Category: Features

Upstairs/Downstairs

The following story actually happened while I was working as a chambermaid at a four star hotel in Manchester city centre. What music students won’t do to pay the bills. I wish I was embellishing, but truth really is stranger…

Spine Tinglers: Stephen Hough

It is time someone designed the ‘Rachmaninoff collar’ – one tailored low enough to allow hairs to rise on the back on the neck unimpeded, because such follicle stimulation is a common occurrence when listening to or performing his music.

Wolfgang Rihm: Deus Passus

Audio is available for this one. The tracks are marked throughout the post. This analysis is the longest of the four, mostly because it is the one that resonated the most with me while I was studying the score. Hopefully,…

Osvaldo Golijov: Pasión según San Marcos

When Helmuth Rilling approached Osvaldo Golijov regarding the Passion 2000 project, he had a specific idea in mind. “When I spoke to him at the beginning of the commissioning process, I tried to interest him in something to do with…

Passions Old And New

Setting the Passion to music is a tradition nearly as old as the story itself. As early as the fifth century, the liturgy for Holy Week included plainchant settings of the Gospel accounts. It was the task of a single…

This Week’s Feature: Passion Setting 20th Century Style

It’s Holy Week and Miss Mussel’s masters thesis was on 20th century setting of the Passion with particular emphasis on the Passion 2000 Project involving Tan Dun, Osvaldo Golijov, Wolfgang Rihm and Sofia Gubaidulina. As such, each day this week…

Spine Tinglers: Thomas Dausgaard

Some years ago the wonderful violist Steven Dann introduced me to a recording on which he played the 2nd violin in Mahler symphony no 4 – well, 2nd violin solo, as this was a recording of the chamber version of the symphony by Erwin Stein done in 1921. It was made for the circle of musicians in and around the 2nd Viennese school of composers in Vienna, and it was scored for just string quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, piano, harmonium, percussion, and soprano.

Why Arirang Made Me Cry

[also appears in Friday’s Arts Blog @ The Guardian] Watching the NY Phil play the Korean folksong Arirang at the end of their concert in Pyongyang, North Korea was profoundly moving. I first heard the encore on the CNN website…

Spine Tinglers: Benjamin Butterfield

I visited Glyndebourne to see my friend David Daniels perform in Peter Seller’s production of this extraordinary oratorio. This duet was staged where the two lovers were bound to two tables in a stark, white chamber surrounded by modern helmeted guards. They were being readied for execution by lethal injection.

To Answer Friday’s Question

Is Gilles Apap the real deal or a gimmick? Miss Mussel is going to have to take the middle road and say a bit of both. She very much liked the idea of him and his ecumenical approach to high…

Spine Tinglers: Dame Evelyn Glennie

Some time ago, Miss Mussel dreamed up a newsletter feature called Spine Tinglers, a sort of vignette space about those special moments in music that make all the hours of practicing and playing crap gigs for no money worthwhile. In…

Neglected But Not Forgotten

Joshua Kosman at the San Fransisco Chronicle has an piece on ten works that have been, in his opinion, unduly neglected/underperformed/ignored. Kosman writes, “The canon of classical music is a hard club to break into. The membership rolls were printed…

This One Time….

Four years ago, I was contracted by happenstance to play the Beethoven Horn sonata on a charity concert. The stance, as it happened, was that I was practicing for my Masters recital in the concert hall just before the pianist…

Overheard

Miss Mussel had her reviewer’s hat on last night and managed to overhear this delight: Computer Engineering Student #1: I wonder if you can hire these guys? CES #2: What guys? CES #1: The orchestra…you know, for a party. CES…

Another Dress Code Nightmare

Yesterday Miss Mussel explored a tip of the orchestra dress code iceberg. Today’s thoughts centre around what conductors of the female persuasion are to wear. Essentially, it’s a trap, a wardrobe black hole of sorts. The female equivalent of tails…

Me, You & Edith: Montreal Edition

Three final year horn players rent a car and drive six hours to Montreal to audition for grad school. It is February. In Quebec. Something the girls have failed to take into account when packing their suitcases in balmy Southern…