Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


The opera of ‘Brokeback Mountain’ receives its world premiere at the Teatro Real

Written on January 29, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Music

brokenbackOnly when the fire dies out, and the cold mountain air freezes Ennis del Mar’s blood, does the rough and silent ranch hand agree to share the same tent with Jack Twist. Just like in Ang Lee’s movie and in the original short story by Annie Proulx, the shadows of that encounter are the turning point in this opera version of Brokeback Mountain, which receives its world premiere at Madrid’s Teatro Real on Tuesday.

An opera about gay cowboys? (Or, as some critics have pointed out, bisexual shepherds?) Perhaps the tragic story is not so different from the old operatic tales of a pregnant woman suffering in silence, except it has been adapted to our times. At least, that is the way that composer Charles Wuorinen saw it when he watched Ang Lee’s movie version and later read the original story in search of elements for his new score.

Wuorinen spoke with Proulx, who agreed to the project as long as she could write the libretto herself. News of it reached the ears of Gerard Mortier, then the recently appointed general director of the New York City Opera, who commissioned the piece and took it with him when he suddenly left for Madrid in 2008.

The composer began working on the piece in 2008, and did not complete it until February 2012. Although he is an eclectic musician who has worked in a broad range of styles, including one other opera, Wuorinen is hard to classify. The score he has come up with is a kind of updated version of the 12-tone technique, with a sound that is closer to Schönberg, Stravinsky or Elliott Carter than his contemporary colleagues from New York. The opera’s two acts are performed without an intermission.

Continue reading in El País


Italian Conductor Claudio Abbado dies aged 80

Written on January 22, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Music

claudio_abbado71Claudio Abbado, a conductor whose refined interpretations of a large symphonic and operatic repertory won him the directorships of several of the world’s most revered musical institutions — including La Scala, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic — died on Monday at his home in Bologna, Italy. He was 80.

Raffaella Grimaudo, a spokeswoman for the Bologna mayor’s office, announced the death without giving a specific cause, saying it followed a long illness.

President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy paid tribute in a statement, saying Mr. Abbado had “honored the great musical tradition of our country in Europe and all over the world.”

Mr. Abbado was known for the directness and musicality of his performances. He almost always conducted from memory, insisting that using the score meant that he did not know the work adequately.

He was a particularly lyrical interpreter of Mahler, whose richly emotional language he had absorbed as a student in Vienna. But he was also a distinguished conductor of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, and he had a flair for Russian symphonic music.

Reviewing a Beethoven concert by the Berlin Philharmonic in New York City in 2001, Bernard Holland wrote in The New York Times: “Much-performed music needs different approaches in order to survive, and Mr. Abbado had his own. First, any sound worth making must be a beautiful one. Beethoven’s rough surfaces are sanded and polished to a shine. The sweep of a melodic line takes precedence over the absolute clarity of inner voices.”

In the opera house, Mr. Abbado’s repertory was similarly broad: He made his professional debut with Prokofiev’s “Love for Three Oranges,” in Trieste in 1958, and had successes with productions of Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” and “Khovanshchina.” His repertory included Mozart and Wagner, but his specialties were Rossini and Verdi, whose music he performed with respect for the artistry they embody rather than the showmanship they allow, which he disliked.

Like other opera conductors who came of age after World War II, he preferred to perform Verdi and other Italian Romantics in modern scholarly editions, in which opera house traditions like interpolated high notes were eliminated and material that had been cut was restored. In the mid-1970s, for example, he began to present the restored, five-hour version of Verdi’s “Don Carlos.” And his 1984 Pesaro Festival performance (and subsequent recording) of Rossini’s long-lost “Il Viaggio a Reims” helped find that work a place in the repertory.

Continue reading in The New York Times


Lou Reed dies at 71

Written on October 28, 2013 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Music

lou-reedLou Reed, the singer, songwriter and guitarist whose work with the Velvet Underground in the 1960s had a major influence on generations of rock musicians, and who remained a powerful if polarizing force for the rest of his life, died on Sunday at his home in Amagansett, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 71.

The cause was liver disease, said Dr. Charles Miller of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, where Mr. Reed had liver transplant surgery this year and was being treated again until a few days ago.

Mr. Reed brought dark themes and a mercurial, sometimes aggressive disposition to rock music. “I’ve always believed that there’s an amazing number of things you can do through a rock ‘n’ roll song,” he once told the journalist Kristine McKenna, “and that you can do serious writing in a rock song if you can somehow do it without losing the beat. The things I’ve written about wouldn’t be considered a big deal if they appeared in a book or movie.”

He played the sport of alienating listeners, defending the right to contradict himself in hostile interviews, to contradict his transgressive image by idealizing sweet or old-fashioned values in word or sound, or to present intuition as blunt logic. But his early work assured him a permanent audience.

The Velvet Underground, which was originally sponsored by Andy Warhol and showcased the songwriting of John Cale as well as Mr. Reed, wrought gradual but profound impact on the high-I.Q., low-virtuosity stratum of punk, alternative and underground rock around the world. Joy Division, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, R.E.M., the Strokes and numerous others were descendants. The composer Brian Eno, in an often-quoted interview from 1982, suggested that if the group’s first album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” sold only 30,000 copies during its first five years — a figure probably lower than the reality — “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

Continue reading in The New York Times


Morrissey on Pitching the Glamour of a Plain Life

Written on October 23, 2013 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature, Music


Steven Patrick Morrissey of Manchester, England, a place “more brittle and less courteous than anywhere else on earth,” former singer for the Smiths, once and future hero for the misunderstood, and champion for powerless humans and animals, is also an inspired adman. The concept for the Smiths’ record covers, he explains in his new book, “Autobiography,” was “to take images that were the opposite of glamour and to pump enough heart and desire into them to show ordinariness as an instrument of power — or possibly, glamour.”

The best of them, with tinted black-and-white photographs and all-caps type, did exactly that. The cover for the single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” in 1984, shows Viv Nicholson, a Yorkshire cake-factory worker, a winner and famously fast spender of a lucrative football pool in 1961, fully owning the middle of a rutted street. She has what looks like a camel’s-hair coat, teased and bleached hair, a grim face. In her apparent knowledge that she is fantastic amid wreckage, she radiates power. But the cover itself, declaring her importance as well as the band’s, radiates even more.

“Autobiography,” as sharp as it is tedious, both empathetic and pointlessly cruel, has been published in England as a Penguin Classics paperback. (No American publication date has been announced.) And its cover also radiates power. It follows the design template of Penguin’s pre-20th-century titles, with orange lettering on a black panel. Morrissey has talked himself into a special clique of the dead. He may be a British national treasure etc., but how did he manage that?

Morrissey’s operation is built on doing extraordinarily attention-getting things while intimating vestigial modesty. Who gave him permission to put a yellow streak in his hair while attending what he describes as pretty much the grimmest Catholic school of the global 1970s? Or to figure that “only classical composers were known by just their surnames, and this suited my mudlark temperament quite nicely”? Or to let himself, untutored in music, be “free as a hawk to paint the canvas as I wish” while recording with the Smiths, creating extravagantly mannered vocal melodies over Johnny Marr’s exact song constructions?

Or, as he did after the release of the book last week, to issue a statement about his sexual orientation, for those still confused after reading his story for 457 pages? “Unfortunately, I am not homosexual,” he declared. “In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course … not many.”

He understands his own value — boy does he ever — and he understands the position of the superfan. The best stretches in this book, written in the excited present tense of teenage perceptions, comes from extremely close attention to music, movies, television and attitudes in England up to the late 1970s.

Continue reading in The New York Times


JJ Cale, songwriter behind Cocaine and After Midnight, dies aged 74

Written on July 29, 2013 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Music

jj-caleRenowned singer-songwriter JJ Cale, whose Cocaine and After Midnight were made famous by Eric Clapton, has died aged 74.

Cale’s death was confirmed in a statement on his official website, which said: “JJ Cale passed away at 8pm on Friday 26 July at Scripps Hospital in LA Jolla, CA. The legendary singer-songwriter had suffered a heart attack. There are no immediate plans for services.”

The Grammy Award-winning artist was noted as the originator of the so-called “Tulsa sound”, a form which drew influences from blues, country, rockabilly and jazz. As a performer, his biggest hit was Crazy Mama, which peaked at No 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100. But it his skills as a songwriter that gained him a permanent place in popular music history, as he wrote a string of songs that were made more famous by artists including Clapton, Santana, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty.

“Basically, I’m just a guitar player that figured out I wasn’t ever gonna be able to buy dinner with my guitar playing, so I got into songwriting, which is a little more profitable business,” Cale is quoted as saying on his website.

Born in 1938 in Oklahoma City and raised in Tulsa, Cale’s initial foray into the music industry was as a sound engineer. His career as a songwriter was encouraged by Clapton, who recorded a version of After Midnight in 1970. The British blues guitarist went on to cover a series of Cale-penned tunes, including Travelin Light, I’ll Make Love to You Anytime and Cocaine. Others followed suit, with Maria Muldaur and Captain Beefheart among those to add Cale songs to their set lists.

Continue reading in The Guardian

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