Wednesday, August 31, 2016
The music of Dmitry Shostakovich is very much a reflection of the times during which he lived in the Soviet Union. Now we have a new recording that allows us to listen to his last three works. Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15 in A major, Op. 141, performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Eduard Serov conducting. Suite on verses by Michelangelo Buonarroti, for bass & orchestra, Op. 145a, performed by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Frantisek Vajnar conducting.k Novorosiisk Chimes, Op. 111b, performed by the Radio-TV USSR Symphony, Arvid Jansons conducting. Ever the humorist, Shostakovich delighted in placing references to his works and of other composers in his final, Fifteenth Symphony: in addition to the cryptic references to his own music, it includes an outburst of Rossini’s ‘William Tell’ Overture in the first movement; allusions to Mikhail Glinka and Gustav Mahler; and the use of Richard Wagner’s ‘Fate’ leitmotif from the Ring Cycle. There is little humour however in the orchestral version of the ‘Michelangelo Suite’: a cycle profoundly personal and deeply felt. ‘Novorossiisk Chimes’ (also known as The Flame of Eternal Glory or The Fire of Eternal Glory), Op. 111b, was written in 1960 for the war memorial in the city of Novorossiisk. The piece consists, mainly, of material Shostakovich had originally written in 1943 as an entry in a contest to compose a new national anthem for the USSR. Here is a recording of the symphony number 15 by Shostakovich:
The view from the main stage Orchestra Pit at the Royal Opera House © ROH/Sim Canetty-Clarke, 2014 Eight Royal Opera productions will be broadcast over the coming months on BBC Radio 3 . Each broadcast will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after broadcast. Details are as follows: Il barbiere di Siviglia LIVE - 17 September 2016 (6.30pm BST) Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Royal Opera © ROH / Mike Hoban 2011 Rossini ’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) has a score that fizzes with musical brilliance, from Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, when the five principal voices all pile on top of each other. Werther - 15 October 2016 (6.30pm BST) Joyce DiDonato as Charlotte and Vittorio Grigòlo as Werther in Werther, Royal Opera House © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Bill Cooper Werther's excellent libretto, written by Edouard Blau and Paul Milliet , distills Goethe ’s Romantic masterpiece and intensifies Goethe’s depiction of two passionate people, each intent on hurting the other. The score displays Massenet ’s gift for melody, with the ‘Clair de lune’, ‘Lied d’Ossian’ and Charlotte’s ‘Prière’ now some of the composer's most loved music. This broadcast offers another chance to hear two of the finest performances at Covent Garden last Season from Joyce DiDonato and Vittorio Grigòlo . Il trovatore - 22 October 2016 (6.30pm BST) Željko Lučić as Count di Luna in Il trovatore, The Royal Opera © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Clive Barda Verdi ’s Il trovatore is probably best known for its ‘gypsy’ music: the Anvil Chorus , Azucena’s ‘Stride la vampa’ and Manrico’s heroic ‘Di quella pira’ are key examples. But Verdi wrote wonderful music for all four of his leads and the score boasts a host of thrilling ensembles and chorus numbers including the Count's aristocratic aria ‘Il balen del suo sorriso’ and Leonora’s prayer. Norma - 5 November 2016 (6.30pm GMT) Norma. The Royal Opera 2016/17 Season Bellini ’s bel canto masterpiece Norma is perhaps most acclaimed as a vehicle for the lead soprano – key arias include ‘Casta diva’, Norma’s Act I hymn to the chaste moon; and Act II’s ‘Dormono entrambi’, as she contemplates the unthinkable act of killing her children. But the opera’s dramatic potency rests in its breathtaking ensembles, most strikingly in Norma’s duets with Pollione and Adalgisa, the Act I trio ‘Vanne, sì: mi lascia, indegno’ and the blistering Act II finale. Così fan tutte - 12 November 2016 (6.30pm GMT) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, posthumous portrait by Barbara Kraft, 1819 Mozart ’s final collaboration with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte followed Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni and exemplifies the heights opera can reach when the skills of composer and librettist are perfectly matched. But Così’s reception has always been more complex than that of the other Mozart/Da Ponte operas, with the opera variously considered immoral, unfinished, cruel or simply odd since its 1790 premiere. Now finally accepted as one of Mozart’s masterpieces, it is celebrated as much for its nuanced depiction of love as for its glorious music. Der Rosenkavalier LIVE - 14 January 2017 (5.45pm GMT) Richard Strauss conducts at the Royal Albert Hall, 1947 © Philharmonia Orchestra Der Rosenkavalier was Richard Strauss ’s first original collaboration with the playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal , following quickly on the heels of Strauss’s adaption of Hofmannsthal’s play Elektra . It marked the start of one of 20th century opera’s most important artistic partnerships. Renée Fleming takes on the role of Marschallin in this new production, one of the great soprano roles in the repertory. The Nose and Les Contes d'Hoffmann will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in the coming months. Details of these broadcasts will be released shortly. The Royal Opera House and the BBC are partners . Please note broadcast schedules are subject to change.
Fred Plotkin: “How could she sing in such a wide range of styles, from Mozart to bel canto (she sang Norma, Maria Stuarda and rare Rossini) to Verdi, Puccini and the verismo composers? She liked to say, ‘you sing using technique and your brain and the voice responds.'”
Maxim Vengerov, born 1974, was a child prodigy who won great competitions at an early age: the Wieniawski at ten and the Carl Flesch at fifteen. He went on to have a great career and be recognised as one of the leading violinists of our times, fortunately prodigal in this specialty. Nowadays he is also a conductor and teacher, and has his own Festival. An interesting point: during the recent decade he took a three-year sabbatical from playing; during that time he studied conducting . He came to Buenos Aires several times, the last playing a Chinese concerto with the Shanghai Symphony; although his playing was admirable, the work was subpar and hardly up to his capacities. But late in 2011 he gave a splendid recital of sustained quality, blending ideally intellectual comprehension with virtuoso realisation. Unfortunately I don´t keep archives and can´t vouchsafe if his pianist was Roustem Saitkoulov, but he is Vengerov´s habitual partner, it might have been him. Hand programme biographies should provide information about earlier visits to BA, but they are always mere translations of a standard international biography. I remember that years ago the Mozarteum made it a point of mentioning previous contacts with the artists; I wish they did that again in the future. Saitkoulov is a distinguished pianist in his own right; also,H he does a lot of chamber work. Born at Kazan, Russia, he studied with the great Elisso Virsaladze at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory (she came twice here) and then completed his training in Munich. He won important competitions: the Ferruccio Busoni (Bolzano), Géza Anda (Zürich), Marguerite Long (Paris). He has played with important orchestras and given recitals throughout the world. By the way, he accepts the French version of his name and surname; for us or for Great Britain and USA, it should be Rustem Saitkulov (we write Mussorgsky, not Moussorgsky). So there were good reasons to expect from this Mozarteum concert (repeated with the same programme) a very high level. Technically it was of course impeccable, but the interpretations began coldly, more so in the case of Vengerov. The sonatas chosen were enticing: Schubert´s Sonata in A, D.574, pompously called "Grand Duet"; and Beethoven´s marvelous Sonata Nº 7, in C minor, Op.30 Nº2. Schubert´s sonata was written young, at 20, but his personality is clear from the very beginning, a delicious Allegro moderato. Who else wrote such melodies or was so subtle in the harmonic modulations? He also wrote three other sonatas, a bit less inspired and developed, called Sonatinas by the editor. All of them were published posthumously, the same sad destiny of his symphonies 8 and 9. I fell in love with the sonata in my youth with the wonderful recording by Kreisler and Rachmaninov, for it has charm and beauty: Kreisler sings with captivating timbre, and the great Russian virtuoso adapts to the intimate style perfectly.Too much sliding from Kreisler? Agreed, but he is irresistible. And that´s contrary to what I felt from Vengerov: an academic, correct reading with no involvement. During the interval, a veteran friend said: "it´s as if he were afraid of producing any sound that isn´t round and smooth". Yes, all exact but with little energy and attack. Saitkoulov was better; however, the final result was placid in the wrong sense. As Claudia Guzmán rightly says in her comments referring to Beethoven´s Seventh Sonata: "never until then a work for piano and violin had displayed such dramatic intensity nor had required similar temporal proportions". It is a C minor masterpiece in the same rank as the "Pathetic" Piano Sonata and the Third Piano Concerto. No namby-pamby approach can deal with such a score. Things went gradually better, fired by the greater intensity and virtuoso playing of Soutkulov, but only got to the desirable grade of electricity from both in the last movement. Said my friend: "there I found Beethoven". But things changed, and the whole Second Part, as well as the four encores, went swimmingly. Both showed complete identification with that peculiar Ravel Second Sonata: he believed that piano and violin are incompatible and the music echoes that idea: the players oppose each other instead of being complemental. And you know, it works! The Blues is the best movement and it was played with ideal sinuosity. And then came a final virtuoso section starting with a violin solo piece: Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst´s Variations on "The Last Rose of Summer", Nº 6 of the Polyphonic Etudes for solo violin. The piece on the lovely Irish tune is the devil to play and rarely done; Vengerov at twelve presented it at the Tchaikovsky International Competition. Here he showed the complete range of his fantastic technique. A quiet and reflexive Paganini, the Cantabile Op.17, originally for violin and guitar, was done in a transcription for violin and piano. The final score was the Kreisler arrangement for violin and piano of Paganini´s "I palpiti" for violin and orchestra, Introduction and Variations on a theme from Rossini´s "Tancredi" (the aria "Di tanti palpiti"), a true catalogue of Paganini´s technical innovations, splendidly played. Four encores: two of those inimitable Kreisler pieces that Beecham would have called "lollipops": the famous "Viennese Caprice" and the dynamic "Chinese tambourine". Rachmaninov´s beautiful Vocalise, transcribed from the original for orchestra. And Brahms´ ever so popular Hungarian Dance Nº5, in the Joachim arrangement. All done with panache by the artists. For Buenos Aires Herald
I love the sound of the Cello, because of its deep and warm tone in the hands of a mature artist. This CD gives us a large variety of cello melodies as performed by Sol Gabetta: Casals: El Cant dels Ocells (Song of the birds) Chopin: Nocturne No. 4 in F major, Op. 15 No. 1, with Bertrand Chamayou (piano) Delibes: Les filles de Cadix Dvorak: Waldesruhe (Silent woods) for cello and orchestra, Op. 68 No. 5 Rondo in G minor for cello & orchestra, Op. 94, B. 181 Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 Fauré: Pavane, Op. 50 Rimsky Korsakov: Flight of the Bumble Bee Rossini: Largo al factotum (from Il barbiere di Siviglia) Saint-Saëns: Le carnaval des animaux: Le Cygne Tchaikovsky: Kuda, Kuda ‘Lensky’s Aria’ (from Eugene Onegin Andante Cantabile (from String Quartet No. 1 in D Op. 11) Vasks: Musique du Soir Vivaldi: The Four Seasons: Winter, RV297 All performed by Sol Gabetta (cello) Sol Gabetta is an exceptional young cellist, and this is an exceptional compilation of the work she has done in the recording studio so far in her short career. In addition to Elgar’s Cello Concerto, there are also some Elgar salon works, and a couple of really worthwhile short pieces by Dvorak: Silent Woods and the Rondo. The second dosc is mainly given over to short encore pieces such as, inevitably, Saint-Saens’s The Swan , and less obviously, Pablo Casals’s beautiful reworking of a Catalan folk song, The Song of the Birds. Here is Sol Gabetta in the Cello Sonata by Johannes Brahms:
Top Opera House Instagrams to follow © (Left to right) Bolshoi Theatre, Royal Opera House, Lincoln Centre, Sydney Opera House, Kungliga Operan and Teatro alla Scala 'All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players', so said William Shakespeare over 400 years ago. It's a saying that still rings true – the art of performance, whether on stage or off, has entranced people for centuries. And while the artistry of the performers should never be called into question, there's undoubtedly something special about these stages. Beautiful structures inside and out, set in the heart of cities across the world, let's take a look at the world's most breathtaking opera house Instagram accounts: La Scala - Milan, Italy Built in 1778, La Scala is one of the oldest opera houses in the world. The auditorium was originally illuminated with 84 oil lamps, with another thousand lighting the rest of the theatre. With pre-electric technology however, came increased risk of fire and so buckets full of water were hung on the walls around the auditorium. Aspettando la prova antegenerale de/waiting for the pre-dress rehearsal of #LafanciulladelWest in scena dal/on stage from 3 al/to 28 maggio/May #riccardochailly #opera #puccini #lascala #teatroallascala #robertcarsen A photo posted by Teatro alla Scala (@teatroallascala) on Apr 27, 2016 at 9:23am PDT Kungliga Operan - Stockholm, Sweden King Gustave III turned away the French Opera Troupe in the years before The Royal Swedish Opera was built because he wanted to create an opera house that could perform Swedish productions. The Kungliga Operan was constructed next to the Royal Palace on the Norrström River and so the national home of opera and ballet was born. In a cruel twist, the king was actually murdered at his beloved opera house; he was shot at a masked ball in 1792. The assassination would later inspire Verdi's Un ballo in maschera . Knappt två veckor till säsongsstart och det ska fejas och det ska fixas. Nu har stora ljuskronan kommit ner för sin årliga upp-piffning! Den 19 augusti har vi nypremiär på Carmen! //Roy, guide & gästpostare på Operan #kungligaoperan #livetpåoperan #lifeattheopera #sommarpåoperan A photo posted by Kungliga Operan (@kungligaoperan) on Aug 7, 2015 at 12:35am PDT Teatro Colón - Buenos Aires, Argentina Teatro Colón was built in 1857 as a performance venue for overseas companies stopping in the Argentine capital. It was nearly 70 years before the theatre saw its resident opera and ballet companies established. The interior design echoes the European style, but the ceiling was repainted by Argentinian landscape painter Raúl Soldi in the 1960s. His inspiration was the South American sky. Cúpula A photo posted by Teatro Colón (@teatrocolon) on Jun 23, 2016 at 10:20am PDT Lincoln Center - New York City, USA Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III was part of the 1950s initiative to create a new cultural hub in New York. He reportedly raised more than half of the $185 million need to build the complex. The center features a huge variety of dance, music and film performances and is home to The Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet . The #blizzard begins. Stay safe and warm, East Coasters. #snow #lincolncenter #nyc #newyork #blizzardof2015 #architecture A photo posted by Lincoln Center (@lincolncenter) on Jan 26, 2015 at 5:14pm PST The Bolshoi - Moscow, Russia Surviving both revolution and fire, the Bolshoi Theatre has been rebuilt several time during its history. Its iconic facade can be seen on the Russian 100 ruble banknote. The theatre was closed for six years in 2005 for some serious renovation work that was said to have cost upward of 25.5 billion rubles (£650 million) and during this period, performances were held at the Great Kremlin Palace. The Bolshoi Ballet regularly perform at Covent Garden as part of their London Seasons . Большой театр сегодня празднует свое 240-летие! Спасибо, что остаетесь с нами! The Bolshoi celebrates the 240th anniversary today! Thank you for staying with us! #большойтеатр #большой #балет #большойбалет #опера #юбилей #bolshoi #bolshoitheatre #ballet #bolshoiballet #opera #anniversary #happybirthday A photo posted by Большой Театр (@bolshoi_theatre) on Mar 28, 2016 at 8:05am PDT Glyndebourne - Sussex, UK Glyndebourne Opera House is in the grounds of an English country house beside the South Downs in East Sussex. Its famous summer festival has happened every year since 1934 – apart from a brief closure during World War II. Works are performed in the purpose-built opera house (rebuilt in 1994), but much of the day is spent outside, where audiences are encouraged to dress up in black-tie and bring a picnic to enjoy in the garden. @whitecubeofficial at Glyndebourne opens this weekend - to celebrate our Shop have collaborated with White Cube artist Raqib Shaw in developing this beautiful organic wool blanket - perfect for a Glyndebourne #picnic or to use as a luxurious throw. Ps Don’t forget to visit the Shop for all your picnicking needs! Product details: Limited edition blanket featuring the print: Phileas and I Under the Full Moon - A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2016) is on sale now. Link in profile Sam Stephenson A photo posted by Glyndebourne (@glyndebourne) on May 18, 2016 at 6:50am PDT Sydney Opera House - Sydney, Australia Inspired by the ship sails that sail Sydney Harbour, the city's famous opera house is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. More than 8 million people visit the theatre to marvel at the concrete shells designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon - visitors can even climb them on a tour. Following a dispute with other stakeholders during the build, Utzon left Australia never to return. He famously never saw his masterpiece in its completed state. We have our head in the clouds this morning! #sydneyskies #sydneyoperahouse A photo posted by Sydney Opera House (@sydneyoperahouse) on Jun 26, 2016 at 3:51pm PDT Paris Opéra - Paris, France The Paris Opéra perform in two very different spaces in the French capital. Built in the 19th century, the Palais Garnier is the older of the company's two theatres, and has become an important landmark in the city alongside the Notre Dame and the Louvre . The second site Opéra Bastille , now the main facility of the Paris National Opera , was designed to provide a ‘populace and modern’ space for audiences. Incontournable : le Grand Foyer du Palais Garnier. #art #architecture #visite #mustsee #PalaisGarnier #PaulBaudry ©Jean-Pierre Delagarde/OnP A photo posted by Opéra national de Paris (@operadeparis) on Jul 27, 2016 at 5:09am PDT Opéra de Monte Carlo - Monaco The Salle Garnier was designed by the same architect who created the Palais Garnier in Paris. Monaco’s version is much smaller, seating only 524 compared to the Parisian version which can seat an audience of over 2,000. The Salle Garnier was used to celebrate the centenary of Monte Carlo by King Rainier III and his American film star wife, Grace Kelly . Lieu de création depuis 1879, l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo baigné par la mer méditerranée rejoint l'aventure instagram. Photo: Jean Grisoni #opera #operademontecarlo #montecarlo #principautedemonaco #monaco #garnier #sallegarnier #igers #igersfrance A photo posted by Opéra de Monte-Carlo (@opera_de_monte_carlo) on Oct 28, 2014 at 5:29am PDT Teatro San Carlo - Naples, Italy Said to be the oldest ‘continuously active’ public opera house still in existance, Naples is home to the oldest horseshoe shaped auditorium in the world. Rossini , Donizetti , Verdi were all composers in residence here. The interior inspired subsequent opera houses around Europe and includes gold decoration, sumptuous blue upholstery and 184 boxes. Che programmi avete per il prossimo #weekend? A #Pasqua e #Pasquetta vi aspettiamo al #TeatroSanCarlo per dei turni speciali di #visiteguidate ! Tutte le info sul nostro sito nella sezione #News...#guidedtour #tour #Napoli #Naples #Italia #Italy #Feste #effettosancarlo A photo posted by Teatro San Carlo (@teatrosancarlo) on Mar 31, 2015 at 10:03am PDT Royal Opera House - London, UK Home to The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, the auditorium of the Royal Opera House has been relatively untouched since it was completely rebuilt after a fire in 1858 (caused by a cannon misfiring on stage). The ROH will be getting some big improvements to its front of house spaces over the next two years, thanks to the Open Up project, so expect plenty of stunning photos of our new surroundings. We also hosted the first ballet-inspired Instameet, #BalletBeauty . Welcome to Instagram, ROH supporters @Rolex #101031 A photo posted by Royal Opera House (@royaloperahouse) on Nov 28, 2015 at 2:10am PST Which opera houses are you following on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below.
Great composers of classical music