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Serguei Rachmaninoff

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


My Classical Notes

September 17

Rachmaninov Symphony #1

My Classical NotesThis is a new recording of the Rachmaninov Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 13, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting. Marking their latest collaboration with their conductor laureate Vladimir Ashkenazy, the Philharmonia return to disc with a live-performance of Rachmaninov’s volcanic Symphony No.1 in D Minor. Composed when Rachmaninov was just 22, the work has a famously tumultuous performance history. The work’s premiere in 1897 – conducted by Glazunov – was a disaster, generating vitriolic abuse from critics and reviewers of the day. Rachmaninov destroyed the score and refused the work’s publication during his lifetime; it was not heard again until its reconstruction from solo parts by Soviet Musicologists for a concert in 1945. This is the first release in a new series of Rachmaninov’s symphonies, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy in live performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Here is the Rachmaninov Symphony number 1:

My Classical Notes

September 9

Anna Netrebko: New Recording

This new recording titled “Romanza: Anna Netrebko” features a whole lot of music performed by Ms. Netrebko and her husband, Tenor Yusuf Eyvnzov. The selections are as follows: Bellini: Eccomi in lieta vesta…Oh! quante volte (from I Capuleti e I Montecchi) Dvorak: Mesícku na nebi hlubokém ‘Song to the Moon’ (from Rusalka) Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55 No. 4 Grieg: Peer Gynt: Solveig’s Song Kalman: Heia, in den Bergen from Die Csárdásfürstin Krutoy: Forse non fu Cantami Mi fa male Credo L’amour Russe Gioia Il nastro blu La fantasia Odna Lyubov Ricomincero Tango mio Pioggia d’aprile Se tu almeno fossi qui Seguire me Unico L’istante prima dell’amore Angels pass away Musica con noi Session Orchestra London, Ben Foster Lehár: Meine Lippen sie Kussen so heiss (from Giuditta) Mozart: La ci darem la mano (from Don Giovanni) Offenbach: Barcarolle (from Les Contes d’Hoffmann ) Puccini: O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi) Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Claudio Abbado Si, mi chiamano Mimi (from La Bohème) Un bel di vedremo (from Madama Butterfly) Vissi d’arte (from Tosca) Rachmaninov: How fair this spot, Op. 21 No. 7 Strauss, R: Wiegenlied, Op. 41 No. 1 Tchaikovsky: Octgo eto prezde ne znala ni toski ya (from Iolanta) Verdi: Follie! Follie! Delirio vano è questo…Sempre libera (from La traviata) Saimir Pirgu (tenor) Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Claudio Abbado Oh ben s’addice questo torbido cielo … Sempre all’alba ed alla sera (from Giovanna d’Arco) All performed by Anna Netrebko (soprano), and Yusif Eyvazov (tenor). Anna Netrebko and her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, released a new duet album of love songs, Romanza, on September 1, 2017. Eighteen original romantic love songs were written and composed specially for the couple by Russian producer Igor Krutoy. Romanza is not only Anna Netrebko’s first duet album with husband Yusif, but also her first foray out of the realm of traditional core repertoire. Producer Igor Krutoy wrote all 18 album tracks with Anna and Yusif in mind. Many years of working together closely and a one of a kind friendship that stems from his collaboration with Anna and Yusif allowed Igor to write love songs that not only perfectly match their voices, but also are an homage to love in general. Anna met her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, when they starred together in Manon Lescaut at the Rome Opera in March 2014. Since their wedding in December 2015, the couple has appeared in concert and on the opera stage together worldwide. She and Yusif open La Scala’s season on December 7, 2017 in Andrea Chénier; it will be her role debut as Maddalena. Here are Ms. Neterebko and her husband in an extended trailer from this recording:




Royal Opera House

September 1

Pick of the Proms: 5 BBC Proms you won’t want to miss

Semyon Bychkov at the BBC Proms © 2013 Chris Christodoulou Prom 9: Beethoven’s Fidelio Love and liberty triumph over political oppression in Beethoven’s only opera. Soprano Ricarda Merbeth stars as the daring Leonora who disguises herself as prison guard Fidelio in order to save her husband Florestan, sung by tenor Stuart Skelton. Part of the Revolutionary Music series at this year’s Proms, Fidelio is passionate and powerful. Listen to a clip of the performance on iPlayer Prom 49: Bach’s St John Passion Bach’s stirring setting of the Passion narrative is brought to the Proms by Bach expert John Butt and the Dunedin Consort in their Proms debut, alongside soloists including soprano Sophie Bevan . For the more daring members of the audience, this Prom offers aspiring singers the chance to join in with the chorale passages. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 59: Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito If you can’t wait until the start of The Royal Opera’s Autumn Season for a dose of Mozart (Die Zauberflöte opens on 12 September 2017) Prom 59 is a fantastic opportunity to experience a work which premiered in the same year. Set in Ancient Rome, La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus) is a sophisticated tale of political intrigue and dangerous passions played out to Mozart’s stunning score. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote leads a magnificent Glyndebourne cast, under Music Director Robin Ticciati in this semi-staged performance. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 61: Renée Fleming sings Strauss After a captivating performance in Richard Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House last Season, American soprano Renée Fleming returns to London, this time taking to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall. Joining Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra , Fleming sings a programme including the opulent music from the ending of Strauss’s Daphne, the memorable ‘transformation’ scene. As part of the Classical for Starters series, this Prom is the perfect introduction to the voice of one of the world’s most famous sopranos and the mesmerizing music of Strauss. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 63: Taneyev, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky Semyon Bychkov continues his Tchaikovsky Project season with this stunning Russian programme culminating with Tchaikovsky ’s epic Manfred Symphony. The passion and colour of this programmatic symphony, based on Byron’s poem of the same name, shows the narrative power of Tchaikovsky’s music. His three full-length ballet scores – The Nutcracker , Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty – remain favourites of classical music audiences the world over. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer What were your Proms 2017 highlights? Let us know in the comments below. The Royal Opera House and the BBC are partners.

Classical iconoclast

September 1

Semyon Bychkov Tchaikovsky Manfred, Taneyev Rachmaninov

In Prom 63, Semyon Bychkov  conducted Kiril Gerstein and the BBC Symphony  Orchestra in Taneyev, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky in an almost identical programme to the concert they did at the Barbican last October in their Tchaikovsky Project Series.  But Bychkov, Gerstein and the BBC SO are always worth hearing. It was also interesting to listen to Bychkov's Manfred Symphony op 58 again, in the space of a week, since Riccardo Chailly conducted the same symphony at the opening gala of the Lucerne Festival, paired with Mendelssohn's A Midsummers Night's Dream.Two different perspectives, two different approaches but both valid and both worthwhile.  Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra were astonishingly good: the magical transparency of Mendelssohn enhancing the High Romantic supernatural nature of Tchaikovsky's Manfred.  A truly illuminating, inspired  performance! Much as I  love the BBC SO, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra are altogether in a more spectacular league, the musicians hand picked from the finest orchestras in Europe, playing together for love. Always a special occasion; no comparisons really possible. Chailly's Prom  last week with the La Scala Philharmonic came nowhere near, partly because the programme (Brahms and Respighi) was less inspired.  So track down  Chailly's  Lucerne Mendelssohn and Manfred, which was filmed live for broadcast.  No disrespect to Bychkov, but Lucerne was exceptional.  Bychkov framed Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony op 58 with Sergei Taneyev's Oresteia op 6 (1889) placing the focus on Taneyev's connections to Tchaikovsky.  In a way, this diminishes Taneyev, for Oresteia isn't very Tchaikovskian.   It's a tone poem based on Greek mythology which surprisingly doesn't figure much in Russian repertoire, at least from the assumptions we now have about the style. A lovely violin melody weaves through the piece, connecting fast-flowing passages that suggest, perhaps the Furies, wild climaxes contrasted with a serene section , harps decorating strings.  Bychkov's reasons for pairing this with Manfred are much stronger.  Orestes is a doomed hero, who kills his mother urged by his sister, and is himself killed by a snake. Thus the cosmic struggle in Manfred, which Byron set in the high Alps. In Byron's time, the Alps symbolized danger, the vastness of nature dwarfing humankind. Schumann's Manfred is Romantic in the true, wild Germanic sense. Tchaikovsky, however. was even more a man of the theatre, so Bychkov's approach emphasized the panoramic, scenic aspects of the piece.   He created the backdrop to the drama vividly: generous, sweeping lines suggesting limitless horizons.   As the tempo quickened, the orchestra soared upward: searching lines contrasting well with the sudden crashing climax with which the first movement ends. Perhaps this is the moment when Manfred meets his mysterious half sister Astarte. What is the nature of their relationship (bearing in mind Byron's unnatural relationship with his own half sister)? And, why the mountains?  The second movement, marked vivace con spirito, describes a mountain spirit, one of the elementals who haunt Alpine lore. They are fairies, but also signify danger, their elusiveness defying human control.  Thus the high violin melody that flies above, and away, from the main orchestral foundation. The third movement describes the mountain folk, who carve out marginal lives in harsh conditions, yet seem happy as they dance, presumably in pure, open air festivals. They're tough folk and down to earth, while Manfred, though a hero, is rather more quixotic. Like Byron himself, maybe, a towering figure but one with dark complexes and possibly a death wish.  Tolling bells suggest danger. The music descends into a stranger mood, sounds crashing against each other as if the earth itself was imploding,"fire" pouring forth from the rapid rivulets of sound.  Manfred fights off the evil spirits who tempt him, but chooses to die on his own terms. What might Tchaikovsky have made of this? The finale was grand, the pace brisk, craggy peaks and descents sharply defined, dizzying figures suggesting turbulence. Not mountain breezes, but perhaps something more demonic.  The organ underlined the cosmological nature of Manfred's predicament.  Although the drama dissipates at the end of the symphony, textures are more refined, more esoteric, one feels that perhaps Manfred is entering a new frontier, beyond the ken of mankind. Hence details, like the horn calling the hero on, and the dizzying upwards rush towards a serene conclusion that might suggest spiritual sublimation. Chailly was better at evoking the demonic supernatural levels in the piece lurking behind the scenery, but Bychkov's account was heady stuff.In between Taneyev and Manfred, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto no 1 with Kiril Gerstein, a moment of relative sanity between the two doomed heroes at either end of this Prom. 



Serguei Rachmaninoff
(1873 – 1943)

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.



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