Wednesday, May 24, 2017
On the assumption that Beethoven’s Fifth might be too heavy for the US President, the Filarmonica della Scala has changed next Friday’s programme to scoops of gelato . Andrew Powell has sent us this rundown: Puccini – Madama Butterfly: Act III Sunrise Rossini – Overture to L’italiana in Algeri Rossini – Overture to Guillaume Tell Verdi – La traviata: Act I Prelude Verdi – Overture to La forza del destino Mascagni – Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo
Last week´s Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s concert was outside the norm, for symphonic repertoire was left aside and the orchestra, under our seasoned operatic conductor Mario Perusso, accompanied the brilliant debut of German soprano Diana Damrau and her husband, French bass baritone Nicolas Testé. She has a splendid twenty-year career and is a rarity: a soprano of enormous range (strong lows, stratospheric perfect highs), histrionic at all times, equally convincing in drama and comedy. She was imaginative as Rossini´s Rosina, florid and light in Meyerbeer (so rarely heard here), dramatic as Gounod´s Juliet, heart-rending in Bellini´s mad scene from "I Puritani". Testé was a surprise for many; not as famous as his wife, he is certainly one the best bass baritones nowadays, with a firm beautiful voice capable of fine shading but also of stark drama: from the cunning of Basilio´s "La Calunnia" (Rossini), to the comic bravado of "Pif, paf" (Meyerbeer´s "The huguenots"), the noble line from the French version of Verdi´s "Don Carlos"(clumsily not announced), the intense aria from Antonio Gomes´ interesting "Salvator Rosa" and the sinister Alvise in Ponchielli´s "La Gioconda". As contained as his wife is adrenalic, nevertheless the two combined admirably in the closing "Bess, you is my woman now" (Gershwin). In the encores, Puccini arias from both and a lovely duet from Bernstein´s "West Side Story". Perusso and the orchestra shone in orchestral pieces of Rossini, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and Bernstein. For Buenos Aires Herald
The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional (National Symphony, NS) is one of the two top symphonic ensembles we have in our concert life; the other, of course, is the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. The latter has its home at the Colón and is costly; the NS plays at the CCK, at the Blue Whale and is always free. The Phil has solid financial backing, the NS depends on the Culture Ministry´s capricious and ineffective bureaucracy with its constant problem of non-payment of conductors and soloists and just as harmful, of orchestral material. Plus the CCK´s absurd policy of being totally free (no worthy orchestra in the world plays under such conditions) and allowing babies. And being a cultural centre, it depends on the Media chief, Hernán Lombardi, instead of the Culture Minister, Pablo Avelluto. And Lombardi doesn´t give the NS what it needs to feel at home, including appropriate offices and rehearsal times. So the NS season proceeds with constant alarms. And the orchestra is playing sometimes below expectations. But one thing holds fast: the audience fills the vast hall; is it only because they love the orchestra or because it´s free? Well, the Phil is expensive and generally has a close to full house. And is it because it´s free that the CCK seems unable to provide reservations to reviewers? A February night of Chinese music was postponed to a later date with a different conductor, and celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Argentina. Much later, in September, the NS might visit China and Korea if both Ministries (Cultural and Foreign Relations) understand the importance of giving the NS a foreign tour after so many years without that experience. The NS has programmed both the artists and the repertoire. Zhang Zheng was the conductor, and the soloists were Yuan Yi (violin), Duan Biyan (piano) and Yang Yue (erhu); all made their debut. The music was all Chinese except for Bernstein´s "Candide" Overture. To my Occidental ears the adaptation of Chinese culture to an European product such as the symphony orchestra sounds forced and superficial. It seems to veer between the bombastic and the excessive sweetness, and significantly I only found interesting ideas in the final piece, the tone poem "The Hani minority" by Shao En (the Hani are Tibeto-Burmese). The concert started with three short works by Bao Yuankai and was followed by the fourth movement of the Erhu Concerto "The Chinese Wall´s capriccio"; the erhu is the two-string Chinese violin and it´s amazing how varied and beautiful are the sounds that come from this apparently limited instrument, played with virtuoso panache by Yang Yue. But apart from the very professional Yuan Yi and Duan Biya, I found little to like in the fragments from the Violin Concerto "The butterfly lovers" by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang, and the third and fourth movements of the Piano Concerto written by six composers (!) based on the cantata "The Yellow River" by Xian Xinghai. The efficient conductor got decent playing from the NS in this repertoire almost wholly new to them. I skipped the next concert, too crossover for me (symphonic rock -Emerson- and tango –Schissi), and went on to the following one, in which Günther Pichler made his BA debut as a conductor, though we knew him as a member of the marvelous Berg Quartet decades ago. The programme couldn´t be more divergent with the two mentioned, and I enjoyed it a lot, for Pichler is a master of style and clarity, even in the score I would have thought not quite up his aisle: the splendid Overture to "Guillaume Tell" by Rossini. But otherwise we heard Mozart, and Pichler´s phrasing was a lesson to all: the NS did its best to assimilate his teaching and accompanied beautifully that early masterpiece, Concerto Nº9, and afterwards gave us an admirable "Jupiter" (Symphony Nº41). There was a further pleasure: the debut of Japanese pianist Yoko Kikuchi, utterly refined and precise, with interesting cadenzas. And equally notable in a contrasting encore: Liszt´s transcription of Paganini´s "La Campanella". Finally, after many years, the return of Yeruham Scharovsky to where he was born, after decades of professional conducting in Israel and from there to other 50 countries. The programme started with a favorite overture of mine, Weber´s "Oberon", in a middling version. But things promptly picked up when the twin clarinet players Daniel and Alexander Gurfinkel showed their fantastic technique and beautiful timbre in two works (both wrongly called in the hand programme, and as usual, with no comments on the music – another bad thing of the CCK). First, the Concert Piece (not Concerto) Nº 1, op.113, by Mendelssohn (originally for clarinet and corno di bassetto –a clarinet a third lower- and piano), a charming and typical score fast-slow-fast. The orchestration may be by Mendelssohn and at least in this version the music was a BA première. And so was the following work (both unannounced...): "De mis raíces" ("From my roots"), Concert variations (not a concerto) for two clarinets and orchestra, Op.41, by Aby Rojze, who was a violinist of the NS during more than four decades until his retirement some years back and during his mature years decided to start a parallel career as a composer. It's only fair that his beloved orchestra should give him a place in their programming. These variations are tonal and pleasant, with a curious orchestration of strings, trumpets and percussion and virtuoso interventions for the clarinets. The music indeed refers to his roots, which are Jewish and Argentine, so we hear a milonga but also parts that refer to the klezmer tradition, and the main melody sounds solemn and religious both at the beginning and the end. Wonderful playing by the twins, who added as encores two klezmer pieces, and committed accompaniment by conductor and orchestra. Rojze saluted the audience. Tchaikovsky created not only the six numbered symphonies but also the very impressive programmatic symphony "Manfred", on Lord Byron´s antihero (who also inspired Schumann). His Op.58 (1885), the score is huge, about 55 minutes, dominated by the ominous melody of the very start, which reappears in all movements (as its model, the "idée fixe" in the Fantastic Symphony by Berlioz). It is the doomed Manfred that is portrayed, he who has loved Astarte and lost her, he who has been damned and is in the deepest despair as he recollects stages of his life. But in the second movement , a scherzo with trio, the Alps Fairy appears under a cascade in exquisite balletic music later interrupted by Manfred´s theme. A charming Pastorale is an interlude before the terrible, devilish bacchanale of the fourth movement, until the spìrit of Astarte is evoked with solemn organ chords and Manfred dies. The orchestral imagination is prodigious almost throughout, and the work is very difficult though fascinating. Scharovsky had a brave go at it with some ups and downs but certainly with much expressive power; warts and all, this was a worthwhile occasion to meet a major Tchaikovsky creation. And the Klais organ certainly made a difference. The concert was dedicated to the clarinet player Eduardo Prado, who died recently and was member of the SN for decades. For Buenos Aires Herald
Here’s the original text of the French president’s reply about his musical preferences to Classiquenews.com. He has great admiration for Rossini – ‘he completely reinvented the lyric art’. However, as a trained pianist, he is most affected by the music of Schumann and Liszt, ‘that major European’. J’ai une grande admiration pour Rossini. Il occupe à mes yeux une place essentielle dans l’histoire de la musique. Sa liberté, sa propre vie et son génie m’ont toujours impressionné. Il a sorti l’opéra de son carcan en offrant une liberté nouvelle à la voix : il a totalement réinventé le chant lyrique. Du Barbier au Voyage à Reims en passant par Cenerentola, il a créé un style irrésistible – mais je suis sensible aussi à ses opéras sérieux, comme Moïse ou Maometto II, qu’on donne si rarement. Dans un tout autre genre, j’accorde un prix tout particulier à Bach. Il a beaucoup compté pour moi. Son oeuvre pour clavier (orgue, clavecin) et pour violoncelle est d’une précision qui n’empêche pas l’élévation spirituelle, mais pour ainsi dire la favorise. J’entends moins une froideur mathématique qu’un discours musical charriant toutes les émotions possibles. Bach est un passeur entre plusieurs mondes, indéfinissable et génial. Comme vous le savez peut-être, je suis particulièrement sensible à la musique pour piano – j’en ai moi-même beaucoup joué et tente d’en jouer encore dès que j’ai le temps. L’oeuvre de Schumann occupe une place à part : elle porte des images et des sentiments que je ne trouve nulle part ailleurs, avec une variété de tons unique. J’ai également un grand attachement à Liszt, cet Européen majeur, moderne résolu ancré dans la grande tradition : l’incandescence des Années de Pèlerinage reste intacte après tant d’années.
The auditorium of the Royal Opera House © ROH 2016. Photograph by Sim Canetty-Clarke A cast change for upcoming performances of Mitridate, re di Ponto has been announced. German soprano Anett Fritsch has withdrawn from singing the role of Sifare. The role will now be sung by Georgian soprano Salome Jicia. This performance marks Jicia’s Covent Garden debut. Her recent roles include Elena in La donna del lago and Contessa di Follevile and Modestina in Il viaggio a Reims for the Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro; as well as Ismene in Mitridate, re di Ponto for the Tbilisi Paliashivili Opera House in Georgia. The rest of the cast remains unchanged. If you have a ticket please see terms and conditions of sale .
JYou have heard it said that “The show must go on”. Every professional in the Arts will make it her/his business to live by that. Some years ago, singer Joyce DiDonato was injured while doing a show. And she remained tough until it was discovered that she required a cast to help with her recovery. The other members of the show were supportive and helpful, and yes, Joyce showed up sitting in a wheelchair for the next performance. While she was injured, she was scheduled to perform in an opera by Rossini, and here is the music:
Great composers of classical music