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

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Karol Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1 – Christian Tetzlaff, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki














German violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Karol Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No.1, Op.35, with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the Finnish conductor and cellist Susanna Mälkki (b. 1969, Helsinki). The concert was recorded in Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre), Concert Hall, on May 10, 2019.



The eighteen-month period from March 1881 to October 1882 saw the birth of three creative giants in Eastern Europe: Béla Bartók in Hungary, Igor Stravinsky in Russia, and Karol Szymanowski in Poland, who, though less renowned, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. All three were trained in the waning days of a romantic musical nationalism; all went on to redefine this nationalism, moving from an essentially nostalgic use of folk materials to an exploration of their potential to shape an expressive vocabulary at once primitive and avant-garde. Together with writers and visual artists, Szymanowski formed part of the Young Poland movement, which, not surprisingly, offended the more conservative establishment; as a 1907 commentary in The Warsaw Courier put it: the Young Poland composers were "possessed by some evil spirit that deprived their work and stripped it of personal and national characteristics".

Szymanowski's attitude toward "national characteristics" was more nuanced: "Let our music be national in its Polish characteristics but not falter in striving to attain universality. Let it be national, but not provincial". His own lack of provincialism is not surprising; born to a wealthy family, he traveled all over Europe and North Africa. Like many artists, he found aesthetic resonance in pre-World War I Paris, reflecting after a 1914 stint: "I shall never cease in the conviction [that] a true and deep understanding of French music, of its content, its form, and its further evolution, is one of the conditions for the development of our Polish music".

Notwithstanding Szymanowski's cosmopolitan outlook, his First Violin Concerto reveals homegrown roots. It was conceived as a vehicle for Polish violinist Paul Kochanski (though exigencies of the Bolshevik Revolution and World War I caused a change in date, venue, and soloist for the premiere) and inspired by a poem by a member of the Young Poland writers' group, Tadeusz Micinski (1873-1918):

All the birds pay tribute to me
for today I wed a goddess.
And now we stand by the lake in crimson blossom
in flowing tears of joy, with rapture and fear,
burning in amorous conflagration.

The intense, imagistic lines reveal the overlapping influences of Orientalism and French symbolism and set the stage for an intense and eclectic musical style unconfined by conventional formal procedures: "There is much that is new", expressed the composer, "but also something of a return to the old".

The Concerto's five movements are played without a pause, but there is a kind of architectural symmetry created by the alternation of three vivace movements with more relaxed ones. The opening Vivace assai establishes the central elements, an exotic landscape within which the violin plays. Celesta, harp, woodwinds, and percussion animate this landscape; the violin emerges with a slow, ethereal melody with a melodic contour based on eastern scales. "The sound is so magical that people here were completely transfixed", Szymanowski wrote to Kochanski after the premiere, adding: "and just imagine, Pawelczek, the violin comes out on top the whole time!" This is true both figuratively and literally, as the high register of the instrument shimmers above the ensemble throughout. After a dramatic orchestral buildup, we move seamlessly into the Andantino, which features lustrous cascading lines for both soloist and orchestra.

The central Vivace scherzando lasts just over a minute of perpetual motion surrounding a sweeping violin section, after which the Allegretto changes the atmosphere back to a more introspective one. This time the sinuous Oriental lines have acquired a bluesy feel. The last movement features rhapsodic solo passages that build to a spectacularly romantic climax before returning to a contemplative nocturnal world and an ending that is suggestive and a bit mysterious. Like everything else in the piece, it is highly original and leaves us certain that, whether or not we understand it completely, the work is a masterpiece.

Source: Susan Key (laphil.com)



Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)

♪ Violin Concerto No.1, Op.35 (1916)

i. Vivace assai
ii. Tempo comodo – Andantino
iii. Vivace scherzando
iv. Poco meno – Allegretto
v. Vivace (Tempo I)

Christian Tetzlaff, violin

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Susanna Mälkki

Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre), Concert Hall, May 10, 2019

(HD 720p)















Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. "The greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard", wrote Tim Ashley (The Guardian, May 2015) of his interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Daniel Harding.

Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often turn into an existential experience for both the interpreter and the audience; suddenly old familiar works appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim's Violin Concerto which he successfully championed, and he also attempts to bring important new works into the repertoire such as Jörg Widmann's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every year.

Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, there are three things that make this musician unique, aside from his astounding skill on the violin. He interprets the musical manuscript in a literal fashion, perceives music as a language, and views great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.

Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the manuscript as closely as possible – without regard for "performance tradition" and without indulging in the usual technical short-cuts on the violin – often allowing a renewed clarity and richness to arise in well-known works. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear from the music – paradoxically this makes his interpretations very personal.

Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff "speaks" through his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at achieving harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance.

Above all, however, he interprets the masterpieces of musical history as stories about first-hand experiences. The great composers have focused on intense feelings, great happiness and deep crises in their music; as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with none other than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff's aim is to convey this to his audience.

Christian Tetzlaff played in various youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round.

Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and until now chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without the orchestra.

The Tetzlaff Quartett received the Diapason d'or in 2015, and the trio with sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy award. Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the "Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik" in 2018, the "Diapason d'or" in July 2018 and the Midem Classical Award in 2017. The new  Ondine recording of Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati is highly anticipated in autumn 2019.

Of special significance is his solo recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, which he has recorded for the third time and was released in September 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as "an attentive and lively answer to the beauty of Bach's solos".

Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.

Source: christian-tetzlaff.de



















































More photos


See also


Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major – Christian Tetzlaff, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (HD 1080p)

György Ligeti: Violin Concerto – Christian Tetzlaff, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, François-Xavier Roth (HD 1080p)


Christian Tetzlaff: “I think Sibelius did for his century what Beethoven did for his”


Saturday, February 22, 2020

An Analysis of the 2020-2021 Metropolitan Opera Season

The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center Plaza
(Photo by Jonathan Tichler / Metropolitan Opera)

















By Fred Plotkin

WQXR — February 13, 2020

The current 2019-2020 season at the Metropolitan Opera has been, in my opinion, the strongest in many years, with four excellent new productions (Porgy and Bess, Akhnaten, Wozzeck, and Agrippina) and superb revivals (among them La Bohème, The Queen of Spades, Der Rosenkavalier, and La Damnation de Faust). There have been many fine, exciting singers not only in unusual repertory, but also in bread-and-butter perennials that in the recent past were often indifferently cast and under-rehearsed.

Based on the announcement of the 2020-2021 season, I have reason to hope that the current high standard will be maintained. The programming of this new season is innovative and, I believe, immensely appealing. It combines the tried and true box office ABCs (Aïda, Bohème, Carmen) and two of the three Ts (Traviata and Trovatore, though not Tosca) with many singular works that should delight newcomers as well as die-hard fans. There are 23 different operas by 19 composers. Only two of them – Verdi, with four operas and Mozart with two – have more than one title. The other works are by Beethoven, Bellini, Berg, Bizet, Britten, Donizetti, Dvorak, Gounod, Handel, Heggie, Humperdinck, Offenbach, Prokofiev, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss, and Wagner. By contrast, the current season has 25 operas by 16 composers.

Not too long ago, the Met tended to program each season with blocks of works by the most famous composers – Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss – and offer fewer options in other repertory. Just a bit of standard-issue bel canto, a couple of French works, and one in Russian or Czech. Handel only arrived at the Met in 1984, and modern works were few and far between.

Some of this practice persisted as recently as last season. In my analysis of the 2019-2020 season, I lamented that 55 performances, approximately a quarter of the total season, were operas by Puccini. Some readers took me to task for this, claiming that his works are accessible in ways that others are not. I don't quite agree, though I certainly admire Puccini's masterpieces. Each person has their own way into opera, and I find that younger audiences are inspired by pieces with contemporary themes, be they Agrippina (1709) or next season's new production of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's 2000 masterpiece Dead Man Walking, getting a belated Met premiere on April 8, 2021.

There is also commendable linguistic variety next season. There are 10 works in Italian (Aïda, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Bohème, Don Giovanni, Giulio Cesare, Nabucco, Il Pirata, Roberto Devereux, La Traviata, Il Trovatore). Five works (Fidelio, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Lulu, Tristan und Isolde, Die Zauberflöte) are in German. Three each are in French (Carmen, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Roméo et Juliette) and English (Billy Budd, Dead Man Walking, Hansel and Gretel), with one (The Fiery Angel) in Russian and one in Czech (Rusalka).

Ultimately, the quality of any company's offerings rises and falls on who is singing. In this regard, the upcoming season is very promising. Most operas are well-cast even in small roles, and I will detail some of the most interesting below. Of course, there are singers one would want to see at the Met who have major careers or have something special to offer artistically. Among those missing next season are Roberto Alagna, Daniela Barcellona, Leah Crocetto, Juan Diego Flórez, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Elīna Garanča, Jonas Kaufmann, Gregory Kunde, Ambrogio Maestri, Karita Mattila, Michael Mayes, René Pape, Marianna Pizzolato, Sondra Radvanovsky, Marina Rebeka, and Michael Spyres.

I really wish the Met would find a way to cast the versatile and brilliant Anna Caterina Antonacci, who will make her debut at the Washington National Opera next season as Despina in Così fan tutte. Bryn Terfel, who has not sung at the Met since 2012, was supposed to star in the upcoming new production of Der fliegende Hölländer until he was recently sidelined by a fractured ankle. He will not be able to move about on a stage for quite a while and we all wish him well.

Which leads to a thought: the Met recently had a marvelous artistic success with a concert performance of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust. How about a concert version of Massenet's Don Quichotte with Furlanetto in the title role, Terfel as Sancho Panza, and Antonacci as Dulcinea, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin or Emmanuel Villaume? Concert performances cost less to stage and represent the possibility of hearing great artists in rare works at lower ticket prices. That is an incentive to get hesitant ticket buyers to try something less familiar.

Ticket prices are certainly a consideration. In its announcement of the new season, the Met said, "Ticket prices for the 2020-2021 season range from $25 to $480 for the 3,800 seats in the opera house. Approximately 40% of Met tickets cost less than $100, and approximately 60% of Met tickets cost less than $150. The Met will continue offering Flex Subscriptions, which allow subscribers to curate their own season. "Create Your Own' packages, in which three or more performances are discounted when purchased together, will be released for sale on April 15, 2020."

I have always been a believer in supporting arts institutions by purchasing subscriptions. You benefit yourself by having access to performances and seats you prefer. And you help a company front-load its income, making it easier to do advance planning. As it happens, ticket prices for subscribers at the Met are notably cheaper than single sales, and if you exchange a ticket you typically can get a new one at the subscriber's rate rather than that charged to a single-ticket buyer. Given the number of enticing performances next season, you want to make your ticket budget go as far as possible.

There will be 22 Sunday matinee performances next season. This is a popular time slot for audiences, though it has posed a logistical challenge for many Met employees as it has required them to work longer weeks on uneven schedules. Quite a few Monday performances have been eliminated, which is unfortunate as it is a night with fewer cultural offerings around town. Properly marketed, this could become a niche audience and the dark night of the week at the Met could alternate among Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, when most New York theaters and concert halls are open and pose competition to the Met.

There will be five new productions next season. Opening night (September 21) sees a new vision of Aïda, replacing the familiar monumental staging that served for three decades. It has been entrusted to Michael Mayer, who produced the Rigoletto and La Traviata now in the Met repertoire. Anna Netrebko, in the title role, and Anita Rachvelishvili (Amneris) will surely rekindle the fire that made them so thrilling in these roles a couple of seasons ago. Piotr Beczala moves into heavier repertory with the assumption of the role of Radames. Ludovic Tézier sings Amonasro and Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. Aïda will have 15 performances, with other talented singers joining the production during the season.

Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel comes on November 12 in a production by Barrie Kosky that premiered in Munich in 2015. Kosky is a superb director, and I am gratified that he will finally come to the Met. The opera will be conducted by Michail Jurowski, with Evgeny Nikitin and Svetlana Sozdateleva in the leading roles.

Die Zauberflöte gets a new production on December 31, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. There is a talented cast, but I am most drawn to this because the production will be by the outstanding British director Simon McBurney, with lighting by the excellent Jean Kalman and a team that includes a projection designer and a sound designer. I have never seen an opera done by McBurney, but have been a fan of this theater work for a long time.

Another prominent theater director, Ivo van Hove, makes his debut with Don Giovanni (March 1), one of the hardest of all operas to direct because of its many characters and 17 scenes in two acts. It has a great cast, with Peter Mattei in the title role, Gerald Finley as Leporello, Ailyn Pérez as Donna Anna, Isabel Leonard as Donna Elvira, and Hera Hyesang Park as Zerlina. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. Finley will sing the Don later in the season, with the Italian baritone Alex Esposito as Leporello.

Ivo van Hove also directs Dead Man Walking (April 8), with Joyce DiDonato perfectly cast as Sister Helen Prejean, Latonia Moore as Sister Rose, Etienne Dupuis as Joseph De Rocher, and the luxury casting of Susan Graham as De Rocher's mother (she was Sister Helen at the world premiere at San Francisco Opera 20 years ago). This is one performance I will not miss.

The new productions are all very exciting to think about, but we should not overlook many of the revivals, often with amazing casts. Most of them deliver visually and dramatically, and even those that don't (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Tristan und Isolde, Il Pirata) have mostly superb singers who more than make up for what does not work dramatically.

Les Contes d'Hoffmann returns on September 22 with the excellent Daniele Rustioni in the pit and Matthew Polenzani in the title role. Four talented women play the objects of his affections, with Luca Pisaroni assuming the roles of the Four Villains.

Donizetti's thrilling Roberto Devereux (September 23) has Stephen Costello in the title role, with Angela Meade as Queen Elizabeth I and Jamie Barton as Sara. Maurizio Benini conducts.

Lorenzo Viotti makes his much-anticipated conducting debut with Carmen (October 2). J'Nai Bridges sings the title role on opening night. An array of talented singers will appear through the 14 performances, and I want to make special mention that the outstanding Russell Thomas will be Don José at some of them.

Tristan und Isolde is always an event – and certainly will be when it returns on October 17 led by Hartmut Haenchen in his Met debut, with a cast including Christine Goerke, Ekaterina Gubanova, Stuart Skelton, Greer Grimsley, and Günther Groissböck. These are all top-flight Wagnerian singers.

La Traviata (October 24) has three Italian conductors (Carlo Rizzi, Daniele Callegari, and, in an important Met debut, Speranza Scappucci). Their Violettas will be Ailyn Péréz, Anita Hartig, and Lisette Oropesa. Several tenors will appear as well. I want to point out the Met debut of Mongolian baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat on April 23 – he will likely be in town when the Met does Nabucco, and it would not surprise me if he is understudying this role, with which he scored a huge success in Parma in 2019. Just as Lise Davidsen was the breakout star in the current season and Anita Rachvelishvili was two years ago, I think Enkhbat might be the one in 2020-2021.

Il Trovatore will have 12 performances, starting on October 30. There will be two strong casts, all led by Michele Mariotti. Leonora will performed by Sonya Yoncheva and Krassimira Stoyanova, Azucena by Ekaterina Semenchuk and Anita Rachvelishvili, Manrico by Roberto Aronica and Russell Thomas, and di Luna by Quinn Kelsey and Ludovic Tézier.

La Bohème has 17 performances starting November 21, with a large group of fine singers rotating in and out. I am told that Angela Gheorghiu will give a single performance as Mimì.

To coincide with the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, Fidelio returns on November 30. I am not sure why it will not be performed on the actual birthday (December 16), but rather on the next day. This is a not-to-miss night at the Met. The first cast includes Lise Davidsen, Golda Schultz, Brandon Jovanovich, Franz-Josef Selig, and Tomasz Konieczny. Maestro Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia opens on December 11 for ten performances. Giacomo Sagripanti makes a conducting debut, with Pretty Yende, Lawrence Brownlee, Andrey Zhilikhovsky, Maurizio Muraro, and Ildar Abdrazakov. I smile just thinking about this cast.

A holiday presentation of Hansel and Gretel will have luxury casting: Elizabeth DeShong and Sasha Cooke, both great talents, share the role of Hansel. Hera Hyesang Park and Mané Galoyan will be Gretel, John Daszak is the Witch, and Michaela Martens is Gertrude. Thomas Hampson makes a welcome return to the Met as Peter. The excellent maestro Edward Gardner conducts.

Gounod's Roméo et Juliette returns January 12 with the opening night leads Nadine Sierra and Stephen Costello conducted by Nézet-Séguin. Some later performances will be conducted by Emmanuel Villaume with two promising tenors, Ismael Jordi and Benjamin Bernheim, making their debuts as Roméo.

Handel specialist Harry Bicket returns for Giulio Cesare (March 2) with Iestyn Davies in the title role and a great cast including Kristina Mkhitaryan, Kate Lindsey, Karen Cargill, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Duncan Rock.

Berg's Lulu will star Brenda Rae in the title role on March 5, joined by excellent singers headed by Susan Graham as Geschwitz and James Morris in the small role of Schigolch. Sebastian Weigle conducts.

Dvořák's Rusalka returns with an outstanding cast conducted by Jakub Hrůša and starring Sonya Yoncheva, Ekaterina Gubanova, Okka van der Damerau, Eric Owens, and Piotr Beczala – all in Mary Zimmerman's delightful production. It opens March 16.

Nabucco, opening March 26, should be a hot ticket. The production does not displease me, though some people find it busy and ungainly. George Gagnidze has the title role, while Oksana Dyka and Anna Netrebko share the role of Abigaille. Marco Armiliato will be at the helm for all performances, so they are in good hands. It's time for the Met to offer Armiliato a new opera production all his own.

One of the season's highlights is Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten. Nézet-Ségen leads a thrilling cast: Nina Stemme (Dyer's Wife), Elza van den Heever (Empress), Evelyn Herlitzius (the Nurse), Michael Volle (the Dyer), Klaus Florian Vogt (the Emperor), and Ryan Speedo Green (Messenger). There will be six performances beginning April 16.

Bellini's Il Pirata will delight bel canto lovers, with Diana Damrau and Angela Meade sharing the role of Imogene and Javier Camarena as Gualtiero. Eight performances start May 7.

John Dexter's remarkable production of Britten's Billy Budd has not been seen since 2012 – I consider it among the Met's best stagings. Simone Young conducts an excellent cast, including Joshua Hopkins in the title role, Matthew Polenzani as Captain Vere, and Matthew Rose is Claggart. Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas has a Met debut as Bosun. James Morris, who made his Met debut on January 7, 1971, as the King in Aïda, sings the Dansker – to date, he has sung 1,014 Met performances and remains the gold standard as Wotan and Claggart, among many roles. Few artists have 50-year careers in opera, and even fewer have performed at the level of James Morris. Bravo.

The titles for the The Met: Live in HD are Aida (October 10), Il Trovatore (November 7), Fidelio (December 12), Die Zauberflöte (January 16), Roméo et Juliette (January 30), Don Giovanni (March 27), Dead Man Walking (April 17), Die Frau ohne Schatten (April 24), Nabucco (May 8), and Il Pirata (May 22). Six of the nine will be conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In addition, there will be encore presentations of the 2006 English-language holiday adaptation of The Magic Flute (December 5) and the 2015 The Merry Widow starring Renée Fleming (February 27). I'm not sure why this choice was made – certainly it is not a problem to revive a transmission, but to show Flute five weeks before Die Zauberflöte seems redundant, and if one wants to present Fleming in an HD encore, I would suggest either Rodelinda or Der Rosenkavalier. Frankly, it seems an omission that the new production of The Fiery Angel will not have an HD transmission, and the Met's wonderful production of Billy Budd deserves to be documented.

Further observations about next season's schedule: The Met has decided to go dark for the month of February 2021, but is extending its season until June 5, almost a month longer than its customary closing night on the second Saturday in May. This winter pause comes at a time when many operagoers are away or prefer to stay indoors. Perhaps February would be a good time to have a mini-revival festival of HD transmissions from the past 15 seasons. That could earn the Met revenue and also keep the company in the minds of devoted opera lovers. For starters, the Met could present its Dialogues des Carmélites, Porgy and Bess, Prince Igor, La Clemenza di Tito, Les Troyens, La Fanciulla del West, and Tannhäuser (with the late Johan Botha in an outstanding performance).

As far as I can tell, there is no opera performance on November 3, 2020. That is Election Day, and you have no excuse not to do your civic duty. For the rest of the season, cast your vote for opera. It is illuminating, gratifying, and soul-affirming just when we need it most.

Source: qxr.org


Elina Garanca and members of the Metropolitan Opera's chorus in a concert performance
of Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust" (Photo by Ken Howard / Met Opera)

















Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Igor Stravinsky: Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka – Nour Ayadi (HD 1080p)














Moroccan pianist Nour Ayadi performs Igor Stravinsky's Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka. Recorded at Théâtre de l'Alliance Française, Paris, on June 15, 2019.



It was mostly at the urging of then 34 year old pianist Arthur Rubinstein (the "urging" was really an offer of 5000 francs – serious money for a composer reeling from the effects of the First World War) that, in 1921, Igor Stravinsky set about converting three portions of his already famous ballet Petrushka into a three-movement vehicle for solo piano. And yet, despite the lavish attention to orchestral detail that fills every measure of the ballet, it is not at all difficult to imagine the work in pianistic terms: Stravinsky's first sketches of Petrushka (from the summer of 1910) took the form of a concerto for piano and orchestra, and it was only at the urging of impresario Diaghilev that he rerouted his energies into a theatrical vein and produced the work that now is so well-known. Strangely enough, Rubinstein never recorded these Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka, though accounts of his many live performances of the piece testify to his close sympathy with the music.

The three numbers that Stravinsky selected to arrange are, in the order they appear, the "Russian Dance" from the end of the first tableau, "Petrushka's Cell" from the second tableau, and, incorporating almost all of the fourth tableau (including the ending published in the 1947 revision of the ballet), "The Shrove-tide Fair". Everywhere the pianism is brilliantly choreographed (the work is certainly tremendously difficult to bring off, but always packs a wallop when done well), and the transcription to the keyboard is carried out with a finesse not usually encountered in a composer's translation of his own music (usually a certain amount of distance, psychologically speaking, is helpful in successfully carrying out such a translation; hence Franz Liszt's many spectacular piano transcriptions of music utterly foreign to his own compositional style): here is no mere "piano reduction", but rather a full-blown, independent concert work in which the electric, vaguely symmetrical sixteenth-note figurations and sharp orchestral articulations of the "Russian Dance" are reforged into a demanding test of finger dexterity (the "Russian Dance", in its original orchestral form, is actually reinforced by a dramatic, nonstop use of the piano) and, later on, the famous oscillating contrary thirds of strings and woodwinds that open "The Shrove-tide Fair" (clearly originally conceived of at the piano) are translated into a shimmering and wholly idiomatic keyboard figuration that is almost – but not quite – the equal of its orchestral counterpart.

Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)



Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

♪ Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka (1921)

i. Danse russe (Russian Dance)
ii. Chez Pétrouchka (Petrushka's Room)
iii. La semaine grasse (The Shrovetide Fair)

Nour Ayadi, piano

Théâtre de l'Alliance Française, Paris, June 15, 2019

(HD 1080p)















Moroccan pianist Nour Ayadi (b. 1999) has won the 2019 Cortot Prize in Paris at the end of the Concours du Diplôme Supérieur de Concertiste at the Alfred Cortot School of Music. Ayadi is the first female Cortot Prize winner since the creation of this competition.

Nour began her piano studies at the age of 6 in Casablanca with Nicole Salmon. At the age of 16, she moved to Paris to pursue her musical studies at the Ecole normale de Musique and the Conservatoire national de Musique de Paris.

She has won several prizes in international competitions. She won First Prize at the Virtuoses du coeur Competition in Paris in 2019, First Prize at the Baku International Classical Music Competition, Second Prize at the Alion Piano Competition in Estonia andthe First Prize at the Moroccan National Music Competition, among others.

Source: pizzicato.lu



















































More photos


See also


Igor Stravinsky: Petrushka – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Santtu-Matias Rouvali (HD 1080p)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 29, “Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir” – Maria Keohane, Damien Guillon, Valerio Contaldo, Lionel Meunier, Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven (HD 1080p)














Under Jos van Veldhoven's baton, the Netherlands Bach Society, the oldest ensemble for Baroque music in the Netherlands, and possibly in the world, and the soloists Maria Keohane (soprano), Damien Guillon (alto), Valerio Contaldo (tenor) and Lionel Meunier (bass) perform the church cantata of Johann Sebastian Bach "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir", BWV 29. Recorded for the project All of Bach, at the St Martin's Church, Groningen, Netherlands, on March 15, 2014.



BWV 29 ("We thank thee, O God, we thank thee") is one of a number of cantatas J.S. Bach composed for the ceremonies attending the installation of new members of the Leipzig city council (other examples are cantatas Nos. 119 and 120). An important part of these ceremonies, which traditionally took place at the end of August, was the church service held at St Nicholas'.

The present work was composed for the event in 1731, the service taking place on August 27 that year. In keeping with the festive and ceremonial pomp of the occasion, Bach's cantata is lavishly scored for an orchestra including three trumpets, timpani, two oboes, strings, and continuo bass, and vocal forces including the usual four-part chorus, and soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists. An unknown librettist provided the text glorifying the power of God and extolling him to protect "town and palaces".

This cantata opens with a sinfonia in the form of a remarkable arrangement of the Prelude from the Violin Partita in E major, BWV 1006. The violin part is given to obbligato organ, the material largely imitated in the orchestral parts to produce a concerto-like structure. Many listeners will recognize the fugal opening chorus, since it is a reworking of what would eventually become the "Gratias agimus tibi" and "Dona nobis pacem" sections of the monumental Mass in B minor, BWV 232. The text is drawn from Psalm 75:1. Three arias interspersed by recitatives follow. The first aria, for tenor, has a violin obbligato, and Bach returns to its A section, a setting of the words "Hallelujah, strength and might", for the alto aria that forms the penultimate number. In between comes a soprano aria in gentle siciliano rhythm with an obbligato part for oboe. The final number is a four-part setting of the fifth stanza of Johann Gramann's hymn "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren" (1549), the trumpets and drums adding their magnificence and splendor to this jubilant work.

Source: Brian Robins (allmusic.com)



Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Cantata BWV 29, "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir" (1731, Leipzig)


i. Sinfonia [00:06]*
ii. Chorus: Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir [04:00]
iii. Aria (tenor): Hallelja, Stärk und Macht [07:06]
iv. Recitativo (bass): Gottlob! es geht uns wohl! [13:17]
v. Aria (soprano): Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe [14:32]
vi. Recitativo (alto, chorus): Vergiß es ferner nicht [20:25]
vii. Aria (alto): Hallelja, Stärk und Macht [20:53]
viii. Chorale: Sei Lob und Preis mit Ehren [22:42]

Maria Keohane, soprano
Damien Guillon, alto
Valerio Contaldo, tenor
Lionel Meunier, bass

Leo van Doeselaar, organ

Netherlands Bach Society
Conductor: Jos van Veldhoven

Film directors: Lucas van Woerkum, Joost Honselaar

St Martin's Church, Groningen, Netherlands, March 15, 2014

(HD 1080p)

* Start time of each movement















Around a quarter of cantata BWV 29 consists of notes Bach had written earlier. The festive sinfonia comes from a wedding cantata presumed to have been written in 1729. The organ "tune", nowadays better known as the "Nokia tune", is much older. Bach composed this melody in Köthen in 1720, as a piece for solo violin.

The opening chorus "Wir danken dir, Gott" is also better known in another guise, namely as the "Gratias" and the "Dona nobis pacem" from the Mass in B minor. The version in this cantata is older, and because the melody does not really seem to be designed for the words of psalm 75, it is thought there was an even earlier version with different text. However, the old-style setting does make a perfect match for the message of the psalm text. More and more people lend their support, and the gratitude swells. At the end, three trumpets and drums join in with four choir voices, creating a seven-voice whole – the number of fullness.

There is a big contrast between the "Wir danken dir, Gott" in old style and the baroque, concertante opening piece. Yet Bach creates a strong unity with the parts he added. Around the soprano aria "Gedenk an uns in deiner Liebe" in the middle of the cantata, he put two recitatives and two arias. The arias have the same text, "Halleluja, Stärk und Macht", and the second one for alto is a sort of concentrated version of the first one for tenor. The cantata then ends with a solemn chorale setting that – partly through the trumpets and drums – links up again with the "Wir danken dir, Gott". 

Source: bachvereniging.nl


Jos van Veldhoven














Maria Keohane














Damien Guillon














Valerio Contaldo














Lionel Meunier














Leo van Doeselaar







































More photos


See also


Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata BWV 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele” – Maria Keohane, Tim Mead, Daniel Johannsen, Matthew Brook, Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven (HD 1080p)

Johann Sebastian Bach: St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 – Benjamin Hulett, Griet De Geyter, Lore Binon, Tim Mead, Alex Potter, Thomas Hobbs, Charles Daniels, Andreas Wolf, Sebastian Noack – Kampen Boys Choir, Netherlands Bach Society, Jos van Veldhoven


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major – Christian Tetzlaff, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (HD 1080p)














German violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61, with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi. The concert was recorded at NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan, on May 12, 2018.



Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (1806), at the height of his so-called "second" period, one of the most fecund phases of his creativity. In the few years leading up to the Violin Concerto, Beethoven had produced such masterpieces as the Symphony No.3, Op.55 (1803), the Piano Concerto No.4, Op.58 (1805-1806), and two of his most important piano sonatas, No.21 in C major, Op.53 ("Waldstein", 1803-1804), and No.23 in F minor, Op.57 ("Appassionata", 1804-1805). The Violin Concerto represents a continuation – indeed, one of the crowning achievements – of Beethoven's exploration of the concerto, a form he would essay only once more, in the Piano Concerto No.5 (1809).


By the time of the Violin Concerto, Beethoven had employed the violin in concertante roles in a more limited context. Around the time of the first two symphonies, he produced two romances for violin and orchestra; a few years later, he used the violin as a member of the solo trio in the Triple Concerto (1803-1804). These works, despite their musical effectiveness, must still be regarded as studies and workings-out in relation to the Violin Concerto, which more clearly demonstrates Beethoven's mastery in marshalling the distinctive formal and dramatic forces of the concerto form.

Characteristic of Beethoven's music, the dramatic and structural implications of the concerto emerge at the outset, in a series of quiet timpani strokes that led some early detractors to dismiss the work as the "Kettledrum Concerto". Striking as it is, this fleeting, throbbing motive is more than just an attention-getter; indeed, it provides the very basis for the melodic and rhythmic material that is to follow. At over 25 minutes in length, the first movement is notable as one of the most extended in any of Beethoven's works, including the symphonies. Its breadth arises from Beethoven's adoption of the Classical ritornello form – here manifested in the extended tutti that precedes the entrance of the violin – and from the composer's expansive treatment of the melodic material throughout. The second movement takes a place among the most serene music Beethoven ever produced. Free from the dramatic unrest of the first movement, the second is marked by a tranquil, organic lyricism. Toward the end, an abrupt orchestral outburst leads into a cadenza, which in turn takes the work directly into the final movement. The genial Rondo, marked by a folk-like robustness and dancelike energy, makes some of the work's more virtuosic demands on the soloist.

At the prompting of Muzio Clementi 
 one of the greatest piano virtuosi of the day aside from Beethoven himself  Beethoven later made a surprisingly effective transcription of the Violin Concerto as the unnumbered Piano Concerto in D major, Op.61a, famously adding to the first movement an extended cadenza that employs tympani in addition to the piano.

Source: Michael Rodman (allmusic.com)




Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

♪ 
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (1806)

i. Allegro ma non troppo
ii. Larghetto
iii. Rondo. Allegro


Encore:

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Violin Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006 (1720): iii. Gavotte en Rondeau


Christian Tetzlaff, violin

NHK Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Paavo Järvi

NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan, May 12, 2018

(HD 1080p)















Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. "The greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard", wrote Tim Ashley (The Guardian, May 2015) of his interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Daniel Harding.

Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often turn into an existential experience for both the interpreter and the audience; suddenly old familiar works appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim's Violin Concerto which he successfully championed, and he also attempts to bring important new works into the repertoire such as Jörg Widmann's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every year.

Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, there are three things that make this musician unique, aside from his astounding skill on the violin. He interprets the musical manuscript in a literal fashion, perceives music as a language, and views great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.

Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the manuscript as closely as possible – without regard for "performance tradition" and without indulging in the usual technical short-cuts on the violin – often allowing a renewed clarity and richness to arise in well-known works. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear from the music – paradoxically this makes his interpretations very personal.

Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff "speaks" through his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at achieving harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance.

Above all, however, he interprets the masterpieces of musical history as stories about first-hand experiences. The great composers have focused on intense feelings, great happiness and deep crises in their music; as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with none other than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff's aim is to convey this to his audience.

Christian Tetzlaff played in various youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round.

Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and until now chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without the orchestra.

The Tetzlaff Quartett received the Diapason d'or in 2015, and the trio with sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy award. Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the "Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik" in 2018, the "Diapason d'or" in July 2018 and the Midem Classical Award in 2017. The new  Ondine recording of Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati is highly anticipated in autumn 2019.

Of special significance is his solo recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, which he has recorded for the third time and was released in September 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as "an attentive and lively answer to the beauty of Bach's solos".

Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.

Source: christian-tetzlaff.de































































More photos


See also


Karol Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1 – Christian Tetzlaff, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki

György Ligeti: Violin Concerto – Christian Tetzlaff, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, François-Xavier Roth (HD 1080p)

Christian Tetzlaff: “I think Sibelius did for his century what Beethoven did for his”


Monday, February 10, 2020

György Ligeti: Violin Concerto – Christian Tetzlaff, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, François-Xavier Roth (HD 1080p)














German violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs György Ligeti's Violin Concerto with the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln under the baton of the French conductor François-Xavier Roth. The concert was recorded at Cologne Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany, on October 3, 2017.



In the canon of great composer-portraits (Opmeer's Josquin, Delacroix's Chopin, Picasso's Stravinsky), there's a lesser-known but absolutely brilliant painting of György Ligeti by Aliute Meèys. In it Ligeti is falling apart, many times in many ways: there's actually about five impeccably illustrated Ligetis, all cardboard placard-peers clad in ruffled green suits, with gray hair and worried looks, each about to topple over or crack in half – and each barely being held in place by one another amidst rocky ruins. Meèys' portrait would just be a joke – "Ligeti split" – if it didn't look so much like Ligeti's music sounds: both have that same polyrhythmic track of hysteria and precision, humor and disaster, webbed into a kind of recognizable, exact chaos.

Ligeti's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra from 1992 is a relatively late work, but in many ways it's the brother of Meèys' portrait: its five movements have the same quality of falling apart into fantastic ruin, and each also gleams with the immaculate shimmer of carefully crafted illusions. Like the painting, this concerto is a desperate but tragic essay in keeping it together. At the compositional stage, Ligeti eventually conceived a walloping eight-movement scheme, but half in fragments. The final solution yielded a rhetorical stroke of genius: violinist Gawriloff collaged the scraps of the unwritten movements into a wild finale-cadenza; coming after waves of seriocomic catastrophes, it suggests a tramp scrambling from the mouth of banal death – old-style Paganinian virtuosity wearing musical hand-me-downs.

But this schizoid flavor also constitutes the sound of the concerto as well, which radiates layered skins like a sonic onion. The polymeters so characteristic of Ligeti's music from the 1980s onwards are brazenly present, especially in the concerto's first and final movements. Here the soloist is often lost in an illuminated mirrored hall, surrounded by musical doppelgangers moving at different speeds. Ligeti adds to the rhythmic and timbral layeredness an extraordinary mis-tuning of the ensemble; among other examples, a violin and viola must de-tune their strings to the natural harmonics of the double bass. The effect, amidst a harmony calculated to sound neither tonal nor atonal, manifests Ligeti's wish for a "glassy shimmering character" emanating "fragility and danger".

The second movement is another of Ligeti's mock-folk pieces, thirsting after the anonymous sincerity of Eastern European peasant song, but continually splintering into weird ironic homelessness; interspersed with botched variations of a modal melody Ligeti inserts delusional passages for ocarinas. The fourth movement's passacaglia is a terrifying tightening of the screw, its "Lento intenso" witnessing the slow rise of a chromatic scale through the entire ensemble; a procession of fearful quiet and violent outburst force a gravity on the whole work, turning surreal play into a sincere anxiety. The final movement's caustic, ruinous humor barely alleviates this new darkness, and by the time of the violinist's histrionic soliloquy, one gets the pervasive sensation that all is lost. But the effect is far more provocative than depressing, basking in paradox: how can something so radiant also be so black?

Source: Seth Brodsky (allmusic.com)



György Ligeti (1923-2006)

♪ Violin Concerto (1993)

i. Praeludium: Vivacissimo luminoso – attacca
ii. Aria, Hoquetus, Choral: Andante con moto – attacca
iii. Intermezzo: Presto fluido
iv. Passacaglia: Lento intenso
v. Appassionato: Agitato molto

Christian Tetzlaff, violin

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
Conductor: François-Xavier Roth

Cologne Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany, October 3, 2017

(HD 1080p)















Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. "The greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard", wrote Tim Ashley (The Guardian, May 2015) of his interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Daniel Harding.

Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often turn into an existential experience for both the interpreter and the audience; suddenly old familiar works appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim's Violin Concerto which he successfully championed, and he also attempts to bring important new works into the repertoire such as Jörg Widmann's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every year.

Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, there are three things that make this musician unique, aside from his astounding skill on the violin. He interprets the musical manuscript in a literal fashion, perceives music as a language, and views great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.

Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the manuscript as closely as possible – without regard for "performance tradition" and without indulging in the usual technical short-cuts on the violin – often allowing a renewed clarity and richness to arise in well-known works. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear from the music – paradoxically this makes his interpretations very personal.

Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff "speaks" through his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at achieving harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance.

Above all, however, he interprets the masterpieces of musical history as stories about first-hand experiences. The great composers have focused on intense feelings, great happiness and deep crises in their music; as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with none other than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff's aim is to convey this to his audience.

Christian Tetzlaff played in various youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round.

Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and until now chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without the orchestra.

The Tetzlaff Quartett received the Diapason d'or in 2015, and the trio with sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy award. Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the "Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik" in 2018, the "Diapason d'or" in July 2018 and the Midem Classical Award in 2017. The new  Ondine recording of Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati is highly anticipated in autumn 2019.

Of special significance is his solo recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, which he has recorded for the third time and was released in September 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as "an attentive and lively answer to the beauty of Bach's solos".

Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.

Source: christian-tetzlaff.de



















































More photos


See also


Karol Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1 – Christian Tetzlaff, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki

Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major – Christian Tetzlaff, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi (HD 1080p)

Christian Tetzlaff: “I think Sibelius did for his century what Beethoven did for his”