Archive | June, 2014

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Riccardo Chailly’s Midsummer Nights Dream on Decca

Posted on 30 June 2014 by admin

Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Under Chailly, the Leipzigers have truly reclaimed a composer whose statue was once disgracefully removed – no need to guess by whom – from outside the Gewandhaus. All is joy and vitality in this significant miscellany. I’ve long wanted to hear what this team would make of the most irresistible overture/tone poem in the repertoire – and certainly the greatest large-scale work ever composed by a teenager – the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, the speedy airiness of its fairy music matched by a fast but never over-pressed scherzo.

You’ll never find the Wedding March sounding less hackneyed, either. A shame there wasn’t room for more of the incidental numbers – the miniature march and the numbers with singers would have been welcome – but the whole programme is pleasurable. What great ideas Mendelssohn had in the Ruy Blas Overture. The advertised original version isn’t vastly different from the one we usually hear until towards the end.

The speedy, scintillating approach to the concise, through-composed piano concertos, one shared in perfect teamwork by Saleem Ashkar, works well too: vivacity and the occasional touch on Mendelssohn’s part of some unusual scoring – chiefly violas and divided cellos in No. 1’s Andante – helps to obscure thematic ideas rather more commonplace than in the other works.

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Stéphane Denève announced as the Chief Conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic

Posted on 29 June 2014 by admin

Stéphane Denève, the former Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, current Chief Conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and (from September) Principal Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, has been announced as the Chief Conductor of the Brussels Philharmonic. He will assume his new role in Brussels in September 2015, succeeding Michel Tabachnik.

What is particularly interesting about this new appointment is that Denève will also become the inaugural Director of the new Centre for Future Orchestral Repertoire (Cffor), which aims to dramatically increase the amount of 21st-century orchestral music that is finding its way into the standard repertoire. The first stage of Cffor will be to create a database of orchestral music composed since 2000 in the hope that this might make it easier for conductors and orchestras to explore the rich and diverse music being composed today.

Denève’s intention is for the Brussels Philharmonic to be in the front line of orchestras actively seeking to expand the repertoire, saying, ‘I will programme at least one 21st-century piece in each of my concerts with the Brussels Philharmonic, but always in conjunction with past repertoire: we won’t become a specialist modern music ensemble. The new repertoire needs to engage with and confront what is already there. No other symphonic orchestra, to my knowledge, has committed to programming the best music of today in every concert of its Chief Conductor. The Brussels Philharmonic will set out the works that could become the repertoire of the 21st century, which I believe is a very exciting and important project. We want to identify the pieces of today that orchestras want to play and audiences want to come and hear.’

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Opera Now is giving you a digital copy to read online free

Posted on 28 June 2014 by admin

“What started out as a college crush has turned into one of opera’s great love stories, with the chemistry palpable both on and off the stage… Individually or together, they are bone fide stars.”

Read Opera Now’s in-depth, intimate cover story on the American sweethearts of the operatic stage, Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello.

The entire June issue of the magazine is yours for free online to celebrate the release of the captivating couple’s debut album, Love Duets.

To get your online edition of Opera Now, just register here and enter the following access code:

WARNER14

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Walton’s First Symphony and Violin Concerto on Chandos

Posted on 27 June 2014 by admin

Walton: Symphony No. 1 & Violin Concerto

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The Recording of the Month in the current (July) issue of Gramophone is a pairing of William Walton’s Violin Concerto and First Symphony featuring violinist Tasmin Little with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner. Gramophone’s critic Andrew Achenbach writes of this recording: ‘Edward Gardner presides over blisteringly eloquent and splendidly unbuttoned accounts of both these Walton masterworks, the First Symphony’s vehement opening Allegro assai in particular unfolding with a bite, purpose and snarling intensity to match any rival.’ The full review is now available to read in the Gramophone Reviews database.

This is Tasmin Little’s second recording of Walton’s Violin Concerto. The first, with conductor Andrew Litton and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for Decca was well-received, but, as Achenbach says in his review, ‘this Chandos successor is, I think, even more rewarding’.

The very first recording of the First Symphony was made by conductor Sir Hamilton Harty with the LSO in December 1935, shortly after the complete work’s premiere (now available on the Dutton label, reviewed by Gramophone here). But as Achenbach says in his review of the new recording: ‘Make no mistake, this exceptionally vital newcomer occupies a lofty position within this symphony’s distinguished discography’.

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