By Paul Griffiths
Paul Griffiths deals his personal own collection of a few of his such a lot enormous and creative articles and live performance reports from over 3 a long time of indefatigable concertgoing around the globe. He stories on premieres and different very important performances of works by way of such composers as Elliott Carter, Sofia Gubaidulina, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Steve Reich, in addition to Harrison Birtwistle and different very important British figures. Griffiths vividly conveys the imaginative and prescient, air of secrecy, and idiosyncrasies of sought after pianists, singers, and conductors (such as Herbert von Karajan), and debates altering varieties of appearing Monteverdi and Purcell. a selected pride is his reaction to the area of opera, together with Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (six contrasting productions), Pavarotti and Domingo in Verdi at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Schoenberg's Moses and Aaron, and wildly diversified Jonathan Miller models of Mozart's Don Giovanni. From the author's preface: "We can't say what tune is. but we're verbal creatures, and attempt with phrases to solid a web round it, figuring out so much of this immaterial stuff will steer clear of seize. The tales that keep on with disguise quite a lot of occasions over a interval of significant switch. but the net's goal used to be consistently an identical, to trap the substance of items heard. "Criticism has to paintings mostly via analogy and metaphor. this is often no problem. it's principally via such verbal ties that song is associated with different forms of adventure, no longer least the wildlife and the orchestra of our feelings." Paul Griffiths's reports and articles have seemed widely in either Britain (Times, monetary occasions, instances Literary complement) and the us (New Yorker, long island Times). He has written quite a few books on Bartók, Cage, Messiaen, Boulez, Maxwell Davies, twentieth-century track, opera, and the string quartet, and is the writer of the hot Penguin spouse to Classical tune. he's additionally writer of the ocean on fireplace: Jean Barraqué.
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Extra info for The Substance of Things Heard: Writings about Music (Eastman Studies in Music)
This setting of Persian poetry in Russian translation—quite without musical orientalism, for Gubaidulina in her frankness sees through codes and conventions—was strongly projected by a group of Tanglewood students under Reinbert de Leeuw, and the challenging solo part, covering the whole range of a countertenor’s voice as well as a baritone’s, was delivered by Brian Nickel with gripping authority and an excellent command of the language. A note in the programme suggested that the catalogue of personal griefs in the text could have had, in 1969, an autobiographical weight, since at that time Gubaidulina was battling official disapproval in the Soviet Union.
As originally played, the conclusion was limp, even a joke: the mouse emerging from the mountains. Given full force, it suddenly clinched the entire gesture. But not everything that moves through this score is so massive or so fast. Right after the glockenspiel-harp A flat there is a sequence of sustained notes (in Carter’s usage they sound more stretched or restrained than merely held, as if stationariness could be attained only as a product of motions in conflict), with star points in the high treble.
Since then constraints on rehearsal schedules in the US have meant that, as he put it in Chicago, ‘most of my works can’t really be played now by American orchestras’, and so perhaps there seemed no point in adding to the list. In the case of the new piece, there was the promise of adequate rehearsal time, made possible by an imaginative fund set up by Hope Abelson, and the result was a beautifully smooth-running first performance by Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony—smooth-running, that is, until all the lights went out a couple of minutes before the end—with spectacular work from flutes and clarinets in their respectively mellifluous and extravagant threads through the aerial tapestry.