Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Songs for all seasons
A recap of "Catch of the Day" #13 (April 30, 2017)

May 4, 2017

Dropping a U and adding value in spades, our latter day Paganini Daniel Hope has released For Seasons, which proceeds from eponymous Vivaldi to a potpourri of tracks pegged to the twelve months of the year (Deutsche Grammophon 4796922). Mindful of flash flooding up and down our island chain, we led with the seraphic Largo from Vivaldi's "Winter" concerto, superscribed "La pioggia," or Rain. Seconded by the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Hope moves at a brisk clip, injecting deviltry by way of wiry tone and a wicked touch of glissando. For an encore, we had Kurt Weill's "September Song," familiar from the timeless rendition of the composer's wife and muse Lotte Lenya. The Who's Who of distinctive artists who have done covers runs from James Brown, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, and Ella Fitzgerald to Eartha Kitt, Mario Lanza, Lou Reed, and Frank Sinatra, not to mention the inimitable Jimmy Durante in a gravel pit of his very own. A singer, of course, has Maxwell Anderson's worldly yet sentimental lyric to set the mood, but many an instrumentalist has traveled this road, too. In Paul Bateman's arrangement, with Jacques Ammon at the keyboard, Hope distills every last atom of golden autumnal sweetness from melody alone.

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From the archives: Jorma Hynninen, Voice of a Nation
Inside Finland's new opera boom

April 4, 2017  •  Connoisseur (June 1985)

The history of opera can be summarized easily: Orfeo, The Marriage of Figaro, Fidelio, The Barber of Seville, Tristan und Isolde, Aida, Boris Godunov, Carmen, La Boheme—then what? Plenty of music lovers (plenty of musicians, too) would add Der Rosenkavalier and close the book. But they are wrong. Right now, a surprising new chapter is being written in an unexpected country: in Finland, on the farthest fringe of the musical map.

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Comparisons are enlightening
Recap of Catch of the Day #12

April 4, 2017

From home base on Cape Cod, the ecumenical Gloriae Dei Cantores circle the globe sharing the sacred choral music of many schools. On their latest CD, dedicated to the All-Night Vigil, op. 37 of Sergei Rachmaninoff (GDCD 063), there's reinforcement from specialists in the Russian Orthodox tradition. Was the intent to spike the mix with "authenticity"? If so, that didn't happen: there's none of the savage grit characteristic of the low voices in native Russian choruses (even when strictly in tune), nor of the knife-edge projection of the high voices. Instead, we hear timbres that blend immaculately from top to bottom. That's no cause for complaint. On its own terms, I imagine the radiance will come through to listeners of virtually any persuasion, spiritual, doctrinal, musicological, or esthetic.

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Northward, Ho!
A recap of Catch of the Day # 11

March 29, 2017

Poul Ruders, of Denmark, is a hard man to pigeonhole. Largely self-taught, he has explored a bewildering variety of musical styles and techniques over his long career. By most accounts, his opera The Handmaid's Tale, after Margaret Atwood's dystopian international bestseller, ranks as his most significant achievement. The Copenhagen premiere in 2000, when Ruders was 50, attracted a small army of international music critics, who went forth all fired up with good news. A modest flurry of international performances soon followed and subsided. Despite lobbying by the New York Times, the Metropolitan Opera didn't bite. So now, The Handmaid's Tale is mostly a memory. Happily for those who weren't there, the Copenhagen version survives on CD.

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Bloody murder
Jessye Norman's landmark recording of Schubert's "Der Zwerg"

March 10, 2017

I trace my obsession with the Gothic shocker "Der Zwerg" (The Dwarf) to a Schubert anthology by Jessye Norman, released on the Philips label in 1984, featuring Phillip Moll at the piano. It was one of the first three or four CD's I ever owned.

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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out

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