Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Maurice (1987) – A film by James Ivory – James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves (Download the movie)

Set against the stifling conformity of pre-World War I English society, E. M. Forster's "Maurice" is a story of coming to terms with one's sexuality and identity in the face of disapproval and misunderstanding. Maurice Hall (James Wilby) and Clive Durham (Hugh Grant) find themselves falling in love at Cambridge. In a time when homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment, the two must keep their feelings for one another a complete secret. Sparkling direction by James Ivory, distinguished performances from the ensemble cast, and a charged score by Richard Robbins all combine to create a film of immense power. "Maurice" is a romantic, moving story of love and self-discovery for all audiences.

Maurice was produced by Ismail Merchant via Merchant Ivory Productions and Film Four International, directed by James Ivory, and written by Ivory and Kit Hesketh-Harvey, with cinematography by Pierre Lhomme. The film stars James Wilby as Maurice, Hugh Grant as Clive and Rupert Graves as Alec. The supporting cast included Denholm Elliott as Dr Barry, Simon Callow as Mr Ducie, Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Hall, and Ben Kingsley as Lasker-Jones.

Maurice (1987)

A film by James Ivory

Based on "Maurice" by E. M. Forster

James Wilby..........Maurice Hall
Hugh Grant..........Clive Durham
Rupert Graves..........Alec Scudder
Denholm Elliott..........Doctor Barry
Simon Callow..........Mr. Ducie
Billie Whitelaw..........Mrs. Hall
Barry Foster..........Dean Cornwallis
Judy Parfitt..........Mrs. Durham
Phoebe Nicholls..........Anne Durham
Ben Kingsley..........Lasker-Jones
Patrick Godfrey..........Simcox
Mark Tandy..........Risley
Kitty Aldridge..........Kitty Hall
Helena Michell..........Ada Hall
Catherine Rabett..........Pippa Durham
Peter Eyre..........Rev. Borenius

Direction: James Ivory
Screenplay: Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Director of Photography: Pierre Lhomme
Costume Design: Jenny Beavan, John Bright
Montage: Katherine Wenning
Music: Richard Robbins
Producer: Ismail Merchant
Production company: Merchant Ivory Productions and Film Four International
Production: England, 1987

Language: English
Running time: 140 minutes

First publication: May 28, 2017 – Last update: August 9, 2018

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Interview: James Ivory on "Maurice" Turning 30

By Jose Solís

May 18, 2017

Can you believe Maurice came out 30 years ago? James Ivory's film adaptation of E. M. Forster's novel was released in the fall of 1987, a year after the Oscar winning A Room with a View. While it was never as celebrated as the former, throughout the years it's come to be more highly regarded for its groundbreaking LGBTQ romance, and as the film that launched Hugh Grant's screen career.

The tale of forbidden love between the title character (played by James Wilby) and a male servant (Rupert Graves) is filled with pithy dialogue, handsome actors and a then unparalleled sensuality when it comes to conveying gay romance. Its influence can be seen in countless films that came after it, yet for decades it remained the happiest of LGBTQ screen romances. That's a position I discussed with Mr. Ivory as the film is being re-released in theaters this weekend in a 4K restoration to celebrate its landmark anniversary.

Jose Solís: You've mentioned you enjoy watching your films...

James Ivory: I enjoy watching them on the big screen, let me put it that way. What I like to do is see them big, especially after I haven't seen them in a while.

Have you re-discovered anything about Maurice having seen it recently?...

I can't really say because Maurice is one of the films I have been able to see fairly frequently. It’s shown quite a bit, and I hadn't forgotten what it was like, or failed to remember it. Maybe as we keep talking I'll be able to answer this better, I liked it, I do like it, it's an appealing film, so you know maybe as we talk you'll shake something loose in my head (laughs).

I admire the way in which your films touch on class, which is something most American films stay away from. Writing the screenplay, did you see Maurice's main conflict being more about falling in love with someone of a lower class or embracing his homossexuality?

It was about both. In the first place, all of Forster's novels and his writing have been about the English class system, which luckily we don't have, we can escape the American class system easier than they can, it's not as ingrained. If you were to make a film about a Forster novel, it would be about the class system because it's a big issue in his work, it can be understood or heard in every line the characters speak, if they're English. It was also an issue in Maurice's mind when he began his affair with Clive's servant, that was considered "letting the side down", the side being the upper middle class or upper class. Clive and Maurice weren't aristocrats, they were upper middle class, but in having an affair with a servant class was an issue for him. At the point he’s afraid of being blackmailed by Scudder he seems aware of the problem that kind of affair would bring him, but then he doesn’t care anymore, he throws that out, he comes to his senses.

Do you feel the class element has been lacking from modern gay romances?

I wouldn't say that, even in this country which we like to say is classless, that's a fake idea. We have our classes, but it's about being rich or poor, rather than your hereditary place in the class system. Class is part of popular romance, the rich man falls in love with a poor girl, we've had that over centuries and all over the world, that's part of our stories too, it's part of Hollywood.

Rupert Graves mentioned wanting to do the film because he wasn't satisfied with his performance in A Room with a View. Did he talk to you about how to improve?

The only thing he said was he was happy to play Scudder because he had never played a working class guy before, he'd only played posh types. He first came to people's notice when he did Another Country onstage and he played one of the schoolboys in a fancy school.

Scudder's trip to Argentina never happens, but did you imagine a scenario where he did? What would his life had been like there?

I didn't really think about it because I didn't know anything about Argentina in those days, now having made a film in Argentina I understand what happened to people who came there from all over the world. Lots of English people immigrated to Argentina, Germans too, and people from all over, it was an up and coming country. They did very well in the American sense of the idea, they started companies and rose in class until they were no longer poor. Argentina became a very rich country, like the US it's entirely populated by descendants of immigrants who arrived at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. There are many Italians in Argentina, also many Jewish people, I was told Buenos Aires is the second biggest Jewish city in the world after NYC. That's what would've happened if Scudder had gone there.

However, I imagined his life when he stayed with Maurice. The Great War was a few years away and what happened to those three young men in 1914 would've been, Clive, who was of the officer class would've immediately become an officer and gone to France where he probably would've been killed. Maurice was also of the officer class but he would become a conscientious objector and stayed behind, but Alec would've enlisted. They would survive the war and pick up their lives after it was over.That's the future I imagined for those three.

Every time I watch Maurice it's so hard for me to believe it's actually a gay romance with a happy ending. When you were working on it, I don't believe there were many films with happy endings.

There weren't. There were some even in Forster's day though, there were gay relationships that succeeded, although there were none in fiction. That was one of the reasons Forster never published the book in his lifetime, homosexual acts were a crime and if he'd published the novel with homosexual acts in which these criminals had a happy ending, he thought he'd be arrested for obscenity. He also always insisted the novel had to have a happy ending. It's interesting because very often, even today, when you find a gay male couple they're of different classes, one will be an educated middle class man, and the partner is working class.

I like how Maurice and Todd Haynes' Carol make for such an interesting duo, we see the same dynamic in terms of class, the optimistic ending, and even something as obvious as an upper class blond falling for a working class brunette.

(Laughs) There wasn't that big a gap between those women really and it was an American story, our class consciousness isn't as strong.

Were you surprised not to see happy gay romances even after you made Maurice? I don't think we had that many until Carol and Moonlight.

No there weren't! An example of where there might've been one was Brokeback Mountain, but both men are punished, one is killed, so you're right, in Moonlight we have a happy ending we believe.

You've said it wasn't hard for you to make Maurice despite the gay plot, so were you hopeful about it starting a change in how films perceived gay men?

I wanted to make the film because it was the other side of the coin of A Room with a View, in both stories, both young people are lying to themselves about who they really love and what life should be. They're modeled for social reasons, so they were mirror images in reverse, one male, one female. When I re-read Maurice, after not thinking about it for a decade, I felt it was very similar to A Room with a View, they're about people who don’t understand their feelings and are unhappy. I thought it would be good to show that, in fact that situation is very much still in existence today right here in our own country, there are many people who are gay but it's hard for them to accept it and act upon it. It's less of a problem but it exists in modern life.

One of the most beautiful things in the film is when Scudder asks Maurice to call him by his first name, there is something so intimate about this moment and it made me wonder if you had been thinking about Maurice when you wrote the screenplay for Call Me By Your Name?

Not really, they're very different kinds of stories, in different countries and in different times. There was no great set of principles inhibiting either of the young men from acting on their desires, there was no fear of what society would say, they were afraid of rejection, which is a universal reaction.

Was there a specific reason why you didn't direct the film as well?

The French financiers didn't want two directors, maybe they didn't like the idea of having to pay two directors. I never asked that question though, but it's in the background, maybe they thought it was too expensive. I've never co-directed anything and I would've had to get the permission from the Directors Guild, they don't like to give permissions for that, probably because so many of the scenes were in Italian they might've given me a waiver, but I think it was a financial thing. Producers were afraid that it might slow things down, they wouldn't be able to work so fast if they had two directors talking about how to do something. I would think like that if I were producing a film with two directors who have never worked together and who might fight over certain things.

You focused more on directing, but also wrote several screenplays, did you grow to like screenwriting more?

Not necessarily, that's my sixth or seventh produced screenplay, I've co-written original screenplays and adaptations. I'm mostly a film director though, whether I was going to direct the film or not, I wanted to have my own screenplay so I could develop the story in my own ways. As a director you want to do things in a particular way and I wanted to set that up for myself. I might write another screenplay though, that's not impossible.

Were there any scenes from Maurice that you shot and loved but could never find place for in the final cut?

The film had a very different form in the screenplay, in editing it became a straight narrative. In the screenplay a lot of the story was treated as a flashback, so we ended with many scenes we had no room for. A lot of those scenes were in the Criterion DVD, I don't know whether the new DVD being made by Cohen Media will include them. I imagine they will also be there.

What's the one thing you focus on the most when you're supervising the restoration of one of your films?

The color. I go where they are transferring it and I want to see the color in terms of light and darkness, most of my cameramen are unavailable, some have died, some are far away and can't come, so I have to do that. I know what it should be and I tell them, "don't you think this is a bit yellow?" and they correct it.

Many people assume that adaptations or period pieces made by modern directors aren't personal, watching your films it's clear that's not true. Which of your adaptations was the most personal to you?

A lot of them were very personal, I disagree with the idea that adaptations can't be personal, the novels they're based on were clearly very personal to the author, as well as the thousands of readers who are affected when they read them. It's the same for a director, you personally respond to a story someone wrote, you like the characters, the story and there may be something in the story that appeals to you deep down and you’re not even aware of it. That has happened to me sometimes, I see scenes of my old movies and go "so that's what I was thinking about that then". Whoever says they can't be personal don't know what they're talking about.

Source: thefilmexperience.net

More photos

See also

James Ivory and the making of a historic Gay Love Story


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Friday, May 26, 2017

Gabriel Fauré: Pavane in F sharp minor | James Newton Howard: Violin Concerto | Sergei Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 in E minor – James Ehnes, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Cristian Măcelaru – Saturday, May 27, 2017, 08:00 PM EDT (UTC-4) / Sunday, May 28, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3) – Live on Livestream

James Ehnes. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega

Virtuosic Canadian violinist James Ehnes returns in the first Detroit performances of a concerto by celebrated orchestral and film composer James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games series), and guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru leads Rachmaninov's romantic Second Symphony.

Saturday, May 27
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM

Sunday, May 28
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome: 02:00 AM
Moscow, Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 03:00 AM
Beijing: 08:00 AM
Tokyo: 09:00 AM

Live on Livestream

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

♪ Pavane in F sharp minor, Op.50 (1887)

James Newton Howard (b. 1951)

♪ Violin Concerto (2015) (DSO premiere)

James Ehnes, violin

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

♪ Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27 (1906-1907)

i. Largo  Allegro moderato
ii. Allegro molto
iii. Adagio
iv. Allegro vivace

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Cristian Măcelaru

(HD 720p)

Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit

Saturday, May 27, 2017, 8:00 PM EDT (UTC-4)
Sunday, May 28, 2017, 03:00 AM EEST (UTC+3)

Live on Livestream

Photo by Benjamin Ealovega
Known for his virtuosity and probing musicianship, violinist James Ehnes has performed in over 35 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors.

In the 2016-2017 season James continues his cross-Canada recital tour in celebration of his 40th birthday, performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas in Stresa, Montreux, Los Angeles, Liverpool, and Amsterdam, and joins the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on a tour of China and the National Arts Centre Orchestra on a tour of Eastern Canada. James also holds artist residencies with the Melbourne Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the Scotia Festival, undertakes two tours with the Ehnes Quartet, and leads the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Artistic Director.

New and upcoming CD releases include a disc of works by Debussy, Respighi, Elgar and Sibelius as well as a recording of Beethoven's Sonatas Nos. 6 and 9 ("Kreutzer") with pianist Andrew Armstrong, the Sibelius and Schubert "Death and the Maiden" quartets with the Ehnes Quartet, and the complete works of Beethoven for violin and orchestra with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Andrew Manze. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone, and 11 Juno Awards.

James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Mr. Ehnes first gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the Grand Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition. The following year he won the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At age 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first-ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. James has received honorary doctorates from Brandon University and the University of British Columbia and in 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed James a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, limited to a select group of 300 living distinguished musicians.

James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.

Source: jamesehnes.com

Photo by Benjamin Ealovega

James Newton Howard: Violin Concerto

Howard, who has written more than 100 film and television scores, including for "The Dark Knight" and "The Hunger Games" franchise, composed his first symphonic work, "I Will Plant a Tree", for the orchestra a few years ago. When St.Clair heard the solos that Howard had written for Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn in "Defiance" and "The Village", he asked Howard, who is a member of the orchestra's board, for a violin concerto.

The composer said that it took him about a year and a half to write, and it does sound well and carefully put together. In three movements (fast-slow-fast) and 25 minutes in length, the concerto breaks no new ground except perhaps in that it has the courage to be resolutely tonal and pleasingly melodic. (But then what does "modern" mean in art? Maybe it means art that modern audiences respond positively to.)

In fact, Howard has written a rather folksy concerto. The opening theme recalls Gerswhin's "Summertime", with its bluesy tint and lilt. The composer calls the second movement's theme "a child's melody" – it is simple and lovely but never saccharine. The finale features a folk-like dance melody that could have come from Bartók or Holst. The entire piece has a kind of pastoral feel to it, of bright sunshine and green meadows.

Though the solo violinist is occasionally called upon to play fast and furious, this is not really a virtuoso showpiece, nor is it a competition between soloist and orchestra. Even the solo cadenzas are more meditative than showy. On first hearing, Howard seems not to have forced anything in the work. If the concerto sometimes sounds like movie music (we all know what that means without being able to define it), it also avoids cliché, is tightly-knit and warmly, not cinematically, orchestrated.

Source: Timothy Mangan, 2015 (ocregister.com)

Sergei Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27

Rachmaninov's Second Symphony reception history is full of paradoxes. His essential Russianness wowed the Soviets even when his notes were set down abroad. Premiered on January 26, 1908, the Second Symphony was written mainly in Dresden. It won the coveted Glinka Prize in the year Scriabin took second place with the Poem of Ecstasy but, as noted by Rachmaninov's biographer Geoffrey Norris, its true stature was "obscured for decades" by those excisions. Josef Stránský, Mahler's successor at the New York Philharmonic, claimed approval for 29 of them. The earliest recording, made by Nikolai Sokoloff in 1928 (digitally transferred for the Cleveland Orchestra's 75th-anniversary limited edition), lasts 46 minutes. Artur Rodzinski and Dimitri Mitropoulos trim similarly in their 1940s sets although, given Rachmaninov's passivity about the whole business, no standard template existed. Even the manuscript he prepared for the printer was long thought lost.

Like the First and Third, the Second Symphony opens with a motto theme, here expanded into a slow introduction establishing what most see as the work's trademark sonority, dark, yearning, strings to the fore. Recalling the bad old days, an inauthentic timpani thwack on the movement's final unison E on cellos and basses still resounds all too often. The argument having been initiated by those instruments, it makes better sense to end with their gruff sforzando unadorned.

The second movement invokes startling contrasts. A brilliant scherzo precedes a section whose broad molto cantabile melody is unexpected in context and sumptuous in effect, the indicated phrasing suggesting some degree of portamento. There follows a loud crash and an aggressive fugato episode, a repeat and a final shadowy harking back:  an ABA-C-ABA structure, almost a third of which was conventionally hacked away until the 1970s, the big tune coming only once. The Adagio was also pruned back.

Launched in festive vein, the finale continues with a march-like episode and a thrusting lyrical efflorescence determined to break the mould of stepwise melodic motion. Plentiful reminiscence leads to a tintinnabular cascade across different sections of the orchestra (again sometimes missing). When the aspiring idea finally returns in heavily scored triumph it should not be heralded by a cymbal clash. Neither is there any explicit invitation to slow down. Like so many symphonic finales, this is the weakest of the four movements, tempting even those Russians hitherto dependable to wield the knife.

Source: David Gutman, 2015 (gramophone.co.uk)

See also

Live on Livestream: All Past Events

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicola Benedetti, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Søndergård (HD 1080p)

Italian-Scots violin soloist Nicola Benedetti performing Dmitri Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77, with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård. Recorded at Gothenburg Concert Hall on April 27, 2017.

As many know, Shostakovich wrote two violin concertos. But his work list suggests two separate versions of the First, the Op.77 and the Op.99. The Violin Concerto No.1 was originally completed in 1948, but withheld for seven years by the composer, owing to the oppressive climate for artists in the Soviet Union at the time. Any new work might have drawn the wrath of Stalin and his cronies in the arts. Shostakovich returned to the score in 1955 and then assigned the higher opus number to it. Actually, the only documented change he made came not as a result of second thoughts, but as a matter of consideration for the soloist. During rehearsals in 1955, the virtuoso violinist David Oistrakh requested of Shostakovich that the opening statement of the fourth movement's main theme be given to the orchestra, so that the soloist could take a rest following the long cadenza which leads right into the finale, and Shostakovich agreed to make the change.

The First Violin Concerto begins as a dark work, full of that gloom and dread that pervade so many of Shostakovich's serious works. The first movement Nocturne starts off with an ominous theme that is both inwardly reflective and filled with foreboding. Midway through, a thinly veiled Dies Irae appears as the music becomes more tense. Yet, a climactic release never quite arrives and the suggested conflicts remain unresolved.

The second movement is a rather diabolical Scherzo that contains some interesting allusions, first to the third movement of the Tenth Symphony (1953) and later to the first movement of the Second Piano Concerto (1957). The violin and woodwinds scurry about to deliver the playful yet menacing material, but gradually the character of the movement becomes more sarcastic, eventually breaking into a hallucinatory folk dance. The latter part of the Scherzo sounds less acidic, the diabolic and sarcastic elements surrender to the driving, insistent energy.

The third movement is a Passacaglia that has a chorale-like quality at the outset, as the woodwinds deliver a mournful theme. The violin enters playing the main theme, one of the composer's loveliest and warmest creations. Shostakovich's 1943 Eighth Symphony's fourth movement also featured a passacaglia, though of a decidedly grimmer character. Here, there is tension, but also much beauty. The latter third of the movement is taken up by a brilliant cadenza, which leads directly into the brief finale, a Burlesque of a mostly festive nature. The mood is similar to that of the faster music in the Tenth Symphony's finale, though there are no clear thematic references. While the work ends triumphantly, its manic qualities suggest a discomfort by the composer, as though the happy resolution might have been disingenuous.

Shostakovich eliminated trumpets and trombones from the orchestration of this Concerto, and his writing is otherwise sensitive to the limited tone of a solo violin playing amid a large ensemble. A typical performance of this work lasts about 35 minutes.

Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

♪ Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.77 (1947-1948)

i. Nocturne (Moderato)
ii. Scherzo (Allegro)
iii. Passacaglia (Andante)
iii(a). Cadenza
iv. Burlesque (Allegro con brio – Presto)

Nicola Benedetti, violin

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Thomas Søndergård

Gothenburg Concert Hall, April 27, 2017

(HD 1080p)

Italian-Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti followed in a long line of British Isles teenagers hailed as revitalizers of classical music. In advance of making any recordings whatsoever, she was signed to a six-album contract by the Universal label in January 2005 and assigned to its prestigious Deutsche Grammophon imprint, with a paycheck reportedly in excess of one million pounds (over $1,880,000). Benedetti diverged from predecessors like Vanessa-Mae and singer Charlotte Church, however, in that she stuck to traditional classical repertory and did not try to cross over into the pop world.

Born in 1987 in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, Scotland, Benedetti was the daughter of a prosperous Italian-born manufacturer of plastic cases for first-aid kits. When she was four, she tagged along with her eight-year-old sister Stephanie to a violin lesson and then took up the instrument herself; the two sisters remained close confidantes, and Stephanie has been active as an orchestral musician. Nicola attended the Yehudi Menuhin School in England's Surrey region, an institution whose music programs have recently produced Nigel Kennedy and other top-flight players. She gave performances at several top British concert halls, later moving to London to study with violinist Maciej Rakowski. When Benedetti was 14, she won a Prodigy of the Year contest on England's Carlton Television network. A hint of her potential crossover appeal came when she drew a crowd of 10,000 at the rock-oriented Glastonbury Festival's "classical extravaganza" in the summer of 2003. She told London's Independent newspaper, however, that "I have not ruled out different types of music but I was trained as a classical musician. I don't want to compromise what I do and what I love". At another stratum of British journalism, she told the Mirror that "I'm not really into clubbing and I've never smoked or drunk much – and I won't wear anything tarty".

Benedetti took a big step toward mainstream classical stardom when she won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year award in May 2004, performing Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No.1 and becoming the first Scot to take home the BBC prize. Over that summer she was featured on the cover of BBC Music, and she appeared with the Scottish Symphony and other top groups. With money and publicity coming her way, she was in a position to make the most of her talents. The Times of London forecast a promising future for the youngster, noting that "her poised handling of the whirlwind of fame and honeyed blandishments that came her way last year suggests that her youthful passion in performance is balanced offstage by a healthy streak of that quintessential Scottish trait – prudence". This led her to eventually slow down her performance schedule so that she could further her musical studies and her technique, confident that she would be a better overall musician for it, and determined to play what she loves. By the following decade, Benedetti's schedule was as full as ever, taking in a 2010 debut at the BBC Proms; chamber music recitals with her trio (Leonard Elschenbroich, cello; Alexei Grynyuk, piano) at European festivals; chamber and concerto performances in North America and Europe in 2011; a 2011 release on Decca (Italia); and visits to schools in the United Kingdom to encourage new talent. Released to coincide with a trio of performances at the 2012 BBC Proms, The Silver Violin – a collection of music made famous by the world of cinema – consolidated Benedetti's position as one of the most popular British violinists of her generation.

Source: James Manheim (allmusic.com)

More photos

See also

Dmitri Shostakovich – All the posts

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – All the posts

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

James Ivory and the making of a historic Gay Love Story

James Ivory. Photo by Tim Knox

For many gay men coming of age in the eighties and nineties, James Ivory's "Maurice" was revelatory: a first glimpse, onscreen or anywhere, of what love between men could look like.

By Sarah Larson

The New Yorker – May 19, 2017

In an interview for the 2004 Criterion Collection DVD of the first film by Merchant Ivory Productions, "The Householder" (1963), James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, gray-haired and wearing similar oxford shirts, sit together in a muralled room in their 1805 Federal-style house in Claverack, New York, and companionably bicker about how they met. It was in 1961, at the Indian Consulate in Manhattan, at a screening of Ivory's short documentary about Indian miniature paintings, "The Sword and the Flute". Ivory says that they met on the steps. "He accosted me", he says. Merchant invited Ivory for coffee.

"You were in the screening room", Merchant says.

"No!" Ivory says. "You met me on the steps. I remember very well". They debate; Ivory smiles. "You looked around –"

"No, I didn't look around!" Merchant says. "My eyes always focus on the right things."

"It's chemistry", their friend Saeed Jaffrey says in the video. "When I first introduced them to each other, I knew that the chemistry was there, and it has remained all through these years."

Merchant died in 2005. "He was my life's partner", Ivory told me, when I visited him on a recent Friday at the house in Claverack. "From the beginning right on down to his final day. I lived openly with him for forty-five years, in New York and wherever else we were" – Manhattan, London, Paris. "That says what it says."

Merchant grew up Muslim in Bombay and went to grad school at New York University. Ivory, the son of a sawmill owner, grew up Catholic in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He will be eighty-nine in June. He travels frequently. Upstate, he drives a car; in the city, he rides the subway. He walks with a cane. He seems to remember everything from every movie he has made. He described to me how, in 1963, he and Merchant visited the novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, whom they had never met, at her house in Old Delhi, and convinced her to work with them on adapting "The Householder". The partnership continued throughout their lives. Jhabvala and her husband eventually moved to the East Side apartment building that Merchant and Ivory lived in while in Manhattan; she often stayed at the house in Claverack. Her daughter later got married there. Jhabvala's highly literate screenplays, Merchant's showmanship, finagling, and charm, and Ivory's sensitive, exquisite direction resulted in gorgeous, emotionally realistic films, made in India, the United States, Italy, the U.K., and beyond. The films, featuring exquisite costumes and shot on location, sometimes in friends' houses, appeared to have cost a fortune but were made for relatively little. "We've never had the grandest kind of English people in our movies", Ivory said, about the stereotype of their films being aristocratic. "I mean, the English are famous for their nice houses." From the sixties onward, Merchant Ivory averaged about a movie a year, both original and adapted screenplays, from work by Jhabvala, Henry James, Cheever, and others. In 1985, they turned to E. M. Forster. Merchant fell in love with "A Room with a View". In the film, we watch the ingénue Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter), in Italy and Edwardian England, fall for the unconventional George Emerson (Julian Sands), and, for a time, suffer the absurdity of being engaged to the priggish Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis). To blow off steam, she plays Beethoven, thunderously. Mr. Beebe (a pipe-smoking Simon Callow), an amiably omnipresent vicar, says things like "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting, both for us and for her".

"A Room with a View" is probably best remembered for Lucy and George's swooning first kiss, set to Puccini, in a field of poppies. But its exuberant spirit is also embodied in another memorable scene, in which Lucy's brother, Freddy (Rupert Graves), George, and the Reverend Beebe head into the woods, to a sun-dappled lake, strip naked, and jump in, whooping and splashing and wrestling; they get out and run around, leaping and bouncing; then they get caught. At the world première, at the Paris, in New York, the audience's laughter was so loud, Callow said, that you couldn't hear the dialogue. You hadn't seen that kind of male nudity onscreen before. "And you haven't seen it since!" Ivory told me. "A Room with a View" was nominated for eight Oscars and won three. "It changed our whole lives, that film", Ivory said. "We could probably have done anything we wanted then." They made "Maurice" – a story about love between men. (A newly restored 4K print of "Maurice", currently showing in New York, will soon open in cities nationwide.)

E. M. Forster wrote "Maurice" in 1913 and 1914; it was published in 1971, after his death. "A happy ending was imperative", Forster wrote, in 1960. "I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows... I dedicated it ‘To a Happier Year’ and not altogether vainly." Ivory saw it as a natural successor to "A Room with a View". "It was the same author, same period, same country", he told me. "Same situation, really. You had muddled young people living a lie." Maurice Hall falls in love with his schoolmate Clive Durham; Clive loves Maurice, but fearfully, and then spurns him. In the end, Maurice finds happiness with Alec Scudder, a gamekeeper on Clive's estate.

"As for the subject matter, there wasn't the slightest hesitation about it", Ivory said. "I didn't feel that I should worry. And neither did Ismail." But Jhabvala called the novel "sub-Forster and sub-Ivory", Ivory said – she thought "Maurice" was a minor work – and didn't want to write the screenplay. Ivory wrote it himself, with the help of Kit Hesketh-Harvey, a former BBC music and arts producer who had studied Forster and attended the same schools that Forster had. Julian Sands, originally cast as Maurice, dropped out, and was replaced by James Wilby; Hugh Grant played Clive; Rupert Graves played Alec Scudder. Graves was worried he couldn’t pull it off, because "he'd never played a working-class type", Ivory said. "Which is ridiculous, because he left home at sixteen to join the circus."

The book dares to imagine a better world – but only just. Maurice suffers throughout, and his happy ending is a bold and unlikely gift. Forster didn't publish the novel in his time because of obscenity laws. ("If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well, for there is no pornography or seduction of minors", he wrote. "But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime.") In 1987, attitudes were the problem. Gay romance onscreen, especially at the multiplex, was rare. Happier endings were rarer still. A Times piece called "A Gay ‘Love Story’", about the novelty of the film's subject matter, imagined skeptics' responses to the film – "Is so defiant a salute to homosexual passion really to be welcomed during a spiraling aids crisis?" – and reassured readers that it was about love, not "bathhouse promiscuity".

One of the film's most tender scenes takes place in a room at Cambridge. Maurice sits in a chair; Clive sits on the floor, and Maurice strokes his hair. "They've obviously never embraced before", Ivory said. The scene is nearly silent except for the creaking of a chair. "The sound of that wicker chair is so sexy", Ivory said. "It's a fantastic sound. It just happened."

In both "A Room with a View" and "Maurice", the awkwardness of human intimacy is heightened by the constraints of upper-middle-class manners in Edwardian England. "A Room with a View" includes both some of the most stiffly unsexy kisses ever filmed, between Lucy and Cecil, as well as true barn-burners, between Lucy and George. In "Maurice", the moments of liberation are all the more euphoric. Before shooting, Graves and Wilby agreed to make their love scenes convincing. "Rupert said, ‘Let's go for it. Let's give 'em a real kiss’" Ivory said. "And they did – the sort of thing you don't really see in movies with male lovers. It just never happens." Male nudity makes a welcome reappearance, too. "I have always felt that people who have made love should be able to get up and move freely around the room", Ivory told the Times in 1987. "They do so in foreign films, but in Anglo-Saxon pictures they rarely do. And it seems to me so phony and ridiculous... Why should we subscribe to basically Victorian ideas about morality?"

Maurice and Scudder meet late in the story; Scudder can feel like a heartening deus ex machina. "But you also feel that they're going to make up for it somehow", Ivory said. "They're young, and they're going to make up for it."

The house in Claverack, bought in 1975, has nineteen rooms, with high ceilings and huge windows. Its eleven acres have a pond and several small buildings; "A Room with a View" was edited in a former apple-storage barn. At one point during my visit, Ivory brought me into the parlor where the interview with Merchant from the "Householder" DVD had taken place. The murals, which Ivory commissioned, are of imagined Hudson Valley landscapes circa 1800. He opened a cabinet topped with baftas to reveal a collection of elegant dioramas, one of them in a former pralines box. He handed them to me one by one and let me look through each tiny doorway: into an 1820 New Orleans boudoir; a 1761 Mt. Pleasant, Philadelphia, drawing room. He made them when he was thirteen.

That weekend, in a convivial Forsterian scenario, he had three houseguests. All of them had worked on Merchant Ivory films. Jeremiah Rusconi, the art director for "The Europeans", has also directed, over the years, the restoration of the house; now a restoration consultant, he currently lives there. Melissa Chung, a friend who began working for Merchant Ivory as a production assistant right out of Yale, in 1992, is there most weekends. That day, she and Benoît Pain (camera loader, "Le Divorce"), both in black-and-white striped Breton shirts, made lunch, as Ivory directed ("Have we started the asparagus?"). The group ate around a table in a sunny, windowed porch bursting with geraniums.

"Led by the maestro – the captain of our ship", Chung said.

"I invented this pepper soup", Ivory said. It was a bright-red purée. "But Melissa, and Benoît, too, knows all about hollandaise."

This year, Ivory had a hand in another gay coming-of-age romance – "Call Me by Your Name", directed by Luca Guadagnino. Ivory adapted the screenplay from the novel by André Aciman, in which Elio (Timothée Chalamet), seventeen, is wary of, then attracted to, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a twenty-four-year-old scholar who's assisting Elio's professor father at the family's Italian villa for the summer. The film has the Italian-countryside pleasures of "A Room with a View", and mirrors that and "Maurice" 's journeys from awkwardness to connection and joy. But it's also set in the eighties – so, like Clive, our hero's first love marries a woman and breaks his heart.

For many gay men coming of age in the eighties and nineties, "Maurice" was revelatory: a first glimpse, onscreen or anywhere, of what love between men could look like. One man recently told me that until "Maurice" he'd seen same-sex attraction only in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". "So many people have come up to me since ‘Maurice’ and pulled me aside and said, ‘I just want you to know you changed my life’", Ivory said. One such man got off a bus and ran up to Ivory on the street, then ran away. The lifetimes of Merchant and Ivory spanned generations in which the cultural landscape changed slowly but radically; they both came from milieux in which being openly gay wasn't common or acceptable. "Such things were unthinkable, I think, to people of my parents' generation", Ivory said. "If you grew up in a small town somewhere – I didn't know about such things till I went to college." Did he struggle with it?

"I didn't", he said, looking content. "I didn't. For some reason, in the same way it was not a struggle to give up my religion. You know, a lot of people give up their religion, but, oh, my goodness, they go through such agonies. I never did." He laughed a little. "As I was telling someone, I always had this attitude about myself – Well, if I do it, it's O.K. And my friend said, ‘Jim, that's the attitude of a serial killer’". He laughed again. "I guess I had such a high opinion of myself that I really couldn't do wrong." Another way to look at it might be that happiness, once found, is definitively the right answer. With the right partner, you can create the world that you want to live in – and as an artist you can show us what it looks like.

Source: newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest

James Ivory and Ismail Merchant at a New York hotel on July 27, 1999.
Photo by Mark Lennihan

See also

Maurice (1987) – A film by James Ivory – James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves (Download the movie)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue & Summertime – Fazıl Say, Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie, Alexander Shelley (HD 1080p)

The Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie is one of nothern Germany's most aspiring young musicians projects. Young and talanted musicians from all over Germany come together to create their very own sound and play energetic and innovative concerts – music from our future! On July 31, 2015 the Junge Norddeutsche celebrated their fifth anniversary at the Laeiszhalle Hamburg.

Turkish virtuoso pianist and composer Fazıl Say plays George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Summertime", with Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie under English conductor Alexander Shelley.

George Gershwin (1898-1937)

♪ Rhapsody in Blue (1924)

♪ Summertime (1934)

Fazıl Say, piano

Junge Norddeutsche Philharmonie

Conductor: Alexander Shelley

Laeiszhalle Hamburg, July 31, 2015

(HD 1080p)

Late at night on 3 January 1924, George Gershwin, his brother Ira and lyricist Buddy DeSylva were having a game in the Ambassador Billiard Parlor at 52nd Street on Broadway, when an item in the amusement section of the New York Tribune caught Ira's attention. It was about a concert of new American music to be given by Paul Whiteman and his Palais Royal Band at Aeolian Hall on 12 February – Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

"George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto", ran the article, "Irving Berlin is writing a syncopated tone poem..."

It was all news to George. His musical comedy, Sweet Little Devil, was set to open in just three weeks. And now he had to write a concerto by 12 February as well?

Paul Whiteman was the most popular bandleader of the 1920s and enjoyed the title "King of Jazz" – although this was no jazz band; rather it was a large dance orchestra that used jazz musicians from time to time.

But Whiteman twisted Gershwin's arm that all he had to do was supply a piano score. Ferde Grofé, Whiteman's brilliant in-house arranger, would be able to orchestrate the work tailored to the band's line-up.

While he was on the train to Boston for rehearsals of his musical, Gershwin sketched out a framework for the new piece, which he began writing on 7 January. Over the next few days, while he also made last-minute changes to ready Sweet Little Devil for its New York opening on 24 January, the genius completed a two-piano score.

What Gershwin produced was not a "jazz concerto" but a rhapsodic work for "piano and jazz band" incorporating elements of European symphonic music and American jazz with his inimitable melodic gift and keyboard facility.

Gershwin's original title for it was American Rhapsody. But, by chance, Ira had been to an exhibition of Whistler's paintings and saw the painter's Nocturne In Blue And Green of the Thames at Chelsea. Why not call the new piece Rhapsody In Blue instead, he suggested. The title would reflect the European and American influences. Also at Ira's suggestion, George contrasted the syncopated character that dominates the tune with an expressive romantic theme the composer had previously improvised at a party.

The Rhapsody, with its composer as soloist, was premièred in front of a packed house that included such musical luminaries as the composer Rachmaninov , the violinist Fritz Kreisler and the conductor Leopold Stokowski.

Despite not yet having written down much of the piano part, Gershwin scored a triumphant success with the work which today is hailed as a landmark in American music.

Source: Jane Jones (classicfm.com)

With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Fazıl Say (born January 14, 1970 in Ankara) has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than twenty-five years, in a way that has become rare in the increasingly materialistic and elaborately organised classical music world. Concerts with this artist are something different. They are more direct, more open, more exciting; in short, they go straight to the heart. Which is exactly what the composer Aribert Reimann thought in 1986 when, during a visit to Ankara, he had the opportunity, more or less by chance, to appreciate the playing of the sixteen-year-old pianist. He immediately asked the American pianist David Levine, who was accompanying him on the trip, to come to the city's conservatory, using the now much-quoted words: "You absolutely must hear him, this boy plays like a devil".

Fazıl Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who had himself studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Perhaps sensing just how talented his pupil was, Fenmen asked the boy to improvise every day on themes to do with his daily life before going on to complete his essential piano exercises and studies. This contact with free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Fazıl Say the pianist and composer he is today. He has been commissioned to write music for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, the WDR, the Dortmund Konzerthaus and the Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals. His work includes compositions for solo keyboard and chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works.

From 1987 onwards, Fazıl Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. This formed the aesthetic basis for his Mozart and Schubert interpretations, in particular. His outstanding technique very quickly enabled him to master the so-called warhorses of the repertoire with masterful ease. It is precisely this blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Beethoven that gained him victory at the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with all of the renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building up a multifaceted repertoire ranging from Bach, through the Viennese Classics (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) and the Romantics, right up to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.

Guest appearances have taken Fazıl Say to countless countries on all five continents; the French newspaper Le Figaro called him "a genius". He also performs chamber music regularly: for many years he was part of a fantastic duo with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Other notable collaborators include Maxim Vengerov, the Borusan Quartet of Istanbul and the cellist Nicolas Altstaedt.

From 2005 to 2010, he was artist in residence at the Dortmund Konzerthaus; during the 2010/2011 season he held the same position at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Say was also a focal point of the programme of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the summer of 2011. There have been further residencies and Fazıl Say festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012/2013 season Fazıl Say was the artist in residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and at the Rheingau Musik Festival 2013, where he was honoured with the Rheingau Musik Preis. In April 2015 Fazıl Say gave a successful concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York, that was followed by a tour with concerts all over Europe. In 2014 he was the artist in residence at the Bodenseefestival, where he played 14 concerts. During their 2015/2016 season the Alte Oper Frankfurt invited him to be their artist in residence.

His recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin and Stravinsky have been highly praised by critics and won several prizes, including three ECHO Klassik Awards. In 2014, his recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3 and Beethoven's Sonatas Op.111 and Op.27 No.2 "Moonlight" was released, as well as the CD "Say plays Say", featuring his compositions for piano.

Source: fazilsay.com

More photos

See also

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No.21 in C major – Fazıl Say, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Peter Oundjian (HD 1080p)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata for violin & piano No.9 "Kreutzer" – Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Fazıl Say (HD 1080p)

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier