Classical iconoclast is a English-speaking blog specialized in the field of classical music and opera. As such, Classical iconoclast is a qualified source of soClassiQ, like The Listeners' Club or janelle's notes and many others. The oldest article indexed by soClassiQ is dated 2012-01-01. Since then, a total of 2492 articles have been written and published by Classical iconoclast.
With 16 articles published in the last 90 days, Classical iconoclast is currently a not very active news source. "Not very active" does not mean that Classical iconoclast is less interesting than another more prolific source. Each blog follows a specific editorial line, publishing according to its own rhythm.
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The last article in Classical iconoclast, "Secrets of the Sahara - Le Désert and L'Atlantide", is dated 2020-07-15. By 2019, this source had published 197 articles (53 since the beginning of 2020). Over the past 12 months, Classical iconoclast has published an average of 11 articles per month.
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Secrets of the Sahara ! Two magnificent evocations of the Sahara and its seductive mysteries : Félicien David's Le Désert (1844) an ode-symphonique, and Jacques Feyder's film L'Atlantide (1921). Both are long term favourites, but the soundtrack in the restored version of the movie is pretty banal, so I muted and played Félicien David's Le désert instead. The combination worked extremely well !Perhaps it's because the rhythms of Le désert so strongly resemble the rhythms of a caravan of camels marching single file through the desert. Scored for narrator, orchestra, tenor and choir, the piece unfolds at a steady pace, unhurried yet purposeful. For thousands of years, caravans like these have crossed the desert : it is as if the endless sand dunes (depicted by the strings) defy Time itself ; the tracks of the caravan erased as soon as the caravan has passed. David lived in Eygpt from 1833-35 […]
Two pastorals : Beethoven's Symphony no 6 "Pastoral" op 68 and Justin Heinrich Knecht Le Portrait musical de la Nature , with Bernhard Forck conducting the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, part of the ongoing Harmonia Mundi series where Beethoven's music is presented in thoughtful juxtaposition, geared towards listeners already familiar with the basics of Beethoven. This recording examines Beethoven's Symphony no 6 in the context of pastoral traditions in European music, which evolved from the17th century and adapted to the Early Romantic aesthetic. Justin Knecht (1752-1817), a generation older than Beethoven, was an organist and composer who lived all of his life in Baden-Württemberg region. Knecht described Le Portrait musical de la nature as a "Tongemälde der Natur oder Groẞe Symphonie" (a tone painting in the form of a large symphony). In the first Allegretto, Knecht's written description suggests a scene where the sun shines, zephyrs blow, and brooks […]
Beethoven Symphony no 9 "Choral" with in D minor, Op. 125, and the Choral Fantasy in C minor op 80 with soloist Christian Bezuidenhout, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting the Freiburger Barockorchester, new from Harmonia Mundi. In this Beethoven anniversary year, it is good that there are ventures which probe more deeply into the composer and his music. The year started with reconstructions, in full performances concerts throughout Europe, of the concert of 22nd December 1808, in honour of the composer, in Vienna which included the Fifth and Sixth symphonies, concluding with the Choral Fantasy providing a grand finale, Beethoven himself playing the piano part. Perhaps it says something about the stamina of modern audiences that some could not understand the ambitious scale of the programme. The Choral Fantasy is in many ways the embryo of Beethoven's Symphony no 9, now an anthem of hope and unity, all over the world.Although […]
L'enfant et les sortileges - Teapot (François Piolino) Child (Khatouna Gadelia) Chinese Cup (Elodie Méchain) Credit Simon Annand Glyndebourne at home, minus the garden. Champagne and strawberries optional. But a glorious chance to experience once more the magic of Ravel L'enfant et les sortilèges, in the Laurent Pelly production. In L'enfant et les sortilèges, the world is seen through the eyes of a child, still full of wonder, too young to be locked into rigid assumptions : innocent, yet still aware that there might be darker forces lurking just beyond. This isn't an opera that can be approached literally, with the judgementalism that some adults might prefer. Pelly, however, captures its elusive delicacy, where magical thinking co-exists with an awareness that harsh reality will eventually intrude, even on the pure in spirit. "L'enfant et les sortilèges" said Pelly, "lasts about 45 minutes, but has the depth of an […]
Dimitri Shostakovich's first film score, for the 1929 film by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, The New Babylon (Novyy Vavilon). The film makers were part of a co-operative known as FEKS (the Factory of the Eccentric Actor) thrived on the daring new possibilities offered by film as an artistic medium, thriving on futurism and the avant garde. The subversive spirit of the 1920's squeezed into political orthodoxy.Like the film makers, Shostakovich was young and idealistic : this was his first commission for the movies. (the score to be played live at screenings). Cinema was a truly innovative art form, in that it appealed to mass audiences who might not otherwise have been drawn to “art”. By the standards of the day, The New Babylon was daring. By working on it, the youthful Shostakovich was right in the centre of what was artistic avant garde in Soviet terms. He […]
Roderick Williams sings Schumann Frauen-Liebe und Leben at the Wigmore Hall with pinist Joseph Middleton, highlight of an unusual programme Williams calls "Woman's Hour" because it features Lieder that highlight the lives of women. As Williams says, Lieder aren't necessarily gender-specific, but works of imaginative expression. So composers and poets were male, but that didn't stop them from caring about women might think or feel. The idea that songs should be rigidly classified as male of female is cultural apartheid, a regressive demeaning of the very values of humanity that Lieder, and indeed the whole Romantic movement, stand for.Towards the end of the last century, Schumann's Frauen-Liebe und Leben came in for flak from some Lieder fans, thereby ruining it for female singers who risk being attacked for being "anti-feminist" if they like it. But surely serious Lieder fans should have known better. Nineteenth century women may not have had […]
Lots to listen to this weekend : Live from the Royal Opera House, London, from the Rudolfinium Prague with Simon Rattle conducting the Czech Philharmonic and Magdalena Kožena, Britten from Aldeburgh, Britten on Camera documentary on BBC TV 4, plus the LSO tonight (John Eliot Gardiner, Mendelssohn) plus much more."Doing our best to re animate the spirit of this gorgeous house" says Pappano in the introduction. And the ROH is glorious - it's heartbreaking to see it empty and its grand traditions silenced for the forseseeable future. That is WHY we need concerts like this, to remind us of what we might lose forever, if we don't take this crisis seriously. Most musicians are freelance : they can't suddenly end up on the dole or get jobs filing boxes at amazon. Like athletes, they need to keep training to keep their skills. All that expertise gone to waste. The Royal […]
Available now on BFI player, Night Mail, the pioneering documentary produced by the General Post Office film unit released in February 1936. It's fairly unique, a factual documentary about train services,but it's lifted out of into the realm of art, by its sensitivity to the subject. Real railway men and postal workers, not actors : nothing faked. It's an idea that connects back to the futurism of the 1920's and 1930's and even further back to to William Morris's concepts ideas of art and socialism as continuum. Mail sorters are seen putting letters into pigeonholes : repetitive rythmic movements which streamline the process, their movements almost balletic. Then, look at the trains themselves - engines puffing, pistons moving, travelling in orderly, organized lines across the country. Much more than mundane mechanical process ! Even the sound of steam rushing through the chimneys and the banter ofthe workers sound like music. […]
Yuja Wang (Photo : Julia Wesley) On her Facebook page Yuja Wang has spoken out on the image of a piano trashed in the protests after the murder of George Floyd #blacklivesmatter :"Pianos will continue to be crafted with love and care, music will be shared to unite and uplift people during this time of crisis, and stores will be rebuilt, through the hard work and generosity of their communities. What we can’t rebuild or replace, however, are human lives. Those are the most precious thing of all, and we must safeguard the lives of people whose voices aren’t being heard." "Human expression takes many forms. It has to, especially when marginalized voices are not being acknowledged, and are met with hatred and judgement. I hope you will look at this powerful image and recognize everything that it is […]
Does some of the London media want a supernova of COVID infections this year ? The BBC Proms this year will respect safety guidelines, switching from live concerts to recordings, with the prospect of some live events at the end of the season. Perfectly sensible, considering that the capacity of the Royal Albert Hall is well over 6000, squeezing that many people together (with impacts on public transport) would be a recipe for disaster. This virus isn't going away anytime soon, but what do some people care ? In these circumstances, what kind of person could "enjoy" endangering musicians, audiences and service personnel ? Yes, we need to keep live music alive, and save thousands from bankruptcy but not at the cost of killing people.In any case, the BBC has so much in its archives that there should be enough to keep classical music lovers happy, even if it's not […]