Saturday, December 3, 2016
Musicians in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra have demanded an urgent meeting with Peter Gelb, we hear, over the security breach that allowed a deluded opera fan to scatter his friend’s ashes into their playing space during the second intermission of Saturday’s William Tell. The fourth act of that opera was cancelled as a result, along with the evening’s Rossini opera. The musicians are angry and concerned that their space was invaded so easily. Singers who were cancelled at short notice are resentful. And audience members would like to know why a man from Dallas who had told those around him that he planned to scatter human ashes was not reported to house security, and why security did not intervene. The man, Roger Kaiser (pictured), has been a compulsive pseudonymous contributor to an online opera fanzine. Many operagoers would like to see him prosecuted for the offence and banned from attending opera. Peter Gelb has questions to answer, as well as the cost of cancellation. His glib response – ‘We appreciate opera lovers coming to the Met. We hope that they will not bring their ashes with them’ – has not gone down well.
The great bass-baritone sings the role at the Met after a bare-chested turn in the controversial ROH production – and it’s not just his voice that excitesThe word “warm” comes up frequently in descriptions of the bass-baritone Gerald Finley. And rightly so. The Canadian singer and actor brings a generous and affecting lyricism to every role he touches, whether it’s the Robert Oppenheimer of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, or else Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, which he is singing this season at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.And Finley has emotionally resonant skills as an actor, too, whether he’s channeling the dark humor of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress or communicating the austere longing of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin. Even when he finds himself in the middle of an operatic uproar – as happened with last year’s Royal Opera House production of Tell – Finley’s performances are often judged the best part of the show. Continue reading...
Here is the text that the great violinist read before the Japanese Royal Family on receiving the Praemium Imperiale award in Tokyo this week, the first violin player to be so distinguished. He used the occasion to resume his assault on the false priorities of the music business. Here is the original text, exclusive to Slippedisc.com: Message of thanks Your Imperial Highness, Prince and Princess Hitachi, Chairman of the Japan Art Association, Mr Hieda, Excellencies, International Advisers, Distinguished Members of the Selection Committee, dear Friends, It is an honour for me to be given an opportunity to say a few words on behalf of ALL the laureates of this year’s Praemium Imperiale. Being singled out for this distinction in the field of music means a great deal to me personally – and I am sure that each of us here would echo my sentiments. In acknowledging our life’s achievements, the Praemium Imperiale brings us close to the MANY outstanding artists who have been its FAVOURED recipients over the 28 years since the award was first established. For me, it means being accepted into a “family of wonderful personalities”, people for whom I have always had profound respect and admiration or with whom I have even had the occasional good fortune to work. As the first violinist in the family, I am keenly aware of the importance of today’s ceremony and am certainly not alone in wishing to express my deepest gratitude for the privilege that has been bestowed on us. Each of us enters this world and later departs from it. What we leave behind is what we manage to create in the time in between. The arts are probably one of those facets of life that outlive us and last, if they are exceptional – “forever”. In a way, it might be said that art – unlike politics – has an “eternal” life. However, that is not a “licence” for indifference to injustice or lies. These days, the whole arts industry is more market oriented than ever. “Value” is measured in terms of money, income and statistics. All too often we are tempted to believe that the primary goal of art is to entertain people. How refreshing it is to see that past and present laureates of the Praemium Imperiale include those artists who have been able to resist that temptation! As I see it, a true artist is called to swim against the waves of popularity, to dive into the deep waters of human souls and to rise to the challenge of achieving the impossible. The supporters of the great Ludwig van Beethoven wanted him to write compositions that were stylistically different from those of an artist who was very popular at that time – Gioachino Rossini. How many of today’s supporters or sponsors see artists in that way and give them that kind of encouragement? I suspect that there are very few of them. The potential revenue figures overshadow any real attempts at creativity. To serve the arts and not to give in to the industry’s “sharks” by sacrificing one’s own ideals and vision is far more important than providing entertainment because the arts are able to expand our horizons, to make us visionaries. In the past, the Praemium Imperiale has been awarded to many great personalities, whose “signatures” -their own individual identities – have thus been granted prime public recognition. They command our respect not merely because of their achievements; we realise that, like the great composer Luigi Nono, they knew that there was no path, but had to go on…. all the same. Because they were willing to take risks, we can continue to explore the unknown. That is why it fills me with joy and pride to be surrounded today by distinguished artists who have chosen not to follow the crowd. In one way or another, we have all fought to remain true to the values that we believe in. We are not finished yet! Long live the arts! In many ways, they are the best support given to those of us who are seeking more and who desire to share what we find with others. (c) Gidon Kremer (c) Angie Kremer/Lebrecht Music&Arts
For decades the Mozarteum Argentino has been the main force in bringing us important orchestras from all over the world. Back in 1978 we had the first Argentine visit of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, conducted by their Principal Conductor Gerd Albrecht. The presence of the Tonhalle confirmed its European prestige. Then, in 1988 they returned with Hiroshi Wakasugi, their PC at the time, with pianist Rudolf Buchbinder; another positive experience. The venue was then and now the Colón. And this season they returned with their new PC, Lionel Bringuier, and the violinist Lisa Batiashvili. And the results were nothing short of stunning. The artists have youth in common: Bringuier is only 30, born in Nice, and was named PC at 28! And the violinist looks a similar age, though the biography gives no details about age; nor her place of birth, but her surname is Georgian. However it does inform about her career, and it is quite impressive, for she has played with the best orchestras and conductors of the world. As to Bringuier, he studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he received the influence of conductor and composer Peter Eötvös, for long the leader of the famous Ensemble Intercontemporain; now Eötvös has been named Creative Chair of the Tonhalle during this season, and several works of his will be played, one of them in BA. The other essential influence came from his six years as Resident Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, first with Salonen and then with Dudamel. About the Tonhalle: it started in 1862; after World War II it had eminent artists as PC: Vokmae Andreae ended his dilated tenure in 1949 and was succeeded by Rosbaud, Kempe, Dutoit, Albrecht, Eschenbach, Wakasugi, and before Bringuier, by David Zinman from 1995 to 2014. There´s a mistake in their hand programme biography: it isn´t the orchestra of the Zürich Opera, and it could hardly be: the Opera´s orchestra, called the Philharmonic, plays 250 performances a year! The 2016-17 season of the Tonhalle Orchestra boasts such names as Haitink, P.Järvi, Nagano, Ch.Von Dohnányi, Dutoit, Blomstedt, Zinman , Eötvös and Runnicles. They play at their New Hall, 1600 capacity. Their South American tour started at BA and continued at Montevideo, Sao Paulo and Rio, where the soloist was pianist Nelson Freire. Here they played two programmes, both having Batiashvili in Tchaikovsky´s Concerto. From the moment she started playing, there was no doubt that we were hearing an exceptional violinist: the timbre was as beautiful as she is, the phrasing was exact, the impulse and excitement were contagious, and when she had an ample melody she sang it as the best opera singer. She is also consistent, for on Tuesday she was as splendid as on Monday. And the Orchestra under Bringuier never lost pace nor technical perfection. The encore was unusual and welcome: the Kreisler arrangement for violin and orchestra of the principal melody of Dvorák´s Second Movement from the New World Symphony, interpreted as meltingly as can be. Two symphonies were heard: on Monday, Shostakovich ´s Sixth; on Tuesday, Mahler´s First. Before Shostakovich, a seven minute score by Ötvös with a particular title: "The gliding of the Eagle in the skies" (première). Written for the National Basque Orchestra in 2012, it features a big orchestra with much percussion, especially a "caja" (drum case), and flighty sounds from the flutes. I found the music evocative and interesting . The Sixth was premièred just as World War II started, and as it ends with a sarcastic Presto it was rejected at the time, but it starts with a desolate Adagio in the best stark mood of the author, and it is an important score. Apart from being overfast in the second movement, Bringuier was impeccable, and the orchestra, a round hundred players, showed first-rate quality in all sections. Mahler´s First was heard for the third time this year, but the music resists repetition as few others, for it is immensely creative and atractive throughout. Bringuier´s reading was quite satisfactory, and the playing had many moments of moving communication. Encores: on Monday, a sprightly rendition of Rossini´s Overture for "L´Italiana in Algeri". On Tuesday, a surprise: Florian Walser, the Tonhalle´s clarinettist, composed a funny showpiece with no name on traditional Swiss tunes, featuring characteristic wether bells, played with gusto by his colleagues. For Buenos Aires Herald
The Greek baritone Aris Argiris found himself yesterday singing back-to-back performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville at the Semper Oper in Dresden. Eight hours of performance, noon to 10 pm with a mid-afternoon break. Can anyone beat that?
1 Mozart piano concert 27, K595 (Brendel) 2 Vivaldi Four Seasons, 1958 L’Oiseau Lyre 3 Elgar: Enigma Variations, with Sospiri 4 Barber Adagio 5 Mozart Requiem 6 Cosi fan tutte 7 Handel Messiah 8 Rossini: Messe solonelle 9 Schumann symphonies (SWR Stuttgart) 10 Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue (Philharmonia)
Great composers of classical music