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M.T.T. Moves On: The Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments on YouTube

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.


#MeToo Mélisande

There have been many dreamlike stagings of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande,” but few as nightmarish as Barrie Kosky’s spare production, currently running at the Komische Oper in Berlin. Perhaps most harrowing was this scene, which typically depicts Mélisande (here movingly sung and acted by Nadja Mchantaf) being comforted with a chaste kiss from King Arkel, the grandfather of her jealous husband. Here, though, Arkel (Jens Larsen) tries to sexually assault her — and the gulf between his (self-deluded?) noble words and the pain he was inflicting was terrifying at a time of near-constant stories of abuse by powerful men. MICHAEL COOPER

AT 34 seconds

M.T.T. Moves On

There have been few orchestral series in recent years as ambitious and gorgeous as the San Francisco Symphony’s four-concert American Mavericks festival at Carnegie Hall in 2012. It was the brainchild of the orchestra’s music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, who announced this week that he would be stepping down in 2020, after 25 years. He made his career promoting these “mavericks” — the likes of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell and Morton Feldman — and the Carnegie series was a revelation, including Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra. I love this moment, when quiet bells enter into the milky textures. (But seriously, listen to the whole thing.) ZACHARY WOOLFE

Read our interview with Mr. Thomas about his decision to leave the San Francisco Symphony.

AT 13 minutes 5 seconds

Solemn and Pleading

It is strange and sad to delve, as I did recently, into the far-too-short life of the Canadian composer Claude Vivier, killed by a stranger he invited home from a Paris bar in 1983, when he was just 34. By then Vivier had already created a body of works that are half-music and half-ritual, solemn and pleading, modest yet dramatic. One gem is this late chamber piece, “Et je reverrai cette ville étrange” (“And I will see this strange city again”), from 1981, infused with the gamelan sounds he learned during a stay in Bali and punctuated by reverberant gong. The stately yet slightly breathless opening theme returns to close the piece; I hear hints of the impassioned nobility of Beethoven in this rushing little riff. ZACHARY WOOLFE

Read our piece on Vivier and the production of his“Musik für das Ende” in Toronto.

at 23 seconds

Bracing Energy

Compositions by the singer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu tend to stretch (or outright escape) fixed genre categories. She performs with artists familiar to the progressive jazz scene, but thanks to her varied taste in instrumentation — including Taiwanese moon lute and Korean gayageum — Ms. Shyu’s works have a unique, folk-influenced feel. During a Friday evening performance at the Stone’s new satellite venue inside the New School, she led a group through a dramatic 90-minute version of her upcoming album, “Song Of Silver Geese.” The recorded rendition features the Mivos Quartet; the live show had to make do with only one member of that group, the cellist Mariel Roberts. But one quartet representative was enough for Ms. Shyu, whose pianism and lute playing glanced off Ms. Roberts’s contributions with the same bracing energy heard on album highlights like “Door 8: World of Baridegi.” SETH COLTER WALLS


Musical Roulette

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a gem of an ensemble led by the conductor Gil Rose, opened its season on Sunday with a long but worthwhile program, including the New England premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s restless Piano Concerto (2016) and works by William Schuman and John Harbison. Another concerto, David Sanford’s “Scherzo Grosso” (2006), featuring the cellist Matt Haimowitz, closed the concert with a rush of adrenaline. The piece is like a game of genre roulette, with the wheel landing unpredictably on rock, jazz and Western classical music. Changes in style often come with little notice, like in the third movement: The cello’s freewheeling cadenza, after a cue from cymbals, joins the brass section for a rousing big-band dance. JOSHUA BARONE

at 1 minute 15 seconds

Scuzzy Guitar

The Bang On A Can movement has never been just about the composers — Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and David Lang — who started it. Still, there’s often a special charge to the pieces they create for their electrified de facto house band, the Bang On A Can All-Stars. For the organization’s 30th anniversary, the three composers created a new evening-length work, “Road Trip,” which makes much of the long creative path all these artists have traveled together. (The three composers are credited jointly for the entire piece.) Yet it is not a misty-eyed look backward. Heard on Saturday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, portions of “Road Trip” sounded like the most propulsive, hurtling Bang On A Can music yet. In the penultimate movement, “Moose Unseen,” Mark Stewart’s guitar tone sounded unleashed — as scuzzy as that of any up-and-coming avant-rock outfit. But the unique qualities of the group were still present, with Vicky Chow adding some percussive, virtuosic piano playing to the drummer’s David Cossin’s ferocious patterns. SETH COLTER WALLS


Hopeless Romantic

In a bit of harmless Halloween programming, the Boston Symphony Orchestra presented a concert staging of Berlioz’s “La Damnation de Faust” (1846) while, outside the hall, people in costume — maybe even a Mephistopheles? — roamed the city’s streets. Charles Dutoit led the so-called “dramatic legend in four parts,” which defies categorization as oratorio, symphony or opera. (Berlioz never wanted the piece staged, even though it contains orchestral interludes for dances and scene directions written in the libretto.) Among the musical forms Berlioz uses is the ballad, which provides an introduction for the virgin Marguerite, Faust’s love interest, sung warmly and sensitively by the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham. Her sadly beautiful song, “Autrefois un roi de Thulé,” opens with the lines “There once was a king of Thule/Who until the end remained faithful,” which Ms. Graham delivered with the heartbreaking optimism of a hopeless romantic. JOSHUA BARONE


Still Clapping

Ensemble Signal’s Steve Reich program at Zankel Hall on Thursday, which included the New York premiere of “Runner” (2016) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Double Sextet” (2007), was billed as featuring “special guest Steve Reich.” What exactly that meant wasn’t clear until he joined the ensemble’s director, Brad Lubman, for a performance of the short but seminal 1972 piece “Clapping Music.” The piece, which requires only two musicians and no instruments, consists of two rhythmic lines that open in unison, diverge, and reunite; the moment they diverged, people around Zankel were beaming as they saw Mr. Reich clapping — perhaps a little more muffled than 45 years ago, but no less precise. JOSHUA BARONE

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