La Scena Musicale

Friday, 11 January 2008

Today's Musician Birthday: January 11

Born on January 11:

1902 - Maurice Durufle, French organist/composer

Wiki entry: Maurice Durufle

Watch: Prelude sur A.L.A.I.N. op.7 performed by Aare-Paul Lattik



WKC: His most famous composition is his Requiem, op. 9, for soloists, choir, orchestra, and organ (1947), which follows in the style of Fauré's Requiem. It deserves to be in any choir's repertoire. Here is the opening performed by the Kansas City Symphony Chorus conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero.


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Thursday, 10 January 2008

Joan Ingpen - Lest she be forgotten

Joan Ingpen, whose death is reported here, was the one and onlie true begetter of the Big Lucy machine, as well as being the unseen force behind Georg Solti. A full account can be found in my book, Covent Garden:The Untold Story, and one of the joys of its research was getting to know Joan over several lunches in Marylebone. She was, by then, well into her 70s, but the memory was sharp as a pin and the tolerance for sloppiness was zero.

Pavarotti was always a bit scared of her, and Solti untypically deferential. She gave as good as she got and never knowingly foisted a dud artist on the innocent public. Now of how many concert agents and casting managers can that be said?

Source: Arts Journal

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Today's Musician Birthday: January 10

The La Scena Musicale Blog starts a new feature: Today's Musician Birthday

Born on January 10:

1961 - Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violinist
> Official Website

Here is a video clip of her playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto at her Carnegie Hall debut in 1983.




Let us know what you think.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Profits in the Classical Music Recording Industry

Two recent announcements from the recording industry shows that there are still profits to be made in classical music. According to the company's press release, Arkivmusic's 2007 year ended with a 30% increase in revenues year-over-year.

Operating exclusively online, ArkivMusic's advantage is its "endless shelf" of available classical CD inventory. The company is an example of The Long Tail theory where companies profit by selling less of more. Classical aficionados can access the largest number of classical recordings available anywhere in the world -- over 82,000 titles -- including nearly 5,000 formerly out-of-print titles produced "on demand" as ArkivCDs.

"The ArkivCD program made up about 10% of our overall business in the fourth quarter," continued Feidner. "That's a significant percentage for what is essentially a new line of products. We launched this initiative late in 2006, and we continue to reissue hundreds of releases each month as we expand the catalog of formerly deleted titles."
Just a couple of weeks ago, Naxos founder Klaus Heymann revealed in an interview with Stereophile that the company was profitable, especially with their digital strategy.
When I started, all I was trying to do was sell a CD at the price of an LP. It was a marketing idea for the Hong Kong and Southeast Asian markets. I never imagined we'd become a powerhouse, with 300 employees worldwide, and 60 programmers and systems analysts in our Information Technology department. We're the only record company in the world with our own digital platforms. We have our own download and streaming sites, handle digital distribution for some of the labels we distribute physically, and also have books, audio books, and educational materials.

For me, being in classical music has always been a lifestyle decision. For years, we didn't make any money. I've invested an enormous amount of money--$80 million US--in the entire catalog and range of products, and never had a normal return until, thanks to the advent of digital platforms, I made a decent return last year. I'm extremely happy. I'm doing what I love, and I'll finally make some money from it.
The moral of the story is that there are always winners and losers in any industry. While the major labels and retailers were downsizing, specialized companies can turn a profit.

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Sunday, 6 January 2008

Rolando Villazon Makes Successful Return to the Opera Stage

The opera community breathed a sign of relief last night (January 5, 2008). Star Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon made a triumphant and successful return to the operatic stage at the Vienna State Opera in Massenet's Werther. According to Associated Press's review, the audience started clapping right from the start and gave him an extended ovation at the end.
His return Saturday set the stage for huge expectations that were mostly -- but not completely -- met.
While wonderfully supple -- and surprisingly strong at times -- Villazon's voice was occasionally lost in the more powerful orchestral passages -- and it wasn't the fault of conductor Marco Armiliato.
Although he appeared to be hitting his high B's, it wasn't always apparent -- because when trying too hard to be heard, Villazon's lyric tenor just seemed to top out among all those potent brass passages of the second and third acts.
Villazon himself appeared to be less than completely satisfied. Miguel Perez, who described himself as a friend of Villazon from Barcelona, said the tenor told him between breaks that he was "very happy" with the first act but "not very happy with the second."
Villazon is considered a leading heir to the "Three Tenors" but took 6 months off from singing, leading to speculations that he was suffering from vocal trouble.

On the web:

  • Check Opera Chic's blog for other comments.
  • The Mostly Opera blog for a translation of post from a German forum which expressed reservations on Villazon's voice.

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