Saturday, August 27, 2016
I love the sound of the Cello, because of its deep and warm tone in the hands of a mature artist. This CD gives us a large variety of cello melodies as performed by Sol Gabetta: Casals: El Cant dels Ocells (Song of the birds) Chopin: Nocturne No. 4 in F major, Op. 15 No. 1, with Bertrand Chamayou (piano) Delibes: Les filles de Cadix Dvorak: Waldesruhe (Silent woods) for cello and orchestra, Op. 68 No. 5 Rondo in G minor for cello & orchestra, Op. 94, B. 181 Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 Fauré: Pavane, Op. 50 Rimsky Korsakov: Flight of the Bumble Bee Rossini: Largo al factotum (from Il barbiere di Siviglia) Saint-Saëns: Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne Tchaikovsky: Kuda, Kuda ‘Lensky’s Aria’ (from Eugene Onegin Andante Cantabile (from String Quartet No. 1 in D Op. 11) Vasks: Musique du Soir Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Winter, RV297 All performed by Sol Gabetta (cello) Sol Gabetta is an exceptional young cellist, and this is an exceptional compilation of the work she has done in the recording studio so far in her short career. In addition to Elgar’s Cello Concerto, there are also some Elgar salon works, and a couple of really worthwhile short pieces by Dvorak: Silent Woods and the Rondo. The second dosc is mainly given over to short encore pieces such as, inevitably, Saint-Saens’s The Swan , and less obviously, Pablo Casals’s beautiful reworking of a Catalan folk song, The Song of the Birds. Here is Sol Gabetta in the Cello Sonata by Johannes Brahms:
Violinist Barbara Govatos messages from Saratoga Springs: ‘So proud of my colleagues in the Philadelphia Orchestra especially tonight at SPAC when the lights went out on us toward the end of Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from the Four Seasons with Josh Bell. No one stopped playing and it was stupendous. The audience loved it. Another great moment in Philadelphia Orchestra history! Seemed appropriate for SPAC’s 50th anniversary….’
The UK's Edexcel A Level Music set works list has been revised to better reflect women composers. Here is the new list for the academic year 2016/17: Vocal Music ● J. S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg ● Mozart, The Magic Flute ● Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge Instrumental Music ● Vivaldi, Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11 ● Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17: movement 1 ● Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique Music for Film ● Danny Elfman, Batman Returns ● Rachel Portman, The Duchess ● Bernard Herrmann, Psycho Popular Music and Jazz ● Courtney Pine, Back in the Day ● Kate Bush, Hounds of Love ● Beatles, Revolver Fusions ● Debussy, Estampes ● Familia Valera Miranda, Caña Quema ● Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water New Directions ● Cage, Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos ● Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics ● Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring With Kaija Saariaho's music in schools all is not lost. Here is her Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics: Header photo was taken by me at a 2012 Sistema England and Britten Sinfonia education event. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Few artists have had such a prolonged and successful career as Lettish violinist Gidon Kremer, born at Riga in 1947. By 1965 he was studying with no less than David Oistrakh at Moscow. In his early twenties he started on a sui generis, maverick way that alternated the standard repertoire with innovative new material, some of it impregnated with the impish humor of a Shostakovich. His virtuosity impressed, but in a leaner, more modern style than his teacher´s. A gregarious man, he soon made friends among colleagues such as Argerich and they recorded brilliant Beethoven. Emulating our pianist´s love for chamber festivals with artists she appreciates, the violinist founded his own Lockenhaus Festival in Austria: there he often experimented with new composers along with the great classics, but he also did humoristic concerts (there´s a truly funny CD of that Kremer trait). And it was at Lockenhaus that he presented in 1997 the string orchestra he called Kremerata Baltica, integrated by 23 youthful interpreters from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the three Baltic countries liberated when the USSR imploded. Kremer was 50 then, he is now 69. His Kremerata (in itself a playful denomination) visited (according to the "biography" in the hand programme) 50 countries in 600 cities (!), offering a thousand concerts and recording 20 CDs. And they have their own Festival in Sigula, Latvia. During his young years Kremer did concertos with symphony orchestras, recitals with piano and chamber music. He came to BA with his pianist wife of that time and showed his double nature playing such curious things as a piece called "Ferdinand the Bull"! Biographies in our hand programmes have the nasty habit of giving no information about previous visits of the artists presented by the institution; they are just translations of an international short biography that often leaves out important information, and to boot sometimes are poorly translated. I can´t believe that Kremer should be described as the violinist with the most traditional career when he is quite the opposite, but that´s what´s printed...Anyway, although I don´t have an archive, I can vouchsafe that Kremer visited us several times, either in recitals or at least once with the Kremerata. Kremer (counting those of the Kremerata) has recorded 120 CDs and has premièred a great number of scores, especially from Russia and the Baltic countries. His contribution has been quite valuable and a reviewer has to take a trajectory into account. However, what we heard at the Coliseo for Nuova Harmonia was a prime example of talented excentricity, something rarely seen at that conservative concert association. So the evening was at turns fascinating and arbitrary. As playing I anticipate a verdict: bingo for the Kremerata, a crack group of fantastic players; but an uneven Kremer, sometimes below his reputation. And in the choice of scores, ear-opening novelties alternated with anodine ditties or bad arrangements. The Polish composer Miecyslaw Weinberg (1919-96) was known in the USSR as Moses Vainberg; a man of real creative power, friend of Shostakovich, his career was ruined by the detestable Cultural Commissar Andrei Zhdanov: Vainberg was arrested in 1953, for his composing was in "Jewish nationalist bourgeois style"... After Stalin´s death the artist was rehabilitated and gradually some of his music was recorded, but he is still little-known. In an incomprehensible mistake, the hand programme lists that we heard his Concerto for violin and orchestra; no, it was the Concertino for violin and strings published posthumously in 2007; and in three movements, not four! It is a beautiful work in a style that respects tradition but always has a personal touch, and it turned out to be the best interpretation from both Kremer and his orchestra. Although the audience went wild, I can´t agree about the strange arrangement by Leonid Desyatnikov called "Quadro porteno", based on Piazzolla´s "Las Cuatro Estaciones porteñas"). The arranger mixes our composer with Vivaldi (bad joke) and veers from the Piazzolla style with winks to Salgán or Pugliese. Kremer´s playing was often harsh but the orchestra was splendid, especially the cellist Giedre Dirvanauskeite. The high point of the evening was the very skillful arrangement for strings by Jacques Cohen (b. 1969) of Mussorgsky´s wonderful "Pictures at an Exhibition", though the addition of percussion by Andrei Pushkarev (member of the Kremerata, along with a colleague, for just this score) wasn´t always helpful. But the playing of the orchestra was memorable, goaded by the extraordinary concertino Dzeraldas Bidva: not just technical perfection but an ideal understanding of each picture´s content. Here comes the moot point. For Kremer did a strange thing: he asked the audience not to applaud until the last item and started the Second Part playing Tchaikovsky´s "Melancholy Serenade" in a correct arrangement by Desyatnikov played lightly by Kremer, without the rich tone such music requires; he went discreetly off the stage and Mussorgsky started. And as the tremendous fortissimi of the last measures of "The Great Gate of Kiev" subsided to a pianissimo (!), Kremer came subtly back and played Valentyn Silvestrov´s slow short "Serenade" for solo violin, in this case appropriately softly...and that was the end! The encores, with soloist and orchestra, were disparate and opposed: a small Oriental melody, very quiet, "Umebayshi", by Jumi Lee; and what seemed like Shostakovich in his most unbridled sarcastic humor but turned out to be Vainberg´s music for a cartoon, "Bonifacio´s vacation", brilliantly played. For Buenos Aires Herald
In this year of Shakespeare celebrations, the opera world too is marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. Glyndebourne not least, with one new and one old Shakespearean productions in their summer season. Do you know your Titania from your Trinculo? Try our quizWhich Italian tenor sang the title role in Verdi’s Otello more than 400 times and was buried in his Otello costume? Luciano Pavarotti Enrico CarusoMario del MonacoFrancesco TamagnoIn Thomas Ades’s opera The Tempest, Caliban’s original speech “The isle is full of noises, / Sounds, and sweet airs” becomes which glorious aria? “Twangling instruments will hum”“This noisy place”“Friends don’t fear” “Friends do fear” In cutting and rearranging the text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to make the play work as an opera libretto, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears made one mistake with the plot. Did they:Forget to cure Tytania of her infatuation with BottomForget to cure Bottom of his ass headForget to wake up the lovers; the opera ends with everyone still asleep in the forest Forget to marry off the mortals before Theseus sends them all to bedWagner’s second opera was a flop when it premiered: it was performed once in 1836 then cancelled the next night when only three people showed up. Wagner himself later called it “a sin of my youth”… What’s the opera, and on which Shakespeare play is it based?Die Feen (The Fairies), based on A Midsummer Night’s DreamDas Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love), based on Measure for MeasureMännerlist größer als Frauenlist oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men are more cunning than women or The Happy Bear family), based on Twelfth Night Die hohe Braut (The High-born Bride), based on The Taming of the ShrewFor the Paris version of Verdi’s Otello, premiered at the Theatre de L’Opera in 1894, Verdi added what to the opera’s third act?Live animals A raffle A Punch and Judy précis of the plot A ballet The text of Hans Abrahamsen’s sublime song cycle Let Me Tell You — composed in 2013 for the soprano Barbara Hannigan — strings together the lines of which female Shakespeare character? Juliet Lady Macbeth Ophelia Desdemona Which two Shakespeare plays form the basis of Verdi’s Falstaff? The Taming of the Shrew The Merry Wives of Windsor Much Ado About Nothing King Henry IVOn New Year’s Eve 2011, Placido Domingo played his first-ever god role and finally achieved on-stage status to match the deified heights of his career. The production was Jeremy Sams’s pasticcio This Enchanted Island — a mash-up of The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream plus bits of Handel and Vivaldi. It premiered at the Metropolitan Opera. Which god did Domingo play?Apollo NeptuneCupidDionysus Where and when was the first UK performance of Berlioz’s 1862 opera comique Béatrice et Bénédict?London, 1863London, 1963Glasgow, 1936Cardiff, 2001Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains just one line of text that doesn’t come directly from the Shakespeare play. Is it: Lysander to Hermia: “Compelling thee to marry with Demetrius”Hippolyta to Theseus: “Thou art foxier than all our subjects put together” Tytania to Puck: “more of thy trippy herb, good sir”Bottom to nobody in particular: “methinks this wall must fall”“No one but a barbarian or a Frenchman would have dared to make such a lamentable burlesque of so tragic a theme”. The words of a London critic for the Pall Mall Gazette in 1890 — but to which opera did he refer? Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector BerliozHamlet by Ambroise ThomasLe Marchand de Venise by Reynaldo HahnRoméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod Among the cast of Jonathan Kent’s 2009 production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne was a corps de ballet of: Bonking rabbits Humping voles Rutting hedgehogsBanging badgers 10 and above. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (Twelfth Night, Act II, v)0 and above."Lord what fools these mortals be" (Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, iii)5 and above."Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt.” (Measure for Measure, Act I, iv) Continue reading...
Cappella Gabetta/Gabetta (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi)The constant quest for rare pieces of repertory continues, and this collection explores some very little-known names. Joseph Umstatt was a son of the court painter to Empress Anna Amalia, while Angelo Ragazzi worked in Naples and Barcelona before becoming part of the Habsburg court. Their music sounds distinctly galant and up-to-date, with a touch of the early classical style – they make Vivaldi seem quite old-fashioned. The violinist Andrés Gabetta relishes the soloistic violin style. The real unknown here is Joseph Timmer, one of a prolific family, whose Concerto à 5 has not been recorded before. “His compositions are rather unattractive,” laments the Grove Dictionary, but I found it cheery and well-developed. Continue reading...
Antonio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 - July 28, 1741), was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over 40 operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi worked between 1703 and 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, and the composer died a pauper, without a steady source of income. Though Vivaldi's music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded Baroque composers.
Great composers of classical music