Isabelle Faust

Isabelle Faust
Isabelle Faust. Photo by Felix Broede

Thursday, April 01, 2021

London Symphony Orchestra appoints Sir Antonio Pappano as Chief Conductor

Antonio Pappano (Photo by Sim Canetty-Clarke)


The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) announced today the appointment of Sir Antonio Pappano as its Chief Conductor from September 2024, becoming Chief Conductor Designate in September 2023. He steps down from his post as Music Director of the Royal Opera House at the end of July 2024.

March 30, 2021

Sir Antonio will conduct the Orchestra in its annual London Barbican Season, where it is Resident Orchestra, and on national and international tours.

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO said:

"I am delighted to welcome Sir Antonio Pappano as Chief Conductor of the LSO. We are deepening our association with him at a crucial time of rebuilding and refocussing following the challenges of the pandemic. With Tony, every concert performance is a memorable and special event. He is the dynamic life force that the LSO welcomes in the leading conductor role and I look forward to planning imaginative programmes with him for the LSO's season in the Barbican and beyond. With his considerable gifts as communicator off the podium, on film and audio broadcast, we will be developing new digital and broadcast projects tapping into his well-established credentials in this sphere. These will extend to young people through the LSO's renowned LSO Discovery learning and community programme."

Sir Antonio Pappano said:

"Since I first collaborated with the LSO in 1996 I have time and again been overwhelmed by the team spirit inherent in this fabulously talented group of musicians. The combination of a unique energy, flair and virtuosity has always set this orchestra apart. That I have been chosen as Chief Conductor is a dream come true and a most wonderful gift. I am humbled and excited to receive this honour and trust. I am committed to keeping London as my musical home and look forward to this most important journey that awaits me, full not only of discovery but also of continued exploration of technological and broadcast opportunities to convey the message of music to an ever greater audience."

David Alberman, Chair of the LSO, added:

"On behalf of the whole Orchestra I am delighted to welcome our new Chief Conductor Designate. We have enjoyed great music making with Tony over the years, most recently the unforgettable performances of Vaughan Williams' Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 last season, the latter on the eve of the first lockdown – the heightened atmosphere in the hall between audience, conductor and musicians was palpable. With the memory of this still fresh in my mind I look forward with tremendous anticipation to what the future holds for our audiences and ourselves."

Sir Antonio Pappano has been Music Director of the Royal Opera House since 2002, the longest serving Music Director in its history, and Music Director of the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome since 2005. He has developed a very special relationship with the LSO since he first conducted the Orchestra in a recording of Tosca in 1996, with his first LSO concert at the Barbican in January 1997. Over the last two decades, he has conducted over 70 LSO concerts and made three recordings on the LSO Live label, and a further six recordings on other labels. He has been a jury member for the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition on several occasions, and is a great champion of the competition, and mentor to past winners.


London Symphony Orchestra & Antonio Pappano

See also

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Christophoros Petridis: Violin recital – Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 28-30.03.2021 (Premiere: 28.03.2021, 20:30, Live streaming)

Christoforos Petridis (Photo by  Amanda Protidou)

Christophoros Petridis is one of the most awarded greek violinists of the young generation – at 16 years old – with distinctions, awards, prizes and medals at important Greek and international competitions. Highlights of his career include the First Absolute Prize Winner award and the Best Beethoven Performance Special Prize in the Vienna Grand Prize Virtuoso competition, as well as his participation in the 14th Wienawski - Lipinski competition (Poland). His Megaron recital has it all, from Bach for solo violin and Beethoven's charming Spring Sonata to the dazzling pyrotechnics of Paganini, Wieniawski and Sarasate.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Partita No.2 in D minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004 (1717-1720)

iii. Sarabanda

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Violin Sonata No.5 in F major, Op.24 (1801)

i. Allegro
ii. Adagio molto espressivo
iii. Scherzo. Allegro molto – Trio
iv. Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo

Yiannis Konstantinidis (1903-1984)

♪ Dodecanesian Suite No.1

i. I
ii. V
iii. VI

Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)

♪ Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op.16

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)

♪ 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op.1 (1802-1817)

i. No.5
ii. No.24

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

♪ Liebesleid

Vittorio Monti (1868-1922)

♪ Csárdás (1904)

Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)

♪ Zigeunerweisen, Op.20 (1878)

i. Moderato
ii. Lento
iii. Un poco più lento
iv. Allegro molto vivace

Christophoros Petridis, violin
Nikos Kyriosoglou, piano

Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 28-30.03.2021

Premiere: 28.03.2021, 20:30 (Live streaming)

(HD 1080p)

Μόλις 16 ετών, ο Χριστόφορος Πετρίδης είναι ένας από τους πιο πολυβραβευμένους Έλληνες βιολονίστες της νέας γενιάς, με διακρίσεις, έπαθλα και μετάλλια σε σημαντικούς διαγωνισμούς εντός και εκτός Ελλάδος.

Κορυφαίες στιγμές στην καριέρα του ήταν η απονομή του First Absolute Prize Winner και του ειδικού βραβείου για την καλύτερη ερμηνεία έργου του Μπετόβεν (Best Beethoven Performance Special Prize) στον Διεθνή Μουσικό Διαγωνισμό Vienna Grand Prize Virtuoso καθώς και η συμμετοχή του στον 14ο Διεθνή Διαγωνισμό Βιενιάφσκι - Λιπίνσκι (Πολωνία).

Ο πολλά υποσχόμενος βιρτουόζος ανεβαίνει στη σκηνή του Μεγάρου Μουσικής Αθηνών την Κυριακή 28 Μαρτίου στις 20:30, και το κοινό θα έχει την ευκαιρία να τον απολαύσει διαδικτυακά σε ένα live streaming με έργα μουσικής δωματίου των Γιόχαν Σεμπάστιαν Μπαχ, Λούντβιχ βαν Μπετόβεν, Χένρυκ Βιενιάφσκι, Νικολό Παγκανίνι, Φριτς Κράισλερ, Βιτόριο Μόντι, Πάμπλο ντε Σαρασάτε αλλά και Γιάννη Κωνσταντινίδη. Τον νεαρό δεξιοτέχνη του βιολιού πλαισιώνει ο πιανίστας Νίκος Κυριόσογλου.

Κομμάτια-μικρογραφίες, αποσπάσματα από φημισμένα έργα για σόλο βιολί καθώς και για βιολί και πιάνο, αλλά και η Σονάτα για βιολί και πιάνο σε Φα μείζονα αρ. 5 του Μπετόβεν συνθέτουν το μουσικό τοπίο της βραδιάς.

Αρκετές από τις συνθέσεις του προγράμματος έχουν χορευτικό χαρακτήρα: η Σαραμπάντα από την Παρτίτα για βιολί σε Ρε ελάσσονα αρ. 2 του Μπαχ, το ιταλικής έμπνευσης Σκέρτσο-Ταραντέλα για βιολί και πιάνο, έργο 16 του Βιενιάφσκι, το Liebesleid (O πόνος του έρωτα) του Κράισλερ, ένα σύντομο έργο για βιολί που βασίζεται σε μελωδίες παλιών αυστριακών χορών, το Τσάρντας του Μόντι, μια παρτιτούρα εμπνευσμένη από την ουγγρική χορευτική παράδοση.

Από την ίδια παράδοση αντλούν άλλωστε το μουσικό υλικό τους και οι Τσιγγάνικοι σκοποί, μια από τις πιο αντιπροσωπευτικές συνθέσεις του Σαρασάτε που θα παρουσιαστεί σε μεταγραφή για βιολί και πιάνο.

Στο πρόγραμμα περιλαμβάνονται επίσης τρία αποσπάσματα (αρ. 1, 5 και 6) από τη Δωδεκανησιακή Σουίτα για βιολί και πιάνο του Κωνσταντινίδη, ο οποίος, σε αυτό το διάσημο έργο του, αναδεικνύει με ευφάνταστο τρόπο μελωδίες της ελληνικής δημοτικής μουσικής.

Στο ρεσιτάλ του στο Μέγαρο, ο Χριστόφορος Πετρίδης επέλεξε ακόμη να ερμηνεύσει δύο ιδιαίτερα απαιτητικά κομμάτια του Παγκανίνι, τα Καπρίτσια αρ. 5 και 24, γραμμένα και τα δύο σε Λα ελάσσονα, που θεωρούνται από τα δυσκολότερα και πλέον δεξιοτεχνικά του ρεπερτορίου για βιολί.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita No.2 in D minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004 – Isabelle Faust (HD 1080p)

On Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, the exceptional violinist plays Johann Sebastian Bach's Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004, in the empty St Thomas Church in Leipzig. In these unusual and challenging times, her Bach interpretation exudes calm and confidence.

"In her concentration, the violinist acts like a medium through which this unique music reaches us today", says the NZZ about Isabelle Faust's interpretation of the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach. "What Faust is searching for on the inside is [...] a truthfulness that results not only from the study of passed down conceptions of aesthetics, but also from today's attitude towards life. Such a positioning between the fronts makes Faust's violin playing as interesting as it is unique." 


Bach had an easy solution for the problem of combining the violin with the keyboard: he simply dispensed with the keyboard and wrote six sonatas and partitas (three of each) for violin alone. He did the same for the cello with six suites for that instrument without accompaniment.

All 12 works were composed during the time he was conductor of the court orchestra at Anhalt-Cöthen, where his patron, young Prince Leopold, was a skilled musician. Bach himself was a violinist of no small attainment, yet it seems likely that the solo cello and violin pieces were written, around 1720, for Leopold – high tribute indeed to the Prince for his musical taste and, if he could negotiate the demonic pieces, for his performing ability. For these bold works are difficult in ways that most other virtuosic string pieces are not: they demand not only unfaltering facility in matters of digital and rhythmic dexterity and preciseness of pitch, particularly in the multiple stoppings, but also the keenest musical insights and inner-ear sensitivity to implied polyphonic and harmonic textures. In short, they strip a performer naked, as it were, forcing the executant to recreate incredibly diverse Bachian worlds with only a wooden box, four lengths of string, and a bow.

Of the six violin works, the present one stands alone on a lofty summit, and this by virtue of the towering Chaconne that is its final movement. Preceding this finale are four dance movements that comprise the traditional Baroque suite: allemande, courante, sarabande, and gigue. Although they are splendid examples of their genre, they end by being an introduction to the monumental Chaconne, which is a set of more than 60 variations on a simple bass theme.

In a lengthy description of the Chaconne, the great Bach scholar Philipp Spitta ends with these memorable words, "This Chaconne is a triumph of spirit over matter such as even Bach never repeated in a more brilliant manner". Enough said.

Source: Orrin Howard (


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Partita No.2 in D minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004 (1717-1720)

i. Allemanda [00:00]*
ii. Corrente [05:32​]
iii. Sarabanda [08:10​]
iv. Giga [13:09]
v. Ciaccona [17:04]

Isabelle Faust, violin

St Thomas Church Leipzig, April 5, 2020

(HD 1080p)

* Start time of each movement

Isabelle Faust, a true musician

A Conversation With Our Artist in Residence

Interview by Luc Vermeulen — October 2020

Isabelle Faust is a true musician. The eminent German violinist, approaches a piece of music by delving into the aesthetic and the writings of its composer, so she can hear its beating heart. The records released by this outstanding soloist and chamber musician, who is as much at home with Bach or Beethoven as she is with Kurtág, have been consistently hailed by the public and the press. We met her on 14 December 2019, when she gave a concert at BOZAR, accompanied by Ivan Fischer, Tabea Zimmermann and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Speaking flawless French, tinged with a delightful accent, Isabelle Faust spoke to us about the programme of her residency here this season.

What a pleasure to hear you perform in the Henry Le Bœuf Hall! How do you feel there?

I really enjoy playing in this venue. The acoustics are generous, but not overly so: it's ideal for playing with an orchestra. I was afraid the acoustics would be too dry for solo playing, but the truth is, it works well. I also like the hall's particular aesthetic; its ovoid shape is very harmonious.

We will see you perform there three times during the 2020-2021 season. What surprises do you have in store for us?

I don't think I've ever played a solo with gut strings [i.e. on a period instrument] in this hall. I'll probably have a go at it with Bach's Sonatas and Partitas.

What's the difference between playing on a period instrument and on a modern violin?

It's all about timbre, resonance and articulation. On an antique violin you can create a dry or transparent sound, according to the desired texture. But unlike the piano, where the ancient and the modern versions are fundamentally different, the difference in the violin lies in the strings, which are made of gut for early music, or metal for music from the Romantic period to the present day.

You switch effortlessly from ancient to modern, both in terms of the instrument and the repertoire. How do you manage to be so free and yet be consistent?

It's a good question... some repertoires, like that of Mozart, are easier to play on period instruments. I rarely perform this repertoire on a modern instrument. With Mozart, I find that the rhetoric that drives the music is easier to express with an orchestra performing on period instruments. Il Giardino Armonico is an excellent example: this ensemble thinks in a line from Baroque towards Mozart and not from Romanticism back to Classicism. For me, I think this way of embracing Mozart's music in the "right" historical direction is fundamental.

Beethoven's piano trios are a perfect opportunity for you to reunite with your friends, the cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and the pianist Alexander Melnikov...

That's true. We recorded an album of Beethoven's trios in 2014. Then, we were invited to perform the complete piano trios during the Beethoven year. It was an opportunity to learn and to record them. The Archduke Trio was already on our record, but the other piece programmed at BOZAR, the Kakadu Variations, Op.121a, is new to us.

The harmony of your trio is world renowned. What's your secret?

We have a common approach to music. The three of us share the same artistic idea.

Which is?

Jean-Guihen and I have very similar ways of producing sound. Imagine two string players performing together. If one creates more vibrato than the other, they have a problem: they will never be able to create a pure chord. In order for two musicians to be "in tune", their respective playing must blend well from the very start, without a need for discussion. When we approach a new work, our ways of establishing a mood sometimes differ. But we all adapt to one another; we understand each other very quickly.

And what about playing with Alexander Melnikov?

As Sacha [Alexander] is a pianist, the question of vibrato does not arise. It's more a question of rhetoric. We are attentive to the dramatic sense, to the tempo, to the accent... We examined all these aspects at the beginning of our collaboration. And that goes back 20 years! In the meantime, we have evolved together. We encourage one another, nurturing each other’s curiosity – especially about historically informed performances. We have embarked on the same path for so long that there are many aspects that we no longer have to reflect on, they simply come about. But we don't always see eye to eye. That would be boring!

The human dimension seems to be central to your understanding of music. Would you say that, for you, music is above all a question of sharing?

Rarely does music reach its full potential when the performer approaches it alone. Take Bach's Sonatas and Partitas: although these are pieces for solo violin, the instrumentalist is in constant dialogue with him or herself. The music is polyphonic. There are always several voices speaking; there are questions, answers... Other works are more of a monologue. Paganini's concertos, for instance, are impressive in their virtuosity. But that’s not my cup of tea: there's less to discover! The concertos of Mozart or Beethoven are quite unfathomable...

You will approach Brahms in nonet with a confidential group of musicians. Can you tell us more about this ensemble?

The group is magnificent! It wasn’t easy at the start, because it included musician friends, but also musicians I had never met before. In chamber music, I always tend to want to work with musicians I know to make sure the project is a success. This time, I took a risk by forming a mixed group. I have to say, the result is very convincing! I highly recommend it! [Laughter] I'm happy that this group exists. It's no small task to create an ensemble of more than five musicians to play chamber music. The programme of Brahms' Serenade is quite new. We played it in 2018-2019. Playing it at BOZAR will make everyone happy!


More photos

See also

Monday, March 08, 2021

Franz Schubert: Octet in F major – Musicians of Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra – Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 11-13.03.2021 (Premiere: 11.03.2021, 20:30, Live streaming)

Like comparable works by Spohr, Hummel and others, Schubert's irresistible Octet is a late offshoot of the eighteenth-century tradition of serenades scored for mixed wind and strings. And together with the B flat Piano Trio, D.898, it comes closer than any of his other late instru­mental works to the popular image of the companionable, echt-Viennese composer pouring out a stream of spontaneously inspired melody. We owe its existence to Count Ferdinand Troyer, a talented amateur clarinettist who was chief steward at the court of Beethoven's friend and pupil, Archduke Rudolf. Early in 1824 the count proposed that Schubert write a follow-up to Beethoven's Septet, which to its composer's intense irritation had become a runaway success. (When Beethoven learnt of its triumph in England he was heard muttering that the work should be burned.) Schubert duly obliged, adding a second violin to the Septet's line-up of clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass, and broadly following Beethoven's six-movement plan: he likewise prefaced the outer movements with a slow introduction, included both a scherzo and a minuet, and between them inserted a set of variations on a popular-sounding theme.

After visiting the composer some time during February 1824, the painter Moritz von Schwind wrote to their mutual friend Franz von Schober: "Schubert has now long been at work on an octet, with the greatest enthusiasm. If you go and see him during the day he says ‘Hello. How are you?’ and carries on working, whereupon you leave". Schubert completed the score on 1 March, and the first performance took place at the home of a Viennese nobleman, Anton, Freiherr von Spielmann, later that month. Besides Troyer himself, the players included the renowned violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh and several others who had given the premiere of Beethoven's Septet nearly a quarter of a century earlier. Although there was another private performance of the Octet at the home of Franz Lachner in 1826, its first public airing, with most of the original players, was not until April 1827, in the hall of the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Some contemporary reports found it too long, though the Wiener Allgemeine Theaterzeitung called it "friendly, agreeable and interesting", and "worthy of the composers well-known talents" – a revealing counter to the old myth that Schubert worked in virtual obscurity, appreciated only by a circle of close friends.

With its melodic and rhythmic elan and its kaleidosco­pically varied colours, the Octet, like Mozart's great wind serenades, raises the hedonistic spirit of the late eighteenth-century divertimento to a supreme level. Its scoring is endless­ly inventive: at times, especially in the outer movements and scherzo, Schubert uses the ensemble like a small orchestra, with the two violins in octaves and sharp contrasts between solo and tutti sonorities; at others, especially in the Adagio and minuet, string and wind colours are blended with the finesse of true chamber music. If the Octet, in keeping with its diver­timento origins, is fundamentally genial and relaxed, the work is shot through with that sense of yearning, of the evanescence of beauty, that haunts Schubert’s later music; and once or twice – in the brooding coda of the Adagio, or the slow introduction of the finale – we glimpse the dark, depressive world of the String Quartets in A minor and D minor that Schubert composed virtually simultaneously with the Octet.

The imposing, tonally wide-ranging introduction imme­diately announces a dotted motif which is to permeate the following Allegro and influence many of the ideas in later movements. Just before the Allegro clarinet and then horn sound a rising octave figure, again in dotted rhythm, which likewise has echoes later in the work. For all its breezy exuberance, the Allegro itself is tightly argued and unified – reminding us of a much-quoted letter to the painter Leopold Kupelwieser in which Schubert declared that he had composed the Octet and the two quartets of 1824 in preparation for "a grand symphony". The ubiquitous opening phrase of the first theme underpins the second subject, sounded on the clarinet in a plangent D minor and then repeated by the horn in F major. With typical unorthodoxy, Schubert long delays settling in the expected dominant key, C major, which only arrives, with a flurry of violin semiquavers, after protracted ruminations on the main theme. The tautly worked development – so much for Schubert's supposed prolixity – glides immediately into the strange and remote key of F sharp minor: here the second subject acquires a yearning continuation on the clarinet, and is then transformed more radically, first by the clarinet, then by second violin and viola in imitation, against the pervasive leaping dotted figure on the first violin. After a breathtaking sideslip to A flat major the wind trio intones a chorale-like theme rhythmically akin to the slow introduction; the connec­tion is underlined when Schubert brings back the introduction's opening phrases just before the recapitulation, reinforcing the close integration of introduction and Allegro. A speeded-up version of the main theme launches the coda, promising a rousing send-off. But then, in a moment of pure romantic poetry, the pulse relaxes for a final, nostalgic reminiscence of the second subject, sounded on the horn as if from the depths of the forest.

The Adagio, somewhere between a barcarolle and a lullaby, is one of Schubert's loveliest, opening with a dream of a melody for his clarinettist patron and constantly enriched by the composer's genius for devising ravishing countermelodies. Though the movement is cast in abridged sonata form (without a central development), the abiding impression is of a timeless flow of glorious, almost improvisatory lyricism. After the reprise of the main theme, first on the violin in counterpoint with the horn, then on cello and clarinet, Schubert offsets the lack of a formal development section in dramatic series of modulations. The coda begins serenely enough, with the violins playing in canon; but then a sudden violent off-beat accent for pizzicato cello and bass heralds a weird, disquieting passage where, in a slow crescendo, the clarinet broods obsessively on the movement's opening phrase over anxiously palpitating strings.

This momentary glimpse of the abyss is summarily banished in the bracing scherzo, a delightfully bucolic movement with overtones of the hunt (and more dotted rhythms) – though amid the alfresco jollity Schubert is always likely to surprise us with sudden shifts to distant keys. High spirits are more subdued in the trio, with its smooth, shapely melody, initially for string quartet alone, over a stalking cello line. For his variation movement Schubert pilfered a cheerful, homely duet from his unperformed comic opera of 1815, Die Freunde von Salamanka ("The Friends from Salamanca"). Following classical precedent, the first four variations, all rooted to the home key of C major, are essentially decorative, with first violin, horn and cello in turn taking the limelight. But the fifth in C minor – eerie, scurrying night music that pre-echoes the "Ride to Hell" in Berlioz's Damnation of Faust – and the sixth in A flat, which dissolves the theme in tender, luminous polyphony, are romantic character pieces. Sentiment is wickedly undercut in the final variation, where the winds do a comic take on a village band against a hyperactively cavorting violin.

Like some of Beethoven's minuets – most famously that of the eighth Symphony – Schubert's fifth movement is a stylized, faintly nostalgic re-creation of the classical courtly dance. It is surely no coincidence that the initial dotted figure is identical to the pervasive motif of the opening movement. The first section closes with a naggingly memorable cadential phrase featuring both triplets and dotted rhythms; in the second part, after a poetic dip from C to A flat, this is delici­ously expanded by the clarinet before the music dissolves in a chromatic haze. The lolloping Ländler trio (whose opening phrase inverts the minuet's dotted upbeat) again conjures up village band associations. After a repeat of the minuet the hushed, twilit coda introduces a romantically evocative horn solo that inevitably calls to mind the close of the first movement.

With its ghostly tremolandos, steepling crescendos and labyrinthine tonality, the finale's introduction creates a scene of high drama. Shades, perhaps, of the Wolf's Glen in Weber's Der Freischütz, a favourite opera of Schubert's. But the doom-laden dotted figures in wind and upper strings also echo the bleak Schiller setting "Die Götter Griechenlands" ("The Gods of Greece") which Schubert quoted in the contemporary A minor Quartet. Grand guignol or a personal confession? Whatever the composer's intent, this introduction is startling in the context of such a generally cheerful work. After the music has sub­sided to a ppp shudder, the tonality clears to a cloudless F major for the brisk, bristling march theme of the Allegro. A smoother subsidiary idea, still in F major, leads to a chirpy second subject (linked to the main theme by its persistent trilling motif) that could have fast-talked its way straight out of a Rossini opera. But the comedy quickly takes a serious turn as Schubert puts the trilling figure through its paces in strenuous imitation. Another plunge from C to A flat signals the development, where the march theme is subjected to tense contrapuntal treatment through an audacious series of modu­lations. Then, after a lull and an exciting protracted crescendo, the recapitulation enters, à la Beethoven, in a triumphant fortissimo.

Schubert reserves his biggest dramatic coup for the closing pages, where the music of the slow introduction crashes in without warning, now made even more ominous by eerie flourishes from the first violin. But the oppressive atmosphere is quickly dispelled by the coda, which speeds up the march theme and transforms it into an increasingly riotous rustic dance.

Source: Richard Wigmore, 2002 (

 The live broadcast is over

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

♪ Octet in F major, D.803 (1824)

i. Adagio – Allegro
ii. Adagio
iii. Allegro vivace
iv. Andante
v. Menuetto: Allegretto
vi. Andante molto – Allegro

Musicians of Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra:
Alexandra Soumm, violin
Giorgos Banos, violin
Alkistis Missouli, viola
Anastasia Deligiannaki, cello
Konstantinos Sifakis, double bass
Dionysis Grammenos, clarinet
Andreas Anthopoulos, bassoon
Angelos Sioras, horn

Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 11-13.03.2021

Premiere: 11.03.2021, 20:30 (Live streaming)

(HD 1080p)

The Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra, founded in 2017 by conductor Dionysis Grammenos, consists of young Greek musicians from all over Greece as well as Greek musicians living abroad. Based on European standards, the GYSO is mainly aimed at the identification, guidance, education and promotion of talented young musicians in the symphonic and operatic repertoire under the guidance of internationally renowned soloists and principals of Greek and major European orchestras.

Participation of young musicians in GYSO's programmes is free of charge through the funding that GYSO secures. Alongside the Orchestra's work, special attention is given to educational programmes for the youth audience as well as to the young audience's accessibility to its concerts, as it wishes to pass on to the new generation the quality and values that this kind of music stands for. The GYSO aspires in this way to contribute to the creation of a music-loving flow and a musical platform for young musicians and the youth audience, thus enhancing the musical dialogue of the new generation.

During its three years of existence, more than 100 Greek musicians have been selected, after auditions, to perform with the orchestra, and over 1,500 young people have attended its educational activities. So far, the GYSO has given nine concerts in Greece, featuring world-class soloists, and two composers have been commissioned to write new works for the Orchestra.

Recent highlights include the recording of Beethoven's Symphony No.5 and Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No.2, featuring the internationally acclaimed Greek pianist Vassilis Varvaressos, as well as the participation of GYSO's musicians under Ricardo Muti for performances of Beethoven's Symphony No.9 in Athens and Ravenna, in cooperation with the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.

The work of the GYSO has recently been recognised with its nomination as a new member of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras (EFNYO). Through its collaboration with EFNYO, the GYSO will give its musicians the opportunity to represent the orchestra abroad, partnering with other European National Youth Orchestras within the framework of the MusXchange exchange programme, which is co-funded by the European Commission's Creative Europe Program.

The Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra operates with funding from the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. The GYSO is supported by The Hellenic Initiative (THI) and the Non-Profit Civil Company AEGEAS. Since October 2020 it is the new Orchestra in Residence at Megaron the Athens Concert Hall.


Hailed by "Die Welt" as "one of the most promising stars of tomorrow", the young Greek conductor Dionysis Grammenos made his debut at the age of twenty-one with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.

Recent highlights include his debut with the Cameristi della Scala and Khatia Buniatishvili, his return to the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto to work with Johannes Debus on a production of Eugene Onegin and to the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, with a program including Brahms' Second Symphony and Elgar's "In the South". He conducted the Athens State Orchestra for the opening concert of the season (Brahms' First Symphony) and made his debuts with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Chamber Orchestra of Belgium (Mozart's Magic Flute).

For the 2020-2021 season, Grammenos will be the Principal Conductor of the English Touring Opera, for the production of Puccini's La Bohème and will conduct the Athens State Orchestra in a concert dedicated to the 200 years since the Greek revolution. In addition, he will conduct a video recording of Beethoven's Fourth Symphony and Skalkotas Violin Suite, with the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra.

Grammenos has conducted orchestras such as the Festival Strings Lucerne, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Hofer Symphoniker, Odessa Philharmonic, Junge Philharmonie Wien, Jyväskylä Sinfonia, Malta Philharmonic and the New Symphony Orchestra of Sofia.

In 2016, he received a Conducting Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival and was recently selected by David Zinman to conduct the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, as part of his annual masterclass. He has been mentored by conductors including Bernhard Haitink, Patrick Summers and Robert Spano.

Dionysis Grammenos is Founder and Music Director of the Greek Youth Symphony Orchestra. Founded in 2017, the orchestra aims to showcase and educate young talented Greek musicians in the symphonic and operatic repertoire. The GYSO is a member of the European Federation of National Youth Orchestras and has been invited to perform at the Berlin Konzerthaus, for the opening concert of the Young Euro Classic Festival. Since October 2020, it is the new Orchestra in Residence at Megaron the Athens Concert Hall.

Passionate about opera, Grammenos has made his opera conducting debut in Würzburg with Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and has conducted a gala programme including Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni with the Greek Youth Symphony. Further operatic experience includes Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Canadian Opera Company and La Clemenza di Tito at the Aspen Music Festival, as well as Verdi's Il Trovatore at the Theatre Vorpommern.

Initially trained as a clarinetist at the University of Music "Franz Liszt" in Weimar, Grammenos was the first ever wind player to win the Grand Prix d'Eurovision from the European Broadcasting Union and the title of "European Young Musician of the Year". In 2013-2014 he was selected for the ECHO Rising Stars program, which took him to some of Europe's most prestigious venues.

As a soloist, he has worked with orchestras such as the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra, ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cameristi del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Royal Northern Sinfonia and the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie, among others, and has performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Barbican London, KKL in Lucerne and the Philharmonie Berlin.

His debut CD as a clarinetist on the Naïve label features works by Spohr, Nielsen and Debussy with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Ari Rasilainen. He has also recorded transcriptions by Schumann and Schubert in collaboration with the harpist Anneleen Lenaerts for Warner Classics.

Dionysis Grammenos has been honoured with the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts and the Gold Medal of the City of Athens. He was recently selected for the European Young Leaders programme, under the patronage of Jean-Claude Juncker.


Friday, March 05, 2021

Igor Stravinsky: The Soldier's Tale (L'Histoire du Soldat), Suite – Musicians from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Santtu-Matias Rouvali (HD 4K)

The theme could not be more relevant when Stravinsky wrote the music for the performance The Soldier's Tale in 1917-1918 – the world was in flaming war.

Like many artists in Europe, Stravinsky had fled to neutral Switzerland, where he met the author Charles F. Ramuz. His story of the soldier who sold his violin to the devil for glory and money was also a reflection of the artists' terms. Freedom or success? Stravinsky was perhaps proof that both were possible. The music, influenced by jazz and with elements such as ragtime and tango, does very well on its own. This is shown by Santtu-Matias Rouvali and musicians from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in the suite of vivid movements Stravinsky compiled from the original music.


Stravinsky had first met the Swiss writer, Charles F. Ramuz in 1915 and worked with him on the French version of Renard and Les Noces so it was not surprising when he again collaborated with him on the L'Histoire du Soldat a few years later. The war had understandably affected the financial situation and both composer and librettist wanted to write something which could be produced simply and economically. L'Histoire du Soldat is scored for dancer, three speaking parts and seven instruments and has proved to be successful on an almost unbelievable international scale since its first performance in Lausanne in September 1918 (described in the programme as "to be read, played and danced"). The story tells of the Soldier who has a magic violin which he trades with the Devil who promises to fulfil his every wish. One of his many encounters involves his curing the lovely daughter of a King but throughout the piece the Devil proves a tricky protagonist. The Concert Suite was first performed in London's Wigmore Hall in July 1920.

Source: Sheila MacCrindle (

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

♪ The Soldier's Tale (L'Histoire du Soldat), Suite  (1920)

i. The Soldier’s March
ii. Airs by a Stream
iii. Pastorale
iv. Royal March
v. The Little Concert
vi. Three Dances: Tango – Waltz – Ragtime
vii. Dance of the Devil
viii. Grand Choral
ix. Triumphal March of the Devil

Terje Skomedal, violin
Jenny Ryderberg, contrabass
Ragnar Arnberg, clarinet
Constantin Gerstein, bassoon
Per Ivarsson, trumpet
Endre Vetås, trombone
Martin Ödlund, percussion

Conductor: Santtu-Matias Rouvali

Gothenburg Concert Hall, 2021

(HD 4K / 2160p)

See also

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, K.299/297c | Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K.191/186e | Violin Concerto No.4 in D major, K.218 – Musicians of Camerata-Orchestra of the Friends of Music, Markellos Chrisykopoulos – Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 03-05.03.2021 (Premiere: 03.03.2021, 20:30, Live streaming)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C, K.299/297c in 1778. It is one of only two true double concertos that he wrote, as well as the only piece of music that Mozart wrote that contains the harp. It was commisioned by Adrien-Louis de Bonnières, duc de Guînes, for his use and for that of his older daughter, Marie-Louise-Philippine. At the time, the harp was still in development, and was not considered a standard instrument, and Mozart's opinion of it was at best dubious, as he never again composed for it. In fact, the harp part appears to be more like an adaptation of a piano part. The piece is essentially in the form of a Sinfonia Concertante, which was extremely popular in Paris at the time. The piece is one of the most popular such concerti in the repertoire, as well as often being found on recordings dedicated otherwise to either one of its featured instruments. Eventually Mozart came to despise the nobleman who commissioned it, who never paid the composer for this work.


It was long assumed that Mozart's earliest wind concerto, and his only one for bassoon (he may have composed three or four others, now lost), was written for the bassoon-playing baron Thaddäus von Dürnitz. But, as scholars now agree, this is jumping the gun: Mozart only met Dürnitz in Munich in December 1774, whereas the Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K.191/186e, bears the date 4 June 1774. We can guess that he wrote it for one or other of the bassoonists in the Salzburg Court Orchestra, Melchior Sandmayr (who also played the oboe – wind players were expected to multi-task in those days) or Johann Heinrich Schulz. Perhaps they both played the concerto at different times. The eighteen-year-old Mozart gives full rein to the bassoon's clownish side in the first movement's quickfire repeated notes and vertiginous leaps, with the instrument morphing between high tenor and basso profundo. But during the eighteenth century the instrument had become mellower and more expressive. By the turn of the nineteenth Koch's Musikalisches Lexicon dubbed the bassoon "Ein Instrument der Liebe" ("an instrument of love"). Mozart duly exploited its potential for eloquent cantabile and, especially in the slow movement, the peculiar plangency of its high tenor register.

A decade later, in his great Viennese piano concertos, Mozart liked to work with an expansive array of themes. Scored for a small orchestra of oboes, horns (which in the key of B flat lend a ringing brilliance to the tuttis) and strings, the bassoon concerto is a much more compact affair. In the first movement Mozart contents himself with just two subjects: the proudly striding, wide-ranging opening theme, perfectly fashioned for the bassoon (the wide leaps here sound dignified rather than comical), and a second theme featuring spiky violin staccatos against sustained oboes and horns. The bassoon later adorns this with its own countermelody. Then in the recapitulation the roles are reversed, with the bassoon playing the staccato tune and the violins the countermelody – a delicately witty touch.

As in Mozart's violin concertos of 1775, the slow movement, with muted violins and violas, is a tender operatic aria reimagined in instrumental terms. The opening phrase is a favourite Mozartian gambit that will reach its apogee in the Countess's "Porgi amor" in Le nozze di Figaro. As in a heartfelt opera seria aria, the soloist's leaps and plunges are now charged with intense expressiveness. For his finale Mozart writes a rondo in minuet tempo, a fashionable form in concertos of the 1760s and 1770s. With its frolicking triplets and semiquavers, the bassoon delights in undercutting the galant formality of the refrain. When the soloist finally gets to play the refrain, its Till Eulenspiegel irreverence seems to infect the orchestra. First and second violins dance airily around the bassoon, oboes cluck approvingly. The soloist then bows out with a cheeky flourish, leaving the final tutti to restore decorum.

Source: Richard Wigmore, 2015 (

Although the prevailing image of Mozart the performer is that of a pianist, the part played by the violin in his early development as a musician was hardly less important. How, indeed, could it be otherwise when his father and teacher, Leopold, was the author of Violinschule, one of the eighteenth century's most influential treatises on violin technique? Accounts of the child-prodigy’s triumphs around Europe suggest that, at that stage at least, he was equally proficient on violin and keyboard, and right into the mid-1770s his letters home to his family contained reports of public appearances as a violinist. "I played Vanhal's Violin Concerto in B flat, which was unanimously applauded", he wrote from Augsburg in 1777. "In the evening at supper I played my Strasbourg Concerto, which went like oil. Everyone praised my beautiful, pure tone."

Despite these peripatetic successes, it was Salzburg that was really the spiritual home of Mozart's violin music. It was there – where violin concerto movements were as likely to be heard as outdoor evening entertainment music or as an embellishment to a church service as in a concert hall – that he first played a concerto at the age of seven, later toiled in the court orchestra, and, between 1773 and 1775, composed his five violin concertos. They may not always probe the depths of his later, Viennese piano concertos, but it is true to say that they all show some degree of Mozartian inspiration, often of the most ravishing kind. For the accent here is not on technical brilliance but on lyricism and an eloquent personal expressiveness which we now recognise as being unique to the composer, but which at the time marked a new stage in his artistic development. As he once wrote to his father after hearing another violinist play a particularly demanding concerto, "I am no lover of difficulties".

Mozart composed his first violin concerto – his first concerto for any instrument – in 1773. The remaining four were written in rapid succession during the latter half of 1775. The Fourth is dated October 1775, following hard on the heels of the well-known Violin Concerto No.3, a work which had shown a considerable leap in creative assurance over its predecessors. The Fourth exudes the same newfound confidence, yet compared to the Third it is a less dreamy work, bolder and cleaner. The first movement is lean and muscular, but at the same time maintains an elegant clarity and grace. The Third had revelled in delicate dialogue between soloist and orchestra, but the Fourth allows the violin to indulge in a more continuous flow of melody, with the orchestra providing a supportive role. As ever in his concertos, Mozart also shows skill and imagination in the ordering and handling of his various themes. The little fanfare with which the movement opens, for instance, returns to inaugurate the fi rst solo, its reappearance in a higher register transforming it into a lyrical statement. After that it is not heard again.

The radiant Andante cantabile extends the dominance of the soloist, for after the orchestra's opening statement, it is the violin that carries the song-like melody almost without interruption. This is violin writing of the most serenely classical kind, making use both of the instrument's clear higher register and of the soulful richness of its lower strings.

The finale is a Rondo in which Mozart delights in keeping the listener guessing by constantly hopping between two different musical ideas – the poised Andante grazioso with which it opens, and the tripping Allegro, which interrupts its every appearance. And if there is a hint of pastoral dance about the latter, there is no mistaking the folk-music inspiration for the episode which occurs about halfway through the movement, when an exaggeratedly powdered French-style gavotte turns up, followed by a more rustic tune with bagpipe-like drones from the soloist. It would be a mistake, however, to imagine Mozart empathising too strongly with the lot of country folk; this is a rural world whose origins lie more in the make-believe of French ballet than in the realities of the Austrian countryside. Even so, it has a pleasantly calming atmosphere of its own, and helps to lead the concerto towards a conclusion charmingly free of bombast.

Source: Lindsay Kemp, 2018 (

The live broadcast is over

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

♪ Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, K.299/297c (1778)

i. Allegro
ii. Andantino
iii. Rondeau – Allegro

♪ Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K.191/186e (1774)

i. Allegro
ii. Andante ma Adagio
iii. Rondo: tempo di menuetto

♪ Violin Concerto No.4 in D major, K.218 (1775)
i. Allegro
ii. Andante cantabile
iii. Rondeau: Andante grazioso – Allegro ma non troppo

Zacharias Tarpagos, flute
Alexandros Economou, bassoon
Maria Bildea, harp
Simos Papanas, violin

Musicians of Camerata-Orchestra of the Friends of Music
Markellos Chrisykopoulos

Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 

Premiere: 03.03.2021, 20:30 (Live streaming)

(HD 1080p)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

George Frideric Handel: Concerti Grossi, Op.3 – Musicians of Camerata-Orchestra of the Friends of Music, George Petrou – Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 24-26.02.2021 (Premiere: 24.02.2021, 20:30, Live streaming)

In the first decades of the eighteenth century, London was one of the most important European music centres. There was a rich courtly life as well as a great deal of music-making among the bourgeoisie. Just like Amsterdam, London was a hub of music publishers and instrument builders. London's musical life had a strong Italian orientation. It was mainly the Italian composers who were successful there, especially Arcangelo Corelli. Although his oeuvre is limited to instrumental music and only has six opus numbers, his influence was considerable. For example, the London-based Italian Francesco Geminiani made orchestral arrangements of Corelli's violin sonatas opus 5. Geminiani's Concerti grossi opus 1 and Corelli's own Concerti grossi opus 6 were published in many different arrangements. Born in Halle, Germany, composer George Frideric Handel started in his hometown as an organist, and settled more or less permanently in London in 1717. By then he already had a career in Italy, where he was very successful as a young composer and kept company with the likes of Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti. Handel saw himself primarily as a composer of vocal music. He had written several operas, which had been performed to much acclaim in Italy and Germany. His first opera, Almira, which has Italian as well as German arias and recitatives, was premiered as early as 1705 in Hamburg. In Italy he learned a great deal about opera from Alessandro Scarlatti, and audiences in that country were wildly enthusiastic about his operas.

In London, Handel built a true opera empire. He was not only the composer and conductor of the performances, but also manager and theatre director. He headed the Royal Academy of Music, an initiative of several wealthy royal opera lovers. The first years, Handel was the big musical attraction of London, and it seemed as if everything he touched turned into gold. If one opera wasn't quite successful, there would soon be a new one that would be. Handel was also good at getting the best Italian sopranos and castrati to work with his company.

The tide turned around 1730. Some of Handel's works flopped, including Lotario from 1729, for which he had high expectations. He also faced heavy competition from another opera company. All of a sudden the English had had enough of the long virtuoso arias Handel wrote, and he ended up in a financial crisis.

His publisher John Walsh advised Handel to start writing instrumental music, given that there was an enormous market for it in London. In 1730, without the composer's knowledge, Walsh published a collection of twelve sonatas that was avidly sold. There was much music-making in London in small circles on all kinds of instruments, and wealthy citizens who could afford instruments and sheet music were also interested in musical novelties. Because Handel had been so popular in London as an opera composer, much money was to be made in sales of his chamber music. After all, London audiences were not so much saturated with the composer himself as with the Italian Opera Seria genre.

With his Concerti grossi opus 3, published in 1734, Handel proved to be a master in this instrumental genre for larger settings too. It seems that in these concerti as well as in the organ concerti opus 4, Handel interpolated a break between two important compositional periods of his life: the Italian operas (until about 1730) and the large English oratorios (starting in 1739). The most salient aspect of these concerti is the way in which Handel used existing vocal works. Using existing material was certainly no admission of weakness on the part of the composer: nearly all his contemporaries did it to some degree. And thus in his Concerti grossi opus 3 Handel incorporated parts of this first oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (concerto No.1), Brockes' Passion (No.2), several of his Chandos Anthems (Nos. 3 and 5) and the opera Ottone (No.6). The fourth concerto, which starts with a stately Frenchstyle overture, is the only one in the series that was written by Handel as one whole, in other words not based on parts of older compositions. It was not entirely new either, because Handel had already used it once as an instrumental interlude in his opera Amadigi. When, starting in 1739, Handel was enjoying success in London with his large English oratorios, he used the concerti grossi again as interludes in oratorio performances. Just like Bach, who wrote his Mass in B minor almost entirely on the basis of music from his secular cantatas, Handel was a composer who dealt with his material in an economical fashion.

In his Concerti grossi opus 3, Handel makes optimal use of the possibilities of the genre. A feature of the concerto grosso is that the orchestra consists of a solo group, the concertino, and a tutti group, the ripieno. Corelli and Geminiani used two violins and a cello as concertino, and Handel did the same in his twelve Concerti grossi opus 6 from 1739. In the opus 3 however he varies the concertino per concerto. The oboe is the main solo instrument, even more so than the violin. A concertino for two oboes and bassoon forms the counterpart to the string concertino of two violins and cello. In the third concerto we also hear an important flute solo, and the sixth concerto ends with a section for solo organ. In this way, these concerts already anticipate Handel's organ concerti, given that these are also works he used as instrumental intermezzi in his oratorios – in which he naturally played the organ part himself.

There are also remarkable combinations of solo instruments, such as oboe with two recorders and oboe with two cellos in the second concerto. With respect to form too, Handel moulded the genre of the concerto grosso. He created a synthesis between the various national styles, with a multicoloured variety of French dances and German fugues in ever-changing orders per concerto. But the ultimate Italian example, in this case Arcangelo Corelli, is never too far-removed from Handel's Concerti grossi.

Source: Marcel Bijlo, March 2005 (

The live broadcast is over

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

♪ Concerti Grossi, Op.3 (1710-1718)

i. Concerto Grosso in B-flat major, HWV 312
ii. Concerto Grosso in B-flat major, HWV 313
iii. Concerto Grosso in G major, HWV 314
iv. Concerto Grosso in F major, HWV 315
v. Concerto Grosso in D minor, HWV 316
vi. Concerto Grosso in D major, HWV 317

Musicians of Camerata-Orchestra of the Friends of Music
Conductor: George Petrou

Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Dimitris Mitropoulos Hall, 24-26.02.2021

Premiere: 24.02.2021, 20:30 (Live streaming)

(HD 1080p)