Obscure works heard more and more on recordings, but performances lag

Posted on: August 13, 2012

“You may not have heard of Hans Gal,” writes Anne Midgette in Sunday’s (8/12) Washington Post. “But the American conductor Kenneth Woods thinks you should have. Gal was a widely respected and performed composer in the 1920s, but the Nazis drove him out of Germany, and though he continued writing, teaching and composing in Scotland until his death in 1987, his reputation never quite recovered. … These days, getting little-known music recorded is a lot easier than it once was—and a lot more appealing to musicians. … There’s one hitch. Although more music is available on recordings, it sometimes seems that less of it is heard in live performance. … An orchestra, of course, has ‘a different set of financial considerations,’ [than a record label] says Nigel Boon, the director of artistic planning for the National Symphony Orchestra. A label can sell a few hundred or thousand copies of a CD over the course of a few months; the NSO, by contrast, tries to create programs that can fill the 2,400 seats of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall two or three times in a given week. … As a result, unfamiliar works are isolated events, often linked to particular artists. The Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden will come to the NSO next April with a lively ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ overture by the Dutch-born composer-violinist Bernard Wagenaar, a piece van Zweden often brings to orchestras he guest-conducts.”

Posted August 13, 2012