Magazine article Gramophone

Gramophone Reviewers

Magazine article Gramophone

Gramophone Reviewers

Article excerpt

Where I'm from, classical music is a means of clandestine rebellion. My family was baffled and annoyed when--in Sycamore, Illinois, nestled in the cornfields between Chicago and Iowa--I acquired my first opera album aged 12. At 16, I claimed the family car supposedly for sporting events but drove to Chicago to hear Solti. When the Boulez recording of Pelttas turned up at the public library, I was home particularly identifying with characters who didn't know where they were or what they doing there.

During my first newspaper job in the 1970s, the public library was full of Russian opera. The recently emigrated Galina Vishnevskaya gave a sparsely attended but life-changing recital that revealed the possibilities of dramatic truth as conveyed by the human voice. I did whatever was necessary to hear what I needed to hear. I bribed ushers. I masqueraded as a chorister and sight-sang Mahler's Resurrection Symphony under Leonard Bernstein.

Though my dramatic truth now comes from the likes of mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn and baritone Henk Neven, anything on a compact disc is a potential professional obligation. So my private experiences are with LPs that have been passed over by the digital era. I know little about the great, long-gone Drolc String Quartet. …

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