Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor – Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä (Download 48kHz/16bit)

As a team, Osmo Vänskä and his Minnesota Orchestra began their collaboration with BIS in 2004, launching a Beethoven Symphony cycle that made reviewers worldwide sit up and take notice: "a modern reference edition" was the verdict on web site, while Gramophone Magazine described it as "a Beethoven reforged for today's world". Twelve years later saw the release of the third and final disc in the Minnesota-Vänskä cycle of Sibelius's symphonies, with individual discs receiving distinctions such as a 2014 Grammy Award (for symphonies nos 1 and 4), Gramophone's Editor's Choice, Choice of the Month in BBC Music Magazine and inclusion on the annual list of best classical recordings in New York Times.

The present disc launches yet another series, of even more monumental proportions, with Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony, recorded by the orchestra under Osmo Vänskä in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in June 2016. Composed in 1902, the purely instrumental work followed upon three symphonies that had all included vocal parts. This and the opening trumpet motif, an allusion to the rhythm that begins Beethoven's Fifth have been interpreted as Mahler's return to a more conventional idea of the symphonic genre. Other features are less traditional, however – a sometimes bewildering mixture of musical idioms reminds us of the melting-pot that Vienna was at the time, with allusions to Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian styles. To an unsuspecting audience, the famous Adagietto for strings and harp – probably the best-known of all of Mahler's music – must also have been surprising, appearing at the heart of a work which is otherwise lavishly scored and orchestrated.


It's more than 20 years since Osmo Vänskä recorded any Mahler. That disc, of the chamber version of Das Lied von der Erde, was a one-off, but now, with cycles of the Beethoven and Sibelius symphonies already completed with the Minnesota Orchestra, this new account of the Fifth Symphony launches what's promised as a major Mahler series; the Second and Sixth Symphonies are apparently scheduled for release soon, too.

The Fifth, though, won't be to all tastes. There's something admirably unhistrionic about Vänskä's approach, but there are times when his determination to stop the performance from getting overheated holds things back. At 75 minutes, the whole thing is longer than most of the reference versions on disc, and the central scherzo and the adagietto especially seem laboured. Against that, both the funereal opening and the joyous release of energy in the finale are superbly stage-managed, and the orchestral playing is exceptional throughout.

Source: Andrew Clements (

Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

♪ Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor (1901-1902) [Edition Peters]

Part I
i. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt
ii. Stürmisch bewegt, mit größter Vehemenz
Part II
iii. Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell (Michael Gast, horn)
Part III
iv. Adagietto. Sehr langsam
v. Rondo – Finale. Allegro – Allegro giocoso. Frisch

Minnesota Orchestra (Erin Keefe, leader)
Conductor: Osmo Vänskä

Recording: June 2016 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, USA

BIS 2017

Gustav Mahler (1902), Etching by Emil Orlik
A composer with Mahler's high degree of historical awareness and conducting experience cannot have been insensitive to the idea of "the Fifth Symphony" (after the Beethovenian model) as significant cultural marker and as crucial benchmark in his creative career. This may offer one explanation for his return to a purely instrumental format in this work after three previous mixed orchestral-vocal symphonies, and for the Symphony's instantly recognizable rhythmic reference to Beethoven's Fifth in its very opening bars. But it is the combination of these allusions to a venerable tradition with what would have been under stood by Mahler's contemporaries as a strongly ethnic Bohemian-Moravian funeral dirge in the first movement that embodies the stylistic and perhaps socio-political tension from which the work’s structural energy flows.

In latter-day attempts to rationalize the Fifth's internal coherence purely according to classical symphonic parameters, this inherent cultural conflict is often overlooked. For critics of the time, however, it was all-too evident. Many contemporary Austro-German commentators objected to Mahler's apparent flouting of symphonic etiquette. They did so not only on the usual grounds of the composer's refusal to pro vide a programme that would explain his supposed lack of musical logic and the dramatic eloquence of his idiom, but also because of his "distasteful" inclusion of Slavic, Magyar, Bohemian or otherwise vulgar, low-life music in the work, that both polluted a sacrosanct genre and at the same time ridiculed the popular and ethnic music employed, like a "king who puts on rags". With the benefit of over a century of hindsight from a post-modern perspective in which almost anything goes in music and in which Mahler's oeuvre has gained global acceptance, it is easy nowa days to dismiss these critics as ultra-conservative, narrow-minded, culturally imperialist, bigoted and so on. But Mahler's supporters, such as Julius Korngold and Arthur Schnitzler, were just as sensitive to the wide cultural mix of the Fifth Symphony. Sharing with the composer's opponents the same awareness of this startling outward-looking drive for eclecticism and inclusivity, they could nevertheless see the artistic value of such an approach to the symphony as a form – for Mahler an all-encompassing "world" of expression. Given the increasing political anxieties and hierarchical pressures at work within the vast and ethnically diverse Austro-Hungarian Empire at this time, it is perhaps not surprising that what was for some a forward-thinking, democratizing musical pluralism in this Symphony, was for others, such as Artur Eccarius-Sieber of Vienna's Neue musikalische Presse, something that marked out the composer – particularly in light of his Jewish-Moravian origins – as "the enemy of the culture of our time".

Notwithstanding the fact that, for a variety of reasons, certain critics would have adopted a default position of hostility towards Mahler whatever music he produced, there were nevertheless things about the Fifth Symphony which seriously challenged norms and expectations of the period. Through these the work enacted a narra tive that over the years has been submerged within the public consciousness by its more easily identifiable and more frequently discussed trajectories: ones of "progressive" tonality (C sharp minor to D major), darkness to light, adagio to allegro, and funeral march to rumbustious rondo finale. If we endeavour to listen with early twentieth-century ears, insofar as that is possible, we may get closer to unearthing this hidden "story".

The first movement plunges in and out of sometimes distinct, sometimes partially blended musical topics (opening serious "Trauermarsch", subsequent [though arguably not subsidiary] Bohemian dirge [later embellished with wind band and percussion sonorities], völkisch parallel-sixth melodic movement, "trio" section com prising "high-art" striving chromaticism), most of which are underpinned by the repetitive tread of bass fourths with which Mahler began his compositional career in, for example, the 1880 folk-inspired song Maitanz im Grünen. Expressions of ingenuous folk-like sentiments nonetheless struggle to assert themselves and are either infused with "high-art" symphonic complexities of melody and harmony, or are simply halted and replaced with reprises of the dominant opening "Trauermarsch" material.

The second movement develops this musical debate in interesting new ways. Beginning in resolute, high-romantic style, it demonstrates what a bona fide second idea could sound like – as if the preceding movement's Bohemian dirge were absorbed fully into the world of organic symphonic argument and art-music gestures. The precarious nature of established concert-hall decorum as well as the subtle inner connections between the first two movements are revealed, however, when seemingly out of nowhere, and marked by a mid-bar vertical line running down the entire length of the orchestral score, the parallel-sixth glimmer of light from the opening movement's folk dirge intervenes, merging with its "high-art" alter ego and leading into a momentary glimpse of diatonic arcadia in a distant A flat major (the movement starts in A minor), followed by a brief brass chorale in A major. This latter recurs more forcefully yet ultimately impotently later in the movement, its bright D major imposed uncomfortably on a prevailing E flat minor. Thus two means of countering, stabilizing and resolving the agitated, "high-art" romantic striving of this movement emerge from an exterior vantage point: the folk-like and the chorale. Neither can at this stage come to full fruition, and the movement leaves us in a state of uncertainty with many questions of musical interior and exterior, organic and non-organic, "high" and "low" yet to find satisfactory answers.

The third movement scherzo is more brazen in its projection of folk music topics. The "Alphorn" initiates an energetic round-dance or Ländler in D major based on simple tonic-dominant harmonic reiterations. Now "high-art" processes (in this case contrapuntal workings) have been relegated to a secondary position in this opening section. These are themselves swept away in favour of the seemingly echt-Viennese or perhaps Carinthian, but in truth thoroughly re-processed, waltz in the salon style of folkloric luminary Thomas Koschat, from whose then-famous "Lieder spiel" Am Wörthersee – performed numerous times at the Vienna Opera – Mahler admitted he had borrowed thematically. Various attempts are made to reconcile the folk- and art-music impulses, everything "kneaded through and through" as Mahler put it. But though the waltz and opening horn material are subjected to symphonic developmental transformation – through recombination, contrapuntal elaboration, harmonic sideslips, melodic distortions – there come points of no return after which the process either dissipates into nostalgic suspension of activity, or the horn reasserts its opening character, in a seemingly endless cycle of intensification, collapse and restatement. The opposing struggles for containment of the folk impulse and for the unfettering of "high-art" protocols are deepened considerably here.

The Adagietto movement reminds us that the Fifth Symphony was written (in the summers of 1901 and 1902 in Maiernigg) at a time of great personal and professional success for Mahler. During its composition he met, created a child with, and married Alma Schindler, while concurrently ascending towards the heights of his directorial period at the Vienna Hofoper in terms of repertoire and revitalizing of the ensemble. It has been suggested that this gentle "song without words" was written in honour of his future wife, expanding the symphonic structure to five movements, although on grounds of pacing and dramatic coherence it is difficult to believe that Mahler would not otherwise have interpolated some kind of slower movement between scherzo and finale. It acts as a foil and prelude of sorts to the ensuing rondo which finally inverts some of the hierarchies so far established and interrogated in the Symphony. The final movement's opening material built on rustic drones extends influence over the following subordinate, ostensibly "highart" fugal material which unlike its contrapuntal equivalent in the scherzo remains thoroughly diatonic and tonally stable, even naive. Repetitive fourths abound in this movement, whether as bass lines or melodic ascents and descents (deriving from the Adagietto), dominating the various instances of classical counterpoint; traditional pedal-based build-ups from the world of art music lead nowhere, as if turned into folk drones; dashing salon- and ballroom-like gestures glitter on the sur face; and the eventually triumphant chorale emerges seamlessly from earlier fugal counterthemes. In other words, generic, stylistic, interior, exterior, high, low, historical and social hierarchies have been re-thought. Cultural capital has been inverted or subverted through projecting mobile identities and radically different perspec tives. Mahler has shown how elements considered foreign to the world of the symphony not only can be successfully introduced into it, but also can be made to serve as its main structurally generative content. He liberates and validates the nomadic, the migratory, the collective, the supposedly peripheral and inferior, and in doing so harnesses powers of emancipation and reconciliation that not only under pinned many subsequent musical developments of the twentieth century, but also have continued to preoccupy all manner of artists, movements, societies, and political régimes to this day.

Source: Jeremy Barham, 2016 (CD Booklet)

Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra

Hailed as "exacting and exuberant" (The New York Times), Osmo Vänskä is recognized for his compelling interpretations of the standard, contemporary and Nordic repertoires. Music director of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2003, Vänskä has received extra ordi nary acclaim for his work with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. He has also developed regular relationships with the Mostly Mozart Festival (New York) and the BBC Proms. His numerous discs for BIS continue to attract the highest acclaim, as testified by the nomination for a Grammy Award for the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra; in 2014 his Minnesota recording of Sibelius' First and Fourth Symphonies won a Grammy Award. Vänskä studied conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and was awarded first prize in the 1982 Besançon International Young Conductor's Competition. During his tenure as principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra (from 1988 to 2008), he raised the orchestra s international profile, taking it on successful tours and making recordings. His conducting career has also included substantial commitments to such orchestras as the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Vänskä is the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Musical America's 2005 Conductor of the Year award, and the Arts and Letters award from the Finlandia Foundation.

Source: CD Booklet

The Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, is recognized as one of America's leading symphony orchestras, winning acclaim for its performances at home and in major European music centres. In 2015, it became the first American orchestra to perform in Cuba following a thaw in relations between the two countries. The Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä was appointed the orchestra's tenth music director in 2003, joining a long line of celebrated music directors: Eiji Oue, Edo de Waart, Sir Neville Marriner, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Antal Doráti, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, Henri Verbrugghen and Emil Oberhoffer. The Minnesota Orchestra's radio history began in 1923 with a national broadcast under guest conductor Bruno Walter and continues today with regional and national broadcasts. Historic recordings of the orchestra, which date back to 1924, include releases for RCA Victor, Columbia, Mercury "Living Presence" and Vox Records. The orchestra's recordings of the Beethoven and Sibelius symphonies with Vänskä have been hailed internationally, with their album featuring Sibelius's First and Fourth Symphonies winning the Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance in 2014.

The Orchestra has received many awards for adventurous programming, and the ensemble regularly commissions and premières new works as it continues to nourish a strong commitment to contemporary composers. The Minnesota Orchestra makes its home at the acoustically brilliant Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

Source: CD Booklet

Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra

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Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra

Friday, July 28, 2017

Robert Schumann: Symphonies 1-4 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle (Download 48kHz/16bit)

"Created out of the deepest soul"

Such contradictions were simply intolerable! Even though he had abandoned his career as a pianist in a spirit of resigned acceptance and long since given up all hope of making a name for himself as a keyboard virtuoso, Robert Schumann had for years been composing nothing but piano music – difficult, puzzling, cryptic and humorous pieces with poetic titles such as Dances by Members of the League of David, Carnaval and Scenes from Childhood. Yet he continued to believe that only "in the chorus and in the orchestra" did "all that is greatest in music find expression". If he was not to lead a marginal existence as a quirky miniaturist and an unconventional music critic, he needed to make fundamental changes to his life. In 1839 – somewhat prematurely, it has to be said – he announced in a letter: "Then there will be only symphonies of mine to publish and listen to. I'd often like to crush the keyboard, which is becoming too confining for my ideas". In this new understanding of himself, he was eagerly encouraged by Clara Wieck, his fiancée, who had been an acclaimed pianist since her days as a child prodigy: "Don't take it amiss, dear Robert, if I say that I am very keen to see you writing for the orchestra as well. Your imagination and your mind are too great for the feeble piano. Just see if you can do it".

Source: Wolfgang Stähr (CD Booklet)

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

♪ Symphony No.1 in B flat major "Spring", Op.38

i. Andante un poco maestoso – Allegro molto vivace – Animato
ii. Larghetto
iii. Scherzo: Molto vivace – Trio I: Molto più vivace – Tempo I –  Trio II – Coda
iv. Allegro animato e grazioso

Year of composition: 1841
Premiere: 31 March 1841 at the Gewandhaus Leipzig
Conductor: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
First performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker: 9 April 1883
Conductor: Joseph Joachim

♪ Symphony No.2 in C major, Op.61

i. Sostenuto assai – Un poco più vivace – Allegro, ma non troppo
ii. Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio I – Tempo I – Trio II – Tempo I – Coda
iii. Adagio espressivo
iv. Allegro molto vivace

Year of composition: 1845-1846
Premiere: 5 November 1846 at the Gewandhaus Leipzig
Conductor: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
First performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker: 23 October 1882
Conductor: Franz Wüllner

♪ Symphony No.3 in E flat major "Rhenish", Op.97

i. Lebhaft
ii. Scherzo: Sehr mässig
iii. Nicht schnell
iv. Feierlich
v. Lebhaft – Schneller

Year of composition: 1850
Premiere: 6 February 1851 in Düsseldorf
Conductor: the composer
First performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker: 7 January 1884
Conductor: Franz Wüllner

♪ Symphony No.4 in D minor, Op.120 (first version from 1841)

i. Andante con moto – Allegro di molto – Animato
ii. Romanza: Andante
iii. Scherzo: Presto – Trio – Scherzo – Trio – Largo
iv. Finale: Allegro vivace – Più vivace – Stringendo – Presto

Year of composition: 1841 in Leipzig, revised 1851 in Düsseldorf
Premiere: 6 December 1841 at the Gewandhaus Leipzig
Conductor: Ferdinand David
First performance of the revised version: 3 March 1853 in Düsseldorf
Conductor: the composer
First performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker: 26 October 1883 (revised version)
Conductor: Joseph Joachim
First verifiable performance of the first version by the Berliner Philharmoniker: 7 June 1988
Conductor: Jesús López Cobos

Berliner Philharmoniker
Conductor: Simon Rattle

Recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin, 14-16 February 2013 (Symphony No.3), 20-22 February 2013 (Symphony No.2), 31 October - 2 November 2013 (Symphonies No.1 & No.4)

Berlin Phil Media GmbH 2014

Porcelain Art & Painting: KPM Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin GmbH
Photos: Attila Hartwig

Source: CD Booklet

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See also

Jean Sibelius: Symphonies 1-7 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Simon Rattle (Download | High-Fidelity FLAC 5.1 Surround 192kHz/24bit)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Frédéric Chopin: Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor – Sergei Redkin, St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandr Chernushenko (HD 1080p)

Russian pianist Sergei Redkin (third prize at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015) performs Frédéric Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Op.21, with St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra under People's Artist of Russia Aleksandr Chernushenko. Recorded at St Petersburg Music House on March 1, 2017.

The Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin was actually composed before his Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor. The F minor was begun in autumn 1829 and premiered on March, 3, 1830, while the E minor was begun shortly after the premiere of the F minor. The F minor is a less popular and more derivative work than the E minor; there is the sense that Chopin, having heard the F minor, decided to move beyond his models.

The opening Maestoso movement of the F minor is clearly modeled on the concertos of Mozart's pupil, Hummel. The central Larghetto is based almost literally on the Piano Concerto in G minor composed in 1820 by Ignaz Moscheles and the closing Allegro vivace is the most original movement of the three, a stylized Polish folk song. Within the movements, all the standard concerto principles are obeyed: an orchestra exposition of the main themes before a piano exposition of the same material, the usual contrast between the tonic minor and the relative major for the principal and subordinate themes, a lyrical slow movement in the relative minor, and a rondo-form finale in the tonic major.

While Chopin's piano writing is idiomatic and highly personal – the lyrical melodies and their ornamentations could have been composed by no one else – his orchestral writing is at best competent. This, however, is less a fault than a decision: Chopin, the greatest composer for the piano of his age, would never let anything obscure the brilliance of his piano writing.

Source: James Leonard (

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

♪ Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor, Op.21 (1829-1830)

i. Maestoso
ii. Larghetto
iii. Allegro vivace

Sergei Redkin, piano

St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Aleksandr Chernushenko

St Petersburg Music House, March 1, 2017

(HD 1080p)

Sergei Redkin was born in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on October 27, 1991. He began to play the piano at the age of five. At the age of six he began to study at the Music Lyceum of Krasnoyarsk, in the class of Galina Boguslavskaya. At the same time he began to study improvisation and composition with Eduard Markaich.

In year 2004, after becoming a laureat of the International Gavrilin competition of young composers in Saint Petersburg, Sergei continued his education at the Special Music School of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, in the class of Olga Kurnavina. At that time Sergei won his first several prizes at competitions for young pianists, such as Rachmaninov competition (Saint Petersburg, 2005, First prize) and Chopin competition (Estonia, 2006, Grand prix). Sergei also played his first solo recitals in Russia and abroad, getting engagements from Germany, Switzerland, Poland.

Simultaneously Sergei studied composition under prof. Alexander Mnatsakanyan, one of the last students of great Shostakovich. Among the young composer's works you can find a string quartet, a trio for winds, chamber music, a lot of music for piano. Suite for cello and piano won the First prize at the young composers' competition in Saint Petersburg in 2007.

In 2008 Sergei was honored to receive the Maestro Temirkanov Award as one of the best students of Saint Petersburg Special Music School.

In year 2009 Sergei successfully passed his entrance exams and became a student of prof. Alexander Sandler at the Saint Petersburg state Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. He also continued his composition studies under prof. Mnatsakanyan.

During the year 2011 with the support of St Petersburg House of Music Sergei Redkin trained at the famous International Lake Como Piano Academy in Italy, studying under such musicians as William Grant Nabore, Dmitry Bashkirov, Peter Frankl, Fou Ts'ong among others.

In year 2012 Sergei became the winner of III International Maj Lind competition in Helsinki, in 2013 – the winner of VI International Prokofiev competition in Saint Petersburg. In 2015 Sergei Redkin won the Third prize and the Bronze medal at the XV International Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow.

Currently Sergei is continuing his studies under prof. Sandler in Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In 2016 he's playing his first concerts in New York, Mexico and Paris (all with Maestro Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra), touring with solo recitals throughout the world, from Portugal and Israel to Vladivostok and Yakutsk, taking part at prestigious classical music festivals, playing a lot of chamber music and composing in the meantime.


More photos

See also

Sergei Redkin – All the posts

The winners of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, 2015

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Leroy Shield: The Original Laurel & Hardy Piano Music – Alessandro Simonetto (Download 48kHz/16bit)

This album recreates the atmosphere and feeling of the 1930s comedies from the Hal Roach Studios, the "Lot of Fun" where Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang, Charley Chase, The Boy Friends and Thelma Todd created their biggest successes. These short films were usually enlivened by the catchy background tunes composed by Leroy Shield (1893-1962). Although the titles of these tunes remained known only to insiders, the music is all too familiar to anyone who ever saw Stan and Ollie embark on one of their doomed journeys. Trained as a classical pianist, Shield eased into the new medium of film music with apparent ease and knocked off dozens of short, catchy background tunes in record time. It is not funny "comedy music" in itself; rather, it ranges from slow, sentimental ballads to uptempo dance numbers. Sometimes, there are echoes of Stravinsky, Satie and Casella!

Tracking down original sheet music took years of detective work. For the first time in history, this cd contains renditions of original piano music and original piano transcriptions made by Shield himself – written before the orchestral versions were recorded – of tunes such as "All Together", "Little Dancing Girl", "Gangway Charlie", "Riding Along", and "The Moon and You".

It also contains piano transcriptions of Shield's background tunes from 1930-1931 as originally published as loose-leaf sheet music: "Bells", "You Are The One I Love", "In My Canoe", "On to the Show", "Riding Along" and "Good Old Days". Originally published in 1931 but impossible to find today, the "Leroy Shield Song Album" is a collection of ten popular film background tunes transcribed for piano: "Prelude", "Bride's Song", "Here We Go", "Look at Him Now", "Cascadia", "Dash and Dot", "Let's Go", "Antics", "Give Us a Hand" and "It Is to Laugh". The CD also contains in first world release the reconstruction of the piece "Snowing", written appositely for the film Laughing Gravy; and the complete set of effects and short melodies named as "Goofs", including some unheard and never included pieces.

Pianist Alessandro Simonetto, praised by the composer of Charles Spencer Chaplin, Eric James, as an immense talente, has just recorded "Early and Esoteric Works", a 3 CD-set containing all the piano music by Erik Satie written before and during his mystic period (1887-1897).


Leroy Shield (1893-1962)

The Original Laurel & Hardy Piano Music (1930/31 and 1935/36)

1. All Together / The Moon and You / Gangway Charlie (from "Looser Than Loose")
2. Bassooning / Riding Along / Beer Barons / Good Old Days / Excitement (from "Pardon Us")
3. Ah! 'Tis Love, Dear with Me (from "Doctor's Orders")
4. On to the Snow / In My Canoe / Going Places / Confusion (from "Be Big!")
5. Gardein Gaieties / Winding Path / Miss Crabtree / By Rote (from "Teacher's Pet")
6. Beautiful Lady / Intermezzo / Cops / Fliver Flops (from "Another Fine Mess")
7. Bells / Drunk / Rocking Chair (from "Scram")
8. Untitled Effect / Candy Candy / Little Dancing Girl (from "Bargain Day")
9. Here Are the Pets / Nothing at All / You Are the One I Love (from "Chickens Come Home")
10. If It Were Only True / The One I Love Best / Little Dancing Girl (from "Girl Shock")
11. Why the Old Flirt / Untitled Effect / Untitled Piece (from "Helping Grandma")
12. Snowing, Pt. 1 / Dog Song / Snowing, Pt. 2 / Funeral March (from "Laughing Gravy")
13. Tango / Just a Melody Sweet / There'll Always...
14. Seasons / Beyond the Rainbow / Love Is Everything to Me
15. Mys-tee-ree / Colonial Gaieties
16. We Are Just an Happy Family / Valse / On a Sunny Afternoon (from "Our Relations")

Alessandro Simonetto, piano

Recorded: Saletta acustica Eric James, Pove del Grappa, Vicenza, Italy, 2016

Aevea Classics 2017

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Alessandro Simonetto (b. 1974) is musician, producer and sound engineer.

Studies of Pianoforte (graduated) under the guide of G. Di Toma at the "Steffani" Conservatory in Castelfranco Veneto; Electronic Composition (graduated) with P. Zavagna and N. Bernardini at the "Pollini" Conservatory in Padova; and Harpsichord with L. Levi-Milzi and C. Lombardino at the above conservatories.

He deepened aspects tied to jazz composition and silent-film music studying with C. Mc Bee and G. Dial in Italy at the summer courses. He was friend and maintained an active and productive corrispondance with Eric James, the associate composer of Sir Charles Chaplin, until his death. In 2000, a few minutes before his performance, James put a paper on the grand piano and wrote this sentence in front of him and the audience: "Alessandro is a pianist of immense talent and will surely make his mark on the musical profession [...]".

Alessandro started composing at a very early age. At only 14 y.o. he wrote a cycle of Mazurkas inspired to Chopin. He composed music for piano, organ, harpsichord, disklavier, computers; chamber music and choral music (masses, motets, arrangements), songs. He was quoted by the "Ecole supérieure d'art d'Aix-en-Provence" for a composition for disklavier, pre-recorded sounds and accordion; he has also a work of countemporary music inside the Mediateca delle Marche archive.

Always passionate about choral music direction he studied with Mazuccato G., A. Cetrangolo, G. Acciai, C. Hoegset on various courses, and directed over 250 concerts with male, folk choirs (Coro Bassano a.k.a. Coro Montegrappa). He is the custodian of the omnia works, even in manuscript, by the Venetian composer, Marco Crestani.

As an harpsichordist he recorded the Premiere of the "Suittes voor Clavicembel" (Suites Op.1) from "Exempla Music Neerlandica" by the Dutch baroque composer Pieter Bustijn. The recording has been released by Brilliant Classics in 2010. It has been recognized as "Bargain of the Month" by Music Web International reviewer Bizantyon who wrote: "Nearly eighty minutes of enormously appealing, high-octane invention superbly rendered by Alessandro Simonetto. [...] This superlative recording is the one to get".

As a fan and scholar of the renowned duo Laurel & Hardy, he has recently recorded in its world premiere "Leroy Shield: Laurel & Hardy's Original Piano Music" with the collaboration of the main scholar in this field, Piet Schreuders.

Simonetto has also recently recorded, for the Aevea label, the Early and Esoteric Works by Erik Satie, the complete piano compositions, written in the period 1887-1897 including the rarely listened poems in three acts "Le Fils des étoiles" and "Uspud", and also including some unedited and uncompleted sketches.

Coming to the harpsichord, he has just signed with Brilliant Classics for the complete recording of works by Johann Mattheson in 2 CDs.

He is often invited to be part of the jury in International Competitions.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Το κοινό γύρισε την πλάτη στο Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών 2017

Χωρίς την παρουσία θεατών πραγματοποιήθηκαν σχεδόν όλες οι παραστάσεις του φετινού Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών.

Ο ανεκδιήγητος «καλλιτεχνικός διευθυντής» του Φεστιβάλ, ο οποίος πέρυσι κατάφερε να εξοργίσει τους πάντες εξαιτίας – μεταξύ άλλων – του γεγονότος ότι επέτρεψε την κακοποίηση ζώων επί σκηνής, φέτος δεν είχε καν την ευκαιρία να δει το κοινό να αποχωρεί βρίζοντας από τις ακόμη πιο αδιάφορες, ασήμαντες και γελοίες εκδηλώσεις τις οποίες είχε και πάλι το θράσος να περιλάβει στο πρόγραμμα του Φεστιβάλ.

Αν πέρυσι την πλήρωσαν μερικά άτυχα κοκόρια, φέτος την πλήρωσαν όλες οι μύγες του λεκανοπεδίου, πέφτοντας θύματα της απραξίας, της ανίας και της αφόρητης πλήξης των διοργανωτών του Φεστιβάλ και όσων συμμετείχαν σε αυτό.

Προτιμώντας να απολαύσει ένα λαχταριστό παγωτό μετά από ένα μπάνιο σε μια κοντινή παραλία, όπως τα εικονιζόμενα πρόσωπα στις φωτογραφίες του Martin Parr, το αθηναϊκό κοινό γύρισε την πλάτη στο Φεστιβάλ Αθηνών 2017, στέλνοντας το μήνυμα ότι δεν ανέχεται πλέον να καθορίζουν την πολιτιστική ζωή της πόλης του τα οικόσιτα ενός σάπιου συστήματος το οποίο επιβραβεύει τους άχρηστους και διώχνει αυτούς που πραγματικά αξίζουν.

24 Ιουλίου 2017


Οι φωτογραφίες είναι του Βρετανού φωτογράφου Martin Parr

Δείτε επίσης

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Richard Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten – Avgust Amonov, Mlada Khudoley, Olga Savova, Edem Umerov, Olga Sergeyeva – Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra & Chorus, Valery Gergiev – Jonathan Kent, Paul Brown (HD 1080p)

Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow) is an outstanding display of virtuosity, presenting one of Strauss' most complex and colourful scores. The three-act opera, with libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, is an exotic fairytale with a strong moral dimension, focusing on themes of the unborn and the supernatural.

Filmed at the historic Mariinsky Theatre in 2011, Die Frau ohne Schatten stars Russian tenor Avgust Amonov as The Emperor, Mlada Khudoley as The Empress, Olga Savova as The Nurse, and is conducted by Valery Gergiev. The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the few opera houses capable of staging Die Frau ohne Schatten, due to the demanding soloist roles, elaborate sets and large orchestral forces required. This epic production, premiered in 2009, is a collaboration between two British artists, director Jonathan Kent and designer Paul Brown, and has become a regular fixture in the opera company's schedule. Kent has a long established relationship with the Mariinsky, and with Strauss in particular.

Performed in German with English subtitles

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Die Frau ohne Schatten / The Woman without a Shadow (1914-1917)

Opera in three acts

Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

World premiere: October 10, 1919, Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna 
Russian premiere: November 16, 2009, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Avgust Amonov..........The Emperor
Mlada Khudoley..........The Empress
Olga Savova..........The Nurse
Edem Umerov..........Barak, a dyer
Olga Sergeyeva..........Barak's Wife
Evgeny Ulanov..........Messenger of the Spirits
Liudmila Dudinova..........Guard of the Entrance to the Temple
Alexander Timchenko..........The Vision of a Youth
Tatiana Kravtsova..........The Voice of a Falcon
Lydia Bobokhina..........A Heavenly Voice

The Dyer's Brothers
Andrei Spekhov..........The One-Eyed Man
Nikolai Kamensky..........The One-Armed Man
Andrei Popov..........The Hunchback

Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra & Chorus
Musical Director & Conductor: Valery Gergiev

Stage Director: Jonathan Kent
Production Designer: Paul Brown
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Lighting Adaptation for the Mariinsky II by Andrei Ponizovsky
Video & Projection Designers: Sven Ortel, Nina Dunn
Choreographer: Denni Sayers
Vocal and Language Preparation and Consulting: Richard Trimborn
Accompanists: Dmitry Yefimov, Marina Yevseyeva, Leonid Zolotarev, Marina Mishuk, Irina Trutko, Zhanna Trutko
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Petrenko
Children's Chorus Master: Dmitry Ralko

A production by the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre, in arrangement with EuroArts Music International

Filmed December 2011 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Running Time: 3 hours and 23 minutes

(HD 1080p)


Act I

The Emperor of the South-East Islands is married to the daughter of a fairy that he captured while out hunting; once he injured a gazelle which transformed into the beautiful young woman.

Having become the Emperor's wife, she did not, however, become human. She casts no shadow and so cannot become a mother. There is a connection between having a shadow and motherhood, as the former is an Omen and Destiny. The Nurse is pleased at this as she despises all that is human. Keikobad, ruler of the Spirit Realm and the Empress' father, sends his envoy who holds talks with the Nurse. A falcon flies to the Empress, having been on a hunt with the Emperor when he shot at a while gazelle. The falcon informs her that "Time will soon run out, woman will not cast a shadow – and thus the Emperor will be turned to stone". The Empress understands the allusion: she has gone beyond the confines of the demonic world, but the Emperor's egotistical love has not surrounded her with humanity. She is between two worlds: one that does not wish to let her go, and one that will not accept her. And this curse will exert its power not over her, but rather over him. The Empress wishes to acquire a shadow whatever the cost. She is assisted in this by the Nurse, who proposes buying a person's shadow. The Empress and the Nurse set off and come to the family of Barak the Dyer.

Barak is no longer young, but he is hale and hearty, as an ox. He works for the sake of his three brothers and his Wife, who is young and attractive but dissatisfied with her life with Barak. Children would be a divine blessing for him, though this marriage, too, has produced no children. The Empress and the Nurse ask the servant to direct them to the Dyer's Wife.

The Nurse offers the Dyer's Wife fine clothes and a lover in exchange for her surrendering her shadow and her fertility. With magic spells and gestures, the old procuress ensnares the young woman and the Dyer's Wife concludes the bargain. The Empress barely understands this tainted covenant, thanks to which she will acquire her heart's desire. But the deal is done, the guests vanish suddenly and the Dyer's Wife is once more left alone. The voices of her unborn children can be heard coming from the pan where five fish are being fried, lamenting mournfully from the darkness. The unsuspecting Dyer returns home. Barak and his Wife each go to their separate beds.

Act II

The trials begin. The Nurse tempts the young woman with a spectre of a languishing and ardent young boy. As soon as the Dyer leaves, the youth appears in his house. Barak doesn't know what is going on, but his kind but foolish heart becomes heavier and heavier. He feels that something is amiss, as if someone is calling on him to help. The Empress is involved in this evil scheme. At night, in fear-filled dreams she sees her husband walking through an empty forest, alone, eaten up by egotistical suspicions. His heart has already turned to stone. She awakes from her prophetic dream, but her days are more dangerous than her nights. There is no room for a creature from the Spirit Realm in the world of men. Gradually the Empress overcomes her fears and begins to sense her guilt before Barak. The third night falls: The Nurse, in order to complete the pact, calls on devilish forces for help. Heavy mists descend all around. A cry of horror emerges from the mouths of Barak's brothers, while the lips of Barak's Wife produce insane, wild words. She accuses herself of something she has not yet done – of marital infidelity – and says that she has sold her shadow and spurned her unborn children. The brothers light a fire and become convinced of what has been said: the young woman stands before them as a witch, casting no shadow. The Nurse rejoices – the pact has come into force. One has surrendered her shadow; the other must take it for herself. At this terrible and decisive moment, Barak seems to grow taller; his lips, which to this point have uttered no wicked word, pronounce the death penalty on his Wife. A glittering sword appears in his hands. At the sight of the sword, the Nurse understands that higher forces have entered the game, ones with which she cannot compete. Instead of grabbing the shadow, the Empress drags the Nurse away to avoid being spattered in human blood. The Wife falls at Barak's feet, in supplication and in mad frenzy holds the sword above her own self. The fates are woven together and voices drown each other out – everything around is suddenly under some magic power. The Earth rotates and swallows man and wife; Barak's house crashes to the ground. A huge swell of water rises from the depths. The Nurse, shielding the Empress with her cloak, seats her in a boat that has magically appeared.


The first trial has been completed, and those who have completed it set out for The Spirit Realm. The boat with the Empress and the Nurse arrives at the gates of the Temple. She knows: she is being called to judgement. In the depths, utterly unaware of one another, Barak and his Wife are struggling in their confinement. The voice of one of the spirits calls them upwards. They rise and think of one another with tenderness: he forgiving her, and she begging forgiveness, humbly and, for the first time, lovingly. They rise above, trying to find each other. Here they meet the Nurse, standing before the closed gates of the Temple. The messenger of the spirits guards the entrance from her. She is infuriated. The Empress is standing in the depths of the Temple and awaits the court. But who is it that will judge her? Is it the King of Spirits, her stern father? A curtain screens his face. The Empress' courageous supplication goes unanswered. There is only the gentle gurgling of the water of the Golden Source, the Source of Life.

"Drink", says a voice, "Drink, and the Wife's shadow will be yours". The Empress hears the voices of the separated man and wife and steps back without having let her lips touch the Golden Source. The waters recede. The Emperor sits upon a stone throne, unmoving, turned to stone. It is only in his eyes, it would appear, that life still lingers. The Source of Life again begins to ring out at the statue's feet. Sweet voices from above can be heard: "Say ‘I want it’ and the woman's shadow will be yours, it will rise, come to life and go with you". The Empress freezes to the spot, battling with her own self. The barely heard words "I don't want it!" at last come from her lips. She is victorious, as the mother before the throne of Solomon was victorious, prepared to lose her child that he might live. She is victorious for her own self and for the sake of one who would, without her self-sacrifice, otherwise remain petrified forever. And for the sake of two others who, having suffered so much, must rise upwards. A distinct shadow falls on the floor of the Temple. The voices of the unborn children can be heard rejoicing.

Source: Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Printed in abridged form (

About the production

"A woman has no shadow and so her husband must be turned into stone." This connection between two events – so strange that it could only have come from the realm of dreams – formed the basis for one of the most unusual and bewitching operas of the 20th century.

The first to have this dream was not the composer but rather his librettist. In 1911 Hugo von Hofmannsthal, an Austrian playwright who sang the praises of love and death in his symbolist poems and dramas, proposed the unusual subject to his great friend Richard Strauss. The Empress – a being from the spirit world – has to become the same as all living men and acquire a shadow (a symbol for humankind and for womanhood) or her husband will be turned to stone. The simple subject canvas opens up a rich world of ideas, and in the language of symbols it tells of the birth of a personality through the struggle for its soul with dark forces. Not by chance were von Hofmannsthal and Strauss contemporaries of Nietzsche and Freud, who opened the door to Europeans to the world of the subconscious. However, von Hofmannsthal's inspiration came not from Freud but rather from ancient Eastern tales and the romantic novellas of Chamisso, Novalis and Lenau. And also from Mozart! Having written the libretto for Strauss for the opera Der Rosenkavalier, based loosely on Mozart and Da Ponte's Le nozze di Figaro, von Hofmannsthal conceived a new opera "the plot of which also correlates with Die Zauberflöte, just as the plot of Der Rosenkavalier does with Le nozze di Figaro". The idea of contrasting two worlds – the human world and the spirit world – flowed from Mozart's masterpiece into Die Frau ohne Schatten, as did the idea of overcoming difficulties that help the characters gain a new understanding of life. Arguably, this is where the similarities end. When starting work on the libretto, von Hofmannsthal wrote that it was impossible to recreate the "enchanting naivety of many scenes in Die Zauberflöte" and subsequently went increasingly farther from the initial idea in favour of the gloomy psychology of a 20th century drama.

Richard Strauss thought the libretto to be excellent and he used it as a basis to write the most unusual of his operas. Neither before – in the shockingly beautiful Salome and Elektra and the epicurean Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos – nor after, when his pen was increasingly producing comic operas, did Strauss turn to such a complex and symbolist subject. Neither before nor after did he immerse himself so fully in researching the finest motions of the human soul, the struggle of its gnawing, opposing desires.

The music of the opera, a worthy competitor to the composer's numerous other operatic masterpieces, drew and continues to draw the most varied responses. Some critics have found "hitherto unknown heights of inspiration" in it, while others have seen "pretentiousness and pomposity". The reasons for these disagreements lie in the complicated nature of the music, where one hears the voice of the mature maestro, who has lost his taste for shocking and stylistic experimentation. The music of Die Frau ohne Schatten sounds refreshingly deep and lofty. It contains deeply imbued lyrical episodes, where human suffering is conveyed with noble courage and highly effective and colourful "infernal" scenes. They are given a particular flavour by the immense orchestra with the large percussion section, the Chinese gong, the xylophone, the celesta, the organ and the glass harmonica. The orchestra comprises over one hundred musicians and facilitates the production of unusual sound effects. The glass harmonica, which can be heard in the finale of the opera, creates a particular, mystical flavour in the final scene with its light, otherworldly sound, where the protagonists attain catharsis and become freed from passions.

The composer himself, who worked on Die Frau ohne Schatten for three years (1914-1917) coinciding with the tragic events of World War I, called it "a child of sorrow". This grief arose not just because of the worries of the war years but also because of difficulties in mastering the material. However, on completing the opera he named it "the most important opera of my life" and said that "people who understand art will consider Die Frau ohne Schatten to be one of my most significant works".

The world premiere of the opera took place on October 10, 1919 in Vienna, when post-war domestic difficulties were at their greatest and it met with a cool response from the public. Later, however, Die Frau ohne Schatten went on to be staged on numerous occasions at the world's opera houses and came to be seen as a kind of indicator of theatres' performing strengths and artistic greatness. This is one of the most complex scores in the history of music: Strauss used a vast orchestra with over one hundred musicians and made incredibly high demands of the soloists. There are few theatres that can boast of having this opera in their repertoires – in Russia only the Mariinsky Theatre has staged its own production of Die Frauohne Schatten.

Source: Yekaterina Yusupova (

More photos

See also

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Francesco Cavalli: Erismena – Francesca Aspromonte, Carlo Vistoli, Susanna Hurrell, Jakub Józef Orliński, Alexander Miminoshvili, Lea Desandre, Andrea Vincenzo Bonsignore, Stuart Jackson, Tai Oney, Jonathan Abernethy – Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón (HD 1080p)

Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata – Marina Rebeka, Charles Castronovo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky – Orchester & Chor der Wiener Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsballett, Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper, Speranza Scappucci, Jean-François Sivadier (Wiener Staatsoper, 2016)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni – Waltteri Torikka, Tapani Plathan, Timo Riihonen, Ida Falk Winland, Joska Lehtinen, Anna Danik, Nicholas Söderlund, Malin Christensson – Tapiola Sinfonietta, New Generation Opera Ensemble, Ville Matvejeff, Erik Söderblom (HD 1080p)

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca – Maria Callas, Carlo Bergonzi, Tito Gobbi – L'Orchestre la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Georges Prêtre (1965, Digital Remastering 2014, Audio video)

Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly – Kristine Opolais, Roberto Alagna, Maria Zifchak, Dwayne Croft – Karel Mark Chichon, Anthony Minghella (MET 2016 – Download the opera)

Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata – Marlis Petersen, Giuseppe Varano, James Rutherford – Graz Philharmonic Orchestra and Graz Opera Chorus, Tecwyn Evans, Peter Konwitschny (Oper Graz 2011, HD 1080p)

Alban Berg: Lulu – Marlis Petersen, Kirill Petrenko, Dmitri Tcherniakov – Bavarian State Opera 2015 (Download the opera)

Georges Bizet: Carmen – Elena Maximova, Giancarlo Monsalve, Michael Bachtadze, Johanna Parisi – Myron Michailidis, Enrico Castiglione (Taormina Festival 2015, HD 1080p)

Giacomo Puccini: Turandot – Mlada Khudoley, Riccardo Massi, Guanqun Yu, Michael Ryssov – Wiener Symphoniker, Paolo Carignani – Marco Arturo Marelli (Bregenz Festival 2015 – Download the opera)

Engelbert Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel – Brigitte Fassbaender, Edita Gruberova, Helga Dernesch, Hermann Prey, Sena Jurinac – Wiener Philharmoniker, Georg Solti (HD 1080p)

Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice – A film by Ondřej Havelka – Bejun Mehta, Eva Liebau, Regula Mühlemann – Václav Luks

Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata – Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, Thomas Hampson – Carlo Rizzi, Willy Decker (Salzburg Festival 2005)

Antonio Vivaldi: Ercole su'l Termodonte – Zachary Stains, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Alan Curtis, John Pascoe (Spoleto Festival 2006)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Iolanta – Anna Netrebko, Sergei Skorokhodov, Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Theater 28/9/2009

Giacomo Puccini: Tosca, Act II – Maria Callas, Renato Cioni, Tito Gobbi, Georges Prêtre, Franco Zeffirelli

Dmitri Shostakovich: Katerina Izmailova (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), 1966 – A film by Mikhail Shapiro – Galina Vishnevskaya, Konstantin Simeonov