonies Nos. 2 and 21; Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with the Kremerata Baltica and Gidon Kremer (DG, out May 3)

Stefan Prins, Augmented: Generation Kill, Piano Hero, Third Space, Not I, and other works; Nadar Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, Stephanie Ginsburgh, Yaron Deutsch (Kairos CD / DVD)
Black Composers Series, 1974–1978 (Sony)
Dominique Schafer, Vers une présence réelle and other works; Matthias Kuhn conducting the ensemble proton bern (Kairos)
Juri Seo, Respiri and other works; Argus Quartet, Joann Whang (Innova, out May 24)
Isaac Schankler, Because Patterns and other works; Ray-Kallay Duo, Scott Worthington, Sakura Tsai, Nadia Shpachenko (Aerocade, out May 31)
Mr. Handel’s Dinner: Concertos, Sonatas, and Chaconnes by Handel and His Inner Circle; Maurice Steger, La Cetra (Harmonia Mundi)

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Alex Ross Pulitzer Prize 2019

Congratulations to Ellen Reid, whose opera p r i s m has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Music. I attended the première, which took place at Redcat, in Los Angeles, under the auspices of L.A. Opera and Beth Morrison Projects, and wrote about it here. I first encountered Reid’s work when she contributed a memorable outdoor scene to Yuval Sharon’s multi-composer Hopscotch project. Andrew Norman’s Sustain was one of two finalists, alongside James Romig’s Still. I heard Sustain at the LA Phil and found it be one of the strongest American orchestral works of recent years. I missed Romig’s piece, which was recorded by New World, but will be sure to explore it.

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Alex Ross Tyshawn Sorey

Shape-Shifter. The New Yorker, April 22, 2019.

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