Thursday, January 19, 2017
Pianist Lise de la Salle is one of my favorite pianists, and I do not listen to her play nearly enough. However…. I just came across a new recording by her that I would like to share with you: Rachmaninov: Piano Trios Rachmaninov: Trio élégiaque No. 1 in G minor, Op. post. Trio élégiaque No. 2 in D minor, Op. 9 Performed by Lise de la Salle (piano), Bartlomiej Niziol (violin), and Claudius Herrmann (cello) It was in devastation at the sudden death of his champion, idol and close friend Tchaikovsky that Sergei Rachmaninov wrote his Trio élégiaque No. 2 (op. 9) for piano, violin and cello in 1893. The work still clearly shows the young composer’s early artistic influences, while also featuring many of the key elements of his later masterly creations. As artist-in-residence with the Philharmonia Zurich, French pianist Lise de la Salle has already performed and recorded works by Rachmaninov for piano and orchestra, the latter on Philharmonia Records in 2015. She now follows this up with a studio recording of his Trio élégiaque No. 2 together with its smaller brother, Trio élégiaque No. 1. De la Salle interprets these rarely-recorded chamber music pieces together with Bartlomiej Niziol, first concertmaster and Claudius Herrmann, solo cellist of the Philharmonia Zurich. Here is Ms. de la Salle, playing the Prelude Op. 23 number 7 by Rachmaninov:
Symphony Hall, Birmingham Under John Wilson’s precise control, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain brought its massive forces to bear on Szymanowski and RachmaninovOne thing that concerts by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain unfailingly deliver is a big sound. More than 150 young instrumentalists were assembled on stage for the orchestra’s latest programme, which was conducted by John Wilson, and as usual they offered a thrilling display of teenage talent. But, while it’s easy to understand why NYOGB is always keen to give as many as possible of the musicians it auditions the chance to appear in its concerts, whether such massive forces suit everything the orchestra plays is another matter.In some works such a weight of focused sound can be genuinely exciting. But neither Szymanowski’s Fourth Symphony, his Symphonie Concertante for piano and orchestra, nor Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony really needs the seven-fold woodwind that lined up for it here. Continue reading...
Mari Kodama and Momo Kodama (piano) (Pentatone)The Japanese sisters Mari and Momo Kodama grew up hearing The Nutcracker. That deep familiarity gives their performance of the suite here, transcribed for two pianos by Arensky (1861-1906), particular sparkle and style. The Sugar Plum Fairy sounds as delicate on piano as for the celesta or the original orchestration, and the delicious Pas de deux loses nothing in translation. Rachmaninov’s version of Sleeping Beauty, made when he was still in his teens at Tchaikovsky’s request, sounds slightly smudgy in comparison, in need of more edge. The short suite from Swan Lake (arr. Langer) works well, as does Debussy’s for the same ballet – fascinatingly, still retaining Debussy’s distinctive voice. An enjoyable way to encounter these scores. Continue reading...
At last, green shoots of Spring emerging from the gloom. The Barbican Spring schedule offers plenty if hope First off from 13-15 January, Simon Rattle conducts György Ligeti Le Grand Macabre, with the LSO and a strong cast that headed by Peter Hoare as Piet the Pot. I love Ligeti's quirky music and enjoyed then ENO production by Alex Ollé and Las furas del Baus back in 2009 Read more here That was the one with the giant woman whose body "was" the stage. Le Grand Macabre is as frustrating as it is inventive, so staging it takes some doing But I'm not sure what Peter Sellars will do to it No doubt it attracts the mega trendy crowd as it's selling fast though very expensive. On 19/1, however, and just as high profile, Rattle is conducting Mahler Symphony no 6 together with the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Remembering 'in memoriam Evan Scofield. This is a keynote concert, which will also be streamed on the LSO website, a wonderful development, since it brings the orchestra to the world Another Britisn music world premiere the next day, 201, Philip Cashian's The Book of Ingenious Devices, conducted by Oliver Knussen, together with Strauss Macbeth and Elgar Falstaff An intriguing programme in true Ollie style - will Cashian's piece have Shakespearean connections ? Huw Watkins is the soloist so presumably it's a piano concerto of some sort A big threme this season is "Russian Revolutionaries", so plenty of Shostakovich, but more unusually, Galina Ustvolskaya's Symphony no 2 with the Melos Ensemble at LSO St Luke's on Jan 21st That weekend, a Philip Glass Total Immersion with better choices than some recent Total Immersions. All ears and eyes alert for Jonas Kaufmann's four day residency at the Barbican at the beginning of February That's been sold out for months, so hopefully, he'll be well enough Wagner, Strauss (Vier letzte Lieder, nach !) he's also doing an "in conversation" Sakari Oramo with the BBCSO and Antonio Pappano with the LSO, both interesting non standard programmes, and Daniel Harding weithn the LSO on 15/1 with Rachmaninov Symphony no 2 and another Mark-Anthony Turnage premiere, Håkan with dedicatee Håkan Hrdenberger as soloist. Yet another British composer premiere, Nicola LeFanu's The Crimson Bird for soprano (Rachel Nicholls) and the LSO, conducted by Ilan Volkov on 17/2 and a Detlev Glanert premiere on 3/3 with Oramo and the BBC SO. An extended Nash Ensemble residency at LSO St Lukes (lots of RVW chamber music) and and Andreas Scholl on 14/3 Then two concerts with Fabio Luisi on 16th and 19th March I'm opting for the second, with Brahms German Requiem François-Xavier Roth starts another After Romanticism series on 30/3 with the LSO - Debussy Jeux, Bartok Piano Concerto no 3 and Mahler Symphony no 1. Then a 3 concert series with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert - John Adams, Mahler, and the European premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Cello Concerto. Janine Jansen, Murray Perahia and Mariss Jansens with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and a keynote Dvořák Requiem on 13/4 with Jiří Bělohlávek, the BBC SO, the BBC Symphony Chorus, Brindley Sherratt, Ricahrd Samek, Jennifer Johnston and Katerina Kněžíková Then Easter is upon us !
From its origins as a coarse dance instrument to a symbol of courage and defiance, the cello has inspired so many of the west’s greatest composers and performers“Why write for a violin when there is the cello?” asked Rachmaninov. There is something peculiarly lovable about the cello, with its tenor radiance, narrow waist, gleaming shoulders and back of flaming maple: to play it you must embrace it, and its resonating chamber rests upon your heart. Rostropovich captured that warm physical connection when he recalled that as a tired boy he would lie the cello on its side and “squeeze my backside into the carved dip near the f-holes”. Dvořák said that its upper register “squeaks and the lower growls”, but for Ernest Bloch it was a voice “vaster and deeper than any spoken language”.For Anthony Trollope it was “the saddest of instruments”; indeed, it has acquired the role of chief mourner, a long way from its beginnings as a dance-band bass. It was a cellist who performed at the memorial for the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, and another, Yo-Yo Ma, who commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with solo Bach. Think of Elgar’s famous concerto, or Fauré’s funereal Élégie: the instrument is now synonymous with sorrowful eloquence. Continue reading...
Yesterday I heard pianist Mikhail Pletnev play the Rhapsody on A theme by Paganini. This is such a well-known piece, yet it always grabs my attention. Other selections are combined on the same recording to give us the following: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1 Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 Performed by Mikhail Pletnev (piano), with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Libor Pešek conducting. Pletnev has amazing virtuosity and tonal sensitivity. This seems to push the music close to an interpretative meltdown. And that’s why I like it! Here is Mr. Pletnev performing the Rhapsody with the Berlin Philharmonic:
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1 April 1873 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.
Great composers of classical music