Thursday, March 23, 2017
There will be no funeral for the great photographer , at his request. A celebration of his life will be announced soon. Lebrecht Music&Arts have put out the following obituary: We are so sad to announce the death of Don Hunstein after a long illness. Lebrecht represented him for many years, and we were always impressed by his humility and gentle approach. Don Hunstein’s iconic photographs have become symbols of an era. In the history of music photography, Don’s work during his 30 years at Columbia records was unsurpassed in its scope and breadth. Through his subtle humour and quiet nature, he was able to record many great moments in rock, jazz and classical music history – the young Bob Dylan starting out on his meteoric career and the famous cover for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Miles Davis recording Kind of Blue, Johnny Cash performing and at home on his ranch, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk at the piano, Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel in 1966, Billie Holiday recording in the studio in 1957, Johnny Mathis in 1960, Muhammad Ali recording his I am the Greatest album, to name a few. On the classical side his subjects included Glenn Gould at the piano, Rudolf Serkin, André Previn, Midori, Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein, the young Yo-Yo Ma, Yehudi Menuhin, Lotte Lenya in the 1950s, Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Bruno Walter conducting, and Dmitri Shostakovich. His photographs documented a rare era when musicians spent time on their art, rather than their publicity. On one of Don’s visits to England, he agreed to be interviewed by Norman Lebrecht at our annual summer party. It was a beautiful summer’s evening and we still remember Don’s soft voice describing the performers and musicians he had worked with and how he approached his craft. It is still a very good memory for all of us who were there. Don Hunstein grew up in St. Louis, MO and attended Washington University, graduating in 1950 with a degree in English. After college he enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in Fairford, England, and assigned a desk job. It was this assignment that allowed him to travel around Europe. He began photographing casually, taking pictures to send home to his family, and then with the help of a Leica M3, and inspired by a book of Henri Cartier Bresson’s work, his hobby began to take him on a lifelong path. After a year in Fairford, Don was transferred to a base outside of London. There he joined a local camera club and took evening classes at London’s Central School of Art and Design, becoming influenced by the artists and designers he met there. He returned to the States in 1954, ending up in New York City, where he eventually landed an apprenticeship in a commercial photography studio. There he honed his photography skills by mastering large format cameras and lighting. At the time, photography was, as Don put it, “not a glamorous profession,” but he didn’t have a pull in any other vocational direction and it satisfied his creative side. As chance connections were made, he soon met and became mentored by Deborah Ishlon, who worked in the publicity department at Columbia Records. She offered him a job helping her run the photo library there and supplying prints to the press. As he began to take his own photos for the company, they recognized his talent, and he gradually worked his way into the position of Director of Photography for CBS Records. Don’s most notable role was as chief staff photographer for Columbia Records during the heyday of rock and roll, jazz and classical music. Fortunately for Don, this was a time when the company was under the direction of Goddard Lieberson, who thought it important to document in photographs the cultural history of the music of their time. He had the opportunity to do far more than album covers and publicity shots, covering recording sessions and even visiting performers on their home turf. Don had the ability to listen with his camera. Instinctively he understood that to capture artists at their best moments, patience, trust and humility were needed. This ability to set both newcomers and experienced stars at ease in his presence is evident in his photographs. We send our condolences to his family. 1928 – 18 March 2017
Charlotte Bray’s new work incorporating Shostakovich and Schumann tops the list, while Laurence Cummings conducts Handel’s 1738 operaFramed by Schumann’s Piano Quartet and Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet, Charlotte Bray’s new work is the centrepiece of the Schubert Ensemble’s programme. Each of the three movements of Zustände is inspired by a different form of ice, all photographed by Bray on a recent trip to Greenland. Continue reading...
Milton Court, London Spellbinding string orchestrations of Beethoven and Brahms were played with an astounding finesse that clearly transmitted to the lucky students invited to share the stageWhen some average orchestras and soloists regularly sell out London’s larger auditoriums, it was odd to find Milton Court nothing like full for these concerts by an orchestra that, by any standards, is one of the wonders of the musical world today. The Australian Chamber Orchestra was there for the final part of its artistic director Richard Tognetti’s residency this season. The first of their appearances had been a performance of The Reef, Tognetti’s audiovisual celebration of his twin passions, music and surfing, while the other two were more conventional concerts that provided the perfect showcase for the group’s astounding finesse.This being the ACO, though, neither of those programmes was entirely conventional or too mainstream. There was music by Roger Smalley and Pēteris Vasks interleaved with Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K364 and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony No 1 in the first of them, and though the second was devoted to works by Beethoven and Brahms, both were played in bespoke versions for string orchestra. Continue reading...
Albert Gendelshtein’s 1966 Soviet documentaty, ‘Dmitri Shostakovich – Sketches for a portrait of the composer’, shows rare historic footage of the great composer. Among the participants are Maxim Shostakovich, Leonid Kogan, Sviatoslav Richter, Galina Vishnevskaya, Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Evgeny Mravinsky and more. Do not miss the billiards scene. Or Richter with the Beethoven Quartet. Альберт Гендельштейн – Дмитрий Шостакович – Святослав Рихтер – Мстислав Ростропович – Владимир Немирович-Данченко – Леонид Коган – Галина Вишневская – Карл Элиасберг – Максим Шостакович – Евгений Мравинский – 1966
Foo/Hutter/Woroch/Wass/Britten Sinfonia/Power (Orchid Classics)The thread running through this disc, brainchild of pianist Mei Yi Foo, is that all three works are hiding something behind the notes. The idea promises more intrigue than it delivers, yet the pieces still add up to an enjoyable programme. With trumpeter Philipp Hutter and the pleasingly lean-sounding Britten Sinfonia, Foo makes light work of the Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, in which Shostakovich, that compulsive player of musical hide and seek, tries different styles for size. Berg’s Chamber Concerto for Piano, Violin and 13 Wind Instruments, featuring violinist Bartosz Woroch, is a less arch but still mischievous piece; a birthday present for Schoenberg, it includes both their names plus that of their Second Viennese schoolmate Webern encoded in the music. Finally, there’s Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, portraying not only the titular creatures but also his colleagues in the French music world; Foo and Ashley Wass make a lovely mess of the Pianists movement. Continue reading...
Nadja Michael as Salome in Salome © Clive Barda/ROH 2007 The Royal Opera House and the Victoria and Albert Museum are collaborating on an exhibition examining the history of opera over nearly 400 years. ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’ will run from 30 September 2017 – 25 February 2018 at the V&A, focusing on seven important opera premieres - seven opening nights in seven distinct cultural landscapes - each of which had an impact on the way opera was perceived and performed in the 20th and 21st centuries. More than 300 operatic objects will be on display including Salvador Dalí’s costume design for Peter Brook’s 1949 production of Salome; Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet, a masterpiece of modernist painting contextualising Wagner ’s modern approach to music in 1860s Paris; the original score of Verdi ’s Nabucco from the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan; and one of two surviving scores from the first public opera (L’incoronazione di Poppea). Original material from the 1934 St Petersburg premiere of Shostakovich ’s avant-garde Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk will be reunited and displayed outside Russia for the first time: these include the composer’s original autograph score, along with stage directions, libretto, set models and costume designs. Alongside the physical objects, the music of opera will take centre stage with different performances being played via headphones throughout the exhibition. The Royal Opera Chorus will play a starring role, with a 360-degree sound installation of a new recording of ‘Va, Pensiero’ (the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco. The cities and premieres that will be explored are: Venice (Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, 1642); London (Handel ’s Rinaldo 1711); Vienna (Mozart ’s Le Nozze di Figaro , 1786); Milan (Verdi’s Nabucco, 1842); Paris (Wagner’s Tannhäuser , 1861); Dresden (Strauss ’ Salome , 1905) and St Petersburg (Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, 1934).’ Kate Bailey, V&A curator of the exhibition, said: 'Opera: Passion, Power and Politics will be an ambitious exhibition from the V&A, the world-leader in innovative performance exhibitions. We are delighted to be working so closely with the Royal Opera House, drawing together their expertise with the V&A’s broad collections to bring the total art form of opera to life in a stunning new space'. Kasper Holten , The Royal Opera’s outgoing Director of Opera, said: 'One of the first things I did when I arrived in London in 2011 was to reach out to leaders of other important cultural organizations. But I could not have imagined then that my first meeting with Martin Roth (then director of the V&A) would have resulted in an incredible collaborative journey that now results in this marvellous and immersive exhibition being born. The exhibition will show us opera as the soundtrack to the history of Europe. We hope to show audiences, both those in love with opera already and those who are still missing out, that the art form is alive and kicking and has as much to say to the society around it today as it did 400 years ago.' ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics' runs 30 September 2017 – 25 February 2018 at the V&A. Tickets will soon be available from our website, as well as the V&A's. The exhibition is sponsored by Societe Generale.
Dmitri Shostakovich (25 September 1906 - 9 August 1975) was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century. Shostakovich achieved fame in the Soviet Union under the patronage of Leon Trotsky's chief of staff, but later had a complex and difficult relationship with the Stalinist bureaucracy. In 1936, the government, most probably under orders from Stalin, harshly criticized his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, causing him to withdraw the Fourth Symphony during its rehearsal stages. Shostakovich's music was officially denounced twice, in 1936 and 1948, and was periodically banned. After a period influenced by Sergei Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky, Shostakovich developed a hybrid style, as exemplified by Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1934). This single work juxtaposed a wide variety of trends, including the neo-classical style (showing the influence of Stravinsky) and post-Romanticism (after Gustav Mahler). Shostakovich's orchestral works include 15 symphonies and six concerti. His symphonic work is typically complex and requires large scale orchestras. Music for chamber ensembles includes 15 string quartets, a piano quintet, two pieces for a string octet, and two piano trios. For the piano he composed two solo sonatas, an early set of preludes, and a later set of 24 preludes and fugues. Other works include two operas, and a substantial quantity of film music.
Great composers of classical music