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Hilary Hahn

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Classical Notes

November 9

Nov. 14, Hilary Hahn Concert in Berlin

My Classical NotesViolinist Hilary Hahn will present a concert in Berlin, Germany, that I would attend if I were geographically closer to the venue. Read on: Artists: HILARY HAHN and the ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE RADIO FRANCE Date/Time: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14 2016, 20:00 Venue: Philharmonie Berlin, Berlin – Grosser Saal Address: Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße 1, 10785 Berlin, Germany Program: Ravel, Maurice Ma mére l’oye Bruch, Max Concerto for Violin No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich Symphony No. 6 in B minor, op. 74 ‘Pathétique’

The Well-Tempered Ear

December 1

Classical music: This is a very busy weekend for FREE choral music, band music, chamber music, a brass master class and a Berlioz colloquium at the UW-Madison.

By Jacob Stockinger This is the time of the academic year, the end of a semester, when performers and venues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music really get a workout. Take this weekend and especially this coming Sunday, which features seven events. There will be two popular Winter Choral Concerts at Luther Memorial Church , 1026 University Avenue (below in 2014) plus performances by the Concert Band and University Bands and a couple of recitals by students. Mills Hall, Morphy Hall and Music Hall will all be in use. Here is a link to the full Sunday schedule with information about the many concerts, but which, unfortunately, does NOT include programs for the choral concerts and a band concert: This Friday and Saturday are also busy, though less so. FRIDAY At 4 p.m. in Room 2441 of the Mosse Humanities Building is a FREE public colloquium about the pioneering Romantic French composer Hector Berlioz (below). Here is a description by the presenter, Professor Francesca Brittan of Case Western Reserve University : “Against Melody: Neology, Revolution, and Berliozian Fantasy.” “Complaints levied against Hector Berlioz’s music during his lifetime (and after) were many: deafening, terrifying, “too literary,” “too imitative.” But by far the most pervasive anxiety voiced by critics revolved around Berlioz’s illegibility. In particular, his music was ungrammatical, failing to adhere to the rules of syntax, the tenets of “proper” melody, and the laws of rhythm. “These were not just idle or irritated complaints but urgent ones, linked by 19th-century critics to fears of social unraveling and even revolutionary violence. Berlioz’s musico-linguistic perversion, as one reviewer put it, was tantamount to Jacobinism. This strand of the criticism began in earnest with the “Symphonie fantastique,” a work that usually claims our attention for its orchestrational innovations and autobiographical resonances. “In this talk, I redirect attention to the symphony’s syntax, arguing that melodic-linguistic deformation was at the heart of the work’s radicalism. I link Berlioz’s notions of “natural” grammar (borrowed in part from Victor Hugo) to notions of “natural” sound, and the “natural” rights of man. More broadly, I examine relationships among grammar, revolution, and 19th-century fantasy, between musical neology and the Berliozian imaginary.” The event is funded by the University Lectures Anonymous Fund. For more about Francesca Brittan (below) go to: At 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, a student brass quintet will perform a FREE concert of music by Johann Sebastian Bach , Malcolm Arnold, Kevin McKee and Victor Ewald . Performers are Nicole Gray, Brandi Pease, Kirsten Haukness, Hayden Victor and Michael Madden. At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall is a FREE public master class with David Wakefield (below), a former member of the American Brass Quintet who now teaches at The Hartt School . Sorry, no program of works to be played. At 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall is a FREE graduate student concert of chamber music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . Rayna Slavova is a second-year Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student in collaborative piano, studying with professor Martha Fischer. The all-Mozart program includes the Violin Sonata in F, K. 376, with Biffa Kwok, violin (an excerpt, played by Hilary Hahn, can be heard in the YouTube video at the bottom); the Piano Duo Sonata in C, K 521, with Alberto Pena, piano; and the Piano Quintet in E flat, K 452, with Juliana Mesa, bassoon, Kai-Ju Ho, clarinet, and Dafydd Bevil, horn. SATURDAY At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University Strings – made up of talented non-music majors — will play a FREE concert. Sorry, no news about the program. At 4 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall is a FREE Fall concert by the Flute Studio at the UW-Madison. Sorry, no word about the program or players. At 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital in a FREE recital by Seth Bixler who is a senior violinist studying with Professor Soh-Hyun Altino. He will perform works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Peter Tchaikovsky and Eugene Ysaye. Tagged: American Brass Quintet , anxiety , Arts , autobiography , Bach , band , Bassoon , Berlioz , brass , Case Western Reserve University , Cello , Chamber music , choral music , clarinet , Classical music , colloquium , Concert , critic , David Wakefield , duet , duo , flute , Francesca Brittan , grammar , Hilary Hahn , Horn , imaginary , innovation , Jacob Stockinger , Jacobinism , Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , Kevin McKee , law , laws , linguistic , Madison , Malcolm Arnold , man , master class , melody , Mozart , Music , natural , natural rights , Orchestra , Piano , piano duo , Piano Quintet , quintet , Ravel , recital , revolution , rhythm , rights , rights of man , Romantic , Romanticism , Sonata , Sound , symphony , Symphony fantastique , syntax , Tchaikovsky , The Hartt School , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Victor Ewald , Victor Hugo , Viola , violence , Violin , vocal music , Wisconsin , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube , Ysaye

The Well-Tempered Ear

September 18

Classical music: Which violin concertos have the hardest openings? You may be surprised

By Jacob Stockinger Recently The Ear stumbled upon a fascinating story, on a blog by Nathan Cole, about famous violin concertos. It was NOT about the Top 10 Best Violin Concertos ranked in order. It was NOT about the Top 10 Most Difficult Violin Concertos. It was simply about the most difficult openings of violin concertos – about what happens when the violinist walks on stage and starts up along with the orchestra or before it or after it. It uses the Olympics sports competitions as a model and awards degrees of difficulty along with explanations for the scoring. (For a close to simultaneous start by orchestra and soloist, listen to American violinist Hillary Hahn , who played a recital last spring at the Wisconsin Union Theater , and conductor Pavvo Jarvi in the opening of the popular Violin Concerto in E Minor by Felix Mendelssohn in the YouTube video at the bottom. It has over 8 million hits and it is very relevant to the story.) The story reminds The Ear of famous literary critic Frank Kermode ’s classic book “The Sense of an Ending” — only now it would be “The Sense of a Beginning,” a subject the late literary critic, cultural analyst and Palestinian activist Edward Said wrote about in his book “Beginnings: Intention and Method.” The musical discussion features accessible and informative analysis by an accomplished violinist as well as terrific audio-visual clips of each concerto and opening in questions. It’s a long piece – good for weekend reading, perhaps because it can be done in different segments at different times. But even if you read only a part of it, it certainly imparts a sense of the challenges that a soloist faces. You vicariously experience the thrill and intimidation of walking out on stage and starting to play. And it enhances your appreciation of some famous violin concertos and of what it takes to pull them off in live performance. Like The Ear, you will come away with a new appreciation of the challenges that any concerto soloist – violinist, pianist, cellist, brass player, wind player, whatever — faces. Here is a link: The Ear also hopes the website follows up with a listing or ranking of the most difficult ENDINGS of violin concertos and a discussion of what makes them so difficult. In the meantime, The Ears asks: Do violinists out there agree or disagree with the scoring and reasons? Do they care to leave a comment one way or the other? Do they have other candidates – say, Baroque concertos by Antonio Vivaldi or Johann Sebastian Bach — to rank for the difficult of starting? The Ear wants to hear. Tagged: Alexander Glazunov , Arts , Bach , Baroque , Bartok , Beethoven , Berg , blog , Brahms , brass , Bruch , Cello , Chamber music , Classical music , comeptition , Compact Disc , concerto , Dvorak , Felix Mendelssohn , Henryk Wieniawski , Hilary Hahn , Jacob Stockinger , Johann Sebastian Bach , Johannes Brahms , Lalo , Ludwig van Beethoven , Madison , Mendelssohn , Mozart , Music , Olympic , Olympics , Orchestra , Paganini , Pavvo Jarvi , Piano , Prokofiev , Sibelius , Sport , Stravinsky , strings , symphony , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Violin , Violin concerto , Violin Concerto (Mendelssohn) , Vivaldi , Website , winds , Wisconsin , Wisconsin Union Theater , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube

Well Sung

September 3

The NSO Season Ahead

Seven years is a curious amount of time in the life of a symphony orchestra: long enough to feel like the past is a distant memory, too short to comfortably assume the rose colored glasses that obscure recent misgivings. Perhaps that is why Christoph Eschenbach's final season with the NSO doesn't look like much of a victory lap, but rather a continuation of the NSO's last few years, characterized by a healthy smattering of interesting programs but few of the exciting investments we saw earlier in Eschenbach's tenure. The "themes" for the season have probably never driven anyone into the concert hall: "Shakespeare" (a good year to use that one I suppose) and folklore (I mean, c'mon). At the least one would hope these themes were tied to an ambitious project or two, but mostly they seem to be justification for so much filler. In the Shakespeare bucket, most of the material is new to me and may turn out to include some interesting curiosities (Smetana did something inspired by Richard III? There's a Korngold score for a Much Ado About Nothing film?) but none of it is likely to generate broader excitement. The folklore lineup provides a pretext for chestnuts from Rimsky-Korsakov and the like (though I will definitely be going to hear the suite from Cunning Little Vixen). One of Music Director Designate Gianandrea Noseda's two appearances for the year (and definitely the choicer of the two) crops up under one of the Shakespeare headers: a complete reading of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet ballet. Noseda's lesser evening will find him proving he can hack it in Americana in the NSO's big Kennedy tribute evening, a program that will include John Williams' music from Lincoln and JFK, Copland's Lincoln Portrait, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, among other crowd-pleasers. A more intriguing line of programming is the celebration of the 90th anniversary of beloved former Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich's birth, offering an excuse for a welcome emphasis on Russian works and a brief tour to Russia  featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein. Highlights include Eschenbach conducting Shostakovich Symphonies 1 and 8 and the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1, and James Conlon leading Shostakovich Symphony 5 and Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1 with Lise de la Salle. Soloist wise, a number of familiar big names from recent years make appearances next season, most notably Joshua Bell, who will take up a residency in February, much of which will be devoted to new works or TBD crossover programs. Lang Lang (opening ball something something), Emanuel Ax (Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1), Gidon Kremer (Weinberg Violin Concerto), and Hilary Hahn (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto), all turn up as well for a roster that is respectable, if not exactly brimming with must-see soloist and repertoire combinations. Missing from the line-up are any forays into concert presentations of dramatic works, often a highlight of the Eschenbach years, though there will be a few evenings requiring larger forces. These include Eschenbach's final NSO encounter with Mahler (Symphony No. 2), and the requisite Beethoven 9 torch song (featuring, FWIW, a strong cast including Joseph Kaiser and J'nai Brugger). If one fact stands out about the season, it is the impressive line-up of new commissions, world premieres, and recent works new to the NSO. The Kennedy Center is paying a lot of lip service to new and/or American work as part of the JFK centennial year, and the NSO is doing its part with no less than 5 new commissions or co-commissions. This is a commendable thing, though whether it translates to enjoyable nights in the hall is yet to be seen. For instance, we're going to be getting a whole lot of composer-in-residence Mason Bates next year, which is good or bad news depending on how much you enjoy a techno bonus track on top of you regularly scheduled symphony. Earlier this year, upon news of Noseda's appointment Ionarts' Jens Laurson offered some crucial thoughts on where the NSO goes from here: The NSO cannot be fixed without its audience improving. Anyone familiar with the Washington classical music scene will have noticed a strange disparity between the uncurious, unenthusiastic, fair-weather crowd that goes to the Kennedy Center (the Washington National Opera crowd being the worst, but the NSO audience, which gives standing ovations only to reach for the car keys, not far behind)… and the world class chamber music audience, which is curious, excitable, stands in long lines to hear new acts or unknown music and which is discriminating and extremely knowledgeable. You find them in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Freer Gallery’s concert stage, at the Phillips Collection, at the National Gallery of Arts, at various embassies and residencies. How can these latter music lovers be coaxed to take a stake in the NSO’s future and presence? The chamber music scene Laurson describes builds on DC's considerable cultural advantages: 1) smart, deep pocketed audience attracted by the government and its attendant industries; 2) foreign institutions providing support for and ready connections to international culture; 3) the prestige that ensures DC remains a destination for international artists; and 4) proximity to federal largesse. Today the National Symphony largely benefits from #4 (in the form of Kennedy Center space), and to a lesser extent #3. Audiences feel like the NSO is coasting--a good enough band for a good enough city. It may not be fair, but it's the cross many DC institutions must bear, and changing this narrative will require taking some chances and moving away from the bet-hedging of the current season. 

Hilary Hahn

Hilary Hahn (November 27, 1979) is an American violinist. Beginning her studies when she was three years old, she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia at age ten, and in 1991, made her major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Hahn signed her first musical recording contract at age sixteen. She graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Music degree.

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