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Classical music and opera by Classissima

Daniel Barenboim

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

December 27

Yefim Bronfman: I keep playing for other pianists

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discThe Russian-Israeli US-based virtuoso, in a candid video interview with Zsolt Bognar, confesses to constant attacks of nerves, accompanied by the need for approbation by other pianists. ‘I get very nervous… before a concert it’s a struggle to go on stage…. you have many fears,’ he confesses. ‘But then (you find that) everybody is in the same boat.’ ‘I always wanted to have advice from others. I played a lot for Barenboim. I played for Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia… I always have the necessity to learn more.’ ‘It’s a fascinating life, but achievement is not something I am proud of.’ Watch. photo: Todd Rosenberg from Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain, pp. 209-210: Then Bronfman appears. Bronfman the brontosaur! Mr. Fortissimo! Enter Bronfman to play Prokofiev at such a pace and with such bravado as to knock my morbidity clear out of the ring. He is conspicuously massive through the upper torso, a force of nature camouflaged in a sweatshirt, somebody who has strolled into the music shed out of a circus where he is the strongman and who takes on the piano as a ridiculous challenge to the gargantuan strength he revels in. Yefim Bronfman looks less like the person who is going to play the piano than like the guy who should be moving it. I had never before seen anybody go at a piano like this sturdy little barrel of an unshaven Russian Jew. When he’s finished, I thought, They’ll have to throw the thing out. He crushes it. He doesn’t let that piano conceal a thing. Whatever’s in there is going to come out, and come out with its hands in the air. And when it does, everything there out in the open, the last of the last pulsation, he himself gets up and goes, leaving behind him our redemption. With a jaunty wave, he is suddenly gone, and though he takes all his fire off with him like no less a force than Prometheus, our own lives now seem inextinguishable. Nobody is dying, NOBODY — not if Bronfman has anything to say about it!

On An Overgrown Path

January 5

Music that matters in the 21st century

A recent post about Warner's re-issue of André Previn conducting the three great Tchaikovsky ballets generated much interest. So now I am highlighting another Warner reissue well worth seeking out. Daniel Barenboim's account with the English Chamber Orchestra of Mozart's piano concertos was originally recorded by EMI in Studio 1 Abbey Road with Suvi Raj Grubb as producer, and the transfer onto 10 CDs is now an astonishing bargain at sub-budget price. The recordings were made in the late 1960s and early 1970s long before Brand Barenboim became classical music's equivalent of Brand Beckham. So this is music and music making that speaks directly to our times without gratuitous intermediation. Any reader still in doubt as to Norman Lebrecht's credentials as a cultural commentator is referred to his legendary 2005 appreciation of Mozart. Norman's laudation can be read via this link and his concluding paragraph is extracted below. Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours. Beyond a superficial beauty and structural certainty, Mozart has nothing to give to mind or spirit in the 21st century. Let him rest. Ignore the commercial onslaught. Play the Leningrad Symphony. Listen to music that matters.No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Reluctantly also on Facebook and Twitter.




My Classical Notes

December 25

Netrebko Sings Strauss

Soprano Anna Netrebko is a long term favorite singer of mine. It is not only because she has a fine voice, but also because of her humor, her stage presence and the diversity of her repertoire. On this CD she sings the amazing Last Four Songs by Richard Strauss. This recording features the following tracks: Strauss, R: Vier letzte Lieder, as performed by Anna Netrebko (soprano) Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 Orchestral support is provided by the Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim conducting. • Anna Netrebko, sings Richard Strauss’ sumptuous Four Last Songs, accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim. An irresistible, all-star combination. • Netrebko is a phenomenon. The world’s best-selling active soprano and quite simply, the undisputed superstar – “la prima donna assoluta” (New York Post) – of opera today. Known equally for her poise, her sensuality and her voice’s unmistakable color, Strauss’s elegiac Four Last Songs are an exquisite vehicle for her expressive gifts: Netrebko’s first recording of these gorgeous, iconic songs. • And Daniel Barenboim: conductor, pianist, humanitarian – perhaps the world’s most complete living musician. A venerated interpreter of Wagner, Mozart, Beethoven and Bruckner, in many ways the music of Richard Strauss represents the cross section of Barenboim’s musical background. In 1954, the then 11 year-old Barenboim was introduced to his idol, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. It was Furtwängler who conducted the world premiere of Strauss’ Four Last Songs in 1949. • The Staatskapelle and Barenboim also perform ‘Ein Heldenleben’, one of the most vivid and popular tone poems by Strauss, who himself was Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatskapelle a century ago. Here is Anna Netrebko, singing the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss:



Guardian

December 23

Were you paying attention? Classical music in 2016 – quiz

How many of the classical world’s comings and goings, openings and closings, bouquets and brickbats do you remember from the past 12 months? Try our quizWhich one of these pianistic partners did Martha Argerich not play duets with in London this year? Daniel Barenboim Stephen Kovacevich Alberto Portugheis Which mezzo-soprano lost her head as Holofernes in a staggering concert performance of Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans at the Barbican? Ann HallenbergMagdalena Kozena Delphine Galou‘A civilisation that conserves is one that will decay’ said which composer, whose life and music nonetheless were celebrated throughout the year? Pierre BoulezJohn CagePeter Maxwell DaviesWhich operatic anti-hero came to an unfortunate end in a disused sewer in Vienna in English Touring Opera’s new production? Don Giovanni RigolettoHarry LimeWhich one of these conductors pulled out of an engagement to conduct in the Bayreuth Festival this year in as yet unexplained circumstances? Christian ThielemannAndris Nelsons Kirill PetrenkoWhich of these UK opera companies did not welcome a new music director or artistic director (or both) this year? Royal Opera HouseGlyndebourneEnglish National Opera Whose music was performed in a Peckham car park as one of this year’s Proms? David Bowie Benedict Mason Steve ReichThirty-year-old Latvian Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is the newly appointed chief conductor of which British orchestra?City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra London Symphony Orchestra Philharmonia OrchestraWhose opera debut, Pleasure, was set in the toilets of a gay nightclub? Colin Matthews Mark Simpson Anna MeredithSoprano Sarah Tynan sang Britten’s Les Illuminations at the Aldeburgh festival. Who did she perform alongside? A group of acrobats, clowns and aerialistsAn elephant and a camelA virtual reality projection of Britten accompanying her on the pianoIn May, Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC Young Musician competition. Which cello concerto did the 17-year-old perform to take the title? Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minorShostakovich's Cello Concerto No 1 in E flat majorWitold Lutosławski's Cello ConcertoSofia Coppola directed an opera - her first - at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera. Which one?Verdi's La TraviataWagner's Tristan und IsoldeMark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole Who threatened strike action at English National Opera? The boardThe stagehands The chorus Why was Philip Glass's music featured at this year's Glastonbury festival? There was an open-air screening of Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi with Glass's soundtrackEnglish National Opera took the opening act of Akhnaten to the Pyramid stage for a Sunday early afternoon performanceCharles Hazlewood and his Army of Generals performed Glass's Heroes Symphony, inspired by David Bowie's 1977 album.This year's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at Kings College Chapel features - as it does every year - a specially commissioned carol. By who?Kanye WestMichael BerkeleyJudith Weir Continue reading...

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