Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids

31.12.12

Best Recordings of 2012 (#4)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 4 - New Release


F.Schubert, Fanatsie in C, Rondo in b, Sonata in A, Carolin Widmann, Alexander Lonquich, ECM 1648702


available at Amazon
Schumann, Fanatsie, Rondo, Sonata
C.Widmann, A.Lonquich
ECM

Carolin Widmann is a household name only in households that listen to lots of Sciarrino, Boulez, or her brother Jörg’s music. But the German violinist with the most musical pizzicato in the business has a very deft hand with the romantic repertoire, too. Her Schumann Sonatas (also ECM) are a revelation; this Schubert here is equally gratifying. The way Widmann and pianist Alexander Lonquich throw themselves into the klutzy rhythms of the Rondo’s Allegro, then emerge with the sunniest, most graceful disposition as if nothing had happened, causes smiles inside. That's something no one else quite achieves that way, not even the smartest other such Schubert recording, that of Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov. The Fantasie has an assertive, feisty quality, devoid of romantic slobbering in the Andantino. And out of the marginalized A-major sonata Widmann and her accomplice make something that sounds like top-shelf Schubert.

# 4 – Reissue


F.Chopin, Nocturnes, Ivan Moravec, Supraphon 4097

Ionarts-at-Large: HJ Lim, Ken Masur, and Hints of Scriabin


HJ Lim is best known for a marketing blast by EMI, eager to promote the young Korean pianist’s recording of the (almost*) complete Beethoven sonatas which was given away for a tenner on iTunes: An audacious undertaking, accompanied by cringe-worthy high-falutin’ ‘chapter-titles’ into which Lim divided the sonatas. The accompanying essays fluctuate between astute observation and reinforcing the very stereotype meant to fight: That of a self-assured young mind (itself no crime) engaged in pouty pseudo-intellectualism and self-justification: why should a twenty-something pianist not go toe-to-toe with Backhaus, Kempf, Gilels, Arrau, and the 70-some other pianists that have tackled the Beethoven sonatas.

I passed on the effort; a few cursory dips into the late sonatas on Spotify seemed to justify the focus on other Beethoven cycles projects, recent and ongoing. But as a marketing tool it was a success, still, and when HJ Lim came through town, playing with the Munich Symphony Orchestra—the number six orchestra in town—I was sufficiently intrigued to check it all out.

For a little pre-concert concert that the MSO occasionally programs, HJ Lim had picked the concert-unrelated topic of Alexander Scriabin. After an earnest, labored spoken introduction by an orchestra official, Miss Lim came on stage and performed the brief Étude Pathétique op.8/12, one of the most readily charming picks for an audience of—presumably—Scriabin neophytes, perfectly suited to have them

Classical Music Agenda (January 2013)

Happy New Year to all of our readers! Now that we have nearly put 2012 in the rear view mirror, it is time to think about the ten concerts we most want to hear in the coming month. Hope to see you at some of these performances!

VIRTUOSOS:
The last Sunday of the month features an impossible pileup of top-notch performers, all of whom we want to hear. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform all of Paganini's Caprices, split between two venues, the Phillips Collection (January 27, 4 pm) and the National Gallery of Art (January 27, 6:30 pm). Tickets: $20 (Phillips) and FREE (NGA).


Another violinist we admire, Vilde Frang, will be playing at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, presented by Washington Performing Arts Society (January 27, 7:30 pm). Her program, performed with pianist Michael Lifits, will include music by Mozart, Brahms, and Prokofiev. Tickets: $35.

Even so, we will probably have to drop everything and go to Shriver Hall in Baltimore to hear the recital by pianist Marc-André Hamelin (January 27, 5:30 pm), playing music by Bach, Busoni, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. Tickets: $39.

Pair that with a recital by pianist Richard Goode the previous weekend (January 19, 8 pm), presented by the Candlelight Concert Society at Howard Community College's Smith Theater in Columbia, Md. He will play the last three sonatas of Beethoven, plus the same composer's set of bagatelles. Tickets: $30.

OLD AND NEW:
The second week of January is going to be equally tight to schedule. Having now been bitten by the JACK Quartet bug, we would not want to miss their performance in the Barns at Wolf Trap (January 11, 8 pm). Composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel will join them in a program of music by Ligeti and Brahms, plus the world premiere of Bermel's A Short History of the Universe. Tickets: $35.

Every January we look forward to the New Year concert by the Folger Consort at Washington National Cathedral, this year featuring the voices of local ensemble Cathedra (January 11 and 12). The program will feature grand sacred music for the Chapelle Royale by Lully, Charpentier, and Couperin. Tickets: $30 to $50.

Opera Lafayette's detour into the 19th-century opéra comique continues with Félicien David's little-known Lalla Roukh, from 1862, to be performed at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater (January 26, 8 pm). Costumes by Indian fashion designer Poonam Bhagat and choreography by Kalanidhi Dance should heighten the work's exotic appeal in this production directed by Bernard Deletré. Tickets: $40 to $100.


ALSO:
One of the things that struck me on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra season this year was the screening of Sergei Eisenstein's film Alexander Nevsky, with a live performance of Prokofiev's epic score, with mezzo-soprano Irina Tchistjakova. You have three chances to see it, on January 11 and 13 (Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore) and January 12 at Strathmore. Tickets: $31 to $91.

We have been admirers of English tenor Toby Spence and were pulling for him as he recovered from thyroid cancer last year. Vocal Arts D.C. will present him in recital this month (January 16, 7:30 pm), with pianist Graham Johnson at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, and we understand that he has made an excellent recovery. Tickets: $45.

Cellist Steven Isserlis and pianist Kirill Gerstein will play a recital in the Barns at Wolf Trap (January 25, 8 pm), with music by Liszt, Busoni, Brahms, and Bartók. Tickets: $35.

LAGNIAPPE:
This is not really a musical recommendation, since I do not know the score of the National Ballet of Canada's Alice in Wonderland, composed by Joby Talbot. However, the pictures of this production, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and staged by Jacquelin Barrett, are enough to intrigue me. Performances are scheduled for January 18 to 27 in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets: $45 to $150.

30.12.12

Ionarts-at-Large: Mahler in Frankfurt


The same Frankfurt Opera & Museum Orchestra—if not the identical personnel—that had performed L’étoile and Pelléas et Mélisande on the Saturday and Sunday before returned on Monday to Frankfurt’s Old Opera—remodeled in the 80s to become a concert house*—for Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony.

To meet Mahler’s immodest demands on the orchestra, MD Sebastian Weigle picked 22 students from the conservatory after successful trials and joined the professionals in rehearsals and the two Mahler performances, the first of which had already been squeezed in before Pelléas, as a Sunday matinee. The forces plunged into Mahler’s most ambitious symphony with unmitigated relish. The first movement, with its dynamic hither and thither, had tension to relish but came close to a choppy stop-and-go. In terms of sheer loudness the orchestra had no competition to fear. From there it went lively and quick with a fluid pulse through the Tempo di Menuetto. The backstage posthorn solo went and came accident free; at least one Cuckoo died an inherently weird death in the third movement, while the brass just avoided such an incident late in that movement. Maria Radner did the Oh-Mensching in the fourth movement with a voice of reed and whiskey, beautifully effortless, and large and with just that little hint of oddity that suits this grim and pale telling of Nietzsche’s six line poem from Also sprach Zarathustra. The winds’ lilting upward slides were oddly performed, as if spelling the score out, rather than interpreting it.

The finale, which is really the reason to listen to the Third Symphony, was built with unrelenting patience by Weigle. Perfect for closing one’s eyes and letting Mahler fly away with you: You deserve it at that point. Not a performance for all times, but that Frankfurt evening certainly one for the moment.


* Inaugurated with Mahler’s Eighth.

Best Recordings of 2012 (#5)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 5 - New Release


Max Richter / Antonio Vivaldi, Recomposed - The Four Seasons, D.Hope, André de Ridder, Konzerthaus CO, DG 1748602

available at Amazon
M.Richter, Recomposed / Four Seasons
D.Hope / A.de Ridder / Konzerthaus CO
DG

When an original is involved, a famous one at that, improving on it is impossible by per definitionem. But a pale pastiche or cheap imitation certainly isn’t desirable, either… so why bother at all? No one needs a mock-original or likeness of the Four Seasons. Something new must be created off the old substance if working with Vivaldi’s evergreen at all—and that is exactly what Max Richter’s re-composition manages.

Richter is British genre-defying composer fond of electronic elements who has composed ballets for the Royal Opera House alongside collections of ringtones. His Vivaldi-goes-clubbing approach works most extraordinarily so in “Spring” and “Summer” where Richter opens whole new avenues and sightlines of beauty, calm and distant and dotted with moments of wicked otherness. Richter didn’t just re-mix extant recordings into pseudo-hip newishness, as DG’s “Re-Composed” series has done before (Carl Craig & Moritz von Oswald’s Ravel/Musorgsky, Matthew Herbert’s “Mahler Symphony X”, Jimi Tenor, and Matthias Arfmann). Instead he created the piece from scratch, stripped Vivaldi bare, re-forged it, and recorded it with Daniel Hope. Not surprisingly, Richter is least interesting where skirmishes closest to the original, but those instances are rare and the rewards elsewhere outweigh them greatly.


# 5 – Reissue


P.Hindemith, Eight Sonatas, Das Marienleben, Glenn Gould & others, Sony 541357

In Brief: Sixth Day of Christmas Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to online audio, online video, and other good things in Blogville and Beyond. (After clicking to an audio or video stream, press the "Play" button to start the broadcast.) It is a full selection that should divert you all week.


  • For your extended holiday listening, sacred music by Bach performed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus Wien, with soloists Genia Kühmeier, Roberta Invernizzi, Bernada Fink, Kurt Streit, and Matthias Goerne, recorded in Vienna last December. [France Musique]

  • Today you can watch the production of Verdi's Rigoletto from Munich, directed by Arpád Schilling. [Bayerische Staatsopera]

  • From the Lucerne Festival, Claudio Abbado conducts Bruckner's first symphony and, joined by Maurizio Pollini, a Mozart piano concerto (K. 453). [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • The Metropolitan Opera's broadcast of The Tempest, by Thomas Adès, recorded in October. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • Listen to a recital by pianist Nelson Freire, recorded back in February at the Konzerthaus in Vienna. [France Musique]

  • From the Festival d'Ambronay in September, a performance of Michelangelo Falvetti's oratorio Nabucco, performed by the Cappella Mediterranea. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • From this fall's Festival d'Automne in Paris, Susanna Mälkki conducts the Chœur de Radio France, students from the Conservatoire de Paris, and the Ensemble Intercontemporain in music by Varèse and new pieces by Benedict Mason, Enno Poppe, and Mauro Lanza. [France Musique]

  • Andris Nelsons conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn's Missa in angustiis and music of Strauss, recorded last September -- the season opener reviewed by Jens. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • Violinist Isabelle Faust joins the Orchestra Mozart Bologna, under Claudio Abbado at the Lucerne Festival, for music by Mozart and Schumann. [France Musique]

  • A recital by Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood, recorded earlier this month at the Wiener Konzerthaus. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • Starting on January 1, you can watch the New Year's Gala Concert with the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle, with guest Cecilia Bartoli. [Medici.tv]

  • You will soon (starting on January 2) be able to listen to a performance of Cherubini's Médée, recorded on December 10 at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, performed by Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques. [France Musique]

  • Starting on January 5, you can watch the production of Verdi's La Traviata from Brussels, this time with subtitles. [De Munt]

  • Chamber music by Brahms, Haydn, and Mozart performed by the Carmina Quartett with clarinetists Sabine Meyer and Wolfgang Meyer. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • David Zinman leads the Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra in symphonies by Schubert and Mahler, recorded last year in Geneva. [France Musique]

  • From last year, Andrey Boreyko conducts the New York Philharmonic in music by Strauss, Haydn, Glazunov, and Schulhoff. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • Violinist Tjeerd Top and oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk join the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra for music by Bach, Marcello, and Mozart. [France Musique]

  • Stephen Hough joins the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Kirill Karabits for music by Musorgsky, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky. [France Musique]

  • The San Francisco Symphony, recorded back in 2010, performs Stravinsky, with Yuja Wang and Michael Tilson Thomas also performing some piano music for two and four hands. [France Musique]

  • From the International String Quartet Festival in Luberon, the Kaprálová Quartet from the Czeck Republic perform music by Janáček, Kaprálová, and Brahms. [France Musique]

  • Frederica von Stade's classic recording of Massenet's Cendrillon, conducted by Julius Rudel, with tenor Nicolai Gedda as Le Prince Charmant, recorded in London in 1978. [Österreichischer Rundfunk]

  • Haydn and Brahms piano trios performed by the young French ensemble Le Trio Saint Exupéry. [France Musique]

29.12.12

Best Recordings of 2012 (#6)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 6 - New Release


August De Boeck, Piano Concerto, Theroigne De Mericourt Prelude, Francesca Orchestral Suite, Jozef de Beenhouwer, Ivo Venkov, Janácek Ph.O., Phaedra 92071

available at Amazon
De Boeck, Piano Concertoet al.
J.de Beenhouwer / I.Venkov / Janácek Ph.O.
Phaedra 92071

Unheard-of beauties—literally and metaphorically—from August de Boeck on this ear-opening orchestral CD: a thrilling Piano Concerto transcribed from two-manual “Hans-Piano” (!) to standard piano by its performer Jozef de Beenhowuer and a large, 40-minute high-romantic Orchestral Suite from one the forgotten opera Francesca. The latter easily makes up in beauty for what it lacks in originality. The horns of the Janácek PO are not world class, and while the playing is expert, it would be nice to hear this music in even better performances. But then the Cleveland or Bavarian Radio Orchestras don’t bother to play de Boeck. Yet.

(Review first published in Listen Magazine)






# 6 – Reissue


L.v.Beethoven, The Complete String Quartets, Talich Quartet, La Dolce Volta 121

Ionarts-at-Large: The Domestication of Pelléas and Mélisande


There they stand like two lonely snowmen: Christiane Karg’s Mélisande and Christian Gerhaher’s Pelléas at the opera’s end, as if they had never done anything else. And in truth, they hadn’t… such is the strangely intoxicating stasis of Debussy’s only opera.

Pelléas et Mélisande glides along at a tranquil pace on the deep black waters of Debussy’s music, an endless instrumental parlando accompanying the Maurice Maeterlinck text. Christian Gerhaher’s discomfited, hesitant Pelleas is perfect for the part and the Claus Guth’s production. Guth brings the work within smelling-distance of Ibsen’s family dramas. The meticulous set (Christian Schmidt) consists of the shifting and rotating two story manor of King Arkel; clad in the early to mid- 20th century bourgeois sumptuousness that is defined by expensive wallpaper and a few

28.12.12

Classical Month in Washington (January)

Last month | Next month
Classical Month in Washington is a monthly feature. If there are concerts you would like to see included on our schedule, send your suggestions by e-mail (ionarts at gmail dot com). Happy listening!

January 4, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
U.S. Navy Band [FREE]
GMU Center for the Arts

January 5, 2013 (Sat)
2 pm
Brian Ganz, piano [FREE mini-concert]
Music by Chopin
JCCGW

January 5, 2013 (Sat)
7:30 pm
Twelfth Night Concert
Armonia Nova
St. Mark's Church, Capitol Hill

January 5, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
With Nurit Bar-Josef (violin) and Victoria Chiang (viola)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
2 pm
U.S. Marine Band [FREE]
GMU Center for the Arts

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
National Philharmonic
With Nurit Bar-Josef (violin) and Victoria Chiang (viola)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
4 pm
Spencer Myer, piano
Phillips Collection

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
6 pm
Twelfth Night Concert
Armonia Nova
Christ Church (Alexandria, Va.)

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Andreas Sønning, flute [FREE]
Music by Kjell Habbestad
National Gallery of Art

January 6, 2013 (Sun)
7 pm
Masters of the Baroque
Ensemble Gaudior
St. Alban's Church

January 9, 2013 (Wed)
12:10 pm
Marvin Mills, organ [FREE]
St. John's Church, Lafayette Square

January 11, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
JACK Quartet
With Derek Bermel, clarinet
Music by Ligeti, Bermel, Brahms
Barns at Wolf Trap

January 11, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
Folger Consort and Cathedra
Music bu Lully, Charpentier, Couperin
Washington National Cathedral

January 11, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
Alexander Nevsky (screening)
Live score by Prokofiev
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Irina Tchistjakova, mezzo-soprano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
11 am
NSO Kinderkonzert
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
7 pm
Folger Consort and Cathedra
Music bu Lully, Charpentier, Couperin
Washington National Cathedral

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
7:30 pm
George Li, piano
Mansion at Strathmore

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
7:30 pm
National Chamber Ensemble
With Julian Milkis, clarinet
Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Alexander Nevsky (screening)
Live score by Prokofiev
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Irina Tchistjakova, mezzo-soprano
Music Center at Strathmore

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Concert Artists of Baltimore
Music by Copland, Barber, Respighi
Gordon Center For Performing Arts (Owings Mills, Md.)

January 12, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Cornelius Dufallo, violin
Atlas Center

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
2 pm
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
Music by Brahms, Schubert
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
2:30 and 4:30 pm
Peter and the Wolf
National Marionette Theater
Smith Theatre, Howard Community College (Columbia, Md.)

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
Alexander Nevsky (screening)
Live score by Prokofiev
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Irina Tchistjakova, mezzo-soprano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
Quynh Nguyen, piano [FREE]
Smithsonian American Art Museum

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
4 pm
Horszowski Trio
Phillips Collection

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
5 pm
Carmina and Eya
Lady without Peer
Episcopal Church of the Redeemer (Bethesda, Md.)

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Orava String Quartet [FREE]
Music by Mendelssohn, Haydn
National Gallery of Art

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
7 pm
Quicksilver
Dumbarton Oaks

January 13, 2013 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Axelrod String Quartet and Æolus Quartet
Music by Haydn, Mendelssohn
Renwick Gallery

January 14, 2013 (Mon)
8 pm
Quicksilver
Dumbarton Oaks

January 16, 2013 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Toby Spence, tenor
Vocal Arts D.C.
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 17, 2013 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Tzimon Barto, piano
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 17, 2013 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 18, 2013 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 18, 2013 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Middle Atlantic Region Auditions
Metropolitan Opera National Council
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 18, 2013 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Piano Battle
Andreas Kern vs. Paul Cibis
Embassy of Austria

January 18, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Tzimon Barto, piano
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 18, 2013 (Fri)
8:15 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Garrick Ohlsson, piano (lecture-performance)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
11 am and 1:30 pm
NSO Teddy Bear Concert
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
2 pm
Daniil Trifonov, piano
WPAS
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
7 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Garrick Ohlsson, piano (lecture-performance)
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Tzimon Barto, piano
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Brian Ganz, piano
Music by Chopin
Music Center at Strathmore

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Richard Goode, piano
Candlelight Concert Society
Smith Theater, Howard Community College (Columbia, Md.)

January 19, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
With Christina Jennings, flute
GMU Center for the Arts

January 20, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Garrick Ohlsson, piano
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 20, 2013 (Sun)
4 pm
Jamie Walton (cello) and Finghin Collins (piano)
Phillips Collection

January 20, 2013 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Carnegie-Mellon University Piano Trio [FREE]
National Gallery of Art

January 22, 2013 (Tue)
7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 23, 2013 (Wed)
7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 24, 2013 (Thu)
7 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Dan Zhu, violin
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 24, 2013 (Thu)
7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 25, 2013 (Fri)
1:15 pm
Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists [FREE]
Georgetown University
McNeir Hall, New North Building

January 25, 2013 (Fri)
7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 25, 2013 (Fri)
7:30 and 9 pm
New Voices Festival
Catholic University of America

January 25, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Dan Zhu, violin
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 25, 2013 (Fri)
8 pm
Steven Isserlis (cello) and Kirill Gerstein (piano)
Music by Liszt, Busoni, Brahms
Barns at Wolf Trap

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
11 am and 1:30 pm
NSO Teddy Bear Concert
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
1:30 and 7:30 pm
New Voices Festival
Catholic University of America

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
National Symphony Orchestra
With Dan Zhu, violin
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
National Philharmonic
With Dariusz Skoraczewski (cello) and Miroslaw Jacek Blaszczyk (conductor)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Félicien David, Lalla Roukh (1862)
Opera Lafayette
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Mozart, La Clemenza di Tito
In Series
Atlas Center

January 26, 2013 (Sat)
8 pm
Lark Quartet and Yumi Kurosawa (koto)
Dumbarton Concerts

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
1:30 pm
Alice in Wonderland
National Ballet of Canada
Kennedy Center Opera House

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
1:30 and 4 pm
NSO Ensemble Concert
Connections: Science and Music
Kennedy Center Family Theater

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
National Philharmonic
With Dariusz Skoraczewski (cello) and Miroslaw Jacek Blaszczyk (conductor)
Music Center at Strathmore

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
Mozart, La Clemenza di Tito
In Series
Atlas Center

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
3 pm
Piano Society of Greater Washington
Calvary Lutheran Church (Silver Spring, Md.)

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
4 pm
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Paganini, Caprices
Phillips Collection

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
5:30 pm
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Music by Bach, Busoni, Debussy, Rachmaninoff
Shriver Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
6:30 pm
Rachel Barton Pine, violin [FREE]
Paganini, Caprices
National Gallery of Art

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Vilde Frang, violin
WPAS
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

January 27, 2013 (Sun)
7:30 pm
Castle Trio
Music by Schubert
National Museum of American History

January 29, 2013 (Tue)
8 pm
Jazz at Lincoln Center
With Wynton Marsalis, trumpet
WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

January 30, 2013 (Wed)
8 pm
New Century Chamber Orchestra
With Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
WPAS
Music Center at Strathmore

January 31, 2013 (Thu)
8 pm
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
With Yan Pascal Tortelier (conductor) and Orion Weiss (piano)
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

Best Recordings of 2012 (#7)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 7 - New Release


Hans Pfitzner, Palestrina, K.Petrenko, Frankfurt Opera & Museum Orchestra and Chorus, Oehms OC 930

available at Amazon
Hans Pfitzner, Palestrina
K.Petrenko / Frankfurt Opera & Museum Orchestra and Chorus
Oehms OC 930

I have a soft spot for most of the disreputable Hans Pfitzner’s unabashedly romantic tone. But Palestrina, his supposed masterpiece, can be dull. While I suffered through a performance with Simone Young in Munich, the Frankfurt opera, too, performed Palestrina, and fortunately Oehms was there to capture it. Under Kirill Petrenko the score sounds the way I want to hear it: delightfully crisp, full of purpose, nuance, detail, and even joy. It turns Palestrina from admirable craftsmanship into a sanguineous musical drama. The quality singers—among themPeter Bronder, Britta Stallmeister, Claudia Mahnke, Wolfgang Koch, and Johannes Martin Kränzle—add to the delight, but the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra and its conductor are the stars.







# 7 – Reissue


A.Bruckner, Five Symphonies, Günter Wand, Berlin Philharmonic, RCA 1708661

Best (and Worst) of 2012

It is time to take stock of the year that was, with a list of the ten best concerts I heard here in the Washington area. These are in no particular order of preference, listed simply in chronological order. A few honorable (and dishonorable) mentions, in various categories, and a remembrance of some of the artists we mourned in 2012 are added at the end. Happy New Year to all our readers!

available at Amazon
Glass, Orphée, P. Cutlip, L. Saffer,
Portland Opera, A. Manson
BEST CONCERTS
1. Philip Glass, Orphée, Virginia Opera, February 10
Based on the 1949 film of the same name by Jean Cocteau (French libretto adapted by Glass and Robert Brustein), Orphée did not impress me (or others) that much on a recent recording on Glass's Orange Mountain Music label. It again became apparent to me how much Glass's repetitive music relies on a visual element -- true of both his operas and his film scores -- to bring it to life. In this staging, created for Glimmerglass Opera and taken to Portland Opera for the production from which the OMM live recording was made, the work became many times more hypnotic and alluring. [Read review]

2. Leif Ove Andsnes, Strathmore, February 12
Leif Ove Andsnes celebrated the 25th anniversary of his recital debut this year in Oslo, and this distinctive Norwegian pianist has made periodic visits to Washington for most of that remarkable career. The Washington Performing Arts Society brought him to the Music Center at Strathmore to play the same program he would perform in Oslo. Andsnes held audience members in rapt silence, controlling with hieratic authority even the impulse to applaud, hypnotizing us with his almost obsessive concern for the finest details of sound. [Read review]

3. Wolfgang Holzmair and Sonia Wieder-Atherton, Embassy of Austria, February 23
Baritone Wolfgang Holzmair remained seated next to cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton for the Schubert songs, giving his usual careful attention to every facet of diction and meaning of the texts. Wer nie was particularly striking, with the cello reduced to a moaning lament, and a dry, all-pizzicato accompaniment in An die Türen, little more than a walking bass pattern. One had, even more than in the piano original, a sense of the harpist in the cello sound, as well as the oddness of this anxious character met by Wilhelm Meister on his journey. Another of Schubert's Goethe songs, Wonne der Wehmut (the second of the two songs of op. posth. 115), served as a brief but equally mordant postlude to the anguish of isolation. [Read review]

27.12.12

Best Recordings of 2012 (#8)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 8 - New Release


L.v.Beethoven & A.Berg, Violin Concertos, Isabelle Faust, Claudio Abbado, Orchestra Mozart, Harmonia Mundi 902105

available at Amazon>
L.v.Beethoven, A.Berg, Violin Concertos,
I.Faust / C.Abbado / Orchestra Mozart
Harmonia Mundi

Everyone seems to talk about Isabelle Faust’s new Beethoven Violin Concerto, with Claudio Abbado and his Orchestra Mozart. And yes, it is has years of interpretive gunk stripped away with its simple, toned-down honest to the orchestral part especially. And yes, it is the most touching, least affected new recording I’ve heard since Thomas Zehetmair and Frans Brüggen’s (which is still more visceral and remains my favorite if forced to pick one.) Like Zehetmair and as on her first recording with Jiri Belohlávek (also HMU), Faust—thankfully—doesn’t use the staid Kreisler cadenzas but the much more dramatic Beethoven-Schneiderhan (or some such similar) version.

Yadda-yadda-yadda. The real deal on this disc is the Berg concerto: The saturation of Faust’s tone, slightly roughened like seductive sandpaper, gives the violin concerto a quality that marries the poignantly disturbing with the felt; harshness with yearning beauty. Arabella Steinbacher’s Berg, among the best and also coupled with Beethoven, is an excellent, telling complement: A celebration of grievous, heartfelt beauty… a kind of innocent mourning to Faust/Abbado’s carnal grief. How lucky, to be so spoiled for riches in either of these concertos.


# 8 – Reissue


L.v.Beethoven, Complete Piano Trios, Trio Wanderer, Harmonia Mundi 902100

26.12.12

Best Recordings of 2012 (#9)


Time for a review of classical CDs that were outstanding in 2012. My lists for the previous years: 2011, (2011 – “Almost”), 2010, (2010 – “Almost”), 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 9 - New Release


A.Diepenbrock, Orchestral Works, Symphonic & Orchestrated Songs, Missa in die festo, et al., Various artists, et'cetera KTC1435

available at Amazon
A.Diepenbrock, Collected Works,
Various & numerous artists
et'cetera

It is the bane of lesser known composers to be compared to the better known ones. That’s certainly the case with Alphons Diepenbrock, whom I will compare to anyone from Loewe to Schumann, to Debussy, Wagner, and Richard Strauss in just a moment.

The reason I found myself interested in Diepenbrock in the first place is because his name is among those on the plaques-of-honor in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw: Prominently at the back balcony in the left corner, flanked by FRANCK and (fittingly) DEBUSSY. The one-time Classics teacher at a catholic school and musical autodidact became a conductor and respected composer, the most significant Dutch composer of the first decades of the 20th century, according to his biographer Leo Samama. He performed and was performed in the famous hall of his home town that now has his name emblazoned among the more (and a few still less-) famous colleagues. For his 50th birthday for example, Willem Mengelberg performed an all-Diepenbrock concert with the Concertgebouw Orchestra that was a vast artistic (and financial) success.

Riccardo Chailly appropriately couples one of his Mahler recordings—the 7th—with Diepenbrock’s symphonic song “Im grossen Schweigen”. The disc can be hard to come by, but I needed to plug the gap in my Mahler collection. The Mahler’s all very well, but it was the Diepenbrock that captured my ears and imagination. How fortuitous that the Dutch et’cetera label collected all the fine Diepenbrock recordings they could get their hands on and issued them in a 150th anniversary 8CD box plus a DVD. That’s great news for the lover of romantic 20th century music—especially for voices—with a touch of the strange.

The few orchestral works without chorus or singers are gems welding Debussy to small-scale-Wagner. His sensually chromatic 50-minute Missa in die festo for double choir, tenor, and organ is, for all its Sweelinck-substructure, so seductive, the church immediately banned its performance. His songs, dear to Mahler, are not all among his best… Loewe-Schumann-Wolff meet here, in various languages: German, Dutch, French. (Christoph Prégardien and Robert Holl are among the singers.) His lavish, equally multilingual symphonic and orchestral songs are more intriguing and were, at their time groundbreaking, inspiring Mahler’s Lied von der Erde. The Hague Philharmonic and Hans Vonk (culled from old Chandos CDs) do most of the heavy lifting, but the Concertgebouw under Chailly (“Hymn to the Night”, with Arleen Augér) and Bernard Haitink (“The Night”, with Janet Baker) contribute as well.


# 9 – Reissue


A.Bruckner, Symphonies 8 & 9, Carl Schuricht, Wiener Philharmoniker, EMI SACD 9559842