What’s on my desk today (and my iPod)?
This month, as part of New England Conservatory's festival exploring revolution and music, I am conducting a concert of four
game-changing works from the 19th and 20th centuries. These are revolutionary pieces from a purely musical point of view.
With Tristan and Isolde, Wagner practically invented chromatic harmony and profoundly influenced several generations of composers.
Ives' The Unanswered Question is one of the first pieces to experiment with musicians on and off stage, playing in totally different
meters. And in the 1920s both Gershwin and Ravel pioneered integrating the new sounds of jazz into the classical language.
Ravel's unusual Piano Concerto for the Left Hand is one of the first concertos (and arguably the greatest work) written for
Paul Wittgenstein, the pianist who lost his right arm in World War I. Later this spring, I'll be returning to Germany to conduct
my friends and colleagues at the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra in a delightful baroque and classical program and will finish the year
of revolutionary music at NEC with Shostakovich's Symphony no. 11, "The Year 1905" at Symphony Hall in Boston. Then I am off to
Seoul and Amsterdam before returning to Aspen this summer.
"Mr. Wolff and his young charges closed the concert with a bang-up performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. The Presto finale, with the young players reveling in the thrill of collective virtuosity, was sheer joy." – The New York Times
"Wolff's Shostakovich 10 was powerful, three-dimensional and devastating, and the Atlanta Symphony blossomed by his approach. Much of the opening movement builds to an unbearable tension. Wolff paced it tautly and meaningfully, with understated authority. When the music finally crossed that emotional threshold and plummeted into some dark netherworld of a broken psyche, Wolff did not, would not, relent... Credit Wolff with delivering the crucial essence of a harrowing masterpiece of the 20th century."
"Conductor Hugh Wolff presided over one of the Utah Symphony’s most high-spirited programs of the season on Friday. From Beethoven’s ever-popular “Leonore” Overture No. 3 to Saint-Saëns’ playful Cello Concerto No. 1 to Charles Ives’ invigorating Symphony No. 2, the concert was a sheer delight."
"The evening's strength was the conductor, Hugh Wolff, an urbane host who without undue Sturm und Drang made Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony, the composer's third, an absolute delight."
Click here to read the full review from the Washington Post.