Friday, October 14th is National Dessert Day. I thought this merited further investigation. Took one for the team, as it were. Someone had to do it. My no-spoon-unturned investigation found that October is also National Desserts Month---a time when we simply must give these "grand finales" the due they deserve. With that in mind, here are some sweet musical suggestions to chew on.
I’d always been part of the choir, not out front as a soloist. I’d always been fiercely independent. Singing Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -leben” for a chamber music class forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and taught me things I never could have imagined.
In a season of relentless shouting, the best antidote might be singing. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's new album with conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music, uses Baroque arias to explore the pain and possibilities of these troubled times. A companion website invites anyone and everyone to answer the simple but loaded question, "In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?"
Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3, which appears on his latest album, contains many levels of meaning. It's an homage to the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose Second Symphony serves as a structural model for the piece. It's an encoded musical portrait of Rouse's wife. And it's an engaging piece of music even for a listener who possesses none of this background knowledge.
Neville Marriner, the conductor and violinist who was something of an entrepreneur as well as the guiding spirit behind one of the most successful classical recordings of all time — the soundtrack to the 1984 smash movie Amadeus — died overnight at age 92 at his home in London. His death was announced by the chamber orchestra he founded, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
If the viola is your instrument, it can be difficult to find repertoire to showcase your talent. But violist Nadia Sirota has plenty to play. She champions new composers to write music for her and forms ensembles to play it. Sirota's longtime collaborator Nico Muhly recently released an album called Keep in Touch, featuring two pieces written specifically for her.