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The year 2013 saw plenty of headline-making moments in classical music. Protesters came to the opening night of the Met, while a stagehands strike cancelled the opening night at Carnegie Hall. There were heated debates over women conductors and some complicated celebrations for Richard Wagner. It was another tough year for some orchestras but a good one for Benjamin Britten fans

In this edition of Conducting Business, three experts talk about the past year: Anne Midgette, classical music critic of the Washington Post; Justin Davidson, classical music and architecture critic for New York magazine; and Heidi Waleson, a classical music critic for the Wall Street Journal.

High Points:

Anne: In the year that Van Cliburn died, Anne was particularly excited to hear the 22-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov: “Trifonov is a pianist whom I find totally exciting. I hear a lot of great concerts in the course of a year but I find that Trifonov has something really special and is a really interesting artist and somebody I look forward to hearing again and again.”

Justin on Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s staging of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro at the Mostly Mozart Festival: “One of things I really liked about it was it was one of these really portable productions. It was done in a concert hall with the orchestra on stage, no sets, minimal props, costumes that were taken off a clothes rack that was sitting on the stage…With minimal resources they produced one of the most effervescent and inventive productions I’ve seen of that opera. What it said to me is how much you can do with how little.” [Read more of Justin's picks at NYMag.com]

Heidi: George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, given its U.S. premiere at Tanglewood in August: “So often you see these new operas and you think, ‘Why did they bother? Why did you turn this movie or this book into an opera?’ This was a completely new piece of writing and it had a tension to it from beginning to end. It has a fantastically colorful and intricate orchestration, which includes a solo moment for the viola da gamba.”

Listen to Written on Skin on Q2 Music


wqxr.org, by Naomi Lewin, Brian Wise