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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Friday, August 18, 2017


My Classical Notes

July 23

The Hagen Quartet Performs

My Classical NotesFor the past few days I have been listening to my favorite string quartet group, the Hagen Quartet, founded in Salzburg, Austria. I have admired these performers for many years. In fact, imconducted an interview with them and listened to them play the music of Mozart when they came to Carmel, California a few years back. If you will be in Austria soon, here is a concert that I surely would love to attend: Chamber Concert: Hagen Quartett and Sol Gabetta, Cello Venue: Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg: Großer Saal Address: Schwarzstraße 26, Salzburg, 5020, Austria Date: Monday 7 August 2017 at 19:30 PROGRAM: Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge), BWV1080 [Bach]: Contrapunctus I-IV Shostakovich, Dmitri (1906-1975) String Quartet No. 8 in C minor “Malinconia”, Op.110 Schubert, Franz (1797-1828) String Quintet in C major, D.956 PERFORMERS: Hagen Quartet, with Sol Gabetta Cello Here, for your enjoyment, is one of my great favorites: The Quartet K464 by Mozart, as performed by the Hagen Quartett:

On An Overgrown Path

August 15

Good news - classical music's audience is getting older

Widespread euphoria over Classic FM's recent announcement of a "huge increase in under-35 listeners" highlights a potentially fatal flaw in classical music's survival strategy. This flaw is the dogma that changing the demographic profile of audiences is key to the future of classical music. This widely accepted dogma was expressed succinctly by Independent journalist Fiona Sturges when she tweeted that "a large proportion of Radio 3's audience should hurry up and die". If we leave aside Ms Sturges' repellent ageism, we are left with the canard that classical music's ageing audience will dwindle by attrition, and that the only way for the art form to survive is to tap into a mythical high growth market of affluent young people. Yes, it is true that the classical music audience is concentrated in middle and older age groups, with 42% in the age group 41 to 60 and 37% aged over 61. Industry dogma tells us that this older audience profile is a bad thing, and scarcely a week passes without yet another often ridiculous initiative targeting a young audience being acclaimed. This thinking need challenging, and demographic data makes such a challenge very easy. The UN 2015 report World Population Ageing spells out what is happening very clearly: The world’s population is ageing: virtually every country in the world is experiencing growth in the number and proportion of older persons in their population. Population ageing — the increasing share of older persons in the population — is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society...So classical music has been agonising for years over the terrible problem of having its core audience in the fastest growing demographic market segment. As if that is not enough, enormous resources are being expended on replacing that valuable mature audience with fickle new young listeners, despite the same UN report warning that "the increasing proportions of aged persons have been accompanied, in most populations, by steady declines in the proportion of young persons". The statistics cannot be ignored: classical music markets are concentrated in high income countries, and the ageing process is most advanced in high-income countries. Germany, an important classical market, has the second most aged population in the world with 28 per cent aged 60+. Another dangerous dogma is that the young market is affluent. In fact young people, unlike the senior cohort, are weighed down by mortgages and student loans. In Britain gross household incomes for the retired almost tripled between 1977 and 2016, but only doubled for working households. A recent Economist article reported that in America the over-50s will soon account for 70% of disposable income, and global spending by households headed by over-60s is forecast to double between 2010 and 2020. Over-60s travel is a booming business opportunity. In Britain older travellers are the largest spending group, with the most rapid growth in the 65-74 age group; this market segment has expanded beyond the traditional stereotypical cruises into adventure and cultural trips. And there is even something in the senior market for Slipped Disc: both Match.com and Snap Interactive released new dating products for the over-50s market. When did you last hear of a classical music marketing initiative aimed at the growing senior market? When did you last read a euphoric press release proclaiming a growth in the over-60s audience? Of course solely targeting the mature audience is just as myopic as solely targeting the young audience. We needs a classical audience with a balanced mix of ages*. But demographic trends cannot be ignored and the fashionable dogma of young good, old bad is both ridiculous and damaging. By pursuing a do or die strategy of attracting a younger audience classical music is sacrificing two birds in the hand in a dubious pursuit of one in the bush. * It is yet another irony that in its obsessive search for the holy grail of a young audience the classical marketeers have ignored the one market with a young demographic offering tantalising potential. As a recent Overgrown Path post explained two-thirds of Muslims are under the age of 30, and of 11 countries forecast to join the elite club of economic superpowers this century, six have a dominant Muslim majority and two substantial Muslim minorities. Yet despite this, Western classical incursions into the Muslim market have been limited with just a few exceptions to pious East meets West projects and lucrative tours to ethically-challenged oil-rich sheikdoms. But there are some notable exceptions: one example is the French conductor Olivier Holt's work with the l'Orchestre Philharmonique du Maroc which I have been privileged to experience first hand several times. But when spin is king, Mozart in Essaouira is no media match for yet another - how many more can there be? - classical night club. Also on Facebook and Twitter. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).




Tribuna musical

August 14

Festival Barenboim: Segunda Parte

El tercer concierto del Festival presentó al Trío formado por Daniel Barenboim (piano), Michael Barenboim (violín) y Kian Soltani (cello) en tres tríos de Beethoven: N1, Op.1 Nº1; Nº4, Op.70 Nº 1. "de los Espíritus" ("Geister"); y Nº6, Op. 97, "Archiduque". El programa de mano tuvo curiosos errores: a) no aclaró si había intervalo (no marcaba Primera y Segunda Parte), pero por supuesto lo hubo; b) no es un error pero no tiene sentido poner en el título Músicos de la WEDO; c) No hubo comentarios sobre las obras; d) el sobrenombre alemán del Nº4 es "Geister", "espíritus" o "de los espíritus", no "Geist" ("Espíritu"), como figuraba; e) y conviene ponerle número a los tríos.               Daniel Barenboim especificó en la conferencia de prensa que habían decidido que este trío sea estable. Y esto lleva a un viejo problema de los tríos para piano y cuerdas, y es que el pianista casi siempre queda como "primus inter pares", como ciertamente ocurrió con los famosos tríos Beaux Arts (Menahem Pressler) o de Trieste (Dario de Rosa). Sin embargo, hubo tríos con integrantes parejos y admirables: Cortot-Thibaud-Casals; Rubinstein-Heifetz-Feuermann; Istomin-Stern-Rose. Para que ello ocurra se necesita que los ejecutantes de cuerda tengan un sonido amplio y poderoso y una fuerte personalidad para poder equipararse con el mayor volumen del piano, sobre todo si es un artista de la envergadura de Daniel Barenboim. Y aquí esto no ocurre. El problema se nota menos en Soltani, un profesional de muy buen nivel, con grato timbre y fraseo musical, pero que en los pasajes forte o fortissimo quedó dominado por el piano. Pero Michael Barenboim, siendo correcto y de buen gusto, no tiene la presencia requerida para tomar el mando cuando la música lo requiere ni la intensidad para aquellos momentos donde Beethoven exige mucho.  Y sin embargo, el total fue mejor que la suma de las partes, porque las interpretaciones estuvieron claramente dominadas por las ideas del pianista, consumado beethoveniano como bien lo hemos experimentado aquí. Foto: facebook.com/PorSiempreColoneros             Daniel Barenboim dijo algo más en la conferencia de prensa: que iban a ejecutar la integral de Beethoven en Europa, y allí harían algo que me parece audaz: combinarlos con tríos de contemporáneos.  Y los mencionó: Borovsky, Alexander Goehr, Aribert Reimann.             El Op.1 Nº1 no es el mejor de de los tres de ese opus, escritos entre 1793 y 1795, ya en la etapa vienesa de Beethoven. Pero el compositor ya en sus muy tempranos tres cuartetos para piano y cuerdas de 1785 cuando vivía en Bonn (se discute si éstos o los dos de Mozart son los primeros escritos en la historia para esa combinación) había mostrado gérmenes de su particular estilo, y en el ínterin hubo varias otras piezas de cámara sin número de opus, incluso un Trío para piano y cuerdas, un duo y un octeto. De modo que vale la pena escuchar ese Op.1 Nº1 por sus propios valores, ya considerables, y en una versión que tuvo el necesario transparente clasicismo.             Por supuesto, hay una enorme diferencia con el Op.70 Nº1 de 1808, en pleno período intermedio marcado por obras como los cuartetos Rasumovsky o la Quinta sinfonía;  es una obra maestra en la que un extenso movimiento lento lleno de sombras y misterio (los espíritus) es encuadrado por dos rápidos de inmensa vitalidad. Estuvo en el pianista toda la garra requerida en los dos extremos y la sutileza tímbrica para el intermedio; intentaron seguirlo con buen pero no óptimo resultado los instrumentistas de cuerda.             Y naturalmente, el extenso Trío Nº6, "Archiduque", es la culminación de la escritura beethoveniana en este equilibrio de instrumentos opuestos. Algo posterior (1811), y precedido por los cuartetos Nos.10 y 11, la maestría es total. El fraseo del pianista fue desde el principio el que debía ser, con ortodoxia bien entendida, firme estructura, matices exactos y articulación límpida. Sus compañeros fueron muy aplicados pero fue demasiado claro quién mandaba.             Y esta vez Daniel Barenboim tenía las obras bien en dedos, sin las vacilaciones que hubo cuando tocó el Trío de Tchaikovsky tiempo atrás. Es que incluso un gran maestro como él no debe confiarse demasiado, el trabajo es siempre necesario.             No hubo pieza agregada y estoy de acuerdo: fue un programa extenso y arduo. No me molestó que bajara la tapa del piano tras saludar al público durante varios minutos.                                                CUARTO CONCIERTO             El último programa reunió dos partituras extraordinarias escritas con pocos años de diferencia: "Don Quijote" de Richard Strauss (1897) y la Quinta sinfonía de Tchaikovsky (1888). Las dos están entre las obras cumbres del postromanticismo. Se ofreció esta combinación con la Orquesta WEDO dirigida por Barenboim tres veces: como cuarta función del Abono Barenboim y en días consecutivos para los dos abonos del Mozarteum Argentino. Elegí la última función como homenaje mío a la institución que trajo de vuelta al artista hace varias décadas y nunca ha dejado de tenerlo en sus abonos en las numerosas veces que vino desde entonces.             Décadas atrás escribí un muy detallado artículo para Ars, esas revistas-libro que Isidor Schlagman editó durante fructíferos años sobre determinados grandes creadores, en este caso Strauss; yo me ocupé de los poemas sinfónicos y no me cupo duda de que fue la figura máxima en este género que había inventado Franz Liszt con una profusa y despareja producción aún mal conocida aquí (ello debería repararse) y que otros como Sibelius o el propio Tchaikovsky también ilustraron. Ya desde "Don Juan" (1888, creado a los 24 años) el dominio de Strauss de lo narrativo y de la orquestación fue asombroso, y siguieron maravillas como "Muerte y Transfiguración", "Las alegres travesuras de Till" y "Así habló Zarathustra" antes de "Don Quijote" y "Una vida de héroe". O sea que antes de ser el más importante operista alemán del siglo XX fue el más gran compositor sinfónico de esa nacionalidad en las postrimerías del XIX.              "Don Quijote", la maravilla de Cervantes, fue leída en alemán por Strauss, y el compositor fue influenciado por las sabrosas caricaturas de Daumier.  Pensando no sólo en la narración sino en la estructura, el músico agregó: "Variaciones fantásticas sobre un tema de carácter caballeresco". Y así, la obra consta de Introducción, tema, diez Variaciones y Final. Dura  unos 45 minutos y son una constante revelación analizando una partitura de enorme riqueza y complejidad. Don Quijote (violoncelo solista), Sancho Panza (viola solista, pero también tuba tenor y clarinete bajo combinados) y brevemente Dulcinea (violín solista) se entremezclan con una orquesta poderosa y variadísima. La manera en la que Strauss refleja la pérdida de la razón de su antihéroe en la Introducción es la de una frondosa trama de contradicciones; luego el noble tema del violoncelo nos da la esencia del personaje; y las variaciones son de un ingenio y una audacia inolvidables: basten la evocación del rebaño de ovejas en la segunda variación, que parece el Penderecki vanguardista, o el viaje por los aires en la séptima (con máquina de viento). Aunque también están los minutos de belleza serena en la tercera y sexta. Y luego el retorno a la razón en el Final y los conmovedores acentos del violoncelo antes de la muerte del Quijote. Foto: facebook.com/PorSiempreColoneros             Una pequeña anécdota personal: cuando en 1973 programé el abono de la Filarmónica vino Leonard Rose y le pregunté si aceptaba en vez de un  concierto ser solista en "Don Quijote"; respondió entusiasmado que sí, pero el director no conocía la obra y luego canceló por enfermedad; con poco tiempo fue reemplazado por Tauriello, que no la tenía en repertorio, y terminaron ofreciendo una notable versión del concierto de Dvorák…             Quiso la casualidad que "Don Quijote" fue presentado por el Mozarteum el año pasado por la Filarmónica de Hamburgo dirigida por Kent Nagano y con el admirable Gautier Capuçon como solista. Me las veo en figurillas para decidirme por esa versión o la más reciente y declaro un empate de muy alto nivel, ya que hubo dos grandes directores, muy buenas orquestas y solistas de notable talento. Fue un constante placer con momentos memorables, y de paso quedó claro que Soltani es ya un solista internacional de primer plano con un sonido de gran belleza y una sensibilidad en el fraseo que nos dio el personaje. También, que la violista Miriam Manasherov es de muy alta calidad.  Curiosamente se dio una pieza extra: un arreglo para violoncelo y cuerdas realizado por Lahav Shaní de "El cisne" de Saint-Saëns (de "El Carnaval de los animales").  Otra ocasión para que Soltani (austríaco de familia persa) despliegue su habilidad para el "cantabile".             Pocas sinfonías son tan justamente famosas como la Quinta de Tchaikovsky en su fusión ideal de temperamento hiperromántico y de consumado dominio compositivo; en ella el temperamento melancólico es finalmente vencido por la voluntad positiva, a diferencia de lo que ocurre en una obra todavía superior, la Sexta, "Patética". Se han escuchado versiones de calidad superlativa en nuestra ciudad, como las de Mehta con la Filarmónica de Israel, una orquesta permanente de gran nivel, pero Barenboim logró de la WEDO un  rendimiento extraordinario, apenas opacado por muy circunstanciales errores. Pensando en el director que uno asocia con estructuras gigantescas como las sinfonías de Bruckner o el que logra dilucidar obras de Berg o Boulez, me asombró su afinidad con una personalidad tan hipersensible como la de Tchaikovsky, pero Barenboim demostró que todo lo que hay que hacer es ser fiel a la partitura sin agregar exageraciones a lo que ya de por sí está al rojo vivo. De ese modo la estructura queda resaltada y se comprende porqué Tchaikovsky fue un gran sinfonista.             No está de más comentar que la gestualidad de Barenboim es muy particular: hace muy altos movimientos para dar entradas, en pasajes que tienen una métrica similar apenas marca el compás tras hacerlo al principio del fragmento, y tiene una infalible percepción de cuáles son los momentos que  necesitan de una energía total. En cuanto a la WEDO merece mencionarse la intensidad de los violines en el temible final y el bello sonido de la primera trompa en su famosa melodía del movimiento lento. Y vale felicitarlos por llegar al final de su visita tan espontáneos y entusiastas tras días de arduo trabajo.             La pieza extra en esta ocasión fue la Polonesa del "Eugen Onegin" de Tchaikovsky, en una espléndida versión (habían tocado el día anterior la obertura de "Ruslan y Ludmila" de Glinka). Lástima que cuando el director se dirigió al público deslució su justo homenaje al Mozarteum con una despectiva alusión al Coliseo comparándolo con el Colón, ello después de decir que siempre se iban tristes por tener que dejar al mejor teatro del mundo. Pero  conviene decir que este festival fue realmente bueno, y me intriga mucho el de 2018 sin Argerich cuando todo será Barenboim y su orquesta berlinesa y por primera vez estará en el foso para dirigir una ópera. Pablo Bardin ​​

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

August 8

The pianist who fought against fame

Stephen Cera has sent us a touching account of Toronto’s homage to the irrepressible Anton Kuerti: Anton Kuerti has been an adopted musical treasure in Canada since moving here from Cleveland in 1965 to protest the Vietnam War. He had studied with Rudolf Serkin and Mieczylaw Horszowski at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute and won the coveted Leventritt Award while still a student. Kuerti developed into a formidable exponent of the Austro-German classics – above all Beethoven, Schubert and Mozart. His maverick career path remained true to his distinct musical voice: deeply intellectual yet deeply communicative. Richard Goode has said that Kuerti’s playing was more reminiscent of Serkin than any other pianist, and termed his colleague ‘the most under-appreciated’ of any pianist. According to Kuerti’s website, “His anti-establishment inclinations were apparent back in 1975, when an article in Performing Arts in Canada magazine appeared under the headline, ‘Anton Kuerti’s Fight Against Fame.’ It’s a fight he has won: no matter what praises the critics heap upon him, he has no contract with a major record label, and it seems he would rather play at a small festival in Canada’s North than at the Proms or Salzburg.” Nearly four years ago, Kuerti suffered a stroke while performing a solo recital in Miami, and he has not played in public since. For Toronto audiences that had grown accustomed to his performances, the loss has been felt keenly. All the more credit to the Toronto Summer Music Festival (TSMF) that it chose to honor Kuerti with a tribute concert organized by his former student, Jane Coop, a Canadian pianist who retired as the Head of the Piano Dept. at the University of British Columbia. For this special occasion on August 3, she assembled a sensitively-designed program – mostly chamber music but starting solo, with some early Beethoven Bagatelles for piano. For the rest of the program, she enlisted some of her TSMF colleagues, including Joseph Johnson, principal cello of the Toronto Symphony; Douglas McNabney, faculty violist at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music; Toronto violinist Barry Shiffman, and mezzo Laura Pudwell. The program included Mozart’s E-minor Sonata for piano and violin, K. 304; Brahms’s haunting Two Songs for alto, viola and piano; and Schumann’s radiant Piano Quartet in E-flat. Schumann was a particular passion for Kuerti. Probably the finest playing of the evening came from Joseph Johnson. The cello line in Schumann’s glorious slow movement sang with beautifully-focused sound. Elsewhere in the piece, the foursome scrambled some fast passages and never quite nailed the elusive thematic transformations. The odd acoustical quirks of the space did little to support warm string tone, which only underscored the cellist’s achievement. Shiffman’s playing in the Mozart seemed unsure whether to embrace period-performance style or a more vibrato-friendly approach. The work’s opening sounded bare and unconvincing, but then the violinist became more generous in sound. Pudwell’s tone in the Brahms never quite found a focused center, but these songs don’t fall within her ideal range, calling for a darker voice and more tonal solidity, if not opulence (…very much Maureen Forrester territory, speaking of great Canadian artists.) Her two colleagues provided stalwart support. The pressure of playing for her former teacher, Coop confessed, made this a particularly challenging assignment, most apparent in her opening solo Beethoven. Later in the program, she settled into playing that was invariably assured, conscientious and well-judged in detail. The event was held in the 400-seat Walter Hall in the stifling basement of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, a space whose acoustics vary considerably. Walter Hall was sold out. Kuerti attended the concert with his partner, Catherine Berthiaume (his late wife, cellist and educator Kristine Bogyo, succumbed to cancer more than a decade ago.) He still looks good at age 80, but the effects of the stroke are evident. The pianist was given two stirring ovations after spoken remarks of appreciation by Coop and by Jonathan Crow, the Toronto Symphony’s young concertmaster and new artistic director of TSMF. Kuerti’s admirers should know that in November 2011, he self-produced and directed a new video, filmed in Australia, of the work he considers Beethoven’s supreme masterpiece for solo piano: the Diabelli Variations, Opus 120. I attended an August 1 screening of this film. At the start, Kuerti, seated at his Steinway, delivers a 29-minute, unscripted, trenchant motivic analysis of the work. Then he performs the 55-minute composition complete. Few pianists can summon such musical insight, allied to technical brilliance. The DVD is available from www.antonkuerti.com.



Royal Opera House

August 7

Remembering Lee Blakeley (1971–2017)

Lee Blakeley Lee Blakeley was born in Yorkshire in 1971. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and at the University of Glasgow , graduating with the prize for directing. In his career he worked extensively as a director of opera, musical theatre and theatre, winning particular acclaim for his productions of works by Stephen Sondheim at Théâtre du Châtelet , Paris. In the USA Lee worked regularly with Santa Fe Opera , his many popular productions there including Madame Butterfly , The Pearl Fishers, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and Rigoletto. Further productions in North America included Falstaff for Los Angeles Opera , The Tales of Hoffmann for Canadian Opera Company and the US premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart , for Opera Theatre of St Louis . His relationship with The Royal Opera began in January 2003, when he assisted director David McVicar in his new production of Mozart ’s Die Zauberflöte . Lee returned regularly to direct the revivals of this much-loved production, in June 2003, January 2005, January 2008 and February 2011. He was just as closely involved in another highly successful McVicar production for The Royal Opera, of Gounod’s Faust . He again assisted David on the production’s premiere in June 2004, and returned as revival director in September 2004 and September 2011, and as associate director in September 2006. Lee was a dedicated proponent of new work, both in the theatre and the opera house. As artistic director of Opera Theatre Europe he presented the European premiere of Tobias Picker ’s opera Thérèse Raquin at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in 2006, in addition to developing site-specific pieces for the Covent Garden Festival and ENO Studio. Oliver Mears , The Royal Opera’s Director of Opera, paid the following tribute: ‘We were very saddened to hear of Lee’s sudden death. He worked across many productions here at the Royal Opera House, working particularly closely with David McVicar. His dedication to new writing and to developing contemporary operas was an important part of his work, and he presented the European premiere of Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin in the Linbury Studio Theatre. He brought intelligence, fun and flair to the rehearsal room and he will be very much missed.’

Tribuna musical

August 2

Strauss´ “Der Rosenkavalier”: the perfect Bavarian Viennese

Ask any knowledgeable opera goer about the best Twentieth Century comedy in German and the almost unanimous answer will be Richard Strauss´ "Der Rosenkavalier"; even the British won´t translate it, for "The Rose Cavalier", or "Knight", somehow doesn´t work out. And as a whole the opera has such a variety of Austrian dialects that it is quite impervious to a translation. The Bavarian bourgeois, Richard Strauss, somehow made a fine team with the refined and sensitive Viennese poet and playwright Hugo Von Hoffmannsthal: their first collaboration, "Elektra", 1911, was sheer genius: the composer going to the very extreme of chromaticism in music of immense intensity, the librettist seeing Sophocles with a Freudian approach of terrifying impact. But Strauss knew that he had gone to the very limit of tonal music, and wanted a comedy of charm and substance: "Der Rosenkavalier". It is a Rococo comedy that happens in Vienna during the long reign of Maria Theresa (1745-65), and the libretto calls the Marschallin (marshal´s wife) precisely with those names. She is 32 and has a bad relationship with her husband the Field Marshal, frequently absent; currently her lover is the Count Octavian Rofrano, only 17. She receives the visit of the uncouth rural Baron Ochs von Lerchenau (Ox of the Larks Prairie), 35, libidinous and impoverished, who wants to marry 15-year-old Sophie Faninal, daughter of a wealthy provider of weapons to the Empire; Ochs wants money from him, and Faninal is a bourgeois who aspires to social climbing by marrying his daughter to a nobleman. For the Marschallin the problem of elapsed time is essential and she feels that her liaison with Octavian will soon end even if the teenager is so much in love with her, and she provokes intuitively something that will change matters utterly: she sends Octavian as the Rosenkavalier, bringing to Sophie a beautiful silver rose as messenger of Ochs. It´s love at first sight between the youngsters and Ochs is as boorish as possible; the proposed marriage is destroyed. And in the Third Act an elaborate masquerade makes a fool of Ochs and the Marschallin subtly brings together the adolescents in a moving act of renunciation. This comedy where the buffo is Ochs but the other principals go through many dramatic emotions is written with vast ingenuity by Hoffmannsthal, who adds a lot of subsidiary characters in this long but almost always fascinating opera (about three hours and twenty minutes if there are no cuts). Two anachronisms must be faced and accepted: Octavian isn´t a tenor but a mezzo (like Mozart´s Cherubino) for a musical reason: the eerie beauty of the three female voices in the marvelous Trio justifies it, and there´s also the need for a lithe singer who looks young and is agile; and furthermore, Octavian disguises himself as Mariandel, a young maid from the country, both in the first and the Third Acts (fooling Ochs). The other much discussed matter is that the whole score is permeated by wonderful waltzes, which evoke the Nineteenth Century; the "right" dance would be the minuet. Again, it may be "wrong" but I for one don´t care, the magic is there. Buenos Aires has seen admirable "Rosenkavaliers": Now, after 19 years (too much) we had a bad though very costly production, that of the overvalued Robert Carsen, shared with New York, London and Torino; also for the first time there was a second cast, all Argentine except the Ochs. The best way is to deal with both casts comparing them. Octavian is the Kavalier and has the longest and most difficult part, for the singer has to convey the feeling of a vehement lad, his hesitations, and his skill travestied as Mariandel: a lot of character singing but also of fragments where line and style prevail. Jennifer Holloway was the star of the evening in the first cast: an attractive personality, a beautiful firm voice and great musical gifts. But what astonished me was our Guadalupe Barrientos, in full control of text and music, with a big voice and notable physical agility, though over-the-top in the Third Act (her fault or Carsen´s?). The Marschallin is a peach of a role and was Schwarzkopf´s specialty for decades. She is sensual but contained, has the best lines of the libretto, exudes true nobility and moves us to tears. I expected more from Manuela Uhl, who had been a fine Empress here in Strauss´ "Die Frau ohne Schatten"; this time she was too cool and some notes sounded metallic when they should be melting; I liked her better in the Third Act but she wasn´t quite the ticket. Beforehand I thought that our Carla Filipcic Holm would be right for the part in the Crespin matronly mold, and she was: the voice warm, the line clean and empathic, the acting sincere and communicative. And the two Sophies were positive, for they are young and charming , with a brilliant and tasteful high range: Oriana Favaro and Marina Silva. But...we didn´t have a satisfactory Ochs, and without it the work is fatally maimed. Kurt Rydl is now too old: he was good 25 years ago, now the voice is terribly spread and unpleasant, and not even his experienced acting compensates. Julian Close (debut) was very different although equally unsatisfactory; the voice is grey , he has no lows and the acting isn´t funny; he replaced Lucas Debevec Mayer, certainly a poor choice. Faninal is an ungrateful character part; the towering John Hancock (debut) gave it some entity and was better than Héctor Guedes, too shouty and overdone. We had two fine Italian Singers: Darío Schmunck and Santiago Ballerini. The Italian intriguers, Valzacchi and Annina, were skilfully done by Sergio Spina and Iván Maier, María Luisa Merino Ronda and particularly Mariana Rewerski. Mario De Salvo (Notary), Alejandro Meerapfel (Comissaire) and Duilio Smiriglia (Daninal´s majordomo) did well. It wasn´t poor Fernando Chalabe´s fault to be converted by Carsen into a brothel´s Madam instead of an Innkeeper. Victoria Gaeta was much better than Rocío Giordano as Marianne. Alejo Pérez met the enormous challenge of conducting the gorgeous score with flying colors, a Viennese understanding of the right waltzing pulse coupled with control of the various pandemoniums but also the sensitivity for the Presentation of the Rose or the Trio. The Orchestra proved that it can be admirable under the right hands, and I was impressed by the perfect offstage band. The Choirs were OK. Carsen changes the Rococo original and places the opera in 1911, close to the WWI; he stresses the militaristic side to ridiculous extremes: the cannon in Faninal´s nouveau riche Palace, the uniforms even of Ochs and his retainers (he is the antithesis of an officer). But there´s worse: the Third Act inn with just one private room is converted into a vast bordello of indescribably bad taste, and Mariandel acts like a whore instead of being an innocent girl. And the very end is horrible: instead of a comedy rococo episode, a drunk moor of sorts and a line of soldiers. Too many people where they shouldn´t be and unnecessary choreography. For the record, Bruno Ravella was Carsen´s revivalist, Paul Steinberg did the stage designs, Brigitte Reiffenstuel the costumes, Carsen and Peter Van Praet the lighting and Philippe Giraudeau the choreography. For Buenos Aires Herald ​​

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756 – 1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 - 5 December 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Mozart composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers. Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood in Salzburg. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position, always composing abundantly. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of Mozart's death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons. Mozart learned voraciously from others, and developed a brilliance and maturity of style that encompassed the light and graceful along with the dark and passionate. His influence on subsequent Western art music is profound. Beethoven wrote his own early compositions in the shadow of Mozart, of whom Joseph Haydn wrote that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years."



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