Monthly Archives: December 1998

Bach and the Art of the Striptease

If I had to demonstrate the communicative power of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music with only one work, I would surely choose one of the church cantatas. These are the works, above all others in Bach’s voluminous legacy, that most vividly outline the unassailable niche he occupies in the realm of the arts: his skill at […]

Fox Pas

I cannot believe — or, let’s say, I don’t want to believe — that in the managerial echelons of the Los Angeles Opera there was nobody to look in on the early rehearsals of Fantastic Mr. Fox, recognize the proceedings as a mess beyond redemption, and simply call a halt. Instead, like the legendary unstoppable […]

Exercises in Devotion

Hildegard von Bingen abides. Her 900th birthday occurred sometime this year and has been lavishly celebrated. An eight-disc box on BMG Classics honors the event with a comprehensive anthology of her music, gently and respectfully updated by the performers most active in maintaining her sacred flame, the Cologne-based medieval-music ensemble known as Sequentia, founded in […]

Songs Sad and Sardonic

Artwork by Akg London Nobody composed better art songs than Franz Schubert. Many tried, and Hugo Wolf came close. In his 43 years – a life cut short by syphilis and insanity – he produced some 300 songs, feverishly devouring texts by virtually every Romantic German poet and filling their every pore with music sublime, […]