Author Archives: Kenneth Woods

Leonard-Slatkin-001

Slatkin at 70- Happy Birthday, Leonard

I’m sorry- there’s simply no way that Leonard Slatkin is 70 years old. For many, many American conductors and orchestral musicians of my generation, Leonard was the first superstar conductor who seemed of our time and of our culture. Before Leonard, conductors were mostly mute, brooding, enigmatic figures with accents and capes. Even that other famous Leonard […]

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Explore the Score- Brahms, Serenade No. 1 in D major (reconstruction of original version for nonet)

[Click here to Explore the Score of the companion work on this CD, Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht] The Brahms-Wagner rivalry was largely an affair of the press, whipped up by critics like the Brahmsian Eduard Hanslick and his pro-Wagnerian rivals. Brahms actually professed great admiration for Wagner’s music on many occasions. Nonetheless, there was a time […]

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Facebook ate my blog

We’ve been hearing for a few years about the death of blogs. Certainly, blogs are not dead. When I started Vftp I could find no other active conductor blogs- none.  A number of wise heads warned me that conductors should keep quiet- the more you go on record with your beliefs, the more people will […]

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CD Review- Fiona Maddocks, The Observer on Brahms and Schoenberg with Epomeo and Swan

“Few, though, will have heard this nonet version of the Serenade, reconstructed by Alan Boustead in the 1980s, for strings, flute, two clarinets, bassoon and horn. In this live recording a slightly chubby ugly duckling in its orchestral format suddenly achieves lightness and clarity. Thanks to this aptly named Stratford-based ensemble, it has turned into […]

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Karajan Mozart

Karajan 25th Anniversary Perspectives part 2- Music of Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Strauss and Wagner

In part 2 of my look back at the work of the still-controversial Herbert von Karajan, who died 25 years ago this week, I share an essay from Warner Classic’s new box set of music by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, J and R Strauss and Wagner recorded for EMI. A fascinating collection- some surprises, one complete […]

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Karajan Bartok

Karajan 25th Anniversary Special- Music of Ravel, Debussy and Bartok

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan- one of the most influential, accomplished, controversial and contradictory musicians who ever lived. Not too long ago, I was asked to provide introductory essays for two volumes the Warner’s news collection of EMI-era Karajan recordings. It was a fascinating challenge, but one I […]

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CD Review- Classical CD Reviews on Verklarte Nacht and Brahms Serenade no. 1

The textures are appropriately bass heavy, and the two cellos dominate, but every line comes through with exceptional clarity. This gives the piece a new profile, with the complex but now clear counterpoint driving the music and leading the ear through the harmonic web. There is atmosphere here too, and much warmth in the ensemble’s sound, but that is never at the expense of the individual lines..

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Explore the Score- Arnold Schönberg, Verklärte Nacht

  [Click here to Explore the Score of the companion work on this CD- Brahms’s Serenade No. 1 in D major, Original Version for Nonet) The Brahms-Wagner rivalry was largely an affair of the press, whipped up by critics like the Brahmsian Eduard Hanslick and his pro-Wagnerian rivals. Brahms actually professed great admiration for Wagner’s […]

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Pianist Howard Karp (photo by Katrin Talbot)

Howard Karp

    For the last few weeks, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post titled “If you buy only one recording this year, make it this one.” The recording in question is a new six-disc collection of live performances by the American pianist Howard Karp, released in May by Albany Records. Howard Karp died […]

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AV2233

CD Review- Classical Ear/Andrew Achenbach on Bobby and Hans vol. 4

“…bringing to Schumann’s comparably sparkling and life-enhancing ‘Spring’ Symphony such boundless vitality, scrupulous fidelity to the printed score, delicious wit and (above all) entrancing freshness of new discovery. This stylish and consistently invigorating coupling represents both an exemplary rescue act and genuine tonic to boot. Investigate without delay!”

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Kenneth Woods

Beethoven and the Big Mac- Art in the Age of Junk Culture

Sometimes I think the classical industry is a bit like a chap standing on deck of the Titanic, moaning loudly about how his feet are getting cold because they’re a little wet. Sure we have problems, but look at the world around us- when the ship is already sinking, the man with the cold feet […]

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