When soprano Jane Eaglen and baritone Dean Elzinga walked out onto the stage of Eastman Theatre last October, I expected to be dazzled by Eaglen’s powerhouse, Wagnerian voice. But Elzinga was a surprise, equally forceful in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, based on Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Elzinga delivered a warm, rich tone similar to that of Bryn Terfel, but with a mournful aspect. He was, in a word, spooky.
In an earlier post, I wondered if the RPO’s Carmina Burana would have the proper impact, given the acoustics of the Eastman. Well, I’m pleased to report that it was loud enough, at least it was in the center of the 11th row. During the week leading up to the show, I wanted to find out more about the work so I went online. Brenda Tremblay’s interview with Christopher Seaman was great, but Alex Ross was less helpful. I searched his blog and unfortunately clicked on a link he provided to a “toweringly brilliant” English translation.
O Fortuna! Kodak’s ten million dollar gift earmarked for renovations to Eastman Theatre have sparked two debates. The first has to do with the future renaming of the space “Kodak Hall.” The second centers on whether renovations, scheduled for this summer and next, will actually improve the sound of music.
The morning after the Rochester Philharmonic and Oratorio Society performed Carmina Burana, two rather technical e-mails on the subject landed in my box. They are reprinted below the line.
That instruction precedes The Last Waltz, a concert movie documenting the star-studded swan song of The Band. It’s good advice. You can’t fully appreciate the crackle of Robbie Robertson’s guitar or the wallop of drummer Levon Helm with the sound down low. Same goes for the guest singers. The growl of Muddy Waters, the moan of Emmylou Harris and the yawp of Dylan all benefit from volume.
Starting Monday June 2 at 8:00 p.m., WXXI will broadcast weekly concerts from the 2007-2008 season of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s my privilege to prepare them by writing scripts, editing, hosting, and mixing the performances, which are donated by the musicians after they approve them. I attend each concert, take notes, and then hear it in the studio months later.
I can’t explain why, but performances that electrified the live audience occasionally sound flat on record. In person, the RPO’s Bolero (Ravel) had me on the edge of my seat, even though I’ve heard it a thousand times. On tape, though, it seems a bit ragged.
Update: The New York Times has eliminated five full-time jobs in the culture department. One name stands out -- that of long-serving and much-beleaguered classical critic Bernard Holland. He's taken a buyout and is on his way out. His last day will be May 23rd. Read more.
Thanks to Gerry Szymanski, Andrew Galbraith-Ryer, Christoph Sahar, Eric Fundin, RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman and my mom for coming up with great questions for superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma. I asked him all of your questions, and you can hear his answers in this interview.
Yo-Yo Ma talks about losing his cello, the upcoming Beijing Olympics, and playing with a robot conductor next month. He was warm, funny, and forthright. He’ll appear with the RPO on Monday, May 5th.
After Yo-Yo Ma leaves Rochester next week, he’ll play under the baton of a robot with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, according to Wired magazine.
A robot might have done a better job than guest conductor Alexander Mickelthwate, who made his first appearance with the RPO this past weekend. The D & C’s Stuart Low got it right: the hot, young conductor from Winnipeg was boring. Unnamed sources say local musicians concurred.