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Alen Hadzovic
Category Curator

born: 1973
lives in: Toronto
Trained as a chemist, a scientist. Taught, worked and did research... Lover of science, philosophy and art (Uh, always trying to be smart!) Liked where these three meet; that's the only place he felt complete! Never liked to write his biography,... [more]

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1 like.
“"The serious novelist is is quite as much concerned with discovering reality as a serious physicist", Walter Percy in "The Diagnostic Novel" ”
Posted over 5 years ago
“"The power and pleasure of music can be exquisite and different from any pleasure that can be expressed in words... These are states of the of the soul, emotional moments, passions - things felt by the human hart" - T.F. Kelly, in "First Nights" (p. 97)”
Posted over 5 years ago
“"You have to master yourself and not your surroundings in the process of Creation" D.D. Shostakovich”
Posted over 5 years ago
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Jen *Rose says:
“Good point! I need to use some sort of adjective to discern the types of activities. I think I am trying to say there are necessary and unnecessary activities. Eating, for example, is necessary and I think generally art is not 'necessary' (although I know there are ways to debate this!). Maybe I mean to say, "Art is stopping all necessary activity in order to express". Art is not necessary and so to sacrifice a necessary activity for the sake of art would make one an artist..??????....hmmmmm, you have me thinking Alen! Thanks for your post. ”
Posted over 5 years ago
Alen Hadzovic replies:
“I think I know exactly what you mean! And I believe it goes like this: sometimes an artist has such a strong need to express and share that this need becomes bigger even of basic (biological) needs, or what you call 'necessary activity'. Does this make sense?”
Posted over 5 years ago
Eunsoo Ahn replies:
“I love this discussion! I believe that art is satisfying a mysterious, interior drive to produce, where you have no idea where it's coming from or where it goes, but you know you must do. So in a way it could be a necessary activity, something instinctual and natural. ”
Posted over 5 years ago
Alen Hadzovic replies:
“I agree with Eunsoo when says that art is a necessary activity and it is also a natural activity, after all it comes from us, like all other mental and creative and mysterious activity (I had some thoughts along these lines on my blog here). It seems that at one point the 'necessary' was equated with 'basic' (or biological) need (sleeping or eating for example) here. Now the urge (or instinct) to create can be sometimes so strong that it becomes 'basic' need: had it ever happen to you to forget to eat (or try not to sleep) just you wanted to create and finish something soooo badly??”
Posted over 5 years ago
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Grieg, Nielsen, Sibelius and (more recently) Rautavaara ...

Where east meets west - this would be the best descripti ...
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This is an interesting new release. It features four orchestral compositions by Norwegian composer Arvid Kleven. Kleven was flautist in, what is now Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Largely self taught as composer, Kleven penned the title work “Lotusland” in 1922 when he was 23 years old while “The Sleeping Forest” dates from 1923. These two compositions, both amply scored, could be easily called tone poems and the titles seem to reveal some influence from England (Arnold Bax pops to mind). “Lotusland” reveals young Kleven as a master of orchestration, a natural talent for this musical form – one can never feel the lack of formal education in this score. Despite being praised by the contemporary Norwegian critics, the piece disappeared from the repertoire even before composer's premature death (Kleven died in 1929, a few days short of his 30th birthday). One of the reasons for this musical injustice could be found in total fiasco of “The Sleeping Forest”. The critics found Kleven's impressionist interests disturbing and completely inappropriate for Norway whose musical scene was still under strong influence of Edward Grieg and his lyricism. Despite this, the composer did not give up his interests as evidenced in Symphonic Phantasy op. 15, written in 1926. In here Kleven mixes (and indeed well-balances) dissonant and powerful episodes with more melodic and lyrical ones. The reception of Phantasy was similar to that of “The Sleeping Forest”: according to the well-written and informative CD notes it was 'the greatest scandal of the decade', with the music being described as 'disgustingly ugly'. The last work, Sinfonia Libera in due parti, op. 19 written while Kleven studied under Schoenberg in Berlin 1926-27 was greeted in the in the same negative spirit after its first performance in 1927.


Truth to be told, at least in my opinion, Sinfonia Libera is probably the least successful work on this CD. Is this the result of Robert Ronnes arrangement, the performance or the work itself? It is hard to say. Maybe Kleven himself was not ready for a strong influence of Berlin school of music. But, whatever is the case, the overall CD is very enjoyable. It offers a unique and not commonly encountered opportunity to meet an unknown yet greatly talented musician and at the same time follow the rapid development of his musical ideas. Despite the change in stylistic interests, his orchestration always remains rock-solid. Ms. Susanna Malkki leads Stavanger Symphony orchestra in well-balanced performance coupled with very good sound quality. They play the music confidently and show that they really believe in it. The two early pieces. “Lotusland” and “The Sleeping Forest” appeared previously on Simax label (catalog number PSC3106) coupled with Kleven's Sonata for violin and piano. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to hear this performance by Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra under Christian Eggen so I cannot give any comparison. One way or the other, this music is worth hearing – the CD gives you an hour (and a few minutes) of excellent and varied orchestral music by a talented and promising composer whose life was cut tragically short. Recommended!

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In one of my previous posts I wondered “Where is technology taking us these days” Naxos Music Library is one of the web-sites that makes me wonder the same thing. This library, a subscription based service, is an archive of over 38 000 CDs with more than half a million tracks available for streaming (not download, unfortunately) and listening around the globe! Each day new CDs are added to the library (about 10 of them per day). For a monthly rate of US$25.00 (or annually US$225.00) you get a high bandwidth access to the amazing worlds of classical music, film music, jazz, blues, world music, nature sounds and so on and so on. And you can choose the quality of your stream (FM, near-CD & CD) with the choice of three plug-in players: SilverMedia, Flash Player and Media Player (Flash Player has additional useful features). Of course, as expected, the overall experience depends on our internet connection and sound system on the computer. For me, everything went smoothly: not server-down times, no freezing or similar IT issues that can plaque a service like this. Institutional subscriptions are also available on demand. The labels featured are as varied as the genres: from world-leaders (BIS, Chandos, Naxos, CPO, ATMA) to those lesser known ones (2L, Urtext, Zebra art, Amon Ra, etc.) As a subscriber you can make your own play lists, browse the content by composer, label, period and genre. If you want to skip this, you can use quite good search engine. Many composers and artist have a short biography and works in the library have some basic information about them (year of composition, publisher, orchestration etc.) The library is an ‘archive’ since you can find in it many out-of-print recordings. ‘Naxos Classical Archives’ titles add a particular dimension as well. This imprint is not available in stores and covers over 700 historical recordings from 1950s and 1960s digitally transferred. If you would like to hear Malcolm Arnold conducting his symphonies, or Rubinstein playing Beethoven’s piano concertos this is the place to go!  I personally have made many new discoveries using NaxosMusicLibrary, some of them featured in my '10 for 2010' post (Harald Weiss comes to mind…). If you are a musician, educator, or plain music lover (like yours truly) this place on the virtual map is for you!

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posted on 10.06.09

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This was not an easy task for me. Not at all. I am a person who likes to see the forest but be still aware of as many individual trees as possible… or vice versa. After all, those trees, their individuality, are responsible for the variety and colorfulness of the forest as a whole. After quite a bit of internal self-debate, here are ten handpicked individuals for 2010 in music. (Each name is a link to the official web-site – explore more!).


 



  1. Marin Alsop (conductor). Currently an artistic director of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop (a student of Leonard Bernstein) is gaining more and more prominent place on world musical stage. Her interpretations of modern American masters have received high praise from many critics around the globe (the latest: critically acclaimed recording of Bernstein’s ‘Mass’ for Naxos). 

  2. Ruo Huang (composer). Huang is Asian-Ameircan avant-garde composer living in New York. He successfully combines many elements in his music (Chinese traditional folk music, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz) using his own compositional technique he calls 'dimensionalism'. Huang creates very interesting integrations. The person to keep an eye on in 2010….

  3. Mythos (band): The Canadian duo Bob D'Eith (keyboards) and Paul Schmidt (guitar) create very particular atmospheres similar to yet different from the early “Enigma”. Sometimes all of us need a bit of ethereal and otherworldly music. I have to wonder will Mythos and their style manage to keep my interest in 2010 and not fade away like new Enigma releases did…

  4. Thomas Fey (conductor). Thomas Fey (a student of both Bernstein and Harnoncourt) is founder of Heidelberger Sinfoniker, and is currently working on a new complete cycle of Haydn symphonies with this orchestra for Haenssler Classics. The cycle is about half-done and already has received critical acclaim around the world. It would be interesting to compare Dorati’s and Fisher’s cycles (which are about 25 years apart) with this latest one and see how our understanding of Haydn symphonies changed since 1960s. But what I’ll be particularly keeping an eye on is his Salieri series. I hope volume 2 comes out in 2010…

  5. Harald Weiss (electronic music). Well, Harald is difficult to place in a specific music discipline. He was my big discovery in 2009. I was introduced to his work through “Silent Walls” (‘Stille Mauern’) for string quartet and tape and was captivated. Later I had a chance to hear his music for acoustic film ‘The Other Paradise’ (Das andere Paradies). Makes me wonder what is Weiss going to ‘pen out’ next….

  6. OUR Recordings (label). Here is what you do when you are limited to 10: you jam three together. OUR Recordings is a (relatively) new label behind which are two great musicians: Michala Petri (a world renowned recorder player) and her husband Lars Hannibal (an excellent guitarist). Their expanding catalogue features some of the finest recorder performances. You won’t find here your typical baroque repertoire- there are many surprises (particularly interesting are the collaborations, for example ‘Dialogue – East meets West’). A renaissance of recorder music? We’ll see what 2010 brings…

  7. Jay Greenberg (composer): this 18-year-old has already written 6 symphonies, several concerts (for violin & orchestra, piano trio & orchestra), 17 piano sonatas etc. While his style is far away from mature there is still a possibility that Greenberg develops into a formidable orchestral composer. A modern Mozard or overly popularized guy? We’ll wait for 2010 and judge again…

  8. Valentin Silvestrov (composer) Valentin Silvestrov is from Ukraine and belongs to the generation of Arvo Part (by date of birth not style). But some of his music caught my attention in a past few years, for example, Postludium, Metamusic and Requiem for Larissa… I hope that 2010 will bring more of his music to CDs (a particular hint for ECM label) and concert halls

  9. Rene Eespere (composer). Another ‘discovery’ I made in 2009! Rene Eespere is Estonian composer (despite his French sounding name). His music has strong spiritual and meditative dimensions. His works for solo piano (for example Ritornelli) and concertos (for flute, for violin, for clarinet) have particular feeling of weightlessness and infinite space that I particularly appreciate. Again, like in the case of Silvestrov, I hope that 2010 will bring more of his music to us…

  10. Adele Anthony (violin). Anthony is indeed an excellent musician.  It is a shame that we cannot hear more of her playing. She did a great job with Gil Saham and Neeme Jarvi on DG in Part’s ‘Tabula Rasa’, a recording that brought her to my attention, and more recently with Yuasa on Noaxos in Glass’ violin concerto. Prehaps there will be more Anthony in the musical world in 2010…

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September is over and with it our topic of the month – anniversaries. The anniversaries usually bring reflections on the times past. In these reflections we remember the moments that defined us, our environment and in the case here at A+C – the moments that changed our artistic discipline. The moment that we reflect on and remember can be different, dependent on us and our interests and experiences. Thus we traveled in time all way back to Henry Purcell, Handel and Haydn, but we also found space for our close contemporaries. We remembered those jazz and classical recordings that influenced musical scene or us as listeners, composers, and performers. We also remembered those defining moments in art when profound change in thinking and understanding of musical expression took place. Of course, what would musical world be without various lively venues in which it is presented to broader audiences – and we have met several of them on A+C pages devoted to this month’s topic.


October is looming large ahead of us and with it a new topic of the month – Archives – which will be introduced soon by our very own and insightful Christopher Willes!.

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If there is a recording that really stuck to my mind it is Bernstein’s recording of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony made almost exactly 50 years ago – in October 1959. This was not only my introduction to Shostakovich’s opus but also to one of my favorite symphonic pieces. Bernstein took his New York Philharmonic on the tour of Europe and the (than) Soviet Union. The high point of the tour was their performance of Shostakovich’s 5th in the presence of the composer who came on stage to shake Bernstein’s hand. On their return, the conductor and orchestra recorded the piece for CBS Masterworks (now this archive belongs to Sony Classical). Even though many have recorded this symphony (Bernstein himself made new recording with the same orchestra in Tokyo some 20 years later) none of them have the same power, same thrust, same uninhibited ecstatic energy like this one. This one grabs listener’s emotions from the first to the last bar!


And the symphony has emotions to share. Shostakovich officially described it as ‘Creative reply to just criticism’, criticism he received for his opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District’, which was after initial success heavily criticized by political apparatus in the USSR. Needless to say, Shostakovich after this was not in favor with the political regime in Moscow. Probably the most controversial part of his “creative reply” remains symphony’s final movement. Shostakovich described it as providing “cheerful, optimistic resolution”. Many disagree, and if you really listen to it, you’ll see why…

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“By-the-way, Bernstein made excellent recordings of Shostakovich symphonies for both CBS and DG”
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