“This piece is very near to my heart,” says Riccardo Muti, touching his breast twice. “It is the grandest setting of all of the masses, a piece that I have done several times. You know, Beethoven wanted a copy of the [Mass in b minor] before he began writing his ‘Missa solemnis.’
“Incredibly, Bach wrote the first part of the piece to get a better job that he never got. And it was never performed. Amazing how such a circumstance can produce such a magnificent masterpiece. Yet there is no doubt that he wanted this to be a Catholic, not a Lutheran mass, because he includes [“catholic and apostolic”] in the ‘Credo.’ ” Read the rest of this entry »
2013 is the bicentennial of both Wagner and Verdi. Whereas Verdi will be getting numerous salutes from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, oddly enough, Wagner, whose influence spread across the continent and even influenced Verdi himself, is getting quite little by comparison, particularly odd given that the CSO is considered by many to be the greatest Wagnerian orchestra in the world.
The biggest Wagner salute comes this week from Finnish conductor-composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, a relative newcomer to Wagner but who like so many contemporary composers, including Pierre Boulez, has been influenced and remains enraptured by the music. Salonen will be conducting two performances of the Prelude and Act II of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” with German tenor Stefan Vinke as Tristan and soprano Linda Watson as Isolde. Act II includes the most rapturous and sensual music between the lovers. The Prelude will be the subject of a Beyond the Score entry called “The Tristan Effect” with Salonen and the CSO sans the singers. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Daniela Cardone
Formed in 1975 in Southern Italy, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino showcases a smart blend of traditional folk songs and original music performed mostly by acoustic instruments (a handful of tunes feature an electric bass played by multi-instrumentalist Giulio Bianco). The original music is mostly written and arranged by musical director Mauro Durante (violin, percussion and vocals), who is the son of two of the band’s co-founders.
The six-piece ensemble—rounded out by Maria Mazzotta (vocals, castanets), Massimiliano Morabito (accordion), Giancarlo Paglialunga (percussion, vocals), Emanuele Licci (guitar, vocals, bouzuki), and Silvia Perrone (dance)—bring forth an energetic performance that showcases the culture and music of their region. The songs go from fast-paced tarantellas to love ballads like “Bella Ci Dorme,” a slow serenade whose lyrics speak of a man who sings under his loved one’s window as she comfortably sleeps, and fast-paced tarantellas such as “Tambbirriedhu Mia,” a percussion-rich tune in which audience members are invited to sing along to the chorus. Read the rest of this entry »
There is arguably no other single location in the history of American popular music that resonates more in history than the Brill Building in New York City, where composers like Carole King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Neil Diamond, Burt Bacharach and Hal David all churned out countless hits. The building was recently in the news when it was reported that iconic music store Colony Records (which was housed there) had gone out of business after over four decades due to declining sales of physical records and sheet music. Read the rest of this entry »
Rachael MacFarlane is best known because of her famous last name (her brother is Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane) and various voiceover roles; few have been aware of her singing chops, at least until now.
On “Hayley Sings” (Concord), she runs through a series of jazz standards backed by a big band, including “Makin’ Whoopee” and “Someone To Watch Over Me,” which she nails with the expertise of a weathered torch singer. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Todd Rosenberg
By Dennis Polkow
Two years ago, Riccardo Muti inaugurated his tenure as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with a free outdoor public concert in Millennium Park that brought out throngs of music lovers and curiosity seekers. This year, Muti and the CSO are returning to the park Friday night, this time along with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Children’s Choir for another free event.
“I have wonderful memories of the last concert in Millennium Park,” says Muti from his home in Italy as he is preparing to leave for Chicago. “The atmosphere was fantastic. I could feel that the public had such warm feeling for the orchestra. Even though there were many thousands of people, the way that they followed the performance was so intense. I could feel that the audience was with the orchestra, was with the music. I hope—I am sure—it will be the same thing now.”
Unlike the event in September of 2010 which featured a handful of pieces by various composers, Muti has decided to present a single work “very dear to me” at this year’s outdoor concert, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” which he performed last season at CSO subscription concerts and will perform on tour at Carnegie Hall next month. Read the rest of this entry »
On her debut US release “Fall to Grace” (Epic), British-born singer/actress/songwriter Paloma Faith brings an eclectic mix of songs that show influence from Amy Winehouse and Duffy mixed with her own personality. A handful of songs are clearly meant for the dance floor, such as the neosoul-inspired “Let Me Down Easy” and especially the retro-sounding “Blood Sweat and Tears.” Read the rest of this entry »
Though many reality-TV alums might disgust the public more than they (supposedly) entertain, there are a select few who show real talent beyond the TV shows that helped launch their careers. Two examples that have stood out: singers Jennifer Hudson (who was booted from “American Idol”) and Susan Boyle (of “Britain’s Got Talent”), both of whom went on to have successful careers on their own right after their time on the shows was over.
Another name to add is Susan McFadden, who has made quite a name for herself in London’s West End after winning the part of Sandy on the British version of “Grease Is The Word,” a reality show which selected players for a revival of the famous Broadway musical. Read the rest of this entry »
On her first new release in five years, Brazilian-born Marisa Monte comes up with a disc that brings a mix of more erudite material and hummable, radio-friendly songs. Working with longtime songwriting partners Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown (who also co-wrote most of the material on the soundtrack for last year’s “Rio” movie), she comes up with an eclectic mix that will both please and surprise her longtime fans.
The title translates as “What you wanted to know for real,” and it is also the title of the first song, which was previously recorded by Antunes. Monte’s take is more laid-back than the original thanks to a simple arrangement made around her ukulele. Read the rest of this entry »
Alt-Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Chicago Artists, Country, Country folk, Folk, Folk-rock, Jazz, Minimalism, R&B, Record Reviews, Rock, Soul, Vocal Music, World Music
The Old Town School of Folk Music has been the stage for countless performances for its half-century existence, hosting concerts that run the gamut from Americana to folk-rock and world music and in the meantime giving lesser-known artists a chance to showcase their talents to appreciative audiences that might not be reached otherwise.
To celebrate this, the school is releasing a four-disc box set of recordings made during these shows—some made on the sound board and others captured during radio broadcasts. The full package includes as many as 127 songs that had to be individually cleared with each artist or their estates. Read the rest of this entry »