Monthly Archives: February 2002


Think of a place in the high desert, a mile and a half above sea level. Oxygen is scarce at that altitude; it takes extra effort to climb  stairs or sing a cadenza. Water is scarce; maintaining a garden is a high-risk project. A single glass of wine has the kick of a double martini […]

An Offering You Can't Refuse

Photo by Mats LundquistFinally, and not a moment too soon, the Philharmonic has gotten around to Sofia Gubaidulina. Her Offertorium – composed in 1980, twice revised since then, dedicated to Gidon Kremer, who also made the first recording – remains one of the brainiest and most challenging works of our time. Guest conductor Alan Gilbert […]

Time Traveling

Happily adrift in the enchanting pseudo-Renaissance fakery of UCLA’s Powell Library, my ears coddled and cajoled by the authentic Renaissance harmonies of Francesco Landini‘s music interspersed with the raptures of Dante’s poetry, I beheld my own kind of vision. It revealed to me the golden message that some things very old in years are actually […]


San Francisco’s ardent Wagnerites, well-served by their opera company’s previous managements, now have reasons for some concern. Only one work by the object of their affection – and that the early and relatively brief Der fliegende Holländer – figures on the announced five-year programming of incoming general director Pamela Rosenberg. They had reasons, therefore, to […]

Wolfgang and the D-Minor Demons

Photo Courtesy Opera PacificI had harsh words a few weeks ago about the key of D minor, as exploited in singularly unappealing works by Brahms and Schoenberg. But then came Mozart in that key: the demons rampant through Don Giovanni at Opera Pacific in Costa Mesa, the Requiem as sung by the Master Chorale at […]

Dimitri Rising

“Pretty wild stuff,” said Esa-Pekka Salonen of the two early Shostakovich symphonies that formed the substance of the Philharmonic program two weeks ago, and pretty wild stuff they proved to be . . . wild, unruly and awful. If ever there were a case of inferior music surviving on the strength of its creator‘s eventual […]