Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amazing Anne-Sophie

It's no secret that one of my favorite violinists is Anne-Sophie Mutter. I first got an LP of her Mozart Concerti when I was a teenager, and was learning the G major Concerto. She was a real inspiration and I still talk to my friend who gave me the disc, and say thanks (you rock Elin!)

Much later down the road I would have every cd, laserdisc(!), dvd, download, and in the 90s, I even had a fan site about her with pictures and information (as well as the internet's only site for the music of Andzrej Panufnik at the time, see part of it here from the WayBack Machine, ah geocities!)
I've seen her several times perform live, from Beethoven to Berg, and it is always exciting.

I've also had tapes, cds and mp3s of interviews with her, from various radio stations and networks - one of my favorites is a discussion with Robert Siegel on NPR's All Things Considered. So when I was offered a chance by Amanda Ameer at Universal to talk with Anne-Sophie I jumped at it! It was afternoon in Germany and early one Wednesday morning in San Antonio when we spoke.

Take a listen to our phone conversation: mp3 file

The discussion is mostly around Sofia Gubaidulina, a composer who wrote In Tempus Praesens for Anne-Sophie last year. Of course, we also talked about the Bach that is on the new cd, as well as other composers.
The cd is out on October 7th, in a deluxe set, and as a regular release, as well as a download at DG Webshop. Get it in any version, you'll love it and be sure to see her on tour!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I wonder

What sort of minimalist version could happen since this announcement with "It's a small world after all"?

Hmmm. And this cartoon appeared this morning too! Coincidence?

Fact checking

Nice article here about performances in Australia...but they combine two brilliant women composers! Galina Gubaidulina?!
Would that be Sofia Gubaidulina and Galina Ustvolskaya?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Orpheus Answers

Enter to win tickets to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and pick up their new recording of Mozart Piano Concerti - it rocks!

Question 1: Orpheus' latest recording on EMI Classics, set for release in October 2008, features which young pianist?
Jonathan Biss

Question 2: Orpheus' newest member musician, trumpeter Louis Hanzlik, holds degrees from which two colleges? (2 answers)
University of Iowa and the Juilliard School

Question 3: What foundation is the official tour and radio broadcast sponsor of Orpheus?
MetLife Foundation

Question 4: What five European countries will Orpheus tour in February 2009? (5 answers)
Italy, Germany, Luxemborg, Austria, Slovenia

Question 5: Which piece, premiering on the October 16th performance at Carnegie Hall, is inspired by one of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and titled after a major landmark in Germany? Brandenburg Gate by Paul Moravec

All entries with completely correct answers will be entered in a drawing to be held on October 6, 2008.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We knew they were geniuses...

Congrats to Alex Ross and Leila Josefowicz for being named MacArthur Foundation "Genius" - and getting a no strings attached $500,000 grant.
Take a listen to Alex Ross in an interview with me at the New Yorker here...and hear Leila Josefowicz discuss her Beethoven Concerto appearance in Austin last weekend here.
The NY Times has the rest of the story and winners here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Interview in Big D

I had a chance to talk with Steven Stucky and Gene Scheer about "August 4, 1964" in Dallas.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I had a fun lunch with four friends from high school yesterday. We laughed and told stories, and caught up on what we've been doing the last few years. More soon, but here we are at the Celebrity Cafe in Dallas.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Dallas

Wonderful performance last night of "August 4, 1964." Look for the review over on Sequenza21 - but here are the snaps from last night!
Me with Steven Stucky and Gene Scheer

Maestro van Zweden and me

The vocal soloists and the creators

John with friends in the green room

Monday, September 15, 2008

Five Things about Camerata San Antonio

I heard "Romantic Beginnings" with the Camerata San Antonio Sunday afternoon at Travis Park United Methodist Church.
1. Melinda Lee Masur, piano; Karen Stiles and Sayaka Okada, violins; Emily Watkins Freudigman, viola; and Kenneth Freudigman, cello; were joined by violist Yizhak Schotten for a great start to their sixth season. They played in Kerrville and Boerne on Thursday and Friday, so it was no surprise that it was well polished on Sunday. (Schotten also gave a great masterclass and played Brahms' Sonata #2, opus 120 on Saturday afternoon with Melinda Lee Masur.)

2. The program opened with Melinda and Ken playing Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, a youthful (written at age 19) work that exudes love and joy. Tempos were brisk and exciting, with plenty of bravura for both.

3. Next was Hans Krasa's music, two short works written in a concentration camp just before Krasa's murder by the Nazi's. His music is well crafted and got a great performance from Okada and the Freudigmans (men? hahaha).

4. Joaquin Turina's Scene Andalouse is a rare gem that should be heard much more often. Imagine a Debussyian texture with Spanish flavor with a gentle protaganist and you pretty much have it. Schotten was in the center leading in perfect style, and Lee provided lush and flashy color, along with the quartet of Stiles, Okada, and the Freudigmans.

5. After intermission, a late string work by Brahms capped the program nicely, the String Quintet, opus 111. Ken sang with the intensity and passion required for the opening motif, and Schotten blended well with the San Antonians. There were smiles all around as each part cued here and there, allowing for phrases to play out with panache and ebb-and-flow easily. Especially tender was the slow movement allowing Stiles to shine in the upper register.
A pre-concert talk and reception added to the afternoon - you won't want to miss their next performance, October 19th featuring Tal Perkes, flute. Learn more here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chris at tpr

Nice interview this morning with Chris O'Riley - watch for it in October when he returns to San Antonio for the Tuesday Music Club with cellist Carter Brey.
Come see From the Top tomorrow night at Laurie Auditorium at 7pm!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pastoral not out to pasture

Some really old Beethoven...what a story!

Latest project

So in July I started some big projects...and in part this came about: an interview with Chris Brubeck. See the opening of our interview at his home in Connecticut.

Brubeck on Classified from John Clare on Vimeo.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Five Things about Musical Evenings

I heard soprano Angela Malek with La Follia Sunday evening at San Fernando Cathedral as part of Musical Evenings with Musical Bridges Around the World.

1. Things began before the concert, in front of San Fernando with period demonstrations of fencing, singing and dancing. There were also actors in costume, asking folks to come in for the concert.

2. The program featured just two composers, but what composers - Bach and Handel. There was a delightful mix of works, choral and instrumental.

3. Soprano Angela Malek has a pure, clear voice well suited for this repertoire, and was ably backed by La Follia. Diction was clear and the costume she wore was delightful.

4. Bach's Trio Sonata #1 and Handel's b minor trio sonata are two of the great chamber music hits of all time. La Follia was muddy in the first movement of the Bach, but that was the only falter the entire evening. Otherwise, technique, pitch and phrasing were exquisite.

5. Explanations of the period instruments from the performers, with questions from the audience, filled what would have been intermission. It was a charming program indeed, and reached an audience that might not have normally caught early music - kudos!

These musicians are going to teach early music technique in San Antonio, keep an eye out for more performances and lessons...on tap is an authentic Brahms' German Requiem.
Musical Bridges Around the World will continue the free San Fernando concerts on the first Sunday of each month- be sure to check it out and to come early for the demonstrations beforehand.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Five Things about Emmanuel Borok

I heard the Musica Viva presentation of Musical Bridges Around the World of violinist Emmanuel Borok and pianist Anya Grokhovski-Michaelson.

1. The house of Susan and Aubra Franklin is gorgeous and set a wonderful background for the evening. Guests mingled beforehand and enjoyed the company, hors d'oeuvres, and house.

2. The program began with Kreisler's Variations on a theme by Corelli and was a perfect start. Balance was good and the tone singing.

3. Mendelssohn's F Major Sonata continued the program and while it is a gem, it is not a masterpiece. Borok and Grokhovski-Michaelson were enthusiastic and brought life into this lesser known work.

4. "Bonbons" consisted of more Kreisler, Brahms, Massenet, Kroll, Gluck, and a Russian gem "The Happy Violin." They were chosen by the Franklin's youngest daughter from a stack of music. Things were light and quick, with good taste and brilliant technique.

5. Borok is an old school violinist -his playing reminds me of Mischa Elman. His is a classic and very laid back approach, and his vibrato is lightning quick. Grokhovski-Michaelson was a delightful collaborative pianist who worked well in the program.

They play a similar program tomorrow afternoon at 3pm at McAllister Auditorium in San Antonio. Find out more here. Children under 13 are free! (and get to help pick the bonbons on the 2nd half of the program!)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Five Things about the Lee Trio

I heard the Lee Trio at Ruth Taylor Hall at Trinity University tonight as part of the Redeemer Fine Arts Series.

1. The concert was beyond capacity, about the time the concert was supposed to start, they added chairs on stage to fit more audience. What a great thing!

2. The Bernstein piano trio is a youthful work that shows alot of promise - and in the hands of Melinda, Angela and Lisa Lee, very convincing. I heard lines I hadn't before, and was convinced I should listen again. Especially fun was the March, with playful pizzicati and charming harmonic bends.

3. Franz Joseph Haydn put his stamp on many genres - the symphony, string quartet and piano trio. This performance was a real delight, showing the humorous side and long melodic lines. Lisa was especially agile in fluid passages and Melinda brought the right flavor to the keyboard, with Angela providing a solid foundation. It was music making without effort and truly charming.

4. After intermission, Schumann's dark d minor trio finished the program - as the Lees said from on stage, it ends "with hope." The brooding first movement was unclear to my taste, but things came together for the flashy second movement. Ensemble was precise and crisp, nothing was left without care - each line getting the right umph. Lyricism prevailed in all parts for the slow movement, with especially beautiful singing from the strings. The finale came and flew by, tempi were always fresh.

5. It was awesome to see people of all ages at the concert, but lots of young people (there must have been a third of the audience under 12 years old!) were enjoying it and were well behaved. If you have a chance to see the Lee Trio - do so, you won't be disappointed!

The Reedemer Fine Arts Series continues in February with John Patitucci.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ask Hilary

In celebration of Arnold Schoenberg's birthday on Saturday, September 13th, violinist Hilary Hahn will launch a custom-designed YouTube channel that will include new video content she will create in response to fan questions about her most recent album - the violin concertos of Schoenberg and Sibelius - as well as a collection of past performance and related videos. Hahn's YouTube channel will give fans the chance to comment, rate, and respond to the new video content, and will allow users to embed the videos on their own websites, blogs, or any of the popular social networks such as Facebook or MySpace. Hahn will use her new channel as a hub for video content for her most recent release and future projects as well.
To submit questions about the album for Hahn to video-answer, please e mail questions@firstchairpromo.com. Twenty fan questions will be selected and posted on http://www.youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos throughout the day beginning at midnight on September 13th.
Here's my question, How do you choose recital partners and cd collaborators? Read about Hilary's cd launch party in NYC this last April here.