Friday, February 29, 2008

Now I saw his face

and I'm a believer!
Find out how Bach really looked like according to scientists!


“It has come to our attention that there is a mistake in the printed booklet that accompanies the new release from Leif Ove Andsnes: Mozart Piano Concertos Nos. 17 & 20 with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. The booklet mentions that the cadenza for the last movement of Piano Concerto No. 20 is written by Leif Ove himself. This is incorrect; it is in fact written by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Mozart's pupil. For the first movement of the same concerto, it says that the cadenza was written by Beethoven and arranged by Edwin Fischer; this is also incorrect: it is Beethoven's own cadenza that Leif Ove performs. EMI Classics will make sure that this information is corrected in any further booklet reprints, and kindly asks that reviewers of the album make note of this correction.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Next month

Wear a sweater for Fred!

In honor of Fred Rogers on what would have been his 80th birthday, Mr. McFeely announced that March 20 will be sweater day in the Pittsburgh metro area. Wear a favorite sweater to cap off "Won't You Be My Neighbor" Days events and activities, March 15-20, hosted by WQED and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood production company Family Communications, Inc..

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hard act to follow

So what should he play?
The New York Philharmonic received a warm reception as it played today in North Korea. The unprecedented concert could mean warmer ties between the country and the West. Guitarist Eric Clapton is the next Western artist invited to play in Pyongyang.

Excellent concerts

I've been under the weather and haven't had the time or energy to properly give kudos to Trio Solisti, Kirsten Agresta or this last Sunday to Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt - a fabulous evening at the State Theater in Ithaca.
More to come.

Watch out!

The next "system?" ala China?
Will we have a Chinese Gustavo?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And you thought

I thought Bernard Holland was the devil incarnate for reviewing...but get this story about Maxim magazine reviewing the Black Crowes - without hearing the album! Really they published a review without listening to it.

Food Folks and Fun

It's been a relaxing stay at The Inn on Columbia in Ithaca. I've had time to think, smile and relax - much needed for me, at least every now and then.
The food has been delightful, from Simeon's on the Commons to my favorite ZaZa's Cucina.

And it's been nice to hang out with an old dear friend, Jann.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Birth opera

How cool is this? (via Scott)
All the rage is to check the Met Opera to see what was played on your birthday. Mine:
Metropolitan Opera House
April 11, 1970
Matinee Broadcast
Figaro..................Cesare Siepi
Susanna.................Teresa Stratas
Count Almaviva..........Tom Krause
Countess Almaviva.......Teresa Zylis-Gara
Cherubino...............Rosalind Elias
Dr. Bartolo.............Paul Plishka
Marcellina..............Nedda Casei
Don Basilio.............Paul Franke
Antonio.................Lorenzo Alvary
Barbarina...............Gail Robinson
Don Curzio..............Gabor Carelli
Peasant.................Cecelia Entner
Peasant.................Judit Schichtanz
Conductor...............Josef Krips

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We hope

That Prof. Heebie McJeebie is alright!
Fire at the Hotel Cadillac

Perhaps he is preparing an original instruments version of Charles Ives' The Gong on the Hook & Ladder?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Before the recital

Kirsten on stage at the Summerlin Performing Arts Center Theater warming up.

After the recital

Lots of fans met Kirsten and had their cds signed!

Viva Lions Vegas

After Sunday brunch, I saw a little bit of Pennsylvania in Las Vegas, with Penn State grad Wynn, and his JOEPA Ford Mustang! We Are? Penn State!


Sara and John hit it off swimmingly.

And another

John and Maggie smile for the camera. What a awesome hostess!

Even more friends

John and Cheryl take a moment to strike a pose.

More friends

Ginger and John hanging out.


Pausing between laughs and drinks for a photo, Bob and Karen.


In the kitchen with Bob and Karen


A good time was had by all and all were had by the good time this weekend in Las Vegas!
The spread (seen left) included cigars, scotch and mondo snacks...and good friends, both old and new: Sara and Cheryl (below right) hearing a good story after the party moved from the kitchen.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Of Valentines...

I had a lovely Thursday...finishing up the Roses campaign at work, talking with friends on my way to NYC, hearing Trio Solisti (pictured right), eating at Ollie's and seeing my dear friend Satomi.
Other friends spent Valentine's Day in other ways: quoting Berg; quoting more Berg/opera; and I got an email from one friend who's computer hi-jinx resulted in blasting him with Elgar. Yikes!
This weekend I'm in Las Vegas to hear a harp recital by Kirsten Agresta and see friends.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

For Valentine's Day

From my poet peasant namesake, John Clare:

Love Lives Beyond The Tomb

Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew-
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true.
Love lies in sleep,
The happiness of healthy dreams,
Eve's dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.
'Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even's pearly dew
On earth's green hours,
And in the heaven's eternal blue.
'Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angels wing
Bring love and music to the wind.
And where is voice
So young, so beautiful, so sweet
As nature's choice,
Where spring and lovers meet?
Love lies beyond
The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young, and true.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Turn it around

Leonard Slatkin will hopefully help turn Detroit's image around, as news of this is least we know the new American music quotient will rise!


So I guess it's not just classical music dying anymore?!
"I think that the time when music could change the world is past," the 62-year-old musician told a news conference on Friday. Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, in Berlin to promote his concert movie 'CSNY Déjà vu,' says the goal of the film 'was to stimulate debate among people.'

Sunday, February 10, 2008

O'Connor stormin'

Mark O'Connor played the most captivating solo violin recital in the Forum in Harrisburg this afternoon.
Breathtaking playing culminating with his six solo Caprices, written to blend styles while he was a studio player in Nashville, ended the first half of the Wednesday Music Club benefit. Duties as Secretary/Treasurer of NABET/CWA Local 213 forced me to leave at intermission, but I'll see him later this month in NYC with his Hot Swing Trio.
Also stunning this afternoon was the weather, which at times blinded the road with snow squalls, and at other times appeared to have sunshine with snow flurries.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Free to good home

A nice email from CCM:
On behalf of all of us at, we are excited to announce "Free downloads have arrived!"
Thanks to our partnership with Naxos Records and Music Giants HD, is excited to offer free high definition music downloads exclusively for registered members of
The first free track is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Marin Alsop, Johannes Brahms : Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a, "St. Anthony Variations" Thema, "Chorale St. Antoni": Andante.
Simply log in to and follow the link on the main page blog to retrieve your track.
Commencing on the week of Monday, February 11, 2008; will regularly offer new music downloads.
Thank you to our loyal members for your involvement on's online community for music enthusiasts. We encourage you to check back on the site for new hot deals, new classical concert listings on the calendar and of course free downloads.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Loving Chamber Music

For an upciming LVCMS concert:
Loving Chamber Music
(Or the Importance of being Ernst!)
John Clare, violinist/broadcaster
Past President and Co-founder, Las Vegas Chamber Music Society

Thank you for attending today’s recital. Live classical music is a wondrous thing that audiences share with the performers. If you enjoyed this event, I hope you’ll attend another, and bring a friend or young person with you next time.
You see, the best things in life are sometimes rare. Exotic metals, perfumes, and wild game fetch high market prices and are highly sought after…and chamber music can be viewed that way as well. Think about the idea of having a glass of fine wine with friends and having the chance to open the bottle, aerating it, observing the color, bouquet and then savoring the flavor – discussing it with the few who share it.
Today’s concert is no different. The audience around you is here to enjoy something that is rare for today’s society. Smile and discuss it with your partner, or with the ushers, or the performer. We’re all fans of music or of the performer or we wouldn’t be here.
Another example is sporting events. Recently you may have enjoyed seeing a team from New York (New Jersey actually) play against a team from Boston in the Super Bowl. It was a close game and had many exciting moments. Music events sometimes have that quality as well – think of the string quartet as the visitors in the “home” hall, and perhaps the pianist performing as the home player. There are half times (intermission), concession stands (a pre concert drink or in the lobby) and even winners (the composer whose work is premiered or played; or the student performers who make it through the piece.) It works on lots of levels.
These are all great topics and ideas to invite someone to a concert. Start a discussion, and see where it leads you and your guest. They may get hooked. Chamber music, and classical music in general needs you.
I go to a lot of concerts. I also give talks, and even perform, On and off stage you will often find me talking about the music, musicians and the halls. Recently, I heard all five string quartets by 99-year-old American composer Elliott Carter. I also met him and will be featuring him in an interview. When I told friends and mentors about the concert, most said, WHY?! You see, Carter’s music is very complex, dissonant even. But I respect Carter and his style – most of all his originality. And truth be told, I was wondering if I would enjoy it, but thought it was important to go and hear them.
I had heard four of the works before, but not the most recent, and knew the musical language was tough, to say the least, even for a new music fan like myself.
It was the single most wonderful concert event I have been to in my life so far (and I go to 70 concerts a year, for the last three!). It was exciting, fresh and invigorating.
I’ve been to concerts where one composer is featured, including the 2004 all Bartok cycle that the LVCMS presented with Teller (also an amazing set of concerts!) so I knew that it could be a wonderful experience. Having the chance to hear Pacifica Quartet play all of the Carter Quartets (they’ve recorded #1 & #5 for Naxos) and the chance to see Carter there (and eventually meeting him) was such a moving experience I now wonder why I ever doubted I would enjoy it.
So even if you wonder about a program, give it a chance.
I’ll end explaining the subtitle of this essay, a little joke referencing Oscar Wilde’s play. Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst is a romantic violinist and composer, whose work is played by a few violinists today. His music is hard to learn and is not always the greatest music. But violinists who do learn his music often put everything they can into their performances of it. One of his most famous works is Variations on the Last Rose of Summer, and you will find his solo violin arrangement of Schubert’s Der Erkonig on programs now and then. They are touching works, and as I believe there can be lots of “inside” lingo with chamber music, I thought I should explain.
So if there is something on a program you don’t get, ask someone: the performer, the composer, the management or google it. Again, we’re all here to enjoy the music and are happy to answer or discuss it.

Fiddler Faddler

Be sure to check out Odin Rathnam's new website, and a download available of romantic French repertoire!
And stay tuned for exciting recital news from the Harrisburg Symphony concertmaster - he'll be performing at WITF this spring as well, live from the studio.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy 70th

Composer John Corigliano turns 70 on February 16th. Enjoy a portion of an interview we did...
Clare: How did you know you were a composer? How did it come about that you decided to write music?

Corigliano: Actually it was because I grew up with my father as a performer and I would go to the NY Philharmonic and hear him rehearse a piece. He was the concert master at the Philharmonic and played solos at least once a year and I would hear him rehearse a piece and I would see how tense he was and then go through rehearsals and the concert. I would actually sit in the green room of Carnegie Hall as a little boy listening on the speakers because I was too nervous to sit in the hall because I knew every note of the concertos and was hunched over until he was done. And then the next morning got the seven news papers and read what they said about him and the idea of standing on stage and performing was impossible for me because I grew up with my father doing it and it seemed over whelming. I loved music and improvised at the piano. My mother was a pianist, very fine pianist who never played in public but she taught, but not me because I had two lessons and we, you know, that didn’t work. So I picked up how to play more or less by myself. I improvised a lot and the way I felt I could go into music was in composing because it, I didn’t have to be on that stage at that moment doing that thing. I could be at home, I could solve the problems. I could write them down and then it would be on stage and someone would play it at that moment. So it really had to do with my childhood and how I grew up more than anything else.

Clare: It’s funny, I sometimes see patterns of musicians where the sons will be doctors and doctors’ sons will be musicians. Were they ever saying it’s hard to be in the classical world?

Corigliano: Oh, absolutely, in fact they were very discouraging, both of them, about my going into concert music or any music. My father wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor or something and of course, when you’re a kid that’s all the more the incentive to do it. So I didn’t take it as a discouraging thing, I took it as a kind of daring for me. But also that was the world I loved and I was fascinated by. When I was a kid in high school, the LP record had just been invented and the LP record really was a break through much more than stereo was to the LP, the LP to the seventy eight was a huge breakthrough in terms of sonic, the wideness...a kind of way to capture sound. When I was a little boy I had at time you know in high school a fifteen inch Klipsch speaker with a horn and a corner cabinet and my set and I started listening to Capitol full dimensional sound recordings. I specifically remember a demonstration disc in which the gun fight scene Billy the Kid was performed and of course I put it on at first because it had a bass drum that plays very prominently in it. And there was my fifteen inch woofer, you know shaking the walls and I was in my house and I thought that was thrilling. But then I kept listening to the way that Aaron Copland got these incredibly interesting and originally sounds by playing simple sound chords with new spacings. And so I started going over the piano and trying those spacings out and seeing how you could get a simple c-major cord to sound fresh just by spacing it differently. And then I went out and got the music to it. And then I started Stravinsky and Copland and all these composers and being fascinated very much through recordings and, my father’s live performances of course. But the recordings were very instrumental in my being fascinated with the contemporary composer because in those days you know it wasn’t like now; I mean you couldn’t go into a record store and get some twenty-five year-old composer’s recordings because only the big labels recorded. It was a tremendous amount of equipment necessary to record. And so you had Stravinsky, and you had Copland and you had Bernstein, Piston, and Hanson and Bill Schuman. But you didn’t have the kind of variety we have now. But it did give me a chance to hear a lot of music that I had never heard before, and about that time Columbia MasterWorks started issuing its’ American Music Series - which was extraordinary! Goddard Lieberson put this together, an extraordinary series of pieces like John Cage...things I would have never had an opportunity to hear before. And in hearing those I became so fascinated with one can do, today compared to the past, that I just wanted to compose and that’s very much why I became a composer.

Clare: Do you think the musicians at the caliber that they were, the Bernsteins that your dad was not just a section violinist or violist or accordion player, he was a concert master of the New York Philharmonic, do you think that had an effect also in your musical up bringing?

Corigliano: Well I think so, I remember meeting a lot of these people. I remember meeting Fritz Kreisler and Pierre Monteux as a little kid, so I certainly did meet them and get to know them. I remember we used to have lunch with Dmitri Mitropolis at La Scala Restaurant my father and I. He would bring bring fava beans and he would ask for tartar steak and he would mix in with this bottle of fava beans he had and eat it and he would talk. So one of the things it did was humanize the great musicians of our time because my father knew them personally. But I think the real thing that gave me was the idea of, especially in the concerto, was the idea of the soloist and the ensemble and the drama of the concerto - because there was my father with an eighteen inch piece of wood, there was a ninety-five to a hundred and four piece orchestra playing and he had to rise above that - and in some way because the composer wrote it so that he could do so; he had to surmount you know fifty other string players plus another forty brass wind and percussion players and I think the drama of that was something I grew up with. So writing concertos in particular I feel a kind of naturalness about engaging in that dialogue because I grew up with it. And the idea that he played, that he could dominate that by his musicianship, the sound and the passion of his playing was something that I took as a natural thing.

Monday, February 04, 2008


From Vienna:
Anna Netrebko is pregnant and she's getting married. The 36-year-old star soprano and her fiance, Uruguayan baritone Erwin Schrott, are expecting a child this fall, according to Netrebko's management company.
"We are both very, very happy that soon there will be three of us," Netrebko said in a statement.
It will be her first child. She and Schrott, 35, became engaged late last year in New York.
The Russian-born singer, who holds Austrian citizenship, has been making a film version of Puccini's "La Boheme" in Vienna for German television.
She and Schrott have shared the stage several times over the past few years, singing Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and other works, and they performed together in December in Puerto Rico.
Her manager, Jeffrey Vanderveen, said Netrebko "will keep her engagements as long as her doctors permit it."
She is scheduled to perform in Massenet's "Manon," which opens April 4 at the Vienna State Opera.
Austrian media said Netrebko was still scheduled to join Rolando Villazon and Placido Domingo in a concert with the Vienna Philharmonic on the grounds of Vienna's Schoenbrunn Palace on June 27, two days before the capital hosts the final of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament.
She was to appear with Villazon in Charles Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet" at the Salzburg Festival in August, but pulled out because of the pregnancy, festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said Monday.
"We are surprised, but we understand. The most beautiful reason for a cancellation is a child," Rabl-Stadler was quoted as telling the Austria Press Agency.
"We'll send her the most beautiful bouquet in the world" when the baby is born, Rabl-Stadler said.
Netrebko has withdrawn from the Metropolitan Opera's revival of Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" that begins Oct. 3, but performances in January 2009 are still on, Vanderveen said Monday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Her engagement at the Met for "Manon," scheduled Dec. 15 through Jan. 10, 2009, is under discussion, Vanderveen said.
"Bottom line is: She will sing as long as her doctors say it is fine," he said. "When she comes back is a life decision (and a vocal decision) that she is considering now."

Adios amiga!

Friday night I stopped by Gilligan's to say adieu to a coworker at WITF, Courtney Howell (seen below with her beau, Paul). She's going on to teach art, and I'm sure will do so inspiring a whole new generation in the artworld!
Have fun, kiddo, knock 'em dead.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Two Bs

I caught the second of Adele Anthony's Bach Sonatas and Partitas last night at Gretna Music in Elizabethtown. It was delightful with the G minor Sonata, B minor Partita and the C major Sonata. Anthony was much more in control than her November performance, and showed talent and musicality beyond her years. Especially dazzling were her tempos in the 1st Partita.
Also, major highlights for me were the fugues in both sonatas, both well thought out and melodic lines clearly and cleanly presented.
I had fun giving the preconcert talk, and laid out the scores for the audience to see across 12 stands at the back of the room - it was nice to see people take a look before, at intermission and after the performance.

Today, I heard the Orchestra of St. Luke's in music by Thomas Ades and Beethoven, with soloist Helene Grimaud and conductor Xian Zhang. It was also a breathtaking concert - with a perfect rendition of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. Grimaud performs with depth and conviction (and despite a cellphone ring in one of the most sensitive portions of the first movement) with incredible dynamics. I melted with the precision of the last movement, which was not only clean but touching. My friend and coworker Cary who came along said he could barely sit still hearing such awesome playing.
The Ades was disappointing, a tribute to Couperin that was unmoving and quite static. Beethoven's 4th Symphony was put through its paces and showed lots of flair and excitement. Again, a very precise and uptempo take on a true classic.

Another highlight was meeting up with friend and composer Steve Stucky for lunch at a good Thai restaurant beforehand. aLater, Cary and I caught a quick cup of coffee and tiramisu after the concert and had an easy trip home, hearing part of Superbowl XLII on am radio.

A super Sunday indeed.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Three Bs: Brass, Bach and Beethoven?

Last night, I introduced the Boston Brass at the Luhrs Center in Shippensburg. A grand time was had by all and all were had by the grand time! It was nice to reconnect with my youth symphony and college friend JD Shaw, who is the horn player and arranger for the Boston Brass.
Tomorrow, I deliever the 2nd talk for Adele Anthony's Bach Sonatas and Partitas at Etown college. It'll be fun and I have some great visuals planned for it!
Sunday, coworker and friend Cary Burkett is joining me at Carnegie Hall to hear Helene Grimaud play the Emperor Concerto with Orchestra of St. Luke's. What a Super Sunday!

Five Things about Elliott Carter String Quartets

I heard Carter's Five String Quartets Wednesday night in New York City.
1. I was very excited to hear all five quartets on one program, although I wondered how it would be to focus on one genre by one composer...I have twice heard all the Bartoks on a program - once with the Pro Arte Quartet that included a dinner and talk in between two concerts, and once with the Colorado Quartet back to back on a Saturday night/Sunday afternoon; so I was certainly open to hearing a composer's work on a single program. (Funny, the Carter Quartets remind me of how much the music can evolve from Bartok's time, and yet keep a hold in tradition.) Turns out, I was delighted by the program, with two well placed intermissions, that allowed discussion, and a chance to get water, bathroom, or an autograph (as you can see below.)

2. The Pacifica Quartet has several delightful recordings, which I knew, including their just released Carter Quartets #1 and #5, but this was my first chance to hear them live. It was magnificent. They are a group who bring new breath and humanity to Carter's masterpieces. While it is a cliche that they make it look easy, they were truly at ease with each other, the audience and the music.

3. Our seats (Dick Strawser my friend and coworker joined me) were on the mezzanine, center, which turns out was about five rows from where Elliott Carter was sitting. He came in while we were talking in the lobby with another friend, Dan Guss (pictured right with Dick in the lobby), who we had met for dinner at Ollie's just before the concert. As we had guessed Maestro Carter who be wisked in from backstage into the hall perhaps moments before the concert, it turns out, he arrived about 30 minutes before the show would start and was waiting as their tickets were delievered and he sat just feet from where we were conversing. A few folks noticed and talked to him before they went in, but we thought we'd honor his privacy and let him be.

4. During the first intermission, several wellwishers, friends and fans met Elliott, although we had heard beforehand from someone with the hall management that Carter would not be available to sign autographs afterwards, but that the quartet would after the concert (and they did!) The 2nd and 3rd quartets seemed to fly by and the 2nd intermission was upon us. I decided I would go down and introduce myself - I have been corresponding with Mr. Carter's assistant for over a year now, trying to get an interview for Composing Thoughts. So, I may have been the first down, and asked for an autograph, and said I hoped he would consider being on my radio show, and mentioned my name and show. Virgil was pleased to meet me and I believe (after the the completion of his new Flute Concerto) we'll be able to find a good time to sit down and talk. It was sweet to meet Elliott, who seemed concerned the audience was not going to stay for the 4th and 5th quartets. They did stay - it was just another break and a chance to stretch legs...

5. The concert was well received, with 3 or 4 curtain calls with a standing ovation for the quartet, the music and the composer. It was one of the events of my lifetime, and will be able to say I heard the quartets with the composer that night in January 2008. Not something easily forgotten and I believe a historic event, like being able to say you were at the Rite of Spring premiere or Ballet Mechanique.

Read Dr. Dick's account of the evening here.

While waiting Sunday

Enjoying a cigar before the 2nd Viennese School concert with the Met Chamber Ensemble, I saw the Fort Worth Symphony loading up their equipment from their concert.
My Sunday night was wonderful, with out of this world playing by all involved. I still think eighth blackbird owns Pierrot Lunaire, but this reading was wonderful in its own ways as well, just not the staged virtuosity and complexity that 8bb gives.
The pairing of chamber works by Berg, Webern and Schoenberg was brilliant with Levine, either directing or playing - he was sublime and completely in his element.