Saturday, June 25, 2016
Many years ago, while I was a member of a school orchestra, we worked on “Finlandia”, one of the most well known works by Jean Sibelius. On this recording we hear that work and much more. Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 Finlandia, Op. 26 Karelia Suite, Op. 11 Performed by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons conducting.The music of the symphonic poem “Finlandia”, op 26 – as it were the unofficial national anthem of Finland – became internationally known in 1900, and continues to be world-famous today, not only because of the hymn-like chorale that concludes it. Sibelius’ “Karelia” Suite op. 11, composed some years earlier, became internationally famous as well. The Symphony No. 2, op 43, the best-known and most popular of the composer’s seven completed symphonies, premiered in 1902. With this work Sibelius moved from being a national Finnish composer to becoming an international one. Here is Mariss Jansons, leading a performance of the Second Symphony by Jean Sibelius:
Carré, Amsterdam Dazzling performances in this new theatre piece about a Jesuit polymath bring Louis Andriessen’s exhilarating soundworld to life Dutch National Opera, named as opera company of the year at last month’s international opera awards, is on a high at the moment. At its inaugural Opera Forward festival in March, it premiered new works by Michel van der Aa and Kaija Saariaho. The company’s contributions to this month’s Holland festival, meanwhile, are not only the world stage premiere of Louis Andriessen’s latest theatre piece, but also an outstanding new production of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, the latter directed with exceptional intelligence by Stefan Herheim and conducted by Mariss Jansons.Andriessen describes Theatre of the World, first performed in concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic last month, as a “grotesque in nine scenes”. Helmut Krausser’s libretto is built around the life of Athanasius Kircher, a 17th-century German Jesuit scholar and polymath, and one of those historical figures who was described as the last man to know everything – even though after his death his writings and theories on a huge range of cultural and scientific subjects were derided by the leaders of the Enlightenment. Continue reading...
The are bringing back a well-worn production to fit a new star. Full details of La Scala’s new season, announced this morning, below: ALEXANDER PEREIRA: THE 2016/2017 SEASON The opening of the 2016/2017 Season with the first version of Madame Butterfly, in the wake of Turandot and La fanciulla del West, marks a vital step in the Puccini project that is so dear to Riccardo Chailly, who on 1 January 2017 will take up his appointment as Music Director, confirming the plan to bring back to Piermarini’s Theatre the works that had their first ever performances here. It is directed by Alvis Hermanis, who is familiar to La Scala fans for two magnificent and very different shows, Die Soldaten and I due Foscari, and the leading lady Maria José Siri is a new and extraordinarily talented voice alongside Bryan Hymel’s Pinkerton. The televising of the event marks 40 years of collaboration between La Scala and the RAI since their partnership in 1976 with Otello conducted by Carlos Kleiber. 2017 opens with three major Verdi productions. Don Carlo returns in the version in five acts that has not been performed at La Scala since the edition conducted by Claudio Abbado 40 years ago. Myung-Whun Chung, a noted authority on Verdi, will conduct a fine cast, of whom we have to mention at least Ferruccio Furlanetto, Krassimira Stoyanova and Francesco Meli. Directed most efficaciously by the great Peter Stein, it translates all the dryness of the signature dramaturgy. Zubin Mehta will conduct Falstaff in the staging by Damiano Michieletto set in Casa Verdi: a decidedly Milanese production with Ambrogio Maestri in the role he is by now synonymous with. La Traviata will be back in March with the lavish staging designed by Liliana Cavani in 1990, with an exceptional protagonist, Anna Netrebko, in the prime of her artistic and interpretative maturity. And it will be the first time conducting Verdi at La Scala for Nello Santi, repository and custodian of the most authentic traditions of Italian melodrama: in October he will also be conducting the revival of Nabucco in Daniele Abbado’s show. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Wagner sets us off on a journey through the musical culture of German Romanticism, which pops up during the Season with two other titles: Hänsel und Gretel and Der Freischütz. Directed by Harry Kupfer, an artist who is woven into the tapestry of German theatre, with Daniele Gatti on the podium, who has already conducted two productions with this title to great acclaim. Michael Volle is simply the finest living interpreter of Sachs. While in 2016, with La cena delle beffe, we brought Verismo back to La Scala, our mission to re-appropriate the Italian repertoire continues now with bel canto. April will see the staging of Anna Bolena with a very young leading lady who comes from our Academy, Federica Lombardi, conducted by Bruno Campanella, who knows Italian melodrama of the early 1800s better than most. And in 1817 Rossini presented The thieving Magpie at La Scala: a masterpiece of the semiseria genre that returns with a great Rossini conductor, Riccardo Chailly, the debut at La Scala of the Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores, and a perfect cast of actor-singers. One of the finest baritones of our time, Thomas Hampson, plays a Don Giovanni torn between vitality and disillusionment in the revival of the staging by Robert Carsen, conducted by Paavo Järvi, whose Mozart interpretation won me over in Vienna. The revival of Franco Zeffirelli’s historic Bohème, then, is the occasion of a La Scala debut for one of the soprano revelations of recent years, Sonya Yoncheva. On the podium will be Evelino Pidò, who comes from our orchestra, but despite his brilliant international career has conducted only a performance of Rigoletto at La Scala before now. The twentieth anniversary of the death of Giorgio Strehler will be marked by performing one of his most magical shows, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, conducted by the person who held him at his baptism in Salzburg in 1965: Zubin Mehta. Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel is the Academy project this year: conductor Marc Albrecht and director Sven-Eric Bechtolf will work together for months with the young artists to create a performance that is up to La Scala standards in all respects. One of the most cherished programmes the Orchestra is engaged in is the formation of an ensemble playing historical instruments: the latest step on this path is Handel’s Tamerlano, which brings one of Italy’s finest directors, Davide Livermore, to La Scala for the first time, with extraordinary singers such as Plácido Domingo and Bejun Mehta. Another important date with directing is Der Freischütz, staged by Matthias Hartmann, the former director of the Burgtheater in Vienna, and conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. To conclude the Season, we are presenting the world premiere of the new opera by Salvatore Sciarrino, Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo, directed by Jürgen Flimm, who is bound to the Italian composer by a friendship that strengthens their artistic affinity. It is conducted by the young Maxime Pascal, founder of an orchestra dedicated to contemporary music in Paris. The Ballet Season, which is the first one for Director Mauro Bigonzetti, is the first step along a path of progression for the Corps de Ballet of La Scala. The titles increase from six to seven, in addition to the Ballet School show, and for the second year in a row, Opening Night brings another first, Coppélia by Bigonzetti with Roberto Bolle. The historical choreographies of Balanchine, Fokin, Tetley and MacMillan are bolstered by the innovation of Eugenio Scigliano, and for the first time a piece choreographed by artists from the Corps de Ballet, who are engaged in an unprecedented challenge. Also returning is Swan Lake by Alexei Ratmansky, an artistic reconstruction of the choreography of Petipa and Ivanov. There is a considerable element of pride in the quality of the music: the ballets will be conducted by maestros such as Zubin Mehta, Paavo Järvi, Michail Jurowski, Patrick Fournillier, Felix Korobov and David Coleman. The concert programme includes the greatest living conductors. Riccardo Chailly will be on the podium for two evenings of the Symphony Season, Verdi’s Requiem in October, and the concert to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arturo Toscanini on 25 March 1867. The Symphony Season also sees the return of legends such as Christoph von Dohnányi (who also conducts the Christmas Concert), Georges Prêtre and Bernard Haitink; while for the Extraordinary Concerts, we will listen to Mariss Jansons with the Bayerischer Rundfunk. Finally, we are delighted to welcome Riccardo Muti back to La Scala. He returns with two concerts with the Chicago Symphony, to conduct once again in the Theatre that he was Musical Director of for 19 years. Completing the programme are singing recitals, including some of the most celebrated voices on the international scene. One of the projects dearest to my heart is the “Great Shows for Children” programme, which next year, too, will bring tens of thousands of kids and their parents to La Scala to discover operas of the great repertoire in shortened form and featuring the musicians of the Academy. Added to the revival of Cinderella for Children is Il ratto dal serraglio (The Abduction from the Seraglio) by Mozart, in Italian and coinciding with the complete edition in the Opera Season, and five concerts preceded by an introduction for children. See you in your Theatre. Alexander Pereira
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Mariss Jansons (RCO) Prokofiev composed his Fifth Symphony in an artists’ retreat north of Moscow during the summer of 1944, while Soviet troops pushed west toward Berlin. He said he wanted the music to “sing of mankind free and happy” and in this performance, recorded live in Amsterdam in 2014, Mariss Jansons treats the score with a deep, exalted sort of heroism that speaks beyond any immediate politics of the piece. We get beautiful playing from the great Dutch orchestra: lines unfolding graciously with that majestic Concertgebouw sound, which glowers and glows from the bottom up and in which Jansons takes plenty of time to wallow. Tempos are august but never drag, so long as you sit back and accept the pacing. There’s a grandeur to the architecture centring around a third movement that plays out like a noble collective confessional. Don’t expect quick thrills or biting wit; this is a Prokofiev Five built on gravitas and reflection, and for that it is glorious. Continue reading...
The premier performance of Beethoven’s symphony number 3 (Eroica) took place in Vienna on this day, April 7, 1805. This amazing composition forever changed the character of Classical music. The times of Haydn and Mozart during which music was all about style, beauty, and loveliness had ended. Beethoven introduced more passion, more emotion, shorter phrases, and more crescendo to change future music for ever. So… I give some thought today to the past 211 years, and I am grateful to Ludwig van Beethoven for his immense contributions. Listen now to Maris Jansons leading a performance of the Eroica Symphony:
Haydn: Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major, Hob.VIIa:1 Violin Concerto No. 3 in A major, Hob.VIIa:3 ‘Melker Konzert’ Violin Concerto No. 4 in G major, Hob.VIIa:4 Performed by Isabelle Faust (violin), with the Münchener Kammerorchester, Christoph Poppen conducting. Isabelle Faust is known for exceptional technique and strong interpretive instincts. She performs a wide-ranging repertoire, from J.S Bach all the way through to contemporary composers such as Ligeti, Lachenmann and Widmann. Always eager to explore new musical horizons, Faust is equally at home as a chamber musician and as a soloist with major orchestras or period ensembles. Over the course of her career, she has regularly performed with world-renowned conductors including Claudio Abbado, Frans Brüggen, Mariss Jansons, Giovanni Antonini, Philippe Herreweghe, Daniel Harding and Bernard Haitink. Isabelle Faust plays the Stradivarius violin of 1704, known as the ‘Sleeping Beauty’.