Archive | 20th Century

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What’s happened in May 1913, when première The Rite of Spring of Igor Stravinsky

Posted on 28 May 2013 by admin

Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky: Petrushka / Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)

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It was the evening of 29 May 1913, 100 years ago, when Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, under the baton of Pierre Monteux, presented the first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). The audience, packed into the newly-opened Théâtre des Champs-Élysées to the point of standing room only, had neither seen nor heard anything like it. By the time the curtain rose to reveal ballet dancers stomping the stage, the protests had reached a crescendo. The orchestra and dancers, choreographed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, continued but it was impossible to hear the music above what Stravinsky described as a “terrific uproar”.  As a riot ensured, two factions in the audience attacked each other, then the orchestra, which kept playing under a hail of vegetables and other objects. Forty people were forcibly ejected. As the audience erupted, Diaghilev called for calm and flashed the house lights on and off, while Nijinsky was forced to call out steps to the dancers as the beat of the music was drowned out by the riotous cacophony. Even now there is debate over whether the audience reaction was spontaneous or the work of outraged traditionalists armed with vegetables who had come looking for trouble.

The reviews were merciless. “The work of a madman … sheer cacophony,” wrote the composer Puccini. “A laborious and puerile barbarity,” added Le Figaro’s critic, Henri Quittard.  It was, according to some of those present – who included Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy – the sound of derisive laughter.

Today, the piece has gone from rioting to rave reviews and is widely considered one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century.  Since then The Rite has been adapted for and included in an estimated 150 productions around the world.

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

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Giorgio Federico Ghedini’s largely unknown Complete Works for Violin & Piano

Posted on 26 May 2013 by admin

Giorgio Federico Ghedini (11 July 1892 – 25 March 1965) was an Italian composer, he is now increasingly recognized as one of the finest Italian composers of the 20th century. 19th Century music in Italy was dominated by Opera and by the great composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. But at the end of the Century, a new generation of young composers tried to reignite old traditions of composing instrumental music of a noble, traditionalist character. These composers are referred to as the “Eighties Generation” and include, amongst others, Respighi, Busoni, Pizzetti, and Malipiero. Giorgio Federico Ghedini, who was a little younger (born in 1892), undertook the same direction although he also attempted writing Opera, and successfully so. His early works were characterized by a learned eclecticism, nourished by a rigorous study of other periods’ works, and by his unappeasable curiosity.

Now the first complete recording of Giorgio Federico Ghedini’s works for violin and piano have been made on Naxos! These wonderful compositions—largely unknown—were written from 1918 to 1934.

Ghedini’s oeuvre for violin and piano works include a “young” A major Sonata (1918)—fresh and brilliant—, a more dramatic and Brahms-like E-flat major Sonata (1922) that ends with a strong Passacaglia, plus three amazing pieces: Two Poems (published in 1932) and the charming Bizzarria (1934).

This stunning programme was recorded by the Italian duo Bianchi- Bernecoli. Pianist and composer Massimo Giuseppe Bianchi has already recorded Ghedini’s complete piano works (Naxos 8.572329 and 8.572330) to great critical acclaim. Emy Bernecoli is a young virtuoso violinist making her recording debut with this album.

The sessions took place at Varallo Sesia’s Teatro Civico. With their usual scrupulous preparation the sessions went smoothly, and the project was completed in a few intense days. “The recording seems to capture a great spontaneity”, says the two artists. “We wish to thank our sound engineer Francesco Ciarfuglia and the impeccable piano tuner, Davide Lupattelli for their help and for our great moments together!” Bianchi adds: “We are also very grateful and proud to have the great piano brand Fazioli as a sponsor of our recording. All great music—and Ghedini is truly great—calls for a great instrument in order to reveal and express all the infinite colours and concealed meanings in the music. The Fazioli grand is absolutely an ideal instrument for this purpose! Finally, we also wish to thank Fondazione Bpn – Novara, and President Dr. Franco Zanetta, for their invaluable support.”

“This is a repertoire that we love to perform. We truly believe this recording will be a happy discovery for all true music fans everywhere, and also a step towards better knowledge of Italian music treasures” – the duo concludes.

Complete Works for Violin & Piano

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Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s new release, Joram of Paul Ben-Haim on HELICON RECORDS

Posted on 25 May 2013 by admin

Paul Ben-Haim (July 1897 – 14 January 1984) is a German-born Jewish composer who immigrated to Palestine in October 1933, and then becoming an Israeli citizen upon that nation’s independence in 1948. He championed a specifically Jewish national music, his own compositions are in a late Romantic vein with Middle Eastern overtones, somewhat similar to Ernest Bloch. The oratorio Joram was one of his last works. He completed the work in 1933 in his native city of Munich. In April 2012, nearly eighty years after its composition, it received its Israeli premiere at Tel Aviv University’s Smolarz Auditorium. This world premiere recording from the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Hayko Siemens honors one of the founders and greatest composers of Israeli music.

Ben-Haim: Joram

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Find an animated graphical score of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring on youtube

Posted on 01 May 2013 by admin

The Rite of Spring  is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. The music has influenced many of the 20th century’s leading composers and is one of the most recorded works in the classical repertoire. 2013 is 100 years anniversary since The Rite of Spring was infamously premiered by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes to the tune of audience rioting. It has been a number of performances in celebration of the revolutionary masterpiece and its continuing influence today. Taking a fresh approach to the anniversary are music synthesist Jay Bacal and music animator Stephen Malinowski, who have collaborated to create an animated, graphical score to help make sense of the still challenging work. The animation, which can be accessed via YouTube, provides clarity for non-musicians by letting ‘your eyes lead your ears’, according to Malinowski – allowing viewers to trace the work’s structure and lines of orchestration visually while listening to the music.

Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky: Petrushka / Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)

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