Features

Harry Christophers and the Handel & Haydn Society (photo: Stu Rosner 2007)
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Boston's oldest musical resident

Question: which is America’s oldest continuously active music institution? Clue: it’s not one of the most famous. It’s not even the most famous in its own city. Think of Boston and, in music terms, you think immediately of the glitzy symphony orchestra with its big-name music director James Levine, then of Tanglewood, the BSO’s famous summer festival home a little way outside of town. But did you know that the founding of that orchestra was inspired by the now comparatively little-known Handel & Haydn Society?

Music to manikins: a record store finds a new role
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The record shop – an endangered species

When did you first suspect that record shops might be sinking in the uncharted waters of digital downloads, online sales and the stack ‘em high-flog ‘em cheap attitude of supermarkets who, actually, couldn’t care less about music?

Pears in Britten's Alvis, 1970 (photo: Courtesy of the Britten Pears Foundation)
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Art and soul - the legacy of Peter Pears

Pears as a singer of Britten, that’s one thing; Pears as a singer is another. His association with Britten – so close that his voice seems to be written into the music composed for it – gives him a unique position among all the singers of his time and ours. In as far as there can be a definitive performance of anything, his performances of the songs and in the operas and other large-scale works by Britten are what the composer wanted. There are other ways of singing Britten, but this is “his” voice, and it sounds infallibly right.

New Orleans Opera's return with Carmen (photo: Janet Wilson)
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Weathering the Storm

“The arts tend to follow the fortunes of any city,” says Robert Lyall, New Orleans Opera’s general and artistic director, of his company’s storied history. “So at the height of its 19th century and even the first part of the 20th century, opera in New Orleans was a dominant force.” Through the shifts in popular culture and the economy, to say nothing of devastating changes brought on five years ago by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Opera is on a consistent upswing.

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) [Photo: Tully Potter]
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Mahler by the world's greatest conductors

To mark the double-year anniversaries of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Michael McManus visited 11 of the world's leading conductors to talk Mahler. Each conductor focused on one of the symphonies, including the song-symphony, Das Lied von der Erde . We also offer a Gramophone recommendation for each symphony. SIR CHARLES MACKERRAS on Symphony No 1

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: worthy of celebration (Tully Potter)
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WF Bach - the neglected son

In this year of multiple commemorations, there is a composer who deserves not to be overshadowed by more famous successors. For 2010 marks the tercentenary of one of the most interesting sons of famous composers. Indeed, the listing in the latest online edition of the New Grove Dictionary describes Wilhelm Friedemann Bach as "one of the major composers representing the period between Baroque and Classical composition". That’s quite a claim.

Music from the web
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A basic guide to downloading

Early in 2008, Gramophone readers – hard-core music lovers to a person – were asked whether they downloaded music. Twice as many said yes when compared with those who replied to the same question two years earlier. That’s not an overwhelming constituency but it definitely marks a sizeable interest in the new format. The CD, though, isn’t going to disappear overnight but it will become just one of a number of formats on offer and already a vast number of recordings are available as downloads. But first, let’s dispel a few concerns.

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