Saturday, December 3, 2016
The Swiss Radio and Television Corporation has withdrawn financial support from the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana, leading to its almost certain closure next year. The broadcaster contributes around two million Swiss francs to the orchestra’s eight million budget. The musicians have received notice that their jobs are to be abolished. There has been no prior public discussion. The decision was unexpected. Founded in Lugano in 1935, the OSI won a reputation far beyond the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Its present chief conductor is Markus Poscher. Regular guests, at home and on international tours, include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mikhail Pletnev and Marc Andreae. The orchestra has been a fixture in Lugano’s Martha Argerich Festival, which has also been discontinued. This is a bleak day for Swiss music, and an ominous one for radio orchestras across Europe.
"Argerich’s is a story about someone with superhuman gifts trying to find a way to live a normal life. Many musicians live a life of monkish order, focusing on the discipline of music. Argerich, by contrast, has seemed to go out of her way to be disorganized. She’s so given to canceling performances, sometimes at the last minute, that she long ago stopped signing contracts: Presenters who want her have to take the risk. And her personal life has been turbulent. The three daughters by three men are one illustration of a life filled with relationships; over and over, she has established veritable communes of young musicians and non-musicians who have wandered into her large, chaotic houses."
In a rare interview with Corriere della Sera , she says she tried to betray the piano three times, with marriages to three different men. She had three daughters. But in the end, the piano demanded total love. Quanto è difficile essere una leggenda del piano? «Il pianoforte è un amante esigente, ti vuole solo per sé. Ho provato a tradirlo, mi sono sposata tre volte, ho avuto tre figlie. Ma alla fine l’amore totale è lui. A cui sacrifichi gli affetti, anche i più cari. Non so se sono stata una buona madre, potrei tentare di migliorarmi come nonna. Wow.
It is eighteen years since the Croatian pianist made his last recording for Deutsche Grammophon. Apparently, they had a difference of opinion. Pogorelich, a my-way man, was prepared to wait. Today he released a Beethoven recording on the digital channel Idagio. Here’s their take on it: Berlin, October 31, 2016 – The legendary pianist Ivo Pogorelich has just released his first recording since 1998, including Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas No. 22 in F Major Op. 54 and No. 24 in F-sharp major Op. 78. As announced by the Berlin-based classical music platform Idagio, the recording will be available from November 2nd 2016 exclusively on idag.io/pogorelich and on the Idagio iOS App. This release marks out Pogorelich as the first classical star to make a recording available exclusively in digital form. According to pianist Ivo Pogorelich, “In order to reach younger generations, we need to distribute art through the platforms that they use. Idagio offers me as an artist the opportunity to make my recordings available worldwide in a fraction of a second. I find it alarming that young people are constantly staring at their smartphones and speaking through headsets; however, they are also developing excellent instincts in the virtual world and following their intuition. They are an unbiased and attentive audience with great potential for classical music.” Idagio founder, Till Janczukowicz, commented: “Idagio is proud to welcome one of the world’s most significant soloists to its community of partners, which already includes orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. As a purely classical platform, our aim is to combine high quality and human curation with technology, thereby helping musicians, promoters and labels to be better heard in the digital space.” Ivo Pogorelich’s unique career began almost overnight in 1980 when he was not admitted to compete in the finals of the Warsaw Chopin Competition. The pianist Martha Argerich angrily withdrew from the jury with the words “he is a genius”. Since then, Pogorelich’s interpretations have set worldwide standards. The classical music streaming platform Idagio was launched in 2015 at the Salzburg Festival and offers access to a constantly growing catalogue of high-quality recordings and tens of thousands of hours of music. Idagio is currently available in every country worldwide except for the USA. Through specially developed classical music search functions and curated playlists, as well as an easy-to-use interface, classical music can be enjoyed by aficionados and beginners alike. About Idagio: The classical music platform Idagio was launched in 2015 and offers access to a constantly growing catalogue of high-quality recordings and tens of thousands of hours of music. The company is managed by Till Janczukowicz (founder) and Christoph Lange (co-founder). The two combine years of experience in artist management, production and the development of exclusive concert series, together with an expert knowledge of the startup scene in regards to music streaming services. With a team of 18, they are programming and creating “the new way to listen to classical music” in the European capital of classical music and startups, Berlin. IDAGIO is currently available in every country worldwide except for the USA. For additional information: www.idagio.com
Kent Nagano is one of the most complete conductors and some years ago vividly impressed the Mozarteum audiences when he came with the Montreal Symphony. Now he was back with the Hamburg Philharmonic at the Colón with two programmes focussed on German/Austrian Postromantics and they became a major event of the season. Nagano has had a great European career which in principle one wouldn´t expect from a Californian of Japanese ascendance, but he explains that he was trained by a German teacher who imbued him with the very essence of style in the greatest symphonic repertoire. In his DNA there was an innate musicality and it was nurtured by an intelligent guide. A brief résumé. He has held main posts at Lyon Opera (a very innovative tenure), the Hallé Orchestra, Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Symphonie Berlin, the Bavarian Opera (Munich). And since September 2015 he is Musical Director of the Hamburg State Opera, whose Philharmonic Orchestra gives two hundred performances of opera and ballet plus thirty symphonic and chamber concerts, a tremendous amount of work. I recall that this orchestra came here decades ago led by Aldo Ceccato and for the Mozarteum: a solid ensemble, though not as important as it was on this year´s visit. They trace their origins to as far back as 1828, and during the Twentieth Century they had illustrious conductors: Muck, E.Jochum, Keilberth, Sawallisch and G.Albrecht. Then Ceccato, and afterwards Metzmacher and for ten years before Nagano, Simone Young, the outstanding Australian lady conductress. As it came in this tour they numbered 96 players, big enough for Strauss. They really have 130 players because their enormous yearly task necessitates some rotation of players. And with them came two admirable artists: cellist Gautier Capuçon, who with his violinist brother Renaud played a memorable Brahms Double Concerto here in one of the Argerich Festivals; and Japanese mezzosoprano Mihoko Fujimura, unknown here but very appreciated in Germany, particularly in Wagner. Richard Strauss´ "Don Quixote" (1897) demonstrates his inexhaustible orchestral imagination, who had only one possible match in the late Nineteenth Century: Gustav Mahler. "Don Quixote" has a subtitle, "Fantastic variations on a chivalric subject". The cello is the Don and the viola is Sancho. Between the Introduction and the Finale there are ten variations, some of them with astounding orchestral effects (the sheep sound like advanced atonalism, and flying is cunningly imitated). But it is also a warm portrait of character. It needs a crack orchestra and an inspired cellist: it had both this time. True, Capuçon was somewhat arbitrary as to note values, but his interpretation was expressive and convincing, with beautiful timbre and fine technique. Nagano and the orchestra were stalwart throughout, with perfectly chosen tempi and immaculate playing of the very difficult music, as well as intensity and sustained concentration. Naomi Seiler (viola) and Konradin Seitzer, the concertino of imposing presence and virtuoso quality, made fine contributions. Brahms´ Symphony Nº 1 is probably the best First in history; to say that what we heard was outstanding in the myriad versions we have heard through several decades is no exaggeration. The composer was born in Hamburg and was homaged by the players fully and excitingly. The encores were the subtle Entr´acte from Schubert´s "Rosamunde", lovingly done, and curiously with no hiatus, a fascinating movement from Ligeti´s "Concert Romanesc", as wild a piece as can be imagined, where conductor and orchestra showed that the moderns have no secrets for them. The second programme was very coherent. Before the interval, Wagner´s Prelude to Act One and Love-Death from "Tristan and Isolde", the latter in the orchestral arrangement of the composer; and the five "Wesendonck Lieder", arranged by Felix Mottl the first four and the fifth by Wagner from the original for voice and piano. As two of them have melodies that reappear in "Tristan...", it was a good idea to programme the songs on the poems of Wagner´s muse, Mathilde Wesendonck. Nagano proved a fine Wagnerian, and Fujimura sang with powerful voice and clear understanding of the style. Bruckner´s Sixth Symphony (1881) isn´t as long as the following ones (55 minutes); I find it more technical and less attractive than the Seventh or Eighth, but quite representative of his distinctive personality. Again Nagano and the orchestra showed conclusive professionalism, energy and power of communication. There were no encores. For Buenos Aires Herald
Among her many qualities pianist Martha Noguera has perseverance and the courage to tackle difficult tasks. Long before she created Chopiniana, the pianistic Festival that has brought many great talents to Argentina, she did here in 1998 the integral Beethoven sonatas (32) and all Chopin´s works with opus number in 1999. Her ample career started when she was eleven and she is now in her early seventies, along with Argerich, Gelber and Barenboim. So we have a formidable Argentine school of piano playing. And although they are no longer active, let us not forget such names as Sylvia Kersenbaum and Elsa Púppulo. Her yearly recitals for Chopiniana are always long and difficult, never less than 95 minutes of music. But in recent seasons I felt that she is asking too much from herself, and that her programmes are exhausting for any pianist. Her memory has been proverbial for many decades and her technique is up to almost any hurdle, but now there are occasional fissures in both, although the level remains high. The recital at the Palacio Paz began with Schubert´s last Sonata, Nº21, D.960, surely the most played but not part of her repertoire until recently. Schubert is beautiful but needs patience; days ago I mentioned concerning his Octet the Schumann phrase about him, "heavenly length", and it certainly applies to this 40-minute Sonata. Noguera showed that patience in her faithful, detailed and solid account of the first two movements, never rushing in the slow one, admittedly repetitive. The scherzo was a bit too fast though it held. But the Finale was uneven, with some fine passages followed by others who were, yes, rushed; and at a certain point she wavered and for some seconds didn´t find her way. The Second Part started with one of the most problematic Beethoven Sonatas, Nº28, op.101. The lovely lyrical First movement was done with much sensibility and style, and the brusque "Vivace alla marcia" was tackled with energy. The Finale is the complicated movement: it starts with a morose "Lento", quotes the first movement, and then turbulently falls into a tremendous Fugue, almost as hard to play as that of the "Hammerklavier" Sonata though not so long. But Beethoven states: "not so fast", and pianists should comply, for Noguera started too fast and then had to keep that pace as the music became more and more arduous; apart from some slips, again it happened that suddenly a figuration didn´t come out well and she repeated it for some seconds until resuming the progress of the music. Then she played Chopin: two youthful works, the Rondo op.16 and the rarely done First Sonata op.4. The Introduction and Rondo, to give its proper name, was written in 1832, when he was 22, a brilliant showpiece light in content: Chopin as a virtuoso. As I have no score, I can´t vouchsafe that everything was played as written, but Noguera produced plenty of fireworks. The Sonata is a strange work, written as a teenager (18). The initial Allegro maestoso is based on a chromatic subject, and its course provides many surprises, although with a feeling of immaturity. The Larghetto is melodic but rather tame, and the Menuetto has charm, although this form is certainly not Romantic. The Finale is speedy, ample and rather entangled. Was it this last characteristic that troubled Noguera? For she skipped four whole pages of score in what seemed a memory lapse. Up to then she had played quite well. The hall was full, for Noguera has a large following, and Poland´s Ambassador was present and gave her a public homage. Her encores were temerary but surprisingly were among the best interpretations of the evening: a murderous arrangement by György Cziffra of Rimsky-Korsakov´s "Flight of the Bumblebee"; and the ultrafamous Chopin "Heroic" Polonaise, in a strong and assured performance full of the adequate contrasts. May I venture a suggestion for next year? Be a little less ambitious and play a shorter and not so arduous programme. For Buenos Aires Herald