Monday, January 16, 2017
Nicola Benedetti is surely Scotland’s best known violinist. Have a look at one of her amazing recordings, and note the diversity of the individual tracks: Nicola Benedetti: My First Decade Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 5, with Tamas Andras, Thomas Carroll, Ksenija Sidorova, Petr Limonov Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 – Adagio, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jakub Hrusa conducting. Chopin: Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor, Op. post. With Petr Limonov (piano) Gardel: Por Una Cabeza Ksenija Sidorova, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Leonard Elschenbroich, Alexei Grynyuk Hess, N: Ladies in Lavender – main theme Tamas Andras, Thomas Carroll, Ksenija Sidorova, Petr Limonov Massenet: Meditation (from Thaïs), with London Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding conducting Monti, V: Csárdás Tamas Andras, Thomas Carroll, Ksenija Sidorova, Petr Limonov Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: III. Allegro vivacissimo, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Jakub Hrusa conducting. Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton conducting. Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Summer, RV315 – Presto, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Williams, John: Schindler’s List: Theme, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits conducting. All performed by Nicola Benedetti (violin) Just 29 years old, Nicola Benedetti has been making chart-topping recordings for more than 10 years. This album celebrates the best of those recordings, and her other successes – from winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2004, to her 2012 best-selling album ‘The Silver Violin’. A collection of great violin music – from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending to the Tchaikovsky and Bruch violin concertos and Arvo Part’s Spiegel Im Spiegel. The disc also features brand new recordings – Brahms’ invigorating Hungarian Dance no. 5, Monti’s ever-popular Czardas, and Chopin’s emotional Nocturne in C# minor. Let’s listen now to Ms. Benedetti playing the wonderful second movement of the Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano:
(Rubicon)A protege of Maria João Pires, Julien Brocal has a lot to live up to, and this disc – the first both for him and the new label Rubicon – does so beautifully. Brocal offers a thoughtful traversal of Chopin’s Op 28 Preludes, knitting together these 24 miniatures – some lasting barely half a minute – to form a coherent whole. His playing is quietly riveting, drawing the attention without grand gestures, and so focused that the melodies in ostensibly busy little pieces like No 3 and No 8 hold their stillness while the decorative gossamer accompaniment spirals around them. Only in the frantic No 16 does his composure seem rattled. He rises to the Sonata No 2 in B flat minor with the same intensity on an altogether more expansive scale, and the famous Funeral March that forms its climax is all the more tragic for its contained expression, subtly sighing phrasing and general lack of fuss. Continue reading...
Is the outgoing trickle turning into a flood? Today, the violinst Simone Lamsma – a favourite of the incoming NY Phil chief Jaap van Zweden – quit the crumbling mega-store and signed with boutique Solea Management. Solea also look after Chopin winner Seong-Jin Cho, Beatice Rana Fabien Gabel, the Modigliani Quartet and Olivier Latry.
By the time to read this the season will be over. So here are the parting shots divided in two articles each covering five events. A Monday benefit concert provided the unexpected pleasure of witnessing a piano recital by one of the remaining great veterans: the Brazilian Nelson Freire, an old friend of this theatre, in his middle seventies still a redoubtable virtuoso of magnificent technique and style. Presented by Dar Cultura, Fundación de Acción Social de Jabad, Freire gave a masterclass, so to speak, in his traversals of two fundamental Nineteenth Century Sonatas: Brahms´ Third, Op.5, and Chopin´s Second, Op.58. The Sonatas were played with scrupulous respect for the composers´ indications, readings of marvelous continuity, tonal beauty and control, which revealed the transcendent quality of both composers at their best. Before Brahms, some Bach (an Organ Prelude) arranged by Siloti; and before Chopin, Freire´s ideal way with the music of Villalobos: the beautiful Prelude from Bachianas Brasileiras Nº4 and three pieces from "A prole do bebé" ("The baby´s family"). Encores: a lovely performance of an especially expressive Chopin Mazurka (Op.17/4) and a brilliant one of Grieg´s "Wedding Day in Troldhaugen", one of his most joyous pieces (he lived there). The penultimate concert (Nº 14) of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic was one of the best. We had the revelation of a talented conductor, Carl St Clair, and the best Argentine pianist of his generation, Nelson Goerner, playing Tchaikovsky´s First concerto with amazing firmness. St Clair is a Texan disciple of Bernstein and in his early sixties (I believe) he conducts with the intensity and concentration of his mentor. His career has had two very different high points: Principal Conductor in Weimar and in Berlin´s Komische Oper; and for twenty years the PC of the Pacific Symphony; plus guest conductor with a host of first-rank orchestras. And he has recorded all the Villalobos symphonies. He started with what may be a local première, Bernstein´s "Slava!", subtitled "a political overture", a 4-minute dazzling homage to the composer´s great friend nicknamed Slava, cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, revered here in both capacities. Why political? Because his being named PC of Washington´s National Symphony was a way to recognize both his musical talent and courageous anti-Stalin attitude; and at the time the Cold War was still on. St Clair made the Phil sound like a top rank USA orchestra. Goerner, as unassuming and non-charismatic as ever, played a supervirtuoso concert with such aplomb and exactness that one could only hear open-mouthed at such a display, always very musical; in some passages the only thing lacking for perfection was the mercurial hobgoblin touch of Argerich. And St Clair galvanizing the Phil to offer Goerner the right give-and-take and rhythmic strength he needed to shine as he did. The encore was a beautiful performance of Chopin´s Nocturne Nº15, Op.55/1. St Clair talked to the audience after the interval, an impassioned defense of Shostakovich´s Tenth Symphony as the expression of his pent-up suffering during the Stalin years. And the conductor then proceeded to prove it with an enormously concentrated and beautifully played performance of what is arguably the composer´s most important symphony. The impact of this great work in St Clair´s reading was one of the great moments of the year. He should come back. An unfortunate medical delay allowed me to hear only the second part of Leonid Grin´s concert with the Phil (last of the season, Nº 15). So I missed Weber´s "Oberon" Overture and Tchaikovsky´s Concerto with the Phil´s concertino Pablo Saraví, but I could hear a thrilling interpretation of the best Glazunov Symphony, Nº 5 (1895), warm, melodic and admirably structured music. Grin is Ukrainian, a disciple of Kyril Kondrashin, now in his early sixties. He has held posts at Saarbrücken, Tampere (Finland), San José Symphony (California) and currently at Santiago de Chile. Two decades ago he visited the Phil repeatedly. His solid métier and natural empathy with the Russian repertoire provided an exhilarating ending to the symphonic year. The special interest of the National Symphony´s concert at the Blue Whale conducted by Christian Baldini was the inclusion of essential Sibelius: his last Symphony, Nº7 (1925), rarely done here; just one vast movement of consumate organic cohesion dominated by an unforgettable trombone theme, it crowns the career of the most eminent Nordic symphonist. After good performances of two standards (Beethoven´s Violin Concerto with the National´s concertino Luis Roggero and Sibelius´ "Finland"), Baldini showed his insight and fine technique in the Seventh, abetted by a great trombone player and a responsive orchestra. The final concert of the National Symphony was conducted by the Chilean Francisco Rettig, much appreciated as a Mahlerian. He closed the season with some of Mahler´s extraordinary Lieder with orchestra, certainly the best in history. The orchestral work and Rettig´s sensitive conducting gave much pleasure, but alas, the baritone Luciano Garay showed a startling decline of his vocal means both in the wonderful "Songs of a wayfarer" ("Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen") and in the songs allotted to him in the endlessly varied "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" ("The magic horn of youth"). Mezzo Alejandra Malvino was her reliable, musicianly self both in her participation in "DKW" and in the "Rückert Songs" that end with a marvel, "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" ("I have retired from the World"), though more volume came amiss at several points. A sour note: the unacceptable policies of having no comments on the hand programme and even worse, no subtitles; this is the CCK´s fault, not the NS´, and I hope it is revised next year. For Buenos Aires Herald
Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the Chopin Competition, is a fabulous artist with a brilliant future. But he should never be allowed to talk to camera until he acquires a pull-on charisma set from his local makeover shop. Which DG genius thought this chat was going to help sell records?
Further to yesterday’s adventures of Eliane Rodrigues with a broken Steinway pedal, the Vienna-based pianist Albert Frantz was reminded of an incident involving a master of the instrument: Paul Badura-Skoda once stepped onstage to perform a Chopin concerto. Since his plane had arrived late, he missed the rehearsal. The orchestral introduction was his only opportunity to try out the piano… and he discovered that the sustain pedal didn’t work! As he’s (seriously) a certified Steinway technician, he crawled under the piano during the performance and tried to fix it before the first solo entrance. They did end up having to stop the performance and call in a technician, but it left a lasting impression on the audience. We asked Albert to check a few details, so he called Eva Badura-Skoda, 87, who said the episode happened in Sweden, many years ago. She reports: that he was in fact able to repair the pedal! Apparently it was the connection that had become undone probably when they moved the piano onstage, so it wasn’t a major repair, but certainly a happy surprise for the audience.
Frédéric François Chopin (22 February 1810 / 1 March - 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer, virtuoso pianist, and music teacher, of French-Polish parentage. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music. Chopin is also known as "The poet of the Piano". Chopin was born in ?elazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his musical education there. Following the Russian suppression of the Polish November 1830 Uprising, Chopin settled in Paris as part of the Polish Great Emigration. He supported himself as a composer and piano teacher, giving few public performances. From 1837 to 1847 he carried on a relationship with the French woman writer George Sand. For most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39. Most of Chopin's works involve the piano. They are technically demanding but emphasize nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the musical form known as the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, étude, impromptu and prélude.
Great composers of classical music