Another selection of readers' letters
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From: Mr B J O'Hara
As the partner of the young pianist Kumiko Ida, it is with truly great sadness that I have to report her recent tragic death on 18 October 2007 after a sudden and short illness (meningitis). Her funeral was held at Winchester Cathedral on 30 October.
Apart from her obviously gifted musical talents
she was simply one of the sweetest people I have ever met ... a very special and unique soul.
From: Gerhard Veith, Germany
Mr Wheeler's concert review 'Dispiritingly Unmusical' left me somewhat puzzled. He states that the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio 'is a superb orchestra, rhythmically incisive and producing a rich though sometimes bass-heavy sound'. In another place he even calls the orchestra 'super-efficient'. Yet he finds the concert musically unsatisfying. So far I can follow quite well, because I have experienced such phenomena myself before.
What I find very strange is the fact that Mr Wheeler blames the apparently flawlessly functioning orchestra for this, while he only very briefly acknowledges conductor Denis Lotoev's presence in the reviewed concert. He even seems to blame the orchestra for the decision of performing the concert ending in Stravinsky's Petrushka.
So far I believed it to be undisputable, that every decision with the potential to cause a perfectly-played concert to remain artistically unsatisfactory nevertheless, is made by the conductor and not by the orchestra. I think here of the important decisions about the choice of tempi and their relations, many details regarding orchestra balance, phrasing, and articulation, the consideration of a composition's style and historical context (or the lack thereof), and in the end the programming in itself as well, of course.
There may be a lot of good reasons to regret this situation, but this division of labour is a general fact in the orchestra business everywhere in the world. I would be very surprised to learn that the UK, or Russia for that matter, should be an exception to this rule.
From: Mike Wheeler, M&V
Many thanks for your comments.
I'm sorry that you found my comments puzzling. I accept your point that the conductor is responsible for the kind of interpretive decisions that I found so unsatisfactory on this occasion. I did not intend to convey the idea that this was not the case. I was simply trying to convey my overall experience of the concert rather than apportioning blame. By the word 'they' I meant the conductor and orchestra as a team.
I hope this clarifies what I was trying to convey.
From: Rosanne Goldman, UK
I agree wholeheartedly with your viewpoint. I manage The Goldman Ensemble and the public is becoming acquainted with these wonderful young musicians. They refuse to be 'sold' in the manner which you describe that many agents are advertising their musicians. In addition, they are not afraid to present little-known works to the public at some of their concerts. These works have all been enthusiastically received. However, they have to frequently perform works which are specifically requested of them. Their repertoire is varied and interesting.
You may be interested in their programmes for their two most recently performed concerts:
Fritz Kreisler: Praeludium und Allegro im Stile von Gaëtano Pugnani for Violin and Piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Trio in C major K548
Felix Mendelssohn: Song Without Words in D major Op 109
Frédéric Nicolas Duvernoy: Trio No 1 in C major for Violin, Horn and Piano
Ludwig van Beethoven: Allegretto in B flat major WoO 39
Offenbach / Moszkowski: Barcarolle from Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman
Gilbert Vinter: Hunter's Moon (1942)
arr Goldman Ensemble: A Tale in Four parts (2005)
Concert 2 (for violin, horn and cello -- no piano)
Joseph Haydn: Divertimento a tre in E flat major for Horn, Violin and Cello, Hob IV:5
Frédéric Nicolas Duvernoy: Sonata No 2 in F major for Horn and Cello
Rosanne Goldman: Hebrew and Yiddish Melodies for Horn, Violin and Cello
A Tale in Four Parts for Horn, Violin and Cello (2005) arranged by the Goldman Ensemble
Do have a look at their website and their publicity photographs. No airbrushing here!
From: Martin Walker, Germany
I am really perplexed by the otherwise interesting and informed review of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances by Howard Smith : he cites the triumvirate of great Russian conductors as Svetlanov (the conductor of the recording in qustion), Mravinsky and Rozdhestvensky, ignoring the generally acknowledged supremacy of Kyrill Kondrashin in this very work -- as in the same composer's The Bells and a large number of works by Shostakovich and Mahler. Kondrashin must surely be considered to be on the same elevated level as the 'triumvirate'.
From: Kirti Priyadarshani, India
Indian Music and Dances are acclaimed worldwide for their expression, beauty and message. The completeness of audio and visual effects of Indian music and dances make the audience spell-bound and charmed.
We, in our humble effort to popularize and propogate the Indian music and dance to the people of other countries, have created a website dedicated to Indian music and dances.
We will be obliged to receive your suggestions and comments on the above website.
It will be a privilege to us and to Indian music if your music critic pens his priceless opinion on our website.
With Best Regards
From: Keith Bramich, technical editor, M&V
It's been a while since we ran our weekly column reviewing music websites, and unfortunately we don't have any plans to re-instate this just at the moment. This site about Indian music looks interesting and informative, however. Thanks for sending in details.
From: Shauna Farnell, USA
This is Shauna Farnell, I'm the web editor for Plum TV Vail -- a local station in Vail, Colorado. I was just reviewing your classical music site, and thought you might be interested in linking some of our videos/coverage from the Bravo! Music festival here in Vail. Feel free to link whatever you like. Below are some ideas, and please peruse vail.plumtv.com. Let me know if you have any questions.
Andrew Davis interview
James Undercofler interview
Congo Square review
Marisol Montalvo interview
Rossen Milanov interview