Thursday, June 30, 2016
From the conductor’s blogpost: The vote in favor of Brexit is, in my view, a very sad decision for Great Britain and Europe. It is, however, senseless to bathe in pessimism and desperation as Brexit is now an unchangeable historical fact… Nationalism is the opposite of true patriotism, and the further fostering of nationalist sentiment would be the worst case-scenario for us all. Instead, we need a unifying, European patriotism. Neither of these conclusions seems altogether realistic or achievable. Read the full post here.
The opera “Don Giovanni” by Mozart is one of my great favorites. When you get to enjoy it as sung by Anna Netrebko, one can just imagine the fireworks… Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527 Performed by Erwin Schrott (as Don Giovanni), Anna Netrebko (Donna Anna), Luca Pisaroni (Leporello), Malena Ernman (Donna Elvira), Charles Castronovo (Don Ottavio), Katija Dragojevic (Zerlina), Jonathan Lemalu (Masetto), Mario Luperi (Commendatore), and the Balthasar-Neumann-Orchestra, Balthasar-Neumann-Choir, Thomas Hengelbrock conducting. This is a llive recording of Don Giovanni from the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Germany. Opera Today wrote that “Schrott creates Don Giovanni in all his malevolent glory — virile, confident, arrogant. He is bursting with animal sexuality, yet manages to hint at the manic obsession that drives the character. Stunning.” Here for your own enjoyment is a recording of the opera from La Scala Milan, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim. (Recording starts with the Italian National Anthem):
In a move unparalleled in recent orchestra memory, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehired Alex Klein on Friday as principal oboe. Alex, a Brazilian, joined the orchestra in 1995 under Daniel Barenboim as successor to the unforgettable Ray Still. He retired nine years later, suffering from focal dystonia in his left hand, which he described as ‘a death sentence’. Back in Brazil, he started a Sistema education project, took up conducting, and sought remedies for his malady. Something must have worked. On Friday he passed an audition of the principal oboe vacancy in Chicago and was immediately rehired. We wish Alex happiness and fulfilment in his new/old job.
The Arab Spring in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt was dubbed the 'Twitter revolution' because of the role played by social media, and social media activity is now central to political strategies. Following the Leave victory in the UK EU referendum, considerable attention is being paid to the role of age, education and other demographics in the split between Leave and Remain. But to my knowledge there has been no attempt to correlate propensity to vote Leave with social media usage. Analysis shows that those over 60 were most likely to vote Leave, and, those with a higher level of education were more likely to vote Remain. So in the absence of empirical data I am proposing that as social media usage is highest among the young, well-educated and socially mobile, it is highly likely that Leave voters have a materially lower usage of social media. It is acknowledged that phenomenological as opposed to virtual events provided the tipping points in the referendum; notably the now apparently disowned promise that £350million a week would be spent on the NHS if the UK backed a Brexit vote, and Remain's misguided highly negative 'campaign of fear' strategy based on the message that a vote for Leave would trigger a recession and cost UK households an average £4300 a year. It is also acknowledged that old-school media in the form of personal appearances, TV interviews and tabloid press coverage played a pivotal role in the Leave victory; a victory after which Sun editor Tony Gallagher commented: “So much for the waning power of the print media.” Which leads me to contend that social media did not play a decisive role in the EU referendum. But moreover I propose that the inflated view of social media's ability to trigger change is both misleading and dangerous. That proposition is relevant both to classical music's ongoing digital fixation, particularly as the age profile of its core audience mirrors that for Leave voters, But far more importantly, my proposition is very relevant to the forthcoming US presidential election. The chattering classes have been replaced on both sides of the Atlantic by the twittering classes, who have failed to notice that the only audience for their twittering is fellow social media addicts. An apocryphal definition states that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet with Brexit almost a done deal, the twittering classes continue to repeat the same thing over and over again in the hope of a different result - see header graphic. All those on Facebook and Twitter who are similarly reprising rants againt Donald Trump et al hundreds, if not thousands of times, should learn the Brexit lesson of the voting power of the social media-lite cohort before is too late. Yes, Brexit is insane. But the social media lamenters should heed Daniel Barenboim's wise words: "There are now two possible reactions. To lament Brexit and watch extremist movements in other countries such as France and the Netherlands seeking to follow the example of Great Britain. Or, to think about necessary improvements for the EU and to work together towards a true spirit of unity and collaboration, especially in finding a global solution for the refugee crisis and not an exclusively European one". Header graphic via NPR. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). And yes, ironically On An Overgrown Path is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Berliner Philharmoniker/ Abbado/ Barenboim/ Boulez/ Dudamel/ Haitink/ Mehta/ Muti/ Rattle (Warner Classics, 25 DVDs)The Berlin Philharmonic gave its first ever concert in 1892, on 1 May. Since 1991, it has been marking that anniversary with a one-off May Day concert, which is given in a different historical-cultural centre in Europe each year, and which is televised live widely across Europe, though not in the UK. This set of DVDs documenting the first 25-year history of the Europa Concerts has been taken from these broadcasts. Though some of the performances are far more memorable than others, it makes for a fascinating collection. The recordings are generally first-rate, and are blissfully free of video gimmicks, voiceover introductions or commentaries, though there are no subtitles or printed texts for the vocal works. It’s the performances pure and simple, though a few of the discs include additional short documentary films about the cities in which the concerts took place. Those venues range from St Petersburg to Palermo, Istanbul to Oxford, with no fewer than three of them, for some reason, having been in Prague.Concerts under nine conductors are included in the set. As you might expect, the Berlin Philharmonic’s two principal conductors over the quarter century concerned, Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle, feature most prominently, but Daniel Barenboim conducts five concerts, as well as making two appearances as a soloist. Programmes tend to be determinedly populist and mainstream – there’s lots of Mozart and Beethoven, and quite a bit of Brahms; even the one concert that Pierre Boulez conducts, in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon, in 2003, includes a Mozart piano concerto, the D minor, K466, with Maria João Pires as the wonderfully fluent soloist. Continue reading...
The Orquesta de Valencia, one of the best in Spain, has consulted its musicians on whether to renew the contract of its Israeli music director, Yaron Traub. The players voted 50-16 to let him go, with nine abstentions. The decision, however, is not binding on the orchestra management. A former Barenboim assistant Traub, 52, is son of the long-serving Israel Philharmonic concertmaster, Chaim Traub.