Sunday, September 25, 2016
Susanna Mälkki starts work at the Helsinki Philharmonic tomorrow. Here’s her opening programme: GYÖRGY LIGETI Atmospheres MAURICE RAVEL Shéhérazade KAIJA SAARIAHO Asteroid 4179: Toutatis JEAN SIBELIUS Canzonetta (arr. Stravinsky) MAGNUS LINDBERG Parada MAURICE RAVEL La Valse The only Sibelius is a Stravinsky arrangement, and there will be no more of him this season. Next week, Susanna conducts Boulez, Maresz and Berlioz. Over the next couple of months there will be Messiaen, Dutilleux, Debussy, Murail, Ravel. It’s a complete refresher course for Finnish ears. Which man would take such risks in the first season of his first music directorship?
Wigmore Hall, London Sarah Connolly brought intensity to lieder by Schumann and Mahler, and finesse to Berlioz and Debussy, while Soile Isokoski’s astonishing Brahms left the audience raptAs the Proms drew to a close, the Wigmore Hall season began with two extremely fine recitals on consecutive nights. Friday’s opening concert was given by Sarah Connolly and Malcolm Martineau. Schumann’s Hans Christian Andersen lieder, from his Op 40 set, and Mahler’s Rückert Lieder formed the evening’s first half. French music came after the interval.A restrained, subtle communicator, Connolly is often at her most engaging in recital, though on this occasion she took a few minutes to settle, with an occasional edge creeping into her high notes near the start, as if her voice was not quite fully warmed up. Fierce declamation captured the angst of Schumann’s Andersen settings, which deal with such harrowing subjects as infant mortality and death by firing squad. Carefully shaded soft singing and a fine sense of line characterised much of the Mahler, though she began Um Mitternacht at slightly too intense a level, not leaving herself quite enough dynamic or emotional space for the climactic final stanza to hit home as forcefully as it might. But Ich bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen was beautifully done, the closing pianissimos hovering exquisitely. Continue reading...
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra & Swedish Radio Choir/Ticciati (Linn) (2 CDs)We have heard too little of Robin Ticciati recently, as an injury took him out of Glyndebourne’s new Béatrice et Bénédict this summer. Here, by way of compensation, is an orchestrally superb new version of Berlioz’s “dramatic symphony” loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The sound pictures are precise and subtle in the “serene night”, Juliet’s funeral cortege, and the fizzing fireworks of the Queen Mab scherzo. The composer was very precise about the layout of his voices: here, Katija Dragojevic is a gorgeously warm mezzo, and Alastair Miles a stentorian bass in the final Serment de réconciliation, but a boxy acoustic underbalances the chorus, especially in this great climax. Continue reading...
press release: NEW YORK –– Lithuanian conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, makes her New York debut with the Juilliard Orchestra on the ensemble’s season opener, Monday, September 26, 2016, at 7:30pm in Alice Tully Hall. The program opens with Lithuanian composer Raminta Serksnyte’s Fires (2010), followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 (piano soloist to be announced) and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Tickets are $30 and will be available beginning August 24 at events.juilliard.edu or at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office.Tickets are free for Juilliard students; non-Juilliard students with valid I.D. may purchase tickets for $15 at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office.
As the BBC Proms at last flicker into life, in Germany the Musikfest Berlin gets under way.. Over 19 days, 27 events featuring 70 works of around 35 composers, performed by 20 orchestras, instrumental and vocal ensembles and soloists. Full programme here, reflecting the concept that audiences are mature enough to handle real music, as Sir Henry Wood believed a hundred years ago, instead of the Potato Fudge the Proms have descended into this year (bar a few outstanding performances). But those of us who can't get to Berlin (largely sold out, in any case), some concerts will be broadcast via the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall (List here) Listen live, because the broadcasts may be available for only 24 hours. On Saturday I caught Wolfgang Rihm's Tutuguri with Daniel Harding and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. This piece is legend, but not easy to pull off because it requires a huge orchestra, a whole row of percussion desks and elaborate off-stage effects Rihm's model for Tutuguri was a piece by by Antonin Artaud, the actor and theatre theorist whose ideas have great influence on modern theatre, film, dance and music. Artaud believed that communication could exist on multiple levels. Texts don't have to be spoken, nor even rational. In Tutuguri, the soloist and invisible choir (on tape) utter sounds in single syllable bursts of staccato, which don't have meaning in themselves: it's up to the audience to intuit the connections themselves. If, of course, there "is" any meaning we can deduce. Artaud was fascinated by primal states of experience that cannot be articulated - hence the animalistic grunts and piercing screams. Orchestra and singers all on the same communal level. Rihm's use of percussion is absolutely deliberate. because percussion reflects the rhythms of the human body, heartbeats, breathing, movement. This performance was exceptionally muscular and physical, yet mesmerizing just as the rite it (sort of) describes would have been. Savage as the subject may be, performance needs to be accurate and extremely tightly focussed or the whole point is missed. This performance was so powerful that it far eclipsed Kent Nagano and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican last year (read my piece here). The narrator, Graham Forbes Valentine, who bore a disconcerting resemblance to Artaud, was so forceful that he seemed possessed, the tightness of his articulation like an elemental force oif nature. Luckily I was able to watch it three times through before Digital Concert Hall pulled it. Explains why I'm too tired to write about Rossini Semiramide at the Proms, which I loved. So don't miss the next livestream on Tuesday 6/9 when Valery Gergiev conducts the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in Shostakovich Symphony no 4 and Galina Ustvolskaya's Symphony no 3 "Jesus Messiah, save us", which I wrote about in July HERE. A striking piece I can't wait to hear again. Ivan Fischer and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin on 8/9 with Hans Werner Henze I vitalino raddoppiato for violin (Julia Fischer) and chamber orchestra. A beautifully expressive piece which could easily stand up to Bruckner 7, which I heard last week with Haitink and RCOA livestreamed from Amsterdam. Andris Nelsons conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker on Saturday 10th in Debussy Prélude à lʼaprès-midi dʼun faune, Edgard Varèse Arcana and Berlioz Symphonie fantastique. An intelligent programme presented, no doubt, with flair and extremely high musical standards. More Varèse (Déserts) and Ligeti (Violin Concerto, Pekka Kuuisto) the next day with Jonathan Nott and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie , followed by Beethoven 3 Eroica. Then Dudamel Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie. I heard this a few months back, but it's really for fans of the conductor rather than fans of the music. Kirill Petrenko conducts the Bayerisches Staatsorchester on 14/9 in Ligeti Lontano, Bartók Violin Concero no 1 (Frank Peter Zimmermann) and Richard Strauss Sinfonia domestica. Good combination, should be good. Then John Adams conducts an all John Adams concert on 17/9.
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Harding (Harmonia Mundi)We usually think of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in the context of the Romanticism burgeoning all around it at its 1830 premiere. Conductor Daniel Harding instead suggests, brilliantly, that we hear it as part of an ongoing French tradition exemplified only a century earlier by the swagger of the high baroque. Rameau’s suite of dances from Hippolyte et Aricie is an exuberant upbeat to a performance of the Symphonie that delights in the raw sonic capabilities of the orchestra. Harding’s own Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra are stylish in both. There’s some brazen playing to enjoy – the low brass in March to the Scaffold sound like a foghorn – but the impression of a lack of refinement is deceptive: the balance and pace are always tautly in check. Another Symphonie Fantastique, by the Concertgebouw, under Daniele Gatti, is released this month, but next to Harding’s it sounds grey. Continue reading...
Great composers of classical music