Our critics and reporters offer a glimpse of what’s moved and delighted them on YouTube. Read the rest of our classical music coverage here.
AT 26 MINUTES 24 SECONDS
Powering the Soundscape
Last Friday, just days before the MacArthur Foundation awarded one of its “genius” grants to the composer and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, I spotted him sitting in the front row at the Miller Theater for a concert given by the reconstituted Art Ensemble of Chicago. During the group’s captivating set, I was struck by how this new version of the band brought to mind some of Mr. Sorey’s own recent music. The way the cellist Tomeka Reid fit harshly bowed lines over the free-jazz pulses of the drummer Famoudou Don Moye recalled “The Inner Spectrum of Variables,” Mr. Sorey’s pathbreaking 2016 double album. In a performance of “Variables” captured at this year’s Ojai Festival, you can witness Mr. Sorey’s method of layering similar textures. In one moment, he conducts members of a string quartet as they play long tones. Next he cues the pianist Cory Smythe, who switches from a pensive, accompanying role to one packed with greater fireworks. This new intensity leads Mr. Sorey to put down his baton, pick up some mallets and join his players in powering the soundscape. SETH COLTER WALLS
Read Giovanni Russonello’s profile of Tyshawn Sorey.
AT 4 MINUTES 30 SECONDS
The American Symphony Orchestra opened its season at Carnegie Hall this week with “The Sounds of Democracy,” a program conceived and conducted by Leon Botstein. There were involving performances of Roger Sessions’s Second Symphony and Leonard Bernstein’s seldom-heard “Kaddish” Symphony. I was especially affected by Copland’s “Canticle of Freedom” (1955), the composer’s dignified response to having his loyalty to America questioned during the Army-McCarthy hearings. The text, taken from a 14th-century Scottish poem, celebrates freedom as a noble thing that “makes man to have liking.” A moment that got me, in Copland’s solemn setting, explains further that “free liking is yearned for over all other thing.” Though this clip starts a couple minutes into the piece, the performance — the Santa Rosa Symphony playing in 2012, during the inaugural festivities of Weill Hall at Sonoma State University in California — is now especially meaningful, as that region is right now coping with devastating wildfires. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
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In the years following the Great Depression, leftist American composers like Copland developed a populist musical language in order to speak to the common man. But Ruth Crawford stayed committed to modernism in writing what her husband Charles Seeger called “proletarian music.” In her song “Sacco, Vanzetti,” a commemoration of the unjust 1927 execution of immigrant anarchists, Crawford unleashes a barrage of dissonance in the piano part, against which the vocal line declaims, in a propagandist snarl, lines like “Still you paid with your life for your class!” Like “Chinaman, Laundryman,” its companion song, “Sacco, Vanzetti” sets text by the Communist writer H. T. Tsiang in what the music theorist Ellie Hisama calls “politically radical ultramodernism.” Like the rest of Crawford’s small but intensely inventive output, the songs would benefit from rediscovery. WILLIAM ROBIN
Read more about Ruth Crawford Seeger.
AT 24 MINUTES 30 SECONDS
Full of Joy
Andris Nelsons’ first subscription concerts of the season with the Boston Symphony recently demonstrated this is a conductor and an orchestra on supreme form. Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 was outstanding for its color and its energy, but an account of Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 was, for me, even better, full of character and charm. It was highly dramatic, too, with its famous drumroll opening turned into a mini-cadenza by the timpanist Dan Bauch, and the horns announcing the finale with a grandiose flourish. The opposite, in other words, to my favorite account on YouTube, with Pierre Boulez conducting the Chicago Symphony in 2006. Try the finale — it’s restrained by comparison, to be sure, but so eloquent, and so full of joy. DAVID ALLEN
AT 5 MINUTES 11 SECONDS
The Moldavan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja puts on quite a show. There she was, at the Board of Officers Room of the Park Avenue Armory on Monday, barefoot and in a sort of distressed-Chaplin outfit, playing a program ranging from the 11th century to the present with the rising cellist Jay Campbell. All spitfire energy, she showed a remarkable virtuosity that still left room for aching lyricism. She seems in constant search of limits to test, as in this YouTube video of Ravel’s “Tzigane” in heightened Gypsy fashion, with Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Sinfonia Varsovia. The heart of the work sets in only after Ravel’s (and, decidedly, Ms. Kopatchinskaja’s) introductory cadenza. Guaranteed, the performance will not be to all tastes. JAMES R. OESTREICH
AT 6 MINUTES 26 SECONDS
A Score Switch-Out
In college, I must have watched Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 film “Koyaanisqatsi” at least 50 times. (I had it on a VHS tape.) So I was apprehensive going into a performance by the jazz-electronica trio GoGo Penguin at the Barbican in London this week, since Philip Glass’s indelible music had been replaced with an alternative score. How could it ever compare? In the end, I had nothing to fear: The new music was thrilling, gripping and totally, surprisingly different. But it didn’t quite match up to the joy that comes from hearing something you know really well — again and again and again. MATTHEW ANDERSON
AT 1 MINUTE 34 SECONDS
Steven Mackey is far from the first composer to try his hand at the Orpheus myth, but he may be the first to treat it in what he calls a wordless opera for electric guitar. The piece, “Orpheus Unsung,” which also has a drum part written with Jason Treuting of So Percussion, came to Princeton University last weekend as part of the inauguration of its new Lewis Center for the Arts. Although the music doesn’t quite justify its label as opera — and Arcade Fire deserves some credit for the marriage of the myth and electric guitar in “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)” — it was sometimes beautifully descriptive. Take, for example, Act II, “Sub Terra,” in which Orpheus goes to the underworld for his beloved Eurydice. Mr. Mackey, using loop pedals to give himself the sound of a small ensemble, creates an unsettling hellscape with descending phrases that vividly evoke Orpheus’s journey. JOSHUA BARONE
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Radiant High A
Susan Froemke’s new documentary “The Opera House,” about the building of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lincoln Center home, had its premiere at the Met recently. The de facto star of the film is Leontyne Price, who, interviewed shortly before her 90th birthday, recalls her career at the Met and its opening night, the premiere of Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” written for her. Her Met career ended on January 3, 1985, with Verdi’s “Aida,” and her singing of “O patria mia” was voted by viewers the greatest moment in Met television broadcast history. The moment when she floats up to an effortless high C is amazing. But the best comes with a final, radiant high A, which the soprano holds for 12 seconds. ANTHONY TOMMASINI
Read about the documentary.