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What makes one composer pour countless hours of his own creative energies into the music of another? Last week Thomas Adès tweeted that the “ greatest thrill” in his life was to receive the Leoš Janáček prize in Brno, the Czech composer’s home city. One of the world’s most admired living composers, Adès has probably had quite a few thrills in life already, but there’s no question he meant his remark. This month, as pianist, he has given solo Janáček recitals throughout Europe, ahead of a recording. electricity storage costs Why do this unless fired by an irresistible impulse.

Janáček’s main works for piano – the output is not large – are On an Overgrown Path, a cycle of impressionistic, odd, introspective miniatures; In the Mist and Piano Sonata No 1.X.1905, “From the Street”. At a long-sold-out Wigmore Hall, Adès included less familiar pieces: an In Memoriam, a nativity carol and others. It felt less like a piano recital than an eavesdropping on two composers in dialogue. Adès surely responds to a kindred independence in Janáček, who forges past and present, folk song and dissonance, in an entity now quirky, now hesitant, blazing, enigmatic and above all solitary. Continue reading…

Even now, performances of the masterpieces of the 19th-century piano repertoire on keyboards of the composer’s time are not exactly commonplace, and when Cyril Huvé made his recordings of Chopin’s four Scherzos and four Ballades in 1991, they would have been much rarer still. When it was released on Erato the following year, though, Huvé’s disc seems to have attracted surprisingly little attention, despite the extraordinary significance of the two meticulously restored 19th-century instruments on which it is performed. Reissued now, it seems to me an important and utterly fascinating disc.

For the first two Scherzos and first two Ballades, composed between 1831 and 1838, Huvé uses a Pleyel from 1828, thought to be the oldest surviving piano made by the company and identical to the one that Chopin played during his early years in Paris. For the remaining pieces, which date from 1839 to 1842, he switches to a piano from the other leading French maker of the time, Érard, an instrument made in 1838 that Chopin is known to have selected for one of his pupils. Continue reading…

The music establishment tends to get it wrong. Look at Berlioz. gas monkey In 1829, following three failed attempts to win the Prix de Rome composition prize, the composer was given some advice by one of the judges. “Try to write tamely,” explained Daniel Auber, “And when you have produced something that seems horribly tame to you it will be exactly what’s required.” Thankfully, Berlioz ignored him. A year later he wrote Symphonie Fantastique, one of the most unhinged artistic statements of the 19th-century. It remained unpublished (except in Liszt’s piano transcription) for 15 years after it was written.

Little has changed. We think we’ve learned not to overlook outsiders. gaz 67 for sale Yet the orchestral scene today remains in thrall to safety. It favours those who’ve studied with the right people, at the right schools and universities and have the right profile and publishers. Composing in the approved idioms is always preferred over something more raw, exploratory, problematic or new. Look at the recent major orchestral commissions, or the annual Proms new music programme, and you will see Aubers everywhere.

In today’s climate, Berlioz, Wagner or Mussorgsky (all of whom were accused in their time of not being “properly taught”) wouldn’t stand a chance. Morton Feldman had to wait until 2006 to be allowed on to a Proms programme, 19 years after his death. Pauline Oliveros, another master, didn’t even get that close. Those are just the dead greats. How long will it take for a living great such as Jennifer Walshe to be let in? And what about those working outside the classical tradition? Who knows how much more interesting things could get if they really branched out to noise artists such as Russell Haswell or improvisers and conceptual artists like Maggie Nicols and Alison Knowles. Continue reading…

An opera about Karl Marx? A comic opera about Karl Marx? Jonathan Dove has never been afraid to think outside the box, and his new piece, premiered at the Theater Bonn, does so again. Marx in London is set on a single day in 1871. It depicts the financial and sexual tangles of the middle-class émigré Marx household in London’s Kentish Town against the backdrop of his political squabbles and his efforts to get Das Kapital finally written.

If you are expecting an opera about dialectical materialism or the labour theory of value you will be disappointed. Dove’s opera, with a witty libretto by Charles Hart, is a genuine comedy, although in Jürgen Weber’s production it’s not without its underlying political messages. electricity review worksheet answers It is above all an operatic entertainment, and is full of reminders of why, according to a recent survey, Dove is the third-most performed living opera composer after Philip Glass and Jake Heggie. If London theatregoers find some echoes of Richard Bean’s recent play Young Marx, that’s because Dove and Bean began discussing the project before heading in different directions with it. Continue reading…

Even the most inspired staging of Così fan tutte leaves a lot of disbelief to be suspended. gastronomia y cia In Mozart and Da Ponte’s opera, two soldiers are persuaded into a bet that the sisters they love will remain faithful, then lose said bet when they seduce each other’s partners in disguise, somehow unrecognised by the women until the grand reveal in the final scene. Audiences have gone along with the unlikelinesses and the fake moustaches for more than two centuries, because the profound truth this opera tells us about relationships is worth it. But what on earth was Mozart thinking? This recording – billed as “Mozart’s original thoughts re-created and recorded for the first time” – answers some questions, while posing a few more. It is taken from staged performances four years ago by the European Opera Centre, using an edition by Ian Woodfield based on close study of Mozart’s original manuscripts. The young cast don’t all yet have entirely “finished” voices but they work well together, with Nazan Fikret (Fiordiligi) and Alexander Sprague (Ferrando) standing out, and Laurent Pillot draws a lively performance from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. For Woodfield, the clues began with the fact that several times the pronouns in the manuscript had been filled in at a later date. Originally, it seems, Mozart intended the couples to start out as the opposite of what we’re used to, and to stay that way throughout. This makes sense, as in the standard version it’s only when the partners are swapped into the “wrong” couples that the musical depictions of each character are quite truthful. There’s also an extra aria for Guglielmo that’s arguably more in character, while the rant against female inconstancy that he usually gets to sing is instead given to bitter old schemer Don Alfonso. And yet Mozart must have realised at some point before the premiere that it was the friends’ betrayal of each other that gives the work its edge, and that the partners must be swapped. electricity 80s song Ultimately, neither version is dramatically watertight: Così fan tutte stands as an example of perfect imperfection. Continue reading…