Uni Classical—Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Sedgwick Clark

Is there anything new under the sun?

Last week I wrote in this space about Deutsche Grammophon’s new 13-CD release of Pierre Boulez’s complete works: “To the college student who discovered the Frenchman’s artistry soon after his classical-music ‘Eureka!’ moment with Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps, this set comes as a shining example of the currently embattled recording industry’s good works.”

After a vantage point both in and out of the record business for over four decades, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the piece on Musical America’s website Tuesday (8/6) about the latest marketing scheme of DG’s sister label, Decca, under the Universal Music umbrella. Decca, you will recall, was the creator of the industry’s all-time best seller, “The Three Tenors,” as classy a crossover notion as ever conceived. It’s now about to be succeeded by releases of “Classical Music for Your Gay Wedding,” with a separate cover targeted for lesbians as well, “Classical Music for Dogs,” and “Classical Music for Driving,” with uptempo cuts such as “Ride of the Valkyries” aimed specifically at truck drivers and sold at truck stops.

The Gay Wedding CD got me thinking, and I e-mailed my old friend Kevin Copps, Senior V-P at Atlantic Classics back in the gay-90s, who recalled his company’s own best-selling effort: “hey, what a great idea—i wish we had thought of something like that. oh, wait, we did—20 years ago. today we’d probably be a bit, shall we say, ballsier, and call it something like, ‘my big queer gay wedding,’ but so-called gay marketing seems so passé now that it probably wouldn’t kindle our imaginations. the cover’s a yawn, btw, such a dated and nigh-straight aesthetic, though i suppose the ‘mainstreaming’ of gay weddings is a progressive indicator. in any case, our models were way hotter.”

I haven’t seen the playlists of these soon-to-be-released gems, but I figure that truckers will be treated to such hi-test butch blockbusters as Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture (only the Solti/LSO recording would do), the Death of Tybalt from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Mars from Holst’s Planets, the finales of Beethoven’s Seventh and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth symphonies . . . the list is endless.   

My suggestion: Keep your eyes on the road—and on the sidewalk.  

Bard’s Stravinsky Festival Starts This Weekend
For those who missed seeing the delicious programs for Bard’s “Stravinsky and His World” festival in this space two weeks ago, I repeat the first week’s offerings as a public service. It begins this weekend, August 9-11, in Annandale-on-Hudson—don’t miss it!

Program details of Bard Music Festival, “Stravinsky and His World”

WEEKEND ONE: Becoming Stravinsky: From St. Petersburg to Paris

Friday, August 9

The 20th Century’s Most Celebrated Composer
Sosnoff Theater
7:30 pm        Pre-concert Talk: Leon Botstein
8 pm             Performance:  Alessio Bax, piano; Andrey Borisenko, bass; Lucille Chung, piano; Kiera Duffy, soprano; Gustav Djupsjöbacka, piano; John Hancock, baritone; Melis Jaatinen, mezzo-soprano; Anna Polonsky, piano; Mikhail Vekua, tenor; Orion Weiss, piano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music directorIgor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
   Les Noces (1914–17)
   Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920, rev. 1947)
   Symphony of Psalms (1930)
   Concerto for Two Pianos (1935)
   Abraham and Isaac (1962–63)

Tickets: $25, $35, $50, $60

Saturday, August 10

Panel One
Who Was Stravinsky?
Olin Hall
10 am–noon
Christopher H. Gibbs, moderator; Leon Botstein; Marina Frolova-Walker; Olga Manulkina; Stephen Walsh
Free and open to the public

Program Two
The Russian Context
Olin Hall
1 pm         Pre-concert Talk: Marina Frolova-Walker
1:30 pm    Performance: Matthew Burns, bass-baritone; Dover Quartet; Gustav Djupsjöbacka, piano; Laura Flax, clarinet; Marc Goldberg, bassoon; Melis Jaatinen, mezzo-soprano; Piers Lane, piano; Orion Weiss, piano

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
   Faun and Shepherdess, Op. 2 (1906–07)
  From Four Studies, for piano, Op. 7 (1908)
   Three Movements from Petrushka, for piano solo (1921)
Mikhail Glinka (1804–57)
   Trio Pathétique in D minor (1832)
Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936)
   Five Novelettes, for string quartet, Op. 15 (1886)
Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915)
   Vers la flamme, Op. 72 (1914)
Sergey Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
   Preludes, Op. 23, Nos. 8 & 9 (1901–03)
Songs and piano works by Modest Mussorgsky (1839–81), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840–93), Nikolai Medtner (1880–1951), and Mikhail Gnesin (1883–1957)

Tickets: $35

Film: The Soldier’s Tale
Lászlo Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory Building
A film by R. O. Blechman, with live musical accompaniment
Tickets: $12

Program Three
1913: Breakthrough to Fame and Notoriety
Sosnoff Theater
7 pm    Pre-concert Talk: Richard Taruskin
8 pm    Performance: American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
   Fireworks (1908)
   The Rite of Spring (1913)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908)
   Suite from The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh (c. 1907)
Anatoly Liadov (1855–1914)
   From the Apocalypse, Op. 66 (1910–12)
Maximilian Steinberg (1883–1946)
   Les Métamorphoses, Op. 10 (1913)Tickets: $30, $50, $60, $75

Sunday, August 11

Panel Two
The Ballets Russes and Beyond: Stravinsky and Dance
Olin Hall
10 am–noon
Kenneth Archer; Lynn Garafola; Millicent Hodson
Free and open to the public

Program Four
Modernist Conversations
Olin Hall
1 pm         Pre-concert Talk: Byron Adams
1:30 pm    Performance: Alessio Bax, piano; Lucille Chung, piano; Gustav Djupsjöbacka, piano; Kiera Duffy, soprano; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Judith Gordon, piano; John Hancock, baritone; Melis Jaatinen, mezzo-soprano; Sharon Roffman, violin; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; Lance Suzuki, flute; Benjamin Verdery, guitar; Lei Xu, soprano; Bard Festival Chamber Players

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
   Three Japanese Lyrics (1912)
   Pribaoutki (1914)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
   En blanc et noir (1915)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951)
   Pierrot lunaire (1912)
Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
   Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé (1913)
Maurice Delage (1879–1961)
   Quatre poèmes hindous (1912–13)
Works by Erik Satie (1866–1925); Manuel de Falla (1876–1946); and Béla Bartók (1881–1945)

Tickets: $35

Program Five
Sight and Sound: From Abstraction to Surrealism
Sosnoff Theater�
5 pm        Pre-concert Talk: Mary E. Davis
5:30 pm   Performance: Anne-Carolyn Bird, soprano; John Hancock, baritone; Melis Jaatinen, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Ann McMahon Quintero, mezzo-soprano; Anna Polonsky, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; designed and directed by Anne Patterson; projection design by Adam Larson; choreography by Janice Lancaster

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)
   Ragtime (1918) 
   Mavra (1921–22)
Erik Satie (1866–1925)
   Parade (1916–17; arr. piano four-hands)
Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
   Le travail du peintre, song cycle for voice and piano (1956)
Georges Auric (1899–1983), Arthur Honegger (1892–1955), Darius Milhaud (1892–1974), Francis Poulenc, and Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983)
   Les mariés de la tour Eiffel (1921)
André Souris (1899–1970)
    Choral, marche, et galop (1925)

Looking Forward
My week’s scheduled concerts (8:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted):
8/9-11 (various times). Bard Music Festival. Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. “Stravinsky and His World.” See schedule above.

8/12. Ozawa Hall. Tanglewood Music Festival, Lenox, Mass. Tanglewood Music Center Fellows/George Benjamin. Lauren Snouffer (Agnès); Evan Hughes (Protector); Augustine Mercante (Angel 1/Boy); Tammy Coil (Angel 2/Marie); Isaiah Bell (Angel 3/John). George Benjamin: Written on Skin (concert performance).

8/13 at 7:30. Clark Studio Theater. Mostly Mozart Festival. International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). David Lang: Whisper Opera.

8/15 at 7:00. Rose Theatre. Mostly Mozart Festival. Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer. Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro.

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