A simultaneously glacial and tumultuous abstract drama, it attempts to wrestle in sound with the paradox that is ours: A fundamental threat, climate change, whose progress is both undetectable and devastating. How, in other words, to capture the emotional landscape of our time? I loved her eloquent note in the program:
And watch this video, featuring the composer and her brother and collaborator, Adam Fure, about the making of the piece:
And while we’re contemplating marathons, Seth Colter Walls sat down one morning with an iced coffee and watched all six hours and 24 minutes of “The Well-Tuned Piano in the Magenta Lights,” a recently reissued DVD release capturing La Monte Young’s Minimalism classic “The Well-Tuned Piano” in conjunction with Marian Zazeela’s light installation.
Unfortunately unable to make it up to Tanglewood on Thursday for a performance of a recent chamber version of Leonard Bernstein’s final opera, “A Quiet Place,” I interviewed the arranger and offer an opportunity to listen to a wonderful new recording. Have a great weekend! ZACHARY WOOLFE
This week I wrote about my pilgrimage to Bavaria, during which I heard eight of Wagner’s ten mature dramas in less than two weeks. For four nights, I was in the company of Andreas Kriegenburg’s “Ring.” Mostly inert, it occasionally has ideas. One of these comes at the very end of “Götterdämmerung.” Mr. Kriegenburg’s apocalypse isn’t impressive, as immolations go, but I still found his treatment of Gutrune quite moving. Sung by Anna Gabler, she’s left behind, pulling her brother out of the blaze — the last of the many women exploited by the capitalist world of Wotan and Alberich. As the music soars, a troupe of actors — dressed in white, like her and Brünnhilde — comes on, recalling the pure, unspoiled natural world that the director showed us with idyllic picnickers before the start of “Das Rheingold.” A “group hug,” my colleague Zachary Woolfe wrote six years ago, and quite so. But it’s also a touching reflection on a moment that can seem too immense for comprehension, a humane view of what redemption, that grand illusion of Wagner’s, might mean to us. DAVID ALLEN
The star of my trip was Kirill Petrenko, the music director at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich who will soon move to take over Simon Rattle’s old job at the Berlin Philharmonic. I’m certain it’ll be worthwhile to see what he makes of the symphonic repertoire, but do please hope and pray that he will still conduct opera, and Wagner specifically. He’s a sensation. There’s not much evidence available of this online — indeed, he’s made vanishingly few recordings of any kind, for a man about to ascend to the most prestigious podium job in music. But there is this film of the overture to “Tannhäuser,” shot in 2017. He and his remarkable orchestra make it sound completely fresh. DAVID ALLEN
While reporting my story on the long-awaited DVD reissue of “The Well-Tuned Piano in the Magenta Lights,” I had an opportunity to spend some time in the “Dream House” environment that La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela maintain at 275 Church Street in Manhattan.
As usual, it’s the overall blend of sound- and image-based works that makes a trip to the Dream House feel so potent. In the current setup, the drone music comes from an electronic work by their longtime student Jung Hee Choi, “The Tone-field: perceptible arithmetical relations in a cycle of eight Indian raga scale permutations, 18 VII 25 — 18 IX 29, New York.” Ms. Choi has an image work in the space, too, one that employs light-point patterns and video behind a canvas-like screen. (The artist has posted a video excerpt from a past exhibition to her Vimeo page.)
Also on view in the Dream House is a piece from Ms. Zazeela that has not previously been shown in New York. The other week, I spent a blissfully entranced quarter-hour in front of this (very) slowly morphing, single-channel video work, titled “Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals.” Like much of Ms. Zazeela’s work, it draws energy from her calligraphic illustration skills. At first, you might even think that it’s simply a projection of a still image.
But if you look away for a minute — perhaps to Ms. Choi’s neighboring piece — and then return your gaze, you can perceive a change. The precisely arranged lines you had familiarized yourself with may have since converged into a new, lightly latticed pattern. By the time you register the precise nature of the difference, the lines may have started to drift apart again. The calmly disorienting experience of this effect is well worth the exhibition’s $10 suggested donation. SETH COLTER WALLS
This week I returned from Germany and Austria, where I saw 11 operas, including eight productions of Wagner: the “Ring” cycle, “Lohengrin,” “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and “Parsifal” (twice, in Munich and Bayreuth). From all that, the one thing I can’t stop thinking about is Kirill Petrenko’s conducting of the “Ring” and “Parsifal” at the Bavarian State Opera. “Parsifal” left me begging for more — despite Pierre Audi’s wasteful direction, which had nothing to say about the opera, while Mr. Petrenko was bursting with ideas from the pit. You can hear only a painfully brief taste of it in this preview, but absent from the excerpts is the sublime prelude.
Wagner’s writing in the prelude feels unstuck from meter, which tends to warp my sense of time and leave me in a bit of a daze. Under Mr. Petrenko’s baton, it was downright mystical. With flowing arm gestures and a slow tempo — far slower than Semyon Bychkov’s at the Bayreuth Festival this season — he seemed to liberate the music even more, as if the melody were gently hovering above the audience.
The last opera I saw on my trip was Richard Strauss’s “Salome,” at the Salzburg Festival. I was there to interview the director, Romeo Castellucci, who later told me that the production’s star, Asmik Grigorian, was “phrase by phrase, extraordinary.” This wasn’t inflated praise; not only did her penetrating soprano shine in the challenging Felsenreitschule space, but she also embodied the title role, with haunting lyricism, ugliness and insanity that earned her a place alongside the great Salomes. You can watch a preview above, but you should really do yourself a favor and head to medici.tv, where the full opera is streaming until Aug. 28. JOSHUA BARONE
On my first, jet-lagged night at the Salzburg Festival, I attended an exciting Vienna Philharmonic concert conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. It opened with a glittering account of Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” Hearing this magnificent orchestra play Strauss was an echt Salzburg experience. But the surprise of the evening was the entrancing singing of the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa in Berio’s “Folk Songs.” Officially these are arrangements of songs from America, France, Armenia, Italy and elsewhere. But Berio ingeniously melds the tunes with a subtly modernist musical language to make them his own. Ms. Crebassa, who impressed my colleague Zachary Woolfe as Sesto in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” here in Salzburg last summer, is a remarkable artist, as this video from a recording session for Ravel’s “Shéhérazade,” performed with the pianist Fazil Say, makes clear — from her first alluring phrases. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I was reminded of Tolstoy’s maxim at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Thursday during the premiere of Mark Morris’s weightlessly poignant “The Trout.” The choreography, set to Schubert’s piano quintet of the same name, has all the hallmarks of Mr. Morris’s art, including an uncanny ability to render the structure of a musical work in human geometry.
Much of the charm of Mr. Morris’s dances lie in the moments when clean geometric lines take on an expressive kink, like a figure in a Greek frieze suddenly winking at the viewer. It’s so effective because he uses it sparingly: an impatient hand flutter here, or an “actually no, not you” break in a folk dance pattern that registers as stinging rejection.
In the Theme and Variations of Schubert’s fourth movement, played with crisp elegance by the pianist Inon Barnatan, the bassist Timothy Cobb and members of the Ariel Quartet, the dance proceeded with bucolic abstraction. Then on the fourth variation, mayhem erupted: Dancers flung themselves on the floor, clutched their chests and throats, and reared up, seeming to scan the horizon for help.
The music had darkened: The sunny theme was rendered in minor, fortissimo, and accompanied by churning triplets. (Listen to the passage at 29:51 in this video of the pianist Yannick Rafalimanana and principals of the Berlin Philharmonic.) A happy melody can be about anything, Mr. Morris seemed to be saying, but tragedy is individual, existential and messy. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
Maybe it’s just a hot August, or maybe it’s because of Mark Morris’s new work to Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet. But I found myself musing that if I had more time, or money, or perhaps a car, it might be nice to take up fly-fishing. More Schubert cured me of the passing folly, though. His cheerful-sounding “Die Forelle” (“The Trout”) — the song that gives the quintet the musical backbone of its fourth movement, and its name — champions the underdog, or underfish, betrayed by the duplicitous angler.
Here is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing “Die Forelle”:
And here is the Schubert Ensemble playing the sometimes charming, sometimes alarming variations of the tune that Schubert spun into the fourth movement of the “Trout” Quintet:
The trip down audio memory lane served to stave off thoughts of fly rods and reels and waders, at least for awhile. MICHAEL COOPER
Johnny Gandelsman’s Bach has many fathers. As a member of the Silk Road Ensemble Mr. Gandelsman has played with masters of different musical traditions, and the bow strokes of an Irish fiddler like Martin Hayes or of Kayhan Kalhor, a virtuoso on the Persian four-stringed kemancheh, filter into his playing.
In 2013 the Helicon Foundation prodded him to experiment with gut strings and a period bow, which led Mr. Gandelsman to the recording of Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin he released earlier this year. Crisp, buoyant and with a sweet clarity of tone, it’s one of the most dance-like takes on this daunting set of masterpieces.
Little wonder, then, that Mr. Gandelsman is a natural ally for the members of the Limón Dance Company who are captured in this tender video moving through the labyrinthine Chaconne. The progression from 4:17 to about 5:54 is especially magical, the broken-up chords shimmering like water droplets in the sun until the a melody emerges out of the bottom notes of each arpeggio. Watch how Mr. Gandelsman toys with the tempo for a just a moment at 5:43 and how the dancers respond, suspended, for just one moment, in space. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM