Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Gottfried von Einem goes toe-to-toe with Verdi
Kabale und Liebe, after Schiller, is quite a find

December 10, 2017

Gottfried von Einem (1918-96) is a composer of whom we hear little these days. True, there's a (modest) bar and reception area at the Musikverein in Vienna that bears his name. And the centennial of his birth next year will not go unobserved: the Musikverein has announced a concert in his honor in January, with a revival of one of his operas at the fashionable Theater an der Wien to follow in March. But outside Einem's native Austria, who remembers?

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Musical fantasies
A recap of Catch of the Day # 24 (December 3, 2017)

December 8, 2017

Some musical forms—the fugue, say, or the passacaglia—prescribe strict rules. Among those that do not, none wears its liberties more proudly on its sleeve than the fantasia. For a recent example, look to the title track of the new release from Anne Akiko Meyers, on Avie. The composer is the prolific Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016). Like his great countryman Jean Sibelius, Rautavaara knew how to conjure up, through grand as well as through sparse gestures, a sense of lonely, wide-open Nordic landscapes haunted by ancient memories. Against just such a background, the soloist in his symphonic "Fantasia" (2015) concentrates on the violin's middle to lower range to searching effect. Though the piece runs a quarter hour, the unanticipated shifts of mood that often characterize a fantasia come into play hardly at all. The mood is meditative, yet the momentum never falters. Joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Kristjan Järvi, Meyers weaves a potent spell. The balance of her program is given over to Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 and the Ravel showpiece "Tzigane."

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Travels with Dima
Memories of Dmitri Hvorostovsky

December 4, 2017

Maybe it would make a better story if I pretended I'd caught Dima before he ever set foot on American soil, but I'd be stretching the truth. Stealth appearances at lesser venues in Los Angeles and New York had not gone wholly unnoticed. Critics of renown (Martin Bernheimer on the West Coast, Will Crutchfield on the East) had praised him, if not quite to the skies. Back then, the New York Times was still insisting on transliterating the Cyrillic spelling of his name as Khvorostosky (as the copy desk stubbornly continued to do so even after the prestigious Philips label started releasing his first recordings as their exclusive artist, without the K). His signature silver mane had yet to turn, he was pencil thin, just starting to bulk up, and he wore black a lot, like an existentialist poète maudit haunting the Left Bank.

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From the Archives: Yesterday Siberia, Tomorrow the World
Dmitri Hvorostovsky sets the opera world on its ear

December 4, 2017  •  Connoisseur (June 1990)

Above the war zone that is opera hang the memories, like mournful ghosts, of countless young talents that flared early and burned out before their time, done in, we like to think, by impresarios who offer too much too soon. But true greatness makes its way. "Lead me not into temptation" is no prayer for a hero.

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Maui connections: a recap
Catch of the Day #23 (November 26, 2017)

December 2, 2017

The stylish, and swiftly rising violinist Robyn Bollinger, an alumna of the Maui Classical Music Festival, just so happens also to have stayed in my family's guest cottage while she was here. Her premier recording—Ciaccona: The Bass of Time (Crier Records CR 1701)—juxtaposes baroque and 20th-century compositions each built on the foundation of a single short, repeating rhythmic and melodic cell. Our selection was the monumentally proportioned Passacaglia of the Bohemian composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. (Though historically distinct, the forms of passacaglia and ciaconna are close enough often to be regarded as identical.) Unfazed by the tehnical hurdles, Robyn progresses through Biber's stately maze with exceptional steadiness of attention, never anticipating, never rushing, thoroughly grounded in the moment. On other tracks, she plays music of Béla Bartók and Luciano Berio, as well as the ciaconna of all ciaconnas, from J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2 in d minor.

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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out

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