Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Release Beau Soir

Janine & John in Washington, DC
THE release for 2011 (Beau Soir will be on all of the "best of" lists I predict!) came out last Tuesday, February 22nd, with violinist Janine Jansen and pianist Itamar Golan. I had a chance to talk with Janine about Beau Soir, and her New York performances at the NY Phille poisson rouge...listen to our conversation here:

We also talked about her documentary "Janine" and this promotional video for Beau Soir, Faure's After a dream:

She was delighted to include some new works by composer Richard Dubugnon on the new Decca cd, and has this interview with him:

With sonatas by Debussy and Ravel, this disc is appealing but the outstanding colors of Messiaen's Theme and variations has never been captured so vividly or passionately. Add gems with a nocturnal theme and this makes the perfect gift for anyone. Run, don't walk to download this release or get it at your local classical record retailer!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wish come true

So incredibly happy about this:
May 25 & 26, 2012

Alondra conducts Copland
8 p.m., Majestic Theatre
Classics Series
Alondra de la Parra, conductor
Mikhail Simonyan, violin

Khachaturian Concerto for Violin
Copland Symphony No. 3

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Classical Grammys

Congrats for the winners:
Best Classical Album: Verdi Requiem
Crossover Album: Tin, Christopher: Calling All Dawns
Contemporary Composition: Michael Daugherty
Vocal Performance: Cecilia Bartoli
Small Ensemble Performance: Jordi Savall & Hesperion XXI
Chamber Music Performance: Parker Quartet
Solo Instrumental Performance: Paul Jacobs
Soloist Performance: Mitsuko Uchida
Choral Performance: Chicago Symphony Chorus/Muti
Opera Recording: Saariaho L'Amour de Loin
Orchestral Performance: Nashville Symphony
Producer of the Year: David Frost
Best Engineered Album: Tie - Daugherty & Porter

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Composing Thoughts Valentine's Day

Here is a special selection for Monday, February 14, 2011:
An interview and feature with composers Augusta Read Thomas and Bernard Rands
(click on the links to hear the mp3 file)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Music and conversation with composers who are married and make/create beautiful music!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

When Milton Was Ninety Years Old

Milton Babbitt and John Clare
There was a time when I was interviewing two or three artists a day. Usually there was a composer involved but sometimes it was just a performer or artist for a feature. But more often than not, I would set up a morning interview, plan a meal break and do another interview in the afternoon, sometimes even another. Half the time artist interviews could be done on the phone, but I always tried to make composer interviews in person, in their studio or if need be, a "tape sync" where the composer was at another radio station and we would combine the tracks so the audio quality was the highest it could be.
My first in person interview at a composer's house was George Crumb. I know, what a start. He even performed what he composed that morning, and we played with his dog Yoda! (Read about that day here and here.)
Interviewing Milton
Later that year, in August 2006 after corresponding with Ed Matthew at G Schirmer, I set up an interview with Milton Babbitt in Princeton and also an interview in Manhattan with composer/conductor Jose Serebrier.  When I book an interview, I always read up on the subject and listen to everything I possibly can. Mind you, since high school I have been trying to learn and listen to everything I can get my hands on in new music, so often it is returning to works. On top of that, for years, my reading has been on industry related books and articles, so when a new record guide or composer biography comes out, I'm on it. It is just a passion.
I don't write down questions, but usually when I am nervous, or know I'm going to talk with a legend in the field, I consult friends and colleagues what they might ask.  At the time for these interviews, the "executive producer" and music director was Dick Strawser, an invaluable resource. I do try to ask some of the same questions, "How did you become a composer?" "What are you writing currently?" but always try to listen as we warm up so that it is a conversation, and that we explore great points and stories that the interviewees share.
Before I interviewed Milton, I made sure I read and talked with Frank Oteri who was also very helpful with his materials when he interviewed Babbitt; there was also the famous "article" which Milton passionately explained.
So Tuesday, August 15th, 2006 I left with Casey Houtz, the audio engineer, to drive to Princeton and then NYC. The trip was easy and in no time we were setup.
Our interview is here, unedited and complete, running 71 minutes. Milton was
After the interview, Milton walked us out and showed us how close we were to the RCA Studios he used to work at for so many years!

Later, we put together some outtakes that would not run in the radio show, but made us smile. Listen to the wav file here.
I originally blogged about the day I talked with Milton here.

Last weekend when I heard the news Milton had passed away, I was moved, and quite sad. I listened to Reflections and smoked a cuban cigar.  I was especially touched by Davey Rakowski's remembrance. Cheers, Milton!

(The title of this entry is inspired by Arvo Part's work, When Sarah Was Ninety)