Easter “Messiah” or Christmas “Messiah” – which one are you?

Confession: it never crossed my mind that people listened to Handel’s 1741 Messiah as an Advent or Christmas seasonal thing until I was an adult attending classical music events on a regular basis. I myself listen to it around Easter, because, well, that’s how I grew up hearing it. It was a family thing in … Read more

Melting into Léo Delibes’ “Flower Duet”

        Initially, I only knew composer Léo Delibes for his ballet scores, the 1870 Coppélia and his 1876 Sylvia. I’m a ballet person, after all. I’ve been aware of the beautiful aria from the British Airways and Ghirardelli chocolate commercials in that I-know-it-but-not-its-name-or-its-composer way, but I didn’t figure out until recently that it’s taken from … Read more

A different Nutcracker must-see (and hear!)

I’m a big fan of the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker (and just reviewed a 2021 performance for Bachtrack HERE) but this year I’m proposing a different Nutcracker must-see. My classical music readers will be happy to hear I’m favoring an orchestral performance of Tchaikovsky’s score this time, and not the ballet. And yet, fear not, … Read more

Rachmaninov’s spooky “Isle of the Dead”

You’ve quite possibly seen a copy of “Isle of the Dead,” a painting by Swiss symbolist artist, Arnold Böcklin. The dreamy, haunting portrait depicts a small rowboat traversing a lake. In the boat a figure shrouded in white stands, transporting a draped coffin, as the rower behind steers the boat to shore, a rocky island … Read more

“Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is gorgeous, ethereal and, I came to discover, difficult to capture in words. Out for dinner the other night, I confessed to my husband that I was having trouble getting my essay about it off the ground. It was so clear in my mind, the … Read more