by Daniel Hathaway
Today’s Tuesday Noon online-only concert from the Church of the Covenant features violist Christopher Jenkins and organist Christa Rakich of the Oberlin Conservatory faculty in music by Adolphus Hailstork, William Grant Still, and Paul Hindemith. The video will remain available for viewing on demand.
COVID CANCELLATIONS AND CHANGES:
Citing concerns for the health of its musicians and staff, The Cleveland Orchestra has withdrawn from its late January residency in South Florida, including concerts and education activities at the Adrienne Arsht Center, Kravis Center, and Artis—Naples. Read the press release here.
The Operas in Place series co-sponsored by Baldwin Wallace, Cleveland Opera Theater, and On-Site Opera, that was to have presented nine micro-operas online over three days from January 14-16, has now been postponed to February.
The Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition is now receiving applications for both the senior and junior divisions of its 2022 competition, to be held in South Bend, Indiana in May. A new feature this year is the “Lift Every Voice Prize,” focusing on works by Black and/or Hispanic/Latino/a composers. Read a Violin Channel press release here.
Writing in yesterday’s issue of The Gramophone, Tim Ashley makes a case for re-evaluating the puzzling career and legacy of Camille Saint-Saëns a month after the centenary of the composer’s death in 1921.
“In the last decades of his life, Saint-Saëns became notoriously tetchy, and his nationalism turned strident during the First World War, when he advocated banning Austro-German music – even Mozart and Beethoven – from the French repertory. Even so, he continued to write works that can surprise us. In 1898, with his librettist Louis Gallet, he embarked upon the first of what nowadays would be described as community projects: Déjanire (not to be confused with the opera of the same name, which came later), an adaptation of Sophocles’s Women of Trachis, written for performance at the Roman amphitheatre at Béziers in the south of France, deploying professional actors and vast amateur forces, including a 200-strong chorus and two military bands. Parysatis, also for Béziers and using even larger forces (20 harps, 25 trumpets, 17 horns), followed in 1902.”
Read “Saint-Saëns: Pioneer and paradox, rethinking the composer a century on” here.
There’s a mixed bag of events in classical music history to hold up on January 11.
On this date in 1937, Irish composer and pianist John Field, who invented the Nocturne (and wrote 18 or 21 of them, depending on how you count them) died in Moscow, where he had settled in 1802, attracted by the vibrant cultural life of the Russian capital. Click here to listen to John O’Conor play the “Complete” 18 and puzzle along with the commentators why Field isn’t as well-known as his contemporaries — like Chopin.
In 1895, clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld joined Johannes Brahms in the first performance of the composer’s Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, No. 1 in Vienna. By the last decade of the 19th century, the composer had intended to retire from writing music, but hearing Mühlfeld play Weber and Mozart in Meiningen changed his mind. The results were the two solo sonatas of Op. 120 (often poached by violists), the Op. 114 Trio, and Op. 115 Quintet. Click here to listen to Martin Fröst and Yuja Wang interpret the Second Clarinet Sonata.
Possibly the best-known French composer with the smallest portfolio of works to his credit, Maurice Duruflé was born in Louviers on this date in 1902. He was assisting Louis Vierne at Notre-Dame in Paris on June 2, 1937 when Vierne died on the organ bench, and two years later was the soloist at the premiere of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. He passed the torch of French organ music to his students Pierre Cochereau, Jean Guillou, and Marie-Claire Alain before retiring from St-Étienne-du-Mont after a serious automobile accident.
Here is a rare recording of Maurice Duruflé playing the Prelude and Sicilienne from his Suite for Organ.
And on January 11, 1940 Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet debuted in Leningrad. Most often heard in the form of two orchestral suites, the entire work makes a big impression. Watch it here with choreography and staging by Rudolf Nureyev performed by the Ballet and Orchestre de l’opéra de Paris, conducted by Vello Pähn.