Friday, October 21, 2016
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)
Johannes Martin Kränzle, Corinne Winters, Alessio Arduini in Jan Philipp Gloger’s Così fan tutte © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Stephen Cummiskey ‘Come scoglio’ is an aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ’s 1790 opera Così fan tutte , ossia La scuola degli amanti. It takes place in Act I and is sung by Fiordiligi, a young woman who is unwittingly participating in the ‘school for lovers’ of the opera’s subtitle. Like much of Mozart’s writing for this character, the aria covers an unusually wide range and mixes together forceful, held sections with heavily ornamented passages, requiring a voice that brings together agility and power. The aria is designed to impress (which it certainly does) but it also has an element of parody, as Mozart mimics and mocks the opera conventions of his time – a thread that runs throughout Così fan tutte. Where does it take place in the opera? ‘Come scoglio’ occurs at the end of Act I scene 11. The opera opens in the midst of an argument between the young men Ferrando and Guglielmo and the older Don Alfonso. Alfonso claims that no woman can be faithful; the young men hotly contest that their girlfriends – Dorabella and Fiordiligi, respectively – are as faithful as they are beautiful. The men agree to put their loves to the test, and pretend to go to war, only to return, disguised, to woo the women as strangers. The women are devastated by their fiancés’ departure. Their maid Despina recommends they use this opportunity to take a lover – and lo and behold, the disguised Ferrando and Guglielmo appear. Fiordiligi, sternly resistant to their advances, sings ‘Come scoglio’ (like a rock). But as the opera goes on even she will yield. What do the lyrics mean? Read our line-by-line translation of librettist Lorenzo da Ponte ’s original Italian text, created in 2016 by musicologist Roger Parker: Recitative: ‘Temerari, sortite’ Temerari, sortite Fuori di questo loco, e non profani L’alito infausto degli infami detti Nostro cor, nostro orecchio e nostri affetti! Invan per voi, per gli altri invan si cerca Le nostr'alme sedur: I’intatta fede Che per noi già si diede ai cari amanti, Saprem loro serbar infino a morte, A dispetto del mondo e della sorte. Reckless youths, leave at once! Don’t profane with such words our hearts, our ears and our affections! In vain will you, or any other, try to seduce our hearts. We’ll keep sacred even unto death the trust we pledged to our lovers in the face of the world and destiny. Aria: ‘Come scoglio’ Come scoglio immoto resta Contro i venti e la tempesta, Così ognor quest’alma è forte Nella fede e nell’amor. Con noi nacque quella face Che ci piace, e ci consola, E potrà la morte sola Far che cangi affetto il cor. Rispettate, anime ingrate, Quest’esempio di costanza; E una barbara speranza Non vi renda audaci ancor! Like a rock, unmoving in wind and storm, my soul remains strong in its faith and love. Within us burns a fire that strengthens and consoles. Death alone will change the feelings in our hearts. Respect my constancy, you ignoble souls. Never again let vile expectations make you so bold. What makes the music so memorable? Fiordiligi is a force to be reckoned with, as ‘Come scoglio’ makes more than clear. Unlike Dorabella, who seems to take to infidelity quite happily, Fiordiligi will wrestle with strong emotions that tear her between her two loves. The determined leaps and resolute rhythms in ‘Come scoglio’ are crucial in establishing this character. Yet Mozart doesn’t seem to take Fiordiligi quite as seriously as she does. There is more than a hint of parody in ‘Come scoglio’ – the leaps are so huge, the range so large and the ornamentation on the repeated first stanza thickly florid. Fiordiligi dominates the music to an absurd extent, even at one point singing the bass line. So the aria serves a straightforward function, of delineating the character and moving the story forwards – but it also, like so much of the music in Così fan tutte, provides a further commentary on the characters and their emotions, an extra level that can provide a deeper insight. Take a look at the full score of ‘Come scoglio’ (from p.112 for the aria and p.110 for the recitative) on IMSLP . Così fan tutte’s other musical highlights Mozart's third collaboration with Lorenzo Da Ponte sees the composer lavish miniature masterpieces on pretty much every scene. Despina and the four lovers all receive at least one stand-out aria: Ferrando’s ‘Un’aura amorosa’, Guglielmo’s ‘Donne mie la fate’, Dorabella’s ‘È amore un ladroncello’, Despina’s ‘In uomini’ – the list could go on. An unusual proportion of the music, though, is constructed in duets and ensembles, all ingeniously formed: there’s the terzetto ‘Soave sia il vento’, probably the opera’s most well-known number, but also many gems besides, including the opening trio between the three men, the brilliant Act I finale, Dorabella and Guglielmo’s seduction duet ‘Il core vi dono’ and the rapturous multi-movement duet between Fiordiligi and Ferrando, ‘Fra gli amplessi’. As ever with Mozart, taken as a whole the entire opera is constructed in a highly sophisticated manner, the pace of numbers and the use of recitative all coming together to impart nuanced and compelling characterization to all of the cast. Classic recordings Fortunately, the world is not short on excellent Così recordings, so you’re in with a good chance of finding the one that suits you perfectly. Broadly speaking, the range spans from classic recordings with big voices and slow tempos (probably the most famous being Karl Böhm ’s 1962 recording with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Fiordiligi) to recordings by period-instrument bands at fleeter speeds and with lighter voices (such as René Jacobs ’s with Véronique Gens as Fiordiligi) – with everything in between. Particular recordings to look out for include Daniel Barenboim ’s recording with Lella Cuberli as Fiordiligi, Yannick Nézet-Séguin ’s with Miah Persson and Teodor Currentzis ’s with Simone Kermes . More to discover The obvious next step is Mozart’s other operas – from Mitridate, re di Ponto (written when he was just 14 through to La clemenza di Tito , via Lucio Silla , La finta giardiniera , Idomeneo , Le nozze di Figaro , Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte , there is so much to enjoy from this opera master. If you’re looking for even more Mozart with a particular accent on virtuoso soprano writing then try his Mass in C minor as well. Where to go next? Fiordiligi has cousins in the strong-willed Leonore in Beethoven ’s Fidelio , and in many of Verdi ’s heroines, including Violetta from La traviata , Hélène from Les Vêpres siciliennes and Elisabetta from Don Carlo – or for strong female characters whose music is written with more than a hint of a smile try Rosina in Rossini ’s Il barbiere di Siviglia or Adina in Donizetti ’s L’elisir d’amore . Così fan tutte runs until 19 October 2016. Tickets are still available . The production will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 17 October 2016. Find your nearest cinema screening .
Yende/Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI/Armiliato (Sony)Next time you roll your eyes at a British Airways ad, remember that if Pretty Yende hadn’t heard one as a teenager she’d probably be an accountant, as per her previous life plan, rather than a leader among a new wave of South African opera singers. That ubiquitous Flower Duet from Lakmé is on this portrait disc, but Yende’s lustrous, appealingly forward soprano tone and somersaulting vocal agility are showcased far more effectively by the other six numbers, which include scenes from Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda and I Puritani, alongside Donizetti and Rossini: Una Voce Poco Fa has mischievous embellishments galore. Marco Armiliato and his Italian orchestra are serviceable accompanists. Yende’s tuning can be approximate, and there’s not a great deal of difference in characterisation between, say, Gounod’s Juliette, steeling herself to swallow the sleeping potion, and Rossini’s melancholy yet ultimately comic Countess Adèle; but there’s definitely something winning about Yende’s fearless, can-do singing. Continue reading...
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