Friday, April 28, 2017
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 Performed by Yevgeny Sudbin (piano), with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vänskä conducting. On two previous CD’s Yevgeny Sudbin and Osmo Vänskä have released Beethoven’s three last piano concertos with reactions that included ‘absolutely stunning’ (Fanfare) and ‘a Beethoven experience you will not want to miss’ (ClassicsToday.com). For the final disc in their cycle, Sudbin and Vänskä have travelled to Helsinki to team up with Tapiola Sinfonietta, one of the top Nordic ensembles, and well suited for these earlier and more classical of Beethoven’s concertos. Of the two, the one we now know as the Second was actually begun several years before Concerto No. 1, and indeed even before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna. During the following decade, Beethoven returned to the score repeatedly and made substantial revisions – including composing a new final movement – and ultimately the C major concerto reached publication first. Both concertos were conceived long before Beethoven’s involvement with his symphonies. The influence of Mozart and Haydn is evident in the interaction between the orchestra and the soloist – but Beethoven’s individual spirit is nevertheless unmistakeable. Here is Mr. Sudbin in Beethoven’s Concerto number 5:
According to the planners of the 2017 BBC Proms, it takes five Mahler symphonies to fill the Albert Hall. In a year when there is not the usual excuse for overkill of an anniversary, half the composer's symphonic output is featured in one season, with three of the symphonies played in a five day period. The five symphonies include the First; this has been performed thirteen times at the Proms since the turn of the century, with this year's performance the fourth in four years. That other perennial excuse of planners that a warhorse coupled with a 'difficult' work broadens audience tastes also doesn't apply. Two of the Mahler symphonies have no coupled work, Haydn, Schubert and Dvořák are coupled to the other three, and the only contemporary coupling is a seven minute piece by John Adams. That header graphic is a pencil sketch of Sir Malcolm Arnold by his son. Malcolm Arnold wrote symphonies that surely would appeal to today's Mahler-satiated audiences, but, predictably, none of them are performed at the 2017 Proms. In a 1971 Guardian article Sir Malcolm accused critics of having preconceived and narrow views which forced promoters to programme works by a limited range of composers, and ended by deploying an unfortunate analogy to declare: "Let us say down, down, down with the music critics before they make our music the arid and joyless music of the concentration camp". In a similarly thoughtful but savage attack on fellow harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani in the current Van magazine*, Andreas Staier also directs his ire at critics, saying: "The press is at fault here too. In none of the interviews [with Mahan Esfahani] I cited was a single critical follow-up question asked. And the media has such a short attention span that contradictory and inconsistent statements are ignored even if they occur within just weeks of one other." Andreas Staier is right to criticise, but chooses the wrong target. Music critics now have little influence except as opinion formers on social media, and that is where the problem lies. The Mahler glut and Mhan Esfahani's attention-seeking antics are products of the so-called wisdom of crowds. When that great Proms planner William Glock was asked what he wanted to offer audiences, he replied "What they will like tomorrow". Five Mahler symphonies at the 2017 Proms is yet another illustration of how the wisdom of crowds and social media is a flawed tool for concert planners, because it only tells them what audiences like today. * My thanks go to Andrew Morris' Devil's Trill blog for drawing attention to the Andreas Staier article. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Formula saves the BBC Proms 2017! This may be the beginning of the end for Sir Henry Wood's dreams of the Proms as serious music. Fortunately The Formula, perfected by much-maligned Roger Wright, is strong enough to withstand the anti-music agendas of the suits and robots who now run the Proms. Shame on those who rely on formula instead of talent, but in dire straits, autopilot can save things from falling apart. So, sift through the detritus of gimmick and gameshow to find things worth saving (Read here what I wrote about The Formula) Danierl Barenboim is a Proms perennial, for good reason, so we can rely on his two Elgar Proms (16 and 17 July) especially the Sunday one which features a new work by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Deep Time, which at 25 minutes should be substantial Pascal Dusapin's Outscape on 19/7, 28 minutes, also substantial Anotherr "regular" Proms opera, Fidelio on 21/7, with a superlative cast headed by Stuart Skelton and Ricarda Merbeth, tho' Juanjo Mena conducts Ilan Volkov conducts Julian Anderson's new Piano Concerto on 26/7 , tho's the rest of the programme, though good isn't neccesarily Volkov's forte On 29/7 Mark Wigglesworth conducts David Sawer's The Greatest Happiness Principle On 31/7, Monteverdi Vespers with French baroque specialists Pygmalion On 1/8, William Christie conducts the OAE in Handel Israel in Egypt and on 2/8, John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists do Bach and my beloved Heinrich Schütz. On 8/8 Gardiner returns with Berlioz The Damnation of Faust, with Michael Spyres. First of this year's four Mahlers is Mahler's Tenth (Cooke) with Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Robin Ticciati, back with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on 15/8 with an interesting pairing, Thomas Larcher Nocturne-Insomnia with Schumann Symphony no 2. Throughout this season, there are odd mismatches between repertoire and performers, good conductors doing routine material, less good conductors doing safe and indestructable. Fortunately, baroque and specialist music seem immune. See above ! and also the Prom featuring Lalo, Délibes and Saint-Saëns with François Xavier-Roth and Les Siècles on 16/8 Perhaps these Proms attract audiences who care what they're listening to Schoenberg's Gurrelieder on 19/8 with Simon Rattle, whose recording many years back remains a classic but may not be known to whoever described the piece in the programme "Gurrelieder is Schoenberg’s Tristan and Isolde, an opulent, late-Romantic giant." Possibly the same folk who dreamed up the tag "Reformation Day" like Nigel Faarage's "Independence Day" Nothing in life is that simplistic The music's OK, but notn the marketing. Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC SO in Elgar Symphony no 3 (Anthony Payne) on 22/8 Potentially this will be even bigger than the Barenboim Elgar symphonies, since Oramo is particularly good with this symphony, which may not be as high profile but is certainly highly regarded by those who love Elgar On 26/8, Jakub Hrůša conducts the BBC SO in an extremely well chosen programme of Suk, Smetana, Martinů, Janáček and Dvorák More BBCSO on 31/8 when Semyon Bychkov conducts a Russian programme Marketing guff seems to make a big deal of national stereotypes, which is short sighted These programmes cohere musically, but that's perhaps too much to expect from the new Proms mindset On 1/9, Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Bruckner and Wolfgang Rihm An odd pairing but one which will come off well since these musicians know what they're doing They are back again on 2/9 with Haydn "The Bear" and Mahler Fourth which isn't "sunny" or "song-filled". It's Mahler, not a musical. Gergiev brings the Mariinsky on 3/9 with Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich Symphony no 5. Another huge highlight on 7/9 : The Wiener Philharmoniker, with Daniel Harding in Mahler Symphony no 6 - so powerful that nothing else needs to be added to sugar the pill For me, and for many others, that will be the real :Last Night of the Proms Party time the next day, with Nina Stemme as star guest
Steven Osborne: "The only thing I've played in the last 20 years by Chopin is the Cello Sonata. I enjoyed doing it, but it was hard work finding my way into the style: I worked out what gestures were going to work and did my best to make it organic. With the music I love playing I don't have to think in those terms because the gestures come immediately from the feeling I have about the piece. Some day I might suddenly fall in love with Chopin - but the world doesn't really need another Chopin pianist." (He doesn't have much use for Haydn, either.)
Sampson/Ovendon/Foster-Williams, National Forum of Music Choir, Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort & Players/McCreesh (Signum)This successor to Haydn’s Creation has often felt in the shadow of the earlier masterpiece, but this recording brings it thrillingly to life. Avoiding the early-music tendency to small forces, Paul McCreesh assembles a massive throng of singers and players, the numbers that might have performed the piece in 1801. And what a noise they make! From the rasping horns of the hunt, through the burbling wind and (occasionally scratchy) strings, the score conjures up the glories of the countryside through the changing year, with storms, streams and shady groves. McCreesh’s fresh new translation animates the top-class solo singing, while the massed choruses blow the roof off. Glorious. Continue reading...
Marianela Nuñez in Giselle © ROH 2016. Photograph by Tristram Kenton Details of The Royal Ballet's 2017/18 Season have been announced. The full production list is as follows: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 27 September—28 October 2017 Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon Music: Joby Talbot Cast TBC Follow Alice down the rabbit hole in Christopher Wheeldon’s exuberant ballet, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s much-loved book. Jeux (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration) 18–24 October 2017 (Clore Studio Upstairs) Choreography: Wayne Eagling after Kenneth MacMillan and Vaslav Nijinsky Music: Claude Debussy Cast TBC As part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, The Royal Ballet dances Wayne Eagling’s short ballet inspired by MacMillan’s re-creation of Nijinsky’s lost Debussy work. Concerto / Le Baiser de la fée / Elite Syncopations (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration) 18–19 October 2017 Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Dmitry Shostakovich / Igor Stravinsky / Scott Joplin Performed by: The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet Cast TBC Dancers from the UK’s five leading ballet companies perform two of MacMillan’s sunniest works alongside a new production of his dark, classical fairytale, as part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration. The Judas Tree / Song of the Earth (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration) 24 October—1 November 2017 Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Gustav Mahler / Brian Elias Performed by: The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet Cast TBC The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet present two of Kenneth MacMillan’s most complex and important works, in the second programme of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration. Sea of Troubles (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration) 26 October—1 November 2017 (Clore Studio Upstairs) Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Anton Webern and Bohuslav Martinů Cast TBC As part of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration, Yorke Dance Project performs Kenneth MacMillan’s powerful short ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Gloria / The Judas Tree / Elite Syncopations (part of MacMillan: A National Celebration) 26–27 October 2017 Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Francis Poulenc / Brian Elias / Scott Joplin Performed by: The Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet Cast TBC Leading UK dance companies perform three ballets that show the range and versatility of MacMillan’s muse, in the third and final programme of Kenneth MacMillan: a National Celebration. The Illustrated 'Farewell' NEW / The Wind NEW / Untouchable 2x WORLD PREMIERES 6–17 November 2017 Choreography: Twyla Tharp / Arthur Pita / Hofesh Shechter Music: Joseph Haydn / Frank Moon and Christopher Austin / Hofesh Shechter and Nell Catchpole Cast TBC Twyla Tharp and Arthur Pita create new works for The Royal Ballet, in a programme that includes the first revival of Hofesh Shechter’s 2015 work for the Company. Sylvia 23 November—16 December 2017 Choreography: Frederick Ashton Music: Léo Delibes Cast TBC Frederick Ashton’s delightful full-length classical ballet is a charming feast for the senses, set to Delibes’ marvellous score. The Nutcracker 5 December 2017—10 January 2018 Choreography: Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky Cast TBC A young girl’s enchanted present leads her on a wonderful Christmas adventure in this beautiful classical ballet, danced to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. Giselle 19 January—9 March 2018 Choreography: Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot Music: Adolphe Adam revised by Lars Paine Cast TBC The greatest of all Romantic ballets, Peter Wright’s production of Marius Petipa’s classic is a tale of betrayal, the supernatural and love that transcends death. The Winter's Tale 13 February—21 March 2018 Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon Music: Joby Talbot Cast TBC Shakespeare’s tale of love and loss becomes compelling dance drama in Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet adaptation, with music by Joby Talbot. NEW Wayne McGregor / The Age of Anxiety / NEW Christopher Wheeldon 2x WORLD PREMIERES 15 March—13 April 2018 Choreography: Wayne McGregor / Liam Scarlett / Christopher Wheeldon Music: Leonard Bernstein Cast TBC The Royal Ballet celebrates the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with an all-Bernstein programme from the Company’s three associate choreographers, Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon. Manon 29 March—16 May 2018 Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Jules Massenet Cast TBC Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece of modern ballet is revived this Season as part of continuing celebrations of MacMillan’s profound impact on British ballet, to mark the 25th anniversary of his death. Obsidian Tear / Marguerite and Armand / Elite Syncopations 14 April—11 May 2018 Choreography: Wayne McGregor / Frederick Ashton / Kenneth MacMillan Music: Esa-Pekka Salonen / Franz Liszt / Scott Joplin Performed by: The Royal Ballet Cast TBC Characteristic works from three of The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographers – Wayne McGregor, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan – display the diversity of The Royal Ballet and its virtuoso dancers. Swan Lake NEW PRODUCTION 17 May—21 June 2018 Choreography: Liam Scarlett after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky Cast TBC The Royal Ballet presents a new production of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent classical ballet, with additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and designs by John Macfarlane. The Royal Ballet School Summer Performance 2018 8 July 2018 This summer showcase offers a chance to see the depth and breadth of talent emerging from The Royal Ballet School. What are you most looking forward to in the 2017/18 Season? Let us know in the comments below or using the #ROH201718 hashtag on Twitter.
Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 - 31 May 1809) was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Hungarian aristocratic Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original". At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe. Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Great composers of classical music