Saturday, October 22, 2016
When it comes to expressing emotion, Cellist Gautier Capucon has no equal. Now he is out with a new recording: Beethoven: Cello Sonatas and Variations Beethoven: Cello Sonatas Nos. 1-5 (complete) Variations (12) on “See the conquering hero comes” for Cello and Piano, WoO 45 Variations (7) on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen”, for Cello and Piano, WoO 46 Variations (12) on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” for Cello and Piano, Op. 66 All performed by Gautier Capuçon (cello) and Frank Braley (piano) Following after last year’s live recording of the Shostakovich cello concertos, this album sees Gautier return to the studio with his friend and recital partner of many years, Frank Braley, in a program of Beethoven’s Sonatas for Cello and Piano. In addition the album includes Beethoven’s wonderful variations on three different themes – two on arias from Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte, and the other from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus. Here is Mr. Capucon in Beethoven’s Cello Sonata number 2:
In 1979 Simon Callow was offered the dream role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. As the play returns to the National, he recalls his early doubts and backstage battles The first I heard about Amadeus was a characteristically vivid telephone call from the legendarily foul-mouthed director John Dexter (at that time head of productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York). “Callow? What d’you know about Mozart?” “Well, er, I …” “You’d better find out, hadn’t you, because you’re about to fucking well play Mozart in Peter fucking Shaffer’s new play, aren’t you?” An hour later it was in my hands, in my bedsit in Hampstead.I read the play with some surprise. I was not taken aback by the story of Mozart’s alleged poisoning at the hands of Antonio Salieri (which I knew from Rimsky-Korsakov’s operatic setting of Pushkin’s play on the same theme), nor by the scatological language; what amazed me was what I took to be the crudeness of the dramaturgy. Mozart appeared to be defined by his giggle; the emperor Joseph II – the most powerful monarch of the second half of the 18th century – simply repeated his catchphrase (“Well, there it is!”); and Mozart’s wife, Constanze, used words such as “delish”. Continue reading...
Europe’s musical heart nurtured Beethoven, Schubert and the Strausses, but its second school changed music forever, and today, innovation sits alongside traditionalismI lazily plumped for Vienna as the latest stopping-off point on our tour of musical cities, thinking the sheer multiplicity of classical composers who have lived and worked there would make it easy. In fact, of course, it makes choosing which music to focus on very difficult. As the centre of Europe’s musical life for more two centuries, thanks to its status of capital of the Habsburg empire, many of the greats – notably Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven – gravitated to Vienna, and Schubert was born in the city.The trusty @abkquan suggests choosing “pieces that describe the city and evoke its atmosphere rather than great pieces written by Viennese composers”. He offers the nature-loving Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, a work we take for granted but which, if you listen to it afresh, is little short of miraculous. Continue reading...
Isabelle Faust/Il Giardino Armonico/Antonini (Harmonia Mundi)Mozart was 19 when he wrote his violin concertos, a cocky teenage genius. The music is astoundingly elegant, but it also prances and preens, and I had wondered what Isabelle Faust – most refined and intellectually scrutinising of today’s violinists – would do with all that cheek and bravado. Turns out she makes it fly where it counts, and always on her own terms. This is the kind of recording whose booklet notes list the instrument pedegree of every single member of Il Giardino Armonico, which might seem precious if the ensemble playing wasn’t so fresh and buoyant, and if it didn’t sound like every player was an alert and integral part of the whole. Giovanni Antonini conducts, but the music seems to be led from everywhere. Meanwhile, Faust’s touch is light, finespun, pristine – often her bow hardly glosses the strings, but there’s proper robustness to balance in the chunky, sparky cadenzas. Continue reading...
‘Suddenly you realize how much deeper Mozart goes in proving who we are,’ says Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ’s third and final collaboration with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte . Jan Philipp Gloger ’s new production was broadcast live cinemas across the world on 17 October 2016. In two films, shown before the performance and during the interval, the cast and creative teams discuss the complex (yet comedic) plot, which follows four young lovers on a journey through their emotions. ‘The opera deals with two young men making a bet with their friend that their women would never be unfaithful,’ reveals German director Gloger. The two men, Guglielmo and Ferrando, performed by Italian baritone Alessio Arduini and German tenor Daniel Behle , soon discover that the art of romance is more complex than they first thought when they are introduced to each other’s lovers, Fiordiligi performed by American soprano Corinne Winters and Dorabella, sung by American mezzo-soprano Angela Brower . ‘He thinks he loves Fiordiligi,’ reveals Arduini, ‘but then when he sees Dorabella, he thinks, "Okay, maybe I can also love Dorabella, why not!"’ Gloger sets his new production in a theatre, adding to the opera’s exploration of performance and pretense in love. ‘If you have to perform an opera about truths and false, you have to clearly mark when they are lying and when are they true,’ he notes of the modern staging. The cast explain how underneath the playfulness and humour, Mozart and Da Ponte created a work that powerfully expresses both the calamity and elation that comes with discovering love. ‘You’ll never stop finding things’, smiles American soprano Winters. ‘It’s brilliant!’ Bychkov says it is the richness of Mozart’s music that grounds the opera. ‘The music is so incredibly expressive that somehow you feel what they are going through. That is the genius of Mozart.’ In this second film, set designer Ben Baur reveals how he created the theatre staging for the opera – by using props from past productions found at the Royal Opera House. Bauer even designed a replica of The Crush Room – the space that sits directly behind the auditorium, enlisting The Props Department to mirror exact details, such as the lighting fixtures, paintings and skirting boards. Baur, who studied at Berlin School of Art and Design , describes how he brought Gloger’s understanding of love into the fabric of his staging: ‘He wanted different images, lots of pictures of love, about love, with love, because Jan Phillip strongly feels love is not just a matter of something that comes from you as a person, but also a matter of your surroundings and situation,’ Baur explains. The set presents a series of surprises, mirroring the twists and turns in the opera’s narrative, including a replica of a theatre’s dressing rooms that comes up through the stage as it has been lifted out from the basement. Così fan tutte runs until 19 October 2016. Tickets are still available . The production was broadcast to cinemas around the world on 17 October 2016. If you missed it, find your nearest encore cinema screenings here .
Opening night of this season at the 92Y featured its two rather contrasting highlights in the first half of the evening: George Tsontakis’ New York premiere of O MIKROS, O MEGAS, and Mozart’s Concerto No.23 in A major with pianist extraordinaire, MacArthur Fellow Jeremy Denk, performing as soloist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO). Photos: Ilona Oltuski In its 58th season, the SPCO certainly may be regarded as a very remarkable chamber ensemble of its kind, consisting of a virtuoso cast of musicians of vast versatility primarily performing without a conductor. The ensemble is devoted to a broad spectrum of repertoire, possessing a dynamic and much-lauded interest in innovative contemporary works (to date, the SPCO has commissioned 146 new works). This affinity shone in Tsontakis’ adventurous four-part composition, which the composer himself described as: “…a reflection on recent world circumstances including the tumbling world, loss of friends and [his] own personal advancement into the foothills of an ageless maturity.” The American-born Greek composer is currently composer-in-residence at the Bard Conservatory and Aspen Music Festival, and has formerly been affiliated with Oxford Philomusica, Albany Symphony and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The virulent showcased piece, the title of which while announced personally by Tsontakis sounded vaguely more like an antioxidant remedy than a contemporary composition, offered a vibrant sonic spectrum of all strings within a life-affirming cosmic cycle. The title is in fact loosely inspired by the opening lines of Axion Esti, by contemporary Greek poet Odysseus Elytis: “Attos O Kosmos, O Mikros, O Megas,” (This tiny world, this enormous world). Says Tsontakis: “It is to me that within the quietest and most inwardly moments of the work, the world seems to fully impose its power and enormity. At the same time, the figurative ‘flip-side’ of my work’s title could well be ‘This tiny fleeting life, this huge eternal life…’ There are faster movements among the four and imploding episodes, but the heart and largeness of the work are made manifest in the second and last. All movements end quietly, and the last with my most preferred ending, an [open ended] ‘dot dot dot’ figure…” SPCO has previously collaborated with the composer on three of his works’ world premieres, earning a 2005 international Grawemeyer Award and Grammy nomination. It is this kind of artistic continuum – a special mark of the ensemble and fundamental criteria of its creative outlook, as well as a pursuit of mutual growth with its associated artists – that has inspired many musicians, and has in turn had a significant impact on the ensemble’s advancement. Artistic partners of the ensemble throughout the years have included renowned soloists like Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Christian Zacharias, Joshua Bell and Dawn Upshaw. Among the current flock of collaborating artistic partners are Martin Fröst, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Thomas Zehetmayer and Jeremy Denk, who, in a most sparkling interaction brought out the full range of Mozart’s concerto to the stage – very different from Tsontakis’ piece, yet equal in energy and power. The intense and gratifying interface between the pianist and the ensemble’s own Alexander Fiterstein is particularly worthy of note; Denk often leaned in sideways to listen closely to the essential clarinet part. The musicians know each other well. Since 2014 the pianist partners with SPCO in collaborative performances. Named one of the best of 2012 by The New Yorker, his debut recording for Nonesuch paired old and new masterworks; Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.32, Op.111, with Gyŏrgy Ligeti’s Études. This juxta-positioning tends to not only highlight the immense differences between two worlds, but brings out many new sounding idioms in the traditional pieces, while giving gravity to the new. It seem to lend the listener a different perspective and outlook, leading to a deeper understanding of both – a comparative listening course. As was felt in the evening’s performance, there were connecting elements but also keen differences, sharpening the ear and mind. What comes before matters, setting up a different mood for what is to follow; programming matters. And if what follows is as lively and refined as it was here, that also impacts how one feels about what had come before – making this a complete experience. Touring nationally and internationally, SPCO has recently fortified its local presence with its own Ordway Concert Hall, but the orchestra’s dedication to community outreach, evidenced by its educational and family-oriented programming and notably affordable ticket subscriptions, has also motivated the organization to program accessible concerts in venues throughout the various neighborhoods of the Twin cities’ metropolitan area. Rather than investing in a grandiose orchestral format requiring highly-funded conductor posts, under the leadership of Managing Director and President Jon Limbacher, SPCO invests into its instrumental performers and nourishes wider audiences, “expanding accessibility even further by inviting children and students to attend unlimited SPCO concerts for free.” This, of course, is an approach shared by the 92Y with its many benefits and special offers like the “Majors for Minors” program, which allows for kids and teens aged 8-18 to attend concerts for free with only one adult ticket purchase. It has been five years since SPCO performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the orchestra was welcomed to the 92Y enthusiastically by a sold out hall; only few audience members left after intermission before the Schubert Symphony, No.2 in B-flat major, which while proficiently performed, did not live up fully to the elated exhilaration of the evening’s first half.
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