Ellis Marsalis Jr. (1934-2020)

Ellis Marsalis Jr., patriarch of the New Orleans jazz family, father of trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and drummer-vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, has died at 85.

Branford Marsalis said his father died of complications from Covid-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus.

“He went out the way he lived: embracing reality,” Wynton Marsalis wrote on Twitter.

Ellis Marsalis was a longtime pianist, composer and teacher, serving on the faculty of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts for 11 years before being appointed Commonwealth professor of jazz studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1986. He left VCU in 1988 to run the jazz program at the University of New Orleans.

His “devotion to midcentury bebop and its offshoots had long made him something of an outsider in a city with an abiding loyalty to its early-jazz roots. Still, he secured the respect of fellow musicians thanks to his unshakable talents as a pianist and composer, and his supportive but rigorous manner as an educator,” Giovanni Russonello and Michael Levenson write in an obituary for The New York Times:

Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)

Krzysztof Penderecki, the eminent Polish composer whose creative trajectory from 1960s avant-gardism to more tonal and expressive music from the 1970s onward heralded a stylistic transition by many classical composers in the late-20th and early 21st centuries, has died at 86.

Penderecki first achieved international prominence in the ’60s with his “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” and “St. Luke Passion.” These and other early works showed the influence of serial techniques, then fashionable among Western composers but frowned upon by the more conservative cultural establishment of the old Soviet bloc. Unusually for a composer in a communist-ruled state, Penderecki wrote a large body of religious music. He nonetheless was lauded by Polish authorities with awards, travel permission and other forms of recognition.

While working in the West in the 1970s, Penderecki began to write works that were more traditional in form, tonality and instrumental technique. His “Christmas Symphony” (No. 2) of 1980, which extensively quotes “Silent Night,” provoked sometimes heated critical comment for its perceived conservatism. His subsequent works, while never quite deserving description as “neo-romantic,” were more firmly rooted in pre-serial Western traditions.

Penderecki’s music also frequently reflected social and political currents of his time – notably his “Polish Requiem,” introduced in 1984 and revised several times thereafter. The work’s genesis was a Lacrimosa, commissioned by Solidarity, the Polish workers’ movement whose protests at the Gdańsk shipyards were among the first to bring about the relaxation, and ultimate breakage, of communist control over Eastern European countries.

Penderecki’s most widely heard music was featured in several films: William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist,” Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart.” He also wrote a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich, violin concertos for Isaac Stern and Anne-Sophie Mutter, the widely acclaimed opera “The Devils of Loudun,” and a large body of orchestral and choral music. His Third String Quartet (“Leaves from an Unwritten Diary”) was introduced by the Shanghai Quartet at the University of Richmond in 2008.

An obituary by Daniel Lewis for The New York Times:

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In another obituary, Keith Potter, writing for The Guardian, surveys Penderecki’s most important works and the stylistic evolution that they represent:


Menuhin Competition postponed to 2021; Richmond Symphony calls off spring concerts

The Menuhin Competition for young violinists, scheduled for May in Richmond, has been postponed for one year. Organizers have rescheduled the competition to May 13-23, 2021.

“All of us involved in the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 regret the need to postpone the event, but recognize the imperative to avoid any large gatherings until the COVID-19 danger has lifted,” David Fisk, executive director of the Richmond Symphony, said in a prepared statement. “The city is ready, our partners are ready, and during the coming year, we’ll work to make next year’s competition even bigger and better than before.”

The 44 violinists who qualified for the competition will be invited to compete next year. The participation of contestants, as well as judges, guest artists and conductors engaged for 2020, is expected to be settled later in the spring.

Tickets already sold for festival events will be honored next year.

For information on donation of tickets, exchanges or refunds, go to http://www.menuhincompetition.org

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The Richmond Symphony also has canceled or postponed its spring performances. Cancellations include April Masterworks, Rush Hour, Metro Collection and Youth Orchestra concerts, as well as Menuhin Competition events in May. The “Richmond’s Finest” concert with the Commonwealth Bluegrass Band has been rescheduled to June 14, the “Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back” concert has been rescheduled to June 19, and “Violins of Hope” and “Chesterfield Live! Big Tent Festival” have been postponed to dates to be announced.

Details: (804) 788-1212; http://www.richmondsymphony.com

Virtual concertgoing (5)

Symphonic music from all over the map:

Enescu: “Romanian Rhapsody” No. 1
SWR Symphony Orchestra
Tito Muñoz conducting
(recorded 2019, Stuttgart):

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Mozart: Sinfonia concertante in E flat major, K. 364
Sergei Khachatrian, violin
Candida Thompson, viola
Amsterdam Sinfonietta
(recorded 2015, Amsterdam):

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Martinů: Symphony No. 4
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducting
(recorded 2016, Frankfurt):

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Rodrigo: “Concierto de Aranjuez”
Pepe Romero, guitar
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting
(recorded 2013, Copenhagen):

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Respighi: “Vetrate di Chiesa” (“Church Windows”)
Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia
Vasily Petrenko conducting
(recorded 2011, Rome):

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Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
Czech Philharmonic
Jiří Bělohlávek conducting
(recorded 2015, Prague):

Virtual concertgoing (4)

For our fourth installment, six choral masterpieces:

Jan Dismas Zelenka: “Missa Divi Xaverii”
Collegium Vocale 1704
Collegium 1704
Václav Luks conducting
(recorded 2014, Utrecht, Netherlands):

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Stravinsky: “Symphony of Psalms”
Netherlands Radio Choir
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
Peter Dijkstra conducting
(recorded 2019, Utrecht, Netherlands):

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Brahms: “Ein deutsches Requiem” (“A German Requiem”)
Iwona Sobotka, soprano
Andrè Schuen, baritone
MDR Radio Chorus
MDR Symphony Orchestra
Risto Joost conducting
(recorded 2017, Dresden):

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Pēteris Vasks: “Dona nobis pacem”
Le Choeur l’Art Neuf & orchestra
Pierre Barrette conducting
(recorded 2017, Montreal):

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Haydn: “Missa in tempore belli” (“Mass in Time of War”)
Yeree Suh, soprano
Ulrike Mayer, alto
Uwe Gottswinter, tenor
Christof Hartkopf, bass
Regensburger Domspatzen
L’Orfeo Baroque Orchestra
Roland Büchner conducting
(recorded 2013, Regensburg, Germany):

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J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D major, BWV 243
Julia Doyle & Hana Blažíková, sopranos
Maarten Engeltjes, alto
Thomas Hobbs, tenor
Christian Immler, bass
Netherlands Bach Society
Jos van Veldhoven conducting
(recorded 2014, Naarden, Netherlands):

Virtual concertgoing (3)

For our third installment, musical theater:

Mozart: “Die Zauberflöte” (“The Magic Flute”)
Paul Groves (Tamino)
Genia Kühmeier (Tamina)
Christian Gerhaher (Papageno)
Diana Damrau (Queen of the Night)
René Pape (Sarastro)
Burkhard Ulrich (Monstatos)
Irena Bespalovaite (Papagena)
Inga Kalna, Karine Deshayes & Ekaterina Gubanova (Three Ladies)
Vienna Boys Choir members (Three Boys)
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic
Riccardo Muti conducting
Pierre Audi, stage director
(in German, English subtitles)
(recorded 2006, Salzburg Festival):

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Verdi: “Otello”
Gregory Kunde (Otello)
Ermonela Jaho (Desdemona)
George Petean (Iago)
Gemma Coma-Alabert (Emilia)
Alexey Dolgov (Cassio)
Vicenç Esteve (Roderigo)
Fernando Radó (Ludovico)
Isaac Galán (Montano)
Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro Real, Madrid
Renato Palumbo conducting
David Alden, stage director
(in Italian, English subtitles)
(recorded 2016):

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Rameau: “Les Boréades” (concert presentation)
Deborah Cachet (Alphise)
Caroline Weynants (Sémire/L’Amour/Polimnie)
Juan Sancho (Abaris)
Benedikt Kristjánsson (Calisis)
Benoît Arnould (Adamas)
Nicolas Brooymans (Borée)
Tomás Šelc (Borilée)
Lukáš Zeman (Apollon)
Collegium Vocale 1704
Collegium 1704
Václav Luks conducting
(in French, no subtitles)
(recorded 2018, Utrecht Festival):

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Prokofiev: “Romeo and Juliet”
Robert Bolle (Romeo)
Misty Copeland (Juliet)
Antonino Sutera (Mercutio)
Mick Zeni (Tybalt)
Marco Agostino (Benvolio)
Riccardo Massimi (Paris)
Alessandro Grillo (Lord Capulet)
Emanuela Montanari (Lady Capulet)
Luigi Saruggia (The Duke)
Chiara Borgia (Rosaline)
Monica Vaglietti (The Nurse)
Matthew Endicott (Friar Laurence)
Kenneth MacMillan, choreography
La Scala Ballet & Orchestra
Patrick Fournillier conducting
(recorded 2017, Milan):

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Gilbert & Sullivan: “The Mikado”
Robert Lloyd (The Mikado)
Richard Suart (Ko-Ko)
Anthony Gregory (Nanki-Poo)
Mary Bevan (Yum-Yum)
Graeme Danby (Pooh-Bah)
Yvonne Howard (Katisha)
George Humphreys (Pish-Tush)
Rachael Lloyd (Pitti-Sing)
English National Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Fergus Macleod conducting
Jonathan Miller, stage director
(in English, English subtitles)
(recorded 2015, London):

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Janáček: “Jenůfa”
Pavla Vykopalová (Jenůfa)
Jitka Zerhauová (Grandmother Buryjovka)
Jaroslav Březina (Laca Klemeň)
Tomáš Juhás (Števa Buryja)
Szilvia Rálik (Kostelnička)
Ivan Kusnjer (Stárek)
Ladislav Mlejnek (The Mayor)
Jarmila Balážová (The Mayor’s Wife)
Tereza Kyzlinková (Karolka)
Stanislava Jirků (Pastuchyňa)
Lenka Schallenberger (Barena)
Martina Mádlová (Jana)
Ivona Špičková (Aunt)
National Theatre Brno Janáček Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Marko Ivanović conducting
Martin Glaser, stage director
(in Czech, English subtitles)
(recorded 2019, Brno, Czech Republic):