Monday, January 23, 2017
For my friends in Los Angeles, here is what promises to be an outstanding event: Venue: Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, California Dates: Thursday, 19 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Friday, 20 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Saturday, 21 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Ensemble: Los Angeles Philharmonic Conductor: Lionel Bringuier Artist: Gil Shaham (Violin) ABOUT THIS EVENT: Prokofiev wrote this soaring concerto in 1935, as he was returning to Russia after decades in the West. Hear this classic played by the contemporary master, violinist Gil Shaham. Bringing this program to a close is Stravinsky’s kaleidoscopic ballet music that tells of the comic-sad loves and jealousies of three Russian puppets: the trickster Petrushka (called “Punch” in England; “Pulcinella” in Italy), the ever-elegant Ballerina, and the dashing Moor — as well as the Magician/Charlatan who brings them to life at the Shrovetide Fair. Program: Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain Prokofiev: Concerto for Violin no 2 in G minor, Op. 63 Stravinsky: Pulcinella
The director of Opera North’s reworking of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s classic tale explains how a once nationalist art form can retain its power in our global ageIf you are Russian, chances are you spent your childhood Christmases watching the 1952 animation of The Snow Maiden on television. This beautiful film is based on Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s much loved opera, which in turn takes its story (based on a Russian fairytale) from Alexander Ostrovsky’s 1873 play. It is barely known outside Russia but it is as popular as Cinderella or Hansel and Gretel are in the UK.The Snow Maiden is a teenage girl with a heart of ice whose very existence offends the Sun-God. Only when she learns to love, as her heart melts, will the Sun-God be appeased and so bring about the arrival of summer. Like so many folk mythologies, it’s a tale of a rite of passage to adulthood but also a myth about sacrifice enabling fertility. It’s the universal myth of the Rite of Spring, which has long fascinated artists from Hans Christian Andersen to Igor Stravinsky. It is also an example of opera’s recurring fascination with the person – usually a woman – who finds a love so strong that they are willing to die for it. That’s at the heart of La Traviata and La Bohème. The story also has much in common with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the great English celebration of the coming of summer and the rekindling of love. Continue reading...
From the LSO’s season announcement this morning: – Sir Simon Rattle’s inaugural season launched with ten-day musical celebration – Young people and new audiences at the heart of future plans – new ticket schemes announced – Stockhausen masterpiece to be staged at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – 2017/18 season highlights announced – British composers a major focus – LSO digital partnerships bring the orchestra to the world The London Symphony Orchestra today unveiled the first stage of ambitious plans for the future under its new Music Director, Sir Simon Rattle, who will take up his post in September 2017. The plans will unfold over the next three years, developed by Simon Rattle in close partnership with the musicians of the Orchestra, and in collaboration with the Barbican Centre and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, as Artist in Association. In his words: “The London Symphony Orchestra, over a century, has an extraordinary heritage and history. At its core is an orchestra that is always looking forwards, accepting no limitations on what it can achieve. The programme we are announcing today gives a glimmer of things to come. Together we intend to explore the great masterpieces, build our community, and inspire a new generation to join us in the belief that music is for everybody.” Plans announced today include: A ten-day celebration to mark Sir Simon Rattle’s first season as Music Director running from 14 – 24 September 2017 Amongst the highlights of the celebration, staged in collaboration with the Barbican Centre and the Guildhall School, will be an all-British line-up of composers for the opening concert including a new commission to rising star Helen Grime; a London/Paris link up to celebrate Stravinsky in partnership with the Philharmonie de Paris; a ‘Silent Symphony’ live broadcast of the opening concert to personal headsets in the Barbican Sculpture Court; the creation of an opera in a day with children and young people; and a chance for the public to get behind-the-scenes as Sir Simon Rattle prepares the orchestra for a performance of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust. The BBC will broadcast live throughout the 10 days including three symphonic concerts in the Barbican Hall and four chamber concerts from LSO St Luke’s. The final concert will be streamed live on the LSO’s YouTube Channel and on Classic FM’s website. Young people and new audiences are at the heart of the plans for the future In a new scheme announced today, all tickets for under-18s at LSO Barbican concerts will be £5. 2017 also sees the launch of a new initiative to reach audiences: early evening concerts which will be conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Simon Rattle and François-Xavier Roth, will offer an hour of world-class orchestral music at the end of the working day. The acclaimed LSO Discovery programme already reaching 60,000 people a year will continue its development and growth. Announced today is a new three-year programme, supported by Youth Music, to increase substantially the provision of musical opportunities for young people in east London with special educational needs and disabilities, working in partnership with nine Music Education Hubs and specialist arts organisations. New staging of Stockhausen at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall Looking beyond the next season, in 2018, Sir Simon Rattle will direct a performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s masterpiece, Gruppen (1955-57) in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. Scored for 120 musicians divided into three orchestras, this work, more than a concert, an event that envelops and surrounds the audience, is regarded as a landmark in 20th century music.
The weekly format compels me to be very succinct in my reviews. Hence, panoramas. I will start selecting from a flood of concerts of contemporary music. Martín Bauer has led for twenty years the San Martín cycle of contemporary music (from next season there will be another curatorial view, for Diego Fischerman replaces him) and since its inception a few years ago (during the García Caffi regime) also the smaller cycle Colón Contemporáneo, sometimes overlapping both. As this year Bauer couldn´t count with the Sala Casacuberta (ideal for the genre), due to the restoration works at the San Martín, he had recourse to different venues. However, I found this year´s programming quite weak, and am only sorry that I couldn´t hear the great German violinist Isabelle Faust (Usina). Bauer has had a fixation with composer Morton Feldman and it´s no wonder that Colón Contemporáneo presented the première of "Coptic Light" as the main score of a concert that doubled as Nº 13 of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s thirteenth concert (tough material for its subscribers). The original announcement in March gave as conductor Emilio Pomarico and except for Feldman had a different programme: Busoni and Castiglioni. However, Wolfgang Wengenroth (debut) took over with an equally attractive proposal in the First Part: Ligeti´s well-known "Lontano" and the rarely played though fundamental scores by Anton Webern: Five Pieces Op.10 for chamber orchestra (extremely short) and Six Pieces Op.6, more expansive. Plus Webern´s fascinating orchestral arrangement of Bach´s Fuga (Ricercata) from "The Musical Offering" as "Klangfarbenmelodie" (Melody of colored sounds). Feldman´s "Coptic Light" has one saving grace: it lasts 25 minutes instead of more than four hours like other pieces played here; but it is just as boring: the material is exposed in seemingly endless repetition and minimal variation. The whole programme had some accidents: this is hard music for the Phil, accustomed to other musical styles. Much better was a finely programmed concert of the National Symphony at the Blue Whale conducted with accuracy by Fabián Panisello and featuring a virtuoso pianist, Dimitri Vassilakis, in Panisello´s "Movements", an interesting piece in four moods written with full comprehension of current trends. Preceded by Luciano Berio´s "Requies" (première, as Panisello) and followed by Lutoslawski´s great Third Symphony, we heard first-rate music created by two masters who are no longer with us but are still very relevant. Ginastera and Stravinsky are no longer contemporary but in some of their scores are still amazingly modern. They were combined in a percussion-based evening at the Colón: the former´s "Cantata para América mágica" (1960) and Stravinsky´s "Les Noces" ("The Wedding", 1923). The Cantata is made up of six pieces with texts from the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas of strong dramatic power, and the dramatic soprano is accompanied by two pianos and ample percussion ensemble including autochthonous instruments. This is Ginastera at his best, expressionist, telluric and with advanced techniques (serialism, complex rhythms). Instrumentally this was a splendid performance, coordinated by Annunziata Tomaro and Ángel Frette, but mezzo Virginia Correa Dupuy isn´t the right voice: she is refined and intimate; you need here a big soprano voice of intense projection. "Les Noces" is very important but rarely done; born as a choreographic cantata, it has been seen here both as ballet and in concert. Based on Russian folk poems dealing with the wedding ritual, it applies the rhythmic liberation of "The Rite of Spring" to singing of enormous complexity; relentless in its demands and rarely expansive, it was a demonstration of the great professionalism of Tomaro, the Coro Orfeón de Buenos Aires (Néstor Andrenacci, Pablo Piccinni), the four pianists, the percussionists; the soloists were uneven, only María Dolores Ibarra (soprano) quite satisfactory. It was sung in the Russian translation, and that is good. I was glad that Patricia Pouchulu, after the unexpected interruption of a concert season at the Brick Hotel organised by her, could find the support of the Austrian and German Embassies to present a valuable Mozart concert at the Avenida. As leader of the Association La Bella Música, since 1999 she has offered with a galaxy of artists eight hundred concerts; in recent years after strict training she has started a conducting career. Funding isn´t easy nowadays and has limited some symphonic projects that require big orchestras, but a night of Mozart remains a treat when you have a solid hand-picked orchestra of 32 players and two outstanding soloists (first desks of the Colón Orchestra). The loveliness of the Clarinet Concerto (K 622) and of the Oboe Concerto (alternative to flute) K.314 was in the very good hands and artistry of Carlos Céspedes and Rubén Albornoz; apart from minor accidents, the playing was beautiful and musical, abetted by the clean and stylish conducting of Pouchulu. She then tackled the crown of Mozart´s symphonies: Nº 41, "Jupiter". With scrupulous articulation and an attentive orchestra, the music flowed naturally, only lacking some intensity and rhythmic profile in the final movement, a masterpiece of counterpoint; but the battle was certainly won. The marvelous Mahler Second Symphony ("Resurrection") was the major challenge taken up by Mario Benzecry and his Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional José de San Martín, plus the Asociación Coral Lagun Onak and the Coro de la Facultad de Derecho-UBA, both prepared by Miguel Ángel Pesce, plus soprano Jaquelina Livieri and mezzo Alejandra Malvino. Not helped by the resonant acoustics of the Facultad de Derecho, nevertheless Benzecry showed his deep knowledge and command and built the enormous structure with unerring hand. Both the choirs and soloists were first-rate, but the Orchestra had some problems: mistakes by the brass and rather mushy violin intonation; however, most of the playing was good and the climaxes were tremendous. For Buenos Aires Herald
The ultra-conservative philosopher was invited to speak at the Donaueschingen festival, birthplace of post-war musical modernism. Being English, he was very polite to them in his opening remarks. Then he put the boot in. Important composers from Schoenberg and Stravinsky to Ligeti and Stockhausen, have been premiered in this place and before this audience. Along with Darmstadt, Donaueschingen has helped to restore Germany to the central place in European musical culture that it has occupied in the past and will always deserve. Now, in its latest and securest phase as the Musiktage, the Donaueschingen festival has become a symbol of musical modernism, and it is a great honour to be invited to speak from this podium to one of the most educated musical audiences in the world today. But in this short talk I will try to outline why I question the prominence in our musical culture of the experimental avant-garde…. Read full text here. For example: The contrary obstacle also lies before us: the dictatorship of the difficult. Bureaucrats charged with giving support to the arts are, today, frightened of being accused of being reactionary. I suspect that everyone in this room is frightened of being accused of being reactionary. The history of the French salons in the 19th century, and of the early reactions to musical and literary modernism, has made people aware of how easy it is to miss the true creative product, and to exalt the dead and the derivative in its stead. The safest procedure for the anxious bureaucrat is to subsidize music that is difficult, unlikely to be popular, even repugnant to the ordinary musical ear. Then one is sure to be praised for one’s advanced taste and up-to-date understanding. Besides, if a work of music is easy to assimilate and clearly destined to be popular it does not need a subsidy in any case. Discuss.
Igor Stravinsky (17 June 1882 - 6 April 1971) was a Russian-born, naturalized French, later naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. He was a quintessentially cosmopolitan Russian who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the century. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1934 and a naturalized US citizen in 1945. In addition to the recognition he received for his compositions, he also achieved fame as a pianist and a conductor, often at the premieres of his works. Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911/1947), and The Rite of Spring (1913). The Rite, whose premiere provoked a riot, transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and was largely responsible for Stravinsky's enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary, pushing the boundaries of musical design. In the 1950s he adopted serial procedures, using the new techniques over his last twenty years. Stravinsky's compositions of this period share traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells, and clarity of form, of instrumentation, and of utterance.
Great composers of classical music