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29.4.16

NSO Semi-Pops


available at Amazon
Weill, Die Sieben Todsünden (inter alia), L. Lenya
Charles T. Downey, From the NSO, a pops concert that fizzled
Washington Post, April 29

Pops concerts can be a lot of fun, but it is best to market them clearly as such. Thursday night’s concert by the National Symphony Orchestra was a pops concert in all but name, provoking a few grumbles at intermission and afterward about programming that was decidedly lightweight. It fell to American conductor James Gaffigan, last at the podium of the NSO in 2012, to conduct this somewhat underwhelming evening, and he did so capably but without distinction.

Ravel’s “La Valse” was the climax, a work that seemed overplayed and indeed was last heard from the NSO in 2014... [Continue reading]
National Symphony Orchestra
With Storm Large, Hudson Shad
Kennedy Center Concert House

SEE ALSO:
jfl, Ionarts at Large: Two Concertos for the Price of One!

Charles T. Downey, BSO and Lise de la Salle (Ionarts, February 18, 2012)

---, Gaffigan Keeps It Nice (Ionarts, January 20, 2012)

Michael Lodico, Weill and Ravel at the Castleton Festival (Ionarts, July 18, 2011)

#morninglistening: DSCH from Boston




28.4.16

Intermittents Back in Action


You may recall our periodic reports on the strikes and demonstrations of the intermittents du spectacle, arts specialists who may not work year-round, in France. This week, members of the various unions representing this group staged "a coordinated wave of theater occupations." The latest activities were in conjunction with the negotiations with the French government over changes proposed to the terms of unemployment insurance to cover these workers during periods when they may not have work. According to statements reported in an article (Les intermittents organisent « une vague coordonnée » d’occupations de théâtres, April 27) in Le Monde (my translation):

They are are calling for even stronger action. "This determination which we have proven until now shows that we are ready to organize ourselves together for the day of April 28 and those that follow: only a general and prolonged strike will make the government bend." A performance of Phèdre(s) with Isabelle Huppert, scheduled for April 26, was canceled because of a "call" from the intermittents to "disturb" the performance, announced a release from the Théâtre de l’Odéon, which "refuses to perform under the protection of the police."
Groups have so far occupied the theater of La Comédie-Française, Le théâtre national de l’Odéon, and national theaters in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Caen, Lille, and Montpellier. The latest news is that in marathon negotiations that ran through last night into today the intermittents have come to an agreement on terms they can accept. It is not certain yet what will happen with the theaters that have been occupied or if performances will continue to be canceled. Le Monde also reports that art students around France have mobilized in solidarity with the intermittents, occupying some schools and other locations.

#morninglistening: My First Bach


Organ Works w/Stockmeier on Arts & Music; my first complete such set, picked up at Tower Records in DC back in the old days.
RIP Tower Records: The Tower That Fell (Forbes.com)


27.4.16

#morninglistening: The Greatest Pre-Mozart Opera


The highlights-disc, basically a shortened hybrid taken from both versions, is real treat!


26.4.16

Antoine Tamestit Returns


available at Amazon
Bach, Cello Suites 1/3/5 (arr. viola), A. Tamestit
(Naïve, 2013)

available at Amazon
Bach, Partita No. 2 (arr. viola) / Ligeti, Sonata for Solo Viola, A. Tamestit
(Naïve, 2007)
Charles T. Downey, Tamestit ably straddles the cello-music-on-viola gap at Kennedy Center (Washington Post, April 26)
The viola and the cello have the same tuning, an octave apart, but the transfer of one instrument’s music to the other is not without challenges. French violist Antoine Tamestit played both borrowed music and a modern masterwork in a Sunday evening recital presented by Washington Performing Arts. The event marked his return to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater more than a decade after his debut there.

Tamestit played two of the three solo cello suites of Bach he has recorded on the viola for the Naïve label. At times one misses the gravitas of the lower instrument, on the low notes of the C and G preludes, for example, or the folksy drone section of the C suite’s Gigue... [Continue reading]
Antoine Tamestit, viola (on 1672 "Mahler" Stradivarius viola)
Music by Bach, Ligeti
Washington Performing Arts
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

SEE ALSO:
jfl, Ionarts at Large: Widmann's New Viola Concerto (Ionarts, March 15, 2016)

---, Ionarts at Large: BRSO Season Opening Concerts (Ionarts, October 7, 2012)

Tim Page, From Antoine Tamestit, Arresting Viola Voicings (Washington Post, November 25, 2003)

#morninglistening: Jimmy, the Lopéz


Buff composers.


25.4.16

#morninglistening: Bach with Boys



The best so far, by far, of the Thomaner in Bach on record.


24.4.16

Perchance to Stream: Bard of Avon Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to online audio and online video from the week gone by. After clicking to an audio or video stream, you may need to press the "Play" button to start the broadcast. Some of these streams become unavailable after a few days.

  • From the Church of Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, a concert of Shakespeare-inspired works performed by Ex Cathedra and City Musick, directed by Jeffrey Skidmore. [BBC3]

  • A performance of Janáček's Jenůfa, performed by the Czech Philharmonic at the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. [BBC3]

  • Daniele Gatti conducts soprano Camilla Tilling and the Orchestre National de France in music of Mozart, Berg, and Mahler, recorded at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées. [France Musique]

  • The London Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductor Markus Stenz and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, plays music by Beethoven and Thomas Larcher. [ORF]

  • Bach cantatas and the Magnificat, performed by Masaaki Suzuki, Bach Collegium Japan, sopranos Hana Blaziková and Joanne Lunn, and other soloists. [ORF]

  • From the Wiener Staatsoper, listen to the performance of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera starring Piotr Beczala, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Krassimira Stoyanova. [ORF]

  • A recital by pianist Evgeny Sudbin, playing music by Scarlatti, Beethoven, Ravel, and others, recorded in March at the Klavierfrühling Deutschlandsberg. [ORF]

  • The Ensemble Pygmalion performs the Saint Matthew Passion, recorded at the Chapelle Royale of Versailles. [France Musique]

  • Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of music by Dukas, Saint-Saëns, and others. [BBC3]

  • Violinist Janine Jansen plays the Brahms violin concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. [ABC Classic]

  • Pianist Lars Vogt joins the Hallé Orchestra and conductor Louis Langrée, for music by Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. [ORF]

  • Music by Haydn and Britten performed by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, conductor Cornelius Meister, soprano Eleanor Dennis, and other soloists. [ORF]

  • A performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, with Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra at the Baltic Sea Festival. [France Musique]

  • From 2015, Kent Nagano leads a performance by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, with violinist Shunske Sato, in music by Tchaikovsky and Bach. [ORF]

  • The BBC Philharmonic performs music by Ginastera, Bernstein, and Stravinsky. [BBC3]

  • The ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, under conductor Andrey Boreyko, joins violinist Sergej Krylov for music by Franz Schreker, Mahler, and Shostakovich. [ORF | Part 2]

  • A recital by pianist Khatia Buniatishvili with music of Liszt and Stravinsky, recorded at the Philharmonie de Paris. [France Musique]

  • The Ensemble La Ninfea performs music by Sainte-Colombe le fils, Marin Marais, Jean de Sainte-Colombe, Robert de Visé, and others. [ORF]

  • A concert from the Présences Festival with conductor Maxime Pascal, soprano Léa Trommenschlager, and others, including music by Gesualdo. [France Musique]

  • Listen to the recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's Snegurotschka (The Snow Maiden), starring Valentina Sokolik, made in Moscow in 1976. [ORF]

  • Under Yasuaki Itakura, the Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine performs music by Jean-Louis Agobet, Toru Takemitsu, and Debussy. [France Musique]

#morninglistening: Raasted - Bach Channeled Strongly


Total #SurprisedByBeauty candidate. Bach channeled strongly in these 20th Ct. works.


Ionarts-at-Large: The Vienna Symphony's B Minor Mass: Bach to Snooze To


The Vienna Symphony Orchestra under Philippe Jordan has taken on the sensible, laudable, wonderful mission of adding Bach to its regularish fare. Last year they performed the St. Matthew Passion.[1] Next season it will be the St. John Passion. And on March 19th, it was the Mass in B minor at the Vienna Konzerthaus – part of the now defunct “Osterklang” Festival of secular music associated with the Theater an der Wien (or rather: its Intendant, Roland Geyer).

In short, this Karl Richter memorial performance was an

23.4.16

CD Review: Braunfels Lieder


available at Amazon
W. Braunfels, Lieder, M. Petersen, K. Jarnot, E. Schneider

(released on February 12, 2016)
Capriccio C5251 | 55'40"
Charles T. Downey, CD review: The forgotten bird songs of a ‘degenerate’ composer (Washington Post, April 24)
In the 1930s, Walter Braunfels (1882-1954) ran afoul of the Nazi party in his native Germany. His music was condemned as “degenerate” because his father was Jewish, even though the composer was raised a Protestant and later converted to Catholicism. After World War II, Braunfels returned to his teaching post at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, but the moment for his largely tonal style of music had come and gone. Since his opera “Die Vögel,” based on Aristophanes’s “The Birds,” was revived in the 1990s, his music has enjoyed a rebirth, helped by the advocacy of his grandson Stephan Braunfels, a prominent architect in Germany. Conductors James Conlon, of the Los Angeles Opera, and Manfred Honeck, of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, are among his champions.

In addition to his operas, string quartets and symphonic music, there is now a recording of some of Braunfels’s songs, all composed before he was condemned by the Nazis, released earlier this year by Capriccio. No surprise to anyone who has already discovered the music of Braunfels, this disc, recorded for Deutschlandradio in 2011, is a winner. German soprano Marlis Petersen, who recorded one of the Braunfels songs on her outstanding disc of Goethe Lieder a few years ago, sparkles with irrepressible energy in the high-flying treble songs, but she’s also calm as a pool of silvered water in the charming “Die Nachtigall.” That song is part of the “Fragmente eines Federspiels,” or “Fragments of a Feather Play,” a set of eight songs devoted to different birds. Braunfels made a set of nine further bird songs, the “Neues Federspiel,” as a companion piece, also recorded by Petersen to the same beautiful effect.

Pianist Eric Schneider, last heard in Washington accompanying the soprano Christine Schäfer’s unforgettable “Winterreise,” is a versatile, sensitive and accomplished partner. English baritone Konrad Jarnot pales by comparison in the less exciting lower-voice songs; he’s at his best in the suave, subtle songs of Braunfels’s Op. 1 set. Next to Petersen’s exquisite native pronunciation, Jarnot’s German is still fine, with a chance to recite some English lines from Shakespeare (“If music be the food of love, play on”) in the introduction to “Was ihr wollt,” the Braunfels setting of the song texts from “Twelfth Night, or What You Will.” Unfortunately, while the Shakespeare lines receive a German translation, the booklet has only the German texts of the 40 other songs, without an English translation — the only negative about this excellent disc.

22.4.16

Takács Quartet @ KC

available at Amazon
Franck, Piano Quintet / Debussy, String Quartet, M.-A. Hamelin, Takács Quartet
(Hyperion, 2016)
We used to hear the Takács Quartet more frequently in the Washington area. As long as they come back to these parts every year or two, Ionarts can probably survive. The most recent chance to hear them was on Wednesday evening, presented again by the Fortas Chamber Music Series at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. In between we remain on the life support of recordings, which the group continues to release at the rate of one or two each year. Although the two founding members, second violinist Károly Schranz and cellist András Féjer, are not getting any younger, the quartet adds to its discography at a dizzying pace, always hungry for new vistas in the repertoire. The next disc, available next month, combines music by Franck and Debussy.

Something about the opening work on this program, Dvořák's 14th string quartet (A-flat major, op. 105), just did not sit right. The first movement is somewhat episodic, and the many stops and starts did not always sound unified. The scherzo, with its furiant-like hemiola shifts, was light and even more relaxed in tempo in the trio, but by the third movement there was the sense that maybe the golden era of the Takács had come and gone, with intonation issues cropping up and the feeling that the work had not been fully digested. Happily, what followed this less than polished rendition showed it was only a fluke, a rare example of the Takács missing the target and not a sign of general decline.


Other Reviews:

Robert Battey, The dependable artistry of Takács Quartet (Washington Post, April 22)
In the rest of the evening's selections, the group was back in their accustomed sweet spot, beginning with Webern's youthful, tragic Langsamer Satz from 1905. The piece is labeled "in E-flat major," which should be enough to signal that it is not the Webern you might expect. The Takács teased out the carefully layered voices and lush harmonies, always clearly putting one in the foreground over the others, balanced even in the loudest sections.

The third of Beethoven's "Razumovsky" quartets (C major, op. 59/3) was even more winning, from the enigmatic opening chords, which proceed by sneaky chromatic shifts from an F# fully diminished seventh chord to C major. The fast section was chatty and charming, mercurial but not overly fast, and the drawn-out setup of the recapitulation was excellent, as was first violinist Edward Dusinberre on the little cadenza moment. All in all, an eye-twinkler of a piece, followed by wonderful, warm viola solos in the slow movement, with the cello staying extra-soft on the pizzicato accompaniment. This movement's restraint and dark quality are so Takács, and no one does this melancholy tone better. The Menuetto was a contrast, ultra-genial in nature, with the first violin's ornamented lines in the trio not overshadowing the melody. The concluding fugal finale was fun and fleet, the wry side of the Takács sound.

21.4.16

Hilary Hahn, Again

No season in Washington seems to go by without an appearance by violinist Hilary Hahn. She is a perennial favorite with area orchestras, and Washington Performing Arts presents her frequently in recital. It was not clear whether the empty parts of the Music Center at Strathmore, where WPA presented her on Tuesday night, were due to audience fatigue with Hahn or to an ongoing trend of declining audiences for the presenter.

There was nothing on the program that could be construed as ear candy for audiences: relatively obscure sonatas by Mozart and Copland, interspersed with half of a set of six new partitas by Spanish composer Antón García Abril (b. 1933). Abril was one of the composers commissioned by Hahn for her ill-fated — but Grammy award-winning — Encores project, and Washington Performing Arts ponied up the money to commission this further set of pieces from him for Hahn to play. (She will play the other three partitas in the set, again presented by WPA, on October 28, 2016.) The title of Partita is somewhat misleading, implying a set of dance movements, as in Bach's set of three. What Abril has created struck me more as fantasias, as each one consists of sections in various moods and characters; perhaps we are meant to understand an earlier meaning of the word partita, before it became associated with dance movements.

Abril emphasized double-stops in all three of the pieces heard in this concert, although he did not use them in the truly polyphonic way Bach did most memorably. For example, the meandering melody of the first partita had occasional double-stops providing a short of homophonic accompaniment, and in another section drones accompanied the tune. After a series of mostly unrelated sections, the first partita just faded away on a passage of repeating sixteenth notes. The second partita was more tart in harmonic flavor, with biting rhythms, and lasted only about half as long as the first one, not adding up to much. The third partita seemed closer in character to the first, with more introspective melodies and not all that polyphonic double-stops, leaving the impression of a set of possibly pretty but rather boring pieces. The less said about the composer's embarrassing, puerile program idea ("H-I-L-A-R-Y is for heart, immensity, love, art, reflexive, you," supposedly describing the six pieces), the better. This is one of those programmatic ideas that the composer, as Mahler did with some of his symphonic programs, should perhaps have kept to himself.


Other Reviews:

Simon Chin, A lot riding on Hilary Hahn’s bow at Strathmore (Washington Post, April 21)

Jesse Hamlin, Violinist Hilary Hahn to premiere Abril partita at Davies Hall (San Francisco Chronicle, April 20)
The Mozart sonata (G major, K. 379) was a showpiece for Hahn's partner at the keyboard, Cory Smythe, who had the most challenging music of the evening. He went for a super-delicate sound, so delicate that some of the filigree-thin notes did not really sound clearly. It is a fairly mediocre piece, and the response of both performers, to give it a more Romantic swooning sensibility, had mixed success. Copland's elegiac violin sonata, last heard live from James Ehnes, brought out the best of Hahn's tone, as she played it with an airy simplicity. Here at last, in the faster movements, was some of the dance that seemed lacking in the Abril pieces.

20.4.16

CD Review: Slatkin's Ravel Double-Bill


available at Amazon
Ravel, L'heure espagnole / Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, L. Lombardo, I. Druet, F. Antoun, Orchestre National de Lyon, L. Slatkin

(released on February 12, 2016)
Naxos 8.660337 | 55'40"
Charles T. Downey, CD reviews: Slatkin turns to France
Washington Post, April 15

When Leonard Slatkin’s tenure at the National Symphony Orchestra came to an end in 2008, he became music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; in 2011-12, he also assumed the leadership position at the Orchestre National de Lyon. Almost immediately, he inaugurated a series of live recordings with his French ensemble, focused on music by French composers, for the Naxos label. The latest discs in his Ravel set are devoted to the composer’s two one-act operas, most recently his charming but rarely heard 1911 comedy “L’heure espagnole.”

The rich-toned mezzo-soprano Isabelle Druet is a seductive, sometimes acidic Concepción, the cheating wife of the clockmaker Torquemada, played by the light-voiced tenor Luca Lombardo. She schemes with Don Iñigo Gomez, sung with oily smoothness by the bass Nicolas Courjal, to get her husband the job of winding the municipal clocks, which gets him out of the house regularly...
[Continue reading]

Julia Bullock @ Vocal Arts


available at Amazon
L. Bernstein, West Side Story, J. Bullock (inter alii), San Francisco Symphony, M. Tilson Thomas
(Chandos, 2011)
Charles T. Downey, Julia Bullock shows almost any song can soar in her capable vocal cords (Washington Post, April 20)
The recital by Julia Bullock, presented by Vocal Arts D.C. in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on Monday evening, had many things going for it. The American soprano had a winning stage presence, a diverse and eclectic program, and a crackerjack musical partner in pianist Renate Rohlfing. It was easy to see why she has become the darling of many critics.

Bullock’s sparkly persona went a long way in selling experimental songs by Henry Cowell and John Cage. The former’s “How Old Is Song?” had Rohlfing directly strumming and plucking the piano strings like the harp of Orpheus, and in the latter’s “She is Asleep,” Bullock’s primordial, wordless vocalise was accompanied by the unexpected percussive sounds of Rohlfing’s piano. Bullock excelled when she had a character to incarnate, most vividly in a set of half-spoken cabaret songs by Kurt Weill and when she felt a connection to music “that is authentic to me,” as she put it. William Grant Still’s “Breath of a Rose” was gorgeous, as were two prayerful arrangements of spirituals by Hall Johnson and Harry T. Burleigh. She could even charm when singing texts that were basically nonsensical, like Cowell’s “Because the Cat” and Samuel Barber’s “Nuvoletta.”

In the other art songs on the program, her voice sounded less natural, heavy at the bottom and slightly strained at the top, with an intensely fluttering vibrato that sometimes caused the intonation to sag flat. In Ravel’s charming “Cinq melodies populaires grecques,” her swagger in the male-voiced songs “Quel galant m’est comparable” and “Tout gai!” was a hoot, but her voice did not lift effortlessly off the ground in the others, nor in a set of Scandinavian songs by Wilhelm Stenhammar and Edvard Grieg.
Julia Bullock, soprano
Renate Rohlfing, piano
Vocal Arts D.C.
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

SEE ALSO:
Sarah Bryan Miller, Soprano Julia Bullock gives a virtuoso recital (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 31)

---, Soprano Julia Bullock returns to her hometown with a recital (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 27)

19.4.16

Bernard Herrmann Festival


available at Amazon
B. Herrmann, Moby-Dick / Sinfonietta, R. Edgar-Wilson, D. Wilson-Johnson, Danish National Choir and Symphony Orchestra, M. Schønwandt
(Chandos, 2011)
Charles T. Downey, Ensemble shines spotlight on Herrmann’s film scores, and for good reason (Washington Post, April 19)
Bernard Herrmann was the score composer for many great film directors, beginning with Orson Welles and continuing with Alfred Hitchcock, François Truffaut, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese.

Joseph Horowitz, whose PostClassical Ensemble is co-hosting a festival honoring the composer, wants us to remember that Herrmann was more than just a film composer, even though the majority of the festival’s events are film screenings. PostClassical Ensemble’s last festival performance fell on Sunday afternoon at the National Gallery of Art.

There should be no shame in being known as a film composer, especially when one’s credits include Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” which critic Alex Ross once described as “a symphony for film and orchestra”... [Continue reading]
PostClassical Ensemble
Bernard Herrmann: Screen, Stage, and Radio
National Gallery of Art

SEE ALSO:
Armando Trull, 'Psycho' And So Much More: Composer Bernard Herrmann Gets A D.C. Festival (WAMU, April 15)


18.4.16

'Das Lied von der Erde' from San Francisco

available at Amazon
Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde, T. Hampson, S. Skelton, San Francisco Symphony, M. Tilson Thomas
(SFS Media, 2008)
The San Francisco Symphony's last East Coast tour, in 2013, was canceled because of a strike by the musicians. Their last visit here, then, was in 2010, with an unusual program including obscure Liszt and Victor Kissine. Their appearance on Saturday afternoon, presented by Washington Performing Arts in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, returned more to the feel of their 2006 tour, when they gave heady, refined interpretations of Debussy's Jeux and the Adagio from Mahler's tenth symphony. The new program, combining Schubert's eighth symphony and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, was a calculated tour de force, intended not to shock and awe by its force but to seduce by its subtlety.

Music director Michael Tilson Thomas zealously watched over a most delicate rendition of the "Unfinished" Symphony, immediately hushing the low strings in the introduction to the first movement. With a restrained pace he took the tempo marking of “Allegro moderato” at face value, a moderation that extended into all musical areas. The cellos presented the famous B theme with consummate introspection, and after the development’s mysterious chords with rumbling bass, the recapitulation returned just as serenely, at precisely the same tempo as the one set at the outset. The second movement was just as rarefied, with the oboe solos striking just the right air of plangent longing, matched by strong contributions from clarinet, flute, and horn, all allowed to be limpid and graceful, never forced into shrillness.


Other Reviews:

Anne Midgette, A renowned American orchestra shows its refinement (Washington Post, April 18)

James R. Ostreich, A Mahler Mini-Festival in New York (New York Times, April 18)

Anthony Tommasini, San Francisco Symphony at Carnegie Hall (New York Times, April 14)

Niels Swinkels, S.F. Symphony Plays from the Heart in Mahler, and Schubert (San Francisco Classical Voice, April 13)

Joshua Kosman, Cooke, SF Symphony combine in intoxicating Mahler (San Francisco Chronicle, April 7)
The “lean in” ethos Tilson Thomas was after continued in an extraordinary, disembodied reading of Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde,” or at least part of it. In his Mahler cycle with San Francisco, Tilson Thomas recorded this piece, which allowed Mahler sneakily to circumvent having to write a fateful ninth symphony, with baritone and tenor. The New Zealand-born tenor Simon O’Neill had some force on the extroverted tenor arias, perhaps too much, not quite focused enough in tone, and rushing in some of the songs. Mahler’s orchestration is symphonic and can feel merciless in the tenor pieces, requiring some storminess in the singer, which O’Neill had to a degree, with some strain on the top notes.

If you are wondering why Tilson Thomas would trade out the baritone version of the cycle for the mezzo-soprano one, the answer could be that he had Sasha Cooke available. Tilson Thomas coaxed more exquisite sounds from the orchestra to envelop Cooke’s silky legato phrases, but under which she was never submerged. In “Von der Schönheit,” the orchestra turned on a dime, one minute floating ethereally, the next ranting through the interlude of boys galloping on their horses, and then sighing in the postlude with the yearning maiden. The sense of desolation in “Der Abschied” was overwhelming, the masterfully gloomy orchestration, the gorgeous flute and oboe solos. Oh, eternally Love-Life-drunk world indeed.

Baltimore Symphony's New Music


Charles T. Downey, BSO continues centennial celebration with two new pieces (Washington Post, April 18)

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra marked the 100th anniversary of its first public concert in February. The celebration continued this week, as music director Marin Alsop led the orchestra in two new pieces commissioned for the centennial season. The program, heard on Friday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, was repeated at Carnegie Hall on Saturday.

Christopher Rouse’s “Processional” was the more successful of the two premieres, one of 10 five-minute anniversary works commissioned by the BSO... [Continue reading]
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Music by Rouse, Puts, Mahler
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Baltimore, Md.)

SEE ALSO:
Tim Smith, Baltimore Symphony premieres musically, visually intriguing 'City' (Baltimore Sun, April 15)

James Oestreich, A Mahler Mini-Festival in New York (New York Times, April 18)

George Grella, Baltimore Symphony offers compelling Puts, uninspired Mahler (New York Classical Review, April 18)

Harry Rolnick, The City First, The Universe Later (Concerto.net, April 16)

On Forbes: Bach at Home in Japan / The Bach Collegium Japan in Vienna


Bach At Home In Japan


Where resides the best Bach Orchestra and Chorus in the world? Leipzig? Berlin? Germany at least? Amsterdam – where the great Bach tradition still lives on vibrantly? London, where the early music movement attained its first heights? Maybe, but for my money try Kobe, Japan[1]. Forgive for a second the hyperbole of “best”: there are other really, really fine ensembles that do Bach extremely proud. But the Bach Collegium Japan (BCJ) and its founding director Masaaki Suzuki are are part of the exclusive high-end of interpreters of the Leipzig’s Master and need yield to no one in the quality of their Bach performances.



Founded in 1990, the group embarked in 1995 upon a project to record all the cantatas that Bach wrote. This impressive achievement will be finished any day now, with the last of the secular cantatas being releases this year. Being an inveterate lover of Bach cantatas and their recordings, I’ve followed this cycle (on BIS) from relatively early on, though my hard-earned money was, in those student days, on Ton Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra which the Erato had started. That project was unceremoniously dumped by the label, much like John Eliot Gardiner’s similar beginnings of a cycle were aborted by Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv sublabel. Both conductors managed to found and fund their own recording cycles, subsequently… so not all was lost. But BIS stayed on course. Early on, I found Suzuki and his Bach-singing and -playing ilk a little fast, a little on the cold, technical side, but undeniably precise… impressive, if not quite my thing. This impression changed, somewhere around volume 20 or 23. Suddenly these performances, still drawn with a knife and in every way impeccable, also attained a greater sense of warmth and glowing geniality and the soloists that Suzuki employed – especially some of the female voices – went from very good to good-as-it-gets: Thank you Carolyn Sampson and Dorothee Mields and Hana Blažíkova, among others!

Continued at Forbes.com




17.4.16

Perchance to Stream: Tax Man Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to online audio and online video from the week gone by. After clicking to an audio or video stream, you may need to press the "Play" button to start the broadcast. Some of these streams become unavailable after a few days.

  • From the Wiener Staatsoper, a performance of Puccini's Tosca starring Angela Gheorghiu (Tosca), Jonas Kaufmann (Cavaradossi), Bryn Terfel (Scarpia), and others. [ORF]

  • Watch the production of Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict from Brussels. [De Munt]

  • Gustavo Dudamel leads the Vienna Philharmonic in music by Rachmaninoff, Reger, and Musorgsky. [ORF | Part 2]

  • Listen to a performance of Bruckner's eighth symphony and Messiaen's Couleurs de la cité céleste, with Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, recorded at the Barbican Hall in London. [BBC3]

  • Mikko Franck leads the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with soloists Roberto Alagna, Karina Gauvin, Sabine Devieilhe, and Jean-François Lapointe, in performances of Debussy's L'Enfant Prodigue and Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges. [France Musique]

  • Music by Strauss and Beethoven performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Manfred Honeck, with pianist Nelson Freire, recorded in Helsinki in January. [ORF]

  • Listen to a recital by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianist Malcolm Martineau, with Schumann Frauenliebe und -leben, Grieg, and others, recorded in March at the Wiener Konzerthaus. [ORF]

  • Music by Maurice Duruflé performed by the Choeur de Radio France and organist Yves Castagnet, with conductor Florian Helgath. [France Musique]

16.4.16

Classical Music Agenda (June 2016)

June is the official end of the concert season, although many presenters give their last concerts in May, or even April. Here are the most important performances you do not want to miss before summer vacation.

DANCE:
The Royal Swedish Ballet returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House, for the American premiere of Juliet and Romeo (June 1 to 4), a new choreography by Mats Ek. Made for the company's 240th anniversary, it is a variation on the classic Shakespeare story accompanied by various pieces of music by Tchaikovsky, rather than the later Prokofiev score.

ORCHESTRAS:
The National Symphony Orchestra has two more worthwhile programs on offer, beginning with Leila Josefowicz playing Esa-Pekka Salonen's violin concerto (June 2 to 4), in a concert also featuring Christoph Eschenbach conducting symphonies by Haydn and Robert Schumann. The Mahler season continues with contralto Nathalie Stutzmann as soloist in the composer's Rückert-Lieder, paired with Eschenbach conducting Bruckner's fourth symphony (June 9 to 11).

Up in Charm City cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for a single performance of Dvořák's cello concerto (June 15) at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, unfortunately paired with the composer's over-exposed but still crowd-pleasing ninth symphony. Speaking of overdone, yet another performance of Verdi's Requiem Mass would not normally catch my attention, but Marin Alsop's performance will feature a knockout quartet of soloists including Tamara Wilson and Elizabeth Bishop (June 17 to 19).


We recommend all of the performances of the NOI Festival Orchestra, the crackerjack student ensemble that comes together each summer for the National Orchestral Institute program at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center. Of all of them, the performance led by Osmo Vänskä (June 25) is the one not to miss, combining Nielsen's Overture to Maskarade, Lutosławski's Concerto for Orchestra, and Sibelius's second symphony.

VOICES:
Soprano Renée Fleming joins the Emerson String Quartet early in the month at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (June 2), for a concert combining Egon Wellesz's Five Sonnets for Soprano and String Quartet with Alban Berg's Lyric Suite, which has a part for voice in the final movement, as well as one of the Brahms string quartets.

The first production from Wolf Trap Opera will be Britten's Rape of Lucretia (June 10 to 18), an opera that is just the right scale for the Barns at Wolf Trap. The rather wonderful Kerriann Otaño will take the part of the Female Chorus.

At the end of the month the In Series will mount a scaled-down production of Beethoven's Fidelio at the Atlas Center (June 18 to 26). Nick Olcott directs his own English adaptation of the opera, which updates the story to an unnamed Central American dictatorship.

The rest of the June concert calendar will scroll through the Ionarts sidebar.

15.4.16

Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax Together Again

available at Amazon
Beethoven, Cello Sonatas / Variations, Yo-Yo Ma, E. Ax
(Sony Classical, 1987)

available at Amazon
Beethoven, Cello Sonatas 3/5, Yo-Yo Ma, E. Ax
(remastered, 2013)
One's musical taste changes over the years. These days my "go to" choice for the Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano would be more along the lines of the historically informed version by Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin. When I was an undergraduate music major, however, my brand-new CD player wore out the shiny disc recorded by Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, the one containing the third and fifth sonatas. That legendary pairing took the stage of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Wednesday evening, for a concert honoring the memory of Isaac Stern. It was the second half of a (more than) complete cycle of the Beethoven cello sonatas, begun by Isserlis and Levin last fall.

That first installment was in the smaller venue of the Terrace Theater, a space that could not possibly hold the audience amassed for Ma and Ax. This concert had the feeling of an event, and audience enthusiasm boiled over into some applause breaks in between movements, much to the performers' amusement and (so it seemed) pleasure. The time since they recorded these sonatas for Sony represents a lot of water under the bridge. Little surprise that how they play the works now is quite different, with perhaps more little slips and minor issues, especially on Ma's part, but more importantly interpretations that were quite different.

The fourth and fifth sonatas, paired by the composer as op. 102, are sublime works of Beethoven's late period. Both end with genial fugues — solemn counterpoint as a parting wink of the eye — in a way reminiscent of the op. 110 piano sonata. The performers stretched and pulled the Andante introduction of no. 4, to meditative and tender effect, with an equally rhapsodic handling of the Adagio introduction to the second movement. They applied the same rhythmic freedom to the opening of no. 5, while here the second movement had the tragic air of a funeral march, not lachrymose but steeped in tragedy, with the major-key B section like a sweet memory. The coda of this movement was the evening's most prayerful moment, sotto voce but laser-focused.


Other Reviews:

Joe Banno, Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax, partners in sublime (Washington Post, April 14)
As a lead-in to these accomplished pieces, the second sonata (op. 5/2) was hopelessly lightweight. The players did not exactly shortchange the piece, giving the slow first movement an introspective weightiness and plenty of rustling effects in the fast second movement. It runs long and tires on the ear, and Ma seemed inclined to add more visual flourishes to his bow strokes than was strictly necessary. It is no coincidence that both Isserlis-Levin and Ma-Ax chose to end with the third sonata, op. 69, the best of the bunch. Here the players chose a relaxed tempo for the first movement, making the contrast with the much faster and busy scherzo and finale that much more striking. Neither player overdid the agogic accents of the scherzo, so that it felt more lively than unsettled, and the fleet finale showed Ax's fingers still in excellent form. The Adagio from the third violin sonata of Brahms, in its arrangement for cello and piano, served as encore.

14.4.16

BRSO Brings Mahler 5



Charles T. Downey, Kennedy Center’s New Music Series Is Bates’s Jukebox
Classical Voice North America, April 14

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One day, Munich’s Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will play in the hall it deserves. When it does, a statue of conductor Mariss Jansons in or in front of the hall would not be out of place. The Riga-born conductor doubled down on his commitment to the Bavarians, whom he has led since 2003, and their quest for a new venue, by resigning from his other music directorship, at Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, last year. He even pledged $270,000 of his own money, the proceeds of the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, as starter cash for the fund to build the orchestra a new auditorium.

The news came earlier this year that Munich will indeed build the BRSO a new home in time for Jansons and his orchestra to take a victory lap on its North American tour...
[Continue reading]

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
North American Tour
With Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Washington Performing Arts
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

SEE ALSO:
Christophe Huss, Mariss Jansons, l’affiche tombée du ciel (Le Devoir, April 14)

Anne Midgette, How a great orchestra started its U.S. tour: Carefully. (Washington Post, April 13)

Robert R. Reilly, Bavarian RSO Opens North American Tour (Ionarts, April 13)

Charles T. Downey, Concertgebouw Returns, This Time with Mahler (Ionarts, February 5, 2008)

13.4.16

Gustav Mahler – A Brief Introduction


Discographies on ionarts: Bach Organ Cycles | Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX | Bruckner Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Mozart Piano Sonata Cycles | Shostakovich Symphony Cycles | Sibelius Symphony Cycles


This post originally appeared on WETA, 4.28.09, as the introduction to the Mahler Survey

Bavarian RSO Opens North American Tour

PICTURE OF MARISS JANSONS © ASTRID ACKERMANN


Many thanks to Robert R. Reilly for this review from the Kennedy Center.

According to the Playbill program notes for the April 12, 2016, concert at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Performing Arts organization has not sponsored the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra here since 2003. From the caliber of playing on display in Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto and Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, that has been our substantial loss. Under conductor Mariss Jansons, the level of orchestral execution in all departments was superlative. They are welcome in my town anytime.

First, a side note on concert programming. I sometimes wonder if there is not a secret, worldwide, Spectre-like organization of programmers who meet to plot the frequent repetition of repertory. Less than a year ago, I heard the Mahler Fifth with the NSO, and less than two years ago I heard the Korngold Violin Concerto, also with the NSO. I’m not complaining in either case, as violinist Gil Shaham gave the Korngold a beautiful performance and Christoph Eschenbach’s Mahler is always worth hearing. It makes you wonder though, doesn’t it?

In fact, last year’s Mahler Fifth was paired with the Sibelius Violin Concerto, played by tonight’s soloist in the Korngold, Leonidas Kavakos. The time I had heard Kavakos before that was in a program in Ljubljana with the Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto, which was coupled with (guess what?) Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Are you beginning to see the global dimensions of this? If it happens again, I’m calling Interpol.

And now a note on the program. I think it makes good sense to put the Korngold and Mahler together because they both come from the same Viennese milieu – albeit one via Hollywood, the other not. Both inhabit the First Viennese School, though from Korngold one could not imagine the Second Viennese School, while from Mahler, one could. Also, it was interesting to hear the Korngold first because, listening to the Mahler afterwards, I exclaimed to myself several times, “aha, Korngold had obviously heard that.” Then there is the historical association: Korngold, who as a youth had met Mahler, dedicated his Violin Concerto to Mahler’s widow, Alma.

Be that as it may, it was a pleasure to hear Kavakos in the Korngold, though my first impression — one of warmth rather than brilliance — was that his razor sharpness and intonation were slightly off from what I had heard before. The tone soon improved, however, and by the last movement he was blazing away with complete confidence. He had great partners in Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, which played with crystal clarity, precision, and energy. Though most of the themes in the concerto came from Korngold’s brilliant movie scores, no one indulged in any Hollywood sentimentality. This is not to say there was any beauty lacking — the glorious sound of the orchestra was like walking into the Golden Screen. The enthusiasm of the audience impelled Kavakos to offer a charming encore, Recuerdos de la Alhambra, composed by Francisco Tárrega for guitar, transcribed for violin by Ruggiero Ricci. You can hear a much younger Kavakos playing it here.


Other Reviews:

Anne Midgette, How a great orchestra started its U.S. tour: Carefully. (Washington Post, April 13)
The performance of the Mahler Fifth Symphony was blistering. Let me put it this way: if Mahler were Beethoven, this is exactly how he should be played. And further, I mean Beethoven not as Bruno Walter would play him, but more like Arturo Toscanini or René Leibowitz would. It was thrilling, but was it Mahler? There were no emotional or psychological epiphanies provided, but there were musical ones aplenty. Jansons’ attitude toward this work seems to be to take it simply as a tremendously exciting piece of music and not as an emotional freight train. I have heard this work so often that there is very little that can make me sit up and take notice. Because of Jansons’ highly energized approach and the brilliant playing of the BRSO, I was on high alert for most of the evening. Jansons did not stop to smell the daisies; he propelled the performance up and down the mountainsides, and had his massive orchestra turning on a pin, like Alpine chamois. It was breathtaking. The Adagietto was the movement that benefited least from Jansons’ approach. Anyone expecting to take a warm bath in it would have been disappointed. It had beauty, yes, but warmth, not much.

While not terribly emotive, the performance was nonetheless visceral in its impact. If you wonder what Mahler meant when he marked the score “like a whirlwind” or “Moving Stormily, With the Greatest Vehemence,” Jansons provided a very compelling answer. Of course, there are many ways of doing this symphony, as Klaus Tennstedt and others have brilliantly shown. But Jansons has clearly demonstrated that this is one of them.

It hardly need be said that every department of the BRSO covered itself in glory — what a deep, gorgeous sound! The strings were exceptional, the brass outstanding, but so were the winds, and the timpani…

I have decided not to call Interpol after all.

12.4.16

Venice Baroque Orchestra @ Dumbarton Oaks

available at Amazon
Vivaldi, Concertos and Sinfonias for Strings, Venice Baroque Orchestra, A. Marcon
(Archiv, 2006)
Although the Venice Baroque Orchestra has been on American tours more recently, the last time they visited Washington was in 2011, at the National Gallery of Art. In his recordings of Vivaldi's instrumental music thus far, Andrea Marcon has focused on the pieces featuring string instruments, often in partnership with gifted violinist Giuliano Carmignola. For their program at Dumbarton Oaks, heard on Monday evening, the ensemble brought along five woodwind players, to play four of the composer's concertos scored "con molti strumenti," with a larger consort of instruments than Vivaldi generally used.

Vivaldi composed at least two of these concertos, RV 576 and 577, for the Kammermusik, instrumental ensemble, of Friedrich August, the Prince Elector of Saxony. According to Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot, the German prince came to Venice for his "clandestine conversion to Catholicism." Visiting the Ospedale della Pietà with their employer, the prince's musicians hit it off with Vivaldi, especially a violinist named Johann Georg Pisendel. The prince and his musicians acquired copies of many Vivaldi pieces and, especially when Pisendel became concertmaster in Dresden, they inaugurated what Talbot refers to as a "Vivaldi cult" in the prince's Hofkapelle in that city.

The VBO's period-instrument oboes, recorders, and bassoon made a splendid, slightly raucous noise in RV 577 ("Per l'Orchestra di Dresda"), especially in the intense slow movement, accompanied only by theorbo. The third movement had a more extended part for solo violin, too, an example of Vivaldi's admiring writing for Pisendel. The concert ended with RV 576 ("Per Sua Altezza Reale di Sassonia"), again buzzing with active details in the first movement, with concertmaster Gianpiero Zanocco not necessarily distinguishing himself in the first two movements, redeemed by a more focused third movement. Two other concertos with prominent woodwind sections, RV 566 and 564a, rounded out the concept, with the Largo of RV 566, a genial intertwining of two recorders, bassoon, harpsichord, and theorbo, standing out as a moment to be treasured.


Other Reviews:

Stephen Brookes, Venice Baroque Orchestra goes for broke at Dumbarton Oaks (Washington Post, April 12)

James R. Oestreich, Venice and Vivaldi, Center Stage at the Metropolitan Museum (New York Times, April 11)
A concerto for the not quite effective pairing of solo oboe and violin, RV 548, was a bit of a disappointment, not due to the beautiful melodic lead of the oboe lines. The most splendid solo vehicle was RV 316a, a concerto adapted by Bach for the organ, heard here in a version for flautino, a high recorder, played with brilliant finger technique, flowery embellishments, and endless breath support by soloist Anna Fusek. Two concerti grossi, Corelli's op. 6/4 and Handel's op. 3/1, rounded out the program, featuring the string sections in some of their better moments, although the violins often seemed just slightly out of touch with Marcon in the concert's least satisfying aspect.

Marcon conducted while playing the continuo part from the harpsichord, an instrument modeled on a 17th-century Italian instrument by Thomas and Barbara Wolf, which made some beautiful sounds. Two encores, Handel's chaconne from Terpsichore and a reprise of the third movement of RV 577, brought the evening to a close -- as well as the season at Dumbarton Oaks, which the audience toasted at intermission with a glass of prosecco.

The Venice Baroque Orchestra returns to the area next season, on the concert series at Baltimore's Shriver Hall (February 12, 2017).

Latest on Forbes: Go Hear My Orchestra Tonight! (+ Gergiev in Munich)



In Search Of A Home, Abroad: The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra In North America


...The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is said to be the bee's knees among orchestras, the cream of the crop. Mariss Jansons brings the band to North America for people between Chapel Hill and Montreal to hear for themselves...

The full article on Forbes.com.




Gergiev Starts Into Second Season In Munich


...For those who listened carefully, right off the bat (and again at the very end), two remarks were made that might be hints of a sea-change in the orchestra’s attitude; hinting perhaps at a point-zero of the Munich Philharmonic moving on from a considerably good but ultimately provincial orchestra of second rank to something more than that...

The full article on Forbes.com.

11.4.16

Briefly Noted: Magnificat Settings

available at Amazon
Lasso, Magnificat Settings, Die Singphoniker

(released on January 8, 2016)
cpo 777957-2 | 64'16"
Die Singphoniker, an all-male vocal ensemble based in Munich, has flown under the Ionarts radar thus far. The group's latest release, an intriguing set of Magnificat settings by late Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso, brings them into these pages for the first time, even though they have been singing medieval and Renaissance music, as well as less interesting material, for thirty years. Lasso was a Franco-Flemish singer and composer, but he traveled around Europe as a young man, ultimately settling in the Catholic court of the Duke of Bavaria, in Munich, in his 30s. He flourished there for almost forty years, producing a sizable corpus of polyphonic compositions, including over one hundred settings of the Magnificat, the Latin canticle from the Gospel of Luke sung near the end of the service of Vespers.

The six Magnificat settings on this disc reflect the alternatim practice, and the (in most cases) lower voices of the ensemble have a beautiful sound on the plainchant of the canticle's odd-numbered verses. Rather than creating polyphony based on the canticle tone, in these settings (and about 35 other ones in the Lasso output) Lasso adapted the polyphonic pieces of other composers for the even-numbered verses, an "imitation" process (rather than "parody") practiced by many composers in settings of the Mass Ordinary. The source works are both secular (madrigals by Cipriano de Rore, Jacquet de Berchem, Anselmo de Rieux, and Philippe Verdelot) and sacred, and they range from the sublime — Josquin's outstanding six-voice motet Praeter rerum seriem stands out, with tenor Gerhard Hölzle joining the group for the six-part pieces, as does Lasso's work derived from it with its triple-meter "Seculorum amen" section — to the insipid (Claudin de Sermisy's ditty Il est jour dit l'alouette, or It is Day Says the Lark). Also performing the six source pieces satisfies musicological curiosity, even if it does mean fewer Magnificat settings.

The group has an excellent sound, with the normal reservations about countertenors on the upper parts. It is not an ideal situation, albeit historically accurate in many cases. It is also appropriate to have recorded these pieces in Munich, albeit in a Lutheran church that stands in for the court chapel.


10.4.16

Perchance to Stream: Back from Greece Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to online audio and online video from the week gone by. After clicking to an audio or video stream, you may need to press the "Play" button to start the broadcast. Some of these streams become unavailable after a few days.

  • Les Talens Lyriques, with conductor Christophe Rousset and tenor Ian Bostridge, perform a concert last month at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. [France Musique]

  • The Bach Collegium Japan performs Bach's B Minor Mass, recorded at the Barbican Hall in London. [BBC3]

  • William Christie leads Les Arts Florissants in music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and other French Baroque composers, recorded at the Wigmore Hall in London. [BBC3]

  • Listen to the Hofkapelle München, led by Rüdiger Lotter, perform five of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. [Avro Klassiek]

  • Christoph von Dohnanyi makes his long-awaited Australian debut with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, leading a performance of Bruckner's fourth symphony and Berg's violin concerto, with Carolin Widmann. [ABC Classic]

  • Mitsuko Uchida plays two Mozart piano concerti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plus Schumann's song cycle Frauenliebe und -leben with soprano Dorothea Röschmann. [CSO]

  • Jean-Claude Pennetier is soloist in Mozart's 21st and 24th piano concertos with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and conductor Christoph Poppen, recorded in February. [France Musique]

  • From City Halls in Glasgow, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov perform music by Tom Harrold, Unsuk Chin's Violin Concerto, and Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. [BBC3]

  • Leif Ove Andsnes joins the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, with Riccardo Muti also leading music by Beethoven, Hindemith, and Prokofiev. [CSO]

  • Neeme Järvi leads the Orchestre National de France in music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Glière, and Prokofiev with Hervé Joulain, recorded last month. [France Musique]

  • John Eliot Gardiner leads the London Symphony Orchestra, Monteverdi Choir, and soloists in Mendelssohn's first symphony and the music for A Midsummer Night's Dream. [ORF | Part 2]

  • Listen again to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, starring Plácido Domingo (Simon Boccanegra), Lianna Haroutounian (Maria Boccanegra), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Jacopo Fiesco), and Joseph Calleja (Gabriele). [Radio Clásica]

  • Watch Avi Avital perform the Vivaldi mandolin concertos with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, recorded in the Salon d'Hercule du Château de Versailles. [ARTE]

  • From the Présences Festival, a concert with music by Lara Morciano, Berio, and Boulez, recorded in February. [France Musique]

  • From the Lighthouse, Poole, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Kirill Karabits perform music by Bach, Britten, and Mozart. [BBC3]

  • The London Handel Orchestra plays music by Handel and his contemporaries, recorded at the Wigmore Hall in London. [BBC3]

  • Mezzo-soprano Frances Pappas joins conductor Patrick Davin and the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse for music by Stravinsky and Frank Martin. [France Musique]

  • The Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, under Louis Langrée, performs music by Alberic Magnard, Ernest Chausson, and Debussy, recorded last month at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. [France Musique]

  • Watch choreographer Olivier Dubois's Les Mémoires d’un Seigneur, recorded at the Théâtre Paul Eluard. [ARTE]

  • Pianist Vanessa Wagner performs music of Satie at the Auditorium du Musée d'Orsay, recorded last February. [France Musique]

  • A 1989 recording of Donizetti's Elisabetta al castello di Kenilworth with the RAI Orchestra and Chorus, starring Mariella Devia (Elisabetta), Jozef Kundlak (Alberto), and Denia Mazzola. [ORF]