Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Winging it
A recap of "Catch of the Day," program 15 (June 4, 2017)

June 11, 2017

Why flog a dead horse? I used to come into the studio with a secret playlist and stick to it religiously. (After all, we air on Sunday.) As recent experience has taught me, that strategy can backfire. And so, from now on, nonstarters get the hook. Catch as catch can! Catch and release!

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And he called for his divas three
A recap of "Catch of the Day," program 14 (May 28, 2017)

June 9, 2017

"I may have the voice of an angel," the French soprano Natalie Dessay. Ah, but did she have the voice of an angel? Her early ambitions were to dance and to act, pursuits well suited to her piquant gamine beauty, spiky dramatic instincts, and flair for the unexpected. She seems to have added singing to her bag of tricks more or less as an afterthought, for the competitive edge. Truth to tell, her vocal material as such was never all that seraphic. With each passing year, conservatories churn out flocks of high, light sopranos, many of endowed with more prismatic and alluring instruments than Dessay's ever was. Ah, but her package of theatrical gifts, rock-solid musicianship, stupendous technique, and impish fantasy catapulted her into the empyrean. Among operatic careers of the past quarter century, try to nam more dazzling.

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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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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out

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