Sunday, September 25, 2016
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: Two albums of Prokofiev concertos arrive in the same delivery, one piano, the other violin. Both are from pedigree artists, pedigree labels. Which one do I review? Here’s where you run into the problem of having too much music in your head. I cannot listen to the 4th and 5th Prokofiev concertos, or the 7th and 8th sonatas, without hearing Sviatoslav Richter as a parallel soundtrack, allowing others little room for manoeuvre. Likewise, the 3rd concerto which I heard Martha Argerich play with Riccardo Muti one Sunday afternoon more than 40 years ago with such effervescence that all else pales beside it. So forget the piano concertos…. Read on here. And here. And here.
I like to follow new artists as they emerge into the music scene. Ms. Pacini has excellent credentials and training, so let me tell you about her new recording which features the following music: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 ‘Waldstein’ Liszt: Consolation, S. 172 No. 1 in E major Consolation, S. 172 No. 2 in E major Ouvertüre zu R Wagners Tannhäuser S442 Réminiscences de “Don Juan” (after Mozart), S. 418 Liebestraum, S541 No. 3 (Nocturne in A flat major) Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No. 6 in D flat major All performed by Sophie Pacini (piano) Gramophone wrote the following: “Sophie Pacini is a protégée of Martha Argerich and it shows…There’s a similar air of in-the-moment rhapsodising and no fear of giving the performance a boot up the backside.” Born in Munich in 1991, Pacini began her studies at the age of ten at the Salzburg Mozarteum, where she was accepted two years later by the newly founded Institute for Highly Gifted Students. From 2007 she continued her studies in master classes given by Pavel Gililov, completing her diploma in 2011 with honors. In 2010 she met Martha Argerich, who invited her the following year to give a recital as part of the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano, and who has since become an important figure in the young pianist’s career. Here is Ms. Pacini in Liszt’s Liebestraum #3:
From Barenboim to Blomstedt, Reich to Rossini and Argerich to Alsop, our music writers pick their highlights from the 2016 proms. Do you agree? Tell us what yours were in the comments section For me, the best concert was the one given by Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, friends since childhood and two of the greatest musicians of our age. They were dazzling together for Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and in the Schubert four-hand duet as an encore, all followed by extracts from Tannhäuser, Götterdämmerung and Die Meistersinger that showed that Barenboim has no peers today as a Wagner interpreter. Continue reading...
The BBC have just released audience figures for this summer’s Proms, which end tonight. Average attendance for the main evening Proms in the Royal Albert Hall this year was 88% with 45 of 75 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall selling out. That’s not bad, but not good, either. Between 2009 and 2013, uptake was consistently above 90 percent, peaking at a record 95%. In 2014, a penny-pinch year after Wagner-Verdi-Britten extravagances, it fell back to 88% . The Proms director Roger Wright left shortly before the season began. Last year, under interim management, audiences rose marginally to 89%. Now, with David Pickard installed as boss, the uptake has settled again at 88%. In another setback, fewer first-timers bought tickets than in 2015. The heavily spun BBC press release follows its presenter-driven promo picture. Tonight the BBC Proms concludes with the world famous Last Night of the Proms led by conductor Sakari Oramo and starring Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez. Once again more than 300,000 people attended the Proms demonstrating that classical music is in rude health. The fantastically rich display of world class music making this summer has included some standout moments from Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich performing Schubert’s Rondo in A major together as an encore; Quincy Jones conducting the finale of a Prom celebrating his life and work, and the Ten Pieces II Proms which brought the innovative BBC project bringing classical music to school children to life. From Bernard Haitink marking his 50th anniversary conducting at the Proms by leading Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla making her Proms debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Christian Thielemann bringing a trio of world class German orchestras in the final week, the orchestral offering has been truly outstanding. For the first time in 2016 an innovative new series Proms At… went to four new corners of London: the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe in Southwark, The Chapel, Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the Roundhouse in Camden and the Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham – the first Prom to take place in a car park! Average attendance for the main evening Proms in the Royal Albert Hall this year was 88% with 45 of 75 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall selling out. More than 35,500 people bought tickets for the first time. Over 10,000 under 18s attended concerts across the season. A record 57,000 tickets sold in the first hour of booking. David Pickard, Director, BBC Proms 2016, says: “It has been a thrill to be part of this extraordinary festival for the first time and I’m delighted that the 2016 BBC Proms has once again seen audiences embracing the huge breadth of music on offer throughout the eight weeks of the festival, from the Royal Albert Hall to a car park in Peckham. I am delighted that thanks to the ongoing commitment of the BBC, the Proms remains true to Sir Henry Wood’s founding vision to bring the best music to the largest possible audiences”
You may remember that last year I reviewed a film called "La calle de los pianistas" ("The pianists´ street") about the particular relationship of a family of pianists who live in Brussels next door to Martha Argerich´s house. It centered on the dialogues of a mother, Karin Lechner, and her daughter, Natasha Binder, plus interventions of the teenager´s uncle, Sergio Tiempo, and of Argerich. All of them are inhabited by music and the piano, and have been so since they were almost babies. Let me introduce some personal notes, for their past mingled with mine in two periods. This is the dynasty founded by Antonio De Raco, one of our best pianists, and Elizabeth Westerkamp, pianist and teacher and still alive at 102. They had two children and one of them was Lyl De Raco, a talented pianist who oriented her life to teaching of a special kind: children, including her own. When she was eighteen she had a friendship with my sister and played at our Pleyel. Afterwards she married Jorge Lechner, an admirable pianist who was an important repetiteur at the Colón, and their daughter was Karin. Antonio De Raco then lived at the same Palermo building of my mother, and Karin was about seven when she became inseparable with my niece, who lived with my mother; forty years later they are still close friends. Lechner had an untimely death, and Lyl remarried, with the diplomat Martín Tiempo (son of the writer César Tiempo). He was posted to Venezuela, and it was there that Sergio Tiempo was born. And of course, he too was a pianist. And then Karin grew and married; Natasha Binder was born and followed the same road as her mother, grandmother and uncle. And Lyl took Natasha as a special pupil. Karin and Sergio, either separately or together, made frequent tours to BA. And then came the surprise: Natasha Binder, nine years old, inaugurated seven seasons ago the BA Phil´s subscription series with Grieg´s Concerto, amazing the audience. Now she is sixteen and her career is launched. Enrique Arturo Diemecke, in his twelfth year as Principal Conductor of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, had the idea of giving all five Beethoven piano concerti with different pianists. Two veterans played Nº 1 (Philippe Entremont) and Nº4 (Bruno Gelber). And in the Colón concert of August 25 we heard Nº2 with Binder, Nº3 with Tiempo and Nº5 with Lechner. For some reason the half-brothers interchanged concerti, for Sergio was supposed to play Nº5 and Karin Nº3 ; Diemecke announced it. This concert was an interesting experience, for it allowed the public to appreciate three Beethovenian compositional styles, but also because three players of formidable technical ability and of the same family gave very diverse readings. As the aforementioned film makes clear, there´s great love between mother and daughter, but Natasha has strong temperament and in the final analysis, although she hears the wise counsel of Lyl and Karin, she plays what she feels. By the way, Nº 2 is a favorite of Argerich and she played it last year with Barenboim. Contrary to what many say, it has little influence of Mozart and is already unmistakeably Beethoven, although it was written when he was in his late teens (the big cadenza was certainly added much later; it is in the dramatic style of the "Pathetic Sonata"). Natasha was firmly in charge fron the very beginning, with clean strong playing, perhaps too assertive but always musical. She managed the cadenza with bravura. The slow movement was sensitive, with delicacy of touch. But I differ with her very fast tempo for the final Rondo, marked Molto Allegro, not Presto as she played it. With so much speed the music lacks air and the orchestra has a hard time. Sergio Tiempo has immense technical ease and shines with authors like Liszt, Ravel or Prokofiev, but his very modern and idiosyncratic ways go against the grain of Beethoven´s requirements. Yes, Nº3 is dramatic and powerful, but not willful, and that´s what we heard: a constant adding of extemporaneous accents, rushing, disregarding the score. He calmed down in the slow movement, where he showed his fine toucher. It was an oasis before the final Rondo; after leaving no space between second and third movements (ugly harmonic clash), a headlong run, dazzling but empty. It remained for Karin to put things right and she did, in a beautifully balanced and played Nº5 ("Emperor"), scrupulously faithful to the score and immaculate. She even gave a perfect reading of the strange galloping rhythm of the final Rondo. In fact, her Fifth has my vote as the best performance of the whole cycle. Diemecke adapted himself to the contrasting styles of the performers and conducted solidly the extensive orchestral introductions, notwithstanding some poor solo playing (e.g., the bassoon). It is a curious thing that Karin and Sergio have very different styles playing separately, but are completely unanimous when they give two-piano programmes. Both look much younger and have a playful disposition. It was a nice idea to give us as an encore, along with Natasha, four-hand Ravel: "Les entretiens de la belle et la bête" ("The conversations of beauty and beast") from "Ma Mère l´Oye" ("Mother Goose"), displacing each other from the stool in a funny way, for all three played in turns, and beautifully. For Buenos Aires Herald
Royal Albert Hall, London Marin Alsop led the São Paulo Symphony in bright, idiomatic performances of the Brazilians Nobre and Villa-Lobos, but there were longueurs elsewhereMarin Alsop has raised the standards and profile of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra to new levels in recent years, but this Prom, midway through a short European tour, sometimes felt like a date too far in a crowded schedule, which also included a late-night Prom of Brazilian popular music.Alsop’s energy on the podium is unflagging and her driving performance of the Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre’s crisply rhythmic Kabbalah was a promisingly idiomatic start to the evening. But with both Alsop and the soloist Gabriela Montero making unduly heavy weather of the Grieg piano concerto, things sagged. Montero’s tendency to slow the phrasing, particularly obvious in the opening movement, was the chief culprit, but it added up to a performance that never really took wing. Anyone who heard Martha Argerich re-energise another warhorse concerto, Liszt’s First, in the same hall last week could hardly fail to notice the contrast. Montero’s encore, a witty improvisation on Land of Hope and Glory, had the panache that her playing of the concerto had lacked. Continue reading...