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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Interview with a Superconductor

by Bidrum Vabish

Why "Superconductor?"
I picked the name last year. It's a song by the band Rush--and it seemed apt. There's a line in the chorus: "Watch his every move--Superconductor--orchestrate illusions." That's what writers do. And I like Rush. Still do.

So how long have you been writing about classical music?
My first published piece was in Wagner Notes, the newsletter of the Wagner Society of New York. I reviewed a two-VHS tape set of Parsifal with Poul Elming and Waltraud Meier, with Daniel Barenboim on the podium. Would be nice if Teldec, or Unitel or Warners or whoever would put that out on DVD. Anyway that was in 1994. My first paid reviews were for Metrobeat in 1996.

We've heard about your CD collection. What's the single biggest item in it?

Something I just acquired: The Scarlatti sonatas for keyboard, with Scott Ross. Ross was an American harpsichordist who taught in Canada and made these recordings--all 555 sonatas--over a six-month period in France. He recorded two a day until he was done. Most of them are on harpsichord, but some are on the organ. They're really good.

That's bigger than the Ring?
Yeah. I own a number of recordings of the Ring Cycle but they all count up at fourteen or fifteen discs. The Scarlatti is thirty-four CDs. I also have a set of Haydn symphonies with Antal Dorati--that's a solid thirty discs.

What's the best bargain CD you've ever bought?

I'd say my copy of the Liszt Piano Transcriptions with Jean-Yves Thibaudet. He's an amazing musician--I interviewed him last year for the Herald Tribune. I paid $5 for that in a little store in Boston which I think is (unlike Tower Records and Sam Goody) still in business!

What's the last really good night you had at the opera?

Well, the recent Walküre was really good until I got sick. The Romeo et Juliette at the Met, with Matthew Polenzani and Anna Netrebko, which we saw on New Year's Eve, was pretty fabulous.

Do you review everything you see?
I try. There are some nights when I simply can't make it to a performance--something else gets in the way, or illness comes up, or a family crisis. Then I'll donate the tickets. But yeah I think I've missed maybe two or three concerts that I've seen and not written about.

How come half your reviews are Wagner operas?
I like Wagner. And it's my dime.

Poul Elming and Waltraud Meier in Parsifal.© 1994 Unitel/Teldec/Warner Classics.

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