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Serguei Prokofiev

Saturday, January 21, 2017


My Classical Notes

January 16

Jan. 19-21, Gil Shaham Concert in LA

My Classical NotesFor my friends in Los Angeles, here is what promises to be an outstanding event: Venue: Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, California Dates: Thursday, 19 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Friday, 20 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Saturday, 21 January 2017 – 8:00 PM Ensemble: Los Angeles Philharmonic Conductor: Lionel Bringuier Artist: Gil Shaham (Violin) ABOUT THIS EVENT: Prokofiev wrote this soaring concerto in 1935, as he was returning to Russia after decades in the West. Hear this classic played by the contemporary master, violinist Gil Shaham. Bringing this program to a close is Stravinsky’s kaleidoscopic ballet music that tells of the comic-sad loves and jealousies of three Russian puppets: the trickster Petrushka (called “Punch” in England; “Pulcinella” in Italy), the ever-elegant Ballerina, and the dashing Moor — as well as the Magician/Charlatan who brings them to life at the Shrovetide Fair. Program: Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain Prokofiev: Concerto for Violin no 2 in G minor, Op. 63 Stravinsky: Pulcinella

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

January 15

Shock: Mariinsky opera soloist is found dead, at 38

The St Petersburg company is in shock at the sudden death of bass-baritone Edward Tsang, aged 38. Edward, a member of the company since 2008, was taken ill at rehearsal on Friday and sent to hospital. He was discharged on Friday night, went home and was found dead on Saturday. No cause of death has yet been given. Valery Gergiev called it ‘a terrible loss’. Tsang, who came from the small Komi Republic, toured with the Mariinsky to London, Paris and across Germany. He sang Leandro in the Teatro Real’s new production of Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges in Madrid and was also engaged at Aix-en-Provence and Luxembourg.






Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

January 7

We get to make music with the boss of DG

Anthea Kreston’s weekly Slipped Disc diary: I have been savouring my final moments of vacation before quartet resumes this week. Both daughters are home with us (our youngest had her 5th birthday this week) and I have spent much time preparing for the heavy musical workload coming my way in the early months of 2017. The luxury of a quartet schedule allows for time off between frenetic work cycles – a time to connect deeply with family and to have long, uninterrupted personal practice sessions. As Jason begins work, our house takes on a new order, with a nanny schedule and a house cleaner. We have connected with friends, and had a magical evening at a musical soirée – it felt almost historical in a way – a true European living room chamber music evening. The first snow has graced Berlin this week, and as Jason and I set off, early evening, to the home of a friend, the trees on Kurfürstendamm, still decked with millions of tiny white lights, glistened in the dark winter night. We passed the scene of the recent terrorist attack, boarded up, but bustling with people, a large memorial area covered with candles and flowers lines the sidewalk. Life continues quickly despite tragedy. We buzzed up to Clemens’s apartment – he is the host of the musical soirée. As the head of Deutsche Grammophon, Clemens is an unusual person . A passionate performer (clarinet), active concert-goer, and keen businessman, he also has a past resume which includes a law degree and work in the tech industry. When we met this summer, his easygoing and casual nature belied his high-powered musical career. Jason and I were among the first to arrive – Franziska Hölscher was already there, wrestling with the computer printer, which was furiously spitting out potential music for tonight’s concert (which was to begin in 90 minutes time). Jason and I plopped down our donations towards the reception food as other musicians arrived – Andreas Willwohl, Kristina Kerscher, Markus Groh, and Kian Soltani. We began to move the furniture, piano, set up stands and chairs, and lined up potential repertoire on the couch. It soon became apparent that we had no complete sets of music except a Schumann piano trio, so as people set tempi for that, someone ran to get more paper for the already overtaxed printer as it started to fill out the missing parts to Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence and the Schumann Piano Quintet. The Piazzola Seasons were found, and with the addition of a Prokofiev quintet, and Beethoven Gassenhauer, our program was complete. The doorbell began to ring, and the musicians all instinctively rotated into the rolls of greeters, dish washers, bread cutters and cheese-plate preparers, and fire-brigade chair retrievers from the cellar. As the tables began to fill with bottles of wine and plates of food, the musicians would find each other in the kitchen – someone had begun to rip the baguette and we passed it amongst ourselves, slicing Camembert and stealing grapes from the tray. And we were off – we gathered by the piano, in the living room with the wall of books reaching to the ceiling, audience piled on every possible piece of furniture, and the French doors open to the other rooms, and someone asked about the order. I quickly grabbed a magazine from the bedside table and jotted down a program on the back page. Before each piece, a counting of the tempo and checking repeats – and a lovely off-the-cuff introduction by one member or the other. As the audience stomped enthusiastically (their exuberance bolstered no doubt by their filled wine glasses), Clemens pulled out an encore – the slow movement of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. What a wonderful way to end the evening. As Jason and I left the party in the wee hours of the morning, the sidewalk dusted with fresh snow, and me with my new German driver’s license in hand, we look forward to 2017 and all the magic it will bring.

On An Overgrown Path

January 6

An inconvenient truth about the demise of music criticism

The evening closed with Arnold's own Fifth Symphony. Now as a composer and individual, Malcolm is known to dislike critics. I hope he will excuse this one, since I have always enjoyed, more with the taste buds than with the intellect, all his symphonies. They are to be enjoyed, and are not afraid of the big heart, which marks him out as a later successor to Elgar. Certainly, there was much material which could have enhanced the screen, but it was symphonic, it was worked out, it does understand instruments. It does love the poor doomed orchestra. In fact perhaps when a future generation wants some musical documentary evidence of our age, with its dross, its yearning, its violence, its sentimentality - but not particularly its intellectual and mathematical puzzles and despairs, it might well find something to its advantage in the open-hearted honesty of this Falstaffian figure.There is a popular meme usually misattributed to George Orwell that 'Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations'. Although apocryphal, the meme contains much truth. If we take it at face value the quote above from D. Richards' 1972 Musical Opinion review of Malcolm Arnold's Fifth Symphony*, published when the Boulez/Glock axis controlled classical music in London, is penetrating journalism. By the same token, much of today's music journalism is public relations by another name. It is currently fashionable to blame the demise of music criticism on philistine and parsimonious media owners. It is currently very unfashionable to blame the demise of professional music critics on the bread being taken from their mouths by the highly disruptive music industry funded business model devised by self-serving, click baiting scribes whose primary sources are press releases and social media gossip. * The bizarre programme New Philharmonia Orchestra programme in the Festival Hall which was concluded by Sir Malcolm's symphony also included Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture, Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, and Richarde Strauss' Burleske for piano orchestra. The portrait of Sir Malcolm Arnold is by June Mendoza. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Reluctantly also on Facebook and Twitter.

Classical music and opera by Classissima



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