Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Pianist Lambert Orkis and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter have given recitals since 1998. After that amount of time, I would think that musicians may be able to anticipate each other’s sensitive nuances, which make music interpretations so great. As soon as the first few notes were played, it was totally clear that Ms. Mutter and Mr. Orkis are still world-class interpreters. I had seen them last in 2006 in a series of three concerts at Carnegie Hall, and 10 years later they are still phenomenal! Ms. Mutter can produce velvety sounds that are really pianissimo! And they both know really well how to let the other person shine through with the melody at the appropriate time. The program began with a contemporary work by Sebastian Currier called “Clockwork”. I liked this piece a lot. The three movements are connected by a theme titled “Lifeless”. The second selection was Mozart’s amazing Sonata in A-Major, K 526. This work was composed 4 years before Mozart died, and the slow second movement was astoundingly beautiful. Ottorino Respighi’s B-minor Sonata and Saint – Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso concluded the announced program. Three encores followed, and the evening eneded with a well-deserved standing ovation. There must have been 150 people waiting for the two tired artists to appear outside the hall later to sign CD’s and answer questions posed by the adoring public. Here are Lambert Orkis and Anne-Sophie Mutter performing the wonderful slow movement of a Mozart Sonata:
Understanding the ordinary: Enlightenment Not understanding the ordinary: Blindness creates evil. Understanding the ordinary: Mind opens. Mind opening leads to compassion, Compassion to nobility, Nobility to heavenliness, Heavenliness to TAOThere is definitely nothing ordinary about the keyboard music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, which forms an important but too often overlooked bridge between the high baroque of his father's circle and the emerging classicism of Haydn and Mozart. And there is nothing ordinary in the playing of the Croatian pianist Ana-Marija Markovina whose discerning interpretations on a 'modern' Bösendorfer are faithfully captured in Hänssler Classics' 26 CD anthology of C.P.E. Bach's complete works for solo piano. But in an age when the classical promotion machine practises its own nuanced version of 'if it bleeds it leads', I suspect that this admirably bleed-free release will be misguidedly judged ordinary. The TAO tells us* that understanding the ordinary opens the mind. And listening to Ana-Marija Markovina playing C.P.E. Bach also opens the mind. * Quotation is from Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo's purist translation of Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching. No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Royal Festival Hall, London Nathalie Stutzmann, conducting with great insight, dedicated the evening to victims of the Westminster attack. It is hard to imagine a finer tributeThis haunting London Philharmonic concert, part of the Southbank’s Belief and Beyond Belief series, took place “by an irony of fate”, as conductor Nathalie Stutzmann put it, addressing the audience days after the London terror attack, and was dedicated to its victims and their loved ones. Strauss’s Tod und Verklärung and Mozart’s Requiem, both confrontations with mortality, formed the programme, planned long in advance: it would be hard, however, to imagine a finer memorial. “May their souls find solace and appeasement in this offering,” Stutzmann added, visibly upset.As both a singer and a conductor, she is primarily associated with the 18th-century repertoire, but any concerns that Strauss’s depiction of an artist’s death might be out of her comfort zone were dispelled in a performance of great clarity and insight. Speeds were extreme and rhythms precise, which made the opening heartbeat syncopations almost clinically unnerving. The central crisis erupted with frightening power. The closing transfiguration, which can easily turn bombastic, was, for once, admirable in its restraint. Continue reading...
In tune with the zeitgeist, the London Philharmonic dedicated yesterday's performance of Mozart's Requiem to the four victims of Wednesday's terrible attack at Westminster. But the orchestra passed on the opportunity to dedicate the other work in their programme, Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, to the 200+ Iraqi civilians killed in the coalition airstrike on Mosul five days before the London atrocity - see photo above. Predictable but ironic: because the concert was a central event in the Southbank Centre's much-trumpeted Belief and Beyond Belief festival, which "looks at the broader questions of what it means to be human... in the 21st century". Photo via LA Times. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
St John’s Smith Square; Royal Opera House, London A rare performance of 11-year-old Mozart’s The First Commandment works a treat. And Ermonela Jaho triumphs in Madama ButterflyWhatever preconceptions you might have about an opera by an 11-year-old, even if the wonder child in question is Mozart, The First Commandment shatters them all. Written for Lent 1767 but far from pious and at times scurrilous, Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots – literally “the obligation of the first commandment” – meditates on a Christian’s imperative to “Love the Lord thy God”, merrily questioning the existence of the almighty at every turn. Mozart was in Salzburg at the time. Little wonder the suspicious archbishop saw fit, as the story goes, to lock the boy away to see if his compositional skills vanished without his father, Leopold, at his side to “help”. It was a wasted exercise, of course.The opera is a rarity but far from unknown. Classical Opera performed it a decade ago at the Barbican, and have recorded it in the original German. Now in its third year of working chronologically through Mozart’s oeuvre, the company mounted a new staging at St John’s Smith Square last week, conducted by Ian Page and directed by Thomas Guthrie. It should have run for two nights. The attacks in Westminster on Wednesday forced the second performance to be cancelled. Apart from the regret on every conceivable level – Smith Square is a few hundred yards from Parliament and had to be shut – it is a shame that the excellent young cast and musicians, learning this unfamiliar repertoire with such diligence, lost the chance to play it twice over. Continue reading...
This recording has two large advantages for me: The clarinet Quintet is one of my great favorites, and the performers are the fine group called Quatuor Mosaiques. These are amazing artists! We get to enjoy the following: Mozart: Clarinet Quintet K581 and the Kegelstatt Trio K498 Performed by Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet), with the Quatuor Mosaïques The Clarinet Trio in E flat major, K498 “Kegelstatt-Trio”, performed by Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet), Anita Mitterer (viola) and Patrick Cohen (hammerflügel) The Mosaïques Quartet trained with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus, cultivating a taste and skills for authenticity. Here, their mosaic stretches to the mellowness of the fortepiano and the basset clarinet, an instrument partly invented by Stadler. Wolfgang Meyer expresses the light and dark facets of Mozart’s close clarinet playing friend, both as soloist and as trusted interpreter. Here is the second movement from the Mozart Clarinet Qunitet:
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."
Great composers of classical music