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Classical Music Livestreams Worth Paying For

Excerpted from The New York Times, by Anthony Tommasini

When the coronavirus forced concert halls and opera houses to close in March, a flood of music came online. The livestreams proved especially gratifying, offering a jolt of you-are-there excitement. Many of these programs were offered for free.

But musicians and institutions have to make money. Will the public pay for music online?

The answer is just beginning to emerge...

Prerecorded offerings might seem less fulfilling to music lovers who are longing for the live concert experience. Yet if the content is substantive and the quality of the video high, these programs can be rewarding. Caramoor, in Katonah, N.Y., is streaming the four musicians of Sandbox Percussion and the pianist Conor Hanick, through Sunday, for $10.

Caramoor, usually a summer favorite just north of New York City, has this year presented a series of livestreams, with tickets for purchase, from its intimate, elegant Music Room. The programs have been adventurous and excellent, including a recent one featuring members of the Knights, a chamber orchestra, playing a premiere by Anna Clyne and a Brahms sextet.

Sandbox Percussion and (seated at piano) Conor Hanick streamed the premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s “Don’t Look Down” from Caramoor, in Katonah, N.Y. Credit...Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

But the premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s “Don’t Look Down,” an 18-minute concerto for prepared piano and percussion quartet, was the highlight. As he explained in an interview before the performance, Mr. Cerrone began composing the score just as the shutdowns started in March, and finished it only recently. So it’s a piece written in lockdown. The piano is prepared similarly to John Cage’s innovative techniques, but with fewer screws and pieces of metal inserted between the piano strings, and more materials like putty — which dampens and distorts sounds — and fishing wire, which allows the strings to be bowed to create eerie, whining tones.

The first movement, “Hammerspace,” begins with the whooshing of a bike pump and droning gongs. In time, restless riffs played with mallets burst forth. Amid rushes of rhythmic, spiraling figures on the prepared piano, fragments for the percussion instruments coalesced into fleeting almost-melodies.

The second movement, “The Great Empty,” is more elemental, with music gurgling and heaving over ominous bass tones in the piano. The final movement, “Caton Flats,” is named for the mixed-use development in Brooklyn where Mr. Cerrone lives. As he said in the interview, the music recalls the metallic noise of construction crews at work in his neighborhood this summer.

Worth paying for? Worth waiting for? I’d say yes, on both counts.

Read full article here.


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