Tag Archives: Maurice Ravel

A Feast of Chamber Music

Thanks to David Nice’s Russian Music class, I’ve been introduced not only to a wealth of chamber music I didn’t know, but also to a cornucopia of brilliant musicians. In a past class, this included Boris Giltburg, and in the most recent class Alina Ibragimova and Benjamin Baker—and through Baker, Daniel Lebhardt. Continue reading

Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks

Viktor Hartmann’s sketch of unhatched canary chicks for a ballet called Trilby or The Demon of the Heath made its way, in musical form, into Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). While written originally for piano, I suspect many of us were introduced to the work through Ravel’s orchestration. From that perspective, listening to the original piano version offers several orders of revelation. Continue reading

Just Walking Around in John Adams’s City Noir

Adams NSO IMG_0294_edited-2Melodies appear as inexplicably as a dirty blond in Philip Marlowe’s office.
—Mark Swed, reviewing City Noir

The first time I visited Los Angeles, a friend took me to a favorite taco place, a low-slung building trapped under a freeway labyrinth. Another time, I was part of a Writers Guild negotiations team. In my infirm recollection, nighttime had a feel at once seedy and glamorous: swank hotels cheek by jowl with crumbling stucco buildings, sidewalks empty of walkers, sulfurous street lamps piercing the dark. The city seemed an unnavigable maze, with a culture I couldn’t fathom. Continue reading