Readers and listeners! Hopefully you’re enjoying your weekend. Tonight (Saturday) brings a final performance of John Corigliano’s AIDS-inspired Symphony No. 1 at the New York Philharmonic.
This Twitter thread from the musicologist Doug Shadle — delving into the significance of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, which helped save the works the Philharmonic will be playing — is well worth a read:
Hello from Amsterdam! A couple of members of our team are here to take in “Aus Licht,” a three-day presentation of scenes from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s seven-opera cycle “Licht.” (Cycles run through next weekend. Expect some reports next week!)
Friday night’s performance was devoted to passages from “Donnerstag aus Licht,” which is focused on Stockhausen’s trumpet-playing, tenor-voice character Michael. In the first act of “Donnerstag,” after the trials of early youth, Michael auditions to enter the “advanced school of music,” in front of jurors who are versions of Eve and Lucifer, the cycle’s other primary mythic figures. (Earlier in the act, they also embody Michael’s parents.)
The piano has a significant role in Stockhausen’s scoring for the examination scene, so it makes sense that he would adapt the scene for his “Klavierstücke” series. As a stand-alone work, it’s the 12th item in that series, and not played or recorded as often as some earlier Stockhausen piano solos. (Perhaps because this one requires some vocalizing from the pianist, too!)
Luckily, there is a sterling recent recording of “Klavierstück XII,” on Decca, by Vanessa Benelli Mosell, who worked with the composer before his death in 2007. From the first minute, she treats some quickly rising and falling motifs with an interpretive feeling that’s more romantic than you hear from other players in this repertoire. Yet it’s all in keeping with the surging thematic playfulness of “Licht”-era Stockhausen, a quality which might shock anyone who thinks of him only in terms of early works like “Kontra-Punkte.” SETH COLTER WALLS
Handel told the horrific tale of the rape of Lucretia, most famous as a Britten work, in a solo cantata called “Lucrezia.” A 15-minute piece, originally for soprano and small chamber ensemble, the cantata is like an arresting operatic scene for the brutalized Lucrezia, whom we see in the aftermath of the violence she has suffered.
Recently, Cantata Profana, an outstanding ensemble that mingles music and theater, found a way to dramatize “Lucrezia” while remaining true to its style. It was presented at the HERE Center in SoHo as the final piece on a program of 13 instrumental and vocal works, including dance, directed and choreographed by Shadi Ghaheri.
The offerings included ancient songs, a bittersweet Joan Baez ballad and an excerpt from Respighi’s opera “Lucrezia.” Finally, the mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen performed Handel’s “Lucrezia,” joined by the dancer Emily Jo. In this excerpt from the concluding minutes, we see Lucrezia devastated yet furious, bent on revenge yet filled with humiliation: She cannot help blaming herself for what has happened. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
On Wednesday night at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, I heard the composer-saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock unveil a series of pieces as part of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series. A Laubrock work from an album for large ensemble made our list of best classical music tracks last year. This new batch of pieces — for either trio or quartet — showed how she still thinks big when writing for a smaller group of players.
The cast on hand included the violinist Josh Modney and the electronics specialist Sam Pluta, and this was my first chance to hear the pianist Marc Hannaford. He shined throughout the set, especially when marching in rhythmic lock step with Ms. Laubrock through some thrillingly tricky terrain. Because Mr. Pluta was responsible for much of the vertiginous quality of these arrangements, refracting and spinning samples through a multispeaker mix, the live playing needed to be suitably crisp. During this excerpt from “I Never Liked that Guy,” in a recording made at the National Sawdust soundboard, you can hear the effective partnership between Mr. Hannaford and Ms. Laubrock, as well as Mr. Pluta’s way of producing what its composer described, in an email, as a “tear in the fabric.” SETH COLTER WALLS
Accepting the commission, Mr. Tao wrote “Everything Must Go,” a teeming, mercurial, vividly colorful 11-minute work that transitioned without break from its quizzical ending to the mysterious opening of the Bruckner, with a tremulous sustained midrange F in the strings and horns around which a tentative theme appears in segments.
On Monday, for the Philharmonic’s annual free Memorial Day concert at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Mr. van Zweden again led Bruckner’s Eighth, this time on its own. In a performance that conveyed the alternately mysterious, ruminative, celestial and fitful elements of this restless score, the symphony proved a fitting memorial piece. ANTHONY TOMMASINI