KRYSTIAN ZIMERMAN CECILIA BARTOLI The pianist’s heartfelt tribute to Leonard Bernstein
James Naughtie meets the dazzling mezzo
The world’s best-selling classical music magazine
The essence of Mendelssohn ISABELLE FAUST How the visionary violinist has revitalised a Romantic masterpiece
JC Bach Mozart’s great inspiration
Bruckner’s Ninth His heroic final symphony explored
The joy of streaming: the best sites revealed Barbara Hannigan on her extraordinary new disc Plus! December’s full BBC Radio 3 listings See p114 We celebrate its 50th birthday
15 calamitous cancellations Musicians’ colourful sicknotes
Gábor Takács-Nagy The conductor’s favourite music
110 reviews by the world’s finest critics CDs, DVDs & books – see p72
Opera in two acts, in Italian, with Hungarian and English subtitles
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Welcome Is it really possible for a single performance to completely change your view of a piece of music – even a work that you must have heard hundreds of times? In this line of work, it happens with regularity. There I was, thinking I knew Schubert’s Impromptus backwards, having listened to more recordings of the pieces than I care to admit, and suddenly Alexei Lubimov came along a few years ago with a couple of restored early 19th-century pianos and tranformed their aural landscape. I haven’t heard them in the same light again. From the opening bars of Isabelle Faust’s new recording of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, you get a sense of its chamber qualities – the soloist much more a part of the whole than pitted against the symphony orchestra. Gut strings make Faust’s violin a good deal quieter than we’re used to on a Romantic concerto recording, yet the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra responds with playing of sublime delicacy. Turn to p26 to learn exactly what went into making their disc such a success. You could, of course, stream it on any number of websites and apps – and on p40 we present a guide to the best streaming services. Almost all of them are constantly evolving (or sadly closing), so it may well be a subject we’ll return to in the near future. However, we believe the time may be right to dip your toes in. But not without reading our sage advice, of course!
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THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS
Chris de Souza
Critic, writer and author
Writer and broadcaster
‘Talking to Krystian Zimerman, you hear the same voice you hear in his playing: wise, witty, sometimes startling, always ringing true. He’s a piano wizard – and, happily, the best interviewee in the world.’ Page 48
‘In my short performing career I never cancelled a recital but came very close as the dreaded time drew near. Throw a sicky? Do a runner? I considered everything but in the end bit the bullet and did my duty.’ Page 56
‘I have always felt proud that Britain had a Bach of its own. JC seems to have been a sunny character, who wrote a lot of sunny music. The sad ending to his short life deserves sympathy.’ Page 62
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FEATURES 26 Cover story: Isabelle Faust Clemency Burton-Hill meets the violinist to discuss her fresh approach to Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto
34 The BBC Music Magazine interview James Naughtie talks to mezzo Cecilia Bartoli
40 The joy of streaming We review and rate the best music streaming sites, and show you how to get the most out of them
48 Krystian Zimerman In a rare interview, Jessica Duchen learns about the Polish pianist’s friendship with Leonard Bernstein
52 European Broadcasting Union Andrew Green celebrates the EBU’s 50th anniversary
56 15 calamitous cancellations John Evans on musicians’ most incredible excuses
EVERY MONTH 7
Letters The glories of Cipriani Potter; our new look
12 The Full Score Shostakovich score discovered; Dausgaard and Bychkov get new roles; a journey back to 1808
26 Isabelle Faust
25 Richard Morrison Sometimes it pays not to be a specialist…
60 Musical Destinations 62 Composer of the Month Chris de Souza on JC Bach, the toast of London
68 Building a Library The best recordings of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9
112 Live events The best opera and concerts across the country
114 Radio & TV listings Full Radio 3 listings plus television highlights
124 Crossword and quiz 126 Music that Changed Me Conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy 4
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COVER IMAGE: JOHN MILLAR THIS PAGE: JOHN MILLAR, DAVID LYTTLETON
Neil McKim visits a new concert hall in Katowice MAGAZINE Subscriptions rates £64.87 (UK); £65 (Eire, Europe); £74 (Rest of World) ABC Reg No. 3122 EDITORIAL Plus our favourite work by Mendelssohn Editor Oliver Condy (Elijah) Deputy editor Jeremy Pound (Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor) Reviews editor Rebecca Franks (Octet) Production editor Neil McKim (Hebrides Overture ‘Fingal’s Cave’) Cover CD editor Alice Pearson (Octet)
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48 Krystian Zimerman
December reviews Your guide to the best new recordings, DVDs and books
56 Calamitous cancellations
72 Barbara Hannigan
72 Recording of the Month Barbara Hannigan Crazy Girl Crazy ‘Hannigan achieves artless poise and musical intelligence in her debut recording as conductor-soprano’
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In stores now! ALEXANDER SCRIABIN (LWC1139) SYMPHONY NO. 2, OP. 29 PIANO CONCERTO, OP. 20 Vasily Petrenko Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra Kirill Gerstein — piano
Gramophone’s ‘Artist of the Year’ Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic present the next recording in their Scriabin series on Norwegian label LAWO Classics, with pianist Kirill Gerstein joining forces. “If ever a set of performances caught the weird, psychedelic world of Scriabin, it’s this one.” The Scotsman (LWC1088).
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Have your say… Write to: The editor, BBC Music Magazine, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol, BS1 3BN Email: firstname.lastname@example.org L ET T
Hurray for Potter How encouraging for those of us who have realised that there is plenty of hugely enjoyable British music from the Classical and early Romantic periods, to hear Howard Shelley and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s recording of the Cipriani Potter concertos which received a fine review in BBC Music Magazine earlier this year. Those of us who know some of Potter’s symphonies would not have been surprised by the high quality of WORTH £170! the outer concerto movements, but the revelation is in the two beautiful, dreamy slow movements. So when will we have the chance to obtain a proper appreciation of Potter’s cycle of symphonies and overtures? Nine of his symphonies are extant, yet only three have been commercially recorded. Perhaps one of the more WIN A DIGITAL RADIO! enterprising CD companies will Every month the editor will oblige? Or perhaps there are at least award a Geneva Lab Touring S radio (retail value £170 – see three more symphony recordings www.genevalab.com) to the lurking in the BBC’s archives? What writer of the best letter received. an excellent CD they would make, if The editor reserves the right to released with BBC Music Magazine! shorten letters for publication. Keith Bartlett, Marlow
Looking good I have enjoyed BBC Music Magazine since its very first edition, especially the articles on composers and the reviews. Opening my copy this morning to see what gems were to be revealed, I was amazed and delighted at the improved format – the new font is much clearer and easier to read. I have always liked the Composer of the Month article and, again, the new layout is easier to read and I also like the shortened chronology. You have also improved the
information on the cover disc, reverting to the original format that I enjoyed. Well done and thank you. Michael Shaw, via email
Past glories Your new look is a huge success. I really admire the much clearer layout, the attractive new typeface and the clarity with which CD reviews are now presented. What I would like to see, in addition, is more emphasis on recordings of the past succinct features that might
prompt older readers to re-examine their collections and encourage younger ones to investigate the manifold riches of the past that may not yet have come to their attention. Richard Landau, London
Font of wisdom I read the editor’s letter in your November issue and thought ‘Oh no, not another makeover!’ But when I opened the following pages and saw the new font, all was forgiven. Wonderful at last I can see
A rich legacy: a recorded cycle of Potter’s symphonies is long overdue
what is written without having to strain my eyes. Thank you so much! And at first sight, the whole magazine looks good. Jan Lowy, via email
Dinner time You invited comment on the new format of your front pages. The larger font is harder to read and looks unattractive, filling as it does almost all the white space on the page. Further, the mixture of fonts, for example on pages 24 and 25, makes for a dog’s dinner, and I can only imagine that BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
SOCIAL GATHERING What’s being said on Twitter & Facebook you have been misguided by an over-enthusiastic design team wanting change for change’s sake. A Holt, via email The editor replies: Many thanks for your feedback regarding our recent changes. All of it is always appreciated, whether positive or negative!
Ivan idea I enjoyed Daniel Jaffé’s thoughtful piece on Soviet music (November) . It was good to see Ivan Sollertinsky remembered for his own achievements as well as his friendship with Shostakovich (important though the latter was to both men). When trying to buy a collection of Sollertinsky’s writings a few years ago, I found nothing available in English and had to revive my rusty German to read a 30-year-old paperback from the DDR. Is a rediscovery overdue? Laura Del Col Brown, Harrow
Glinka discovery Reading Erik Levi’s article on Glinka (November), I will confess to not knowing as much of his music as I should. However, I do possess a wonderful live recording of his Sextet in E flat, for piano, string quartet and double bass, part of a set recorded at the Lugano Festival in 2009. For anyone who enjoys chamber music with unusual instrumental forces, I would recommend it. All six players, led by pianist Polina Leschenko, are clearly having great fun. I would be interested to hear if any other readers have views on other recommended works by him? Ian Morgan, Malvern The editor replies: The recordings made each year at the Lugano Festival 8
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have, in general, been a wonderful treasure trove for those wanting to investigate rarely performed repertoire. Sadly now discontinued, this brilliantly programmed and performed summer event will be badly missed.
Slava correction As we were responsible for negotiating the visit of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra to the BBC Proms on 21 August 1968 and subsequently to the Edinburgh Festival, we wish to point out the inaccuracies in Peter Haydn Pike’s letter (September). We were present at the concert, sitting next to the BBC controller of music, the late Sir William Glock. In view of the Soviet invasion into Prague, we were all expecting serious trouble, but there was absolutely no interruption during Rostropovich’s emotionally charged performance of the Dvořák Cello Concerto, no ‘catcalls’ to drown out the Shostakovich symphony, and the concert was broadcast in full. Only one incident occurred, when two students left the hall shouting ‘Viva Casals’ as Rostropovich appeared on the stage (they later apologised to him by letter). Nor was it true that the orchestra did not go to the Edinburgh Festival, bu ut immediately reeturned to R Russia. In fact, w travelled we w them to with Edinburgh.
No hitches: was Slava’s 1968 visit incident free?
Following our focus on Russian music in November, on social media we asked you to tell us which piece of music best encapsulated the Soviet era. Here are some of your replies: Prokoﬁev’s (pictured right) Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary: the Soviets banning it perfectly sums up the hypocrisy of the era – it’s brutally honest! Charlotte Perkins (@lottie_perkins) Shostakovich ﬂipping the bird to Stalin in his Symphony No. 10 Gene De Lisa Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4 – shows an exile longing for his homeland. Christopher Johnson The Iron Foundry Op. 19 by Alexander #Mossolov Orpheus (@OrpheusL) Alfred Schnittke’s First Symphony sums it all up Marek Škvarenina
Again, there were no interruptions during the performance. A group of demonstrators stood outside the Usher Hall, carrying a placard saying: ‘We love your music but we hate your tanks’. Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, London
Marvellous Mirga A year ago now you introduced us to conductor Mirga Gražinyttė-Tyla, and her appointm ment as music direector of the City of Birrmingham Sympho ony Orchestra. Tweelve months on, o I have just experienced a performance by them of Mahler’s Fourth Sym mphony at
Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, with its ubiquitous 2nd movement (Stalin) and DS’s triumph in the ﬁnale Ben Daniell (@benjamindaniell) Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, as it was premiered a year after Stalin’s death Hiew Tze Jia (@hiewtzejia) 1st Violin Concerto by Tikhon Khrennikov (sadly) Jens F Laurson (@ClassicalCritic)
the splendid Saffron Hall in Essex. Wow! What an intense and musical reading, beautifully controlled by Gražinytė-Tyla and played to perfection by the musicians of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The understanding of Mahler’s music, and the innovative use of three trebles as the soloist in the final movement, was overwhelming. I have seen countless live performances of this symphony and heard dozens of recordings, but never a performance like this. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, if you are reading this, please record this work as soon as possible so that we can immerse ourselves in your wonderful musicianship time and time again. Alan Barker, Chelmsford
Pavel Haas Quartet Boris Giltburg piano, Pavel Nikl viola 'YRÄ˜Â N 4XLQWHWV 2S
Excellently recorded, these performances are among the most memorable I have encountered in recent years. BBC Music Magazine, Recording of the Month
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Our pick of the month’s news, views and interviews
Impromptu find: Shostakovich and (right) the new score discovered in the Moscow State Archives
Shostakovich discovery made in Moscow
Previously unknown work for viola and piano found in state archives A short work for viola and piano by Shostakovich has been discovered in the Moscow State Archives. The impromptu Op. 33 was unveiled on what would have been the composer’s 111th birthday, amid the events to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. The score itself comprises just three pages: a title sheet, a one-page viola part and a one-page piano part. The title page reveals that the work was composed on 2 May 1931 in Leningrad and was dedicated ‘in memory of our meeting’ to Alexander Mikhailovich, believed by scholars to be Alexander Mikhailovich Ryvkin, the violist and founder member of 12
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the Glazunov Quartet. Shostakovich was 24 when he composed the Impromptu; the work followed on from his deeply ironic ballet The Bolt, which had been deemed unacceptable by Soviet officials. Though compact, the Impromptu score provides some useful insights and poses a few questions. Musicologists believe that the style of the piece and the precise dating of the dedication suggest that Shostakovich may have written the work in one sitting. And then there is the piece’s opus number: why did the composer later assign Op. 33 to his music for the ﬁlm Counterplan when this Op. 33 was already in existence?
After the Impromptu, Shostakovich is not believed to have written any further music for viola and piano until his Viola Sonata in 1975, which was his ﬁnal completed work. Despite being composed 44 years apart, the Impromptu and Sonata have a connection. The Impromptu was found among the papers of Vadim Borosovsky, the founding violist of the Beethoven Quartet. When Borosovsky left the quartet in 1964, he was replaced by Fyodor Druzhinin, to whom Shostakovich later dedicated the Viola Sonata. It is not yet known why Borosovsky was in possession of the Impromptu. The work has yet to be publicly performed.
Thefull score RisingStars Three to look out for… Owain Park Composer and conductor Born: Bristol, UK Career highlight: As a composer, I had a great time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with a group of 20 musicians performing my chamber opera, The Snow Child, and I was delighted to be asked by Nigel Short to write Footsteps, a piece for Tenebrae. Musical hero: My writing is often influenced by what I have been listening to, but I often refer to Britten as I love his musical ideas. I also admire the way James MacMillan has shaped his career. Dream concert: I’d like to bring together the wonderful musicians I work with now with some of the world’s most established artists, rehearsing until the final performance – and then take it around the world!
Mall we dance?: Robin Ticciati wows Berlin’s shoppers
Ticciati gets mobbed If you happened to be at Berlin’s Mall in late September you may have been pleasantly surprised. For there was conductor Robin Ticciati, no less, overseeing a huge T-shirtclad orchestra and choir – of almost 1,000 amateur musicians, including 100 members of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester
Lucienne Renaudin Trumpeter Berlin – in a Symphonic Mob event. The programme, arranged to celebrate Ticciati’s arrival as the DSO Berlin’s chief conductor, included Bizet’s Toreador Song, g Grieg’s ‘Morning’ from Peer Gyntt and excerpts from Wagner operas. ‘Everyone is so into the music and the experience,’ said Ticciati. ‘It gives me energy and I give it back’.
THE MONTH IN NUMBERS
GETTY, ALLARD WILLEMSE, SIMON FOWLER
…eager maestros. This year’s Nikolai Malko Competition for conductors, run by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, has received a record entry.
…players are better than one. Nursing an injury but unwilling to cancel a concert of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, pianist Lang Lang invited Maxim Lando (age 14) to play the left-hand part for him. It went down a storm.
…years and away. Having steadied the financial ship at ENO, Cressida Pollock is departing as chief executive.
…children, singing in harmony. On tour in Beijing, Scottish Opera has recruited a chorus from the Fang Cao Di School for Alan Penman’s Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army. y
Born: Nantes, France Career highlight: I’ve done many concerts worldwide. I won the Victoires de la Musique competition in 2016 and recently played with maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy. I also met tenor Rolando Villazón on TV and he sings on my new album. Musical hero: I would say trumpeter Chet Baker because of his incredible sense of musicality. His choruses are just like themes – so deep, so powerful and so beautiful. Dream concert: For me, every concert is a dream concert! I just love playing with orchestras, and meeting conductors, musicians and new people in general.
Mariam Batsashvili Pianist Born: Tbilisi, Georgia Career highlight: Winning the Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht, being a European Concert Hall Organisation Rising Star and a Radio 3 New Generation Artist. And each of my performances is a highlight. Musical hero: From what I can hear from Liszt’s music I believe he must have been a real hero. Anyone who can combine every element in one piece – gentle, refined details with substantial deep and rich sounds – deserves to be called a musical hero. Dream concert: It would be in a small candlelit 19th-century ballroom, attended by Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, Wilde and Shakespeare. I’m playing the piano and we are all being painted by Hieronymus Bosch!
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TIMEPIECE This month in history Striking out: an artist’s impression of Beethoven conducting his symphonies
Seattle bound: Thomas Dausgaard
Seattle Dane Thomas Dausgaard has been named as the new music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The Danish conductor will begin the role at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, having served as the US orchestra’s principal guest conductor since 2014. Familiar with British audiences as chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Dausgaard is also chief conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
Czech mate Also heading for pastures new is Semyon Bychkov, who is to join the Czech Philharmonic as chief conductor and music director in the 2018-19 season. The Russian, who first conducted the orchestra in 2013, fills a position that became vacant following the death of Jiří Bělohlávek in June. He will be joined by Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil as principal guest conductors.
Regal Brummies No sooner has the Birmingham Conservatoire moved into its plush new premises (see November issue) than it has another reason to celebrate: from now on, it will be allowed to call itself the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. ‘The Royal title bears testimony to the value the Conservatoire places on the importance of the performing arts in all our lives,’ says delighted principal, Julian Lloyd Webber.
Ivories to stay Musical instruments – pianos, in particular – have been exempted from proposed new laws to ban the sale of items containing ivory. Currently, only ivory-containing items dating from after 1947 may not be bought or sold in the UK, but environment secretary Michael Gove has expressed his intention to extend the ban to before that date.
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Beethoven premieres his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies
t was a ‘most bitter’ winter evening in Vienna when, on 22 December 1808, Beethoven staged the most ambitious and notorious concert of his career. The composer had booked the Theater an der Wien for his ﬁrst beneﬁt concert in six years, a showcase for his best and latest compositions and a chance to make some money. Over four hours, the shivering audience in the unheated hall was treated to the under-rehearsed premieres of his Fifth
and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Gloria and Sanctus from his Mass in C, the concert aria ‘Ah! Perﬁdo’, a solo piano improvisation and a hurriedly written ﬁnale in the form of the Choral Fantasy which fell apart to the extent that it had to be restarted. ‘It was like a runaway carriage going downhill… an overturn was inevitable,’ recalled the pianist-composer Ignaz Moscheles. The Mass extracts were ‘completely unsuccessful, added the
Underprepared: the Theater an der Wien premiere failed to impress Ignaz Moscheles and Johann Friedrich Reichardt (below)
ALAMY, THOMAS GRØNDAHL, GETTY
Vote winner: James Madison
well-established composer Johann Friedrich Reichardt. His view of the whole concert? ‘One can have too much of a good thing.’ Why did this concert of masterpieces go so wrong? Beethoven had, after all, premiered his Eroica Symphony, Third Piano Concerto and Violin Concerto in this auditorium. He had even lived in the building when writing parts of his opera Fidelio. So he knew the space well. But the theatre was popular and the December date (the result of many postponements by the theatre directors) was far from ideal. To make matters worse, Beethoven had fallen out with the theatre orchestra and most of the performers refused to play when he was in the room even though he was the conductor and piano soloist. Instead, he had to communicate from an ante-room via the orchestra’s leaders Seyfried and Clement. Time was short, and, given the sheer amount of new music with the ink barely dry on some of the copyists’ pages mishap was almost inevitable. Still, although the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung said the performances ‘must be called unsatisfactory in every respect’, the critic suggested that the audience should refrain from judging the works themselves until further hearing. Beethoven was so disillusioned with Vienna and its musical life that he seriously considered taking up a post in Westphalia, before the Archduke
Also in December 1808
Rudolph, Prince Kinsky and Prince Lobkowitz offered him instead a lifelong stipend to remain in the capital. Beethoven accepted and continued to compose, starting work on his glorious Fifth Piano Concerto in the April of 1809. However, the December concert
‘It was like a runaway carriage going downhill... an overturn was inevitable’ was to be his last public performance as a pianist. The prodigy-turned-virtuoso had become deaf, and the Emperor Concerto was premiered by Friedrich Schneider. Yet despite this disastrous introduction to the world, the Fourth Piano Concerto and Fifth and Sixth Symphonies have become some of his most famous works. A few years later, ETA Hoffmann gave the Fifth its ﬁrst public seal of approval. It was, he wrote, ‘one of the most important works of that master who no one will now deny belongs among the ﬁrst rank of instrumental composers’.
1st: Following the Russian Empire’s invasion of Finland in February, and its subsequent victory over the occupying Kingdom of Sweden, Tsar Alexander I announces that he will take direct control of government. As if to rubber stamp the decision, he adds ‘Grand Duke of Finland’ to his long list of titles. 7th: In the United States presidential election, James Madison, the DemocraticRepublican candidate, decisively defeats the Federalists’ Charles C Pinckney, winning 122 electoral votes to Pinckney’s 47. Also standing for election is George Clinton, the current vice president, who wins six electoral votes as an independent. Clinton continues to serve as vice president when Madison takes ofﬁce the following March. 21st: Having reached Salamanca in its bid to support the Spanish against Napoleon’s forces in the Peninsular War, the British army under Sir John Moore is forced to retreat towards the coast as the campaign starts to falter. As they do so, though, the British 15th Light Dragoons manage at least to defeat two regiments of French cavalry at the Battle of Sahagún, inﬂicting serious losses. The retreat is otherwise a dispiriting and damaging affair, and Moore is killed in January at the Battle of Corunna. 31st: The Prince of Wales lays the ﬁrst stone of the new theatre at Covent Garden, the former one having been destroyed by a ﬁre on 20 September when all its costumes and many of its manuscripts were also lost. The architect chosen for the rebuilding is Sir Robert Smirke, whose design is based on the Temple of Minerva in the Acropolis at Athens. Sirke’s efforts are heavily criticised by his former teacher, Sir John Soane, one of the leading architects of the era.
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Thefullscore MEET THE COMPOSER
Romantic coupling Finding true love can be tricky when you’re a classical music lover. What do you do, for instance, if you discover your dream partner is a closet thrash metal devotee? Or can a Ferneyhough fan and an Einaudi enthusiast ever be compatible? Thankfully, the good people at Clikd, an online dating app, believe they have the solution
to such questions, by inviting users to set out their musical preferences, ensuring that any culture clashes are avoided long before potential lovebirds get to meet. One hopes they’ve taken historic hatreds into their clever methodology. Does, for instance, the thought of a Brahmsian and a Wagnerian sharing a romantic dinner even bear thinking about? Cripes.
DÉJÀ VU History just keeps on repeating itself…
KAUPO KIKKAS, GETTY ILLUSTRATION: JONTY CLARK
Who needs a cello anyway? When Alban Gerhardt (left) recently broke a string during a recital at the Lammermuir Festival and realised he had no spare with him, he did what any cellist would: he played the piano instead, joining his accompanist Steven Osborne in a four-hands rendition of Dvorˇák’s Slavonic Dance No. 10. He’s by no means the ﬁrst soloist to play two instruments in one concert, mind… The violinist Julia Fischer has long dazzled audiences with her technique and musicality, but on New Year’s Day 2008 at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper she caused jaws to drop a little bit further. After playing Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, she rejoined them on stage in the second half… this time as the soloist in Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Not that that would have impressed pianist Dejan Lazi´c. In 1991, at Zagreb’s Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, the then 14-year-old Croatian performed as the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 and Clarinet Concerto in one concert, after the evening had opened with his own composition, the Spring Serenade. Nor is multi-tasking restricted to soloists. After delighting the Prommers with Brahms and Kodály at the 2014 Proms, the female players of the Budapest Festival Orchestra stood up to sing some Dvorˇák as an encore. And at the 2009 BBC Music Magazine Awards, the Ebène String Quartet celebrated winning the Newcomer Award by playing on stage then serenading the audience as a four-part vocal group.
Serious business: ‘composing is absolutely not fun’
Born in Vienna in 1943, HK Gruber sang in the Vienna Boys’ Choir and from 1969 to 1997 played double bass with the ORF Vienna Radio SO. As a composer, he came to international attention with his 1978 piece Frankenstein!. Gruber’s music is the focus of the Stockholm Composer Festival (16-24 Nov). I spent 40 years playing the double bass in an orchestra. It was the best way of learning what you can do as a composer. If I had any problems with any of the instruments I could ask my colleagues. I also learned how conductors communicate. I began to conduct my own music in the early days – I found that it gave me control over what I had written. I enjoy the chance to escape from my composer’s prison and work with an orchestra. But it’s dangerous because conducting is fun and composing is absolutely not fun. To compose you have to ignore the phone, the computer and any entertainment – and sit for hours. But when I conduct a piece by a colleague and the performance is successful, I’m really jealous. I think, oh, ha, hmm, go back to your own desk and write your music. The sound of a large orchestra is one of the greatest miracles of our time. My next composition project is for Andris Nelsons’s two orchestras – the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Boston
Symphony Orchestra. I’m not very far along with it, but the piece will be a 25-30-minute Concerto for Orchestra. It’s a very nice thing to sit and write music and know that each note I write will be played by the best orchestras in the world. I have many gods in my life, but Stravinsky is number one. I ﬁrst heard his Circus Polka when I was 12, and from then on I found him the most interesting living composer. Kurt Weill is one of my other gods. When I was 20, Vienna was dominated by the Darmstadt movement; they said atonality and serialism were the only ways to compose. I wanted to ﬁnd my own path. Weill found his way back to a very clear tonal way of writing. I rediscovered my gift as a singer when I was in an ensemble in Vienna in the 1960s called MOB art & tone ART. Each member was a musician, singer and actor. I composed so-called MOB pieces for it; very simple, tonal pieces. Probably the most well-known, successful of them is Frankenstein!, for chansonnier, orchestra or 12 instruments.
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Thefullscore StudioSecrets Final Fantasia: Anne Akiko Meyers records Rautavaara
VANESSA BRICENO SCHERZER, ÖZGÜR ALBAYRAK, PETER ADAMIK, FRANK BONITATIBUS
We reveal who’s recording what, and where… Rautavaara’s ﬁnal major piece, a violin concerto for Anne Akiko Meyers, has been recorded. The American violinist wrote to the Finnish composer to ask him to write her a piece, and the Fantasia was the result – the 87-year-old completed the score not long before he died in 2016. Meyers performs it with the Philharmonia and conductor Kristjan Järvi on her new disc for Avie. Violinists Renaud Capuçon and Vilde Frang have both been turning their attention to Bartók Concertos, for Warner. Capuçon has recorded both the Hungarian composer’s concertos with the LSO and François-Xavier Roth, while Frang pairs the First Concerto, recorded with Orchestre de Radio France and Mikko Franck, with Enescu’s Octet. Pianist Andreas Haefliger, who has previously recorded for Avie, has signed to BIS Records. The Swiss pianist will continue his Perspectives series, six volumes of which are already available, with a disc that frames Beethoven’s Sonata No. 28 Op. 101 with Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Berg’s Piano Sonata and Liszt’s Légende No. 1. Katherine Parr was the ﬁrst queen of England to have her writings published when her Psalms or Prayers came out anonymously in 1544. Composer Thomas Tallis took one of her psalm paraphrases, Against Enemies, and set it as an alternative text for his motet Gaude Gloriosa. It’s been recorded for the ﬁrst time, by Alamire and David Skinner, who recently pinned down the text’s authorship. Here’s a box-set to enter the record books. With 330 CDs, 24 DVDs and two Blu-rays, and weighing 15kg, the complete DG/Decca recordings of Herbert von Karajan is being billed as the largest box set ever created. It’s a limited edition, and also includes a 140-page book about the famous conductor. The snag? You’ll need £899, and some strong shelves.
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Great artists talk about their past recordings This month: LEIF OVE ANDSNES Pianist MY FINEST MOMENT Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3 Leif Ove Andsnes (piano/direction); Mahler Chamber Orchestra Sony 88725420582 (2012)
I worked regularly for almost three years with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) recording the Beethoven concertos, and by the end of it I felt that I really knew the group. The ﬁrst recording happened right after the very ﬁrst tour we did, soon after we had got to know each other. I was naturally nervous. One never knows what the chemistry will be like. But immediately it was tremendously exciting to work on
details that are usually not given such attention and care by orchestras. There is this real sensitivity and quality in the MCO’s sound and understanding. We had played a few concerts in Italy in a very dry theatre, which was fun but I didn’t feel like we were there yet. Then we got to the Rudolﬁnum in Prague which has such a magniﬁcent acoustic, and the whole thing changed. In the ﬁrst concert we did the Rondo from the First Concerto as an encore. After my little introduction the orchestra burst out in this ﬁrst tutti
Thefull score dry but the Second Concerto concerts were ﬁne. Then we got to the First Concerto, and it sounded different. The acoustic without people is warmer and more exuberant. Antonio Pappano has a soft spot for Rachmaninov’s First Concerto he always talks about it. And I always talk to him about the Fourth! Pappano gave so much in these sessions there was such a passion, such a sound, such an energy. Rachmaninov One is a young man’s piece: it needs that sort of abundance and total exultation. In a way the sessions were a more intense live experience than the concert, which was a new experience for me.
Leading the Rach: Leif Ove Andsnes records Rachmaninov’s concertos with Pappano and the Berlin Philharmonic; (above) a break in the sessions, with principal flautist Emmanual Pahud
with such an explosive energy, I was completely overwhelmed. I remember thinking we really had something special. It was a very special moment for me realising the potential of what we were doing. The encore ended up on the disc, so one can actually hear it.
MY FONDEST MEMORY Rachmaninov Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Leif Ove Andsnes (piano); Berlin Philharmonic/Antonio Pappano Warner Classics 474 8132 (2005)
It’s funny how in recordings one often has the feeling that one needs the live element, especially with an orchestra. Often something happens with an orchestra in the hall like with the Beethoven concertos. Here, we recorded Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto live and the First Concerto in recording sessions, in just one day after the concerts. The Philharmonie in Berlin is a little less good for recording when there’s an audience in it it’s a little
I’D LIKE ANOTHER GO AT… Janáček Piano Sonata 1.X.1905; In the Mists; On an Overgrown Path Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) Warner Classics 2435618395 (2001)
There’s always something I want to do differently, but I have to accept that a recording is a moment in time. Some of my recordings go back 35 years, and it feels like a different life. I started with Virgin Classics when I was 20. I was lucky to begin when there was a CD boom. One of my ﬁrst CDs was of Janáček’s piano music which I recorded in Snape Maltings. At that time I was quite a late-night person, and so was my record producer; we thought the hall had a beautiful silence and ambience at night. Much of the recording took place at around 2am, but one of the problems is that it shows in the very slow tempos. I think that was also my character at the time. I was very much into the music’s dark, slow colours. It’s beautiful, but my taste has developed and I now ﬁnd it too static. It lacks the restlessness which is part of Janáček’s music, the abrupt and irrational side, and also sometimes the natural ﬂow of his simple melodies. So I hope to do it again. Maybe at 2pm. Leif Ove Andsnes’s new disc of Sibelius piano music will be reviewed next issue
BuriedTreasure Mezzo Anna Bonitatibus on three musical rarities from her record collection Rossini ‘Pensa alla Patria’ Guerrina Fabbri (contralto) Symposium SYMPCD1065 Fabbri was one of the ﬁrst contraltos ever recorded – she was born in 1866 when Rossini was still alive, and she made this recording for Gramophone & Typewriter in 1903. It’s fascinating to see what singers sounded like at the time – you can hear how her voice changes completely to be very resonant in the lower notes, and again for the soprano register when the music requires it. Singers today try to have the same colour and timbre in all ranges – Fabbri’s style wouldn’t be accepted today.
Rossini Péchés de Vieillesse Dino Ciani (piano) Fonit Cetra LAR 34 The Italian Dino Ciani, who died in 1974 at just 32 in a car accident, was one of the ﬁrst pianists to record Rossini’s piano works in his short but very intense life. I love these pieces – in my opinion, they’re the true testament of Rossini. They’re very demanding to play but also very impressionistic – they sound almost contemporary at times. Ciani’s recording is very beautiful, and shows him to be a very lyrical pianist.
À la recherche de la musique perdue Cathy Berberian (mezzo) RTVE 650002 Berberian completely changed the recital as a concert form. This rare recording is a live concert she made with Bruno Canino at the piano in Madrid for Spanish radio in 1974. The album, of arias and songs by Ravel, Sullivan, Offenbach and many more, really shows her as as a ‘cant’actrice’ – a singer-actress. But what is really inspiring is that she was also the ﬁrst to introduce music to audiences who weren’t used to going to recitals. The way she talks to the audience about each piece is the concert. We haven’t invented anything new today!
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Thefull score THE LISTENING SERVICE
We’ve got rhythm! In the latest instalment of his new regular series, Radio 3’s Tom Service explains why there can be no music – and no sound – without rhythm ILLUSTRATION: MARIA CORTE MAIDAGAN
hat is the elemental essence of the music we love the most? A good tune is essential. Isn’t it? Not quite: a hummable melody is always nice, but it’s hardly the deﬁnition of what makes a piece of music memorable. The opening of Beethoven’s Waldstein Piano Sonata, say, hardly has a melody worth the name; instead, it’s a collection of endlessly iterated cells of musical possibility, fragments that are expanded and contracted and repeated. So if it’s not about tunes, what about the harmonies that underpin them – surely they’re musically essential? Again, they’re nice to have, but we can do without them: think of folk tunes, plainchant, or early vocal polyphony all musical cultures that do without the cosseting of harmonic colouration. You can say the same about other musical properties – timbre, instrumentation, or whether pitches are high or low. But there’s one element you really can’t do without, which will mean you don’t need to ask for anything more. If, that is, you’ve got rhythm! Because there can be no music, and there can be no sound, without rhythm. As physicists knew and as the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen revealed through his forensic electronic explorations in music like Kontakte, if you slow any sound or note right down, you open up a world of rhythm. In the beating of the frequencies that give us the pitches of every sound that we hear as music, from the lowest sound – pulsing down there around 20
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sixteen times a second, like the very bottom notes of the biggest organs in the country to the highest, pulsing at around 20,000Hz. There’s a symbiotic connection between our bodies and these rhythmically pulsating pitches. The
Research has demonstrated that musical rhythms excite our bodies to move beating of our hearts, the moving of our limbs, our breath, our blinking, the ﬁring of our nervous systems: our bodies are polyphonic palimpsests of rhythmic cycles, all playing in concert or contradiction with one another. So it’s no surprise that recent scientiﬁc research has demonstrated that musical rhythms excite our bodies to move, whether it’s Gloria Gaynor or a
Bruckner scherzo. Jessica Grahn’s work at the Music and Neuroscience Lab in Ontario shows that it’s not just that we’re attracted to regularly rhythmic music; we actually participate in these rhythms when we hear them: our brains and our bodies predict where the next beat comes, so we tap our toes or get our groove on and dance. And we delight in the games that composers play in either conﬁrming our rhythmic desires, like Haydn does in his symphonies, and as Stravinsky takes to another dimension in the terrifying terpsichorean mechanisms of his ballet The Rite of Spring. Composers are playing with rhythm, with time and they’re playing with us, too. Just like pieces of music, we are made of rhythm. Tom Service explores how music works in The Listening Service on Sundays at 5pm
Harpsichord champion: Zuzana Ru˚žicˇková at the keys in 1968
Zuzana Růžičková Born 1927 Harpsichordist ‘I want people to understand Bach,’ said Zuzana Růžičková when interviewed in BBC Music Magazine at the beginning of this year. And the Czech harpsichordist did arguably as much as any musician to help achieve that aim, recording from 1965-75 the composer’s complete keyboard works – released on the Erato label, they enjoyed a huge audience. Bach, though, was not Růžičková’s only forte, and over a career lasting nearly 60 years she performed and recorded works by composers ranging from the Renaissance era to the likes of Poulenc, Martinů and her own husband, Viktor Kalabis, in the 20th century. Whether through her own playing or as the teacher of players including Christopher Hogwood and Mahan Esfahani, few have done as much to popularise the harpsichord in the modern era. That career, though, so nearly didn’t happen. Born to Jewish parents in Plzen, Růžičková was, during World War II, sent first to Terezín and then to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, narrowly escaping the gas chambers. On returning to Czechoslovakia after the War, she began studies of the harpsichord in earnest, first in Prague, then in Paris, where her international career was launched. Going on to become a teacher at the Prague Academy, she remained an influential figure in Czech music, both during and after the Communist era, for the rest of her life.
Also remembered… The Swiss composer Klaus Huber (born 1924) was an important presence in the contemporary music scene, both for his own music and as a teacher – his students included major figures such as Brian Ferneyhough and Kaija Saariaho. Huber made his breakthrough in 1959 when his chamber cantata Des Engels Anredung an die Seele was premiered at the International Society for Contemporary Music’s World Music Days event in Rome. He would go on to write music for a wide range of forces, from solo works for flute, cello and accordion to the 1973 opera Jot oder Wann kommt der Herr zurück.
Soprano Tsisana Tatishvili (born 1937) excelled in roles including Verdi’s Aida and Richard Strauss’s Salome in opera houses across eastern Europe. She made her first appearance in 1963 at Tbilisi State Opera (now Georgian State Opera) before forging a career across the Soviet Union and in countries including Poland and Czechoslovakia. The baritone Robert Honeysucker (born 1943) was a popular figure in US opera houses. A very versatile performer, his roles ranged from Plutone in Monteverdi’s Orfeo to Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. He also sang regularly in recital with his wife, the pianist Noriko Yasuda and, in his home city, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Thefullscore Partial to the Partita: Simon Rattle’s Mozart inspired Simon Halsey
without feeling I have to listen to it critically. It’s just so lovely to hear. Though I’m not a Brummie myself, I’ve lived and worked for 36 years in Birmingham, the city for which Mendelssohn wrote his Elijah. Today, the library there owns the closest thing we have to a handwritten score of it plus the various pen and ink drawings he made when he was here, and to have this amazing international music belonging to my home city is a matter of real pride. I’d suggest Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos’s recording of it from the late 1960s. Simon Halsey conducts The CBSO Choruses in ‘A Choral Christmas’ at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on 19-21 December.
Gunvor Sihm Violinist
Music to my ears What the classical world has been listening to this month Simon Halsey Conductor A recording I constantly come back to is Gibbons’s Almighty and Everlasting God, sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge under Boris Ord in the 1950s. It’s so slow and ethereal and the boys are allowed to sing with a little bit of vibrato that style of singing and the feeling of not being in a hurry seems to belong in a different world from what we know today. When I myself was a student at King’s, I sang in a performance of Britten’s Curlew River soon after he had died. We felt very in touch with the composer, as we had sung a concert at Snape Maltings in his presence and then sang at his memorial concert. It’s a marvellous piece it has that extraordinary freedom of composition that you 22
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get very much in the 1960s and its soundworld is very reminiscent of my childhood and student days. I particularly like Britten’s own recording on Decca. One of my favourite pieces is Mozart’s Gran Partita, K361 for 13 wind instruments. I remember
‘I can enjoy Mozart’s Gran Partita without feeling I have to listen to it critically’ Simon Rattle conducting this in his very early days at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, though the recording I’d choose is on the LSO Live label. Because I’m not a woodwind player and because it is not a work that needs much conducting, I can enjoy it with pure pleasure and
READER CHOICE Mauricio Guim Virginia, US I have been listening to a lot of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and three ‘new generation’ pianists that embody the best qualities that every musician strives for in this repertoire are Jonathan Biss, Francesco Piemontesi and Shai Wosner. Biss’s live Schumann/ Janácek/Berg recital at Wigmore Hall is, for me, one of the greatest musical moments captured on record. Piemontesi’s sound and sense of rhythm in Mozart is amazing and gives this music a sense of improvisation that is truly unique. And I love everything that Wosner plays, from Haydn to Ligeti.
My late mother-inlaw, the pianist Anne Øland, spent much of her time playing and recording Beethoven piano sonatas. When my son was born six months ago, we thought that a really nice way to have her with us, and for him to get to know her, would be to play her albums. Her interpretations of Beethoven are amazing. They are so clear and have such depth and intensity, and she is very true to the composer and never overshadows him with her own personality. The Copenhagen Phil has been doing some very interesting experimental concerts called ‘Open Orchestra’, one of which I’ve been to. They play these concerts in, say, an industrial warehouse and don’t have a real stage instead, the musicians are placed on islands around the hall, and the audience is invited to walk around and stand close to the instrument they’d like to hear. During Schumann’s Fourth Symphony, I listened to the horns and the violas, and it was fascinating! I am a big Langgaard fan, and recently went to a performance of his Antikrist at the Langgaard Festival in Ribe. It’s a huge, dark and grotesque opera. It doesn’t
Thefull score have a real plot it’s just six scenes that focus on the arrival of the antichrist and the way that he ruins society around him. It’s such a strong opera to experience live. It’s very challenging for everybody, both the listeners and the musicians, but I was so taken aback by it. I’ve also been listening to András Schiff’s recordings of Mozart’s Piano Concertos, which are wonderful. Everything is so natural for him. Nothing is ever forced, and each phrase feels effortless. These are the sort of performances I can listen to at any time whether to start the day, or to wind down at the end of it, it goes with the moment perfectly. I choose one concerto at random, then listen to the whole album. Gunvor Sihm’s new disc of Langgaard violin works (Dacapo) will be reviewed in a future issue
Julius Drake Pianist On my iPod is one of my favourite recordings of Janáček’s piano music, in particular In the mists and On an overgrown path, played by the great Czech pianist Rudolf
READER CHOICE Anders Bengtsson Brantevik, Sweden I am hugely enjoying two new albums, quite different in terms of repertoire, but united in spirit and freshness and by heartfelt performances. First is Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies in My lost is my quiet, a set of beautiful songs ranging from Purcell to Mendelssohn. They deliver on both quantity and quality – what a cool and convincing duo they are! The second album, Agitata, features French contralto Delphine Galou singing sacred pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. The performances are energetic and touching, showing a great feel for the music and the spirit of the words.
Firkušny. His first teacher was Janáček and there is such poetry and intensity in his interpretation of the composer’s piano music. You really do feel that you’re sitting at the master’s feet. It’s a treasured recording and I love listening to it. The composer I listen to most is JS Bach and I’m always fascinated what it is about his music that makes it so important to so many people. I just find the music so extraordinarily satisfying, fulfilling and heartfelt. I’m often listening to recordings but my favourite at the moment is one of his motets, which are a discovery for me. I didn’t know them until I heard a recording by John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir, and both the music and
Dynamic duo: Apekisheva and Owen
performances on this disc are absolutely wonderful. Mozart is another composer I can never tire of listening to and who is a constant solace, inspiration and delight. I’m listening at the moment to the late symphonies, as recorded by Claudio Abbado with the Orchestra Mozart shortly before he died. There is such deep feeling in the music. I think a good example of that would be the Andante con moto slow movement of Symphony No. 39 in E flat: the music is just wonderful. I recently went along to Kings Place in London to hear Rachmaninov’s Piano Suite No. 2 being performed by Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva. I’m dying to get their recent recording. I love Rachmaninov and this suite is one of his most joyful, upbeat and melodic creations. It was a wonderful performance of a piece that is fiendishly difficult and they are a great duo. The music is so ebullient, joyful and life-affirming. Julius Drake and tenor Ian Bostridge will be celebrating 25 years of collaboration with a concert at Middle Temple Hall, London, on 29 November
Our Choices The BBC Music Magazine team’s current favourites
GETTY, RICHARD CANNON, SIM CANETTY-CLARKE
Oliver Condy Editor Considering Elgar (below) was an organist himself, he wrote very little music for the instrument. Having just come into possession of the Novello score of Elgar’s complete works for organ, it’s been a joy to discover simple works such as the Vesper Voluntaries, the delightful Cantique, an arrangement of the orchestral Severn Suite, some of the unfinishhed sketches of fugues and sonatas and a a work written for the opening of tthe Loughborough Memorial Carillon.
Jeremy Pound Deputy editoor Road-testing various streaming services this month has given mee the perfect opportunity to take a wander around some of classical music’s less well trodden areas. My favourite discovery has been the six symphonies by the Finnish
composer Erkki Melartin (1875-1937) – these are works that surely deserve to be considerably better known. I’m particularly taken with the Third, whose expansive opening movement, complete with ominously rumbling timpani, reminds me more than a little of Melartin’s compatriot and contemporary, Sibelius.
Rebecca Franks Reviews editor I think one of the marks of a great performance is how long it sticks in the memory. A week after going to Welsh National Opera’s production of Janác J ˇek’s From the House of the Dead in Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s an overwhelming, o disturbing opera that fearlessly f presents the horrific crimes of a group of Siberian prisoners. Janácˇek’s music m is extreme, too, dancing between beeauty and brutality. The musicians and prodduction team did it full justice.
Alice Pearson Cover CD editor Jonathan Harvey’s Mortuos plango, vivos voco is a milestone of electro-acoustic music in which the composer manipulates the pure human voice and the rich tolling resonance of the great bell of Winchester Cathedral into a seamless and luxuriant aural texture – his genius is to make the technology his expressive tool and not be controlled by it. I like my recording, produced by the composer himself in 1980, nice and loud.
Neil McKim Production editor I’ve been enjoying the Allegri Quartet’s recording of Beethoven’s uplifting String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor. Anchored around an expansive fourth movement – containing its own delightful set of variations and a gorgeous opening violin tune – are six movements that capture varying moods, ranging from a wistful opening Adagio to a scurrying Presto. A high-spirited Allegro finale rounds off this masterpiece.
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VAUGHAN WILLIAMS DONA NOBIS PACEM
CHICHESTER PSALMS The Choir of Kingâ€™s College, Cambridge and Britten Sinfonia explore a theme of peace through the choral music of Vaughan Williams and Bernstein.
Features soloists Roderick Williams and Ailish Tynan in a new arrangement of Dona nobis pacem by Jonathan Rathbone, plus a specially-commissioned essay about the two works.
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Richard Morrison Why are musicians so fearful of stepping outside their specialisms?
t helps to have more than one string to your bow, especially if you don’t have a spare one in your cello case. And if that sounds like a chronic example of mixed metaphors, bear with me. At this year’s Lammermuir Festival, the cellist Alban Gerhardt had the misfortune to snap a C string in the rehearsal, then another in his recital with the pianist Steven Osborne leaving him C-stringless. Luckily a cellist in the audience had a spare one in her car, but that left a ten-minute hiatus. Gerhardt coolly put his cello down and played a piano duet with Osborne instead, one of Dvorˇák’s Slavonic Dances. Of course he comes from a family of musicians. His dad played violin in the Berlin Philharmonic, his mum was a coloratura soprano, his brother a guitarist, and he himself studied piano as seriously as cello in his teens. Even so, how refreshing to find a top instrumentalist willing to risk a public performance on his second instrument. There are deep, dark reasons why most don’t. Competition in the music world is brutal and nonstop. In such an atmosphere, cultivating an aura of perfection becomes more important than exhibiting spontaneity, improvisational skills or daring. Or simply having fun. It’s hard to imagine five brilliant youngsters today risking what Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman risked nearly 50 years ago: allowing a filmmaker to record them larking about on each other’s instruments during rehearsals for Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Barenboim is one of the few eminent musicians to speak out against overspecialisation. A few years ago I had the
daunting task of refereeing (I choose the verb advisedly) a discussion between him and Pierre Boulez in which he launched into a diatribe about how conservatoires turn out instrumentalists who know little about each other’s instruments and the historical context of the music they played. ‘My friend Edward Said always said that a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less,’ Barenboim thundered. ‘That’s deeply worrying.’ Boulez murmured: ‘Except if you have a brain tumour, Danny.’
Cultivating an aura of perfection can become more important than exhibiting spontaneity ‘Sorry?’ Barenboim replied, his rhetoric momentarily deflated. ‘Well,’ said Boulez, ‘if I had a brain tumour I would rather have a specialist than an all-rounder to do the surgery.’ Boulez had a point. Specialists are prized in many fields because there’s no substitute for a level of expertise acquired through years of study and practice. But should music be one of them? Shouldn’t all composers aim to be like Paul Hindemith, who wrote a sonata for almost all the orchestra’s instruments and could play them all himself? Shouldn’t all conductors be like Lorin Maazel capable of plucking a fiddle from the leader’s hands and demonstrating a bowing or fingering? The answer is that it takes all sorts to make a varied musical world. You could
argue that the sort of jack-of-all-trades brain that enabled Hindemith to play every instrument also compelled him to write grey, functional music. Similarly, the easy mastery of Maazel on violin may have contributed to the arrogance that made him a little-loved conductor. But I accept Barenboim’s general point. In the UK, the education system makes children choose between subjects at a very early age. By 14, most will have dropped music and art. By 17 they will be studying just three subjects, and by 19 just one. And such is the pressure exerted on schools to deliver academic results that extra-curricular hobbies are squeezed out, if not actively discouraged. Musicians have been at the forefront of the campaign to reverse this narrowing of the school curriculum to what are seen as ‘proper’ academic subjects. Yet do music conservatoires behave any differently? I often meet music students who believe because of being told by teachers that the only thing that matters, professionally, is perfecting their playing techniques. It’s hard to argue against that, because without a solid technique a young musician doesn’t stand a hope at an audition with 200 applicants competing for two jobs. But good technique by itself guarantees only competence. Those who aspire to artistry need to explore the galaxy of emotions, experiences and cultural riches that exist outside their relationship with their own instrument. Observing a parade of self-absorbed finalists at a recent piano competition, I did start to wonder whether some of them even realised there was a world outside their practice studios. Richard Morrison is chief music critic and a columnist of The Times BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
angle Is Mendelssohnâ€™s Violin Concerto old hat? Not at all, says Isabelle Faust, whose new period instrument recording sheds light on the original spirit of this Romantic masterpiece. She tells Clemency Burton-Hill about its many challenges PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN MILLAR
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t was never the thing I thought the world needed my interpretation of!’ Isabelle Faust is laughing as I ask about her new recording of that not-exactly-underserved warhorse, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. ‘It was the first big Romantic concerto I learned when I was a kid, and I played it so much; there are so many recordings out there. We all grow up with favourite interpretations, don’t we?’ Indeed: mine was a young Kyung-Wha Chung collaboration with Charles Dutoit that I played on repeat until it gave up the ghost. ‘Mine was Anne-Sofie Mutter,’ she grins. ‘I had it on a CD paired with the Bruch and I’d listen over and over again. And you know, certain famous interpretations become fixed, they get burned into your vision of what a piece is. At the beginning, perhaps you deliberately want to imitate them, but then we tend to get hooked on certain things – it’s as though this is the way the piece should sound forever. We have to be clear, though: those things are just habit, and fashion.’
THE ELFIN GERMAN violinist, 45, is not one to cling to habit. Winner of the Leopold Mozart International Violin Competition in 1987 and a multiple award-winner ever since, she has steadily forged a distinctive path for herself in the overpopulated world of violin virtuosos. Her string of remarkable ‘period firsts’ include Franck’s Violin Sonata and concertos by Mozart and Schumann. So why Mendelssohn; why now? The temptation to apply a similar degree of intellectual curiosity and historical acumen to this concerto became irresistible, she admits, for two reasons: a ‘serendipitous encounter’ with a musicologist who was intent on revealing the approach of the three violinists – Ferdinand David, Joseph Joachim and Hubert Léonard – who performed under the composer’s own baton; and the opportunity to work with the Freiburger Barockorchester which, having never previously tackled the concerto, could do so unencumbered. Faust’s face, which exudes radiant intelligence, shines even brighter when she 6028BBCBBC 28 MUSIC MUSIC MAGAZINE MAGAZINE
tells me this. ‘It felt like such an occasion, such a challenge, such luck for me to work with a group that did not bring the usual heavy baggage,’ she says. ‘I thought: let’s go, let’s see what happens when we play this not just on gut strings and with historical winds – and I would never have recorded it not on gut – but when we really look at what someone like Joachim, working with Mendelssohn, would have done. We have a lot of help from him because in his score he writes, at certain bar numbers, very specific instructions – like “composer would not have wanted ritardando here”. He is highly detailed in his descriptions about things like the use of vibrato; portamento; how to use the bow. And we have his fingerings and bowings which are very interesting. You play it like this and something very different comes out!’ What was the biggest revelation? ‘At first I found the metronome markings and the tempos so quick,’ she admits. ‘Joachim
clearly took it at an incredible speed; we have a contemporary review which notes that he played it quicker than anybody else. And in all three violin parts there is so much portamento. It’s clear they used it very differently from a modern glissando. From our perspective, the strangest fingerings are in the second movement: in an upwards arpeggio, all three of them use the first finger four times, like this.’ She demonstrates the awkward shift with her left hand and gives a little grimace. ‘When I first took it to the orchestra and Pablo [Heras-Casado, the conductor], I thought:
Devilish apparel: Isabelle Faust is photographed for BBC Music Magazine in Berlin; (opposite) Felix Mendelssohn
â€œI need to prepare him for what Iâ€™m up to, otherwise he will think Iâ€™m completely nuts, heâ€™ll think: what is she doing with these tempos, those portamenti?â€? But they are so professional the Freiburgers, they listen so carefully, they are so open, and have such a freedom of adapting. Yes, it sounds different to what we are used to, but for me it was thrilling: to see how, working directly with Mendelssohn, these violinists created sentiment without overwhelming the music with vibrato, with sugar.â€™ Nobody could accuse Faust of a fondness for sugar: she is persistently acclaimed for her emotional restraint and seeming preference for introverted team-playing over virtuosic dazzle. But such techniques were a challenge even for her. â€˜At first I had to force myself to override the fingerings I knew so well,â€™ she admits. â€˜When I first started playing it like this, I was having
â€˜As you give it more chances you will Ä&#x;QGLWWRXFKLQJ interesting, with a new freshnessâ€™ to use the score and read the music in concert, otherwise my old reflexes would have kicked in.â€™ Even close friends â€“ â€˜who know I am always looking for a new way of doing thingsâ€™ â€“ were â€˜shockedâ€™ when they first heard her radical period reboot. â€˜It did seem to be a completely different way of playing Romantic music, but that, as I say, is just habit.â€™ She gives a disarming shrug. â€˜After all, it took people a long time to get
used to conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt: now people find what he does fantastic.â€™ Iâ€™m intrigued not just by the process of unlearning what you know in your bones and of having to internalise â€˜newâ€™ historical techniques, but how you then overlay a distinctive musical interpretation over the top. Were her emotional instincts about this long-loved concerto transformed by her scholarship? â€˜It was so interesting how my view about the piece changed over a very short period of time,â€™ she nods. â€˜I had about two or three months, while also playing a lot of other repertoire, to figure out a way to integrate this new information, really fully absorb it, learn and digest a lot of new technical needs, and then create a tabula rasa so I could come to the recording with something I could really stand behind. Because it was not my desire to produce a performance based purely on theoretical knowledge; it should not sound like Iâ€™m giving you a history lesson simply because I happen to have read the sources â€“ if that were the case it could sound quite artificial and that would be the worst! I wanted to come up with my own interpretation. This is not me saying â€œJoseph Joachim or Ferdinand David would definitely sound like thisâ€?, but I tried to not ignore what I saw from those parts and then take what I could to make the concerto my own.â€™ She smiles. â€˜It now feels very natural to me, in a certain way, so I hope it sounds natural too.â€™ It does. Like many, I suspect, who have the Mendelssohn Concerto running through their blood, I was slightly wrongfooted by the first hearing but became swiftly convinced. â€˜Good,â€™ Faust laughs. â€˜Iâ€™ve seen with projects like the Mozartâ€™ â€“ a concerto cycle with Il Giardino Armonico â€“ â€˜that itâ€™s not so easy to open peopleâ€™s ears and make them listen at least, say, three times. The first time, people of course find it strange. Then they listen again and start to discover different things â€“ suddenly, perhaps, or more slowly, depending on how open the ears are, or how rusty, or how determined you are to hear what you want to hear! But I think as you give it more chances you will find it touching, interesting, with a new freshness.â€™ Faustâ€™s fearless curiosity and reinvigorating interpretations certainly deserve to reach a larger audience. â€˜I BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Love can make you lose your head. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Britten’s unforgettable story, in English 1 –15 March at London Coliseum Tickets from £12 plus booking fee* at eno.org
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hope they can. As I say, I don’t feel like giving any lessons,’ she insists; ‘the score can only ever be a symbolic thing. But I feel extremely lucky that my own musical path guided me to the place where I am happiest. Through playing on gut strings, taking a different approach to music of different periods, reading a lot, trying to get information so I’m not completely in the air, the possibilities were opened of interpreting music in a wonderful way. And having the opportunity to work with the likes of Andreas Staier, Frans Brüggen, Il Giardino, the Freiburgers – it has opened up questions I might otherwise not have asked myself. Because of that I somehow entered a different musical universe.’ I get the impression that in this alternate universe of hers, Faust rather likes questions. ‘I love questions!’ she beams.
‘Always asking yourself means the way you play is not so automatic’ ‘They enrich your knowledge even if you don’t find the answers. Always asking yourself means the way you play is not so automatic. And the answers are multiple: sometimes you think you’ve found some, and then it’s frustrating because your esteemed colleague is thinking the contrary, or the sources suggest otherwise, but to be honest I’m over the point where I think I need to find the answer. The question is much more interesting. It is incredible to play the Mendelssohn concerto, having played it so many times, and think: “this is a new piece!” To re-question everything and not just follow what your teacher told you to do, or what famous violinists did on your favourite recording. It’s important to be able to feel about this piece that it was written today.’ When she is not delving into the riches of the canon and re-cutting gems we all think we know inside out, making them shine in surprising new ways, Faust also plays plenty of 20th-century and contemporary music. While her
Perfect partnership: David Oistrakh and Shostakovich in 1968; (below) Fritz Kreisler
Joint venture: Joachim (standing) advised Brahms
It takes two Composer-violinist partnerships Over the centuries, composers and violinists have collaborated in the creation of some of the instrument’s greatest works. In the 18th century, for instance, Vivaldi, JS Bach and Telemann were all friends with violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, leader of the Dresden Court Orchestra. Pisendel helped to popularise Vivaldi in Germanyy and it’s thought that his own Sonata for Solo Violin in A minor may have been one of the major influences on Bach’s music for solo violin. Moving into the next century, Joseph Joachim, a protégé of Mendelssohn, later enjoyed close relations with Brahms. When writing his Violin Concerto in 1878, Brahms sent a copy of the first movement to Joachim, the work’s dedicatee, instructing him to point out bits that might be unplayable and, tellingly, to ‘correct it, not sparing the quality of the composition’. It was Fritz Kreisler who, in 1905, persuaded Elgar to compose his Violin Concerto. Over the next five yyears,, endations Kreisler made recomme as the concerto took shape, ed article and declared the finishe as the ‘greatest violin co oncerto produced since Beethovven’s’. In the Soviet Union, David Oistrakh was a great source of encouragement to Prokofiev, prompting him to transform his Flute Sonata, Op. 94 into his
Violin Sonata No. 2 in 1943. When, 25 years later, Shostakovich penned his Violin Sonata as a 60th-birthday present to Oistrakh, it was partly in thanks to a friend who had, over the years, often advised him on matters of technique and sound. And Oistrakh collaborated closely with Khachaturian too, submitting his own cadenza for the latter’s Violin Concerto in 1940. Today s co Today’s composers also rely on soloists’ exxpertise. Anne Akiko Meyers’s w work with Rautavaara in 2016 re esulted in the Finn incorporating her changes to the bowing directions in Fantasia, one of his very last works. A And Daniel Hope works closely with various composers, including Roxanna Panufnik, G Gabriel Prokofiev and Jan Müller-Wieland.
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Isabelle Faust A veritable feast of fabulous Faust Six recordings that had our reviewers purring Berg & Beethoven Violin Concertos Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado (Harmonia Mundi HMC902105) ‘Listening to these wonderful performances side by side is cathartic, an experience Faust eloquently describes in the booklet notes as “an intense journey through sorrow and suffering in the Berg, to Beethoven at his most radiant, leaving all earthly cares far behind him”.’ April 2012
Mozart Violin Concertos Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini (Harmonia Mundi HMC902230/31) ‘Mozart told his father on one occasion that when he played one of his concertos “it flowed like oil”. Much the same could be said of Isabelle Faust’s remarkably smooth and sweet-toned playing.’ February 2017
Beethoven Violin Sonatas Alexander Melnikov (piano) (Harmonia Mundi HMC902025/27) ‘These are the most stimulating and fascinating accounts of the Beethoven violin sonatas I have heard in many years. Faust and Melnikov bring out the full quirkiness of the earlier works as well as their beauty, and their playing is remarkably accomplished throughout.’ October 2009
Bartók Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding (Harmonia Mundi HMC902146) ‘Isabelle Faust’s interpretations of these masterpieces are compelling from first bar to last. Her playing here is not only bold and energetic, but also teasing and seductive.’ September 2013
Schumann Violin Concerto Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado (Harmonia Mundi HMC902196) ‘In this superb performance, Faust brings tremendous musical insight and an infinite variety of colour. The advantage of presenting Schumann on period instruments is brilliantly demonstrated.’ June 2015
Franck Violin Sonata
Alexander Melnikov (piano) (Harmonia Mundi HMM902254) ‘The Franck sounds absolutely inspired and collegial: Alexander Melnikov emerges as veritable Carlos Acosta of the piano, a powerful virtuoso with the ability also to offset Faust’s elegance and soaring phrases (and, of course, whispering) with self-effacing charm.’ August 2017
recital programmes are as likely to include Ligeti and Lachenmann as Mozart and Mendelssohn, she has an impressive record of working with today’s composers, including Ondrej Adamek, Marco Stroppa, Oscar Strasnoy and Beat Furrer. As I write, a handful of new concertos are being composed for her. ‘I would find it very strange not to play the music of today,’ she admits. ‘Do we want to only dig in the museum of dead music? Think about it: in Mozart’s time, most of the pieces were new and it was essential for people to hear new things and not simply look back or resort to pieces they could already whistle along to.’ Do these living collaborations inform how she approaches a historicallyinformed project such as the Mendelssohn? She thinks about it. ‘Here 32
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is an example: I’m giving a premiere in December of a work by Ondrej Adamek and he is so specific in colours, in sounds. It is essential to work with the composer because it’s not something you can immediately read in the score. And that makes me think: there are a few bars in the Schumann Violin Concerto which were impossible to play; Joachim came up with his proposal for these passages. It was an intense collaboration between composer and violinist. And now I can collaborate in the same way with a composer, looking for a solution as Joachim may have done.’ Intense collaboration is certainly the name of Faust’s game. We meet in London on the eve of the opening weekend in a five-concert residency at Wigmore Hall. Alongside such cherished musical
Team player: ‘I prefer to interact with people’
partners as pianist Alexander Melnikov and fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout (with whom, by the way, she has a mouthwatering new disc of Bach violin and harpsichord sonatas out in January), the season is designed to showcase her remarkable breadth of curiosity and repertoire. Wigmore Hall has become a home-from-home for her; it is, Faust enthuses, ‘one of the most prestigious small jewels for chamber music in the whole world. Of course because it’s so historically important and beautiful, but even more, it is about the audience that has grown inside that hall. You can count on one hand the places where you might find such an expert, attentive, warm-hearted, passionate and eager public.’ She laughs. ‘Maybe if you live in London you think that’s a normal thing, but I play all over the world, and I can tell you it’s not.’ Having seen Faust perform often in Wigmore Hall over the years, it’s no surprise that she should feel so at home. For all the acclaim she receives as a concerto soloist, I sense that in her heart she thinks of herself as chamber musician. ‘Always,’ she confirms, with that disarming smile. ‘Whatever I’m playing, I prefer to interact with the people. Through dialogue, through polyphony, through everything that goes on between musicians, we listen to each other, and through listening, that’s what makes it interesting; that’s what makes it each time a new piece; that’s what creates the most emotion. That’s how I don’t get bored. Standing up and playing something to show off I’m just not interested.’ She grins. ‘For me, it’s not about showing what you can do. It’s about the music. Always, the music.’ Faust’s recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is out now on Harmonia Mundi BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
New for NOVEMBER 2017 TAMSINWALEY-COHEN & HUW WATKINS return with a new disc exploring folk-inspired Bohemia from before the First World War, featuring works by: Antonin Dvořák Josef Suk and Leoš Janáček.
SIGCD510 MARY BEVAN soprano & JOSEPH MIDDLETON perform a programme exploring the genius of Baudelaire and Goethe, and how texts by them unlocked very specific musical landscapes in settings by Debussy, Duparc, Chausson, de Bréville, Séverac, Fauré and Schubert. SIGCD509 ROXANNA PANUFNIK & SIR JOHN TAVENER Voce Chamber Choir Suzi Digby conductor A personal tribute to Sir John Tavener. At the heart of the disc is the premiere recording of Panufnik’s ‘99 Words to my Darling Children’, a moving setting of Tavener’s last message to his family.
For intimate recitals in-the-round, huge international orchestras or listening to Beethoven in a car park,
everyone is welcome. SIGCD519
FRETWORK HIS MAJESTYS SAGBUTTS AND CORNETTS MAGDALENA CONSORT Some of the leading performers of 17th-century music combine forces under the artistic direction of William Hunt for this first complete recording of the consort anthems of Orlando Gibbons. SIGCD511
WWW.SIGNUMRECORDS.COM Distributed by [PIAS] in the UK & Naxos of America in the USA
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You have to play or sing with passion – lyrical, dramatic, whatever it is – but with passion THE BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
Cecilia Bartoli known repertoire, and is always hunting around for the obscure or the forgotten poking around in the St Petersburg archives, for example, for music by Italian visitors to Catherine the Great’s court, which they were forbidden to take home afterwards. ‘People talk about crossover,’ PHOTOGRAPHY: ULI WEBER she says. ‘That is my crossover. Of course I sing music everyone knows – but also the olce Duello – a sweet duel. Mezzo- work of composers who are forgotten.’ soprano Cecilia’s Bartoli’s new So a singer, who 20 years ago was a recording of Baroque arias is best-selling recording artist, in demand indeed a luxurious and comfortable from every opera house and with a journey, but it’s also bristling with fire. huge following, has consistently tried to Her collaboration with the cellist Sol innovate and surprise. It may be one of the Gabetta involves a delicious struggle reasons for her bubbling good humour and between voice and cello, a restless to-andconfidence. There’s nothing weary about fro that explores music over a century or her; the quest goes on. We meet in Gstaad in the Alps, where she so, from the birth of the Baroque onwards. But no one who’s watched Bartoli in recent spends a good deal of time, and it’s natural that along with the Gabetta collaboration, times will be surprised that it includes little-known works by Nicola Porpora and which she’s taking on a European tour, she should talk about her endless desire to Antonio Caldara among others. It’s a collection (see them at the Barbican present music to challenge expectations. This is hardly revolutionary, but it is in London on 1 December with the Capella fresh. We speak about Handel’s Ariodante Gabetta) that catches the liveliness of at the Salzburg Whitsun festival, in Bartoli’s musical imagination. Over the years, she has consistently opened up little- which she took the title role, the part BBC Radio 4’s James Naughtie talks to the Italian mezzo about her ceaseless quest to revive forgotten masterpieces, and how her voice has changed for the better over the years.
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photography: mat hennek
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Meeting of minds: Bartoli talks to James Naughtie in Gstaad, Switzerland
first played by one of Handel’s favourite castrati, Giovanni Carestini. ‘The role is very tricky because this is why Carestini was a star it’s low and it’s high and you need a flexible voice. Things become very dramatic after the first act. They’re some of the most beautiful scenes Handel composed. I’m so interested in the repertoire of the castrati [her disc of music for castrati, Sacrificium, was released in 2009], because they had the chance to sing, thanks to their popularity, the music of the greatest composers of their time.’ But how did they sound? We know the countertenor voice so well in our own time, but what about these 18th-century heroes of the stage? ‘It’s difficult to say maybe impossible but it’s true that when a castrato was ill, he was often replaced by a mezzo-soprano (though not in the Vatican, of course!) and this means that we can say a castrato had a voice something like a woman’s, but with the power of a man’s. And without being a man, you could say.’ The consequence for Bartoli is a vocal challenge. ‘It suits me, but it’s quite demanding, because a man was performing this. You have to produce the power but especially the intensity, and that is difficult. In Ariodante, there’s a huge act with a huge coloratura… well that’s fine, but in the second and third acts it becomes more dramatic. So you have to show the depth of the character and also the depth
of the tragedy, so you need to be not only a good singer but also a good actor.’ She goes on to speak about her own approach to operatic roles, like the Norma seen at the Edinburgh Festival last year in which she sang the title role as a mezzo, her own voice considerably darker than it used to be. ‘First of all, what we performed
‘I feel that I can sustain a beautiful long phrase more comfortably now’ is exactly what Bellini composed. We kept the same keys for everything. Remember this. When it was premiered, Norma was probably around 35. You realise the story much better that way. It makes much more sense like Don Giovanni, tied to Donna Elvira and looking for the young Zerlina, not the other way around!’ If emotional truth is the point, Norma is better not sung by a soprano. ‘Here is why. You need a drama in the role. You need to know there has been this terrible conflict from the very beginning of the opera because she is lying from the start. She’s trying to take time without telling her father and her people that she had
already two children with the enemy. This is how Norma begins and you have to feel that conflict. The moment she opens her mouth she’s not telling the truth about her life. Everything comes from the integrity of the story. The libretto is important. The story has to be believable.’ For her, a mezzo Norma, which some audiences hadn’t heard but Bellini’s audiences would mostly have expected, was in part a piece of dramatic integrity, but also a chance to exploit to the full the changes in her own voice, which began to dazzle audiences with its power and range many years ago. ‘I feel of course that my voice changed some years ago. I can sustain a beautiful long phrase more comfortably now. It is easier to sustain and I can tell you it is much more comfortable than even 15 years ago. Somehow I can keep the elasticity in the voice, but I can go deeper into the music. Somehow I know my instrument better now. Learning and performing with other musicians and other instruments, you know.’ So the collaboration with Sol Gabetta was a natural one. ‘This is certainly the case. This part of the cello Baroque repertoire is often forgotten, but the combination of cello and voice was quite usual. Sometimes the voice dominates, sometimes the cello. It was a style that people knew. ‘Especially in the Baroque time the voice had to fight with the trumpet BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Cecilia Bartoli Concert dress: together in a recent performance featuring the Capella Gabetta Double bow: Gabetta and Bartoli in close harmony
The cellist on the joys of working alongside Cecilia Bartoli I’ve known Cecilia Bartoli for many years: she lives in Zurich and I live in Basel and we’ve been to each other’s concerts many times. She’s an extraordinary musician. Her most unbelievable quality is her extreme pianissimos – the control she has over every single note. Bartoli is very famous because of her virtuosity – which is quite right, of course, but I think that what moves me even more is how incredibly strong her slow and soft singing is. It’s much more difficult to keep your energy up in this sort of music. I recognised something in my personality that attracted me to her, probably because all string players are told by their teachers to play like a singer. The bow should breath like a singer; you should not stop the note when you change the bow; you need to articulate like a singer. There are so many musical ideals in the voice. To have the chance to work with someone like Cecilia was a dream because I was an admirer of her, and I’ve learnt so many things from her approach both to the music and to her audiences. She has so much energy! 38
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sometimes, but I do believe that the voice of the cello is very similar to the mezzo voice, especially in expressing humanity, and Sol is such a fantastic musician. I’ve known her for many years. She has a love of enjoyment, and a deep passion for music and everything else. That’s important. You have to play or sing with passion lyric, dramatic, whatever it is but with passion.’ Bartoli’s enjoyment of the Baroque repertoire, demonstrated on the new recording, brings us back to Handel, the composer who, along with Rossini, has probably defined her voice for so many audiences. ‘I think he was aware of the weakness of humanity, the distress of humanity. I have the same feeling with Mozart’s music, and of course he was a big admirer of Handel’s music, too. And it’s hard to believe now how much of the music was neglected for so long. But that is the way that it was. Baroque opera was huge. Vivaldi was better known as an opera composer than anything else.’ And beside Handel stands Rossini, who offers so much for the Bartoli voice and in whose operas she’s been such a conquering presence. ‘Isn’t it strange that now Rossini is better known for comic opera than anything? We know Cenerentola and The Barber of Seville so well. But I’m singing L’Italiana in Algieri next year to mark the 150th anniversary of his death in 1868, and when you think of that date you remember how the structure of music was developing. It was the year of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. Imagine that. The world was shifting. A different kind of drama.’
The theme of the conversation, it turns out, is intensity. No one who has watched Bartoli in concert or on the operatic stage can doubt her emotional and physical immersion in the performance: nothing is held back; everything is brought to bear on the music. And whether she’s talking about Handel’s humanity, the suitability of the cello as a partner to the mezzo voice, or the common sense casting of Norma for a voice like hers, the purpose is to make the case for emotional commitment. She talks about Ariodante with the enthusiasm that you’d expect a young singer to show, having recently discovered Handel. Without wishing to stretch the point about a long career, Bartoli has had plenty of time to get accustomed to a familiar repertoire that she can return to again and again. But she’s still exploring, restlessly. ‘In this recording [with Sol Gabetta] you will hear music that creates passion in me. That is why I love singing, of course. You have to show it, all the time. It is what music suggests to you, and you have to obey. Every time you sing. Why else do it?’ Bartoli’s sheer vivacity points to someone who appears much less interested in maintaining the standards of her own stellar career, but in pressing on in repertoire, with developing parts of her voice that weren’t obvious to the same degree a decade or two ago and in discovering the unknown or the lost. ‘The difference is between being a good singer and a good artist, and I tell you that there is a big gap between them.’ Dolce Duello is out on Decca on 10 November
© Jens Braun
STEVEN ISSERLIS & CONNIE SHIH
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Perchance to stream The time is ripe to talk about music streaming. As several new services open their digital doors, we survey the scene and select the best streaming sites and apps
treaming may have been around for over 20 years, but only now is it coming of age. If you had internet access back in 1995, youâ€™ll remember that, thanks to that endless buffering, streaming audio and video was a painful experience. It took days to download a symphony, too. When â€˜high-speedâ€™ internet (sluggish by todayâ€™s standards) made surfing bearable around 2006, downloads became the norm, spurred on by Appleâ€™s iPod which enabled us to carry 5,000 tracks around with us. But downloads took up space on your device; and inevitable hard drive failure meant that thousands of hours of music could be deleted in seconds. Today, downloading is taking a back seat, overtaken by streaming. whose sound quality, until very recently, has been its Achilles heel. However, two problems need solving. The first is metadata â€“ the information that tells us everything we need to know about a recording. Without it, classical music is an unsearchable, unfathomable mess of random tracks. Mainstream software, however, has traditionally only been good for rock and pop â€“ Appleâ€™s iTunes displays artist, album, song, year, artwork but not much else. No separate field for chorus, conductor, librettist, edition, orchestra leaderâ€Ś And while there is only one way to spell Taylor Swift, you can take your pick around 40
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In around 2006, downloads EHFDPHWKHbQRUP spurred on by Appleâ€™s iPod
the world among Tchaikovsky, Tschaikowsky, Tchaikowsky, Ciaikovsky. The thinking seems to be: sort out intelligent metadata, and youâ€™ll have the keys to the streaming kingdom. But not quite. And this is where streaming has yet to prove its worth. Artists are currently paid so little per stream (fractions of pennies) that a handful of labels are refusing to come on board. So, until musicians, composers and labels are rewarded sufficiently â€˜per streamâ€™, the industry is a little wary of throwing its weight behind it. In the meantime, new streaming services are offering listeners realistic alternatives to physical recordings, thousands of hours of music at a click. And our guide to the best of them over the next six pages will help you find the best experience for your money. We havenâ€™t included streamed content from the BBC in our survey, but you can find much of it on its websites.
Classical-only services Featured artists, curated playlists, expert guidance… these are the kinds of things a classical-only service can offer. But has anyone built a top-notch site yet?
THE BEST THREE Naxos naxosmusiclibrary.com plus iOS and Android apps Price: free via many institutions; individual from £17.40 per month Naxos Music Library is expensive, but if your school, university or library belongs, then you could get it free. NML’s website and apps may be in desperate need of a design update, but its incredible resources and content make it king. There are more than 130,000 recordings from 800 labels, you can download booklet notes and
cover artwork and there are glossaries, podcasts and interactive music courses. A search for William Byrd throws up 605 recordings. Way ahead of the competition. Pros: An almost limitless resource; free for many users; good sound quality; education services. Cons: Looks outdated; no curated content; no lossless streaming. Rating: 8/10
Idagio idagio.com plus iOS and Android apps Price: £9.99 per month Idagio is relatively new, much like Primephonic (see p42) – although there’s much to enjoy, there’s a way to go. While recordings on the homepage get the full editorial and design treatment, things get sparser deeper in, but lists of instruments, artists and composers show a site already BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Get the best from streaming services Audio expert Chris Haslam shows you how to get the music from your device onto your hi-fi and into your ears
It’s great knowing you’ve got access to virtually every note of music ever recorded, but without the right hi-fi equipment all you’ve got is some expensive binary code. At the very least, you’ll need home broadband, ideally with Wi-Fi, and if you want to listen to music on the go, a smartphone or portable MP3/Music player and a pair of headphones.
Bluetoothsome: the Arcam Mini Blink sells at around £99
A simple set-up Assuming you want to liberate your digital music from the confines of a player, the easiest – and cheapest – solution is to simply connect your phone, MP3 player or laptop to your existing hi-fi either using a 3.5mm jack plugged into the headphone socket, or one with a 3.5mm jack to RCA phono, that feeds into your amplifier. If you’re streaming, rather than playing downloaded music, make sure it’s over Wi-Fi to avoid data charges.
Bluetooth streaming There are dozens of Bluetooth speakers, radios and hi-fi components that give you the convenience of wireless music streaming from your smartphone or tablet. If you have an existing hi-fi, a plug-and-play box such as the Arcam Mini Blink (£99) or Google Chromecast Audio (£30) offer an instant upgrade with solid sound quality. Bluetooth speakers cost from just £20, but these cheap options, which often use batteries for portability, generally sound terrible, so it’s worth spending more. One of the
Grammofy The streaming market is tough, and at the time of going to press, we learnt of the sad demise of Grammofy, a service with one of the more colourful and imaginative approaches. Its playlists were clearly conceived from knowledge and passion, and its spoken curations were often fun. Its weak spot, however, seemed to be its reliance on playlists alone rather than a service that catered to individual tastes. 42
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best options is the £200 Audio Pro Addon T3, but brands such as BeoPlay and KEF also impress. Most all-in-one stereo systems now feature Bluetooth alongside DAB radio and even CD. The Denon D-M41DAB (£380) will appeal to the traditionalist looking to upgrade, while the gorgeous Ruark R4 (£699) makes a stylish sound statement. To enjoy the best quality Bluetooth streaming, look for the aptX logo. This is your guarantee of almost CD quality streaming (and
jam-packed, and comparing different recordings of the same work is a breeze. Playlists, either expert-curated or based on mood, are well thought-through, and the FLAC streaming quality is excellent. The slick app is easy to use. Pros: Fine iOS app; good playlists; clear site layout; good sound Cons: A little bare away from the homepage; no label info on many recordings Rating: 7/10
Primephonic play.primephonic.com plus iOS app coming in December Price: $14.99 per month after free trial Primephonic’s uncluttered website puts search at its heart (it needs sorting ‘Paul Lewis Waldstein’ presented us with Schubert). At present, content is limited: there are only 40 labels and 9,000 recordings, playlists are thin and the ‘Medieval’ section yields eight works, although the lossless sound is excellent. Talks with the major labels are ongoing, with Warner Classics and Sony Classical recently joining. Primephonic promises much, but wait a few months before diving in.
Pros: Enticing design, clearly laid out; fastgrowing library of content; good sound. Cons: Limited library; search a little awry. Rating: 6/10
What else is out there? Classical Archives ($7.99 a month) comes a close fourth, offering a great deal of music for relatively low monthly cost, although there is no major label content at present. Its iPhone app works well (Airplay and Sonos compatible), although music has to be ‘queued’ before it can be played. There are some interesting interviews and blogs (it would be nice to see that side of things pepped up a bit) but the site looks a little old-fashioned and needs clarifying. We wanted to like DiscMuseum more ( from just £2 a month for limited access). Music is sorted by composers, instruments, moods etc, but there’s no general search function and no CD artwork. Plus, many of the recordings on offer are quite old the most recent recording of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto is from 1963. But what there is is fascinating. Finally, we were about to test Grammofy but the service is shutting in November (see box, left).
Remote controls: Naim’s Mu-So wireless system; (left) the £399 Chord Mojo
the best sound it might be worth investing in a separate DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) like the Chord Mojo (£399). Some systems also let you play hi-res files from USB storage devices or networked PC via an Ethernet cable, while dedicated hi-fi ‘streamers’ such as the Cambridge Audio CXN (£800) pulls music files from virtually all sources and upscales to hi-res 24-bit/384kHz.
Wireless convenience 24-bit ‘better than CD quality’ with the new aptX HD service). Remember though, you’ll need a compatible speaker and music player to benefit, and Apple devices don’t support it. For iPhone, etc. you’ll need to use Airplay for CD-quality streaming over Wi-Fi.
Hi-res streaming If you’ve subscribed to a hi-res streaming service, you can plug your laptop into your hi-fi with a 3.5mm to RCA cable, but to get
Multi-room wireless systems such as Sonos (from £199), Naim Mu-so (from £649) and Yamaha MusicCast (from £149) offer seamless integration with platforms such as Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal, and Apple’s upcoming HomePod may give them all a run for their money. Many of these can find and play downloaded content on networked hard drives. These multi-speaker systems, controlled via an app, connect to your home Wi-Fi to create a stronger network than Bluetooth and streaming in higher quality.
Pros: Choice of formats, ease of use, sleevenotes. Cons: Track details are not always clearly set out. Rating: 8/10
If your listening goes beyond classical music, consider a service covering all genres for one monthly fee. But given their enormity, finding what you want can be a little hit and miss.
THE BEST THREE Qobuz play.qobuz.com plus iOS and Android apps Price: £9.99 per month (Premium); £19.99 per month (Hi-fi); £219 per year (Sublime); £349 per year (Sublime+); three-month free trial period There’s a lot to like here, whether you’re using the basic ‘Premium’ service (MP3 320 kbps) or the ultra-plush ‘Sublime+’ (Hi-Res 24-bit FLAC). Searching for, say, ‘Haydn Violin Concertos’ brought up a wide (and, unlike some services, relevant) range of recordings and the presentation is both informative and eyecatching. The bespoke ‘Classical’ section has a handy list of latest releases and – this is the clincher – many recordings come accompanied by the original sleevenotes in PDF format. Some all-encompassing sites seem to treat classical music like a necessary but inconvenient add-on; with Qobuz, you feel they actually care.
Qobuz’s presentation is both informative and eye-catching, and there’s a handy list of latest releases
apple.com/uk/music plus iOS and Android apps Price: £9.99 per month (individual); £4.99 (student); £14.99 (family); three-month free trial period Don’t go hunting for technical details of audio file formats here, as Apple keeps its magic secret pretty much to itself: you’ll just have to judge the results for yourself. Nor should you expect much in the way of listening guidance, despite the vast number of playlists to listen to. For classical music fans, this is a service best suited to those who already know what they are looking for. Being able to switch easily between its huge number of tracks and one’s own existing iTunes library is a big plus, however. Pros: A comprehensive, good quality service with not much in the way frills. Cons: Little in the way of accompanying information; metadata not always accurate. Rating: 7/10 BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
ANNE AKIKO MEYERS
RAUTAVAARA FANTASIA SZYMANOWSKI CONCERTO NO.1 RAVEL TZIGANE
“Playing that ﬂows from the heart” THE NEW YORK TIMES
avierecords.com Distributed in the UK by Proper Music Distribution Ltd, The New Powerhouse, Gateway Business Centre, Kangley Bridge Road, London SE26 5AN, Tel: 020 8676 5114
The exciting new release of Fantasia by best-selling violinist Anne Akiko Meyers captures the rare combination of virtuosity and poetic color with the premiere recording of the title track, Einojuhani Rautavaara’s last masterpiece written for Meyers; Ravel’s virtuoso showpiece Tzigane, and Karol Szymanowski’s sensuous Violin Concerto No. 1.
youtube.com plus iOS and Android apps Price: Free Given that anyone, anywhere can upload a video or audio file to YouTube, the range of quality ranges from abysmal someone, say, recording a crackly vinyl on their phone to very good indeed. There are also the obvious moral dilemmas: are the artists you are enjoying receiving their due share of royalties? But it is all free, and there are all sorts of gems historic and contemporary, wonderful and plain weird that you won’t find on the paid-for services. Always worth a dabble. (See also video streaming services, below). Pros: A lot of unique audio and video content; it’s completely free. Cons: Much of that content is of variable quality. Rating: 6/10
Privileged access: Find performances by pianist Martha Argerich on Medici TV; (above) rare footage of Elgar on YouTube
Video streaming services Few services cover all concerts, operas, documentaries and masterclasses… So as well as naming the best overall, we’ve picked the top places to watch concerts and opera online.
What else is out there?
THE BEST THREE Medici TV
The longest established of any streaming service, Spotify also has the largest number of users worldwide. For those wanting to explore streaming for the first time, its Spotify Free service which, as the name suggests, costs nothing is a good place to start. You might, though, find yourself driven to distraction by the advertisements that crop up in between tracks. If so, you may choose to upgrade to Spotify Premium, which has a similar pricing structure to Apple Music, as does another big player in the market, Google Play as well individual packages, all also offer family packages for up to six people. Away from the ‘big boys’, meanwhile, Napster and Tidal both offer neatly presented, user-friendly services similar to Qobuz but while Tidal has differently priced ‘Premium’ and ‘HiFi’ services, Napster allows one to switch between three different levels of audio quality on the one site. All have 30-day free trial periods.
medici.tv; iOs and Android apps; Chromecast and AirPlay Price: Free (limited); £12.90 per month (premium) When it comes to video streaming, Medici TV is pretty much unbeatable. Currently, there are over 600 concerts, 140 operas and a staggering 1,148 documentaries on the site. Plus there are always live-streamed events in the diary, with an impressive roster of partners including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Verbier Festival and the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Site presentation is excellent, with handy programme listings, film chapters and readable blurb. High marks for filming and sound, and the app works nicely. Pros: Easy to sign up, easy to use; clean look, plentiful content. Cons: Minimum one-month contract; partial access is very partial. Rating: 9/10
Currently there are over 600 concerts, 140 operas and 1,148 documentaries on Medici
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Music streaming Plug-in Puccini: enjoy Vittorio Grigolo and Kristine Opolais in La bohème in HD from the New York Met
Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall
MARTY SOHL/MET OPERA
Online responses Choral evensong is sung each day in Britain’s places of worship, and is rightly celebrated as one of this country’s musical glories. You can enjoy audio streams of many of them from the comfort of your own fireside pew, including webcasts from St John’s and King’s (above) colleges, Cambridge and New College, Oxford. Further afield, St Thomas’s, Fifth Avenue, New York streams its services live, as does Washington National Cathedral which includes video webcasts in its offerings. There are many, many others to explore… 46
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digitalconcerthall/com; iOS and Android apps; Apple TV; Amazon Fire TV, Google Nexus player Price: €14.90 per month or €149 for a year; €19.90 (30 days); €9.90 (7 days) The Berlin Philharmonic was the first orchestra to launch a digital concert hall, back in 2008 though many others have now followed suit (see ‘what else is out there’, below). The 40+ concerts broadcast live in HD from the Philharmonie each year are all available, and the hall’s permanent film and sound set-up means everything is high quality. The Berliners offer the most comprehensive catalogue of any of the orchestra sites, going back to the 1960s. Simon Rattle is particularly well represented, with 179 concerts, but there are a good number of concerts with former chief conductors Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan. Pros: Great range of repertoire; interviews and documentaries included. Cons: Limited to one orchestra; in-app search could be clearer. Rating: 8/10
Metropolitan Opera on Demand metopera.org/season/on-demand; iOS and Android; Roku, Samsung Smart TV and Apple TV Price: $14.99 per month; $99.99 per year (Met members); $149.99 per year (non-members)
The Met Opera gave its first live telecast in 1977 one of the four Puccini La bohèmes now available on its on-demand site and those years of experience show in the success of its live cinema events and the richness of this archive. Sadly, those cinecasts aren’t streamed live by this service, and are only added three to six months later. But with over 600 filmed operas, as well as audio-only broadcasts going back to 1935, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to opera favourites. Video quality varies over the ages, but is mostly in high-definition with handy track listings alongside. Pros: World-class artists, historic productions. Cons: Hard to find the videos once you’ve signed up; the Met tries to sell you lots of extras. Rating: 7/10
What else is out there? Opera Vision has just launched, superseding the must-visit Opera Platform site. It’s free and simple to use. There are only six operas on there at the moment, but the launch programme for the rest of 2017 a mixture of live-streamed and on-demand videos is enticing, and the venture involves 30 opera companies from 18 countries around Europe. If you want to follow the work of specific opera companies, try the Vienna State Opera’s live-streaming service (€14.00 per ticket) or the Bavarian State Opera’s free live-streaming programme. Orchestras and concert halls are embracing live-streaming, and there are a few to keep your eye on. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s two-year-old archive already includes an unmissable concert performance of Britten’s Peter Grimes conducted by Edward Gardner. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Gothenburg Symphony (who also offer an impressive free app with programme notes and more) and the Paris Philharmonie have excellent free offerings, while the Detroit Symphony Orchestra offers free live webcasts of concerts. Don’t forget YouTube either (see all-music services), and if you belong to an educational institution, Naxos has an extensive performing arts video library.
TAKE TO THE HIGH SEAS WITH SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST DISTINGUISHED PERFORMERS ABOARD THE LUXURIOUS CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE
n its maiden voyage, Bravo – Cruise of Performing Arts UK 2018, will set sail from Southampton, taking passengers on a stunning musical journey to Bilbao, Vigo and Cherbourg. Welsh superstar mezzo soprano /EXLIVMRI.IROMRWERHHMWXMRKYMWLIHXIRSV%P½I&SI[MPPFI topping the bill – so it’s sure to be a special trip. As passengers sit back and enjoy the cruise, they’ll be treated to a full programme of music throughout the day and into the early hours, with performances from more than 28 stars from international musical theatre, classical music and opera, including Julian Lloyd Webber and the National Symphony Orchestra.
En route, one of the Celebrity Silhouette’s ports of call will be Bilbao, where passengers will have an exclusive private tour of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, followed by a reception in the museum’s beautiful atrium. This is a rare opportunity to discover one of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art collections. If you’d like to spend seven glorious nights on this luxury liner with its own international restaurants, luxury shops, pool and spa on board, it’s worth booking soon, because the inaugural Bravo UK cruise is sure to be extremely popular. Cruise dates from 19-26 May 2018.
8SFSSOSV½RHSYXQSVIGEPP01926 497811 or go to bravocruise.co.uk
A touch of Polish When Krystian Zimerman celebrates the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein by performing his Second Symphony, he will be fulfilling a promise he made to the composer himself, as Jessica Duchen discovers
A Pieces you thought you knew would take on a different light when Bernstein touched them
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bout ten years ago, pianist Krystian Zimerman gave a pre-concert talk before his recital at London’s Royal Festival Hall – and his sense of comic timing had the audience rolling in the aisles. Unexpected, perhaps, from someone whom many music-lovers consider either an outspoken maverick or a rare bird of musical paradise. But for 2017-18 the witty, daredevil side of this legendary Polish pianist may well be uppermost. He turned 60 last December – ‘I don’t accept this. Maybe the world is turning at the wrong speed after the Japan earthquake!’ he quips – but his chief preoccupation is not his own birthday, but Leonard Bernstein’s 100th. Zimerman is touring as soloist in Bernstein’s exuberant Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’, mostly with conductor Sir Simon Rattle – including with the London Symphony Orchestra in December – in tribute to the late composer and conductor who exerted tremendous influence over his own development. ‘Lenny gave me the courage to be myself,’ he recalls. Zimerman first met Bernstein as a young competition winner, fresh from the small town of Zabrze in southern Poland. His victory at the 1975 Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, aged 18, had catapulted him into the international limelight. Visiting Vienna, he heard Bernstein conduct Mahler’s Sixth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, and was ‘completely wiped out’ by it. Afterwards, he auditioned for the conductor, who engaged him as one of four pianists to record Stravinsky’s Les Noces. He toured plentifully with Bernstein thereafter, also recording the two Brahms concertos and the
last three Beethovens with him. ‘There was no other musician quite like him,’ says Zimerman. ‘He functioned as if he was in a different universe. Pieces you thought you knew would suddenly take on a different life when he touched them.’ Touring the Brahms Second Concerto, Zimerman recalls, ‘we were having lunch one day and he asked me about his own music. When I told him I had played his Symphony No. 2, he was amazed. “How come I didn’t know?”, he said. “You never asked!”, I replied.’ Naturally, numerous performances followed: ‘Each time was completely different. That was a special feature of his music making: he was always totally honest, so the smallest thing that changed his emotional construction immediately found its way into his interpretations. So there was not really a Bernstein interpretation – it was done ad hoc in the performance, to the extent that it was impossible to rehearse! He could make dramatic changes on stage. That’s something I have never experienced with any other conductor, this degree of courage and daring.’ Scary, perhaps? Zimerman smiles: ‘Maximum adrenalin!’ Returning to the symphony this year fulfils a promise he made to Bernstein. ‘He asked me: “Will you play this piece with me when I’m 100?”. And that’s why I’m playing it now, because I realised two years ago that he’d be 100. It’s a great piece. It’s so much fun. And it’s so much like him, with all the freshness and flexibility and craziness of his character.’ Another old friend is on the podium: ‘I first met Simon Rattle when he was still a student and he came to my recital in the Royal Festival
MAT HENNEK, GETTY
‘Maximum adrenalin!’: Krystian Zimerman relishes the chance to perform ‘The Age of Anxiety’ by Bernstein (pictured opposite)
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MAT HENNEK, GETTY
A guide to Bernstein’s ‘The Age of Anxiety’ Symphony When Leonard Bernstein read WH Auden’s (above) 1947 poem The Age of Anxiety, he found himself, to use his own words, ‘breathless’ in his excitement. Describing the Pulitzer Prize-winning work as ‘one of the most shattering examples of pure virtuosity in the history of English poetry’, the composer set himself the challenge of writing a symphony inspired by it. He follows the course of Auden’s poem closely, beginning with a sombre Prologue in which four people – Malin, Quant, Rosetta and Emble – are depicted sitting in a New York bar, meditating on life. In the five movements that follow – called The Seven Ages, The Seven Stages, The Dirge, The Masque and The Epilogue – we join the characters as they get tipsy, take a cab back to Rosetta’s flat, party and then head off or fall asleep. While Bernstein called the work his Second Symphony, the piano part gives it more of a feeling of a concerto. There is more than a hint of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, with glimpses of Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Gershwin and even Brahms. Bernstein played the piano part at the premiere, on 8 April 1949, with its dedicatee Serge Koussevitzky conducting. 50
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Hall,’ Zimerman says. ‘I remember him from the 1970s as a sparkling personality – he’s the music himself. That’s one of the talents that brings Rattle closer to Bernstein for me: you never thought of him conducting a piece – you thought it’s his piece. He’s composing the moment he’s on stage with it. ‘Another similarity is that he rehearses, preparing the orchestra, but what happens in the concert is not necessarily the same. We’ll set up a framework, but he knows I can switch at any moment and I know he can follow, and viceversa. When I make a joke on stage, he doesn’t let me get away with it – I will get it back in the next two minutes! I like his sarcasm, his humour and his ability to jump into any project, no matter how crazy, the minute he is convinced of it.’ Zimerman has been in the news this autumn for a different project: his first solo recording for nearly a quarter of a century, namely the two last Schubert piano sonatas, D959 and D960. Its genesis is a tale in its own right. In 2007, a
‘I like Simon Rattle’s ability to jump into any project, no matter how crazy’ terrible earthquake hit Kashiwazaki in Japan – the site of a nuclear plant – and Zimerman gave a benefit concert for the town’s reconstruction. In gratitude, the mayor, Hiroshi Aida, offered him a week’s use of the newly built Kashiwazaki City Performing Arts Centre for a recording; in 2015 Zimerman finally took him up on it. ‘We arrived in three metres of snow,’ he recalls. ‘My wife said, “You should record [Schubert’s] Winterreise!”.’ The hall’s acoustic is by a student of Yasuhisa Toyota; Zimerman regards the latter as the world’s finest acoustician, responsible for the Paris Philharmonie, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and venues all over Japan; Zimerman helped to persuade him to design the new hall for the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, NOSPR, in Katowice (see Travel, p60), where Zimerman had studied. London, he adds, could do worse than secure Toyota’s services for its hoped-for Centre for Music. It’s the combination of warmth, bloom and clarity that makes those halls so special, he says. ‘Suntory Hall was the first proof – you hear every note, yet every note is in a cushion of warm surrounding and while playing you feel
you are flying. The piano just opens and you can do incredible things there because you get so inspired by this acoustic.’ He has done incredible things with the Schubert sonatas. Part of his aim, he says, is to strip away false ‘traditions’ to get closer to the composer’s intentions – though that is just the beginning. ‘I was looking into Viennese tradition, especially of [pianist] Paul BaduraSkoda. But actually, English pianists, especially Clifford Curzon, were also inspiring to me in Schubert. You have to go after your intuition and play that which you feel in your soul. ‘Of course, read as much as you can and understand the style, but mostly from studying scores of other pieces, not from recordings. As Arthur Rubinstein said, if you repeat mistakes for long enough, they become tradition. For me, tradition comes when I listen to Schubert’s song cycles, then try to translate it into piano music, trying to make the piano sing.’ These raw, intimate works wring out their listeners emotionally in a way that only Schubert can. ‘In Schubert’s time, this was the climax of what emotion could be in music,’ Zimerman reflects. ‘That’s what music is for: in the end
we’re not listening to sounds, we’re listening to that which the sounds create. For myself, I’m not replaying a score – I’m replaying the reason why this composer wrote this score, trying to understand the emotions he wanted to create and then trying to translate it into modern times.’ But why no solo recordings for so long? ‘I don’t have the illusion that I’m producing something valuable, and if it’s not valuable then there’s no sense to put it on the market,’ he says. ‘I wasn’t always happy with some of my other recordings and I thought it’s not necessary to litter the market with yet another mediocre one.’ (That thudding noise you can hear is multiple pianophiles’ foreheads hitting their desks). ‘I consider audio recordings as a historical mistake,’ he explains. ‘Music was never an “audio” experience. In the 19th century, you could always see the performer, so you always had an interaction with the performer’s way of being touched by this music – therefore, his musical credibility. You have to be the first victim of the music you play, because if you’re not, you won’t be able to sell it credibly to the people.’ At home in Switzerland, where he and his wife Maja have lived since 1981, Zimerman never
Career triumphs: Krystian Zimerman’s new disc of Schubert Sonatas; (top) on stage with conductor Leonard Bernstein; (above right) with Sir Simon Rattle
stops working with his explorations, musical or beyond. He’s one of few concert pianists to be concerned with the instrument’s mechanics. As a teenager, to earn money he learned to repair pianos and make the parts himself; he says they were simply unavailable in Zabrze in the 1970s. The inclination is still there. ‘It’s not something for everyone,’ he says. ‘It requires so much studying and you have to like it. Besides, people laugh at a pianist who’s running around at 4am with a jig-saw they think he should sit at the window and be inspired by the moon.’ As for his reputation for being politically outspoken, I ask if he would offer a few words on artists and politics today. ‘No, but I can say something about human beings and politics, because artists are not some other kind of being. We all have responsibilities as human beings, as citizens. As people who are voting, we should also be people who revolt when it goes wrong, or the moment we are cheated with promises… It’s difficult, when analysing politics in Europe in the 1930s, to say: at what time was it not too late to stop it? Because then came a moment when it was too late, and when you said something, you paid with your life. When is the moment to say: “Now is the time to get angry”? By that I don’t mean be a rebel and smash windows. Democracy allows us many tools which are civilised. We just don’t use them because of comfort, laziness, or naively thinking it will somehow end well.’ His view on the future of classical music is also food for thought. ‘I’m worried, very worried,’ he admits. ‘But I’m not concentrating on whether I’m optimistic or not, but on whether I did enough to secure its existence. I want to look in the mirror when I’m 70, if I’m still around, and say I did all I could in this life to honestly be called a representative of this profession. I have to have the courage to do my part.’ Krystian Zimerman performs Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 with the LSO at the Barbican, 16 Dec. His Schubert Sonatas, D959 & 960 are out now on DG BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Making waves: Britten conducts the English Chamber Orchestra in an early EBU broadcast in 1967; (below) the visionary BBC producer Hans Keller
A song for Europe For 50 years the European Broadcasting Union has been sharing landmark concert broadcasts from a wide range of countries, as Andrew Green discovers
ovember 27th, 1967, 19.30 (Greenwich Mean Time) precisely. The refined tones of the Radio 3 announcer: ‘Tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London the BBC presents, on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union, the opening concert of the Union’s first international concert season.’ Simultaneously across Europe on that late autumn evening 50 years ago (see box, p54) in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey other radio presenters were introducing the concert in their own ways. The line-up of performers and repertoire was pure pedigree. Britten conducting the English Chamber Orchestra, opening up with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. Then came the Amadeus String Quartet playing Haydn’s ‘Emperor’ Quartet. After the interval, two Amadeus members were soloists in Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante before tenor Peter Pears hauntingly delivered Britten’s Nocturne song cycle. ‘Four masterpieces in masterly performances,’ decided the critic Stanley Sadie. This gold-plated occasion and the concert season that followed kick-started a new era of Europe-wide co-operation in the sharing of musical performances between public service broadcasting organisations. What is now known as the ‘Euradio Season’ is a brimful treasure-chest of mainly live concerts, 52
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opera performances, musical competitions and one-day events offered to subscribing stations in 56 countries. Alongside this has developed a music exchange mechanism, by which each EBU member broadcaster has the right to both offer concerts to fellow contributors and to transmit anything from over 3,000 (largely recorded) ‘live’ performances pooled annually online. The reach of all this extends far beyond Europe, most notably to subscribers in North America, the Far East and Australia/New Zealand. ‘It’s the largest concert hall in the world,’ says EBU Radio Music Group chair, Miikka Maunula, executive producer at Yleisradio in Helsinki. ‘On average, seven broadcasters take each offered performance, so the overall added audience is really significant.’ ‘It’s a cost-effective way for radio stations to access a diverse range of material,’ adds Graham Dixon, the EBU’s head of radio, based in Geneva. Highlights from the history of this wideranging collaborative exercise include a 1975-78 Haydn complete opera project and a four-year feast of Palestrina in the 1990s. One-off events have included the 2001 Last Night of the Proms commemorating those who died on 9/11 and a concert from Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2008. Many musical genres are embraced, including jazz since 1971. A world music programme in 2015 was performed by refugees, while listeners around Europe joined the One Love Manchester concert for victims of the city’s terrorist tragedy.
European Broadcasting Union
The week-in, week-out use of shared EBU performances touches millions of listeners, whether they’re fully aware of it or not. As far as Radio 3 is concerned, strands making extensive or exclusive use of the material include Afternoon Concert, Early Music Late, Opera on 3 and Through The Night. Radio 3’s selection of music in the latter is also shared with other European stations. Radio Latvia’s LR3 Klasika network often uses EBU material. ‘For a quarter of a century we’ve broadcast fantastic performances from major concert halls and opera houses – currently around 450 a year,’ says LR3 director Gunda Vaivode. ‘You can enjoy them in your Riga flat, at your summer house or in the car. We have a catchphrase: “Without dinner jacket and evening dress in the world’s greatest concert halls.”’ Since the dawn of broadcasting, radio waves have never been respecters of national frontiers. Broadcasting schedules printed in
‘Radio often makes use of a language trusted by peoples of all tongues: music’ British newspapers of the 1920s demonstrate the interest listeners had in tuning to European radio stations with music very much in the mix. Place-names from those classic wavelengthfinder panels on early wireless sets convey the allure of foreign networks – Hilversum, Bucharest, Hamburg, Baranavichy: a sound of music in their own right. From the beginnings of public service broadcasting there were visionaries across Europe who saw that radio could promote international harmony – none more so than Oskar Czeija, the general manager of the RAVAG Austrian station between the wars. Radio, suggested Czeija, ‘often makes use of a language trusted by peoples of all tongues – music – and is called upon to co-operate in the work of international understanding.’ ‘Czeija went to visit the heads of other radio stations around Europe,’ says Dixon, ‘to explore what could be done in a collaborative way.’ World War II put paid to most of that. After the conflict, says Radio 3’s head of music programmes Edward Blakeman, who represents the station on the EBU Radio Music Group, the BBC was ‘a driving force in European broadcasting at a time when there was much BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
European Broadcasting Union
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Forbidden city: Lorin Maazel arrives in the North Korean capital to conduct an EBU concert in 2008
rebuilding of cultural contacts. The new Third Programme was international in its outlook, emphasising that music and culture join nations together. The BBC helped with the training of European radio personnel.’ The EBU came into existence in 1950, independent of moves toward political integration in Europe: it’s not an EU institution. Back then, the sharing of musical material between EBU stations took place on an ad hoc basis. From 1963 the Union had a radio programme committee, from which hung a music sub-committee with an international membership that was ‘…too large and unwieldy’, says music historian Alison Garnham. ‘Getting it to agree on anything was a major challenge.’ Everything changed when BBC producer Hans Keller appeared on the EBU scene. A survivor of Nazi detention and torture, Keller had burst onto the Third Programme like a oneman tidal wave. ‘Such a charismatic individual,’ says one-time Radio 3 producer Misha Donat. ‘He was a fine musician but also very opinionated! Young performers and new music were special interests.’ ‘Hans was renowned for being a bit aggressive with his superiors when he thought they were wrong,’ says another BBC colleague, Julian Hogg. ‘Perhaps it was the bravery he’d found during the war showing through. But it was never personal.’ The dominating force in a new, more manageable three-man EBU working party, Keller ensured that the first international concert season in 1967 was a success. ‘He was a superb administrator,’ says Garnham, who is currently 54
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50 glorious years A BBC concert to mark the EBU anniversary To celebrate the EBU’s 50th anniversary, there will be a concert at London’s LSO St Luke’s on 27 November. Broadcast around Europe and beyond, the evening will be a cosmopolitan affair: the BBC Concert Orchestra will be conducted by an Austrian, Johannes Wildner, with a commissioned Fanfare by British-Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova. Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov (below) will play Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5 which has been selected online by listeners. And there’s a nod to 1967 in the performances of a Britten work and Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante, featuring US-Korean violinist Esther Yoo and Norwegian violist Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad. see www. bbc.co.uk/ concert orchestra
collaborating on a project to commemorate the centenary of Keller’s birth in 2019. ‘And he had a creative personality; he was overflowing with ideas. After that first season he remained in charge for the next dozen years. He ran things like his own broadcasting network.’ Keller masterminded such spin-offs as a contemporary music series and an EBU string quartet competition which allowed ensembles to play whatever Haydn quartet was sprung on them. By the time of his retirement in 1979, the EBU concerts were on sure foundations. Sadly he died, much mourned, in 1985 without witnessing the new opportunities for EBU expansion thrown up as eastern Europe was liberated on the collapse of the Soviet Empire. However, the great technical innovations that spurred the sharing of musical performance across national boundaries, via TV as well as radio, were the arrival of efficient satellite transmission in the 1990s, followed by the internet, making possible the offering and dissemination of concerts to fellow EBU member stations via an online database. Live transmissions in the Euradio Season were far easier to set up. ‘The music exchange system grew dramatically,’ says Dixon. ‘Previously, offered recordings had to be dubbed in real time and sent in the post to a foreign station so they could be assessed. They were known as “pink offers” after the colour of the forms that had to be filled in. Only around 200 concerts a year were exchanged but it all changed with satellite and the internet.’ You might think the same technology now threatens the whole EBU music-sharing edifice, given how much online music can be streamed and downloaded. Pascale Labrie, the EBU’s head of music, disagrees. ‘What listeners value is that the music offered by us has been curated. It’s like when a friend you trust suggests something he or she thinks you will enjoy. Then there’s the role that presentation plays in enhancing the concert experience, guiding listeners through, say, a work’s historical context, aspects of the life of the composer and so on – things which enable the listener to appreciate the music better.’ ‘The EBU system shows the continuing value of public service broadcasting,’ says Blakeman. ‘You wouldn’t get this range of music from a commercial network. And as stations across Europe experience cuts, this is a cost-effective way of accessing huge riches. It’s needed more than ever.’ Affirmation comes from Maunula: ‘Even after all these years, there’s still a magic in listening to a concert from another country. You travel in your mind to another landscape.’
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onight’s concert is cancelled’. It’s the dreaded notice that can spell the end of a much anticipated evening. Often, no reason is given beyond the fact that the artist is ‘indisposed’. At least the guitarist Miloš Karadaglic´ had the grace to plead his fans’ forgiveness when he cancelled his concert at Bristol’s Colston Hall in October 2016. ‘It saddens me deeply to need to write these lines,’ he wrote. ‘Performing is all I live for. I would do anything to make the situation different. I am totally and utterly bereft by such news. I am unbending and adamant in my promise that I WILL be back on a stage near you.’ His problem was a long-standing thumb injury and, to be fair to musicians, aches and pains, as much as colds and sore throats, are often the reason they are forced to cancel at short notice. Often, that is, but not always. Sometimes, totally unexpected events can cause a cancellation. At other times, sheer bloodymindedness on the part of the musicians themselves is to blame. Below, we pick our way through some of classical music’s strangest cancellations, from the opera singer terrified of being showered with knickers to the naked violinist who tried to strangle a pensioner…
1 Triple disappointment
15 OF NOTE
15 calamitous cancellations ILLUSTRATIONS: DAVID LYTTLETON
John Evans presents a potted history of audience disappointment as he takes a look at some of classical music’s more intriguing, and unexpected, no-shows 56
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Even the greatest names suffer cancellations, especially when the forces of mammon come into play. Early in 1802, Beethoven was looking forward to performing his new Triple Concerto at a benefit concert his brother Carl was organising. But then, out of the blue, the director of the venue cancelled. In a letter to his brother’s publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel, an angry Carl wrote, ‘My brother would have written to you but is not in the mood for anything because the theatre director Baron von Braun, who is clearly an ignorant and rude man, did not allow him the theatre for a benefit concert and gave it to other, utterly mediocre artists.’
2 Ashes to ashes
The Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Rossini’s William Tell in October 2016 had been going so well right up until the moment a member of the audience walked up to the edge of the orchestra pit and, from a container concealed on his person, poured white powder into it. Fearing a chemical attack, the management evacuated the
15 calamitous cancellations
auditorium. In fact, they had nothing to fear. ‘An individual from out of town indicated that he was here to sprinkle the ashes of a friend, his mentor in opera, during the performance,’ said John Miller of the New York Police later.
Officials at Tel Aviv University had agreed to the conference in June 2012 on the understanding that his music would not be performed. When they heard the Israel Wagner Society, which organised it, had commissioned an orchestra to do just that, they pulled the plug. ‘You concealed this from us,’ university officials told organisers, who disputed their claim. ‘It is ludicrous and a lie,’ said Jonathan Livny, the society’s founder.
3 No pay, no play
When it comes to money, performers themselves can, of course, be just as singleminded. With a gambling addiction to support, the violinist Niccolò Paganini couldn’t afford to waste time performing for the odd florin. He needed to make serious cash and he did, in the first three months of 1830 stashing around 88,000 florins in the bank, making 3,000 florins per concert. All was going well until, on 26 April, he gave a concert in Frankfurt that attracted a small audience and netted him just 600 florins. In September, it happened again in Cassel. ‘It seems foreign artists are little regarded here,’ he said, and promptly cancelled further gigs.
4 Liszt of requirements
Today’s image-conscious pop stars have nothing on Liszt. He thought nothing of cancelling a concert if he thought the hall too large for the audience he expected. At each new location, he would make a careful study of his audiences, sometimes swapping halls for private rooms so as always to play to a full house. He managed his image in the local press, ensuring editors and critics were on-side. If the stars weren’t aligned, no problem he’d cancel. There’d always be a promoter or wealthy supporter willing to accept his demands.
5 Badly trained
As disappointed members of the audience trudged home from the concert hall in Albany, New York, one day in 1862, they could never have guessed the reason behind the pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s no-show. Smallpox, perhaps? An epidemic had just ravaged Pennsylvania, after all, and rumours it was heading for New York were rife. The truth was less dramatic: Gottschalk had missed his train. He’d been flirting with a mother and her daughter in the same railway carriage. When they alighted at some remote stop, he dutifully escorted them to the platform… and the train left without him.
6 Strictly off-limits
In most places, a symposium on Wagner would excite little comment. This, however, was not most places it was Israel, where feelings about the anti-Semitic composer run high.
7 Knickers in a twist
Paganini couldn’t afford to waste time performing for WKHRGGĠRULQ
Nothing fazes the straight-talking, claypigeon shooting, golf-playing opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Well, almost nothing. In 2005, the soprano pulled out of a series of concerts with pop singer John Farnham because she was terrified the audience would throw knickers at her. She’d seen them do that to Farnham on a DVD of one of his concerts and so cancelled the three performances that would have earned her £240,000. Te Kanawa told reporters of her concerns, which included Farnham’s habit of holding up jettisoned undergarments ‘as some kind of trophy’. The organisers sued but, at court in 2007, the judge dismissed the case against her.
8 Opening strike
The great and the good of New York had been looking forward to Carnegie Hall’s openingnight gala in 2013 and then disaster struck. In a dispute with management about extending their influence to a new educational wing, the hall’s army of stagehands, members of the Local One union, went on strike. There was no choice but to cancel the concert and refund patrons’ money, putting a dent in Carnegie Hall’s finances. Accusing management of unfairness and to make their point, the strikers, who work 60 hours a week and earn $400,000 (£320,000) a year, brought an inflatable rat to the picket line.
9 Playing politics
Twitter has a lot to answer for, not least the cancellation in 2015 of a concert by pianist Valentina Lisitsa. Famous for her YouTube performances, the Ukraine-born artist became infamous when she tweeted her opposition to the country’s government. Rattled by her outbursts, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which was due to accompany her in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, cancelled the event. ‘Our priority must remain being a stage for the world’s great works of music, and not for opinions that some believe to be offensive,’ said Jeff Melanson, the orchestra’s president. Lisitsa denied posting anything illegal. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
15 calamitous cancellations
2015. However, behind this deadpan message was a story of, quite literally, naked terror. Two weeks, earlier, Stefan Arzberger, a violinist in the Leipzig Quartet, had been found wandering nude in the corridors of the Hudson hotel in New York, having attacked a 64-year-old guest in her room. Arzberger blamed his actions on a date rape drug given to him by a prostitute he had invited to his room. Just over a year later, he was acquitted by a court and allowed to return to Germany.
13 Bad Korea move
10 Going to pot
Arts sponsorship is difficult to attract at the best of times, but the Colorado Symphony Orchestra must have realised it was sailing close to the wind when, in 2014, it organised a series of concerts sponsored by the state’s legal marijuana industry. Called Classical Cannabis: The High Note Series, the concerts, billed as Bring Your Own Cannabis, were originally open to the public. However, after City of Denver officials threatened to prosecute the organisers, the CSO refunded tickets and made it a private fundraiser.
11 Me and my gull
For professional pianists with precious fingers to protect from injury, potential danger can lurk around every corner. Paul Lewis probably wasn’t expecting it to come from the sky, however. As Lewis was arriving for a rehearsal at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall in June 2015, he was astonished to find himself being swooped on by an aggressive seagull. Taking evasive action, he stumbled and fell on his right hand. The resulting sprained finger caused him to call off two concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as doctors ordered him to recuperate. His place was taken by bird-proof virtuoso Finghin Collins.
12 Too much to bare
‘Due to unforeseen circumstances, the above concert has been cancelled,’ read the notice on Wigmore Hall’s website one day in March 58
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Paul Lewis was astonished WR ğQG KLPVHOI being swooped on by a seagul
It’s designed to shoot down ballistic missiles, but America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system can knock out classical concerts too. South Korean pianist KunWoo Paik was booked to play in China in March this year but his country’s decision to deploy the missile system caused tensions with Beijing. These resulted in his visa being delayed and the concert cancelled. Earlier in the year, South Korean opera singer Sumi Jo’s concerts suffered the same fate. ‘We never thought the classical music industry could be the target of retaliation,’ an industry source was quoted as saying.
14 Immovable Vlad
Pianist Vladimir Horowitz was no stranger to cancelling concerts. He was a highlystrung individual for whom things had to be just so: his water filtered, his own cook to prepare meals, his own Steinway for concerts usually performed at 4pm on Sundays when, he said, audiences were most relaxed, and his hotel rooms decorated like home. Even then, nerves and stage fright could get the better of him. Occasionally, assistants would be required to coax him on stage, not always successfully. As he once said, ‘Playing the piano is the easiest thing in the world. It is the moving that is the big deal.’
15 The wrong direction
The desire of some opera directors to shock their audience leads them into the realms of bad taste. Wagner’s Tannhäuser, for instance, is supposed to be an opera about a lovesick minstrel and a singing contest, but in a 2013 production by Rheinoper in Düsseldorf, it morphed into a story about the Holocaust opera lovers expecting to see our hero win his lover’s hand in marriage instead saw Nazi thugs, Jews being gassed and a family awaiting execution. It was so upsetting that audience members sought medical help. As the production was duly cancelled, director Christopher Meyer said the purpose had been to ‘mourn, not mock’ the Holocaust victims.
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Katowice Poland With its state-of-the art concert hall, the former mining city combines its rich musical and industrial traditions, as Neil McKim discovers
Best of both worlds: the magnificent NOSPR concert hall in Katowice’s cultural district; (below) the café-lined approach to the cathedral
he Polish city of Katowice is emerging as a major classical music destination, thanks to the stunning NOSPR concert hall, named after its resident Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Word is spreading fast about this vast red-brick venue which opened its doors in 2014 and cost £57m not just around the rest of the Silesian region, drawing in crowds of classical music lovers, but also among a growing number of visiting musicians. ‘Everyone is raving about the great new hall here and that’s why we’re so excited to come,’ says Eckart Runge, the cellist of the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet. 60
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To British eyes, the NOSPR hall’s vast red-brick exterior is perhaps reminiscent of London’s Tate Modern, but this is the striking outer shell, concealing a separate concrete-cased performance space inside (for an audience of 1,800). It was designed by architect Tomasz Konior in collaboration with Yasuhisa Toyota, one of the world’s leading acousticians, who is also famous for his work on Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie.
No detail at the NOSPR hall is left unconsidered; the seats alone took over a year to perfect and the spacious interior features beautifully varnished birch wooden balconies. The hall’s edges are lined with dark concrete panels that resemble the interior of a coal mine, a nod to the city’s industrial past. And perhaps there’s no better place to have a music festival with an earthly theme than in a former mining city. Katowice’s annual Kultura Natura
Festive power: Alexander Liebreich conducts Zemlinsky’s Lyrische Symphonie
Local talent: Górecki taught in Katowice
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An avant-gardist who gained popular appeal Festival was founded in 2014 by NOSPR’s artistic director Alexander Liebreich and makes full use of the hall’s facilities. The theme of the earth and those who have worked on it (and under it) crops up throughout the festival. In the NOSPR hall the Hungarian folk musician Márta Sebestyén (who sang on The English Patient soundtrack) performs Bartók’s Folk Songs, with Iván Fischer’s Budapest Festival Orchestra joining in for the rousing choruses. Nearby, the festival makes use of three performance spaces in the Silesian Museum which, like the NOSPR hall, is built in the former mining area. The concert, Agata Zubel’s Mother Lode I-III, features Szymon Bywalec conducting the New Music Orchestra. It makes use of a former pit engine room and a converted underground gallery. The latter is covered with mirrors, creating a distorted sense of perspective, like an MC Escher artwork. Liebreich sees the city’s mining and musical heritage as interconnected. ‘A lot of people here worked below the earth and every NOSPR player I speak to, who comes from Katowice, says that their parents or grandparents worked in the mines.’ This fits well with the orchestra’s own musical legacy. The NOSPR has been based in Katowice since 1945. ‘This orchestra has a history of working with great composers,’ says Liebreich. ‘Penderecki, Górecki (see box) and Lutosławski worked here on world premieres with this orchestra. There is a very strong heritage of Polish music.’ A key adviser in the development of the NOSPR hall was pianist Krystian Zimerman (see p48), a friend of the
architect and a graduate of Katowice’s Academy of Music. The academy itself was founded in 1929 and is one of Poland’s finest. Taking its name from Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, it has benefited from an impressive extension, also designed by Konior. For visitors, there are regular free concerts and a delightful basement museum packed with old church organs. Katowice’s character has transformed dramatically over recent decades since the mine closures. ‘I was here as a teenager
Katowice’s new concert hall is reminiscent of London’s Tate Modern in the 1980s,’ recalls Liebreich. ‘It was a dark city with bad air and there weren’t many people in the streets. But that’s all changed.’ An afternoon visit to Maja Street in the sunshine confirms this, as locals and visitors pass the time at café tables. A guided tour around the city centre of Katowice reveals its varied heritage. It grew under Prussian rule from the 18th century, becoming an industrial heartland that transferred to Polish rule after World War One. The rapid growth in the mid19th century, including the neo-Gothic St Mary’s Cathedral, was spurred on by the arrival of the railway. And you can still see Poland’s first skyscraper, Drapacz
Composer Henryk Górecki (19332010) studied in Katowice at the Music Academy, where he also taught from 1965 until 1979. He made his name as an avant-garde composer with Epitafium, Op. 12 (1959), a dissonant work for choir and instrumental ensemble, featuring five percussionists. In later years his style shifted, becoming more tonal, and he took inspiration from Polish folk songs. His Third Symphony ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ contains three Lento movements and was prompted by an inscription on a concentration camp wall. A Warner recording by soprano Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta was a huge bestseller.
Chmur, an example of functionalism from 1934. Not far from the NOSPR hall is Spodek, from the Eastern Bloc era. The extraordinary-looking performance venue, completed in 1971, resembles a UFO. Spodek has been host to Rawa, the ‘world’s biggest indoor blues festival’. Next year’s Kultura Natura Festival theme is ‘childhood’, with a world-class line-up including the Tonhalle Orchestra, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Quatuor Ébène. There’s no doubt that the festival and its new venue have put Katowice on the musical map. ‘If a city has a phenomenal hall, it has an entirely different standing,’ says Artemis Quartet violist Gregor Sigl. Further information: Kultura Natura Festival kulturanatura.eu/en NOSPR www.nospr.org.pl/en BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Composer of the month Composer of the Week is broadcast on Radio 3 at 12pm, Monday to Friday. Upcoming programmes are: 27 Nov – 1 Dec Koechlin 4-8 Dec 21st-century opera 11-15 Dec Tchaikovsky 18-22 Dec JS Bach 25-29 Dec Cole Porter
Johann Christian Bach Adventurous and inventive, the pioneering ‘English Bach’ proved a major inspiration to the young Mozart, as Chris de Souza explains ILLUSTRATION: MATT HERRING
Backing Bach: Leopold Mozart was impressed by JC
JC Bach’s style The singing Allegro: JC Bach’s music departs completely from his older brothers, being primarily melodic and in the galant style with balanced phrases, emphasis on melody and accompaniment, and less contrapuntal complexity. Bach’s appeal: In 1777, Leopold Mozart writes to his son, referring to the popular characteristics of JC Bach’s art: ‘Good compositions, sound construction, il fiol [the thread] – these distinguish the master from the bungler, even in trifles.’ Bach’s travels: Like Handel before him, Bach moved from Germany to Italy and then England. After studies in Berlin and an operatic grounding in Milan, Turin and Naples, from 1762 he settled in London, though he also made visits to Paris and Mannheim. Bach and the piano: Bach made his mark on the development of the piano. According to the historian Charles Burney, ‘after the arrival of John Chr. Bach in this country and the establishment of his concerts, all the harpsichord makers tried their mechanical powers at piano-fortes’. 62
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arly autumn is a pleasant time in Leipzig, and it was probably warm and sunny on 5 September 1735 when JS Bach’s youngest son, Johann Christian, was born. He seems to have been, accordingly, an amiable personality. But he was an adventurous one too. Bach Snr never travelled further than 250 miles from his birthplace, and never left Germany. JC, in contrast, would go on to become the most travelled of all the Bachs. Johann Christian was 15 when JS died and, with three harpsichords bequeathed to him by his father, went to live in Berlin with his step-brother, Carl Philipp Emanuel, King Friedrich Wilhelm’s
denizens (around this time he seems to have become involved with a ballerina, Colomba Beccari). In Italy he learnt a lyricism that, through opera and through the shifting of tastes away from the serious ecclesiastically based counterpoint, was to become the style of the future: the stile galant. He became possibly its greatest exponent. He scored a great success with his first opera, Artaserse, in Turin, and then Cato in Utica and Alexander in India at the San Carlo in Naples. All this opera was getting Milan worried. His patron Count Litta, in a letter to Martini, refers to Bach’s ‘frivolous character’, but the Cathedral granted him a year’s leave when in 1762
Attended by George III and Queen Charlotte, JC Bach’s opera Orion was a great success harpsichordist. There he continued his studies, played some of his works in public for the first time, and must surely have taken part in the concerts at court and learnt the aristocratic graces. From Berlin in 1756 he took himself off to Italy rumour has it that an Italian lady singer was involved and, surprisingly for the son of the greatest contrapuntist who ever lived, began a further study of counterpoint with the famous Padre Martini. Travel, they say, broadens the mind, and within a year, Bach had jettisoned his family’s stolid Lutheranism and become a Catholic. A Mass he wrote under Martini’s tutelage made a great mark, and he was soon appointed as an organist at Milan Cathedral. Bach’s eyes and ears were elsewhere, though on the stage, to be precise, attracted by both its music and its
he was invited to London, commissioned for an opera, by the lady impresario of the King’s Theatre. This was no chance invitation. Bach had already had his eye on London, and the year before had written an Ode on the Auspicious Arrival of the Nuptials of Queen Charlotte. His opera, Orion, was a great success. On the first two evenings King George III and Queen Charlotte attended, and it ran for three months. Bach was appointed Music Master to Queen Charlotte, putting him right at the centre of London society and music-making, and justifying historical references to him as ‘the London Bach’. He never returned to Italy and was based for the rest of his life in England. Mozart would later refer to him as ‘the English Bach’. It’s fascinating to imagine what the part of London south of Oxford Street
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London life: Hanover Square Rooms, home to Bach’s concert series; (below) the young WA Mozart
and across to Green Park was like when people such as Handel and, later, JC Bach and visitors including the Mozarts were there. This was Bach’s world. Having at first lodged with Colomba Mattei, the lady impresario in question, in 1764 he moved in to 80 Newman Street with Carl Friedrich Abel, a fellow composer and ex-pupil of his father’s. In 1764, at Spring Gardens, Bach and Abel established a series of concerts. They transferred them to Carlisle House, Soho Square the following year, then to King Street, and finally, from 1774, to the specially built Hanover Square Rooms. The concerts, which ran until 1781, were enormously influential within the city and beyond. Bach’s use of instruments was forward-looking: Orion, for instance, had been the first opera in London to use clarinets, while in 1766 his Op. 5 sonatas were the first to be published for the piano. In 1768, he himself was the first to perform in public at the piano. Also in 1764, the Mozarts visited London. John Christian (as he was now known) took to the eight-year-old Wolfgang, who already admired his music. He now got to hear a lot more. Mozart’s sister recalled how Bach put Mozart in front of him at the keyboard, where one would play a bar, the other would carry on,
‘and in this way they played a whole sonata, and someone not seeing it would have thought that only one man was playing’. They improvised fugues like that too Johann Sebastian Bach had probably written the second book of the Well-Tempered Clavier for
Mozart’s partiality to wind instruments may well have come from JC Bach JC, who was not averse to including fugal movements in his own sonatas. Mozart, the great musical parrot, already had Bach’s style, was profoundly influenced by him and had a deep affection for him throughout his life Haydn and JC Bach are the only composers in his vast correspondence with his father for whom only kind words are to be read. When the Mozarts left London, they took more music by JC with them, including the Sonatas Op. 17 No. 2, whose
finale looks forward to Mozart’s own C minor Sonata. Mozart consciously modelled much of his music on specific works by JC Bach. Bach’s Op. 5 sonatas, for instance, influenced the younger composer’s keyboard style, and three of them form the basis of his first attempts at Piano Concertos, K107. Significantly too, the theme of the slow movement of Mozart’s Concerto K414, written just after Bach’s death, contains a commemorative reference to the overture of JC’s opera, La calamita de cuori. Mozart also used the theme in two other works, including an aria in La finta giardiniera. Nor does the influence end there. Mozart’s partiality to wind instruments, maybe even his use of clarinets, may well have come from Bach and he modelled his early symphonies particularly K16 and K19, written in London on Bach’s, whose own G minor Sinfonia Op. 6 No. 6 in G minor puts one in mind of Mozart’s in that key. Mozart was also struck by Bach’s use of concertante instruments in opera, and Constanze’s great aria from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, ‘Martern aller Arten’, is, with its four concertante parts, directly BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
COMPOSER OF THE MONTH
JC BACH Life&Times
LIFE: Johann Christian Bach is born on 5 September in Leipzig, Germany, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian and Anna Magdalena Bach. TIMES: The Swedish chemist Georg Brandt discovers cobalt. It is the first new metal to be identified since the pre-historic period.
LIFE: Following the death of his father, he moves to Berlin where he studies composition and the harpsichord with Carl Philipp Emanuel, his half-brother. TIMES: Eleven years after construction began, London’s Westminster Bridge is opened, linking Westminster on the north bank of the Thames with Lambeth on the south bank.
LIFE: Having moved to o Italy five years previously, he is s appointed second organist at Milan Cathedral. His opera Artaserse is s premiered at Turin’s Teatro Regio o. TIMES: As the Seven Years Y War enters its fourth year, y Frederick the Great’s Prussian army defeats s the Austrian army at the Battle of Liegnitz in Lower Silesia.
LIFE: Thomas Gainsborough, one of Bach’s many influential friends in London, completes his portrait. The painting can still be seen today in the National Portrait Gallery. TIMES: On 4 July, the Continental Congress, comprised of delegates from the 13 US colonies, ratifies the country’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
LIFE: Now resident in London, he shares lodgings with fellow composer Carl Friedrich Abel, with whom he sets up a series of concerts at the Great Room in Spring Gardens. TIMES: William Hogarth, the English painter and satirist best known for works such as Gin Lane and A Rake’s Progress, dies in London aged 66. 66
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LIFE: JC Bach dies on 1 January, leaving big debts. He is buried in London’s St Pancras churchyard. TIMES: The Montgolfier brothers conduct their first test flight of a hot air balloon in Avignon, France. The unmanned craft floats for just over a mile before landing.
modelled on one in Bach’s opera La clemenza di Scipione. Bach’s huge output, though, deserves to be appreciated aside from just its influence on Mozart, not least because it is very pleasant. One orchestral type that he developed, for instance, was the Sinfonia Concertante, of which he composed over 30. Many were written for performance in Paris, where such types were popular. After his first great successes, however, Bach’s operas failed to maintain his reputation. Perhaps his easy-going tunefulness was not sufficiently dramatic? His last opera, Amadis de Gaule was premiered in Paris in 1779, but fell short of requirements – quite simply, he wasn’t an Italian, and that wouldn’t do. After nearly 20 years, the Bach-Abel concerts, too, became less and less popular and closed down. With Bach’s decreasing success
The Bach-Abel concerts became less and less popular, and closed down came ill health. He had been a fine pianist in his prime, but his performing powers declined to the extent that at the premiere of his oratorio Gioas, re di Giuda audience and chorus were reduced to fits of giggles by his playing. In a final blow, one of his servants embezzled £1,000. Bach had to sell his house in Richmond, eventually moving to Paddington. When he died on New Year’s Day 1782, he was just 46 years old. Badly in debt, he was buried in a pauper’s grave. Queen Caroline gave his widow – Cecilia Grassi, whom he married in 1776 – a pension and paid for her return to Italy. She was older than JC, and they had no children. Other Bach family members continued the line for a few more generations, but all that is left now of the ‘London Bach’ is a stone in St Pancras churchyard which hints at the fact that he was buried there in a mass grave. His name is inscribed in the parish register as ‘John Back’.
Building a library
Symphony No. 9 in D minor Anton Bruckner The emotional peaks and troughs of Bruckner’s incomplete ﬁnal symphony stir Terry Williams as he compares the best recordings The work
The composer Anton Bruckner was born in 1824 near the Austrian city of Linz and in his early life worked as an organist and teacher, most notably (and happily) at the monastic church in nearby Sankt Florian. He later moved to Vienna to study, and then taught at both the Conservatory and the University there. He began writing symphonies relatively late in life, completing his First in 1866 at the age of 42. A lifelong bachelor – his various infatuations with younger women all came to nought – he was a devoutly religious man and, as well as his famous symphonies, wrote a number of similarly brilliantly crafted, if under-performed, masses.
Building a Library is broadcast on Radio 3 at 9.30am each Saturday as part of Record Review. A highlights podcast is available at bbc.co.uk/radio3
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Fate didn’t look kindly on Bruckner. His symphonies cruelly attacked, or subjected to disastrous cuts by his well-meaning students, he was mocked by his many detractors for his quaint country manners and odd behaviour. His life seemed beset by ridicule and disappointment. Only his unwavering belief in God, to whom the Ninth Symphony was dedicated, provided him with the determination to persevere during periods of crisis. Even so, towards the end, he still had moments of doubt. Recognition of his true worth as one of the 19th century’s most forward-looking composers, meanwhile, came only decades after his death. Tragically, he failed to complete his Ninth Symphony, struggling with it even on the day he died. Just as tragic was its first performance in Vienna in 1903 in a severely mutilated form concocted by Ferdinand Löwe, one of Bruckner’s pupils. It wasn’t until 1932 that what Bruckner actually wrote was heard in
Dogged: Bruckner caricatured by Theodore Zasche
Munich at a private concert. Its first public performance was given later that year by Clemens Krauss and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Bruckner had planned to crown his life’s work with a symphony to surpass all his others. It didn’t quite happen, though he came close. Bruckner suffered from what might be described as ‘revision mania’, constantly redrafting previous compositions. Even had he written a four-movement Ninth in the nine years he devoted to the Symphony, off and on, it would only have been a first draft and therefore might have turned out quite differently. Earlier on, progress suffered as Bruckner abandoned the Ninth to revise Symphonies Nos 1, 3 and 4. Conductor Hermann Levi, who had championed the Seventh Symphony, dealt another inadvertent blow to its progress: his rejection of the 1887 version of the Eighth Symphony edged Bruckner toward near mental collapse. Fortunately, he rallied, and his revised Eighth was ultimately recognised as one of the great Romantic symphonies of the 19th century. But from 1892, Bruckner’s physical and mental health rapidly deteriorated. Depressed by what he felt were his failing powers of imagination and by fear of imminent death, he instructed that his Te Deum should take the place of the Finale of the Ninth Symphony. However, the very idea of a C major finale to a D minor symphony is unthinkable and the antithesis of Bruckner’s musical credo. Thankfully, this unsatisfactory solution has largely been ignored. Symphonies Nos 5, 7 and 8 culminate with triumphant, brass-drenched Alleluias – had it been
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A tortured tale: Clemens Krauss conducted the Ninth’s premiere; (right) Hermann Levi drove Bruckner to despair; the Te Deum, a suitable finale?
completed, the Ninth Symphony would have ended in similar fashion. As it stands, it closes with the composer’s most profoundly moving Adagio, a summation of sorts in that, like the Andante of Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony, it makes satisfying musical sense. The darkness-to-light opening of the first movement is even more sensational than Richard Strauss’s depiction of dawn in Also Sprach Zarathustra, completed in the year of Bruckner’s death. Bruckner is often criticised for halting mid-flow and then changing direction; but this is fundamental to his compositional style. The first movement is grounded in these moments of hiatus which serve to heighten tension; it is capped by one of his signature codas. The Scherzo is a ‘dance of death’, its violence only slightly tempered by the fleet-footed pastoral Trio. Ecstatic fortissimo strings launch the Adagio, quoting part of the Grail theme from Wagner’s Parsifal. A brief pause is followed by a thunderous orchestral outburst, trumpets and unison horns to
the fore, after which serenity and anguish alternate in almost equal measure. An unprecedented, terrifyingly dissonant climax threatens complete collapse as we near the Coda, in itself a form of musical suspended animation. In the final bars, a quartet of horns resurrects the
An unprecedented, terrifyingly dissonant climax threatens complete collapse opening theme of the Seventh Symphony, Bruckner’s first recognised success. So ends Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. That should be the end of the story; but it isn’t, quite. Bruckner left about 200 pages of manuscript, outlining the form which the Finale was to take. Various attempts at ‘completion’ have been made, most recently a performance version
published in 2012, the result of 20 years’ research which Sir Simon Rattle has recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic. It is either a revelation or an abomination, depending on whom you read. Better still, hear it for yourself. For purists, however, the three-movement torso is sacrosanct. Michelangelo’s unfinished Pietà, still bearing the marks of the sculptor’s chisel, radiates greatness in its rough-hewn form. So, too, does Anton Bruckner’s incomplete Ninth Symphony.
Turn the page to find out the best recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9
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Three other great recordings Wilhelm Furtwängler (conductor) Some would reckon that Wilhelm Furtwängler is the echt Bruckner conductor, and this recording, set down in Second World War Berlin, is like no other. It’s as if Furtwängler were mirroring the devastating world events unfolding beyond the walls of the BeethovenSaal where this Berlin Philharmonic recording was made – tempos in the first movement are often frenetic, he unleashes the dogs of war in the Scherzo and the Adagio’s dissonant climactic chord becomes an agonised scream. Excellently remastered, this 1944 recording is now available on the Praga Digitals label (PRD350125).
Claudio Abbado (conductor)
Brilliant Brucknerian: Carlo Maria Giulini conducting in 1985
Perfectly paced Giulini inspires awe
The best recording
superb in their different ways – don’t make the shortlist here is testimony to the Ninth’s continuing fascination. There is a handful more that are all worth considering, and it is very difficult to find a recording that falls short of the mark. However, it’s to Carlo Maria Giulini that I’m drawn again and again – one Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/ Carlo Maria Giulini (1988) Deutsche Grammophon E427 3452
For many listeners, Bruckner’s Ninth is the most visionary of all symphonies. I first heard it as a teenager in Bruno Walter’s classic 1959 recording with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, and have been under its spell ever since. The list of great recordings is a long one, and still growing. The fact that even legendary Brucknerians such as Sergiu Celibidache, Otto Klemperer, Eugen Jochum, Herbert von Karajan, Bernard Haitink, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Günter Wand – all 70
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Giulini navigates the journey with an unerring command of tempo can never tire of his profound realisation of this wonderful score. His live Vienna Philharmonic account from 1988, beautifully recorded, is a humbling experience. Clocking in at just over 68 minutes, it is one of the most expansive on disc; only Celibidache takes significantly longer. However, at no point does the musical argument falter, as Giulini navigates the symphony’s troubled journey
What better testament to Abbado than this moving 2013 recording from his final concert with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra? Although mortally ill, he summons up all his reserves to produce a performance of great resolve and personal strength, not so much a farewell as a vision of what might come. Whereas Karajan and Klemperer head straight for Mount Olympus, Abbado favours a more
with an unerring command of tempo, its counterpoint and its scale. From its misty opening, clearly indebted to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, to the ethereal ending of the Adagio, this performance is just about perfect. Giulini’s terracing of Bruckner’s unorthodox orchestral structure, quite unlike that of any other symphonist, is a wonder of internal clarity, no detail overlooked, no texture smudged. Instead of creating clichéd ‘cathedrals of sound’, the Italian conductor lights the score from within so that it seems to glow like an illuminated manuscript. The Vienna Philharmonic
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Painful inspiration: the wartime destruction of Dresden was reflected on by Richard Strauss (below)
human approach. His star-studded orchestra plays sublimely for its hero and DG’s sound is exemplary (Deutsche Grammophon 479 3441).
Fabio Luisi (conductor) What is it about Italian conductors? On the evidence of their recordings, they simply seem to ‘get’ Bruckner’s Ninth. Fabio Luisi’s beautifully recorded live 2003 recording with the Dresden Staatskapelle is the third by an Italian in my chosen quartet. The first movement heaves like a mighty ocean, its uneasy ebb and flow flawlessly managed; the Scherzo has all the savagery demanded of it; and the Adagio, with its vast mood swings between faith and despair, is simply superb. Available as a download, it’s as ‘complete’ a Bruckner Nine as you’ll find (Sony G0100014380065).
And one to avoid… Leonard Bernstein (conductor)
Leonard Bernstein was gracious enough to concede that, when it came to Bruckner, he could not compete with Herbert von Karajan. The Bruckner idiom does indeed seem alien to him on this 1990 Vienna Philharmonic recording. He seems to be trying hard to find links with Gustav Mahler… but really, there aren’t any.
is the Bruckner orchestra par excellence, its burnished string tone a special glory, woodwind and brass superbly alert and to the fore. In climaxes, the sound of the orchestra at full throttle is simply overwhelming, horns and trombones waging antiphonal war to hair-raising effect. At the other extreme, the prayer-like closing bars are wafted heavenward with calm finality. Not surprisingly, the Vienna audience is stunned into awed silence at the end. Even within his own outstanding list of recordings, Giulini’s Bruckner Ninth Symphony is possibly the most precious gift this great conductor has given us.
Continue the journey… We suggest works to explore after Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony
ike Brucker’s Ninth, at just over 25 minutes Mahler’s Symphony each (DG 474 8892). Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s No. 10 lay unfinished searing 1939 Concerto at the time of this death, funèbre also bears an although Mahler’s final onerous weight, straining statement was little more under what the composer than a series of sketches. saw as the ‘intellectual Cue various attempts to and spiritual hopelessness complete them, including of the period’. That was Deryck Cooke’s from in 1939. Worse was to 1960, widely considered come, of course, since to be the and Hartmann best encapsulation There’s a mournful, revised the piece of Mahler’s late expansive richness to 20 years later. The style and probable Strauss’s Metamorphosen musical language musical intentions may be advanced, (and endorsed by but the horror of the third movement his wife, Alma). Like Bruckner, Mahler Allegro and prayerful stillness of the reserved his most abrasive and tonally ambiguous music for his final work – its final Choral bears a resemblance to the conflicting, uneasy sentiments fourth movement, the most complete, in Mahler’s Tenth Symphony (Canary although not as violent as that of Classics CC12). British composer Bruckner’s Scherzo, is nevertheless Robert Simpson had a life-long sinister and despairing (Warner Classics fascination with Bruckner’s music. 556 9722). Despair is very much His own Symphony No. 9 was not his the order of the day in Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, written last (he wrote 11), but it’s by far his in the aftermath of the destruction most accomplished. Like Bruckner’s of Dresden in World War II. There’s a Ninth, Simpson’s 1987 work is beautiful, mournful expansive richness uncompromising and unflinching with to this work for small string orchestra its vast blocks of sound, terrifying that echoes much of the huge and Scherzo and a serene conclusion pained final movement of Bruckner that searches unsuccessfully for a Nine, and they’re of similar lengths, resolution (Hyperion CDA66299).
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Reviews 110 CDs, Books & DVDs rated by expert critics Welcome There’s an art to great CD programming, as our stunning Recording of the Month from soprano-conductor Barbara Hannigan shows. Her juxtaposition of Berg and Gershwin sent me to the bookshelf to find out what happened when this leading light of the Second Viennese School and one of America’s most popular composers met. It was in 1928 – the year of An American in Paris – on a trip Gershwin made to Vienna. Mutual friends put them in touch, leading to a musical evening that included performances of a quartet arrangement of Berg’s Lyric Suite, and Gershwin playing parts of Rhapsody in Blue. His brother Ira noted in his diary: ‘George big hit with Berg’. The feeling was mutual. Gershwin, a keen champion of Berg, went off with an autographed excerpt of the Suite. Rebecca Franks reviews editor
This month’s critics John Allison, Nicholas Anderson, Terry Blain, Kate Bolton-Porciatti, Garry Booth, Anthony Burton, Michael Church, Christopher Cook, Martin Cotton, Christopher Dingle, Misha Donat, Jessica Duchen, Rebecca Franks, Hannah French, George Hall, Malcolm Hayes, Julian Haylock, Claire Jackson, Daniel Jaffé, Stephen Johnson, Berta Joncus, Erik Levi, Natasha Loges, Max Loppert, Jon Lusk, Andrew McGregor, David Nice, Roger Nichols, Bayan Northcott, Anna Picard, Steph Power, Anthony Pryer, Paul Riley, Michael Scott Rohan, Jan Smaczny, Geoffrey Smith, Michael Tanner, Kate Wakeling, Helen Wallace KEY TO STAR RATINGS
★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★ 72
Outstanding Excellent Good Disappointing Poor
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RECORDING OF THE MONTH
A daring foray into the world of Berg’s Lulu Barbara Hannigan’s debut recording as conductor-soprano is an illuminating and imaginative tour de force, says Steph Power
Crazy Girl Crazy Berio: Sequenza III; Berg: Lulu Suite; Gershwin: Girl Crazy Suite Ludwig Orchestra/Barbara Hannigan (conductor and soprano); plus film by Mathieu Amalric Alpha Classics: Alpha 293 57:28 mins (CD); 20 mins (DVD)
Crazy Girl Crazy is an album that – just like its muse and protagonist – flouts the rules. Berio, Berg and Gershwin aren’t ‘meant’ to be jointly programmable; disturbingly semiotic solo vocal music isn’t ‘meant’ to work alongside lush, jazzy orchestral scores; orchestral players aren’t ‘meant’ to break into chorus; and, above all, soprano soloists aren’t
‘meant’ to turn about-face to conduct the orchestra – while delivering with aching beauty one of the most challenging arias in the repertoire. All this Barbara Hannigan achieves with artless poise and musical intelligence in her debut recording as conductorsoprano, alongside willing co-adventurers the Ludwig Orchestra. At the heart of the project lies Berg’s eponymous antiheroine, Lulu; a signature role for Hannigan, who tracks her free and ever-elusive spirit from inside-out, blazing a trail through supposedly disparate genres of radical music-theatre, post-Romantic expressionist opera and Broadway musical. The theme is craziness; ‘the craziness of being in love… of being driven crazy by an internal rhythm.’ But these are no barmy juxtapositions. As each piece unfolds in lyrical silver, shot with gaiety, abandon, black shadow, they become part of a ‘hall of mirrors’ in which Lulu – and Hannigan herself – is reflected, just out of reach. Berio’s neo-avant-garde Sequenza III (1965) is transposed
Recording of the month Reviews B6<6O
Breaking the rules: soprano-conductor Barbara Hannigan
up in pitch to render his vocal athletics especially girlish; just like the adolescent Lulu might deliver, with a steelsoft, mellifluous core that is anything but histrionic. The litheness of Hannigan’s voice beguiles, so that the nearsegue into the Lulu Suite (1934) comes as a sense-sharpening emotional jolt. There is surprisingly little singing in Berg’s symphonic extrapolation, created for listeners impatient to catch a glimpse of the forthcoming opera he never got to finish. But with Hannigan at the helm, coaxing wave upon languid wave of silken sound, we get more than a glimpse of Lulu.
It’s a highly personal, sensual reading; lavish with orchestral detail and, when it comes, a spellbinding ‘Lied der Lulu’. A further, piercing jolt awaits in the shift from Countess
At the heart of the project lies Berg’s Lulu, a signature role for Barbara Hannigan Geschwitz’s darkly enraptured ‘Liebestod’ to ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me’. Now we enter an obliquely other 1930s in the form of a rich suite of arrangements from Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, brilliantly orchestrated by
Bill Elliott. This is no straight take on musical theatre but an inspired evocation of Lulu through oompah-cabaret, merry-go-round allusion. ‘Music is music’, as Berg once said to Gershwin, and as the bonus film reminds us. But it takes a performer of Hannigan’s calibre to show how gloriously illuminating supposedly lateral connections can be. PERFORMANCE RECORDING DOCUMENTARY
★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★
Hear excerpts and a discussion of this recording on the BBC Music Magazine podcast available free on iTunes or at www.classical-music.com
An interview with Barbara Hannigan
How did you come up with this unusual programme? Lulu has been such an important role for me as a musician since I first started singing her in 2012. When I started conducting I was intrigued by Berg’s Lulu Suite, and I managed to find a way to both conduct and sing at the same time. I like to present music in a very dramaturgical way, so the CD is related by emotional themes rather than having three pieces in the same style. The Berio Sequenza III is an exploration of a woman in a traumatic and precarious situation – she is the 15-year-old Lulu from the opera’s third act. The Gershwin is a mirror of the Lulu Suite. There are Lulu themes worked into the orchestration, as well as Ligeti and Mahler. Who is Lulu for you? I don’t think of Lulu as a stereotype or a femme fatale – that is completely uninteresting to me. I feel she is a free spirit. She is incredibly intelligent and emotionally intelligent. She remains true to herself at the expense of the happiness of other people – she expects them to look after themselves. Singing this role gives me a strength and confidence that carries to all other roles. I’m still singing it this season and I have plans to conduct the whole opera. What will your next CD be? I have a completely improvised CD which will be a small release. Then in a month I’m recording an all Second Viennese School programme, all from before Lulu and 1910. It features Schoenberg, Webern, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler and Hugo Wolf. I’ll be recording with the pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, who is a huge mentor for me. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Orchestral ORCHESTRAL CHOICE
Vaughan Williams’s controlled fury Stephen Johnson admires Sir Mark Elder’s unforced mastery composer’s later recorded thoughts. It works, though. Other conductors may have gone Vaughan Williams more consistently for the burn, but Elder’s versions make one question Symphonies Nos 4 & 6 Hallé/Mark Elder the wisdom of that kind of approach. Hallé CD HLL 7547 64:55 mins It’s the power behind it all that’s so stirring. Elder builds his climaxes Vaughan Williams’s ferocious carefully, and judges their relative Fourth Symphony was first effect with a sculptural objectivity performed in 1935, four years before that enhances rather than lessens the outbreak of World War II. The the total impression – well, they do stormy Sixth was completed two say that controlled years after the War. Whether or not Mark Elder reveals fury is the most emotion Vaughan Williams the most dangerous dangerous of all. The sense conceived these emotion of all of long line is symphonies as superb, the detailed ‘tracts for troubled phrasing telling, especially in the times’, they certainly sound like that quieter, more intimate passages. now. The urgency, the mixture of (There are plenty of those, even in the anguish, violence and desolation Fourth Symphony.) feels as relevant today as it ever did. What moved me most, though, Mark Elder doesn’t try to force was the sense of craggy dignity the point. Nothing is over-hyped or conveyed by both symphonies. This over-driven – in fact there are times above all is what prevents them from when he seems to have deliberately opted for a less sensational approach. coming across as onslaughts of pure pessimism. The playing – as usual The breathtaking hushed Epilogue with Elder’s Hallé – is outstanding, of the Sixth Symphony, for example, technically and expressively. is taken at a relatively lively, flowing PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ tempo – nearer to the original RECORDING ★★★★★ metronome marking than to the
Mahler Symphony No. 4 Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra/ Adam Fischer
Iván is not the only Fischer with impressive Mahler recordings to his name. While Iván is now nearing the end of his version of the symphony cycle –the Hungarian conductor says he no interest in recording the Eighth – his brother Adam is just embarking on his Mahler series with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra. The Seventh came out last year, and now he’s turned to what he describes
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as ‘Mahler’s Pastoral Symphony’ – the chamber-like Fourth. And it’s a fascinating, detailed account. After those opening sleigh bells sprinkle their fairy dust, you immediately hear one of the most distinctive features of this performance – how the strings play the glissandos, which pepper the score. As Fischer explains in his liner notes, he’s paid special attention to how Mahler has notated them and the fingerings he’s marked – taking a little detour below the starting note before sliding up to the main note. Here they sound by turns slinky, sultry, sharp, sentimental, exaggerated, but above all evocative of the Viennese world in which Mahler was working.
Feel the Fourth: Mark Elder shapes the symphonies well
Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine website at www.classical-music.com
It’s also the alternation between cataclysm and serenity that Fischer and his fine Dusseldorf musicians capture so well in this live account. On a micro-level, the plentiful rubato in the first movement suggests different moods, all jostling for attention, each imposing its own tempo and character. Jaunty tunes interrupt unstable elements, and vice versa. On a macro-level, the pacing is spot on. The build-up in the long Adagio is overwhelming, the glimpse of the depths and the arrival at Heaven’s gates superb. If Hanna-Elisabeth Müller’s soprano isn’t my ideal, the overall effect is magical. Rebecca Franks PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 2 Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jurgita Adamonytė (mezzo), Michael Spyres (tenor); Monteverdi Choir; LSO/ John Eliot Gardiner LSO Live LSO 0803 (Blu-ray & hybrid CD/ SACD) 64:03 mins (2 discs)
This work has had a mixed press over the years: Schumann was impressed by Mendelssohn’s imagination, ‘especially in the parts where the chorus predominates’, but Tovey damned the opening of the Adagio religioso as ‘the origin of almost all that is sickly in English church music’. For me, the three
Orchestral Reviews initial orchestral movements are on the dull side, but things perk up to some extent with the vocal entries. The Monteverdi Singers produce, as ever, a clean, well-focused tone and there is much pleasure to be had in Lucy Crowe’s radiant soprano and Michael Spyres’s lyrical tenor, making the most of the arias that Mendelssohn added after the first performance. The evidence seems to be that the orchestral movements had been planned by 1838 for a Symphony in B flat, but that Mendelssohn then added the choral movements when commissioned to write music for the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s invention of printing – perhaps not much of an inspiration compared with Fingal’s Cave or Shakespeare’s fairies ? I can’t help remembering Berlioz’s comment that Mendelssohn was overly fond of fugal stuff, of which there’s quite a lot here, much of it derived from the work’s opening fanfare, and at times it does become a touch predictable despite rhythmic vigour from all concerned. My only query over the performance concerns two unduly leisurely tempos, for the Allegretto un poco agitato and the soprano’s Lobe den Herrn, for which Mendelssohn requests some ‘fuoco’: reducing his crotchet beat from 104 to 70 does rather dowse the flame. Roger Nichols PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Rachmaninov Symphony No. 1 Philharmonia Orchestra/ Vladimir Ashkenazy Signum SIGCD 484 43:23 mins
Way back in the late 1980s, Vladimir Ashkenazy gave us a stunning and powerfully driven account of Rachmaninov’s First Symphony with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Decca, a performance which still holds its own as one of the benchmark versions of this compelling work. He subsequently recorded the Symphony again with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for Exton. That performance is no less passionate or dynamic than its predecessor, though in all fairness the orchestral playing isn’t quite in the same league. This third
recording, taken from a concert given at the Royal Festival Hall in November 2016, is perhaps the most satisfying of all. Whereas Decca clothed the Dutch Orchestra in a gloriously reverberant acoustic, thereby obscuring some of Rachmaninov’s more intricate part-writing, the drier sound of the London concert hall brings a welcome transparency which works particularly effectively in the fleetof-foot second movement. Moreover, Signum’s recording engineers have achieved a near miracle in somehow creating a much warmer ambience to the sound than you would normally expect from this venue. Of course, much of this warmth derives from the wonderfully rich string sonorities of the Philharmonia who play their hearts out for Ashkenazy, especially in the powerful climaxes of the Finale. But perhaps the real strength of Ashkenazy’s interpretation lies not so much in its deeply-felt emotional intensity, but rather in the way he brings a sense of architectural integrity to music that in lesser hands can seem episodic and discursive. A good example is the second idea of the first movement, a passage which under Ashkenazy has a real sense of cohesion as its initially halting and hesitant nature grows in intensity. Erik Levi PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Ravel Daphnis et Chloé; Une barque sur l’océan; Pavane pour une infante défunte Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg; WDR Rundfunkchor Koln/Gustavo Gimeno PentaTone PTC 5186 652 (hybrid CD-SACD) 72:35 mins
Now and then I think every music critic is faced with a disc that makes us wonder whether, by scratching away at Beckmesserish detail, we aren’t missing the bigger picture. The disc under review here contains so much that is right: elegant phrasing, excellent woodwind, no ugly over-emphases distorting the rhythm and, in Daphnis, a splendidly lumpish Dorcon and truly terrifying pirates. I also have to face the fact that, in the concert hall, I would probably not have registered all the faulty
details I found score in hand. But then a disc is, ideally, for repeated listening; not only that but there are, of course, for the Ravel repertoire a large number of other recordings where both the heart and the head of the interpretation are in line with the score. So, with something of a heavy heart, I append some scratchings that I really can’t ignore. In the Pavane the bass of the second chord is barely audible, so Ravel’s pseudo-Baroque foundation is immediately undermined, and the two horns at letter B are too loud. In Une barque what should be the dangerous chromatic octaves in the bass at fig. 16 are much too quiet, and in the final bars the tiny but crucial piccolo figure is obscured by the first flute. And there are more inaccuracies in Daphnis, not least an over-enthusiastic wind machinist – no doubt they don’t get that many opportunities to ply their trade, but even so... Roger Nichols PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Shostakovich • Barber Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Barber: Adagio for Strings Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/ Manfred Honeck Reference Recordings FR-724 (hybrid CD/ SACD) 60:17 mins
Manfred Honeck’s Shostakovich sounds magnificent. From intense pianissimos to the shrieking upper register and full bass thwack of a grand peroration – which Honeck takes surprisingly at face value – there’s faith in what can sometimes seem like a time-serving symphony. I wondered whether Honeck’s determination to probe deep needed a slower tempo before the grinding first-movement development, but if the sequel means the most human and nurtured slow movement in the business, then it’s a small price to pay. The scherzo is writ huge, like Mahler on steroids, cellos and basses digging in at the start; the finale has
Reissues Reviewed by Bayan Northcott Bartók Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta* Recorded with startling clarity, Rafael Kubelík and the Boston Symphony’s 1973 account of Bartók’s Concerto-in-exile blazes with passion and nostalgia. Seiji Ozawa’s fill up* is efficiently done, if less characterful. PentaTone PTC 5186 247 (hybrid CD/ SACD) (1973/76) 69:53 mins ★★★★ Brahms Symphonies Nos 1-4 Unmannered, firmly structured and phrased with loving musicality, Rafael Kubelík’s Brahms cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic in traditional form remains classic, despite its now aged recorded sound. Eloquence 482 4969 (1956-57) 158:23 mins (2 discs) ★★★★ Mahler Symphony No. 5; Five songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn Though the East Berlin brass of the 1979 Staatskapelle blare a bit, Otmar Suitner’s take on the Fifth is more cogent and forward-moving than many of today’s over-fussed accounts. Lorenz is eloquent in the Rückert songs. Berlin Classics 0300922BC (1979) 103:92 mins (2 discs) ★★★★ Mahler Symphony No. 9 Despite his reputation for fierce urgency, Georg Solti’s 1967 Kingsway Hall recording with the LSO in great form is a spacious as Bernard Haitink’s 1969 Concertgebouw account, and as deeply felt. Eloquence 4827163 (1969) 80:03 mins ★★★★
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
‘Sonic spectacular’: Louis Fremaux put the CBSO on the CD map
From the archives
Andrew McGregor explores the recording history of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra These two slim sets together tell the story of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) as a modern recording orchestra, now so well established it’s strange to think that it made its first LP in 1966. So when Louis Frémaux became principal conductor in 1969 he set about creating the orchestra’s discography, beginning with an LP of favourite arias from David Hughes. The Birmingham-born tenor died tragically young, otherwise, from the sound here, we would be a lot more familiar with his voice. Frémaux started exploring French repertoire: Massenet ballet suites in 1971 sparkle and impress with their Gallic poise. That was a best-seller, and so a year later was Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony. Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts was a sonic spectacular featuring the newly-formed CBSO Chorus, and still has tremendous impact. Frémaux’s fondness for Walton is obvious, and the McCabe song-cycle with soprano Jill Gomez is beautiful. Frémaux’s Poulenc is outstanding: Les Biches and the Gloria are highlights. (Warner Classics 9029588673; 12 CDs) In 1980 the young Simon Rattle took over the reins, and soon realised he had inherited an orchestra he could train to take on the world in Mahler (Warner Classics 9029586917; 12 CDs). The Resurrection Symphony came first in 1986, and like much of Rattle’s CBSO Mahler cycle, immediately divided the critics. But then which Mahler cycle doesn’t? Yet I can hear why Warner has stuck with the CBSO’s version rather than Rattle’s Berlin Philharmonic remake: the voices of soloists Arleen Auger and Janet Baker, the greater depth to the recording and the magical choral contributions. It’s the Berlin Phil live for Nos 5, 9 and most memorably the completed 10th Symphony. The Third from Birmingham is particularly successful, while the live Eighth is superbly played but has balance issues. It’s a shame not to have Das Lied von der Erde, but it’s a lot of Mahler for your money, a great reminder of Frémaux’s influence and importance, and an education in orchestral evolution. REG WILSON
Andrew McGregor is the presenter of Radio 3’s Record Review, broadcast each Saturday morning from 9am until 12.15pm
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
all the trenchancy it needs, whatever you make of the ending. More background knowledge in Honeck’s long programme note wouldn’t have gone amiss; nowadays you might expect observation of a possible first-movement quotation (the ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen, for personal, plausible reasons too complicated to examine here) and a significant nod to one of his own Pushkin settings in the finale. And a musicologist wouldn’t claim that the first movement climax ‘depicts the simple but violent machine that insists to indoctrinate its ideology into the heads of the people’ (did any English speaker proof this text?). But whatever it takes to get results. And while Honeck also ignores evidence that Barber meant his Adagio as a lovesong to Menotti, that’s a deeply felt reading, too. David Nice PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
Wagner Concert Overtures Nos 1 & 2; Overtures to Das Liebesverbot, Christopher Columbus, Die Feen, König Enzio; Siegfried Idyll MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jun Märkl Naxos 8.573414 71:52 mins
Wagner’s earliest works, once derided – not least by himself – have recently attracted more serious attention. Certainly they reveal an unusually promising composer, already above the ordinary for his day and with occasional startling flashes of the genius to come. Jun Märkl and the excellent MDR Leipzig Radio players, rather brightly recorded, provide a lively selection. The Weberish, fantastical Die Feen, the Italianate Das Liebesverbot, and the wave-filled theatrical overture Columbus are already quite well known and recorded, not least in Neeme Järvi’s superb Chandos collections. The two earlier concert overtures, though, are rarer, the second in particular worth hearing for its robust Classical style, very much in the mould of Wagner’s idol Beethoven. The König Enzio overture, for Raupach’s sombre rescue drama (in which Wagner’s sister Rosalie starred), is also drenched in Beethoven’s tragic gloom, especially Egmont and Fidelio; its only current rival appears on an earlier Naxos collection, rather
less effective. Least satisfactory is the Siegfried Idyll in its unoriginal orchestral form, stylistically a lifetime away from the rest; the Faust overture would surely have been better. Michael Scott Rohan PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★
Life Reflected Castri: Dear Life; Estacio: I Lost My Talk; Lizée: Bondarsphere; Morlock: My Name is Amanda Todd Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra/Alexander Shelley Analekta AN28870 72:85 mins
Life Reflected is an artistic collaboration commissioned by Canada’s National Arts Centre. Blending new music, writing, dance and video, the work offers a powerful meditation on (female) experience and is by turns uplifting, unsettling, mischievous and deeply poignant, albeit with some contributions stronger than others. Four different scores underpin the work. Strongest is the opening piece, Dear Life, setting extracts from Alice Munro’s semi-autobiographical short story of that name. Narrated with impeccable poise by Martha Henry, Munro’s text fizzes with humour and menace, while Zosha Di Castri’s orchestral score chimes and simmers below, erupting in wild, beautiful flurries (and also featuring a stellar performance by soprano Erin Wall). Jocelyn Morlock’s My Name is Amanda Todd is an elegaic tribute to a brave young anti-bullying advocate, while Bondarsphere celebrates the life of neurologist Dr Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space. Nicole Lizée’s playful, sweeping score evokes the thrill and danger of space travel, blending a soundtrack of spoken voice and electronica with live orchestra. The disc concludes with I Lost My Talk which sets a poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe and explores the systematic mistreatment of indigenous peoples. Joe’s redemptive text is spellbinding but John Estacio’s score (which admittedly accompanies a film, here unseen) feels saccharine in places, and the performance from the otherwise excellent National Arts Centre Orchestra seems patchy here. Kate Wakeling PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
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The Bridgewater Hall International Concert Series 17|18
Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell
Manchester Camerata Wednesday 31 January 7.30pm | The Bridgewater Hall
Performed by the stunning Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and four outstanding soloists
Monday 22 January 7.30pm
Programme includes Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Beethoven’s Second Symphony
Box Ofﬁce: 0161 907 9000 www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
Box Ofﬁce: 0161 907 9000 www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk
Concerto CONCERTO CHOICE
An intense and charismatic new star Julian Haylock hails the rising young Greek-Polish violinist Irmina Trynkos confirms violinist Irmina Trynkos as a phenomenal talent. Whether in the scintillating virtuosity of the outer Borenstein movements or the heartfelt cantabile of the Adagio, she plays with a Violin Concerto; The Big Bang charismatic incandescence and and Creation of the Universe; intensity reminiscent of Isaac Stern’s If you will it, it is no dream Irmina Trynkos (violin); golden period of the late 1950s and Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra/ early ’60s. The orchestral playing Vladimir Ashkenazy and engineering is of bracing impact Chandos CHSA 5209 (hybrid CD/SACD) and captivating allure. 56:45 mins The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe (completed in 2009 and Born in Tel Aviv and educated in premiered, like the Paris, the composer Violin Concerto, Nimrod Borenstein Irmina Trynkos’s by the Oxford originally trained intensity recalls Isaac Philharmonic) as a violinist. It Stern’s golden period is cast in three seems appropriate, movements – then, that the ‘Light’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Adam and Eve’. most substantial work here, at Borenstein writes in an unflashy nearly half-an-hour in length, is tonal language that somehow the Violin Concerto of 2013. There manages to draw upon traditional are moments when the ghosts of sources and yet sounds urgently Prokofiev (the Second Concerto, spontaneous. If you will it, it is especially), Khachaturian and no dream (2012) encapsulates Walton pass fleetingly over the Borenstein’s high-compression music’s swirling, colourful textures, sound-world in which melodic and yet the overriding sensation here rhythmic ideas create a multi-layered is of an exuberantly inventive frisson of hyper-activity. composer with a symphonic instinct ★★★★★ exhilarating in the concerto medium. PERFORMANCE RECORDING ★★★★★ This spectacular performance
JS Bach Keyboard Concertos Nos 1-3, BWV 1052-1054 Schaghajegh Nosrati (piano); Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin
Genuin GEN 17482 59:37 mins
Schaghajegh Nosrati’s debut disc of JS Bach’s The Art of Fugue came with ringing imprimaturs from pianist András Schiff and fortepianist Robert Levin, and the latter is partly implicated in this sequel devoted to three of Bach’s best-known keyboard concertos. ‘Best-known’ is perhaps misleading though. For while the D major Concerto, BWV 1054 appears
newly spruced up, performed with delectable, unadulterated buoyancy, the protean D minor and E major Concertos unveil a fascinating new twist. At Levin’s suggestion, Nosrati presents the outer movements with added wind parts sourced from previous cantata incarnations. Necessary transpositions of key also necessitate instrumental tweaks, yielding a trio of oboe, oboe d’amore and cor anglais. The result isn’t a reconstruction of a lost version; rather, this is an experiment in ‘what if’, the woodwind chorus lending graininess to the tuttis and moments of pungent commentary elsewhere. At her most inspired, Nosrati is a captivating Bachian; rhythmically infectious, supremely intelligent,
A phenomenal talent: Irmina Trynkos plays Borenstein with charisma
Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine website at www.classical-music.com
alive to the expressive kernel without over-milking it. And with minimal vibrato the small-scale forces of the Deutsche Kammerorchester Berlin are stylish collaborators. Sometimes Nosrati’s left hand is a little overinsistent, and final cadences a touch apologetic, but the D minor’s first Allegro knows exactly where it’s going (acquiring a little Sturm und Drang en route); the finale blows away the Adagio’s disquiet with gusto; and Nosrati’s penchant for teasing out motivic felicities keeps the opening movements of BWV 1053/4 pulsating with vitality. Bach on the piano has a compelling new exponent. Paul Riley PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Martinů Cello Concerto No. 2
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 2 Christian Poltéra (cello); Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin/ Gilbert Varga BIS BIS-2257 (hybrid CD/SACD) 64:16 mins
A welcome recording of two ‘black-sheep’ cello concertos: Shostakovich’s elusive, tragicomic Second, and another Second, a splendid work by Martinů. Few recordings exist of the latter, which was never performed in Martinů’s lifetime after he failed to secure BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Concerto Reviews Gregor Piatigorsky as soloist. Written in 1945, it combines an open-road, American breeziness with soulful, Czech glow. Christian Poltéra gives a blazing account, bringing both eloquent shape and tonal richness to his melodic line. He fairly burns in the deeply nostalgic Andante while the highkicking Allegro showcases his technical mastery, including a cadenza of glittering detail and a break-neck coda, dispatched with flair. To date, Raphael Wallfisch’s marvellous 1991 account with the Czech Philharmonic under Jiří Bělohlávek has been a benchmark: while that remains a reference for the subtlety of Bělohlávek’s orchestral handling, Poltéra is a worthy successor as soloist, and they offer a swifter, more satisfying finale. While the Deutsches SymphonieOrchester Berlin under Gilbert Varga is lively enough in the Martinů, their literalness dampens the theatrical potential of the Shostakovich Concerto. Poltéra carries the opening movement’s sombre narrative, but the Scherzo dares not venture into vulgarity: while Alisa Weilerstein (Decca) was prepared to take the jaunty street song down a dark alley, Poltéra keeps it on the straight and narrow. When this song returns
Nimrod Borenstein (b.1969)
Born in Tel Aviv and raised in France, Borenstein has evolved his style from such 20th-century techniques as serialism and ‘sound clusters’ to his own approach to traditional systems of tonality. He was originally trained as a violinist – after studying in Paris, he came to London to further his studies under Itzhak Rashkovsky at the Royal College of Music before choosing to devote himself to composition – and so has a particular empathy with the violin’s expressive potential. His orchestral work has long been championed by Vladimir Ashkenazy in particular.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
in the thunderous finale climax, Varga is heavy and over-deliberate, smoothing out the rhythmic edges. The feverish, hospital-ward atmosphere found by Weilerstein or in Pieter Wispelwey’s singularly sinister reading (Channel) is replaced here by rather incongruous jollity. Helen Wallace PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini Anna Vinnitskaya (piano); NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra/ Krzysztof Urbanski Alpha Classics ALPHA 275 56:36 mins
Whether or not Rachmaninov’s Second is the world’s most popular piano concerto, there are probably enough recordings of it now to fill the Royal Albert Hall. To hold its own in a desperately overcrowded market populated with the likes of Sviatoslav Richter, Vladimir Ashkenazy and, indeed, the composer himself, any new recording has to be exceptionally fine. Anna Vinnitskaya and Krzysztof Urbanski here offer a reading of this concerto that has much to recommend it – not least, that it is straightforward and ‘classic’ in the best sense. Vinnitskaya’s playing is an absolute delight for its natural, songful, expressive phrasing and a cool, unpretentious temperament rather akin with the composer’s own recorded approach. Always intelligent, and present in the moment, she is alive to the inner voices and colourful contrasts in both this and the Paganini Rhapsody, maintaining control, poise and sensitivity throughout. If the Paganini Rhapsody could do with sharper edges and more sparkle, that is possibly down to a somewhat ploddy accompaniment from the orchestra, tempos that could perhaps move with more energy and conviction, and a slightly bulbous acoustic (the recording is from the NDR studios in Hamburg, not the Elbphilharmonie itself, if you were wondering). So, of the two pieces, the concerto emerges in finer form, its moody temperament and tenderness excellently intact. Jessica Duchen PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Reissues Reviewed by Jessica Duchen Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 Gorgeous phrasing, soulfulness, wit, delicacy, elemental power – Martha Argerich’s dream performances are expansively accompanied by Giuseppe Sinopoli and the Philharmonia, albeit in an over-resonant acoustic. Eloquence 482 8145 (1986) 65:24 mins ★★★★★ Gulda Improvisations 1 & 2 Mozart Rondos for piano and orchestra; Piano Sonata No. 12 Friedrich Gulda’s startlingly fresh improvisations and compositions rub shoulders with Mozart, the latter often sounding a tad dogged and pedantic. BR Klassik 900713 (1969/82) 54:36 mins ★★★ Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 3 Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues Recorded in Prague, some of these vivid and characterful performances are on CD for the first time and they’re a must-have for all pianophiles. Tatiana Nikolayeva’s own Concert Etudes are fabulous. Supraphon SU 4216-2 (1951/54) 91:21 mins (2 discs) ★★★★★ Mozart Piano Concertos Nos 20, 21, 23 & 25 A mixed bag for four of Mozart’s most popular piano concertos: serene, streamlined elegance from conductor Kurt Masur and the Dresden Philharmonic, but slightly ploddy pianism from Annerose Schmidt. The recorded sound on the download is excellent. Berlin Classics 885470010359 (download only) 114 mins ★★★
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2; Etudestableaux, Op. 33; plus Kreisler: Liebesleid (arr. Rachmaninov); Behr: Lachtäubchen (arr. Rachmaninov) Boris Giltburg (piano); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Carlos Miguel Prieto Naxos 8.573629 66:58 mins
Yet another CD of Rachmaninov’s ubiquitous Concerto No. 2… but with soloist Boris Giltburg, whose recent recording of the Op. 39 Etudes-tableaux and Moments musicaux was truly exceptional. Giltburg paces the concerto’s solo opening crescendo beautifully; and though he breaks the chords at the bottom note, he’s in good company as the composer did so himself. In terms of sheer pianism, the ensuing saga is frequently breathtaking. It’s not only the fleetness of fingerwork, utter clarity and beauty of tone, but the imagination that goes with it, the placing of pointillist harmonic detail
and, when appropriate, a surrender to the grand sweep of the music. The decrescendo at the end of the slow movement cadenza is controlled to the point of an astonishing holdyour-breath whisper. The third movement is just a notch slower than usual, but Giltburg and Carlos Miguel Prieto seem to use this to increase drama in its ebb and flow, sometimes convincingly. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra sounds smooth and elegant, even if it could sparkle more in the finale. The Royal Concert Hall Glasgow acoustic is perhaps a touch overresonant with the piano slightly too much to the fore – not that one would want to miss a note of it. Giltburg brings atmosphere and drama to the Etudes-tableaux, always serving Rachmaninov’s storytelling. The range of his playing – from colour to pacing to emotional shading and sheer heady propulsion – makes for compulsive listening. Jessica Duchen PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Joanne Lunn | Esther Brazil | Amy Lyddon | Rory McCleery | Joshua Ellicott Matthew Long | Nicholas Mulroy | Peter Harris | Peter Harvey | William Gaunt His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts
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All albums available in Studio Master from www.linnrecords.com Distributed in the UK by RSK Entertainment www.rskentertainment.co.uk Distributed in North America by Naxos of America www.naxos.com www.outhere-music.com
Stuart Jackson is a dream tenor in Mozart’s Scipione
Marlis Petersen, Daniela Sindram, Rachael Wilson, Rainer Trost, Bo Skovhus, Matthias Klink; Bavarian State Orchestra/Kirill Petrenko; dir. Dmitri Tcherniakov (Munich, 2015)
Max Loppert applauds this latest venture in early Mozart operas by Ian Page and his musicians
Controversy has surrounded Lulu since its 1937 Zürich premiere, in the form Berg left unfinished at his untimely death two years earlier. Still problematic today, the opera’s key question concerns surprisingly little-changed social attitudes towards women, sex and class hierarchy: exactly who – or what – is Lulu? Director Dmitri Tcherniakov rejects the cliché of a monstrous, pseudo-innocent vamp who torments men unto death, suicide and murder – including her own. Yet his protagonist, the vocally stunning Marlis Petersen, feels reined in from her extreme coloratura. Whitecostumed, in a set comprising glass labyrinths, cold lighting and anonymous crowds, she is neither determined rebel nor passive victim, but self-endangered by her desperation to be loved – by more or less anyone, but especially her businessman ‘protector’ Dr Schön (Bo Skovhus, more brooding than menacing). Thus subtler clichés take hold – and Tcherniakov hardly avoids caricature in portraying the lesbian Geschwitz (Daniela Sindram) as a mannishly pathetic bluestocking, while the composer Alwa (Matthias Klink) remains a dithering aesthete until his violent demise. For all Lulu’s teasing comeons, the production lacks erotic charge, and the savage black comedy that Berg carefully retained from Wedekind’s Lulu plays is dulled from a lampooning exposure of bourgeois hypocrisy into a basically domesticated – if complex and viscerally brutal – narrative of lovers, jealousy and greed. Yet all is very far from lost, thanks to an impeccable cast who attack that narrative with exceptional musicdramatic skill, and the ravishingly transparent playing of the Bavarian State Orchestra under music director, Kirill Petrenko. Petersen invests Lulu with a paradoxical
Tenor triumph: Stuart Jackson is a standout success in Mozart’s title role
steadfast Constancy: no prizes for guessing the outcome). Yet all the da capo arias offer moments of Stuart Jackson, Klara Ek, Soraya Mafi, Krystian Adam, genuine Mozartian musico-dramatic spark – of which Robert Murray, Chiara Skerath; Choir and Orchestra of later there’s an abundance in the long accompanied Classical Opera/Ian Page recitative depicting Scipio’s awakening, which Page in Signum SIGCD 499 108:14 mins (2 discs) his admirably detailed booklet essay calls ‘music (of) sublime beauty and haunting otherworldliness’. Scipio’s Dream, Mozart’s sixth opera, is also Classical This is a rewarding set: gracefully paced, with Opera’s sixth complete Mozart opera recording period-instrument playing more for Signum Classics under its polished than in Astrée’s 2001 conductor, Ian Page. The company’s All the arias offer Freiburg Sogno di Scipione, and devotion to the very young moments of genuine among its fresh-voiced young composer’s theatrical creations – Mozart dramatic spark singers a standout leading the list so far, leaning heavily on tenor, Stuart Jackson, as Scipio. the earliest, reaches no further From that earlier recording, though, and Philips’s than Zaide (1779) – has already paid off handsomely. celebrated 1979 one conducted by Leopold Hager and Evidence of Mozart’s extraordinary youthful featuring Edita Gruberová, Lucia Popp and Edith accomplishment has been piled up in a way that Mathis, one gains a much stronger impression of the cumulatively makes nonsense of past dismissal of soprano roles’ distinctively contrasted qualities; but these works as immature parrotings of contemporary overall, this is an impressive achievement. operatic fashion. PERFORMANCE ★★★★ This one-act serenata for a cast of three tenors RECORDING ★★★★ and three sopranos, written in 1771, is a case in point. The dramatic limitations of Metastasio’s blandly Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of moralising libretto may be obvious (the celebrated this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine Roman commander dreams of having to choose website at www.classical-music.com between two goddesses, capricious Fortune and
Il sogno di Scipione
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Bel Air BAC 129 182 mins (2 discs)
Opera Reviews strength in vulnerability, killing herself rather than dying by Jack the Ripper’s hand. Close-up camera work makes the most of intimate gestures and facial expressions lost in the theatre but which, if not visionary, help to make this Lulu tragically human. Steph Power PERFORMANCE ★★★ PICTURE AND SOUND ★★★★
Handel Goes Wild Handel: Alcina – Act III Sinfonia, ‘Verdi prati’, ‘Mi lusinga il dolce affetto’; Rinaldo – ‘Venti turbini’; Semele – ‘O, Sleep Why Dost Thou Leave Me?’, ‘Where’er you walk’; Rinaldo – ‘Cara sposa’; Solomon – Arrival of the Queen of Sheba; Amadigi – ‘Pena tiranna’; Giulio Cesare – ‘Piangerò la sorte mia’; Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno – ‘Tu del ciel ministro eletto’; Serse – ‘Ombra mai fu’; Vivaldi: Concerto in G minor, RV 157 Nuria Rial (soprano), Valer Sabadus (countertenor); L’Arpeggiata/ Christina Pluhar Erato 9029581170 75:25 mins
Hybrid cars. Fusion food. If it’s your thing, so might be BaroqueJazz Handel.
Director and arranger Christina Pluhar presents re-imagined arias, sinfonias, and instrumental numbers with L’arpeggiata – two stellar teams of instrumentalists: a Baroque band, and a jazz ensemble. Personally, I would like more of one or the other and I would very happily listen to this same programme of top-of-the-pops Handel performed by either. The Baroque instrumentalists display lyricism, drive, and percussive energy, and the jazz instrumentalists improvise on the germs of Handel’s imagination with infectious enthusiasm. Combined, I’m not always persuaded, but I can imagine that if I heard it live, I might return home thoroughly entertained – with the souvenir CD in my pocket. There are some natural moments of departure, where the music invites sensual creativity and if you enjoy the lounge-style piano and clarinet soundworld there’s much to enjoy. However, at worst the affect of arias such as ‘Where’ere ye walk’ do not survive clarinet references of ‘I’ve got plenty o’nothing’, and the beat in the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba verges on a Klezmer-inspired Hooked-OnClassics. Instrumental numbers see the greatest integration between all instruments with the cornetto
Reissues Reviewed by George Hall An Evening at the Lyric Opera of Chicago Recorded in indifferent sound, this gala concert from the Chicago Lyric Opera under Georg Solti features five starry principals in standard arias and duets. Eloquence 482 7518 (1956) 57:11 mins ★★★ The countertenors A riposte to The Three Tenors, this album from Pascal Bertin, Andeas Scholl and Dominique Visse provides a camp giggle or two as they essay unlikely and even inappropriate material. Harmonia Mundi HMA 1901552 (1995) 34:43 mins ★★ Handel Ombra cara Arias for Handel’s long-term associate, the alto castrato Senesino. Bejun Mehta sings with an expressive imagination matched by René Jacobs and the Freiburg players. Harmonia Mundi HMA 1902077 (2010) 71:46 mins ★★★★ Handel Arias An earlier generation of superb Handelians, led by Joan Sutherland, Bernadette Greevy’s opulent contralto, William Herbert’s textured tenor and the refulgent basses of Hervey Alan and Forbes Robinson. Eloquence 482 4759 (1959-67) 145:08 mins (2 discs) ★★★★
Opera Reviews proving a fascinating virtuosic diplomat and continuo instruments reminding us that these genres have more that unite than divide. Most arias, including the exquisite ‘Piangero la sorte mia’, alternate the two groups with unflappable vocalists, Valer Sabadus and Nuria Rial, bridging the divide while themselves embracing a fusion of heartbreak and sass. Whether or not Handel really goes wild here, he certainly gets experimental. Who knows if he would have loved it, but if you do that’s enough. Hannah French PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
In her vocal prime: Véronique Gens sings rarely heard French arias
R Strauss Die Liebe der Danae (DVD) Krassimira Stoyanova, Tomasz Konieczny, Norbert Ernst, Wolfgang Ablinger Sperrhacke, Regine Hangler, Gerhard Siegel, Mária Celeng, Olga Bezsmertna, Michaela Selinger, Jennifer Johnston; Vienna Philharmonic, Concert Association, Vienna State Opera Choir/Franz Welser Möst; dir. Alvis Hermanis (Salzburg, 2016)
Rorem Our Town Matthew DiBattista, Margot Rood, Brendan Buckley, Donald Wilkinson, Krista River, David Kravitz, Angela Gooch, Glorivy Arroyo, Stanley Wilson; Monadnock Music/Gil Rose
New World Records 80790-2 123:25 mins (2 discs)
Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town finds magic in the everyday life of a small New England town, through a series of non-consecutive episodes set in the period before the First World War. Filmed in 1940 with a score by Aaron Copland, it was made into an opera only in 2005 by the veteran American composer Ned Rorem. Rorem pays occasional homage to Copland’s luminous simplicity, especially in his treatment of church hymns, but also introduces a Stravinskyan linking chord and touches of the asperity and humour of Milhaud and Poulenc, as well as devising a new other-worldly tone when the focus switches to the town’s cemetery and its inhabitants. Thanks to his experience as a song composer, he conveys the text clearly and with well-defined characters. And altogether he creates a musical world which you feel glad to re-enter after each break between the acts. In this well-balanced studio recording by the forces of Gil Rose’s Monadnock Music Festival, the playing of the chamber orchestra is alert, the small chorus produces pleasingly blended tone, and the cast – led by the flexible tenor Matthew DiBattista as the narrating Stage Manager – deliver words and pitches with clarity and accuracy,
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Enkelejda Shkosa’s concerned Hedwige and Nicolas Courjal’s ultra-villainous Gesler are expertly done, while the Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra are on top form throughout. George Hall PERFORMANCE ★★ PICTURE AND SOUND ★★★★
EuroArts DVD: 8024297028; Blu-ray: 8024297024 160 mins
if not always shaped into rounded phrases. Excepted from that criticism is the soprano Margot Rood, whose instinctive musicality, pure tone and radiant upper register are reminiscent of the young Dawn Upshaw, and who brings touching conviction to the central role of Emily Webb in young life and after death. Anthony Burton PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Rossini William Tell (DVD) Gerald Finley, Malin Byström, John Osborn, Sofia Fomina, Nicolas Courjal, Alexander Vinogradov, Enkelejda Shkosa, Eric Halfvarson, Michael Colvin, Samuel Dale Johnson, Enea Scala; Royal Opera Chorus/Renato Balsadonna; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/ Antonio Pappano; dir. Damiano Michieletto (Covent Garden, 2015) Opus Arte DVD: OA 1205 D; Blu-ray: OA BD7195 D 201 mins (2 discs)
When it opened in June 2015, the first night of the Royal Opera production of William Tell attracted a storm of protest, much of it occasioned by a protracted gang-rape scene that many observers found both gratuitous and offensive; the booing for the production team resumed at their curtain call. Seeing the show again after more than two years, the negative audience
reaction remains comprehensible; but in fact Damiano Michieletto’s staging has further problems. Its overall look is ugly and grungy, and there are repeated appearances by a silent, comic-book representative of the historical William Tell who comes over – whatever the intention – as not merely intrusive but also ridiculous. On a visual and theatrical basis, then, the show is scarcely recommendable – though Michieletto would redeem himself not long afterwards at the same address with a Cav & Pag which, not surprisingly, reached DVD and Blu-ray first. William Tell itself is pretty well a write-off. Yet musically it has a lot going for it, not least the rarely performed and ambitious score itself, conducted by Antonio Pappano with his customary zeal and stylistic insight. The leading role of the Swiss patriot is delivered in sombre (if not glowering) yet dignified manner by Gerald Finley, who quite properly makes the famous aria ‘Sois immobile’ an expressive highlight. In the nearimpossible tenor role of Arnold, with its punishing plethora of high notes, John Osborn stands his ground more than honourably. Malin Byström understands the internal conflict of Arnold’s beloved enemy Hapsburg princess Mathilde and is persuasive in delineating it, while Sofia Fomina is vocally confident and convincingly boyish as Tell’s son, Jemmy. Secondary roles such as Eric Halfvarson’s vigorous Melcthal,
Salzburg’s grotesque obsession with design over direction reached its apogee with this second production by Latvian Alvis Hermanis. I found myself shocked by the vacuous nature of his response to Strauss’s ‘cheerful mythology’, based on an idea left behind by the long-dead Hofmannsthal and planned as his operatic farewell (the end actually came with the connoisseur’s piece Capriccio, more popular now than Strauss can have imagined). There’s room for imaginative personenregie, the relations between singers, in the conflated mythic characters – Danae, shut up in a tower and impregnated by Jupiter in a shower of gold, and greedy Midas – to point up the loveversus-power theme of the Ring. Any acting potential in Hermanis’s cast is squashed in favour of purely decorative – and expensive – visuals, plus a hint of his declared anti-Islamism in the third act’s vision of repressed burka-ed women at their looms. Musically the saving grace is Krassimira Stoyanova, well up to the challenges of a hugely demanding Strauss soprano role. Jupiter, Tomasz Konieczny, and strenuous Midas, a miscast Gerhard Siegel, struggle to make an impact. Franz Welser-Möst’s conducting ignores the expansive generosity of Strauss’s glorious score. If only this had been a Christof Loy-Christian Thielemann
Opera Reviews collaboration, it might have been watchable. As it is, revisiting this awful production felt like a real penance. David Nice PERFORMANCE ★★ PRESENTATION ★★★★
Wagner Parsifal (DVD) Klaus Florian Vogt, Elena Pankratova, Ryan McKinny, Georg Zeppenfeld, Karl Heinz Lehner, Gerd Grochowski; Bavarian Festival Orchestra and Choir/Hartmut Haenchen; dir. Uwe Eric Laufenberg (Bayreuth, 2016) Deutsche Grammophon DVD: 073 5350; Blu-ray: 073 5353 247 mins (2 discs)
This production from last year’s Bayreuth Festival was involved in even more controversy than that enterprise usually generates, with a replaced director, a conductor who took over in the last weeks of rehearsal, and police on guard round the Festspielhaus in case Muslims were upset. They might easily have been, but so might adherents of other religions. Wagner’s music is of course intact here, but very little else is. I shall listen to the performance, an exceptionally fine one in the outer acts, again, but I doubt if I shall see it, with its distracting cosmic projections, expanding to the whole known universe, then contracting to Mosul in Iraq. The distance between Eric Laufenberg’s production and Wagner’s idea may be judged by the fact that Amfortas, the chief knight of the grail, and the sinner whose wound will not heal, is transformed into Christ, with an immense crown of thorns, the five wounds, and in the communion scene blood from the wound in his side gushes into the cups held by the knights, who drink it. That makes total nonsense of Wagner’s words and actions, but that is now routine. Fortunately Hartmut Haenchen’s conducting is fine throughout, tempos on the quick side but not feeling it, with superb climaxes. The Gurnemanz of Georg Zeppenfeld is magnificent, despite his woolly hat and schoolmasterly spectacles. Klaus Florian Vogt has a voice which is ideal for the title role, though his acting isn’t always; and Ryan McKinny’s Amfortas is both painful and beautiful.
Unfortunately Elena Pankratova’s Kundry is the least appealing I have ever seen or heard, which makes Act II rough going. She and Gurnemanz take turns pushing one another around in a wheelchair in Act III, but by then nothing whatever would come as a surprise. Michael Tanner PERFORMANCE ★★ PICTURE AND SOUND ★★★★
Visions Works by Bizet, Bruneau, David, Février, Franck, Godard, Halévy, Massenet, Niedermeyer & Saint-Saëns Véronique Gens (soprano), Munich Radio Orchestra/Hervé Niquet Alpha Classics ALPHA 279 55:43 mins
The bad news first. You’ll need an opera dictionary before you’re ready for Véronique Gens’s Visions. The 11 recitatives and airs here are from unfamiliar 19th-century French repertoire and the liner notes that accompany the CD are, to put it mildly, casual and uninformative. So there is nothing about composers like Alfred Bruneau, Abraham Louis Niedermeyer or Benjamin Louis Paul Godard. Nothing, either, about their librettists and no attempt to put each number into a dramatic context. Frankly, the title Visions is pretty misleading too. Despite the harps and bells, these are airs that dramatise those operatic staples, the abandoned heroine and the woman who loves the wrong man. Even when César Franck apostrophises the Virgin Mary in his quasi oratorio Rédemption it’s as much profane as sacred love. Now the good news. Véronique Gens is in fine voice – indeed, she seems to be in her prime. Her diction as always is immaculate and she produces a stream of elegant tone. There is light and shade in the simple air from Bizet’s Clovis et Clotilde, and the required vocal heft to ride Massenet’s orchestra in the number from La Vierge. But it’s at her prayers that she excels; in Février’s Gismonda or Bruneau’s Geneviève. You almost begin to wonder what it would like to see these works staged – but not quite. Christopher Cook PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Choral & Song CHORAL & SONG CHOICE
A star of the English Baroque explored Paul Riley admires Arcangelo’s way with Purcell’s great forebear and memorialist, John Blow
High-flying tenor: Thomas Walker evokes the lark singing in duet
Dread Sir, the Prince of Light. Written for St Cecilia’s Day 1684, Begin the Song! is a worthy rejoinder to Purcell’s Welcome to all the Pleasures composed for the previous year’s feast, and with renowned bass John Gosling among the company, it takes the singer Zoë Brookshaw, Emma Walshe (soprano), down to a saturnine low ‘D’ – sung here with gravelly Samuel Boden, Thomas Walker (tenor), solemnity by Callum Thorpe. Callum Thorpe, William Gaunt (bass); Duets for high tenor seem to have been something Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen of a Blow speciality – the Purcell Ode Hyperion CDA 68149 76:36 mins Blow’s exquisitely contains four alone – and in Samuel Not only did John Blow vacate the crafted Purcell Ode is Boden and Thomas Walker, director Jonathan Cohen has harnessed organ loft of Westminster Abbey the disc’s centrepiece a quintessentially English sound to make way for Purcell. Outliving whose lyricism fits the vocal writing his pupil by over a decade, he like a glove. Mark how the Lark is a twittering number compounded the compliment with an exquisitely to launch what turns out to be more a celebration of crafted, recorders-enriched Ode on the Death of Purcell than a lament. Throughout, the instrumental My Henry Purcell. This supplies the centrepiece of contribution is a joy; Cohen’s direction a model of Arcangelo’s new disc, which interleaves four odes stylish empathy and suavely-negotiated gear changes. with chamber music including an affable sonata and two works based on a recurring bass: a G minor PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ Ground not quite matching the intensity of Purcell’s RECORDING ★★★★★ famous Chacony, plus a G major Chaconne oozing Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of contrapuntal vitality. this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine And what riches are contained in the odes – even website at www.classical-music.com if, after a promising start, the creative spark dims on
Begin the Song!; Chaconne a 4 in G; An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell; Ground in F minor; The Nymphs of the Wells; Sonata in A; Dread Sir, the Prince of Light
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
JS Bach Secular Cantatas, Vol. 8: Schleicht, spielende Wellen, BWV 206; Preise dein Glücke, gesegnetes Sachsen, BWV 215 Hana Blažíková (soprano), Hiroya Aoki (alto), Charles Daniels (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone); Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki BIS BIS-2231 (hybrid CD/SACD) 70:23 mins
Each of these resplendent works, first performed in the mid-1730s, fall into the dramma per musica or serenata category. Both are closely associated with Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. JS Bach’s opulent orchestration for each piece includes three trumpets, drums, flutes, oboes, oboes d’amore, strings and continuo. Schleicht, spielende Wellen is anchored to a somewhat inconsequential dispute between the four principal rivers of the countries under Augustus’s rule. Each tries to outdo the other in obsequious praise of the monarch. Poland’s River Vistula gets my vote with a swaggering A major bass aria with strings. At last the Pleisse which flows through Leipzig is called upon to mediate. In her galant style aria she urges the rivals to flow in harmony like the three flutes which accompany the soprano voice. Redolent with aquatic metaphor this piece, seemingly without later parodied material, is one of Bach’s finest dramma per musica. While Schleicht spielende Wellen was a birthday and name day tribute, Preise dein Glücke is a homage piece to Augustus. Two of its movements were later parodied by Bach; the soprano aria found its way into Part V of the Christmas Oratorio and the other, the work’s opening chorus was used in the B minor Mass. This eight-vocal strand double chorus, a rare occurrence in Bach’s cantatas testifies to the exceptional importance of the occasion. All four soloists acquit themselves stylishly, demonstrating on occasion praiseworthy virtuosity, while the choruses, in which the soloists partake, rise spontaneously to the music’s occasional character. Brass, timpani, woodwind and strings sound cohesive and unanimous making this volume of Suzuki’s
Choral & Song Reviews secular cantatas one of the strongest. Nicholas Anderson PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Bednall Sudden Light: Choral works The Epiphoni Consort/Tim Reader Delphian DCD 34189 70:54 mins
It’s a bold composer who takes on the Thomas Tallis of Spem in alium at his own game, but David Bednall does just that. His motet Lux orta est iusto, which opens this CD, has eight five-voice choirs in it, the same as Tallis’s polyphonic masterpiece, with the same aim of exploiting the enhanced spatial and dynamic possibilities of 40-part writing. The results are impressive. From its dramatic opening – a fullthroated cry of ecstasy in D major – through episodes of sparky syncopation, and quieter passages where the spirit of ages past seems to be summoned, Bednall’s setting is constantly evolving and shifting in perspective, in ways which go decisively beyond mere mimicry of Tallis’s original composition. Of the 16 other pieces on the disc, Everyone Sang (to a text by Siegfried Sassoon) is a particularly good advertisement for The Epiphoni Consort’s fresh, enthusiastic performances, while both Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98 and Te lucis ante terminum show considerable interpretive subtlety. Tuning in the lower voices can be suspect, and there are occasional ragged edges tonally. But with more than a dozen premiere recordings on offer, this is a significant addition to the Bednall discography. Terry Blain PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Bingen Ego Sum Homo: plainsongs, hymns and other liturgical works Tiburtina Ensemble/ Barbora Kabatkova Ricercar RIC 383 64:17 mins
Hildegard (1098-1179) was a medieval mystic and composer whose musical works are preserved in manuscripts at Dendermonde and Wiesbaden. In the late 1990s (celebrating the 900th anniversary of her birth) there was
a rush of fine recordings of her works by Gothic Voices, Sequentia, Anonymous 4 and other groups, but since then there has been something of a lull. Now the nun of the Rhine is truly back on song with this accomplished and atmospheric offering by the Prague group, the Tiburtina Ensemble. Most of her music is in plainsong style, but that does not mean it is unoriginal or prosaic. O tu illustrate (in praise of the Virgin Mary), for example, is extraordinarily rhapsodic, inventive and wide ranging, and it draws deftness and suavity from the singers. By contrast, in the hymn O caritas (based on the story of the entry of St Ursula into heaven) the narrative and dialogue elements are rather lost in the efficient but uniform approach, though the improvised interjections on the harp pander to our modern craving from colour and atmosphere. Most of these compositions are designed for church services, but that is not the aim here and they are not sung in their full liturgical forms. Instead we get a sound experience which is both clear and ethereal, not unlike earlier recordings of Hildegard by the all-female group Anonymous 4. Anthony Pryer PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Chilcott All Good Things: Ophelia, Caliban and Miranda; Jazz Songs of Innocence; Nidaros Jazz Mass, etc Commotio/Matthew Berry, Bob Chilcott (piano/conductor); Alexander Hawkins (piano), Raphael Mizraki (double bass), Jon Scott (drums) Naxos 8.573383 71:40 mins
Is it jazz? Is it classical? Does it matter? Yes, maybe and no, are probably the answers. More importantly, this CD swings, and is thoroughly enjoyable. In Ophelia, Caliban and Miranda, the opening set of pieces, composer Bob Chilcott seamlessly integrates Commotio, a classically-trained choir, with the jazz combo providing the partly improvised accompaniments. Charles Bennett’s droll texts imagine what might have happened to three Shakespearian characters in a parallel universe, eliciting buoyant, chipper settings by Chilcott of the
Clear and ethereal: Tiburtina Ensemble does Bingen proud
outer songs, and a more laid-back response to the central Caliban, with smoky saxophone commentary. The Blake-inspired Jazz Songs of Innocence, originally written for a children’s choir, finds the women of Commotio in zesty voice, neatly nailing the syncopations in the faster numbers, and distilling considerable poignancy in The Divine Image, which concludes the cycle. The other extended work is the Nidaros Jazz Mass, where the addition of men’s voices makes for more complexity of texture in the vocal writing. Occasionally the chirpy insouciance of the jazz rhythms seems to cut across the solemn import of the Latin text – but then similar complaints are often voiced about Mozart’s sacred music sounding too flamboyantly operatic. Of the shorter pieces the unaccompanied Weather Report provides the Commotio singers the opportunity to show their paces technically, and they turn in an appropriately dashing performance. It’s also worth noting that there is nearly an hour’s worth of previously unrecorded music here. Terry Blain PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Fauré The complete songs, Vol. 2: La chanson d’Eve; Two Duets, Op. 10; Three Songs, Op. 85; Two Songs, Op. 87; Rêve d’amour; L’aurore; Aubade etc Lorna Anderson, Janis Kelly (soprano), Sarah Connolly,
Ann Murray (mezzo soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Ben Johnson (tenor), Nigel Cliffe, Thomas Oliemans (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano) Signum SIGCD 472 68:53 mins
Another lovely evening in an imaginary salon. Like the first instalment of this complete survey of Fauré’s songs curated by Malcolm Martineau, a plurality of voices evokes a gathering of friends taking turns. Opening with an exquisitely serene Rêve d’amour from John Chest, the songs are generally presented in chronological order. Whereas Ben Johnson, Nigel Cliffe and Iestyn Davies each have just a single offering on this occasion, the Aubade, Barcarolle and Le plus doux chemin respectively, Thomas Oliemans makes his first contributions to the series with, among others, a richly toned Shylock, Op. 57 and carefully nuanced performance of the three Op. 85 songs. At the heart of the disc, Lorna Anderson’s stillness in Le secret is utterly entrancing, and Janis Kelly glides effortlessly in Le pays des rêves. Unfortunately their voices do not always fit together comfortably in the challenging early duet of Tarentelle. The inclusion of some of the recently discovered Vocalises Fauré wrote while director of the Paris Conservatoire distinguishes this from other cycles. Nonetheless, while Ann Murray BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
KIRKER MUS IC HOLIDAYS F O R D I S C E R N I N G T R AV E L L E R S
Kirker Holidays offers an extensive range of holidays for music lovers.These include tours to leading festivals in Europe such as Schubertiade and the Puccini Opera Festival, and opera weekends in Verona,Venice, Milan, Dresden,Vienna & New York. We also host a series of exclusive chamber music festivals throughout Europe & the UK, featuring highly acclaimed musicians in elegant surroundings.
THE WORLD OF JS BACH – THURINGIA & SAXONY A SEVEN NIGHT HOLIDAY | 10 JUNE 2018
with Oliver Condy The ultimate holiday for Bach aficionados, our new tour will trace the composer’s life with a series of organ recitals in towns and villages where he lived and worked, culminating in four performances as part of the 2018 Bach Festival in Leipzig. The organist Oliver Condy, best known as the editor of this magazine, will give five recitals on five different organs associated with JS Bach, as we retrace his life and career through Thuringia and Saxony. Flying to Frankfurt we shall stay in mediaeval Erfurt for the first part of the holiday, making visits to historic towns and cities including Eisenach,Arnstadt, and Dornheim.We then move to Leipzig, one of Europe’s most important musical cities where Bach worked from 1723 until his death in 1750. Our visit will coincide with the 2018 Bach Festival, and we include four concerts – from cantatas to Cello Suites – including Sir András Schiff performing the Goldberg Variations at the Gewandhaus, and St Matthew’s Passion performed by the choir of St Thomas Church, where Bach was cantor. Price from £2,598 per person for seven nights including flights, accommodation with breakfast, four lunches, five dinners, five organ recitals by Oliver Condy, tickets for four performances as part of the Bachfest, a copy of ‘Exploring the World of JS Bach’, all sightseeing, entrance fees and gratuities and the services of the Kirker Tour Leader, organist Oliver Condy, and a local guide throughout.
Speak to an expert or request a brochure:
020 7593 2284
quote code GMU
Choral & Song Reviews floats enchantingly through No. 7, No. 22 is decidedly prosaic even in Anderson’s stylish performance. Having metaphorically sat silently through these various delights, Sarah Connolly joins Martineau for the final third of the disc in La chanson d’Eve. It is certainly worth the wait, for Connolly is at her best, capturing the controlled, yet rapturous passion of this achingly beautiful cycle. Martineau is, as ever, an ideal pianistic host for all his companions, but listeners should supply their own wine. Christopher Dingle PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
of them, we are meant to find something redeeming? The performance has power and conviction – you would think this was an established concert work rather than a first performance – and the recording captures it all with atmosphere and clarity. I need to go back and listen to this again. Stephen Johnson PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Mayr Mass in C; Stabat Mater
Katja Stuber (soprano), Marion Eckstein (alto), Fernando Guimarães (tenor), Tareq Nazmi (bass); Orpheus Vokalensemble; Concerto Köln/ Florian Helgath
Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch
Carus 83.480 77:51 mins
David Wilson Johnson (voice), Aga Mikolaj (soprano), Ursula Hesse von den Steinen (mezzo soprano), Gerhard Siegel (tenor), Christof Fischesser (bass), Leo van Doeselaar (organ); Netherlands Radio Choir; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam/Markus Stenz
Simon Mayr is mostly remembered as Donizetti’s teacher, but as recent recordings of his sacred music reveal, there is more to him than that; more, even, than the 70 operas he produced over his long career in his adopted Italy. According to expert Franz Hauk’s liner notes, Mayr produced in all some 600 sacred compositions; many of these are individual mass movements but they also included 18 complete masses. The one heard on this disc dates from 1825, the year after the German-born, long-term Bergamo resident staged his final opera; in fact it’s a composite piece, Mayr for some reason using in the Credo sections written the year before by his former star pupil. Even at this advanced point in his career Mayr adheres to the values of the Classical Austro-German tradition he had grown up with: he was born in Bavaria just eight years after Mozart. His writing is skilful and often imaginative: attractively mixing German and Italian elements, the result is worthwhile. The Stabat Mater is earlier, perhaps dating from around 1803, or not long afterwards – soon after Mayr had become Bergamo’s maestro di cappella. The affecting interweaving of lines in the griefstricken opening chorus is one notable feature, the obbligato violin solo in the Eja mater another. Recorded in an appropriate ecclesiastical acoustic, both pieces receive secure performances, with a well-balanced and stylistically
RCO Live RCO 17005 (hybrid CD/SACD) 83:09 mins
Hieronymus Bosch, creator of some of the most worryingly alluring images of human suffering in Western art, undergoes a trial by music in Detlev Glanert’s Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch. We follow him through a kind of Purgatory, overseen by a rasping, quasi-demonic Archangel Michael, in which his soul is scrutinised for stains of each of the seven deadly sins in turn, and finally received into Paradise. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the music – especially in its early stages – is zestfully raucous and grotesque. Settings of texts from the medieval Carmina Burana at times sound rather like Carl Orff put through a modernist wringer. But as the music speaks of beauty, and later of angelic consolation, Glanert can’t help but fall back on tonal harmony and near-Romantic lyricism. The turning point is the dramatic organ solo at the heart of the work, after which mezzo-soprano Ursula Hesse von den Steinen’s depiction of Sloth is so beguiling it almost succeeds in turning the Requiem’s message on its head. Or is the point that in Bosch’s alleged ‘sins’, or at least in his creative transformation
Reissues Reviewed by Terry Blain Poulenc Stabat Mater; Litanies à la vierge noire Both the Choeur and Orchestre National de Lyon provide variable input to this Stabat Mater, under Serge Baudo, where impressively devotional moments alternate with others where tuning and rhythmic coordination waver. Harmonia Mundi HMA 1905149 (1985) 42:51 mins ★★★ Brahms A German Requiem If slow in places, Richard Hickox’s German Requiem is warmly expressive, with good soloists (Felicity Lott, David Wilson-Johnson) and especially glowing singing by the London Symphony Chorus. Chandos CHAN 10945 X (1991) 74:25 mins ★★★★ Ligeti Requiem; Lux aeterna No other currently available CD pairs these two Ligeti masterpieces. These evocative Stuttgart Chamber Choir performances with Frieder Bernius are coupled with short pieces by Ravel, Debussy and Mahler. Carus 83.283 (2006) 56:16 mins ★★★★ Elgar The Black Knight Mendelssohn meets pomp and circumstance in The Black Knight, Elgar’s setting of a dastardly medieval fable. Acclaimed on first release, Richard Hickox’s recording with the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra still sounds lustily involving. Chandos CHAN 10946 X (1996) 61:24 mins ★★★★
confident quartet of soloists. The choral singing combines vitality with fluidity while Florian Helgath’s spirited conducting keeps both pieces nicely on the move. George Hall PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Poldowski Reimagined 22 Mélodies on the poems of Paul Verlaine Ensemble 1904: Jazmin Black Grollemund (soprano), Angélique Charlopain (violin), Jérémie Decottignies (double bass), David Jackson (piano & arrangements) Resonus RES 10196 54:05 mins
Poldowski, more or less unheard since her death in 1932, is at last having a ‘moment’. And not before time. Her real name was Irène Régine Wieniawska – the daughter of the violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski; later she married an English aristocrat and became Lady Dean Paul. The androgynous pseudonym kept her anonymous and disguised, while paying tribute to her Polish
background. And the quality of her music is such that her neglect seems positively strange. Outstanding creations among her Verlaine settings include a furious and impassioned setting of Spleen, and an unforgettable version of L’heure exquise which could give Reynaldo Hahn a run for his money (this heavenly song, which begins the disc, is probably responsible for the sudden flurry of interest). Her style is deeply of the French fin de siècle with vividly inventive harmonic colours. Ensemble 1904 include, too, one movement of a violin sonata, stylistically situated somewhere between Franck and Szymanowski: it would be good to hear the whole thing. The group performs the songs in chamber arrangements with violin and double bass, ‘reimagined’ by David Jackson, who argues that Poldowski herself would have offered similar versions. Though it might perhaps seem strange to reimagine something that most listeners have never imagined in the first place, the arrangements are salon-like, atmospheric and sympathetically performed, expanding the scale of the music – BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Choral & Song Reviews The Routes of Slavery 1444-1888 Works from Africa, Portugal, Spain and Latin America La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI, Tembembe Ensamble Continuo/Jordi Savall Alia Vox AVSA9920 128:30 mins (2 discs)
A perennial abuse: Jordi Savall traces a history of slavery
which is great-hearted enough to take it. Jazmin Black-Grollemund’s soprano is deep, rich and flexible, with warmth and colour in every register; the ensemble balances well with her expressiveness. Poldowski needs quality advocates, so this CD should do much to help her cause. More, please! Jessica Duchen PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Works by Beethoven, Dutilleux, Britten, Caccini, Liebermann, Messiaen, Praetorius, Wagner, Rihm and Zimmermann (DVD) Hanna Elisabeth Müller (soprano), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (mezzo soprano), Pavol Breslik (tenor), Bryn Terfel (bass), Philippe Jaroussky (countertenor), Iveta Apkalna (organ); Ensemble Praetorius; NDR Choir; Bavarian Radio Choir; NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra/ Thomas Hengelbrock
C major DVD: 741408; Blu-ray: 741504 165 mins (2 discs)
In January this year, after a seven-year delay on construction and an overspend of half a billion euros, the new Elbphilharmonie building in Hamburg finally hosted its opening concert. The story of that evening is told in this commemorative video.For an overview, it’s best to start with the hour-long bonus documentary
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
on the hall’s 17-year journey from conception to completion. Although detailed analysis of the contractual wrangling which dogged the ‘Elphi’ project is avoided, the film usefully illustrates the architectural challenges involved in making a world-class concert venue from a superannuated, pier-end warehouse on the Elbe river. The finished product, its glassy, wave-form outline glistening against the Hamburg skyline, is an undeniably striking creation. There was boldness, too, at the opening concert, which flipped dramatically across six centuries of musical history, from pieces with a single performer to those requiring the full NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, the Elphi’s resident ensemble. There are plenty of musical highlights – oboist Kalev Kuljus’s exquisite ‘Pan’, from Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid; a lithe, light-textured finale from Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony; and the rumbling, inflammable Photopsosis of Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, on wavery form, sings two gorgeous Renaissance arias, and Bryn Terfel anchors the choral movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The recorded sound is dry in places, which may not reflect the situation in the hall itself. All told, this video is a tantalising advertisement for the new venue, and puts it high on my bucket list of places to visit. Terry Blain PERFORMANCE ★★★★ PICTURE AND SOUND ★★★★
Jordi Savall’s usual recipe of releasing a book to go with his CDs is here expanded by the addition of a DVD of the entire concert on which the CDs are based. And that book, in which everything is translated into eight languages, is hefty. The music spans four and a half centuries, but the book’s panorama presents the history of global slavery through five millennia, as described by academic essays plus panoramic surveys of this perennial and ubiquitous abuse. It’s interesting to read of the European travellers enslaved in Arab countries in the 16th century, and also to learn of the five-year enslavement into which Miguel de Cervantes accidentally stumbled. But Savall’s musical business is with slavery in sub-Saharan Africa, Portugal, Spain and Latin America, and this concert is an expertly-woven tissue of words and music drawn from those places, the songs and dances being laced with eye-witness accounts (delivered in French). It’s refreshing to hear music from Mali outside its usual African context: here it sits very comfortably beside its deracinated counterparts from the New World. Savall’s brew is so rich that singling out individual performances is almost invidious, but tracks I love include songs from Brazil and Mexico sung by Maria Juliana Linhares and Ada Coronel, choral numbers by singers from the Capella Reial, and instrumental improvisations from Mali; everything performed by the Tembembe Ensamble Continuo has a genuineness which goes straight to the heart, and their lyrics have a disarming simplicity and directness. But, as always with Savall’s albums, the supplementary material says nothing about the music. Rather than bombarding us with statistical and political information irrelevant to this exercise, Savall should have included an essay on these musical forms, some of which
are unlike anything most listeners will have encountered. Does Savall think musicology would frighten his listeners? Michael Church PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★
Secret History Sacred music by Josquin, Victoria, Heringman, Mouton and anon John Potter, Anna Maria Friman, Ariel Abramovich (voices), Jacob Heringman, Lee Santana (vihuelas), Hille Perl (viola da gamba) ECM 481 1463 62:15 mins
The ‘secret’ that John Potter alludes to here is the fact that, although the sacred works and songs of the Renaissance received ‘official’ performances in courts and churches by vocal ensembles, they were also consumed in less formal settings in different arrangements. His method is to team up with the soprano Ariel Abramovich, and with players of the lute and vihuela (a kind of early guitar), to demonstrate that such reduced performances are viable. He takes as his model the arrangements found in publications such as Enriquez de Valderrábano’s 1547 collection Silva de Sirenas, where some of these works appear. His approach is varied. In Mouton’s Nesciens Mater only the top two parts are sung, while in the Benedictus of the Missa Surge Propera it’s the top and bottom lines. In the Gloria of the Mass and elsewhere Potter artfully switches between parts as he goes along so as to produce an appealing continuous vocal line. The instrumentalists nicely demonstrate that some pieces (O Magnum Mysterium) can be effectively portrayed without voices. Another interesting aspect (not mentioned in the liner notes) is that the notation used by the instrumentalists shows exactly where the fingers should be placed on the frets, and thus reduces the uncertainty about which sharps and flats were added in performance. Hence the relatively plain harmonies of this instrumental version of ‘Josquin’s’ Absalon fili mi (it is probably by Pierre de la Rue) provide an intriguing contrast with the exotic tonal excursions frequently heard in vocal performances. Anthony Pryer PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
R E LE
CORINNE MORRIS SCOT T I S H C H A MB E R O RC H EST R A
In a career shaped by extraordinary talent and remarkable determination Chrysalis is an inspirational concerto debut.
OUT NOW ON NONESUCH RECORDS LOUIS ANDRIESSEN THEATRE OF THE WORLD This nine-scene multimedia stage work was recorded live during the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s world premiere performances with conductor Reinbert de Leeuw. ‘There are no limits to where Andriessen’s imagination will take him. A wild mix of opera, jazz, modernism and minimalism, all captured vividly in this live recording.’ – Financial Times ++++ ‘An exemplary recording, superb performances.’ – Guardian ++++ ‘An extraordinary epic. What’s clear from this brilliant recording, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in razorsharp form under Reinbert de Leeuw, is that Andriessen has written a magniﬁcent score.’ – The Times ++++
RICHARD GOODE BEETHOVEN: THE COMPLETE SONATAS
‘The French portion of Morris’s soul soars in her graciously idiomatic playing.’ — VOI X DE S A RT S
‘Morris drew every ounce of expression from the slow movement.’ — THE STRAD
Originally released in 1993 and nominated for a Grammy Award, this legendary ten-CD box set is now available once again on compact disc, and at a new, lower price, complete with the original libretto by musicologist Michael Steinberg. ‘An outstanding set. It is hard to think of any other artist at once technically, temperamentally and intellectually as suited to the challenges of these sonatas.’ – New York Times ‘Goode’s accounts of the piano sonatas in concert and on disc are performances to which one can return without fear of ﬁnding them stale. Superb.’ – Guardian ‘One of the ﬁnest interpretations ever put on record.’ – Gramophone
All albums available in Studio Master from www.linnrecords.com Distributed in the UK by RSK Entertainment www.rskentertainment.co.uk Distributed in North America by Naxos of America www.naxos.com
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Chamber CPE Bach
Rachel Podger on fire with fantastic Baroque sonatas Paul Riley hails the violinist’s improvisatory playing of inventive music by Vivaldi and friends
Violin Sonatas in D, Wq71 & D minor, Wq72; Sonata for harpsichord obbligato and flute, Wq73; Sinfonia in D, Wq74; Sonata in B minor, Wq76; Sonata in B flat; Arioso con variazioni, Wq79; Sonata in C minor; Trio Sonata for flute, violin and continuo, Wq151 Rie Kimura (violin), Pieter Jan Belder (harpsichord, fortepiano) Resonus RES10192 131:83 mins (2 discs)
Worthy of the Red Priest: Rachel Podger is joined by imaginative colleagues
Pisendel, all, we must imagine (according to an arch liner note), joining forces with Vivaldi in the heavenly green room to raise a glass or three on Corelli’s birthday. Gravitas is never in short supply. Tartini lends the most modern accent; Pisendel an injection of Northern rigour; but the palm goes to Veracini’s Rachel Podger (violin); Brecon Baroque Op. 2 No. 12. His Violin Sonata in G minor wraps a Channel Classics CCS SA 39217 (hybrid CD/SACD) 69:08 mins Passagallo (thoughtfully paced, its contrasts roundly savoured), and a Ciaccona that Rachel Podger’s new disc opens forswears initial foreboding to turn with an incomparably fluid violin Rachel Podger’s more febrile by the minute, around fantasy, the flurry of agitated playing is intoxicated a central Capriccio, a thing of sharp continuo… what could it be? Some and intoxicating edges, incisively etched. unfamiliar masterpiece of the stylus Podger, inevitably, is the star, but phantasticus perhaps? It’s only when ultimately the disc’s compulsive spell is down to the the cello initiates a purposeful break in the clouds triumph of ensemble chemistry. Even the humblest that the Red Priest makes himself known. Podger of cello lines is elevated beyond functionality into was ever the free spirit, and her playing is intoxicated something expressive and integral to the overall and intoxicating in equal measure, buoyed up by the effect. Bewitching. wonderful improvisatory camaraderie of a continuo battery including Daniele Caminiti’s palettePERFORMANCE ★★★★★ enhancing lute and guitar. Vivaldi has the first word RECORDING ★★★★★ – and the last thanks to an encore: the Adagio from Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of his C minor Solo Sonata composed for Pisendel. this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine The Grandissima Gravita of the title unites four website at www.classical-music.com brooding minor key sonatas by Tartini, Veracini and
THERESA PEWAL, GETTY, ESPEN MORTENSEN
Pisendel: Violin Sonata in C; Tartini: Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 2 No. 5; Veracini: Violin Sonata in G minor, Op. 2 No. 5; Sonata accademica in D minor, Op. 2 No. 12; Vivaldi: Violin Sonata in A, Op. 2 No. 2 (RV 31)
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
This pair of discs embraces the complete output for keyboard and violin by CPE Bach – infinitely varied works offering a snapshot of his entire career. Graceful melodies, breezy textures and dancing rhythms characterise the early sonatas, Wq 71-73: originating from his student years in Leipzig, they were revised in 1746 to reflect the courtly, style galant favoured by Bach’s music-loving patron, Frederick the Great. The later works, by contrast, plunge the listener into a proto-Romantic sound-world: impetuous and turbulent, with their nervous arpeggios, unsettling dynamic shifts, dissonances and chromaticisms. Despite the frequent dialogue between the two players, the keyboard gets top billing and tends to steal the spotlight thanks both to Bach’s brilliant and idiomatic writing (he was, after all, court harpsichordist) and to Pieter-Jan Belder’s sparkling accounts. Belder plays a fine copy of a 1730 Blanchet harpsichord for the sonatas, while his choice for the more forward-looking, Sturm und Drang inspired Fantasia and Arioso is a warm-toned copy of a 1795 Walter fortepiano. On both instruments, he etches Bach’s lines with delicate precision; rhythms are buoyant, phrases articulate. Violinist Rie Kimura’s playing is supple and stylish, though the sound (slightly favoured in the recorded balance) is a little edgy in the upper reaches. Her felicitous manner is best suited to the more galant works, where the duo converse and banter with terrific brio. Particularly lovely is their lyrical and wistful rendition of the D major Sonata – a work resonant with echoes of papa Bach
Chamber Reviews – but, throughout, their response to the younger Bach’s rhetoric is keenly felt. Kate Bolton-Porciatti PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Dvořák String Quintet No. 3; String Quartet No. 14 Lawrence Power (viola); Takács Quartet Hyperion CDA68142 64:59 mins
Dvořák wrote his E flat major String Quintet just after he had completed the more celebrated American Quartet in the summer of 1893, while enjoying an extended break from his duties in New York in the small town of Spillville, a Czech-speaking community in Iowa. The Quintet has many of the Quartet’s most appealing qualities: open-hearted pentatonic melody, infectious rhythmic impetus and clarity of form. The Takács Quartet’s interpretation in the first movement is at times a little soulful, a not inappropriate approach since Dvořák’s muse in America was often inclined toward melancholy. Their attention to detail produces constantly arresting textures and the recorded balance allows the all-important viola lines full prominence, although at times I could have done with slightly more of the first violin. They provide fullthroated tone in a moving account of the Larghetto and both scherzo and finale are captivating in this splendid and above all superbly considered performance. Their performance of Dvořák’s last string quartet (it was completed days after the G major Quartet designated as such) is unfailingly
delightful. They certainly have the measure of impassioned lyricism tinged with slight neurotic quirks in the outer movements. The inner movements are not quite so assured. Their playing of the scherzo has the right amount of energy, but it lacks a certain passion and the slow movement, one of Dvořák’s most harmonically experimental, could have been more searching. That said, theirs is a fine performance, if not quite on the level of the Quintet. Jan Smaczny PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
‘An ensemble to watch’: the Engegård Quartet play Mozart with warmth
Fauré • Franck Fauré: Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Franck: Violin Sonata in A Tedi Papavrami (violin), Nelson Goerner (piano) Alpha Classics ALPHA 271 74:58 mins
Pianist Nelson Goerner’s opening statement in Fauré’s First Sonata is passionate, free and probing, and I was expecting violinist Tedi Papavrami to follow suit, but he is a little more discreet and gentle in tone. This is emphasised by the recording, which favours the piano in dynamic and in its position in the sound image. One’s ears adjust after a while, and what’s then clear is that this is a performance of subtlety and confidence, with Papavrami modulating his tone with effortless elegance in the Andante, lithe in the athletics of the Allegro vivo, and mercurial in the sudden mood changes in the finale. The Second Sonata is, characteristically for late Fauré, a much more hermetic work: the sweeping melodies are still there,
but the textures are often barer, and the harmonies more quirky and less predictable. The Andante spins a long, questing line, and finds both players in complete agreement, while the more energetic outer movements surge with an emotional logic. There’s technical aplomb throughout. This holds in the Franck, where the recording balance is truer, not only in the restrained first movement – Franck clearly paying homage to Fauré – but also in the turbulent Allegro in which the opening theme is a little too aggressive, but the quieter sections are beautifully judged. The Recitativo keeps up a high voltage throughout, and some of this is transferred to the finale, where the opening canon could be more relaxed to give contrast. An impressive, well-planned CD nevertheless. Martin Cotton PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Giusseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
String Quartets (Prussian): No. 21 in D, K575; No. 22 in B flat, K589; No. 23 in F, K590
Tartini (see Chamber Choice) was one of the most remarkable figures of 18th-century music. Born in Pirano in Istria, he studied with equal lack of success for the church, law and armaments before being forced to flee from Padua in 1710, violently denounced by thee Archbishop who objected to his niece becoming Tartini’s wife. Taking refuge in a monastery in Assisi, Tartini studied composition and acoustics, invented a new type of violin bow w and gave violin recitals. The Archbishop of Padua is said to have pardoned Tartini when he became awarre of his musicianship. In 1728 Tartini founded a school of violin playing in Padua and taught until 1768.
Engegård Quartet LAWO LWC 1123 67:35 mins
Mozart’s last three quartets – that ‘troublesome work’, as he once complained to a friend f – were composed in tthe hope of receiving fiinancial compensation
from the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II. The king was a keen amateur cellist, and in order to give his instrument greater melodic independence than normal in a string quartet Mozart found himself having to devise a new style of writing in which all four players discoursed in the manner of an operatic ensemble. The Norwegian Engegård Quartet responds well to the warmth and melodic ardour of these pieces. These aren’t, perhaps, the most polished performances you’re ever likely to hear – there are some slight lapses of intonation in the higher reaches of the first violin part, and there’s a touch of harshness to the recorded sound – but they’re likeable enough, with finely-judged expressive freedom in the slow movements, and an imaginative approach to providing subtle variation in repeats. There’s a hint of impatience about the minuets, particularly in the last quartet; and at the mid-point of the finale in the middle work of the group the tempo suddenly lurches forward – perhaps the result of an edit between different takes. One small point: in the slow movement of K589 the cellist and first violinist ought to have come to an agreement about how to play the ornament in the opening melody (the cellist seems to me to have got it right). But despite any such niggles, these are enjoyable performances, and this is clearly an ensemble to watch. Misha Donat PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★ BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Chamber Reviews Quintet (2012/13) offers a complex response to Schubert’s String Quintet in C. Rihm’s piece first conjures something of the exquisite, otherworldly repose of Schubert’s slow movement, before the quintet crackles and storms with microtonal clusters and sfffz pizzicatos. The Minguet Quartet (joined by Jens Peter Maintz) deliver fine performances, finding the precision, lyricism and fiery abandon demanded by Rihm’s endlessly inventive scores. Kate Wakeling PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Schoenberg soprano: Malin Hartelius joins the Gringolts Quartet
Malin Hartelius (soprano); Gringolts Quartet BIS BIS-2267 (hybrid CD/SACD) 64:59 mins
Ilya Gringolts (violin), Peter Laul (piano)
Schoenberg’s Quartet No. 2 (1907-08) is a curious hybrid: part traditional structure, part song cycle, part covert tone poem reflecting the turmoil of his private life at the time, and veering restlessly between tonality, extreme chromaticism and atonality with the intensity of a spiritual quest. By comparison, the clear forms and crisp thematic give and take of Quartet No. 4, composed in America in 1936, sound almost Classical – Haydnesque even – except that the lines and harmonies of its four movements are strictly derived from the 12-note method, continually contradicting what the ear might expect from Classical tonality. The players of the nine-year old Gringolts Quartet – Zurichbased, but international in personnel – make much of the contrast. The Second Quartet’s yearning first movement and the desperate scutterings of its scherzo are conveyed in febrile, hyper-Romantic style. They give eloquent accompaniment in the third movement to the blanched, mezzo-ish tones of the Austrian soprano Malin Hartelius delivering lines of Stefan George, and finely realise Schoenberg’s breakthrough to a strange new floating world of expression in the finale to the famous words, ‘I feel the air of another planet’. Yet the Gringolts’s precision and finesse in the Fourth Quartet also remind one how light-textured
BIS BIS-2245 (hybrid CD/SACD) 60:48 mins
String Quartets Nos 2 & 4
String Quintets Nos 10 & 22 Elan Quintet Naxos 8.573689 65:48 mins
In the early 19th century neither England nor France was particularly renowned for its great composers. Yet Anglo-French George Onslow’s music is finally re-establishing its place in both catalogue and concert hall. He was, Schumann admiringly commented, among the heirs to the chamber music style of Mozart and Haydn – and his music’s atmosphere also seems a refined sibling to Schubert and Weber, oozing geniality and charm. Essentially an amateur composer (he was of the nobility) he wrote most of his numerous string quintets for like-minded amateur players: the format could be the same as Schubert’s string quintet with two cellos or, as in this recording, one cello and bass. Receiving their world premiere recordings, the F minor String Quintet No. 10 of 1827 and the E flat major Quintet No. 22 of 1836 are lucky to have the Elan Quintet at their service. Their playing evokes the spirited conversation, lightness of touch and soulful hinted darkness in the Schubertian, earlyRomantic E flat Quintet, as well as the vivid interchanges of the more dramatic and Beethovenian-at-atangent F minor. The Elan players’
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
sympathy for the music smiles out of every bar. Jessica Duchen PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Rihm Geste zu Vedova; String Quartet in G; String Quartet No. 1; Epilogue for String Quartet Jens Peter Maintz (cello); Minguet Quartet Wergo WER 7346 2 47:04 mins
Wolfgang Rihm is a musical phenomenon: a composer of ceaseless invention and total integrity, completing a dizzying number of works across a dizzying range of styles. This fine disc traces something of the composer’s creative journey, placing a pair of early quartets alongside two mesmeric recent works. The earlier scores – Rihm’s String Quartet in G (1966) and the String Quartet 1968 – are tightly-wrought and agile, their angular poise offset by a glorious ‘Chaconne’ in the finale of the latter work, marked ‘expansive, free beat, expressive’ and performed here with sonorous beauty. The two later compositions reveal the depth of the mature Rihm’s imagination and expression. Sparked by the work of modern Italian painter Emilio Vedova, Geste zu Vedova (2015) is an arresting blend of the meditative and the percussive, while Epilogue for String
Stravinsky Violin music, Vol. 1: Suite; Duo concertant; Pastorale; The Firebird – Prélude et Ronde des princesses, Berceuse, Scherzo; Mavra – Chanson Russe; Petrushka – Danse Russe; Le rossignol – Airs du rossignol, Marche chinoise
and playful Schoenberg could be – though there is no lack of heft in the rhapsodic unisons of the slow movement, which he seems to have regarded as demonstrations of the extended melodies that could also be drawn from 12-tonery. The recordings are focused and vibrant. Bayan Northcott PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
This first volume of a new series of Stravinsky’s solo violin music proves at once extremely enjoyable – each re-listening only heightens my pleasure in the programme and all the performances – and extremely valuable in its illumination of an important subsidiary aspect of the composer’s artistic outlook. Prior to the 1930s Stravinsky tended to view the instrument and its virtuosos with disfavour. Then in 1930 he met the young Polish soloist Samuel Dushkin, and from that first encounter sprang a collaboration that both modified the disapproval and resulted in significant additions to the Stravinsky oeuvre. For their violin-piano recitals, Stravinsky extracted a series of morceaux from earlier large-scale works, alongside a five-movement violin-piano suite entitled Duo concertant (1932). That and the even more substantial 1931 Violin Concerto (for Dushkin too) elucidate a ‘persona’ for the solo violin – by turns percussively rhythmic, jazzily playful, and calmly lyrical – in which Stravinsky’s neoclassicism achieved wonderfully fresh new expression. Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul steer clear of the coolly unemphatic style evident in Dushkin-Stravinsky’s celebrated 1930s recordings of these pieces, and find in each a poise and simplicity of tone and manner that strike one as instinctively right.
Chamber Reviews Where needed the virtuosity is unfailing, but there too the right balance is unfailingly struck. I shan’t be banishing from my collection those Dushkin-Stravinsky versions, nor those of Itzhak Perlman, Gringolts’s mentor, not to mention the even more serenely poised Leonidas Kavakos-Peter Nagy Duo concertant. Overall, though, this disc is a winner. Max Loppert PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
Concerto: Works for one & two harpsichords Concertos by JS Bach, WF Bach, CH or JG Graun Guillermo Brachetta, Menno van Delft (harpsichord) Resonus RES 10189 56:42 mins
This disc offers a rewarding conspectus of concerto writing for solo keyboard and keyboards in mid-18th century Germany. Best known is JS Bach’s Italian Concerto, first published in 1735 and widely admired and circulated almost
ever since. Johann Adolph Scheibe praised it to the skies four years later remarking that it deserved emulation by all great German composers and would be imitated in vain by foreigners. Guillermo Brachetta performs it with elegance and sophistication, allowing the continuous melody of its centrally placed Andante to sing out above the recurring bass patterns. Brachetta is joined by Menno van Delft in Bach’s probably earlier version for two solo harpsichords of the Concerto in C, BWV 1061. The work is musically complete without the additional string parts which anyway Bach omitted from the middle movement. The first movement and the invigorating concluding Fuga are splendidly supple, clearly articulated and robust while in the intervening slow movement the artists realise its reflective character. The Concertos by Bach’s eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann, and by Carl Heinrich or Johann Gottlieb Graun – the authorship of their instrumental music is often indeterminate – strike an altogether
more forward-looking, early Classical note. Both are attractive, warmly expressive pieces, especially perhaps the Graun and their galant gestures are affectionately enlivened by Brachetta’s communicative musicianship. The booklet includes an informative essay by Nigel Simeone. Nicholas Anderson PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
The Clarinotts Works by Druschetzy, Denisov, Mozart, Ploy, Prinz & J Strauss II The Clarinotts Gramola 98874 69:27 mins
The Clarinotts are the two Ottensamer brothers, principal clarinettists of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, and their father Ernst, another Vienna Philharmonic principal, who died in July. With Ernst sometimes switching to the tenor-register basset horn, they play a suite of neatly arranged numbers from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a Trio
by the Romantic composer Joseph Friedrich Hummel in the style of his earlier namesake, and a set of eight short, crisp movements by the prolific Georg Druschetzky. There’s also an imaginative Scherzo fantastique by the late Vienna Philharmonic clarinettist Alfred Prinz, and Denisov’s Two Pieces for Three Instruments, which meld uniform sonorities into cluster chords and thickened lines, a ragtime-tinged vignette by one Henry Ploy and a suite arranged from Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. It’s all fairly inconsequential stuff, but played with impeccable technical mastery, albeit in generally bleached tones, favouring the upper partials, which pall in an antiseptic acoustic. The disc would make a good gift to a young clarinettist as model for technique and encouragement to explore the pleasures of ensemble playing. And it’s an appropriate memorial to Ernst Ottensamer, founder of an impressive ‘royal family of the clarinet’. Anthony Burton PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★
Hänssler NEW Johann Adolf Hasse I Pietro Metastasio Attilio Regolo Opera in three acts Axel Köhler · Markus Schäfer Martina Borst · Sibylla Rubens Carmen Fuggiss · Michael Volle Randall Wong Cappella Sagittariana, Dresden Frieder Bernius 3 CD PH07035
SEEDS OF TIME MEDITATIONS FOR PIANO
Anton Bruckner – The Collection Symphonies 00 – 9, Works for Piano, String Quartet, String Quintet, Mass in C major, Mass in F minor, Mass in E minor, Te Deum, Latin Motets, Organ Works, Piano Works, Motets, Missa solemnis, Psalm 112, Psalm 146, Psalm 150, Requiem Fine Arts Quartet · Fritz Wunderlich Christiane Oelze · Pamela Coburn Matthias Goerne · Michael Schade Andreas Schmidt · Dresdner Kreuzchor Philharmonischer Chor München Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks · Deutsches SymphonieOrchester Berlin · Staatskapelle Dresden Gächinger Kantorei · Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR Bach-Collegium Stuttgart · Philharmonie Festiva · Bamberger Symphoniker Herbert von Karajan · Christian Thielemann Bernard Haitink · Günter Wand Klaus Tennstedt · Kurt Sanderling Helmuth Rilling · Gerd Schaller 23 CD PH16059
10 CD Sviatoslav Richter plays Schubert Live in Moscow, 1949 - 1963 Special guests: Benjamin Britten · Nina Dorliac 10 CD PH17005 also available: Sviatoslav Richter plays Beethoven Mstislav Rostropovich USSR Symphony Orchestra Moscow Philharmonic Kurt Sanderling · Kirill Kondrashin 12 CD PH16030
YEVGENY MRAVINSKY Edition Vol. III Tchaikovsky, Bach, Wagner, Scriabin, Kalinnikov, Bruckner, Shostakovich Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra 6 CD PH17019
“I love the space and deceptive simplicity” Verity Sharp, Radio 3 The new album of haunting piano music by Mark Darvill-Evans, played by rising star Siwan Rhys
SEEDS OF TIME
Available from Prima Facie Records PFCD056
also available: PH15000, PH16026
MEDITATIONS FOR PIANO C O M P O S E D B Y M A R K D A R V I L L - E VA N S P L AY E D B Y S I WA N R H Y S
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Instrumental JS Bach
Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV 1001-1006
Kit Armstrong’s subtle new Goldbergs album
Christian Tetzlaff (violin) Ondine ODE 1299-2D 130.5 mins (2 discs)
The polymath pianist puts Bach’s warhorse into historical context – with great results, writes Kate Bolton-Porciatti
Kit and caboodle: American pianist Kit Armstrong
modern piano but, even in the spacious acoustic of the Concertgebouw, lines are cleanly etched, never blurred with the sustaining pedal. Though these pieces are far from mere curtain raisers, the main focus of the programme is JS Bach’s Kit Armstrong (piano) Goldberg Variations, which Armstrong reads with C Major DVD: 741608; Blu-ray: 741704 126 mins assurance, refinement and a maturity beyond his years. His sound is pearly, highlighting the work’s American-born Wunderkind Kit Armstrong – lyricism, and tempos are beautifully mathematician, linguist, juggler, origamist, composer, pianist, to His sound is pearly, judged for the hall’s ample space – never too fast, nor too showy. name but a few of his talents – is highlighting the Here, too, the young pianist relishes without doubt one of the most Goldbergs’ lyricism syncopations and dancing rhythms, prodigiously gifted polymaths picking out playful details and of our day. This thoughtfully figurations with impish delight. Above all, though, planned recital, given last year, before a rapt and he builds the music’s architecture with a profoundly silent audience at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, sets Bach’s Goldbergs in the context of the keyboard school logical understanding of its rational, mathematical structure. The DVD production is in good taste, that preceded it. Armstrong reveals a subtle web of thankfully lacking video gimmickry. connections between Bach, the Dutch organist Jan Sweelinck and the English Virginalists John Bull and PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ William Byrd. He takes a concert pianist’s approach RECORDING ★★★★ to the Sweelinck, revelling in his virtuosic writing Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of and giving the rhythms an almost jazzy swing. In the this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine two English works, he shapes and tapers phrases with website at www.classical-music.com all the expressive devices and dynamic shades of the
Goldberg Variations; plus Bull: Walsingham; Byrd: Hughe Ashton’s Ground; Sweelinck: Mein junges Leben hat ein End – variations; Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott (DVD)
This is Christian Tetzlaff’s third recording of JS Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas: the first dates back to the mid 1990s; the second to 2007. With greater maturity comes greater introspection, and these thoughtfully nuanced new accounts take a quasi-metaphysical journey through some of Bach’s most challenging – yet rewarding – works, plumbing their spiritual and intellectual deaths. One also senses greater freedom and pliancy here, no doubt due to his long familiarity with the music. Tetzlaff spans the gamut of technique and expression, from the fiery virtuosity of the G minor Sonata’s Presto to the meditative Sarabande of the D minor Partita, uttered here as a quiet interior monologue. He sees the A minor Sonata as a Passion composition – vocally inspired – and hence the violin sings, weeps and sighs. Then again, Tetzlaff describes the titanic D minor Chaconne as a ‘funerary lament’ – perhaps an epitaph for Bach’s recently deceased wife, Maria Barbara – and certainly this starkly austere account reaches the nadir of human grief. The German violinist shows a keen understanding of Bach’s semantics, thanks to his detailed knowledge of the 1720 manuscript copy. Lines are lucidly shaped and cadenced, and the implied counterpoint is so articulately voiced as to create dialogues and conversations, flitting from witty repartee to gritty debate. His tonal palette is richly chromatic, and when the violin sound turns from the earthly to the ethereal, the effect is almost that of a philosophical discourse between body and soul. Vibrato is expressively used but never feels intrusive. A few of his tempos are a shade frenetic, and, throughout, one senses rather more of the cerebral than the intuitive; but these are minor caveats to what are, by any standards, impressive accounts. Kate Bolton-Porciatti PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★ BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Instrumental Reviews Bernstein Complete solo works for piano: Anniversaries; Touches; Piano Sonata; Non troppo presto; Music for the Dance, No. 2; Four Sabras; El Salón México; Bridal Suite – In 2 Parts with 3 Encores Andrew Cooperstock (piano) Bridge 9485A/B 104.22 mins (2 discs)
‘To my first love – the keyboard’: so reads Leonard Bernstein’s dedication to Touches (1980), his last substantial piano piece. The passion may have been real enough, though in a hectic life and career the composer mostly used the object of his affection for the musical equivalents of notebook jottings. As a wayward composition pupil of Walter Piston at Harvard, he managed a serious – if arid – 16-minute sonata, forcefully punched out here by Andrew Cooperstock. The first disc contains the 29 mostly thintextured miniatures Bernstein called Anniversaries, written over the decades to significant friends and family, littered with material fruitfully recycled in bigger works. Copland’s greeting card, one of the earliest, echoes the master’s own mode of affecting simplicity. Others bring different delights, though Cooperstock’s sure touch cannot transform the collection into the modern equivalents of Chopin and Debussy’s preludes suggested in the booklet note. The Sonata of 1938 and the bareboned abstractions of Touches give the second disc greater ballast. Hot rhythms fly in the ingenious and taxing transcription of Copland’s El Salón México. The 1960 Bridal
Suite, a wedding gift for his friends and colleagues Phyllis Newman and Adolph Green, is a miniature triumph of whimsical dexterity. Cooperstone’s crisp dispatch is pleasurable too, even though the recording at times brings him close to hammering. But the big fact remains: for the real meat from Bernstein, the music that lasts, listeners need to look elsewhere, mostly to his work for the stage. Geoff Brown PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★
Brahms Piano Sonata No. 3; Intermezzo in A flat, Op. 76 No. 3; Intermezzo in B flat, Op. 76 No. 4; Capriccio in D minor, Op. 116 No. 1; Intermezzo in E, Op. 116 No. 4; Intermezzo in B flat minor, Op. 117 No. 2; Intermezzo in A, Op. 118 No. 2; Ballade in G minor, Op. 118 No. 3; Klavierstücke, Op. 119; Waltz, Op. 39 No. 15 Nelson Freire (piano) Decca 483 2154 73.14 mins
Fifty years after he made his sensational recording debut with the F minor Piano Sonata, Nelson Freire has returned to this monumental work, making it the centrepiece of a thoroughly engrossing recital. Since his earlier recording is currently unavailable, it is impossible to glean to what extent his interpretation of the Sonata might have changed over this long period of time. All one can say is that Freire still projects the work’s youthful impetuosity, but manages at the same time to bring structural cogency to music that
Anton Reicha (1770-1836) Friend of Beethoven, teacher of Liszt, Berlioz and Franck, Anton Reicha was also a theorist and prolific composer – though his music is only really recently being explored in depth. Born in Prague, Reicha ran away at the age of ten and grew up with his musical uncle, ending up in Bonn. There, he played violin in the Hofkapelle Orchestra, alongside Beethoven on viola. After a period in Vienna, during which he wrote numerous large-scale educational piano works, he moved to Paris and became a professor at the Conservatoire. Much of his music has never been performed or published.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Welcome return: pianist Nelson Freire revisits Brahms
embraces a much greater degree of fantasy than many of Brahms’s later extended works. Above all, Freire’s phenomenal mastery of keyboard sonority ensures that the quasi-orchestral textures in the outer movements and Scherzo never sound hard edged. At the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum, the funereal tread of the fourth movement Intermezzo is spellbinding, as is the skilful way in which Freire negotiates the transition from this ghostly mood to the Finale, gradually notching up the intensity from the somewhat halting opening to the fiery and defiant closing pages. The rest of the recording is made up of an imaginatively conceived overview of Brahms’s piano output that is varied in mood and tonality, but nonetheless moves chronologically from middle period works to the later Intermezzos, and is followed by the famous A flat major Waltz performed here with artful simplicity. Some might regret Freire’s decision to present only selected pieces from these sets, with only the Klavierstücke, Op. 119 performed in its entirety. But with playing that is in turns ethereal (Op. 119/1), impassioned (Op. 116/1), tender (Op. 118/2) and grandiose (Op. 119/4), this issue is of little consequence. Erik Levi PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Chopin Polonaise No. 7 (Polonaisefantaisie); Nocturne No. 3, Op. 9/3, Nocturne No. 5, Op. 15/2; Impromptu No. 3, Op. 51; Waltz No. 10, Op. 69/2; Waltz No. 5, Op. 42; Scherzo No. 4, Op. 54; Preludes Nos 14 and 15, Op. 28; Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 Janina Fialkowska (piano) ATMA Classique ACD2 2728 60.12 mins
Many pianists would save Chopin’s PolonaiseFantaisie for the end of a recital, but Janina Fialkowska bravely plunges right in. Maybe she is intent on making a particular statement, or maybe merely recalling her previous two Chopin recitals on the same Canadian label, both of which open with one of the composer’s Polonaises. But this piece, a late work, represents one of Chopin’s greatest interpretative challenges. The introduction is almost ‘symphonic’ – Liszt and even Wagner come to mind in the work’s rhapsodic freedom – yet as the title implies it is underpinned by a great Polish dance, and this is the work in which the exiled Chopin most of all seems to be bidding farewell to his country. Fialkowska’s performance, a little more polonaise than fantasy, is not the most successful part of her new recording.
Instrumental Reviews But much else here gives great pleasure. No composer understood the piano better than Chopin, and no one can reasonably ever tire of listening to his works, even when a programme such as this seems a little haphazard in its combinations (repertoire choices presumably fitting around her previous releases). Many of Chopin’s major genres are represented here, but Fialkowska’s fine playing in particular illuminates the poetic Impromptu in G flat, and the Waltz in A flat, Op. 42, where the music whirls with deliciously heady humour. John Allison PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Reicha Complete piano music, Vol. 2: Fugues, Op. 81; Etude de piano ou 57 Variations sur un même thème suivies d’un Rondeau Henrik Lowenmark (piano) Toccata Classics TOCC 0017 78.06 mins
The pianistic oeuvre of Anton Reicha (see ‘Background to’, left) is, for many people, undiscovered country, largely because it was overshadowed by Beethoven’s work. The two men were not only born in the same year, but played side by side – Reicha on the violin, Beethoven on the viola – in the Bonn court orchestra when they were 15; they remained friends in adulthood, with Reicha paying tribute to Beethoven’s music through his own compositions. The fugues with which Henrik Löwenmark begins his second volume of Reicha recordings show the influence of Bach and Handel, but possess what Löwenmark describes as a more expressive language; Löwenmark delivers them with a ringing clarity. The rest of this CD consists of 57 variations on a theme from an opera by Grétry. This work reflects an ambition comparable to Beethoven’s with the Diabellis, and it employs a similar musical vocabulary. But here the gulf between talent and genius is cruelly exposed: time and again one catches oneself wishing that this or that variation had been worked up by Beethoven, rather than by his well-meaning friend. Michael Church PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★★
Reicha Harmonie; Grande Sonate; Capriccio, Sonata on a Theme of Mozart; Fantaisie sur un seul accord; Etude Ivan Ilić (piano) Chandos CHAN 10950 66.47 mins
Ivan Ilić’s Reicha Rediscovered is infinitely more satisfying than the other Reicha release reviewed here (above), partly because of the colour and drama infused into the music, and partly because Ilić has much more interesting things to play. All the pieces on this disc (and Lowenmark’s) are recorded for the first time. Subtitled ‘a contribution to the intellectual culture of the composer’, Reicha’s 24 Practische Beispiele were his application of the theoretical rules he himself had laid down, and Ilić plays three of them. The section entitled ‘Harmony’ consists of fantasias – in varied tempos and characters – strongly reminiscent of CPE Bach in their surprising modulations and shifts in mood. Capriccio is highly capricious, and Fantaisie sur un seul accord is simply that: it’s a tribute both to Reicha and to Ilić that this extraordinary exercise in harmonic self-denial is anything but boring. Grande sonate is an imposing piece of virtuosity that roams through remote keys, and its spacious Adagio creates a very Beethovenian effect; its final Allegro is rigorously economical, exploring each of its ideas to the limit. The variations on Mozart’s ‘March of the priests’ from Die Zauberflöte become another measure of Reicha’s invention, while the final Etude tests his powers of expressiveness by dwelling on one simple rhythmic idea. All these pieces deserve to be incorporated into today’s recital repertoire. Michael Church PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
Scarlatti Sonatas (selection) Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord) Mirare MIR 326 78 mins
In the fifth volume of his survey of Scarlatti’s harpsichord sonatas Pierre Hantaï demonstrates, as before, his intuitive understanding of
Instrumental Reviews all those subtle ingredients that make this music compelling and to my ears utterly irresistible. As a harpsichordist and Scarlatti biographer, the late Ralph Kirkpatrick remarked that no one Sonata should be regarded as typical. The 16 pieces on this disc amply endorse his point – while at the same time impressing upon us a style that is always distinctive. Though the component parts of that style are immensely diverse, overall the music is strongly characterised by syncopation, dissonance, chromaticism, cascading arpeggios, imitative passages and percussive effects. Sometimes, as in the E flat Sonata, K253 the tension is thrilling, providing expressive contrast with pieces like the poetic and reflective B minor Sonata, K87 which brings to mind Rameau’s La Villageoise. While such pieces are in a minority, fighting their corner against a profusion of wonderful extravagances and exoticisms, they are perhaps those that more persistently haunt the memory. No detail is lost and no expressive nuance overlooked in Hantaï’s vital and luminous playing. The disc is further enhanced by Mirare’s outstanding recorded sound. Nicholas Anderson PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
Schumann Carnaval; Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Theme and Variations in E flat ‘Geistervariationen’ Juan Carlos (piano)
Odradek ODRCD342 69:25 mins
The Spanish pianist Juan Carlos has assembled an interesting choice of repertoire for this all-Schumann disc: the ever-popular Carnaval, the Faschingsschwank aus Wien (a carnival jest of another kind) and the introspective Geistervariationen, Schumann’s last, troubled and troubling piano work. The composer’s alter-egos Florestan and Eusebius dance their way through the character portraits of Carnaval plus the naughty hint of the Marseillaise in Faschingsschwank, while the Geistervariationen leaves only Eusebius, trembling on the edge of dissolution.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Telemann discovery: Robert Smith reveals the gamba sonatas
Carlos’s playing errs if anything on the side of caution, he proves himself a deeply sensitive musician, excelling in the processional moments of Carnaval and the impassioned Intermezzo of the Faschingsschwank. Tempos are occasionally a tad ponderous and dutiful, though – the impetuosity of Florestan is rarely given its head – and Carlos’s lavish use of rubato, while thoughtful, sometimes does not catch up quite as promptly as it slows down. The Geistervariationen of 1854 come off best, with Carlos gently picking up on Schumann’s discordant inner voices without exaggerating the piece’s posthumously acquired pathos. But there is one major problem with the recording, and it is not Carlos’s playing. It’s that the sound quality is so woolly that the programme might as well have been recorded in a haberdashery. It permits the piano little resonance, makes the pedal mechanism all too audible and muffles Carlos’s best attempts to introduce audible variety of tone colour. Odradek describes itself as ‘nonprofit, democratic cooperative, putting music and musicians first’, which is a pleasing aim; but neither music nor musician can benefit from this sort of aural fuzziness. Jessica Duchen PERFORMANCE ★★★ RECORDING ★★
Sibelius Impromptus in B minor and E, Op. 5; Kyllikki, Op. 41; 10 Pieces for Piano – Romance in D flat and Barcarola; The Shepherd; Valse Triste; Sonatina No. 1; Bjorken; Branen; Rondino; Elegiaco; 6 Bagatelles; 5 Esquisses Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) Sony Classical 88985408502 66 mins
Not every piano piece by Sibelius cries out for attention, but there are plentiful treasures as the five volumes covering the gamut – recorded by Leif Ove Andsnes’s fellow Norwegian and good colleague Havard Gimse – demonstrates. Much more, in short, than is found on this careful selection – but predictably it has a magic of its own which Andsnes casts equally, with his pure-source sound and range of colours, over early, middle and late Sibelius. The crystalline cascades of the Impromptu that launches the CD, No. 5 in B minor, could be French impressionist, but the tenor melody is very Nordic – and it’s a preferred range for themes in many of the pieces on this disc. The cornerstones are the semiprogrammatic, almost operatic dialogues between the amorous hero from the Kalevala Lemminkäinen and a teasing maiden of Saari
island, Kyllikki, and the haunting Sketches among Sibelius’s last works before the long creative silence that lasted up to his death in 1957. These aren’t the only numbers where an idea, in Andsnes’s words about another piece, ‘turns into something surprising and wonderful’; the two tree pictures from Op. 75 do that too. The noble melody of The Spruce is what sticks in my mind. If only all its companions were here, along with some of the later flower pieces. But what we do have, Sibelius’s own piano-only Valse Triste with ‘improvement’ by Andsnes possibly excepted, makes up a mesmerising programme. Its ambiguity should inspire individual thoughts and questions in every listener. Pure, atmospheric sound by Sony captures the necessary intimacy which is an Andsnes hallmark. David Nice PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★ Andsnes talks about his past recordings in 'Rewind', p18
Telemann Fantasias for Viola da Gamba Robert Smith (viola da gamba) Resonus RES10195 79.15
Telemann’s recently discovered Fantasias for viola da gamba provide the missing link in his series of fantasias for solo instruments. Those for traverso flute, violin and harpsichord have long been cherished by performers but, though mentioned by the composer himself, the viola da gamba solos only came to light in 2015 in a manuscript by an unknown hand in a private library near Hanover. Listening to these 12 pieces, almost all of which are in three movements, I am immediately struck by their uniformly high quality as well as by Telemann’s hallmark eclecticism in matters of style, form and measure. Several of the Fantasias contain fugal movements, one of which, in the First Fantasia, is deftly interwoven with arresting chromaticism. Songlike melodies, syncopation, wide-ranging tessiture, rhetorical declamation, occasional multiple stopping and fleeting references to the central European folk tradition so beloved of the composer all find a place in music which unlocks the
Instrumental Reviews instrument’s subtle sonorities with characteristic sensibility. Robert Smith is not first in the field with his recording, and there will certainly be others to follow, but the expressive warmth which he brings to these attractive pieces, together with a feeling for rhetoric and an accomplished technique deserve to win many friends. The sound is excellent and Smith has provided an elegantly written introduction. Nicholas Anderson PERFORMANCE ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★
by Marchant with a richness of musicianship that haunts the memory. Malcolm Hayes PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Echoes of Land & Sea
Child piano prodigies – and their teachers and carers – face an unusual challenge in weighing musical development against early career opportunities. Boston-born George Li appears to have found an ideal balance. Despite winning the prestigious Gilmore Young Artist Award back in 2011 (at the tender age of 15), Li waited until he had a few more years – and a clutch of prizes, such as the silver medal from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition (2015) – before releasing this debut disc. It was worth the wait. The solo recital, recorded live at the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg (and also performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2016), has all the light and shade expected from such a varied programme. The Haydn sonata is an airy Victoria sponge, with a thick and luxurious cream filling. The Chopin sonata, on the other hand, is a deep and complex fruitcake; while the Rachmaninov variations are cake pops: tiny – but intense – bursts of flavour. Liszt appears as a lemon drizzle cake, and the acidity cuts through the sweetness. Li’s style is thoughtful and expressive, rather than exciting, and the concert recording gives the performance a directness. The 21-year-old produces an exquisite tone in Consolation No. 3 (Liszt), melting into the keyboard with incredible technique. (This is also to the fore in the Hungarian Rhapsody.) The Haydn is beautifully delineated. The sound quality is extremely good throughout, although the lower registers of the keyboard feel overtly resonant at times, particularly during the Chopin. Claire Jackson PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
Piano music by Britten, Holst, Stevenson, Ireland, Leighton and Roderick Williams Maria Marchant (piano) Somm SOMMCD 0174 73.04 mins
This attractively devised and immaculately performed recital showcases both the charms of the byways of the English musical scene, and the quiet frustrations that so often come with it. Britten’s Holiday Diary is a very early work, and operates within the low musical horizons of small-scale characterpieces from which Britten himself to some extent recoiled; such as the music of his teacher, John Ireland – whose Ballads of London Nights is also included here. Ronald Stevenson’s Peter Grimes Fantasy connects with a very different tradition, the virtuosoparaphrase pianistic world of Liszt and Busoni; but despite some impressive moments, the end result feels strangely depersonalised. Even Holst’s ultra-individual creative voice doesn’t quite emerge through his small output of piano pieces, engaging as they are. None of this slightly unsatisfying feeling lies at Maria Marchant’s door: on the contrary, her playing has a combined energy, verve, and technical precision that does all it can to search out the character of each item on her programme. This includes Goodwood by the Sea, a chirpy number specially written for her by Roderick Williams. But the most memorable experience here, by far, comes in Williams’s ‘free transcription’ of Ireland’s immortal song Sea Fever – arranged with wonderful keyboard imagination (this from one of our leading baritones!), and delivered
George Li Live at the Mariinsky Haydn: Piano Sonata in B minor; Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2; Rachmaninov: Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Liszt: Consolation No. 3; Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 George Li (piano) Warner Classics 0190295812942 68 mins
Brief notes Our collection of 25 further reviews, including Albéniz, Tchaikovsky and Zapf Albéniz Piano music, Vol. 9 Miguel Baselga (piano) BIS BIS-2173
The final volume of Baselga’s Albéniz survey includes a brief improvisation transcribed from a phonograph recording made by the composer. The playing is sometimes a little lacklustre. (RF) ★★★ Beethoven Piano Sonatas Nos 21, 23 and 26 Olga Pashchenko (piano) Alpha 365
Pashchenko plays on an 1824 Conrad Graf fortepiano belonging to a collection housed in Beethoven’s birthplace. The instrument can generate surprising drama, but sometimes lacks clarity. (OC) ★★★
Eben String Quartet; Piano Trio; Piano Quintet Karel Kosarek (piano); Martinů Quartet Supraphon SU 4232-2
The chamber music of Petr Eben (19292007) is rhythmic and harmonically fascinating, shifting between atonality and modality. The Martinůs prove fine advocates; great sound, too. (OC) ★★★★ Enescu • Poulenc • Schönberg • Tüür Works for violin and piano
Pierluigi Bernard (clarinet), Mauro Tortorelli (violin, viola), Angela Meluso (piano) Brilliant Classics 95449
And smile. Milhaud’s chamber music is charming, cheeky and often quirky, but never dull. The Scaramouche Suite for clarinet and piano is especially fun. (JP) ★★★★ Mompou Cancons i Danses; Paisajes; Scenes d’enfants etc Luis Fernando Perez (piano)
Mari Poll (violin), Mihkel Poll (piano)
Mirare MIR 364
Dux DUX 1383
Mompou’s sophistaticated music often sounds like modern jazz. A selection of his works is given a beautifully lithe performance by Perez, recorded superbly, too. (OC) ★★★★
Brian Symphonies Nos 8, 21 & 26
From the smoky opening to Enescu’s Third Sonata to Erkki-Sven Tüür’s edgy Köielkõnd, this is an imaginatively programmed disc played with both passion and panache. (JP) ★★★★★
New Russia State Symphony Orchestra/ Alexander Walker Naxos 8.573752
Glinka Septet; Trio Pathetique etc
Respighi Fountains of Rome; Pines of Rome etc
Weber Concerto No. 1; Variations, Op. 33; Grand Duo, Op. 48 Raphael Severe (clarinet); Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/ Aziz Shokhakimov; Jean-Frederic Neuburger (piano) Mirare MIR 372
Warm and engaging playing from Raphael Severe. The orchestral ensemble isn’t always as tight as it could be, but the spirit is always right. (RF) ★★★★ Weiner Five Divertimentos; Serenade Estonian National SO/Neeme Järvi Chandos CHAN 10959
A near contemporary of Bartók, Weiner’s charming Serenade for small orchestra and lively five divertimentos, which date from 1933 to 1951, are given winning performances here. (RF) ★★★★
Giulio Biddau, Norberto C Respighi (piano) Evidence EVCD035
Whittington Windmill etc
CPO 777 871-2 71:26
Don’t expect Glinka’s music to sound ‘Russian’ –his chamber works have the distinct air of the German salon. That said, they’re really rather beautiful, and performed with grace. (OC) ★★★★
The excitement of Respighi’s orchestral works can’t be matched by his own arrangements for two pianos, but these are nonetheless atmospheric, well-paced performances. (JP) ★★★★
This evocative minimalist piece depicts the steel windmills seen in the Australian outback. It’s a short CD, but the playing is excellent. (RF) ★★★★
Stradella Santa Pelagia
Sonar Quartet Wergo WER 7348 2
BBC Concert Orchestra/Ronald Corp
Haydn Violin Concertos Nos 1, 3 & 4
Dutton Epoch CDLX 7338
Lisa Jacobs (violin); The String Soloists
Ensemble Mare Nostrum/Andrea De Carlo Arcana A431
The Australian-born Hubert Clifford was formerly the BBC’s head of light music. The BBC Concert Orchestra is on lively form in this portrait of his breezy orchestral music. (RF) ★★★
Cobra Records COBRA 0061
Challenging chamber works by this 61-year-old German explore intervals, rhythm, independent part-writing and the human voice – the Sonar Quartett give committed, exacting performances. (OC) ★★★★
The latest instalment in Naxos’s recordings of Brian’s 32 symphonies is a mixed bag. Symphony No. 8 is, frankly, as directionless as it is unmemorable, but Nos 21 and 26 have emotional depth and character. ( JP) ★★★ Clifford The Cowes Suite; Voyage at Dusk and other works
Crisp, clean playing, buoyant orchestral interaction and superb recorded sound all make this a very pleasurable listen. (JP) ★★★★
The Tempest Trio Naxos 8.573723
Tracey Engleman (soprano), Laura Bolton (piano) Innova 975
Solid performances of solid works – Dvořák’s midcareer piano trios aren’t among his greatest masterpieces, but they do contain some lovely moments. There are one or two intonation issues. (OC) ★★★
This showcase of the US composer Libby Larsen is a tad disappointing. The restricted sound doesn’t show off the artists to their best, and it left me wanting to hear these songs live in performance instead. (RF) ★★
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Zephyr Quartet Cold Blue Music CB0048
Zapf String Quartet
Larsen Cowboy Songs etc Dvořák Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2
Milhaud Chamber music
A lightly-etched performance of Stradella’s oratorio about the life of Saint Pelagia. The four solo voices delight in the fleet-footed, dancing numbers. (RF) ★★★★ Tchaikovsky String Quartet No. 1; Souvenir de Florence Novus Quartet; Lise Berthaud (viola), Ophelie Gaillard (cello) Aparte AP154
A Ukrainian folk song inspired the beautiful Andante cantabile of Tchaikovsky’s early String Quartet No. 1. It’s glorious music, played with clarity and refinement. (RF) ★★★★
Avital meets Avital Avi Avital (mandolin), Omer Avital (bass, oud) et al Deutsche Grammophon 479 6523
Omer and Avi Avital (not related) explore their heritage in an album rich in Moroccan flavouring, with touches from elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Hugely enjoyable. (JP) ★★★★
In My Father’s House Choral music by Philip Stopford
The month in box-sets
Truro Cathedral Choir; BBC NOW/ Christopher Gray Regent REGCD517
Stopford’s accessible and endearing church anthems are heard here in specially orchestrated versions, played and sung with tenderness. (OC) ★★★★ Jungle Baroque Works by Schmid, Zipoli et al Sonidos de Paraquaria/Luis Szaran Klanglogo KL1414
Premiere recordings of music by Jesuit missionaries, performed on its home turf by devoted young enthusiasts. Apply a little goodwill and ignore the moments of dodgy intonation. (JP) ★★ Le Sonate de Vinteuil Saint-Saëns, Debussy etc Maria Milstein (violin); Nathalia Milstein (piano) Mirare MIR 384
The inspiration behind Proust’s imaginary violin sonata in A la recherche du temps perdu has inspired this charming album of masterpieces and lesserknown gems. (OC) ★★★ Revolting Rhymes and Marvellous Music Works by Patterson and Butler Magnard Ensemble; Rebecca Kenny (narrator) Orchid Classics ORC100071
Bright performances of deliciously dark fairy tales and macabre verses by Roald Dahl. Clever quotations and musical onomatopoeia aplenty. (RF) ★★★★ The British Cello Works by Moeran, Britten etc Alexander Baillie (cello), John Thwaites (piano) Somm SOMMCD 0175
From folky Moeran to the more intense demands of sonatas by Britten, Rodney Bennett and James MacMillan, this is an excellent introduction to British cello music. The slightly roomy recorded sound might not suit all tastes. (JP) ★★★★ Reviewers : Oliver Condy (OC), Rebecca Franks (RF), Jeremy Pound (JP)
Soviet legend: Evgeny Svetlanov is celebrated on 56 discs
Great gifts from Mother Russia Maestros past and present are at the heart of this month’s round-up the conductor Evgeny Svetlanov’s recorded It’s ten years since Vladimir Jurowski took up catalogue (Melodiya MELCD1002481). Glazunov’s the post of principal conductor of the London complete orchestral music opens the set, Philharmonic Orchestra, and you can sample which also includes 14 of Myaskovsky’s 27 some of the highlights of the past decade on a celebratory new seven-CD set (LPO 25251). There symphonies and works by Prokoﬁev, Glière and Khachaturian. There’s contemporary Russian are both the towering masterpieces – Brahms’s music to discover too, including pieces by German Requiem, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé – Alexandrov, Galynin, Peiko, and the lesser-known gems that Jurowski has championed, such This is a set to keep Mosolov and Zaborov. A set, if ever there was one, to keep as Enescu’s Third Symphony ardent Russophiles ardent Russophiles happy for and Silvestrov’s Fifth Symphony. happy for days on end days on end. Just add vodka. Tchaikovsky has been a BBC Radio has also been regular ﬁxture in the LPO’s opening up its archives, resulting in the second programmes over the years, and another set volume of the BBC Legends series (ICA Classics from the orchestra’s in-house label features ICAB 5141; 20 CDs). The collection of great a complete cycle of the Russian composer’s performances here includes David Oistrakh in symphonies (LPO0101; 7 CDs). The recordings Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, recitals of the Symphonies Nos 2 and 3, along with f from pianists Sviatoslav the Serenade for Strings an nd ichter and Walter Gieseking, Francesca da Rimini, are released a and sopranos Kirsten here for the ﬁrst time; the pieces p lagstad and Victoria de Los were recorded from 2004 tto 2016. A Angeles. Composers Walton There’s even more Russ sian and Stravinsky conduct their music – vast amounts of it, own works on two discs, while in fact – to be had in the Britten at the piano joins the impressive Anthology of violinist Yehudi Menuhin for Russian Symphonic Music, works by Haydn, Debussy Vol. 2, consisting of and Schubert. 56 CDs dedicated to BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Jazz Roger Thomas presents six of the best jazz releases available this month December round-up
Skill and enthusiasm Nat Steele and friends offer some vibrant insights into the music of the legendary MJQ Discreet highlights: Nat Steele adds subtle freshness
Nat Steele Portrait of the Modern Jazz Quartet Nat Steele (vibraphone), Gabriel Latchin (piano), Dario Di Lecce (double bass), Steve Brown (drums)
Trio 589 52:54 mins
It’s easy to overlook a recording of this nature, as any x-plays-the-music-of-y disc can be its own worst enemy. Apart from the likely availability of the original material on CD, the question as to whether the work of a hugely respected artist or group – such as the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ), who disbanded in 1994 – actually needs re-interpreting at all means that any undertaking of this kind has to be particularly convincing to avoid sounding like a tribute act. Happily, this quartet succeeds in all respects, bringing just enough vivacious originality to a set of early MJQ tunes to make its own mark on them while avoiding overcooking the material and never lapsing into bland-cover-version syndrome. The most effective highlights are actually quite discreet – a little more extended ornamentation here, some added ventilation there – but the band’s sheer skill and enthusiasm are always to the fore. Altogether, a refreshing treat for your ears. ★★★★★
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Two recent albums share a cinematic connection and a strong element of personal and political narrative. The first is from trumpeter and producer Keyon Harrold, who has spent a lot of his career to date making other people sound good, including providing the trumpet performance for actor Don Cheadle in the Miles Davis quasibiopic Miles Ahead. If his current solo album The Mugician feels a little overstuffed it may just be an instance of an in-demand creative musician wanting to get the most out of (and indeed into) the rare luxury of a personal project. Essentially a sextet recording with some studiobased elements and occasional guests (including Robert Glasper), the music energetically weaves in and out of jazz, hip-hop, downtempo and related areas; but rising above it all is Harrold’s exceptionally warm and sumptuous trumpet tone, which would be worth hearing even if the CD contained nothing else. (Legacy 88985479742 ★★★★) The second comes from Antonio Sánchez, a drummer whose bandleaders have ranged from Dizzy Gillespie to Chick Corea. His more recent exposure as a film composer (notably for the acclaimed 2014 black comedy Birdman) caused him to develop an interest in how drums can be recorded and in studio composition in general. Bad Hombre, performed on drums, keyboards, electronics and vocals, is dense, atmospheric and allusive. (CamJazz CAMJ 7919-2 ★★★★) Like Sánchez, Björn Meyer has recorded a truly solo, oneperformer album in the shape of Provenance, although his chosen instrumentation is sparse and is as ambiguous in its description (try permutating ‘6-string electric and acoustic bass guitars’) as it is sonically. He favours gentle dynamics and off-centre registral
choices and also regards room acoustics as being important to his sound, so his music, subtle yet richly engaging, is genuinely ambient. (ECM 574 1917 ★★★★) By way of contrast, the music on Septembro from Laginha/ Argüelles/Norbakken (piano, saxophones and percussion respectively) is very much a set of ensemble pieces, although Mário Laginha takes all but two of the composition credits. There’s a great deal of fine jazz in Laginha’s homeland of Portugal and it’s always good to see its practitioners getting the wider presentation they deserve. My only reservation here is Helge Andreas Norbakken’s percussion, which frequently draws upon the scrapes-and-skitters style associated with Tony Oxley. He does this well, but it seems a little incongruous here. (Edition EDN 1099 ★★★★) Finally, given that jazz has long been burdened by reissue fatigue, it’s always good to find an example that’s genuinely worthy of recommendation, albeit for slightly perverse reasons. On The Centennial Edition – Paris 1954, Thelonious Monk turns in an exposed solo piano performance of the kind that’s always good to have, recorded under somewhat precarious circumstances which are detailed in the booklet notes. This material originally appeared as a 10-inch LP, but the added bonus tracks deserve their own slightly wobbly place in history. This is a trio set recorded with an unrehearsed local rhythm section; baffled by the pianist’s spiky style, his sidemen are clearly hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The results are exactly as one might expect, but are enjoyable for all that; jazz doesn’t always have to be ‘good’ to be good. (Swing/Sony 88985472342 ★★★★)
In sparkling form: Thelonious Monk is lucid in Liaisons Dangereuses
From the archives
Join us to welcome conductor Sir Simon Rattle as he takes up his new position at the LSO; plus a CD of Sibelius’s Kullervo.
Which opera did 172 singers vote as the greatest of all time? Find out in our opera issue, along with a CD of beautiful arias.
How did the Russian Revolution nurture one of the greatest composers of the 20th century? Discover Shostakovich’s secret.
Geoffrey Smith welcomes the handsome packaging of a rediscovered original Thelonious Monk soundtrack
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Besides its musical bounty, one of the pleasures of the historic archive of recorded jazz is the way it continues to grow. It’s not just a matter of reissuing classic sessions, but of discovering new material, performances that were lost or forgotten found on tapes consigned to anonymous boxes long before. Indeed, jazz’s illustrious past grows ever more precious as it recedes, and the musical treasure hunt grows ever more intense. One of the most recent Eureka moments came in Paris, when dedicated researchers turned up Thelonious Monk’s original sound track recordings from the French film Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records SRS-1-CD), an updating of the classic novel of sexual intrigue. Now issued as an elegant, welldocumented double CD, the set comprises all the material used in the film plus alternates and out-takes, including a fascinating sequence of Monk trying to teach drummer Art Taylor a quirky rhythmic intro which Taylor finds too Monkish by half. Monk, however, is lucidity itself, and the actual soundtrack shows him equally in command. Recorded not in Paris, but at a studio in New York, the music comprises vintage performances of the repertoire that was making the pianist-composer one of the most sought-after artists on the jazz circuit and finally earning him the reputation he deserved. ‘Rhythm-a-Ning’, ‘Crepescule with Nellie’ and ‘Well, You Needn’t’, for instance, all present him in sparkling form, with a line-up featuring Charlie Rouse and French guest Barney Wilen on tenors. In fact, Monk and Rouse would be partners for the next 11 years and it’s gratifying to hear the tenorist, in 1959, playing with a creative energy that later sometimes went on automatic pilot. Monk devotees will be delighted by this new offering, especially the pianist’s beguiling solo original ‘Six in One’, while film buffs will enjoy the account of jazz and French cinema, not to mention the stills of an impossibly beautiful Jeanne Moreau. Roll on, the archive.
■ We’re sorry, but issues of BBC Music published more than 12 months ago are no longer available.
Geoffrey Smith explores jazz’s greatest players and their finest music in Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz, a weekly programme broadcast on Saturdays 12am-1am
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Books Our critics cast their eyes over this month’s selection of books on classical music Year of Wonder Clemency Burton-Hill Headline Home ISBN 978-1-4722-5182-4 442pp (hb) £20
Such is the current pace of technological advance that those of us of a certain age (ahem!) occasionally struggle to keep pace with the latest trends. Fully embracing the modern age of internet streaming and music portability, Clemency Burton-Hill aims to shatter cosy preconceptions about classical music elitism and bring as many people to the ‘party’ as possible. As she points out in her impassioned introduction, her bracingly eclectic selection of 366 pieces by 240 composers (one for each day of the year) is neither encyclopaedic nor intended as a formal historical guide. Her intention is rather to ‘demystify both the music itself and the context in which it was written.’ Eschewing technical jargon and demonstrating an infectious ‘can-do’ attitude, Burton-Hill packs an extraordinary amount of information into each commentary. By establishing a personal point of contact with many pieces, she also holds out a reassuring hand to the novice listener, as when she recounts her first magical encounter with the slow movement of Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto and experienced a ‘sort of mute outrage that I’d existed all these years without knowing it existed.’ For those taking their first tentative steps into the world of classical music, I can’t imagine a more welcoming or inspiring place to start. Julian Haylock ★★★★
Live Wires – History of Electronic Music Daniel Warner
Reaktion Books ISBN 978-1-7802-3824-1 224pp (hb) £16
Electronic music has grown from being the stuff of 1950s avant garde experimentation – in Paris with Pierre Schaeffer’s manipulation of taped sounds, and in Cologne with
Biblical themes, from the Creation to the Last Judgment. Who would have thought there were 20 oratorios on the subject of Judith and Holofernes, and as many as 29 operas? The book also includes 250 coloured illustrations; the overall result is impressively informative. George Hall ★★★★
In the vanguard: Pierre Schaeffer experimenting with sound in 1955
Benjamin Britten Studies: Essays on An Inexplicit Art Ed. Vicki P Stroeher & Justin Vickers Boydell Press ISBN 978-1-78327-195-5 548pp (hb) £60
Stockhausen’s Elektronische Musik – to enter the musical mainstream. Its proliferation drives this concise account, in which music professor Daniel Warner takes five technological innovations – the tape recorder, circuits, turntable and record, microphone, computers – and explores chronologically across genres the key musical works they inspired. The first chapter, for example, takes us from the splicing together of the sounds of train engines in Schaeffer’s Railway Study to Steve Reich’s minimalist tape loops It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, Brian Eno’s ambient Music for Airports, the glittering carousels in The Beatles’s For the Benefit of Mr Kite and the controversial editing of Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way. Warner gives us just enough theory to grasp the significance of each development or key work. It’s a good introduction to the artistic aims and means of an everexpanding sound world, and – from
Varèse to Blondie to Squarepusher to DJ Shadow – makes for an invigorating and nostalgic playlist. Nick Shave ★★★★
The Bible in Music Robert Ignatius Letellier Cambridge Scholars Publishing 978-1-4438-7314-7 551pp (hb) £70.99
Robert Ignatius Letellier has set himself a daunting task in this substantial volume: a detailed look at music inspired by the Bible. No such volume can encompass everything, and there are (for instance) numerous oratorios and cantatas by 19th-century British composers that don’t get a mention. However, Letellier has diligently covered as much as possible over the course of 550 pages, starting with a traversal of the history of the Bible in opera and oratorio, and examining the music in the Bible itself before moving on through mystery plays to contemporary operas and choral works. Letellier then deals with
‘Access at the new Britten-Pears Foundation Archive is now unprecedented,’ boast the editors of this weighty tome; ‘A field of study that once seemed open to insiders only has now been passed to the critical enquiry of a new generation.’ American-based scholars Vicki P Stroeher and Justin Vickers describe how they were formerly made to feel outsiders when visiting that archive. These essays, some the result of this new access, include several by lesser-known writers. Kevin Salfen’s very fine chapter on Nō drama and its influence on Britten’s Church Parables benefits from his specialist knowledge of that Japanese genre; and Colleen Renihan thoughtfully explores Gloriana’s manipulation of memory. Of the essays by wellestablished authors, Jenny Doctor on Britten’s wartime radio work and Byron Adams on the little-explored influence of John Ireland are the most distinguished. Biographer Paul Kildea, though, indulges in some gratuitous sensationalism, comparing an innocuous portrait of Hans Keller to ‘a modernist Schiele: the reclining women, their legs wide apart [etc]’. Editorial intervention might have helped here, as well as in a chapter on the Soviet stagings of Peter Grimes and Prince of the Pagodas by PhD candidate Thornton Miller, whose well-researched subject is hobbled by clumsy prose. Daniel Jaffé ★★★ BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Audio choice Every issue our audio expert Chris Haslam tests the best products on the market THIS MONTH: IN-EAR HEADPHONES HIGH END CHOICE
Sennheiser IE 80 S £299 Sennhe
Exxceptionally comfortable, light and unobtrusive, Sennheisher’s latest high-end in-ear monitors (IEM) offer the sort of sound m quaality that will make you wish your com mmute was just a little bit longer. Listening to th he Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s recent Telemann Concerti per molti stromenti recording, the detail and clarity of the soloists is rem markable, transporting you to the heart of the performance. Despite being firmly wedged in your ear, they’rre poised, exciting, balanced and never overp powering. If I’m being picky, they lack wow--factor in the design, but they sound fabulous and, besides, I can’t see them. You can manu ually adjust the bass in each ear – using a tiny sscrewdriver – to suit your tastes. In a world domiinated by bass-heavy pop headphones, this is an absolute treat. sennheiser.com
Crystal clear: Sennheiser’s earphones pick out every musical detail
BUDGET PRICE CHOICE
When a colleague started eulogising about a pair of ‘phenomenal’ £40 headphones, I assumed bribery or insanity, but after listening to the E10C, and countless pairs of vastly more expensive models, I’m sold. With premium quality aluminium casing, an in-line mic and controls (iOS and Android), they produce a spirited sound that’s a pleasure on the h ears whatever h you’re ’ listening li i to. soundmagicheadphones.com d i h d h
Given that so many classical performances are recorded in concert halls and not in sanitised studio environments, the idea of a pair of in-ear headphones with two ‘Live Tuned’ 8.8mm m speaker drivers is tempting, and a wh hile predominantly aimed at the pop p gig-goer, the exxtra space given to the music is noticeable and huggely appreciated. At times the headphone’ss pop prowess dominates the lower frequencies, bu ut the bass never distorts, and given you’re probably going go to be wearing these out and about, the extra oo omph helps to drive the performance through backgroun nd chatter and transport noise. The Audio Technica has a great gr all-round performance. audiotechnicashop.com
SoundMagic E10C £44.95
IN-EAR HEADPHONES CHECK-LIST Wires Even with aptX Bluetooth now offering CD-quality wireless streaming, traditional wired headphones still sound better and will get the best from any quality of recording. Drivers Most in-ear headphones use ‘dynamic’ speaker drivers that cover the
Audio Technica ATH-LS70IS £125
entire frequency range, while more expensive options feature multiple balanced-armature drivers that are designed to reproduce a specific frequency range which can help draw out more detail in the recording. Earbud or IEM? Cheap earbuds tend to sit on, rather than in the ear, leaking sound
and letting the world in, while IEMs – in-ear monitors – are designed to be pushed deep into your ear canal to create a tight seal isolating the sound and improving quality. Fit All quality headphones come with a range of different-sized earbuds and it’s essential you experiment to get the best fit. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Oxford first: Holywell Music Room
This month’s highlights include multi-recital Bach and fiery Prokofiev LONDON Spitalfields Winter Festival
Venue of the month The UK’s best concert halls
2. Holywell Music Room
ALAMY, CHRIS DUNLOP, JEN OWENS
Where: Holywell St, Oxford Opened: 1748 Seats: c.190
Situated in the heart of Oxford – close to the Bodleian Library and Sheldonian Theatre and a short stumble away from the King’s Arms pub – the Holywell Music Room has a claim to fame as the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Europe. Funded by public subscription, it was designed by Thomas Camplin, the vice-president of St Edmund Hall, and opened its doors for its first concert in 1748. Handel is known to have performed here late in his life, but Haydn, alas, was unable to fulfil his much anticipated appearance here when he visited the city in 1791. Grade II listed in 1954 and refurbished soon after, Holywell Music Room is appreciated by musicians and audiences as an intimate venue for solo recitals and small chamber music ensembles, and it also boasts its own organ. A highlight of its calendar comes in October, when it hosts a number of concerts at the Oxford Lieder Festival. Hopefully, none of the festival’s singers will ever meet the same fate as the fictional Gwyladys Probert – this is where, in Twilight of the Gods in the Inspector Morse series, the outspoken mezzo gives her last recital before a marksman’s bullet silences her for good.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Thomaskantor performed by David Titterington on the magnificent Klais instrument of St John’s. All the concerts except the final one – devoted to the German Organ Mass, with choral contributions from Siglo de Oro – are free.
Various venues, Spitalfields, 2-10 Dec Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 1362 Web: www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk Conductor André de Ridder is the first curator of the new-look Spitalfields Winter Festival, whose feisty commitment to musics early and contemporary remains undimmed. ‘House of Monteverdi’ in Shoreditch Church mixes madrigals of love and war with new and recent works by Josephine Stephenson, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir and Qasim Naqvi, while across the Festival, performers include La Nuova Musica, London Contemporary Orchestra and the orchestral collective Stargaze.
Southbank Centre, 6 Dec Tel: +44 (0)20 3879 9555 Web: www.southbankcentre.co.uk As part of the Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief festival, conductor Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta tackle a Stockhausen double bill which prefaces the dream-like, quasi-theatrical Trans with the 12 astrological melodies of Tierkreis.
St John’s Smith Square, 3-21 Dec Tel: +44 (0)20 7222 1061 Web: www.sjss.org.uk ‘Bach in Advent’ promises a 19-recital odyssey through the organ works of Leipzig’s
Kings Place, 8 Dec Tel: +44 (0)20 7520 1490 Web: www.kingsplace.co.uk The Dutch cellist completes Kings Place’s year-long traversal of the Bach solo cello suites
Wonderful tone: Danielle de Niese sings Bernstein at the Barbican
by partnering Suite No. 1 with Britten’s Suite No. 3, a work partly inspired by it, and Bach’s own Suite No. 3 with the young Ligeti’s Sonata for solo cello.
London Symphony Orchestra Barbican, 16 Dec Tel: +44 (0)20 7638 8891 Web: www.barbican.org.uk With the festival flurry greeting his arrival as music director now over, it’s time for business as usual for Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO. With one eye very firmly on next year’s Leonard Bernstein birth centenary celebrations, Rattle musters luxury casting here, with Krystian Zimerman as the piano soloist in the Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ (see interview, p46) and soprano Danielle de Niese heading up a concert performance of Wonderful Town.
SOUTH Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra The Anvil, Basingstoke, 1 Dec Tel: +44 (0)1256 844244 Web: www.anvilarts.org.uk Following a performance in Poole on 29 November, chief conductor Kirill Karabits brings his orchestra to Basingstoke’s Anvil for a Viennese programme rich in contrast. Mozart’s radiant Piano Concerto No. 23 in A K488 features Robert Levin as soloist, and it’s followed by Bruckner’s profound meditation on death and transfiguration, the Eighth Symphony.
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment St George’s, Bristol, 5 Dec Tel: 0845 402 4001 (UK only) Web: www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk Fresh from the release of her new disc of Baroque violin sonatas (see review, p94), Rachel Podger fast-forwards to the Classical era as she joins the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 5. They are interleaved with a couple of darkly passionate symphonies
December Live by two of Mozart’s closest friends: Op 6. No. 6 in G minor by JC Bach (see Composer of the Month, p62), and Haydn’s D minor ‘Lamentatione’ Symphony.
Nash Ensemble Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham, 13 Dec Tel: +44 (0)1242 227979 Web: www.cheltmusicsoc.co.uk Currently journeying its way along a ‘French Connections’ series at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Nash Ensemble downsizes here to negotiate an Anglo-French entente cordiale bookended by the Debussy Sonata for flute, viola and harp and Ravel’s Sonatine, arranged for the same forces. Midway comes Bax’s Elegiac Trio flanked by music by Mozart and Piazzolla.
EAST Alec Frank-Gemmill, Joe Puglia, Alasdair Beatson John Innes Centre, Norwich, 10 Dec Tel: +44 (0)1603 598595 www.norwichchambermusic.co.uk Ligeti’s 1982 Trio for violin, horn and piano was composed under the shadow of Brahms’s brooding example from 1865. The two works anchor an afternoon otherwise lightened by Schumann’s Three Pieces in Folk Style and the rumbustious scherzo from Brahms’s F-A-E Sonata. See interview, right.
Academy of Ancient Music West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, 12 Dec Tel: +44 (0)1223 357851 Web: www.westroad.org In a last hurrah for this year’s Telemann 250th-anniversary celebrations, the Academy of Ancient Music is tilting at windmills as the German’s colourful Burlesque de Quixotte Suite takes centre stage. Cheering from the wings are JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos 4 & 5.
MIDLANDS & NORTH & WALES Orchestra of Opera North Town Hall, Leeds, 2 Dec Tel: +44 (0)113 376 0318 Web: www.leedsconcertseason.co.uk Soirées musicales, Britten’s scintillating reimagining of themes by Rossini, launches an evening that culminates in Elgar’s Symphony No. 1. Elena Urioste is the soloist in Mozart’s ‘Turkish’ Violin Concerto No. 5.
Garry Walker conducts.
Ex Cathedra Town Hall, Birmingham, 3 Dec Tel: +44 (0)121 780 3333 Web: www.thsh.co.uk Having limbered up with October’s performance of the Missa in illo tempore, Jeffrey Skidmore’s Ex Cathedra ensemble could hardly let ‘Monteverdi year’ pass without visiting the Mass’s most celebrated sibling from the landmark publication of 1610: the Vespro della Beata Vergine. Lending instrumental heft is His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts.
BACKSTAGE WITH… Horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill High notes: Alec Frank-Gemmill combines Ligeti and Brahms trios
BBC Philharmonic Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 9 Dec Tel: +44 (0)161 907 9000 Web: www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk Shostakovich stalks the BBC Philharmonic’s concert under chief conductor Juanjo Mena. Renaud Capuçon is the soloist in the First Violin Concerto, which precedes the Soviet composer’s enigmatic symphonic swansong, the Rossini-and-Wagner-quoting Symphony No.15. First, though, there’s the UK premiere of Dialogues with Shostakovich by veteran Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin.
Ensemble Cymru Tramshed Tech, Cardiff, 9 Dec Tel: +44 (0)29 2075 4556 Web: www.sinfoniacymru.co.uk US composers Philip Glass and George Crumb go headto-head in the second of Sinfonia Cymru’s multimedia collaborations with Tramshed Tech. Glass’s String Quartet No. 5 and Suite from ‘Bent’ are wrapped around Crumb’s Dark Angels.
SCOTLAND & N IRELAND
Ligeti’s Horn Trio, which you’re playing in Norwich, is often referred to as a homage to Brahms’s Trio. Why is that? The work was billed as a homage to Brahms at its premiere, but I think Ligeti later disowned that description. There is a trio in the middle of the Scherzo in both pieces, so one is reminiscent of the other in that way, but there’s no clever reworking of Brahms’s structure or themes in the Ligeti. In fact, given that any horn trio is automatically compared to Brahms’s, Ligeti’s achievement is that he’s made something so different. Have you, Joe Puglia and Alasdair Beatson played the Ligeti Trio on many occasions together? Yes. We played it for the first time together at the Musique à Marsac festival in France several years ago, and I remember having to go and lie down afterwards as it was emoitionally so draining – it’s a devastating piece. It was, though, the one work that people talked about all festival, and I was so proud of that. Given your interest in historic instruments, will you be playing different horns for the Brahms (1865) and Ligeti (1982)? I’m not that much of a glutton for punishment! The technical challenges of the Ligeti are so extreme that if I then have to fumble about with a natural horn in the Brahms it would throw me entirely. That said, it is certainly not a cop-out to play the Brahms on a modern horn – it has its own beauty on both. Frank-Gemmill, Puglia and Beatson play in Norwich, 10 Dec
Ulster Orchestra Ulster Hall, Belfast, 1 Dec Tel: +44 (0)28 9033 4455 Web: www.ulsterorchestra.org.uk Former Radio 3 New Generation Artist Esther Yoo is the soloist in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, whose finale the writer and musicologist Donald Tovey famously described as ‘a polonaise for polar bears’. Conducted by the Ulster Orchestra’s principal guest conductor Jac van Steen, it separates Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia and Dvorák’s Symphony No. 7.
Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel
City Halls, Glasgow, 3 Dec Tel: +44 (0)141 353 8000 Web: www.scottishopera.org.uk A Russian theme underpins Scottish Opera’s series of ‘opera in concert’ which stretches through to a Rachmaninov double bill next May. And after October’s fairy-tale Tchaikovsky Iolanta, it’s quite a leap to Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, the composer’s adaptation of the novel by Valery Bryusov. It’s conducted by former Mariinsky Theatre stalwart Mikhail Agrest.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, 14 Dec Tel: +44 (0)131 668 2019 Web: www.sco.org.uk Winner of the 2016 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, the American Karina Canellakis made her BBC Proms debut this summer. Here, she squares up to two contrasting works from her homeland: Barber’s glowing Violin Concerto and John Adams’s spiky Son of Chamber Symphony. The soloist in the Barber is Benjamin Beilman. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Your complete guide to what’s on Radio 3 this month, plus TV highlights
DECEMBER’S RADIO 3 LISTINGS Schedules may be subject to alteration. For up-to-date listings see Radio Times
Three to look out for Alan Davey, the controller of BBC Radio 3, picks out three great moments to tune into this December
St John’s College advent carol service Establishing itself firmly in Radio 3’s festive offerings is the Advent service from St John’s College, Cambridge. Expect the unexpected, as music director Andrew Nethsingha delights us with a deftly chosen mix of the familiar and the new. Choral Evensong; 3 December; 3-4.30pm
Nico Muhly’s Marnie We head to London’s Coliseum for English National Opera’s premiere production of Nico Muhly’s muchanticipated new opera, set in the 1950s. The superb US mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is in the title role. Opera on 3; 9 December; 6.30-9pm
21St-Century Opera In Composer of the Week we are looking at the wonderful work of today’s leading opera composers, with the hope of encouraging listeners to explore new productions at local opera houses. Donald Macleod is joined by librettist Paul Griffiths to explore cuttingedge works including Birtwistle’s The Minotaur, Glass’s The Trial and Benjamin’s Written on Skin. Composer of the Week; 4-8 December; 12 noon-1pm
1 FRIDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast Radio 3’s Spirit of Bach season begins with 24 days of 24 Preludes and Fugues from Book II of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier performed every morning after the 8am news (1-24 Dec). (For full details of the Spirit of Bach season see the next issue) 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Koechlin 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Arlene Sierra Nature Symphony, Bartók Piano Concerto No. 1, Dvorˇák Symphony No. 8. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano), BBC Philharmonic/Ludovic Morlot 10-10.45pm The Verb 10.45-11pm The Essay
2 SATURDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12.15pm Record Review – Building a Library Bruckner Motets, reviewed by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
12.15-1pm Music Matters 1-3pm Saturday Classics 3-4pm Sound of Dance 4-5pm Jazz Record Requests 5-6.30pm Jazz Line-Up 6.30-10pm Opera on 3 from the European Broadcasting Union. Verdi Aida. Anna Netrebko (Aida), Roberto Tagliavini (King of Egypt), Ekaterina Semenchuk (Amneris), Francesco Meli (Radamès) et al, Vienna Philharmonic/Riccardo Muti 10pm-12.30am Hear and Now 12.30-1.30am Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz
3 SUNDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Sunday Morning 12 noon-1pm Private Passions Susan Richards, author 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3pm The Early Music Show from Brighton Early Music Festival. The Phesant’s Eye. Fiona Talkington introduces a concert by the harpsichord and recorder duo Ensemble Hesperi CHOICE 3-4pm Choral Evensong Advent Carol Service from St John’s College, Cambridge (rec. 26 Nov) 4-5pm Choir and Organ 5-5.30pm The Listening Service 5.30-6.45pm Words and Music 6.45-7.30pm Sunday Feature 7.30-9pm Radio 3 in Concert European Broadcasting Union 9-11.10pm Drama on 3 Justin Butcher’s The Devil’s Passion 11.30pm-12.30am Early Music Late
4 MONDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics CHOICE 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week 21st-century opera, including a focus on works by Glass, Saariaho and Benjamin 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert live from Wigmore Hall, London. Schumann 3 Romances, Op. 94, Nielsen 2 Fantasy Pieces,
Op. 2, Clara Schumann 3 Romances, Op. 22, Schumann 12 vierhändige Clavierstücke für kleine und grosse Kinder, Op. 85 ‘No. 12 Abendlied’, Pasculli Concerto on ‘La Favorita’ by Donizetti. Céline Moinet (oboe), Florian Uhlig (piano) 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from St George’s, Bristol. Mozart Serenade in G, K525 ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de St Georges Violin Concerto in G, Op. 8 No. 9, Erollyn Wallen Concerto Grosso, Tchaikovsky Serenade for strings. Chineke!/Shaun Matthew 10-10.45pm Music Matters 10.45-11pm The Essay Between the Essays 11pm-12.30am Jazz Now
Advent atmosphere: join the Choir of St John’s College on 3 December
5 TUESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics CHOICE 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week 21st-century opera, including a focus on works by Birtwistle and Stockhausen 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from London’s Middle Temple Hall. Programme includes: Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge. Ian Bostridge (tenor), Julius Drake (piano), Piatti Quartet 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
6 WEDNESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics CHOICE 12noon1pm Composer of the Week 21st-century opera including a focus on works by Adès and Sciarrino 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3.30pm Afternoon Concert
3.30-4.30pm Choral Evensong from Keble College, Oxford 4.30-5pm New Generation Artists 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert live from Barbican Hall, London. Sibelius Press Celebrations Music (UK premiere), Cantique and Devotion, Sibelius Symphony No. 1. Guy Johnston (cello), BBC SO/Sakari Oramo 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
7 THURSDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics CHOICE 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week 21st-century opera, including a focus on works
December TV&Radio Coverage of the ceremony at The British Museum 9-11.10pm Drama on 3 Ninety minutes with Stanislavski 11.30pm-12.30am Early Music Late
11 MONDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Tchaikovsky 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert live from Wigmore Hall, London. Mozart String Quartet in B flat, K458 ‘The Hunt’, Beethoven Grosse Fuge in B flat, Op. 133. Armida Quartet 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from Royal Festival Hall, London. Programme includes excerpts from Raksin Laura, Waxman Sunset Boulevard, Antheil In a Lonely Place, Rosenman Rebel Without a Cause, Roberts Gilda etc, Jonny Greenwood Inherent Vice, Rozsa Double Indemnity. Mark Kermode (presenter), BBC Concert Orchestra/Robert Ziegler 10-10.45pm Music Matters (rpt) 10.45-11pm The Essay Nothing is Real 11pm-12.30am Jazz Now
GETTY, ANA CUBA
Thrill factors: Nico Muhly’s Marnie is Opera on 3 (9 Dec); (left) Composer of the Week surveys today’s great opera writers, including Birtwistle (4-8 Dec)
by Barry and Ferneyhough 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert live from St David’s Hall, Cardiff. Takemitsu Twill by twilight, Elgar Cello Concerto, Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2. Steven Isserlis (cello), BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, Prokofiev Cinderella (highlights). Martin Helmchen (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Vedernikov 10-10.45pm The Verb 10.45-11pm The Essay
6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics CHOICE 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week 21st-century opera, including a focus on works by Haas, Glanert and Dusapin
7-9am Breakfast 9am-12.15pm Record Review – Building a Library Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, reviewed by Mark Lowther 12.15-1pm Music Matters 1-3pm Saturday Classics
3-4pm Sound of Dance Dame Gillian Lynne discusses her experiences and connection with different music and dance styles throughout her career 4-5pm Jazz Record Requests 5-6.30pm Jazz Line-Up CHOICE 6.30-9pm Opera on 3 from English National Opera. Nico Muhly Marnie. Sasha Cooke (Marnie), Daniel Okulitch (Mark Rutland), James Laing (Terry), Kathleen Wilkinson (Marnie’s mother) et al. Orchestra of English National Opera/ Martyn Brabbins 9-10pm The music of Edgard Varèse 10pm-12.30am Hear and Now 12.30-1.30am Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz
10 SUNDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Sunday Morning 12noon-1pm Private Passions Michael Frayn, author and playwright 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert from Wigmore Hall, London (rpt, from 4 Dec) 2-3pm The Early Music Show Telemann at the opera. Lucie Skeaping looks at the operas of Telemann, who was born 350 years ago this year 3-4pm Choral Evensong from Keble College, Oxford (rpt) 4-5pm Choir and Organ 5-5.30pm The Listening Service 5.30-6.45pm Words and Music 6.45-7.30pm Sunday Feature 7.30-9pm The British Composer Awards 2017
6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Tchaikovsky 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from Kings Place, London. Mozart Concerto No. 8, K246 ‘Lützow Concerto’, Ch’io mi scordi di te?, K505, Exsultate, jubilate, K165, Symphony No. 29. Samuel West (readings), Tom Poster (piano), Sophie Bevan (soprano), Aurora Orchestra/Nicholas Collon 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay Nothing is Real
13 WEDNESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Tchaikovsky 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3.30pm Afternoon Concert 3.30-4.30pm Choral Evensong Eton Choral Course at St John’s College Chapel, Cambridge 4.30-5pm New Generation Artists 5-7pm In Tune BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
December TV&Radio 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert live from the Barbican Hall, London. Strauss Metamorphosen, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde. Simon O’Neill (tenor), Christian Gerhaher (baritone), LSO/Simon Rattle 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert Spirit of Bach BBC Proms 2012 (rpt) Bach The Art of Fugue BWV 1080, Academy of Ancient Music/Mahan Esfahani 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay 11pm-12.30am Exposure
City to city: Berlin’s Armida Quartet visit London (17 Dec)
14 THURSDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Tchaikovsky 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert from Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Shchedrin Dialogues with Shostakovich, Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 15. Renaud Capuçon (violin), BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay 11-12.30am Late Junction
15 FRIDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Tchaikovsky 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-7pm In Tune 7-7.30pm In Tune Mixtape 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert live from Temple Church, London. M Praetorius Est ist ein Ros’ entsprungen, Tallis arr. Voces8 O Nata Lux, Trad. arr. Clements Gabriel’s message, Britten A Hymn to the Virgin, Rachmaninov Bogoroditse Devo, Stopford Ave Maris Stella, Lully, Lulla, Lullay, H Praetorius Magnificat Quinti Toni, Pott Balulalow, Dove The Three Kings, Trad. arr. Stefan Claas Maria Durch ein Dornwald Ging, Mendelssohn Denn Er hat Seinen Engeln beföhlen über dir, Olafur Arnalds & Arnur Dann arr. G Lawson For now I am Winter, Trad. arr. Geoff Lawson The snow it melts the soonest, Scheidt Puer Natus in Bethlehem, Biebl Ave Maria 10-10.45pm The Verb 10.45-11pm The Essay 11pm-1am Jazz Now
16 SATURDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12.15pm Record Review – Building a Library Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B flat, D960, reviewed by David Owen Norris 12.15-1pm Music Matters 1-3pm Saturday Classics 3-4pm Sound of Dance
Nutcracker – a classic tale for Christmas 4-5pm Jazz Record Requests 5-6.30pm Jazz Line-Up 6.30-10pm Opera on 3 from the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Bellini Norma. Angela Meade (Norma), Joyce DiDonato (Adalgisa) et al. Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House/ Joseph Colaneri 10pm-12midnight Hear and Now 12 midnight-1am Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz
17 SUNDAY EUROPEAN BROADCASTING UNION CHRISTMAS MUSIC DAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Sunday Morning 12noon-1pm Private Passions Jane Birkin, actress and singer 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert from Wigmore Hall, London (rpt, from 11 Dec) 3-4pm Choral Evensong from Eton Choral Course at St John’s College Chapel, Cambridge (rpt) 4-9pm Christmas music from the EBU 9-10.30pm Drama on 3 10.30pm-11.30pm Early Music Late
18 MONDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week JS Bach, part of Bach’s Spirit of Bach season 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert live from Wigmore Hall, London. Ysaÿe Poème élégiaque Op. 12, Vierne Violin Sonata Op. 23. Alina Ibragimova (violin), Cédric Tiberghien (piano) 2-5pm Afternoon Concert featuring works by Bach 5-7pm In Tune The annual
Christmas special broadcast from the radio theatre at Broadcasting House 7-7.30pm In Tune Bach Mixtape. A 30-minute mixtape of some of Bach’s most popular works, centred around his famous ‘Air on a G String’ 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert Spirit of Bach Proms 2017 Prom 49 (rpt) JS Bach St John Passion (plus other Bach works). Nicholas Mulroy (Evangelist), Matthew Brook (Jesus), Sophie Bevan (soprano), Tim Mead (countertenor), Andrew Tortise (tenor), Konstantin Wolff (bass), Dunedin Consort/John Butt harpsichord/director 10-10.45pm Music Matters 10.45-11pm The Essay 11pm-12.30am Jazz Now
19 TUESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week JS Bach 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert As part of the Spirit of Bach season, Radio 3 is broadcasting repeats of concerts from LSO St Luke’s (19-22 Dec) 2-4.30pm Afternoon Concert 4.30-5.45pm Words and Music 5.45-7pm New Generation Artists 7-7.30pm A Bach Walk As part of the Spirit of Bach season, broadcaster Horatio Clare retraces the composer’s steps when he walked 250 miles from Arnstadt to Lübeck to hear organist Dietrich Buxtehude (over five episodes) 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert Spirit of Bach. A repeat of a Lunchtime Concert from January 2017. Bach Goldberg Variations,
BWV 988. Beatrice Rana (piano) 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
20 WEDNESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week JS Bach 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3.30pm Afternoon Concert live from Media City UK, Salford. As part of the Spirit of Bach season the BBC Philharmonic performs arrangements of Bach masterpieces 3.30-4.30pm Choral Evensong Advent Sequence at Edington Priory Church, Wiltshire 4.30-5.45pm Words and Music 5.45-7pm New Generation Artists 7-7.30pm A Bach Walk 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert Spirit of Bach Proms 2017 Prom 25 (rpt) Schütz Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren, SWV 41, Nicht uns, Herr, sondern deinem Namen, SWV 43, Danket dem Herren, denn er ist freundlich, SWV 45, JS Bach Cantata No. 79 ‘Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild’, Cantata No. 80 ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’. Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists/ John Eliot Gardiner 10-10.45pm Free Thinking 10.45-11pm The Essay
21 THURSDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week JS Bach 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-4.30pm Afternoon Concert 4.30-5.45pm Words and Music 5.45-7pm New Generation Artists 7-7.30pm A Bach Walk
6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week JS Bach 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-4.30pm Afternoon Concert 4.30-5.45pm Words and Music 5.45-7pm New Generation Artists 7-7.30pm A Bach Walk 7.30-10pm Radio 3 in Concert Spirit of Bach Proms 2017 Prom 73 JS Bach The WellTempered Clavier – Book I. András Schiff (piano) 10-10.45pm The Verb 10.45-11pm The Essay 11pm-1am World on 3
23 SATURDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12.15pm Record Review – Building a Library Bach Brandenburg Concertos, reviewed by Sarah Mohr-Pietsch as part of Radio 3’s Spirit of Bach season 12.15-1pm Music Matters 1-3pm Saturday Classics 3-4pm Sound of Dance
Weekly TV & radio highlights On our website each week we pick the best of the classical music programmes on radio, TV and iPlayer. To plan your weekly listening and viewing, go to classical-music. com or sign up to our weekly newsletter to be sent information about the week’s classical programmes directly to your inbox.
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
As music director of King’s College, Cambridge Stephen Cleobury maintains the high standards of one of the world’s most important Christmas musical traditions. Each year, the BBC’s televised Carols from King’s is broadcast from the 16th-century chapel and attracts 30 million viewers. Cleobury has worked with the esteemed choir for 35 years, commissioning new carols from some of today’s greatest names, including Arvo Pärt and Peter Maxwell Davies. The service also gives us the chance to enjoy the chapel’s refurbished Harrison & Harrison organ. BBC Two: Carols from King’s; Sunday 24 Dec; time tbc
Casanova Filmed for Sky Arts at Manchester’s Palace Theatre is Northern Ballet’s production of Casanova, with a score by contemporary composer Kerry Muzzey. As the tale of 18th-century decadence unfolds, Muzzey conducts the Northern Ballet Sinfonia. His past work includes The Architect, a 2014 collection of pieces for piano and strings, recorded by The Chamber Orchestra of London. Sky Arts 2: date & time tbc
25 MONDAY CHRISTMAS DAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Cole Porter (rpt) 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3.45pm Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge (rpt, from BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve) 3.45-5pm Simon Callow’s Dickensian Christmas 5.30-6.45pm Words and Music 6.45-8pm New Generation Artists 8-11pm Proms 2017 Prom 34 (rpt) Rodgers & Hammerstein Oklahoma! John Wilson Orchestra/John Wilson 10-10.45pm Music Matters (rpt) 10.45-11pm The Essay 11pm-12.30am Jazz Now
26 TUESDAY Choreographer Mark Morris explores Bach and dance (for Radio 3’s Spirit of Bach season) 4-5pm Jazz Record Requests Alyn Shipton looks at how Bach’s works have been reinterpreted by jazz musicians 5-6.30pm Jazz Line-Up 6.30-10pm Opera on 3 from the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Mozart The Marriage of Figaro. Rachel Willis-Sørensen (Countess Almaviva), Christiane Karg (Susanna), Serena Malfi (Cherubino), Count Almaviva (Luca Pisaroni) et al. Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
House/Harry Bicket 10pm-12 midnight Hear and Now 12 midnight-1am Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz
24 SUNDAY A DAY OF PROGRAMMES CELEBRATING RADIO 3’S SPIRIT OF BACH 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Sunday Morning celebrating Bach’s music 12noon-1pm Private Passions Favourite Bach moments picked by former guests 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert
6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Cole Porter (rpt) 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-6.15pm Words and Music 6.15-7.30pm New Generation Artists 7.30-9.35pm Proms 2017 Prom 8 (rpt) 9.35-11pm Proms 2017 Proms at… Wilton’s Music Hall (rpt). John Luther Adams songbirdsongs – excerpts, Messiaen Le merle noir, Handel
Rinaldo – ‘Augelletti, che cantate’. Rebecca Saunders Molly’s Song, Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King. Jennifer France (soprano), Marcus Farnsworth (baritone), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sian Edwards
27 WEDNESDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Cole Porter (rpt) 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3.30pm Afternoon Concert 3.30-4.30pm Choral Evensong Rodolfus Choir at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, London 4.30-5pm New Generation Artists 5-6.15pm Words and Music 6.15-7.30pm New Generation Artists 7.30-9.30pm Proms 2017 Prom 13 (rpt). Malcolm Sargent’s 500th Prom 9.30-11pm Proms 2017 Prom 67 (rpt).
28 THURSDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Cole Porter (rpt) 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-6.15pm Words and Music 6.15-7.30pm New Generation Artists 7.30-9.35pm Proms 2017 Prom 71 Stravinsky Funeral Song arr. Stravinsky Song of the Volga Boatmen, Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Britten Russian Funeral, Shostakovich Symphony No. 11 ‘The Year 1905’. Alina Ibragimova (violin), London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski 9.35-11pm Proms 2017 Prom 62 (rpt)
29 FRIDAY 6.30-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Essential Classics 12noon-1pm Composer of the Week Cole Porter (rpt) 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-5pm Afternoon Concert 5-6.15pm Words and Music 6.15-7.30pm New Generation Artists 7.30-9.40pm Proms 2017 Prom 27 (rpt) 9.40-11pm Proms 2017 Prom 41 (rpt)
30 SATURDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12.15pm Record Review – Building a Library Mozart’s
Prague Symphony, reviewed by Tom Service 12.15-1pm Music Matters 1-3pm Saturday Classics 3-4pm Sound of Cinema 4-5pm Jazz Record Requests 5-6.30pm Jazz Line-Up 6.30-10pm Opera on 3 a double-bill from Opera North: Bernstein Trouble in Tahiti. Quirijn de Lang (Sam), Wallis Giunta (Dinah), Fflur Wyn et al, Orchestra of Opera North/Tobias Ringborg Janacˇék Osud. Giselle Allen (Míla Valková), John GrahamHall (Živný), Rosalind Plowright (Míla’s Mother) et al. Orchestra of Opera North/Martin André 10pm-12 midnight Hear and Now 12 midnight-1am Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz
31 SUNDAY 7-9am Breakfast 9am-12noon Sunday Morning 12 noon-1pm Private Passions Dame Katherine Grainger, rower 1-2pm Lunchtime Concert 2-3pm The Early Music Show Telemann’s lost gamba sonatas. Lucie Skeaping presents a concert by gamba player Robert Smith at Buckinghamshire’s Little Missenden Festival 3-4pm Choral Evensong Rodolfus Choir at St Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, London (rpt) 4-5pm Choir and Organ 5-5.30pm The Listening Service 5.30-6.45pm Words and Music 6.45-7.30pm Sunday Feature 7.30-9.25pm Proms 2017 Prom 74 Brahms Variations on the St Anthony Chorale, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14, Beethoven Symphony No. 7. Emanuel Ax (piano), Vienna Phil/Michael Tilson Thomas 9.25pm-12midnight Proms 2017 Prom 75 Last Night of the Proms (rpt). Nina Stemme, Lucy Crowe (soprano), Christine Rice (mezzo) et al, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC SO/Sakari Oramo
QUIZ ANSWERS from p124
DECEMBER TV CHOICES Carols from King’s
As part of Radio 3’s Spirit of Bach season, BarrocoTout (the winners of the main prize in the 2017 York Early Music Festival International Young Artists Competition) play Bach’s The Musical Offering 2-3pm The Early Music Show Soprano Emma Kirkby introduces performances of Bach’s vocal music 3-4pm Choral Evensong from Edington Festival (rpt) 4-5pm Choir and Organ Sara Mohr-Pietsch explores Bach’s organ music 5-5.30pm The Listening Service Tom service on Bach 5.30-6.45pm Words and Music A special Bach edition 6.45-7.30pm A Bach Walk The final leg of Horatio Clare’s journey (see 19 Dec for details) 7.30-9pm Radio 3 in Concert European Broadcasting Union. A Spirit of Bach 10.30pm-11.30pm Early Music Late
1. Berlioz 2. Gounod 3. Niccolò Paganini 4. The tritone (or augmented fourth or diminished fifth) 5. Peter Warlock 6. Dvořák 7. His violin 8. The Mephisto Waltz 9. Stockhausen’s Samstag auf Licht 10. They all have the cataloque number ‘666’ (BWV666, D.666, Z.666)
Joy to the world: carols from King’s College on BBC Two
FOR WEEKLY TV & RADIO CHOICES GO TO WWW.CLASSICAL-MUSIC.COM 118
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
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Early Music Shop
Howarth of London - Woodwind Specialists Visit us in the heart of London for all things early music, from recorders to crumhorns, harps to viols. Browse our extensive sheet music and fascimile collection; view our accessories including wooden music stands and much more besides. Expert advice on hand, whether it's choosing an instrument or selecting the perfect early music gift!
020 7630 3960 earlymusicshop.com
Hobgoblin Music Hobgoblin Music is an Aladdin's Cave of musical wonders in Fitzrovia. The shop has a wide range of new and second-hand musical instruments to supply every genre, specialising in acoustic, folk, world and celtic instruments. The staff are friendly and the specialist advice is free! 24 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1JA.
020 7323 9040 hobgoblin.com/london
Howarth of London are internationally known as makers of the ďŹ nest oboes, oboes d'amore, English horns and clarinets. Alongside their role as makers, they are one of the world's leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets and saxophones. The London showrooms are a bustling meeting point for players, and offer a comprehensive range of accessories and woodwind sheet music. Their staff are all players, and can help you however long you have been playing. If you haven't started playing yet, they offer a comprehensive rental scheme! Experienced technicians in the workshops on the premises can undertake repairs and modiďŹ cations to customers' instruments.
020 7935 2407
Normans Music A family-run business, Normans Music is one of London's oldest music shops, being established in Eltham within the Royal Borough of Greenwich for over 100 years. A general music shop stocking a wide range of instruments, accessories, sheet music and performance equipment, we also offer a repair service for instruments. Normans Music, 32 Well Hall Road, Eltham, London, SE9 6SF.
020 8850 1263 normansmusic.co.uk
To be a part of this feature please contact Stephanie Hall on 0117 300 8535
Looking for something unique and special to give this Christmas? Then take a look at some of our best gift picks for this festive season!
A STITCH IN TUNE
Unique and Handmade music themed products for the discerning music lover. Original high quality gifts all made in England. Bone china mugs, linen tea towels, handmade tote bags, purses, cushions and more... Give them a call or visit their website for more information.
For over 18 months VERSUM SOLO was put to the test with more than 100 international soloists and professional musicians in 300 independent try outs. The result? Soloistic brilliance, maximum resilience and power! Enjoy a new sound for your cello this Christmas, designed and handmade by Thomastik Infeld Vienna. Find them on facebook at facebook.com/thomastik.infeld.
01727 872372 astitchintune.com
VINYL ME, PLEASE
Vinyl Me, Please Classics celebrates forgotten and left of centre classics in the jazz, blues and soul genre. Remastered and featuring a unique, new Listening Notes booklet, the subscription has featured works from Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Carla Thomas and more. Vinyl Me, Please Classics is a must for the classics-loving fan.
Makers of the ﬁnest quality wood products designed to organize, display and protect vinyl records and media. Save time and ﬁnd music at home easily with stylish laser engraved wood dividers. Offering options to organize LPs, CDs by alphabet, genre and more. Give your collection the care it deserves with products designed to last a lifetime.
MUSIC GLASSES CASE Invented by a viola playing graphic designer, this case will identify your music glasses from your reading specs without resorting to sticky labels! Ideal gift, stocking ﬁller or Secret Santa. Made from sturdy lacquered tin with a ﬂock lining. They also have cases for reading, driving, cinema/TV, sewing/knitting and gardeners' glasses. £12.95 including P&P (UK).
DU MAURIER WATCHES Look stunning this Christmas in gold and red with the Daphne Signature ladies watch by Du Maurier. From British designer Ned du Maurier Browning, this timeless classic looks fabulous at any occasion. Ned has even thoughtfully designed companion jewellery and a choice of strap colours to ensure you don't clash with your Christmas jumper!
01460 220720 dumaurierwatches.com
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Discover New, Exciting & Passionate Music;
Phoebe Ng (Piano) Performs: Excerpts from the Raymond Variations Based on the andantino theme from the Raymond Overture (by Ambroise Thomas)
8-16 DECEM BER
ELIN MANAHAN THOMAS & ELIZABETH KENNY JOGLARESA| ORLANDO CONSORT| BARROCOTOUT THE EBOR SINGERS & CHEYLS CONSORT OF VIOLS CHIAROSCURO QUARTET| THE YORK WAITS CONCERTO DI MARGHERITA| YORKSHIRE BACH CHOIR THE SOCIETY OF STRANGE & ANCIENT INSTRUMENTS
To watch this Stunning Performance and to get your Free digital download, visit: https://vimeo.com/sgpotts/raymondvariations Or Search online for: Raymond Variations Set 1 Sheet music available from: sheetmusicplus.com
Handel’s Messiah Saturday 9 December, 19:30 Sublime music in an exquisite medieval setting with Salisbury Cathedral Choir and the City of London Sinfonia, directed by David Halls Tickets from £10 - £30 available from 01722 320333 and online
salisburycathedral.org.uk Salisbury Cathedral Choral Foundation Charity No 1058899
Dare to believe. This festive season, focus on the music with Allianz Musical Insurance by your side. • • • •
Instrument & accessory cover Unlimited professional use Accidental damage & theft Premiums from £3 a month
Terms and conditions apply. Allianz Musical Insurance is a trading name of Allianz Insurance plc.
MISCELLANEOUS Call us
NO MORE SLIP UPS! ANTI-SLIP DECKING OIL: Highest quality top coat for wood decking
MICROPOROUS NATURAL SLIP-RESISTANT OIL-BASED HIGH COVERAGE
To advertise here please call Stephanie Hall on 0117 300 8535
To advertise here please call Stephanie Hall on 0117 300 8535
Get a quote: allianzmusic.co.uk 0330 102 2068
The BBC Music Magazine PRIZE CROSSWORD NO. 314 The first correct solution of our monthly crossword to be picked at random will win a copy of The Oxford Companion to Music worth £40 (available at book stores or www.oup.co.uk). Send your answers to: BBC Music Magazine, Crossword 314, PO Box 501, Leicester, LE94 0AA to arrive by 30 Nov 2017 (solution in our February 2018 issue). Crossword set by Paul Henderson
THE QUIZ It’s a sin not to give our aptly Faustian questions a try… 1. Premiered in December 1846, La damnation de Faust is largescale choral work – or ‘légende dramatique’ as the composer himself called it – by whom? 2. And whose grand opera Faust was premiered at Paris’s ThéatreLyrique in March 1859? 3. Which Italian violinist had such a phenomenal technique that rumours spread that his mother had sold his soul to the Devil? 4. Which musical interval has long been referred to as ‘diabolus in musica’ (‘the devil in music’)? 5. A regular dabbler in the occult, the composer pictured above had various vices, including singing ritual chants to summon up demons. Who is he? 6. The Devil and Kate, in which the two title characters dance together in the first act, is an 1899 opera by which Czech composer?
Your name & address
7. In Stravinsky’s theatrical work The Soldier’s Tale (1918), what does the soldier sell to the Devil in return for untold riches? 8. Taking its name from devilish set of piano works by Liszt, which 1971 horror film stars Alan Alda as a pianist-turned-music journalist?
9. ‘Lucifer’s Dream, ‘Lucifer’s Dance’ and ‘Lucifer’s Farewell’ are all scenes from which 1984 opera? 10. What slightly devilish quality links Bach’s chorale prelude Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (c1708), Schubert’s Kantate zum Geburtstag des Sängers Johann Michael Vogl (1819) and Purcell’s Suite No. 5 in C major (c.1695)? See p118 for answers
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
SEPTEMBER SOLUTION No. 311
SEPTEMBER WINNER Roy Eaglestone, Northampton Immediate Media Company Limited, publisher of BBC Music Magazine, may contact you with details of our products and services or to undertake research. Please write ‘Do Not Contact’ if you prefer not to receive such information by post or phone. Please write your email address on your postcard if you prefer to receive such information by e-mail. We abide by IPSO’s rules and regulations. To give feedback about our magazines, please email editorialcomplaints@ immediate.co.uk, visit immediate.co.uk, or write to Oliver Condy at the address above (opposite, top right)
ACROSS 7 German composer finding drinks expensive in Paris (9) 10 Island identified by a bell sound? (5) 11 An amount of repetition in the Choral? (5) 12 Carol singer was and is real upset (9) 13 Like Maazel opera ENO will air (not current broadcast) (9) 14 Shun third of concerts after incentive (5) 16 Reclaim revised Haydn symphony (7) 17 Note in rather tense Trout? (7) 18 New English composer rejected chair (5) 19 Percussion ensemble best with Handel (omitting opening, sadly) (5,4) 21 Not once perturbed about mega piano part (9) 23 Portable players? Some devices do pieces in reverse (5) 24 Belgian composer upset most of Keele University (5) 25 Result in part of the stave? (9) DOWN 1 Type of tenor very much accepting a beer (6) 2/17 What Ives pondered, possibly producing new quietness around (10,8) 3 When does the performance start? (Question in Met is misplaced) (8) 4 National song is all realism, blended with a touch of extravagance (2,12) 5 Number ends with the usual seasonal song (4) 6 Recital arranged to introduce new wind instrument (8) 8 Clamorous chant pulsating in choir school (6,8) 9 Violinist’s application regarding note is revolutionary (5) 15 Unit involved with carols not audible by humans? (10) 16 Greek character arranged endless classic Broadway scores? (8) 17 See 2 down 19 Dance moves: favourite kept up on board (5) 20 Composer half-seen in gloaming (6) 22 Run from Mark Elder’s initial style (4)
Family fortunes: a Bach gathering with JS at the harpsichord
Volume 26 No. 2 BBC Music Magazine (ISSN 0966-7180) (USPS 018-168) is published 13 times a year by Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited under licence from BBC Worldwide, 2nd Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN, UK. © Immediate Media Company Bristol Limited, 2017 Printed by William Gibbons & Sons Ltd, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT. Not for resale. All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction in whole or part is prohibited ff without written permission. Every effort has been made to secure permission for copyright material. In the event of any material being used inadvertently, or where it proved impossible to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made in a future issue. MSS, photographs and artwork are accepted on the basis that BBC Music Magazine and its agents do not accept liability for loss or damage to same. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. ISSN 0966-7180. GST Registration No. 898993548RT
NEXT MONTH on sale from 30 November (UK)
A BACH CHRISTMAS A complete guide to BBC Radio 3’s celebration of the Baroque master, with details of all programming and music – plus special features
F R EE u r CD
MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS BBC SINGERS Choral works old and new, including Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Good Day, Sir Christemas, written for us in 2015 PLUS! We join travel writer Horatio Clare as he retraces JS Bach’s walk from Arnstadt to Lübeck; Paul Spicer picks the very best unknown choral works; Clemency Burton-Hill meets the violinist, conductor and showman André Rieu; Paul Riley explores the life and work of composer Michael Praetorius; and much more…
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Jan-Dec 2016 35,734 BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Music that changed me
Gábor Takács-Nagy Violinist and conductor Born in Budapest, Gábor TakácsNagy began learning violin at eight, later studying at the city’s Franz Liszt Academy and then with Nathan Milstein. In 1975, he co-founded the Takács Quartet which he led until 1992, earning worldwide acclaim and winning major awards. Also the founder of the Takács Piano Trio and Mikrokosmos String Quartet, he took up conducting in 2002. Among other posts, he is principal guest conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and, since 2011, director of the Manchester Camerata.
y great-grandmother used to sing Hungarian folk songs to me when I was a very small boy. When I sang them too, I was totally in tune and everybody realised that I had a talent for music. I still love Hungarian folk songs they are deep inside me. But the first record I remember was a Christmas present my parents, who were not musicians but economists, gave me when I was nine. I had already started to play violin, and they chose for me TCHAIKOVSKY’s Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh. This was magical music with magical playing from Oistrakh, and I realised how wonderful a violin can sound. In the 1970s, I had fantastic teachers at the Franz Liszt Academy including composer GYÖRGY KURTÁG. It was an extra plus working with someone who could give us a great insight into what goes on in the brain and soul of a composer. We formed the Takács Quartet at the Academy in 1975, and I remember we worked on his Twelve Microludes. He told us, don’t play how it is written, but what is written. We went on to win competitions and work with many great international quartets. I’m especially grateful to the Amadeus String Quartet; we worked with them many times in London and they gave us tremendous advice. They were all extraordinary musicians but all had totally 126
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Hungarian soul: ‘Solti gave me the courage to conduct’
The choices Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto David Oistrakh (violin); Staatskapelle Dresden/Franz Konwitschny DG 447 4272
Kurtág Twelve Microludes Quatuor Molinari Atma ACD 22705
Schubert String Quintet in C Amadeus String Quartet, William Pleeth DG 423 5432
Bartók Violin Concerto No. 2, Zoltán Székely (violin); Concertgebouw/ Willem Mengelberg Decca 480 7636
Brahms Violin Concerto Yehudi Menuhin (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Boult BBC Music Magazine, Sept 1997 issue
different ideas. It showed me that even if quartets play with unanimous ensemble, each member still has many different ways they could imagine music. Hearing their SCHUBERT Quintet with William Pleeth on second cello in the late 1970s at the Royal Festival Hall was a life-changing experience, in terms of both the music of Schubert and this deeply spiritual playing.
As a chamber music teacher at the Geneva Conservatoire, I never forget this Amadeus Quartet experience always search for new things; never think ‘this is the only way’. In 1981, we spent three months in Banff with Zoltán Székely, Bartók’s close friend, for whom he wrote the big violin concerto. We studied all six Bartók quartets intensively with him, this real genial performer who also knew Ravel and Stravinsky. We could get behind the notes, and he was a direct link to the past. His whole approach was not about technique of course, he talked to me about violin playing but it was much more about the spirituality and the character of the music. He has a famous recording of BARTÓK’s Second Violin Concerto, made at the premiere in Amsterdam in 1939. Another of my absolute favourite concerto recordings is Yehudi Menuhin playing the BRAHMS Violin Concerto with Adrian Boult and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, from 1943. How he plays that piece! I knew Menuhin very well, and this recording is personal for me for many reasons. I came to conducting relatively late. In 2002 I was invited to conduct a new piece by Christophe Fellay at the Swiss EXPO in Biel. It was my first experience, and involved a ten-minute piece, half classical, half jazz; I immediately fell in love with conducting. But the story goes back to 1991, when, on the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, the Takács Quartet played one of his piano quartets in London and in Vienna with conductor Georg Solti. During rehearsals Solti told me, ‘Gábor you could be an excellent conductor. Your body language is so clear that you could conduct immediately and everybody would understand.’ I was still in the Takács Quartet but this remained in my brain that the great Solti said I could be an excellent conductor. In 2002, when I was asked to conduct, I dared to say yes because of the confidence he gave me 11 years earlier. Interview by Amanda Holloway
OSTERFESTSPIELE SALZBURG 2018 CHRISTIAN THIELEMANN SÄCHSISCHE STAATSKAPELLE DRESDEN
SALZBURG EASTER FESTIVAL 24 March — 2 April
SAT • 24 March | MON • 2 April • 18:00 Grosses Festspielhaus
GIACOMO PUCCINI TOSCA Christian Thielemann Conductor Michael Sturminger Stage director Renate Martin and Andreas Donhauser (donmartin supersets) Stage and costume designers Anja Harteros Floria Tosca Aleksandrs Antoņenko Mario Cavaradossi Ludovic Tézier Baron Scarpia Andrea Mastroni Cesare Angelotti Matteo Peirone The Sacristan Mikeldi Atxalandabaso Spoletta Rupert Grössinger Sciarrone Levente Páll A Jailer
Orchestral Concerts Staatskapelle Dresden
Chamber Concerts SUN • 25 March • 15:00 Stiftung Mozarteum, Grosser Saal
SUN • 25 March | SUN • 1 April • 19:00 Grosses Festspielhaus
GIACOMO PUCCINI Preludio sinfonico in A major
Die Pilger for violin, double bass, piano and two percussionists — Austrian premiere
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in E flat major, K. 365
Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Sol Gabetta Violoncello Bertrand Chamayou Piano Musicians of the Staatskapelle Dresden
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 Katia Labèque Piano Marielle Labèque Piano Andrés Orozco-Estrada Conductor
SUN • 1 April • 15:00 Stiftung Mozarteum, Grosser Saal
MON • 26 March | SAT • 31 March •19:00 Grosses Festspielhaus
FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY
Die Pilger for violin, double bass, piano and two percussionists
Die Hebriden. Concert overture, Op. 26
Chorus master: Alois Glaßner
Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor
Concerto for violoncello and orchestra in A minor, Op. 129
Quintet for two violins, viola and two violoncellos in C major, D. 956
Chorus master: Wolfgang Götz
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Sol Gabetta Violoncello Christian Thielemann Conductor
Chamber Opera SUN • 25 March • 17:00 | WED • 28 March •19:00 SA • 31 March • 15:00 • republic
TUE • 27 March | FRI • 30 March • 19:00 Grosses Festspielhaus
Peter Tilling Conductor Georg Schmiedleitner Stage director Harald Thor Set designer Tanja Hofmann Costume designer Juliane Schunke Dramaturg
Symphony No. 3 in D minor
œnm . österreichisches ensemble für neue musik
Concert for Salzburg Staatskapelle Dresden
Choral concert Staatskapelle Dresden
BRUNO MADERNA SATYRICON
Soloists of the Young Ensemble and the Ensemble of the Semperoper Dresden
Sol Gabetta Violoncello Elisaveta Blumina Piano Musicians of the Staatskapelle Dresden
THU • 29 March • 18:00 Grosses Festspielhaus
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH St John Passion, BWV 245
Chorus master: WolfgangGötz
Maximilian Schmitt Evangelist Krešimir Stražanac Jesus Dorothee Mields Soprano Damien Guillon Altus Robin Tritschler Tenor Peter Kooij Bass Collegium Vocale Gent
Christian Thielemann Conductor
Philippe Herreweghe Conductor
Elīna Garanča Mezzo-soprano Ladies of the Wiener Singverein Chorus master:JohannesPrinz
Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor
New production Coproduction with the Semperoper Dresden
As of October 2018. Subject to alteration
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