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THE WORLD’S BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS

EST 1923 JANUARY 2017

CL ASSIC ALLY classically.co.uk

THE CARELESS WHISPERS OF

GEORGE MICHAEL Most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.

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The Biber’s mystery sonatas: which recording to own? The Great operas of all time. The recording of the month.


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C L A S S I C A L LY

It was founded in 1923 by the Scottish author Compton Mackenzie. The magazine presents the Gramophone Awards each year to the classical recordings.

The fun to be found in making musical lists.

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he magazine presents the Gramophone Awards each year to the classical recordings which it considers the finest in a variety of categories. In the title bar of its website Gramophone claims to be: “The world’s authority on classical music since 1923.” This used to appear on the front cover of every issue; recent editions have changed the wording to “The world’s best classical music reviews.” Its circulation, including digital subscribers, was 24,380 in 2014. Apart from the annual Gramophone Awards, each month features a dozen recordings as Gramophone Editor’s Choice (now Gramophone Choice). Then, in the annual Christmas edition, there is a review of the year’s recordings where each critic selects four or five recordings - these selections make up the Gramophone Critics’ Choice. In April 2012, Gramophone launched its Hall of Fame, an annual listing of the men and women (artists, producers, engineers, A&R directors and label founders) who have contributed to the classical record industry. Glenn Gould wrote a parody review in the style of Gramophone for the liner notes to his 1968 recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony transcribed for solo piano by Liszt. The review, which purports to be from “the English magazine The Phonograph”

includes this passage: The first 50 were revealed in the May 2012 issue and on Gramophone’s website, and each year will see another intake of honorees into the Hall of Fame. In late 2012, Gramophone announced the launch of a new archive service. Subscribers to the digital edition are now able to read complete PDFs of every issue of the magazine dating back to its launch in 1923, a substantial improvement on the previous service where readers were only able to read OCR text versions of archive magazine articles. Gramophone is a magazine published monthly in London by Haymarket for classical music, particularly recordings. It was started in 1923 by the Scottish author Compton Mackenzie. The magazine presents the Gramophone Awards each year to the classical recordings which it considers the best in a variety of categories. In the title bar of its website, Gramophone says they are “The world’s authority on classical music since 1923.” This used to appear on the front cover of every issue, although recent editions have changed the wording to “The world’s best classical music reviews.” martin cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRBUTORS

THE REVIEWERS Valda Filler, Issac Ferrett,Rosann Gloria, Rodger Linen, Esther Fishback, Marhta Standridge, Elmo Gately, Page Senger ,Herta Canez,Graciela Franck,Cathie Pesce,Tina Withey,Eloise Fleurant,Shavon Schmit,Timothy Hower,Clement Cassidy,Genny Learn,Loma Mcelhaney ,Willy Beatty,Dominick Norris,Annis Nold,Ettie Garces,Olin Caine,Darnell Colosimo,Tom Clayton,Jennine Thornhill,Brock Roscoe,Marlo Maurin,Salome Saltzman,Kyoko classically.co.uk

For over 90 years Gramophone has been the world's leading authority on classical music. Every issue is packed with over 125 reviews of the latest downloads, CDs, DVDs, In addition to reviews, our interviews and features help readers explore greater depth the recordings that magazine covers, as well as offer insight into the work of composers and performers.The magazine for the classical collector, as well as for the enthusiast starting a voyage of discovery.

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ICONS

George Micheal

Andrew Ridgeley and Sir Elton John have led tributes to pop superstar George Michael, who has died at his home in Oxfordshire aged 53. Michael’s former Wham! bandmate wrote on Twitpublicist said: “It is with great sadness that we can conter that he was “heartbroken by the loss of my friend” firm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed who would be “4ever loved”. John, another friend and away peacefully at home over the Christmas period. collaborator, wrote on Instagram of his “deep shock” at The family would ask that their privacy be respected at the loss of “the kindest, this difficult and emotional time. most generous soul and a will be no further comment George Micheal: World mourns pop There brilliant artist”. at this stage.”

star and gay rights champion tributes

Michael “passed away Michael’s death prompted an and reactions peacefully” at home, outpouring of emotional tribaccording to his publicist. His manager, Michael Lipputes with musicians, celebrities and politicians posting man, said the singer had died from heart failure in bed. their memories of Michael on social media. Among Michael, who was set to release a documentary in 2017, those who remembered him were Madonna, who wrote rose to fame as half of Wham!, known for their hits on Twitter: “Farewell my friend! Another great artist Club Tropicana and Last leaves us”. Also paying tribute, Christmas. He had a highly DEFINING MOMENTS contemporaries Duran Duran successful solo career that referred to the loss of “another included the songs Careless talented soul” in a year which Whisper, Faith, Outside and Michael’s 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice which has seen the deaths of sevVol 1 had been set to be reissued, accompanied by a eral major-league rock and pop Freedom! 90. new film featuring Stevie Wonder, John and the su- stars, among them David Bowie, permodels who starred in the video to his hit single Prince and Leonard Cohen. Rick Michael – who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayi- Freedom! 90. Parfitt, guitarist in Status Quo, otou – had 11 UK No 1s and died on Christmas Eve at the age sold more than 100m albums 1998, an episode that led him to acknowledge his of 68. during a career spanning homosexuality and his relationship with Kenny almost four decades. His last Goss. Brian May, the Queen guitarist, album, Symphonica, was said the news of Michael’s death released in 2014. was “beyond sad” and LaToya In May 2013, Michael had to be airlifted to hospital Jackson said he had “an amazing with a head injury after falling from his vehicle on gift”. Martin Fry, the lead singer Thames Valley police said an ambulance had attended the M1. and songwriter with ABC, said a house on 25 December on Twitter: “Absolutely devastatin Goring, Oxfordshire, at ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS ed to hear of the loss of George 1.42pm. They said the death Michael.” Released: 24 July 1984 was being treated as “unexSinging legend George Michael Format: 3” CD 7” 12” cassette plained but not suspicious” has finally been laid to rest in CD and they would not comment North London. Recorded: 1983–84 further until after a postmorGenre: Blue-eyed soul, smooth tem. A service, attended by family jazz, synthpop In a statement, the star’s and close friends, was held in 4

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ICONS

The 2017 BRIT Awards remembered George Michael’s legacy Wednesday with a pair of tributes as the singer’s Wham! bandmates saluted Michael before Coldplay’s Chris Martin performed his 1986 song “A Different Corner. Michael’s Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley and the duo’s backing singers Pepsi & Shirlie (real names Helen DeMacque and Shirlie Holliman) came onstage following the In Memoriam classically.co.uk

portion of the ceremony to eulogize the singer. On Christmas Day 2016, the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation, an icon of his era, and my beloved friend, George Michael, was His is a legacy of unquestionable brilliance and one that will continue to shine and resonate for generations to come.” CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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From funky fashion, to legendary music, He gave us all. (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)

DAVID BOWIE

David Bowie only discovered his cancer was terminal three months before he died, according to a documentary marking the anniversary of the superstar’s death. The film, David Bowie: The Last Five Years – due to air on BBC2 on Saturday night, a day before what would have been the singer’s 70th birthday – reveals that Bowie discovered his treatment was to be stopped while he was filming the music video for his final single, Lazarus. Death stars: music’s great losses of 2016 Read more Bowie died on 10 January 2016, days after turning 69 and the release of his 25th studio album, Blackstar, having kept his illness a secret from the world. “David said: ‘I just want to make it a simple performance video’,” said Johan Renck who directed the video, which features Bowie singing lines such as “Look up here, I’m in heaven” from a hospital bed. He insists the common interpretation of the video – that the singer was hinting that he was on his deathbed – is wrong, because he came up with the concept a week 6

CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

before Bowie received his final diagnosis. “I immediately said ‘the song is called Lazarus, you should be in the bed’,” says Renck. “To me it had to do with the biblical aspect of it ... it had nothing to

do with him being ill. “I found out later that, the week we were shooting, it was when he was told it was over, they were ending treatments and that his illness had won,” said Renck.

His top 10 most essential song

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Hunky Dory

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

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Low

Station to Station classically.co.uk


REMEMBRING the legend Bowie’s death came as a shock to the world. He had only shared news of his illness with those closest to him, and those collaborators who needed to know for professional reasons, such as Lazarus producer Robert Fox and his long-time friend and collaborator Tony Visconti, who both also appear in the documentary. Whately emphasised how much energy Bowie had thrown into his final three projects, particularly Blackstar and Lazarus, right up until his death. “Often he would go and record in the studio and then go and watch the rehearsals for Lazarus in the evening, or talk about the play in the morning, go to the studio, and then come back. It was quite an extraordinary workload,” said Whately. “I think everyone would like me to say he was turning up to the studio to record Blackstar and he was terribly ill, but I don’t think he was. There are musicians in the Blackstar band

“Heroes”

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Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

Diamond Dogs

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Aladdin Sane

out? “We just don’t know,” said Whately.The documentary also explores Bowie’s increasingly uncomfortable relationship with fame, which he had embraced at the beginning of his career as a means to gain creative freedom, but in later years.

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who didn’t even know. We all now know he was ill, we know he was undergoing treatment, but it doesn’t seem to have had an effect at all on his output. Was he a man who took on these multiple projects because he sensed his time was running

Blackstar

The Man Who Sold The World CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (German: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks) is based in Munich, Germany, one of two full-size symphony orchestras operated under the auspices of Bayerischer Rundfunk, or Bavarian Broadcasting (BR). Its primary concert venues are the Philharmonie am Gasteig and the Herkulessaal in the Residenz. The orchestra was founded in 1949, with members of an earlier radio orchestra in Munich as the core personnel. Eugen Jochum was the orchestra’s first chief conductor, from 1949 until 1960. Subsequent chief conductors have included Rafael Kubelík, Sir Colin Davis and Lorin Maazel. Since 2003, the orchestra’s chief conductor has been Mariss Jansons, whose current contract extends through 2021. [1] Jansons has regularly campaigned for a new concert hall for the orchestra

Latest Release Tchaikovsky: The Queen Of Spades Mariss Jansons /Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

effective Gramophone poll from a decade ago, it landed sixth, which was considered a surprise.[1] Not a surprise to anyone who regularly hears top orchestras, though. It might be even better than that, if orchestra-ranking made any sense… or depending on what wants from a symphonic body. As far as the combination of technical ability, accuracy, precision, adaptation to a work’s needs or a conductor’s wishes are concerned, there is not one orchestra I know that can match the BRSO… except for the Cleveland Orchestra or perhaps a well-oiled Berlin Philharmonic. I wouldn’t claim that these characteristics are the only or even most important aspects one wants from an orchestra, but it sure is something. Americans between Washington DC and Montréal can now go hear for themselves, rather than just on the orchestra’s many recordings or worse: taking my word for it) and check if such lavish praise will find itself justified by the concerts on the orchestra’s largest North American tour since 2003 with Lorin Maazel.

The orchestra brings with it a few blockbuster symphonies, starting since the start of his with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony BRSO tenure.[2] (a review from their Munich performance here) in Washington and The orchestra Chapel Hill. That’s grand cinematic participates in the symphonic stuff, even if I am not “Musica Viva” convinced that Mariss Jansons is concerts, founded by the composer Karl the most natural Mahler conducAmadeus Hartmann, to this day.[3] tor. (Then again, one of the finest Mahler performances I have heard The orchestra has recorded for a number came from Jansons, which goes to of commercial labels, including Deutshow that one never knows.) Also sche Grammophon,[4] RCA, and EMI. along on the trip is Erich Wolfgang [5][6] The orchestra received the 2006 Korngold’s Violin Concerto, perGrammy Award for Best Orchestral formed by Leonidas Kavakos. Performance for its recording of Shostakovich’s 13th Symphony. The orchestra That’s a particularly fine choice for has recently begun to produce recordthe arguably, allegedly Hollywoodings under its own BR-Klassik label. esque work as this master of the

2015

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orches- MESMERIZING TUNES tra (BRSO) is one of the best orchestras They still continue to mesmerize in the world. In that infamously silly but us with their tunes. 8

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Richard Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos CD

Popular albums

2015 cool Sibelius Violin Concerto is unlikely to play ham it up… and it sounds best when a smidgen of late-romantic indulgence and a cool head are in fine balance. All those stops are promising, but Montreal really has the best deal, if you accept that the concert is a little on the long side: Kavakos with Korngold as a substantial-yet-light appetizer and then the experience of hearing Shostakovich with Mariss Jansons and this Bavarians… that’s just about a sure-fire treat, especially since Mariss Jansons can make any orchestra perform authentic, bonechilling Shostakovich. But even in his superb Shostakovich Cycle on EMI/Warner, the recordings with the Bavarians stand out. Go listen and maybe you hear what I usually hear: A gobsmackingly good orchestra of which I like to say that “they have the ‘best worst’ of any orchestra”, which is to say that even at their least inspired they sound very good; that they never fall beneath a very high level. It seems reasonable to assume that orchestra and conductor are pumped about this American On a little side note: The Bavarians will pass with particular interest through the new orchestral halls on this tour, namely Montreal Symphony House, which was finished in 2011, and the totally renovated Memorial Hall (2005) at Chapel Hill… since they are in the process of finally getting a hall for themselves, for the first time in their history and long overdue, since the historic Herkulessaal is too small (for the audience and much of the repertoire) and playing at the backup quarters, the Philharmonic classically.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Orchestra / Mariss Jansons (conductor), Barbican Hall, London, 11.4.2017. (CS)

Hall (where the Munich Philharmonic resides permanently), like ‘staying at a friend’s place and not knowing whether his mother might not also be coming’, to paraphrase Jansons from a conversation we had in 2009.

Most loved album

Richard Strauss: Rosenkavalier Suite; Till Eulenspiegel; Vier Letzte Lieder 2015 The orchestra brings with it a few blockbuster symphonies, starting with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (a review from their Munich performance here) in Washington and Chapel Hill. That’s grand cinematic symphonic stuff, even if I am not convinced that Mariss Jansons is the most natural Mahler conductor. (Then again, one of the finest Mahler performances I have heard came from Jansons, which goes to show that one never knows.) Also along on the trip is Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto, classically.co.uk

performed by Leonidas Kavakos. That’s a particularly fine choice for the arguably, allegedly Hollywoodesque work as this master of the cool Sibelius Violin Concerto is unlikely to play ham it up… and it sounds best when a smidgen of late-romantic indulgence and a cool head are in fine balance. Also on the program is Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony – every bit as monumental as Mahler’s Fifth: To quote myself from another occasion writing about that symphony: The Seventh Symphony has many great stories attached to it, starting with the fact that, although composed and premiered in Kuybyshev (todays Samara), it was performed in Leningrad when the city was still surrounded by the Wehrmacht. Russian artillery halted as loudspeakers blared it across the fields, live, to the besieging Germans. (The exact effect it had is not known.) A year prior, Shostakovich had posed for rather adorable propaganda photos as a volunteer Home Guard in the firefighting brigade, ready to protect the Leningrad Conservatory from

incendiaries—a version of which famously ended up on the cover of Time Magazine (July 20, 1942). Then there’s the bit how the score was flown—on microfilm and via Teheran—to the US. There Arturo Toscanini, Leopold Stokowski, and Serge Koussevitzky started duking it out over who would get to perform the American premiere. Toscanini won in that he got to perform the radio broadcast and North American premiere on July 19th, 1942. (When Shostakovich later heard the record of performance, he was apparently aghast.) Koussevitzky meanwhile, the Russian of the lot, won the consolation prize and got to conduct the first concert performance one month later.) The work, a popular and enjoyably crude humdinger of a symphony, made Shostakovich an instant international cultural icon in the free world.

CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Soon after it was founded by Eugen of its previous chief conductors Jochum in 1949, the Symphonieas well as to the great flexibility orchester des Bayerischen Rundand solid stylistic security of each funks developed into an internationindividual mually renowned orchestra, its fame sician. continuously expanded and fortified by its intensive touring activities. The orchestra owes its extraordinariFostering new ly wide ranging repertoire and sound music has an spectrum to the program preferences especially long tradition at the SymphonieorchesUpcoming events ter des Bayerischen Rundfunks Saturday 16 April 2016 with appearances in conjunction Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with the “musica viva” series, Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI, US. founded in 1945 by Karl Amadeus. Saturday 07 November 2015 Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Eric Owens Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany. Friday 06 November 2015 Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Eric Owens ,Germany. classically.co.uk

Hartmann, as one of the orchestra’s main assignments right from the start. At these concerts, Munich audiences have witnessed legendary performances of contemporary works at which the

composers themselves generally stood on the podium of the orchestra. A further special feature is the encouragement of up-andcoming young musicians. In conjunction with the ARD International Music Competition, the Symphonieorchester accompanies young musicians both in the final rounds as well as in the symphonic closing concert featuring the prize winners. Since October of 2001 the Academy of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks has been doing valuable educational work by preparing young musicians for their later careers and thus building a solid bridge between education and professional activity. CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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classically.co.uk


Herbert von Karajan Omnivorous Austrian conductor ruled in Berlin and Salzburg, harnessing recording technology and new media to market ‘perfect’ recordings and develop a personality cult.

H

erbert von Karajan was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, and he was a dominant figure in European classical music from the mid1950s until his death.[1] Part of the reason for this was the large number of recordings he made and their prominence during his lifetime. By one estimate he was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records. There is widespread agreement that Karajan had a special gift for extracting beautiful sounds from an orchestra. Two reviews from the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs illustrate the point. Concerning a recording of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, a canonical Romantic work, the Penguin authors wrote, “Karajan’s is a sensual performance of Wagner’s masterpiece, caressingly beautiful and with superbly refined playing from the Berlin Philharmonic”. About Karajan’s recording of Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies, the same authors wrote, “big-band Haydn with a vengeance ... It goes without saying that the quality of the orchestral playing is superb. However, these are heavy-handed accounts, closer to Imperial Berlin than to Paris ... the Minuets are very slow indeed ... These performances are too charmless and wanting in grace to be whole-heartedly recommended.”[citation needed][40] The same Penguin Guide nevertheless gives the highest compliments to Karajan’s recordings of the two Haydn oratorios, The Creation and The Sea-

sons.[41] Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon, who wrote the notes for Karajan’s recordings of Haydn’s 12 London symphonies, states that Karajan’s recordings are among the finest he knows.[citation needed] Among 20th-century musical works, Karajan had a strong preference for conducting and recording works from the first half of the century, by such composers as Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Bartók, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Puccini, Honegger, Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, Hindemith, Nielsen and Stravinsky. Indeed, his performances of works written post-1950 were rare. A notable exception was Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony, written in 1953, which he performed many times and recorded twice. He and Shostakovich met during a tour with the Berlin Philharmonic culminating in Moscow in May 1969[42] and Karajan had stated in an interview with the German TV-channel ZDF in 1983 that if he had been a composer instead of conductor, his music would have sounded similar to Shostakovich’s. Despite those sentiments, Karajan’s Shostakovich performances and recordings were restricted to the Tenth Symphony only. Karajan conducted the Berlin Philharmonic in Hans Werner Henze’s Sonata per Archi (1958) and Antifone (1960), the only Henze works he ever performed. In 1960 he performed Ildebrando Pizzetti’s opera Assassinio nella cattedrale written two years before. Karajan premieres were also rare: he premiered Carl Orff’s De Temporum Fine Comoedia in 1973 with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra.

top-selling classical music recording artist of all time.

classically.co.uk

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CLASSICALLY

HANDEL IN THE OPERA HOUSE

The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden

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Dominates the Theaterplatz on the river Elbe, forming the centrepiece of the historic old city. t is also home to the Semperoper ballet. The building is located near the Elbe River in the historic centre of Dresden, Germany. The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841. After a devastating fire in 1869, the opera house was rebuilt, partly again by Semper, and completed in 1878. The opera house has a long history of premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Semperoper was built by the architect Gottfried Semper. It opened on 13 April 1841 with an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. The building style itself is debated among

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many, as it has features that appear in three styles: early Renaissance and Baroque, with Corinthian style pillars typical of Greek classical revival. Perhaps the most suitable label for this style would be eclecticism, where influences from many styles are used, a practice most common during this period. Nevertheless, the opera building, Semper’s first, is regarded as one of the most beautiful European opera houses. Following a devastating fire in 1869, the citizens of Dresden immediately set about rebuilding their opera house. They demanded that Gottfried Semper do the reconstruction, even though he was then in exile because of

his involvement in the May 1849 uprising in Dresden. The architect had his son, Manfred Semper, build the second opera house using his plans. Completed in 1878, it was built in Neo-Renaissance style. During the construction period, performances were held at the Gewerbehaussaal, which opened in 1870.[1] The building is considered to be a prime example of “Dresden Baroque” architecture. It is situated on the Theatre Square in central Dresden on the bank of the Elbe River. On top of the portal there is a Panther quadriga with a statue of Dionysos. classically.co.uk


After a devastating fire the opera was rebuilt by Semper’s son The interior was created by archi- Manfred in 1878. Today numertects of the time, such as Johanous operas and ballet performnes Schilling. Monuments on the ances, mostly classical, entertain portal depict artists, such as Johann the visitors. Also various guided Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich and themed tours allow tourists Schiller, William Shakespeare, to explore the magnificent buildSophocles, Molière and Euripides. ing and its sumptuous interiors. The building also features work by Moreover there is a chic restaurant Ernst Rietschel and Ernst Julius Bean&Beluga, which offers deliHähnel.[2] In the pre-war years, cious meals and a list of unique the Semperoper premiered many of wines. the works of Richard Strauss. Go and see an opera or a ballet performance. Also explore this arIn 1945, during the last months chitectural wonder as well as learn of World War II, the building was more about the German culture largely destroyed again, this time – after all the country has proby the bombing of Dresden and duced a number of world-famous subsequent firestorm, leaving only composers! While the exterior of the exterior shell standing. Exactly the Semperoper if magnificent, the 40 years later, on 13 February same is also true for its interior. 1985, the opera’s reconstruction The interior was created by several was completed. It was rebuilt to be famous architects of the time toalmost identical to its appearance gether with skilled local craftsmen. before the war, but with the benefit One thing to note regarding the of new stage machinery and an inside of the Semperoper is that accompanying modern rear service some materials inside the opera is building .The Semperoper reonot what they seem to be. What pened with the opera that was per- might look like marble usually is formed just before the building’s plaster, carefully molded, painted destruction in 1945, Carl Maria and polished by skilled craftsmen. von Weber’s “Der Freischütz”. Even a lot of the wood paneling is When the Elbe flooded in 2002, made the same way.

THE RECORDINGS The curtain closes on »La clemenza di Tito / Titus« Bettina Bruinier’s staging of Mozart’s final opera, »La clemenza di Tito / Titus« will be #WHYWEDANCE: Individual Choreographies Semperoper Ballett answer the question as to why they have dedicated their lives to dance in »Ring Cycles« for 2018 sell out Within only one day, tickets have sold out for both cycles of »Der Ring des Nibelungen« scheduled for January and February 2018 under the baton classically.co.uk

the building suffered heavy water damage. With substantial help from around the world, it reopened in December of that year.

The Semperoper, Dresden, Germany. After publishing Top 10 Opera Houses in the World our dear readers suggested we checked out the Semperoper as well. It is indeed one stunning concert hall! Part of the historic center of beautiful Dresden, the opera house was built in 1841 by Gottfried Semper. The very first opera performed here was written by German composer Carl Maria von Weber. Many people even find the inside more beautiful after they heard that the marble they though was real, was actually a painted replica. The beautiful architectural style of the original Semperoper has been debated among many, as it had features that appear in the Early Renaissance style. even features Corinthian style pillars which are typical of classical Greek architecture. Situated on the beautiful Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House welcomes millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Experience this iconic venue by What’s on... attending one of the many worldclass performances, including Academy of St Martin in the Fields opera, ballet, plays, live music, Talk symphonies, comedy, contempoHorrible Harriet rary dance, musical theatre and Fastel Elgar;s cello concerto more. Billy Bragg & Joe Henry You can also absorb spectacular Two Weddings, One Bride views over a cocktail at the OpHong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra era Bar. Watch Sydney Harbour Sydney Comedy Festival Gala shimmer at the sunset illuminates Carmen on Sydney Harbour Omega Ensemble - Songs from the Bush the brilliant Sydney Opera House Todd McKenney Sings Peter Allen - 20th sails. Anniversary Tour

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THE CLASSICALLY COLLECTION Biber’s Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas Biber’s Mystery (rosary) Sonatas are a collection of 15 short sonatas for violin and continuo, with a final passacaglia for solo violin.

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t is presumed that the Mystery Sonatas were completed around 1676, but they were unknown until their publication in 1905. The music of Biber was never entirely forgotten due to the high technical skill required to play many of his works; this is especially true of his works for violin. Once rediscovered, the Mystery Sonatas became Biber’s most widely known composition. The work is prized for its virtuosic vocal style, scordatura tunings and its programmatic structure.

new technical skills with new compositional expression and was himself able to accomplish techniques that no other known violinist could at his time (Dann 2011). The Mystery Sonatas include very rapid passages, demanding double stops and an extended range, reaching positions on the violin that musicians had not yet been able to play (Hill 2005).

The original and only manuscript is stored in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. There is no title page, and the manuscript begins with a dedication to his employer, Archbishop Gandolph. Because of the missing title page, Biber wrote a large body of it is uncertain what Biber intendinstrumental music and is ed the formal title of the piece most famous for his violin to be (Holman 2000) and which sonatas, but he also wrote a instruments he intended for the large amount of sacred vocal accompaniment (Manze 2004). music, of which many works Although scholars assume that were polychoral (the most the sonatas were probably writimpressive being his Missa ten around the year 1676, there Salisburgensis). In his sonatas is evidence that they were not all for violin, Biber integrated written at the same time or in the 16 CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

same context. This means that Biber could have collected the sonatas from his previously composed works to form a collection and replaced inappropriate suites with new and descriptive compositions. However, they are assembled into a remarkably coherent large-scale form which is also relevant to the Mysteries of the Rosary. classically.co.uk


THE CLASSICALLY COLLECTION

Ent in conet rem latium nost hario volum dolut faccab id mod mos non et que audis The 15 Mysteries of the Rosary, practiced in the so-called “Rosary processions” since the 13th century, are meditations on important moments in the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. During these processions, believers walked around a cycle of fifteen paintings and sculptures that were placed at specific points of a church or classically.co.uk

another building. In this tradition, at every point a series of prayers was to be recited and related to the beads on the rosary (this is the reason why they are also named the Rosary Sonatas). When they performed this ritual, the faithful also lis-

tened to the corresponding biblical passages and commentaries. According to Holman, it is presumed that at the time they would listen to Biber’s musical commentary to accompany this ritual of meditation (Holman 2000).Each sonata corresponds to one of the fifteen Mysteries and a Passacaglia for solo violin which closes the collection. CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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Remebering the opera legend: Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Citing Brain Tumor, Withdraws From Opera. The great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was found to have a brain tumor in 2015, announced Thursday that he was withdrawing from all coming opera engagements, including a run as Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at the Metropolitan Opera next spring. “It is with great sadness that I must withdraw from opera performances for the 18 CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

foreseeable future,” Mr. Hvorostovsky, 54, said in a statement. “I have been experiencing balance issues associated with my illness, making it extremely difficult for me to perform in staged productions.” Hvorostovsky came to international prominence in 1989 when he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, beating local favorite Bryn Terfel classically.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS viata. He has since sung at virtually every major opera house, including the Metropolitan Opera (debut 1995), the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Berlin State Opera, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera. He is especially renowned for his portrayal of the title character in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin; The New York Times described him as “born to play the role. In 2002, Hvorostovsky performed at the Russian Children’s Welfare Society’s major fund raiser, the “Petrushka Ball”. He is an Honorary Director of the charity. [2][3] A tall man with a striking head of prematurely silver hair, Hvorostovsky has achieved international acclaim as an opera performer as well as a concert artist. He was cast in People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people, a rare occurrence for a classical musician. His high, medium-weight voice has the typical liquid timbre

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

RUSSIAN OPERATIC BARITONE

in the final round. His performance included Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” and “Per me giunto...O Carlo ascolta” from Verdi’s Don Carlos. His international concert recitals began immediately (London debut, 1989; New York 1990). His operatic debut in the West was at the Nice Opera in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (1989). In Italy he debuted at La Fenice as Eugene Onegin, a success that sealed his reputation, and made his American operatic debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1993) in La traclassically.co.uk

“I will continue to give concerts and recitals as well as make recordings,” he said. “Singing is my life, and I want to continue bringing joy to people worldwide.” of Russian baritones. A recital programme of new arrangements of songs from the World War II era, Where Are You My Brothers?, was given in the spring of 2003 in front of an audience of 6,000 at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and seen on Russian Television by over 90 million viewers. The same programme was performed with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for survivors of the Siege of Leningrad on 16 January 2004. In recent years Hvorostovsky’s stage repertoire has almost entirely consisted of Verdi operas such as Un ballo in maschera, La traviata and Simon Boccanegra. In 2009 he appeared in Il trovatore in a David McVicar production at the Metropolitan Opera with Sondra Radvanovsky. In June 2015 Hvorostovsky announced that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and canceled all his performances through August. Family representatives say that he will be treated at London’s cancer hospital Royal Marsden. In spite of his illness Hvorostovky returned to the stage at the Metropolitan Opera .in September . CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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C L A S S I C A L LY RECORDING OF THE MONTH New Amsterdam Records is proud to announce the first-ever vinyl edition of Caroline Shaw’s seminal Prize and Grammy Award-winning Partita for 8 Voices,.

Partita for 8 Voices Roomful of Teeth The adventurous and renowned vocal octet Roomful of Teeth released their debut self-titled album Roomful of Teeth in October 2012, which was subsequently nominated for three GRAMMY awards and won for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance in 2014.

Roomful of Teeth’s From the neo-alpine yodel on Rinde Eckert’s “Cesca’s View” to Caleb Bur- utterly unique aphans’s stirring post-minimalist take on proach to singing bel canto singing in “No,” the album helped to inspire and breathes fresh life into the a cappella shape the work durlandscape. One of this generation’s ing its creation. most dynamic vocal talents, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, contributes Sarah Kirkland Snider contribute as two electrifying songs that explore well: Brittelle’s daring “Amid the a range of world-inspired grooves. Minotaurs” pushes and pulls before African pygmy yodels, Inuit rhythmic opening into a heart-stopping sopulsing, Appalachian hymn tunes, and bracing Eastern European belting all filter through Garbus’s powerful compositional voice. For her Pulitzer Prize-winning four-part composition Partita for 8 Voices, Caroline Shaw uses her insider vantage as a Roomful of Teeth vocalist to create a sonically exquisite and emotionally charged journey through the ensemble’s soundworld. New Amsterdam co-directors William Brittelle, Judd Greenstein, and Jan Hocek Zápisky melomanovy 20 CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

prano solo; Snider’s otherworldly “The Orchard” intertwines haunting vocals with the text of poet Nathaniel Bellows; and Greenstein’s three pieces explore the group’s polyphony at its most lively, tender, and affecting. Altogether, the album is a 13-piece showcase of this adventurous ensemble’s staggering range, resulting in an entirely unforgettable listening experience. Additionally, Roomful of Teeth member and New Amsterdam composer Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices, which is featured on the album, was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The Pulitzer jury praised Shaw’s composition as “a highly polished and inventive a cappella work uniquely embracing speech, whispers, sighs, murmurs, wordless melodies and novel vocal effects.” Composed over three summers from 2009-2011, in collaboration with Roomful of Teeth during their residencies at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. It is the only Pulitzer awarded to an a cappella vocal work, and Shaw, a singer in the ensemble, is the youngest composer ever to receive the prize. classically.co.uk


The score’s inscription reads: Partita is a simple piece. Born of a love of surface and structure, of the human voice, of dancing and tired ligaments, of music, and of our basic desire to draw a line from one point to another.

timbre originally helped to inspire and shape the work during its creation, and the ensemble continues to refine and reconsider the colors and small details with every performance.

Each movement takes a cue from the traditional baroque suite in initial meter and tone, but the familiar historic framework is soon stretched and broken through “speech, whispers, sighs, murmurs, wordless melodies and novel vocal effects” (Pulitzer jury citation). Roomful of Teeth’s utterly unique approach to singing and vocal

Allemande opens with the organized chaos of square dance calls overlapping with technical wall drawing directions of the artist Sol LeWitt, suddenly congealing into a bright, angular tune that never keeps its feet on the ground for very long. There are allusions to the movement’s intended simula-

classically.co.uk

tion of motion and of space in the short phrases of text throughout, which are sometimes sung and sometimes embedded as spoken texture. Sarabande’s quiet restraint in the beginning is punctured in the middle by an ecstatic, belted melody that resolves quietly at the end, followed soon after by the Inuit-inspired hocketed breaths of Courante. A wordless quotation of the American folk hymn “Shining Shore” appears at first as a musical non-sequitur but later recombines with the rhythmic breaths as this longest movement is propelled to its final gasp. CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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THE MUSICALLY COLLECTION

land (OR), Vancouver, Kansas City (MO), Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Chicago, Boston, Orono, Dartmouth, Washington DC, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Kalamazoo, Detroit, St. Paul, and Denver, as well as a teaching residency at Dartmouth College. Internationally, they perform in their home country, Denmark, as well as throughout Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, Israel, and in South America. As champions of contemporary music from Scandinavian composers, the Quartet premieres a new “They bring a freshness and energy plus a level work by Rolf Wallin titled Swans of sheer accomplishment that I don’t ever remember Kissing based on the 1914 series of hearing in these works.” paintings, “The Swan,” by Swedish painter Hilma af Klint. This work mbodying the quintes- as highlights of 2012 and 2015, is commissioned by the Quartet sential elements of a praising “one of the most powerfor its world premiere in London’s fine chamber music ful renditions of Beethoven’s Opus Wigmore Hall in September. ensemble, the Danish String 132 String Quartet that I’ve heard Quartet has established a live or on a recording, and “the The Quartet’s recent debut recordreputation for their integrated adventurous young members of the ing on ECM Records features sound, impeccable intonation Danish String Quartet play almost works of Danish composers Hans and judicious balance. With everything excitingly.” The Danish Abrahamsen and Per Nørgård and their technical and interpretive String Quartet received the 2016 English composer Thomas Adés talents matched by an infecBorletti Buitoni Trust provided to and received five stars from The tious joy for music-making support outstanding young artists Guardian, praised as “an exactand “rampaging energy” (Alex in their international endeavors, ing program requiring grace, grit Ross, The New Yorker),the joining a small, illustrious roster and clarity and the Danish players quartet is in demand worldof past recipients since the Trust’s sound terrific...It’s a sophisticated wide by concert and festival founding in 2003. performance.” The recording presenters alike. Since makThe Danish String Quartet’s 2016- debuted at #16 on the Billboard ing their debut in 2002 at the 2017 season includes debuts at the Classical Chart and continues to Copenhagen Festival, the Tanglewood, Caramoor and Edin- earn international acclaim. musical friends have demonburgh Festivals and Zankel Hall at They also recently presented the strated a passion for ScandiCarnegie Hall, where they perform US premiere of Danish composer navian composers, who they Shostakovich String Quartet in E- Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen’s Quartet frequently incorporate into flat minor as well as Schubert Cello No. 7 “The Extinguishable” at the adventurous contemporary Quintet with eminent Swedish University of Chicago. In addition programs, while also giving cellist Torleif Thedéen. In addition to their commitment to highlightskilled and profound interto their New York engagement, the ing Scandinavian composers, the pretations of the classical quartet’s robust North American Danish String Quartet derive great masters. The New York Times schedule takes them to Salt Lake pleasure in traditional Nordic folk selected the quartet’s concerts City, Stanford, Ashland and Port- music.

The Danish String Quartet

E

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classically.co.uk


Lang lang Piano Concert

Lang Lang Lang Lang changed the classical music world forever with his inimitable panache both on and off stage. Thousands of children in China took up the piano in what has become know as ‘the Lang-Lang effect’. So, like his style or not, there’s no denying the impact Lang Lang has had on the classical scene.

PERFORMING AND RECORDING CAREER

Lang Lang has given recitals and concerts in many major cities and was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras. A Chicago Tribune music critic called him “the biggest, most exciting young keyboard talent I have encountered in many a year of attending piano recitals”.Lang Lang has been praised by musicians and critics around the world – the conductor Jahja Ling remarked, “Lang Lang is special because of his total mastery of the piano... He has the flair and great communicative power.”National Public Radio’s Morning Edition remarked that “Lang Lang has conquered the classical world with dazzling technique and charisma.” It is often noted that Lang successfully straddles two worlds – classical prodigy and rock-like “superstar”, a phenomenon summed up by The Times journalist Emma Pomfret, who wrote, “I can think of no other classical artist who has achieved Lang Lang’s broad appeal without dumbing down.” Lang Lang’s performance style was controversial when he stormed into the classical music scene in 1999. Since that time, Pianist Earl Wild called him “the J. Lo of the piano.” [15] Others have described him as immature, but admitted that his ability to “conquer crowds with youthful bravado” is phenomenal among classical musicians.[16] His maturity in subsequent years was reported by The New Yorker: “The ebullient Lang Lang is maturing as an artist.”[16] In April 2009, when Time Magazine included Lang Lang in its list of the 100 most influential people, Herbie Hancock described his playing as “so sensitive and so deeply human”, commenting: “You hear him play, and he never ceases to touch your heart.” In 2001, after a sold-out Carnegie Hall debut with Yuri Temirkanov, he traveled to Beijing with the Philadelphia Orchestra classically.co.uk

on a tour celebrating its 100th anniversary, during which he performed to an audience of 8,000 at the Great Hall of the People.[18] The same year, he made an acclaimed BBC Proms debut, prompting a music critic of the British newspaper The Times to write, “Lang Lang took a sold-out Royal Albert Hall by storm... This could well be history in the making”.[18] In 2003, he returned to the BBC Proms for the First Night concert with Leonard Slatkin.

SELECT APPEARANCES

After his recital debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Berliner Zeitung wrote: “Lang Lang is a superb musical performer whose artistic touch is always in service of the music”.[19] However, recent reviews have been mixed. Lately, a plethora of music critics have protested against too much showmanship; not enough care; not enough sensitivity. But audiences continue to adore him. Lang Lang has become one of those artists whose career prospers outside the boundaries of critical approval. The pianist is bemused by the backlash: “”You get many good reviews from the beginning,” he says, “and then the critics start criticising you. It’s strange. The things they liked you for first - unique, fresh - they say is great. And then later they say you’re too fresh, too unique. But they’re the same thing!” Lang Lang has performed at various open-air venues, including Central Park New York, Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles, the Ravinia Festival Chicago, Theaterplatz in Dresden and Derby Park Hamburg In July 2007, he played at a concert from the Teatro del Silenzio, Lajatico, Italy, hosted by Andrea Bocelli. He performed “Io ci sarò” with Bocelli, and Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody”. The performance is available on a DVD entitled Vivere Live in Tuscany. In December 2007, Lang Lang performed at the Nobel Prize concert in Stockholm. Collaborating with Seiji Ozawa, he appeared at the NewYear’s Eve gala opening for the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. He also participated in the opening concert at Munich’s Olympic Stadium with Mariss Lang Lang played with the Vienna Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta in front of Schönbrunn Palace. CLASSICALLY JANURAY 2017

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