Period instrument specialist, musicologist and keyboard performer Christopher Hogwood takes the stage on Oct. 1 at the National Concert Hall, conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in an altogether bizarre program.
The concert begins with Webern’s orchestral version of the last section of Bach’s A Musical Offering. It’s known as a “ricercare,” an early form of the fugue, and only lasts six minutes.
Then comes the concerto. Mozart wrote his much-loved Clarinet Concerto in 1791, but the clarinet was in those days a new instrument and few people knew how to play it. So it wasn’t too surprising that in 1802, after Mozart’s death, a version was published with a viola as the solo instrument. The two instruments share something of the same range, but although the viola was reportedly the instrument Mozart himself most loved to play, he never wrote a concerto specifically for it.
Hogwood has edited this score for modern publication, and in addition made a version of it for viola and piano. Creating scaled-down versions of orchestral works for domestic performance was a common practice in Mozart’s time. The viola player in Taipei will be Paul Silverthorne.
The first item after the interval is Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, known as the “Serioso” quartet, as arranged for string orchestra by Mahler. Mahler made three such arrangements during his early years with the Vienna Philharmonic.
Actually Mahler made almost no changes, merely adding a bass part in a few sections. The premiere of his orchestral version of the quartet being performed next Friday actually elicited loud booing, a response unlikely to be duplicated in Taipei, perhaps unfortunately. We live in less demonstrative times.
Even the concluding work, Mozart’s Symphony No. 32 in G Major, is an eccentric choice. It consists of only three movements and they’re played without a break, with the result that it sounds more like an overture than a conventional symphony. Indeed the work was used by Mozart himself six years after its composition as exactly that — an overture to someone else’s opera.
The entire program appears very short, not much more than an hour long, if that. Let’s hope there will be some substantial encores. There’s also something more than a little precious, even finicky, about the items chosen. It would be wonderful to hear Hogwood launch into altogether more full-blooded items at the end, if only for contrast — a couple of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance marches, for instance. Not that there’s very much chance of that.
Scott Saulters wasn’t sure if his film had just taken one of the two top prizes at a recent film competition. Although Saulters has been in Taiwan for 15 years and is proficient in Mandarin, the award ceremony for the inaugural “Bi Tian Iann” (眯電影) short film contest was conducted entirely in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), a language he can’t speak. “I thought I heard it, but I didn’t want to look too excited,” he says. Despite his limited command of the tongue, Saulter’s entry, Wu Yu Tzu (烏魚子, mullet roe), took first place in the amateur category of the
Since its launch in 2014, the Taiwan Season has increasingly become a “must-see” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. So, when this year’s three-week Fringe became an early casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Chen Pin-chuan (陳斌全) was determined that the Taiwan Season must continue in some form. Chen, director of the Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, says that he and Taiwan Season curator and producer Yeh Jih-wen (葉紀紋) had been thinking of ways of growing and adding value to the season anyway. The crisis and the cancellation of the live performances brought those ideas forward as
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
Shuanglianpi (雙連埤) is both a Hakka outpost and a place of great ecological interest. The conjoined body of water from which it gets its name is the centerpiece of the 17.16-hectare Shuanglianpi Wildlife Refuge (雙連埤野生動物保護區). No waterways of significance fill or drain this scenic lake in Yilan County’s Yuanshan Township (員山鄉). During the 1895 to 1945 period of Japanese rule, the colonial authorities — struggling to secure Taiwan’s foothills — encouraged Han people to settle in areas adjacent to indigenous communities. Around 1910, a 49-year-old Hakka pioneer called Tsou Cheng-sheng (鄒成生) from what’s now Taoyuan decided to begin farming at