Monday, November 19, 2012
By James David Jacobs | Monday, September 17, 2012
Three living legends came together to create Eternal Echoes: the renowned classical violinist Itzhak Perlman; Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, who keeps the ancient cantorial tradition alive from his pulpit at Manhattan's Park East Synagogue; and Hankus Netsky, a pioneer in the revival of klezmer music. Their musical common ground finds its roots in the Ashkenazi tradition, the Jewish culture of Central and Eastern Europe.
Like Yiddish, the language common amongst the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe, the musical language of the Ashkenazi is a fusion of modern European and ancient Middle Eastern styles. It expresses the full range of human emotions, from exuberant joy to deep introspection to heart-wrenching sorrow.
Those emotions come through in the music the same way they exist in life itself, occupying the same space almost simultaneously: the harmonies switch constantly from minor to major, the rhythms from straightforward to syncopated, and a tune that starts out slow and sad is likely to end fast and happy.
As Hankus Netsky, the founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Contemporary Improvisation Chair at the New England Conservatory explains, "I liken it to the blues. When Jews prayed, they cried. We have a word, krehts, meaning to groan - like the blues have a moan or a wail. The Jews have a sobbing kind of feeling, even when they're happy. That's why this music is universal."
|Hankus Netsky and ensemble at the Eternal Echoes recording session (photo by Antonio Oliart Ros)|
You’ll hear that on Eternal Echoes, which brings in yet another dimension: a tune that starts out with a solemn prayer frequently ends in a joyous dance. While many traditional cantorial melodies and klezmer dance tunes have common folk sources, the connection between them has never before been made this explicit.
Netsky, the album's musical director, freely admits that bringing together different strains of Jewish music is an "agenda" of his and is in line with his idea that klezmer is not just a re-creation of music from the past, but a "living tradition."
Join me for conversations with Itzhak Perlman and Hankus Netsky, along with excerpts from Eternal Echoes, all this week on Classical New England. See the schedule and listen on-demand above, and to purchase Eternal Echoes, visit ArkivMusic.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Pianist Lang Lang has come to represent the surging growth of classical music in China. A hero to millions of his countrymen, he performed last night at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Long Yu, artistic director and chief conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra, music director of the Shanghai and Guanzhou Symphony Orchestras, and artistic director of the Beijing Music Festival. They were joined by New York Philharmonic Principal Oboist Liang Wang, bamboo flute soloist Junqiao Tang, and the Quintessenso Mongolian Children's Choir.
On the program:
Li Huanzhi: Spring Festival Overture
Bao Yuankai: China Air Suite
Traditional, orch. Zou Ye: Mongolian Folk Song Suite
Chen Qigang: Extase for oboe and orchestra
Zhou Chenglong: Raise the Red Lantern
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Meet New York Philharmonic Principal Oboist Liang Wang:
Friday, December 30, 2011
Martin Pearlman, founder and director of Boston Baroque, conducts a concert that features music by Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and Corelli, with stellar soloists to bring the music to life.
To hear the program, click on "Listen" above.
On the program:
Arcangelo Corelli - Concerto Grosso in C Major, op.6, no.10
J.S. Bach - Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
Christina Day Martinson and Julie Leven, violins
G.F. Handel - Concerto for Harp in B-flat, Op. 4, No. 6
Barbara Poeschl-Edrich, harp
Antonio Vivaldi - Concerto in A minor for sopranino recorder, RV 445
Aldo Abreu, recorder
Antonio Vivaldi - Motet: Nulla in mundo pax sincera
Mary Wilson, soprano
In the opera Giulio Cesare and in the oratorio Saul, Handel calls for a harp to lend its color to special dramatic moments. But it is in the "pure music" of his concerto that the harp shines as a virtuosic solo instrument. The pedal mechanism on the modern harp allows the player to raise and lower notes to create sharps and flats. In Handel's time, there was no such mechanism, yet the music of the day required chromatic notes and changes of key. To accomplish this, the triple harp—similar to what became known as the Welsh harp—used three rows of strings. The outer two rows, one played by the right hand, the other by the left, generally had the natural notes, equivalent to the white keys on the piano. Running down the middle was a third row of strings containing the chromatic notes, equivalent to the black keys on the piano. The sharps or flats could thus be played by either hand reaching to the inside.
Barbara Poeschl-Edrich, who now teaches harp at Boston University, studied the Baroque harp while a student in the Historical Performance Department at BU, the program in which Boston Baroque is in residence. She has performed on Baroque harp with Boston Baroque, the Boston Camerata, Handel and Haydn Society, and other ensembles. As a modern harpist, she has played with the Boston Symphony and was a soloist in an orchestral work written by Martin Pearlman.
Mary Wilson has become a favorite of Boston Baroque audiences, having performed with us in operas and in concert, including a stunning appearance in Boston Baroque's concert at the Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of her appearance this past March in our concert of "Jewels and Discoveries," the Hub Review wrote, "Ms. Wilson's voice is just about perfect for Handel—her tone is ripe with sun, and her phrasings so flexible they seem to almost ripple…"
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tracing its roots back to 1939 and informed by the legacy of a special relationship with Johann Strauss, Jr., the New Year's Day concert by the Vienna Philharmonic features an unmatchable grace and buoyancy in music by Strauss and others.
Johann Strauss, Jr., performed with the Vienna Philharmonic for the first time in 1873, and several performances followed over the next five years. But it wasn't until 1925, during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Strauss's birth, that the Vienna Philharmonic fully embraced the composer's music.
In 1929, Clemens Krauss conducted a concert made up entirely of The Waltz King's music, and the tradition was sealed.
|Conductor Franz Welser-Möst (photo by Roger Mastroiann)|
The guest conductor for 2013 is Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst, General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera and Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Welser-Möst leads his second New Year's Day concert. He previously conducted the 2011 New Year's Day concert, and his debut with the Vienna Philharmonic was in 1998.
Here is the program for the 2013 New Year's Day concert with the Vienna Philharmonic:
Josef Strauss: The Soubrette, Fast Polka, op. 109
Johann Strauss, Jr.: Kiss Waltz, op. 400
Josef Strauss: Theater Quadrille, op. 213
Johann Strauss, Jr.: From the Mountains, Waltz, op. 292
Franz von Suppé: Overture to the Operetta "Light Cavalry"
Josef Strauss: Music of the Spheres, Waltz, op. 235
Josef Strauss: The Spinstress, Polka française, op. 192
Richard Wagner: Prelude to Act III of the Romantic Opera "Lohengrin", WWV 75
Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr.: In Confidence, Polka mazur, op. 15
Josef Strauss: Hesperus’ Paths, Waltz, op. 279
Josef Strauss: The Runners, Fast Polka, op. 237
Joseph Lanner: Styrian Dances, op. 165
Johann Strauss, Jr.: Melodies Quadrille, op.112
Giuseppe Verdi: Prestissimo from the Ballet Music in Act III of the Opera "Don Carlo"
Johann Strauss, Jr.: Where the Lemon Trees Bloom, Waltz, op. 364
Johann Strauss, Sr.: Memories of Ernst or The Carnival of Venice, Fantasy, op. 126
New Year's Day at 11am and 5pm on Classical New England.
Thursday, December 22, 2011