Tuesday, July 29, 2014
“It is all of these great people here who ought to be thanked,” Martha says, surrounded by a throng of festival guests as she awaits that evening’s concert performer, “not me; I just show up,” she insists, gesturing some unruly tresses of her signature mane of grey hair into place. That in itself is no small virtue for the enigmatic pianist, notoriously known for changing her mind about her performances on short notice. She nods towards a tensely focused man of slender stature who, in close proximity yet with a respectfully guarded distance, watches her every move attentively from the corner of his eye. A glance exchanged between the two of them barely requires words. Carlo Piccardi, who as consigliere (advisor) is the festival’s other pillar, stands by Martha, the festival’s artistic director, ready to tend to her wishes or to settle any emergencies. Perhaps she wants to join some artists for dinner before heading back to the radio station for her customary late night practice time, or the other way around. Perhaps she would like to avoid the crowds who, mesmerized by their idol’s presence, long for a momentous photo with her, or, perhaps it may be a night when she just feels like accommodating their wishes.(photo of banner of the festival: Ilona Oltuski) All photos courtesy of Carlo Piccardi – Progetto Martha Argerich (unless specified) It is a ritual that bears witness to the intimacy of an alliance based on great understanding and admiration, and it perpetually repeats itself during these weeks in June: the time of Lugano’s music festival that carries the name of the legendary pianist and much-adored protégé: Progetto Martha Argerich. A musicologist and former director of Radio della Svizzera Italiana – Rete Due, Piccardi fell in love with the possibility of bringing chamber music and Martha Argerich to his region and into his life. The original initiative was sparked in 2001 by former EMI recording and TV producer, Jurg Grand, who approached Piccardi: Why should his great friend and pianist extraordinaire Martha have a festival in Buenos Aires (which today is not in existence anymore) and in Beppu, Japan, but not in Europe? It seemed the obvious next step for Martha, a resident of Brussels holding Swiss citizenship who possessed a fascination for all things Italian, to unite with Piccardi and utilize his strong relationships with the Radio and BSI (Banca Svizzeria Italiano – also a current major sponsor of the festival) to plant the seeds of chamber music culture in the Italian-Swiss region, which had heretofore been practically absent. As “Abdul” (Grand’s nickname, coined by Daniel Barenboim) suggested, the festival was inaugurated; he had the vision, Piccardi the perseverance and Martha the compelling persona that brought not only her singular artistry, but her international following of stellar performers, to Lugano. “Martha is like a river,” says Piccardi in between four very important phone calls he takes apologetically, “when we approached her about the possibility of starting a festival here, she said: “Hmm, yes it is possible, perhaps…” But the first installment in 2002 “was a disaster,” Piccardi recalls. “I was director of the culture and broadcast program of the second channel, but I had no experience whatsoever with programming live concerts. At the end I was with a fever, exhausted, and in despair. It was Martha and Jurg who took complete charge of all programs during the eight consecutive days. Concerts were held in the morning in the church, in the evening at the Radio station, and with 32 artists performing, we had to have rehearsals at night. Today we have a day in between for rehearsals and recordings, but with the number of artists reaching 82, the duration of the festival now is spread out to three weeks, with concerts recorded live or in rehearsal, and many of them broadcasted or streamed live.” During the festival’s second year, Piccardi was better prepared: “I was more familiar then with the problems of running the production and hosting the artists, but then a disaster happened: Jurg, the festival’s founder suddenly died. Martha was in Buenos Aires at the time and we had to make a fast decision, whether or not to continue, and came to the agreement to at least go through with the already planned out next season,” Piccardi explains. “Except when it comes to all things piano, Martha is not a systematic thinker,” Piccardi says. ”Her personality is ambivalent: when I ask her something she always remains vague, never definitive…it’s a maybe.” But perhaps it is this ‘out of the box thinking’, behind her “maybe”, aiding her in the constant search for new talent. Martha constantly discovers new artists while participating in juries at international competitions, or through recommendations from friends whose input she values. “She trusts my judgment as well, and I have suggested some of the young artists who have performed at the festival, but she is very spontaneous and sometimes enthusiastically discovers an artist she likes on YouTube,” says Piccardi, who is mostly in charge of the festival’s programming. Often it gets very late at night before Piccardi, who patiently waits for Martha to finish her nocturnal preparations for the many programs in which she partakes, takes her home; returning at 3:00am is not at all the exception. “Martha is a night owl,” he says, “she likes to practice sometimes right after a concert, to go over things and to prepare for the next one.” He tells me of her practice routine, taking only short breaks to come up for air or the occasional shared cigarette with one of her musician friends or colleagues. The sensitive artist with mood swings often dreads certain performances. This year, it is the Tchaikovsky Concerto No.1 that she performs with the Orchestra Della Svizzera Italiana under Alexander Vedernikov at the Palazzo Dei Congressi that has been making her nervous, even though the benchmark recording of her 1994 performance of that piece under the legendary Claudio Abbado for Deutsche Grammophone proves that she owns it. While Martha’s current state of mind becomes a general theme of interest amongst the festival’s participants and visitors, Piccardi does not seem to engage in such circling conversations or concerns. He rather relies on what has proven to work for Martha, like the comfort she finds staying in an old artists’ house made available to her for the whole month of June by the artist benefit foundation Pro Helvetia. Located in the small town of Carona, the house is filled with an atmosphere, unmoved by time and inspired by the residency of previously hosted artists, and it is conveniently located just steps away from Piccardi’s own house. “Martha is not the kind of person who can stay in a hotel room for a month, she needs that feeling of familiarity, and it is these little things that make all the difference,” Piccardi says. “When we return together to Casa Pantrova in the middle of the night, there is a sort of feeling of belonging, the ease of home,” he says. Now in its 13th year, the festival has grown into a celebration of chamber music, with programs that center on the piano in combinations with other instruments. Piano duos, trios, quartets, and quintets, even several pianos at a time, provide a sheer infinite variety for daily concerts, during many of which Argerich performs with young musicians and renowned friends and colleagues. “She is so wonderfully encouraging,” says Gabriela Montero, a Venezuelan pianist about Argerich, who was instrumental in the launch of young Montero’s career, having encouraged her to publicly improvise, which greatly contributed to her international success. Photo: Andrej Grilc Gabriela Montero and Ilona Oltuski-GetClassical at the festival The festival’s tradition of minimal bureaucracy, neither applications nor tedious acceptance procedures persist to this day. Martha embraces great and new talent in this musical incubator, offering first-hand experiences by performing with high-caliber international artists. Another quality of the festival is the great respect for its artists, past and present; violinist, pedagogue, and actor Ivry Gitlis for example, Argerich’s long-time friend who performerd at the festival for many years, while not perfroming any more on stage, continues to share his wisdom during his master classes. “Martha loves to be surrounded by other artists, sharing some of the burdensome aspects of the stage,” says Piccardy. Often, one sees her laughing with other artists or complaining about the difficulties within a particular score she is working on. Surrounded by her young colleagues, the now 73-year old pianist seems agelessly energetic. Lately, the decision of some of her colleagues to end their public performance career has made her think about the future as well. “But Martha is not interested in teaching, or likes giving master classes like Maria Joan Pires or Alfred Brendel, who have recently put a halt to their performance careers,” says Piccardi. “Martha needs to play concerts, at least a good amount of them; she can never be without music,” says Piccardi, who seems to know this from a place in his heart that understands her. He adds: “chamber music is like a life elixir for her,” and when one sees her in action, one has to believe him. Her playing remains fantastic no less: her tone is natural, highly imaginative, and brilliant, and it is exciting to watch her pour all of herself into the piano. Many artists come from near and far to the Progetto to make music together, rehearse, perform, and record, but also to rehash their personal relationships with Martha. Many of these friendships, built during her many years of celebrated performances throughout the world, are defined but not confined by her ability to share the limelight to support her fellow artists and causes close to her heart, making it a family affair of sorts: “Partaking in the festival can really put you on the map,” says Nora Romanoff, one of the young artists who has been attending the festival since age 16. The daughter of Dora Schwarzberg, a famed violinist based in Vienna, Romanoff was asked to jump into the deep end when, in its beginning, the festival was looking for an additional violist. “Can she do it?” Martha asked Schwarzberg about her talented daughter, and after a brief hesitation, Nora, who had no previous experience with playing chamber music, started as the youngest participant of the festival. ( The photo by Andrej Grilc shows Nora during one of her many performances during the festival) (Photo) Martha and Misha Maisky Illustrious cellist Misha Maisky, one of Martha’s regular musical partners and her friend of 40 years, brings his daughter, Lily (piano) and his son, Sasha (violinist), regularily to the festival’s programs, providing them with an education that puts learning by doing first. Another longstanding musical partner of Argerich’s, pianist Lilya Zilberstein, performs with pianist Akane Sakai, a former student of hers, and her two pianist sons, Anton and Daniel Gerzenberg. The connection of lives mutually spend together brings artists like Gidon Kremer, Stephen Kovacevich, and Charles Dutoit to Lugano, and while Martha shares the podium generously, it is she to whom all of these artists pay tribute. Annie Dutoit, Martha’s middle daughter from her marriage with conductor Charles Dutoit, made her artistic debut at this year’s festival with her adaptation of the role of dramatic narrator and performance of the devil in C.F. Ramuz/Igor Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat. Violist Lyda Chen, Martha’s eldest daughter from her first marriage to conductor Robert Chen, partakes regularly in the festival, often as her mother’s performance partner. (Photo: Annie Dutoit with Carlo Piccardi) Bloody Daughter, a film produced in 2012 and directed by Stephanie Argerich, Martha’s youngest daughter, was screened at last year’s festival; the screening afforded some private glimpses into the life of the usually evasive pianist, connecting archival footage of the performer with a uniquely personal portrait of the mother, seen through the eyes of the daughter. The title of the film depicts some of the heartrending circumstances that affected Martha’s family life, ranging from her separation from her oldest daughter to the conflicts between a superstar lifestyle and motherhood. Yet, as Stephanie’s father, pianist Stephen Kovacevich, explains in the film, Stephanie’s nickname “bloody daughter” is meant endearingly, and while it reveals many flaws, so is the overall outlook of the film. What resonates perhaps most imortantly throughout the film, is that this divinely brilliant artist is human after all. (photo from the movie Bloody daughter) “Martha liked the film. Even though she values her privacy and it must always feel uncanny to be portrayed so personally, the film certainly could not have been made by any other person than the daughter, so close to her,” says Piccardi. None of the artists leave the festival without saying fare-well to Martha. No matter in what language – she is fluent in Spanish, English, French, Italian and pretty fluent in German as well– the tone is always personal and engaging. Since the festival’s first year, EMI issued a series of recordings named Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano, which continued on the Warner Classics label. A 4-CD compilation produced by Deutsche Grammophon titled Martha Argerich: Lugano Concertos, a selection of the first ten years of the festival’s concerto performances with the Orchestra della Svizzeria Italiana, received last year’s ECHO KLASSIK award. From the beginning, all artists involved were paid equally for each performance, no matter their pedigree. “More concerts translate into more money. But it does not matter if they have a big name or not, every musician does his part,” Piccardi says. “In the beginning of the festival it was really just all about an extended artistic family, as the festival expands, more egos emerge and questions arise, who plays with whom and competitiveness seeps in; it is my role to keep everything according to the originating milieu of open-mindedness, music being in the center of attention, and to create challenging programs that express its artists’ full potential.” A goal, Martha Argerich and Carlo Piccardi should be able to achieve again in the future. The 14th Progetto Martha Argerich –Festival is planned to take place in Lugano again in June of 2015.
Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4. After giving concerts in Stockholm last October, pianist Maria João Pires went directly to the recording studio with conductor Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra . This remarkable recording is the result. We hear the following: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58 Performed by Maria João Pires, piano, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding conducting. The Times wrote on the 18th of July 2014: She’s recording the third and fourth piano concertos for the first time — and playing them with such unaffected simplicity that you always feel the notes speaking, never the pianist herself. Turbulent emotions, grandiose gestures and winking gaiety arrive as they should, yet nothing is pushed to extremes.” Here is Maria João Pires in a section from Beethoven’s concerto #2: And next, here is DANIEL BARENBOIM playing the Beethoven Piano Concerto # 4 with the Wiener Philharmoniker : Tags: Maria João Pires, piano, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding, Beethoven, concerto #4
By Jacob Stockinger The Ear’s friends at the Madison Symphony Orchestra have sent in the following announcement: “Can you name all the different distinctly American choral traditions? “Director Beverly Taylor (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) and the Madison Symphony Chorus will answer that question this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m., when they’ll appear in “Apple Pie America: A Slice of Choral Americana” in Promenade Hall at the Overture Center for the Arts . (Taylor is also the head of the choral department at the university of Wisconsin-Madison , where she directs the UW Choral Union and UW Concert Choir , and is the assistant conductor of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. And sorry, I have so specific titles of works on the program but I have been told that the concert is closing in on being sold-out, with only a few tickets remaining.) The concert will start with classical music selections from Charles Pachelbel, Lukas Foss , Randall Thompson and others, while the second half will be dedicated to folk songs, hymns, and spirituals. Many of the works will be accompanied by Madison Symphony Orchestra principal pianist Daniel Lyons (below). Tickets are $15, and are available at http://madisonsymphony.org/Americana or at the Overture Center Box Office at (608) 258-4141 or 201 State Street. Formed in 1927, the Madison Symphony Chorus (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson) gave its first public performance in 1928 and has performed regularly with the Madison Symphony Orchestra ever since. It was featured at the popular Madison Symphony Christmas concerts in December, and it will be joined by four soloists for the MSO’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem on April 4, 5 and 6. The Chorus is comprised of more than 125 volunteer musicians from all walks of life who enjoy combining their artistic talent, and new members are always welcome. Visit http://madisonsymphony.org/chorus for more information. CATCHING UP WITH THE GRAMMY WINNERS Last Sunday was the Grammy Awards . Here is a complete list of the nominees and the winners. It makes for a good listening list or buying list. 73. BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE WINNER Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra) Label: BIS Records Atterberg: Orchestral Works Vol. 1 Neeme Järvi, conductor (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra ) Label: Chandos Lutosławski: Symphony No. 1 Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic) Track from: Lutosławski: The Symphonies Label: Sony Classical Schumann: Symphony No. 2; Overtures Manfred & Genoveva Claudio Abbado, conductor (Orchestra Mozart) Label: Deutsche Grammophon Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps Simon Rattle, conductor (Berliner Philharmoniker) Label: EMI Classics 74. BEST OPERA RECORDING WINNER Adès: The Tempest Thomas Adès , conductor; Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard , Audrey Luna & Alan Oke ; Jay David Saks, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) Label: Deutsche Grammophon Britten: The Rape Of Lucretia Oliver Knussen, conductor; Ian Bostridge, Peter Coleman-Wright , Susan Gritton & Angelika Kirchschlager; John Fraser, producer (Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble) Label: Virgin Classics Kleiberg: David & Bathsheba Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Anna Einarsson & Johannes Weisser; Morten Lindberg, producer (Trondheim Symphony Orchestra ; Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Vocal Ensemble) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd) Vinci: Artaserse Diego Fasolis, conductor; Valer Barna-Sabadus, Daniel Behle, Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli & Philippe Jaroussky; Ulrich Ruscher, producer (Concerto Köln; Coro Della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano) Label: Virgin Classics Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen Christian Thielemann, conductor; Katarina Dalayman, Albert Dohmen, Stephen Gould, Eric Halfvarson & Linda Watson; Othmar Eichinger, producer (Orchester Der Wiener Staatsoper; Chor Der Wiener Staatsoper) Label: Deutsche Grammophon 75. BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE WINNER Pärt: Adam’s Lament Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (Tui Hirv & Rainer Vilu; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Sinfonietta Riga & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Latvian Radio Choir & Vox Clamantis) Label: ECM New Series Berlioz: Grande Messe Des Morts Colin Davis, conductor (Barry Banks; London Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Chorus) Label: LSO Live Palestrina: Volume 3 Harry Christophers, conductor (The Sixteen) Label: Coro Parry: Works For Chorus & Orchestra Neeme Järvi, conductor; Adrian Partington, chorus master (Amanda Roocroft; BBC National Orchestra Of Wales; BBC National Chorus Of Wales) Label: Chandos Whitbourn: Annelies James Jordan, conductor (Arianna Zukerman; The Lincoln Trio; Westminster Williamson Voices) Label: Naxos 76: BEST CHMABER MUSIC/SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE WINNER Roomful Of Teeth Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth Label: New Amsterdam Records Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Leonidas Kavakos & Enrico Pace Label: Decca Cage: The 10,000 Things Vicki Ray, William Winant, Aron Kallay & Tom Peters Label: MicroFest Records Duo Hélène Grimaud & Sol Gabetta Labe;: Deutsche Grammophon Times Go By Turns New York Polyphony Label: BIS Records 77. BEST CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTAL SOLO WINNER Corigliano: Conjurer – Concerto For Percussionist & String Orchestra Evelyn Glennie; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony) Track from: Corigliano: Conjurer; Vocalise Label: Naxos Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Peter Eötvös, conductor (Ensemble Modern & Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Naïve The Edge Of Light Gloria Cheng (Calder Quartet) Label: Harmonia Mundi Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2 Yefim Bronfman; Alan Gilbert, conductor (New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg Label: Dacapo Records Salonen: Violin Concerto; Nyx Leila Josefowicz; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Deutsche Grammophon Schubert: Piano Sonatas D. 845 & D. 960 Maria João Pires Label: Deutsche Grammophon 78. BEST CLASSICAL VOCAL SOLO WINNER Winter Morning Walks Dawn Upshaw (Maria Schneider; Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson; Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Label: ArtistShare Drama Queens Joyce DiDonato (Alan Curtis; Il Complesso Barocco) Label: Virgin Classics Mission Cecilia Bartoli (Diego Fasolis; Philippe Jaroussky; I Barocchisti) Label: Decca Schubert: Winterreise Christoph Prégardien (Michael Gees) Label: Challenge Wagner Jonas Kaufmann (Donald Runnicles; Markus Brück; Chor Der Deutschen Oper Berlin; Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin) Label: Decca 79. BEST CLASSICAL COMPENDIUM WINNER Hindemith: Violinkonzert; Symphonic Metamorphosis; Konzertmusik Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Label: Ondine Holmboe: Concertos Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor; Preben Iwan, producer Label: Dacapo Records Tabakova: String Paths Maxim Rysanov; Manfred Eicher, producer Label: ECM New Series 80. BEST CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL COMPOSITION WINNER Schneider, Maria: Winter Morning Walks Maria Schneider, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough, Scott Robinson & Australian Chamber Orchestra) Track from: Winter Morning Walks Label: ArtistShare Lindberg, Magnus: Piano Concerto No. 2 Magnus Lindberg, composer (Yefim Bronfman, Alan Gilbert & New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg Label: Dacapo Records Pärt, Arvo: Adam’s Lament Arvo Pärt, composer (Tõnu Kaljuste, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis & Sinfonietta Riga) Track from: Arvo Pärt: Adam’s Lament Label: ECM New Series Salonen, Esa-Pekka: Violin Concerto Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer (Leila Josefowicz, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Track from: Out Of Nowhere Label: Deutsche Grammophon Shaw, Caroline: Partita For 8 Voices Caroline Shaw, composer (Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth) Track from: Roomful Of Teeth Label: New Amsterdam Records And here is an excellent analysis of the classical Grammy winners that appeared on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog and the rise of new music — including work by the relatively unknown Minnesota composer Maria Schneider (below, in a photo by Michael Buckner for Getty Images), whose “Winter Morning Walks,” using the poems of Ted Kooser and the voice of soprano Dawn Upshaw, capture three Grammy Awards. You can hear a sample of the moving songs and accessible songs by the three cancer survivors in a YouTUbe video at the bottom: http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/01/24/265699972/new-music-shines-at-classical-grammy-awards Tagged: Alan Gilbert , Alan Oke , Arts , Arvo Part , Bach , Bartok , Beethoven , Berlioz , Britten , Cage , Classical music , Daniel Lyons , Dawn Upshaw , Franz Schubert , Grammy Award , Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance , Isabel Leonard , Jacob Stockinger , John Corigliano , Jonas Kaufmann , Leila Josefowicz , Lukas Foss , Madison , Madison Symphony Chorus , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Magnus Lindberg , Maria Schneider , Metropolitan Opera , Mozart , New York Philharmonic , NPR , Orchestra , Overture Center , Palestrina , Paul Hindemith , Peter Coleman-Wright , Randall Thompson , Requiem , Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra , Schubert , Schumann , Sibelius , Sunday , Ted Kooser , Thomas Ades , United States , University of Wisconsin–Madison , UW Choral Union , UW Concert Choir , Wagner , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Yefim Bronfman , YouTube
The Teatro Coliseo is a special case, for it is the only one owned by the State of Italy out of that country. It is in fact the second Coliseo in the same place, and was inaugurated on different architectural lines during 1961 with symphonic concerts led by Nino Sanzogno. The first Coliseo was basically an opera theatre; the second instead has been fundamentally a concert auditorium, with its big capacity of about 2.000 seats. Not only classical concerts, also quality popular. And many seasons of Les Luthiers, as well as "Rugantino" (Manfredi, Vanoni and Fabrizi) and Gassman. It was used very sparsely for chamber opera without pit (Vivaldi, Pergolesi), but in 2007 and 2009, as a result of the Colón´s search for an alternative during closure, the people at the Coliseo remembered that the original pit of the first Coliseo still was extant and could be used with some retouching; and indeed it was, witness no less than Strauss´ "Elektra", proof of a 100-player pit. As the years went by, there was a growing acknowledgment from the Italian community both here and in Italy that the Coliseo was a natural place for a classical music cycle of international quality, to compensate the underuse of the theatre and to have a proper balance in the city´s offer in that field. It was about 30 years ago. The Coliseo had provided an alternative to the Colón and facilitated things by its mere availability, even if its rather dry acoustics wasn´t to all tastes (dry but clean, not boxed in). And now it would have its own cycle, Harmonia. Well-funded, it presented traditionally-oriented concerts of high level. Its President from the start was Dino Rawa-Jasinski, who proved dynamic and efficacious in the hard logistics of providing a cycle with minimal hitches. In a few years Harmonia was solidly installed, bringing over outstanding artists in instrumental, chamber and symphonic music. But the crisis of 2002 proved too much for its financial structure based on local sponsoring, and the Italian Government came to the rescue providing most of the money and renaming the institution Nuova Harmonia. Rawa remained stalwartly at the helm, and so it was until this year. 2002-4 were basically Italian, and then Rawa (as he had done before) brought the musical association to what I feel is only sane and logical, a cosmopolitanism that gave us the best from many European countries. Though always with Italian representation. And so it was until late this year, when I was invited to the traditional end-of-year lunch in which Rawa chatted with local critics and unveiled the plans for the next season. Only this time it wasn´t Rawa, but two young and beautiful ladies that will lead Nuova Harmonia from now on. The long and prestigious Rawa cycle was over. The two ladies are called Marta Pires (of Portuguese origin) and Elisabetta Riva, current leaders of the Fundación Cultural Coliseum, which has controlled the Coliseo during the Rawa years. I had an excellent conversation with them, and was assured that, though they will bring more Italian numbers, they will do so well balanced with the artists from other countries. Meanwhile, 2014 will be a transition season, with 70% planned by Rawa and 30% by Pires and Riva. I do hope for a more adventurous view of programming in 2015, the only defect during the Rawa era being that he played too safe. Some opera and ballet might be present. (The Coliseo has in recent years presented, outside the Rawa cycle and in association with other organizers, several ballet galas). As in former years, seven concerts will take place at the Coliseo and three at the Colón. Coliseo: the splendid duo of Boris Belkin (violin) and Michele Campanella will give on April 24 Mozart, Schubert and Franck. May 5: L´Arte del Mondo Orchestra (German in spite of its title) will be led by Werner Ehrhardt with violinist Daniel Hope in Mozart (Symphony Nº 29 and First Violin Concerto), Mendelssohn (the early Concerto for violin and strings) and Johann Christian Bach (the rarely heard Double Concerto). The Stradivarius Sextet plus Argentine pianist Eduardo Hubert (of Argerich Festivals fame) on May 22 have programmed Brahms´ marvelous First Sextet and works by Hubert and Bacalov. Then, a curious concert of arrangements on June 10 by Concerto Pianoforti, a group of three Italian pianists (there´s almost no repertoire for three pianos): transcriptions of the suite from Shostakovich´s "Moskva, Chernomushki", an operetta; of the 1919 suite from Stravinsky´s "The Firebird"; of Debussy´s "La Mer"; and of fragments from the Offenbach-Rosenthal ballet "Gaîté Parisienne". Sole piece originally for three pianos: Boccadoro´s "Vaalbara". The Camerata (or is it Cappella?; both appellations are present in the information) Istropolitana will be back on August 14 playing Janácek, Vivaldi, Sammartini, Torelli, Donizetti and Shostakovich. The Lucerne Symphony Orchestra led by James Gaffigan will be heard on September 12 with Renaud Capuçon in Mendelssohn´s Violin Concerto, plus Weber´s "Oberon" Overture and the beautiful Dvorák Sixth Symphony (good choice). October 8: Swiss Piano Trio (Beethoven, Wettstein and Dvorák). At the Colón. September 29: Bruno Walter Symphony (Jack Martin Handler) with Stefan Stroissnig in Beethoven´s "Emperor" Concerto. October 20: Moscow Soloists (Yuri Bashmet) in Mozart, Schubert, Bruch and Schubert-Mahler ("Death and the Maiden"). November 8: Beijing Symphony (Tau Lihua) with Chinese music and Prokofiev (a suite from "Romeo and Juliet"). For Buenos Aires Herald
By Jacob Stockinger As I usually offer readers for the holiday season, here is the list of the 56th annual Grammy nominations for classical music. It can serve as a good guide for giving holiday gifts, and readers have said they like it and find it both interesting and useful. Don’t forget: The list of categories has been pared back from what it used to be – a sign of the transcendence of other forms of music. After all, these are industry awards. Some of the latest trends seem to continue to hold up. The nominations reflect several things: a fostering of lesser known groups and labels; more new and contemporary music; a couple of superstars thrown in. I am somewhat surprised that certain recording are not in the running, especially pianist Jeremy Denk’s CD and DVD set of Johann Sebastian Bach ’s “Goldberg” Variations and violinist Hilary Hahn’s CD of the 27 encores she herself commissioned and performed. Well, we all have our own preferences. And maybe they were released too late. O r maybe they are too mainstream, whatever that means these days. So what does the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences think of this year’s classical crop? The Ear’s sentimental favorite is “Winter Morning Walks” (below) since all of the main parties involved — American poet Ted Kooser, American soprano Dawn Upshaw and American composer Maria Schneider – are cancer survivors, and their album speaks quietly but eloquently of their ordeals. They do what too much music doesn’t do any longer in an irony-drenched, postmodern age: Speak directly to the heart. “Winter Morning Walks” is Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise” updated for our time. (You can hear samples in a YouTube video at the bottom.) Here is a link to the general Grammy Awards home page. They make it hard to find, despite the gimmicky hype of a countdown clock, but the Grammy Awards will be given out live on Sunday, January 26,2014, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS starting at 7 p.m. CST. http://www.grammy.com And here is a list to the complete list of classical nominees in all categories: http://www.grammy.com/nominees 71. BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, CLASSICAL Hymn To The Virgin, Morten Lindberg , engineer (Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl & Schola Cantorum) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd) La Voie Triomphale, Morten Lindberg, engineer (Ole Kristian Ruud & Staff Band Of The Norwegian Armed Forces) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd) Roomful Of Teeth, Mark Donahue & Jesse Lewis, engineers (Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth) Label: New Amsterdam Records Vinci: Artaserse, Hans-Martin Renz, Wolfgang Rixius & Ulrich Ruscher, engineers (Diego Fasolis, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Daniel Behle, Franco Fagioli, Valer Barna-Sabadus, Yuriy Mynenko & Concerto Köln) Label: Virgin Classics Winter Morning Walks, David Frost, Brian Losch & Tim Martyn, engineers; Tim Martyn, mastering engineer (Dawn Upshaw, Maria Schneider, Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra ) Label: ArtistShare 72. PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, CLASSICAL Manfred Eicher • Beethoven: Diabelli-Variationen (András Schiff) • Canto Oscuro (Anna Gourari) • Pärt: Adam’s Lament (Tõnu Kaljuste, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, Sinfonietta Riga, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra) • Tabakova: String Paths (Maxim Rysanov) David Frost • Andres: Home Stretch (Timo Andres, Andrew Cyr & Metropolis Ensemble) • Angel Heart, A Music Storybook (Matt Haimovitz & Uccello) • Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 (Jonathan Biss) • Ben-Haim: Chamber Works (ARC Ensemble) • Celebrating The American Spirit (Judith Clurman & Essential Voices USA) • Elgar: Enigma Variations; Vaughan Williams: The Wasps; Greensleeves (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony) • Guilty Pleasures (Renée Fleming, Sebastian Lang-Lessing & Philharmonia Orchestra) • Verdi: Otello (Riccardo Muti, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Krassimira Stoyanova, Carlo Guelfi, Chicago Symphony Chorus & Chicago Symphony Orchestra ) • Winter Morning Walks (Dawn Upshaw, Maria Schneider, Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Marina A. Ledin, Victor Ledin • Bizet: Symphony In C; Jeux D’Enfants; Variations Chromatiques (Martin West & San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) • Traveling Sonata – European Music For Flute & Guitar (Viviana Guzmán & Jérémy Jouve) • Voyages (Conrad Tao) • Zia (Del Sol String Quartet ) James Mallinson • Berlioz: Grande Messe Des Morts (Colin Davis, London Symphony Chorus , London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Orchestra ) • Bloch: Symphony In C-Sharp Minor & Poems Of The Sea (Dalia Atlas & London Symphony Orchestra) • Fauré: Requiem; Bach: Partita, Chorales & Ciaccona (Nigel Short, Tenebrae & London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble) • Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (Colin Davis & London Symphony Orchestra) • Wagner: Das Rheingold (Valery Gergiev , René Pape, Stephan Rügamer, Nikolai Putilin & Mariinsky Orchestra ) • Wagner: Die Walküre (Valery Gergiev, Anja Kampe, Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Nina Stemme & Mariinsky Orchestra) • Weber: Der Freischütz (Colin Davis, Christine Brewer, Sally Matthews, Simon O’Neill, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra) Jay David Saks (below) • Adams: Nixon In China (John Adams, Russell Braun, Ginger Costa-Jackson, James Maddalena, Janis Kelly, Richard Paul Fink, Robert Brubaker, Kathleen Kim, The Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) • Adès: The Tempest (Thomas Adès, Audrey Luna, Isabel Leonard , Alan Oke , Simon Keenlyside, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) • The Enchanted Island (William Christie, Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Danielle De Niese, Luca Pisaroni, Lisette Oropesa, Plácido Domingo, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus ) • Handel: Rodelinda (Harry Bicket, Renée Fleming, Andreas Scholl, Joseph Kaiser, Stephanie Blythe, Iestyn Davies, Shenyang & The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra ) • Live At Carnegie Hall (James Levine, Evgeny Kissin & The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) • Verdi: Rigoletto (Michele Mariotti, Željko Lu_i_, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beczala, Oksana Volkova, Štefan Kocán, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus) 73. BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE Atterberg: Orchestral Works Vol. 1, Neeme Järvi, conductor (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra ) Label: Chandos Lutosławski: Symphony No. 1, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Track from: Lutoslawski: The Symphonies, Label: Sony Classical Schumann: Symphony No. 2; Overtures Manfred & Genoveva, Claudio Abbado, conductor (Orchestra Mozart), Label: Deutsche Grammophon Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra) Label: BIS Records Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps, Simon Rattle, conductor (Berliner Philharmoniker) Label: EMI Classics 74. BEST OPERA RECORDING Adès: The Tempest, Thomas Adès, conductor; Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna & Alan Oke; Luisa Bricetti & Victoria Warivonchick, producers (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) Label: Deutsche Grammophon Britten: The Rape Of Lucretia, Oliver Knussen, conductor; Ian Bostridge, Peter Coleman-Wright, Susan Gritton & Angelika Kirchschlager; John Fraser, producer (Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble) Label: Virgin Classics Kleiberg: David & Bathsheba, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Anna Einarsson & Johannes Weisser; Morten Lindberg, producer (Trondheim Symphony Orchestra; Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Vocal Ensemble) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd) Vinci: Artaserse, Diego Fasolis, conductor; Valer Barna-Sabadus, Daniel Behle, Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli & Philippe Jaroussky; Ulrich Ruscher, producer (Concerto Köln; Coro Della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano) Label: Virgin Classics Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen, Christian Thielemann, conductor (below); Katarina Dalayman, Albert Dohmen, Stephen Gould, Eric Halfvarson & Linda Watson; Othmar Eichinger, producer (Orchester Der Wiener Staatsoper; Chor Der Wiener Staatsoper) Label: Deutsche Grammophon 75. BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE Berlioz: Grande Messe Des Morts, Colin Davis, conductor (Barry Banks; London Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Chorus) Label: LSO Live Palestrina: Volume 3, Harry Christophers, conductor (The Sixteen) Label: Coro Parry: Works For Chorus & Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, conductor; Adrian Partington, chorus master (Amanda Roocroft; BBC National Orchestra Of Wales; BBC National Chorus Of Wales) Label: Chandos Pärt (below): Adam’s Lament, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (Tui Hirv & Rainer Vilu; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Sinfonietta Riga & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Latvian Radio Choir & Vox Clamantis) Label: ECM New Series Whitbourn: Annelies, James Jordan, conductor (Ariana Zukerman; The Lincoln Trio; Westminster Williamson Voices) Label: Naxos 76. BEST CHAMBER MUSIC/SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Leonidas Kavakos & Enrico Pace Label: Decca Cage: The 10,000 Things, Vicki Ray, William Winant, Aron Kallay & Tom Peters, Label: MicroFest Records Duo, Hélène Grimaud & Sol Gabetta, Label: Deutsche Grammophon Roomful Of Teeth, Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth, Label: New Amsterdam Records Times Go By Turns, New York Polyphony, Label: BIS Records 77. BEST CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTAL SOLO Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti, Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Peter Eötvös, conductor (Ensemble Modern & Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Naïve Corigliano: Conjurer – Concerto For Percussionist & String Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony) Track from: Corigliano: Conjurer; Vocalise Label: Naxos The Edge Of Light, Gloria Cheng (Calder Quartet) Label: Harmonia Mundi Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2, Yefim Bronfman (below, in a photo by Dario Acosta); Alan Gilbert, conductor (New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg, Label: Dacapo Records Salonen: Violin Concerto; Nyx, Leila Josefowicz; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Deutsche Grammophon Schubert: Piano Sonatas D. 845 & D. 960, Maria João Pires Label: Deutsche Grammophon 78. BEST CLASSICAL VOCAL SOLO Drama Queens, Joyce DiDonato (Alan Curtis; Il Complesso Barocco) Label: Virgin Classics Mission, Cecilia Bartoli (Diego Fasolis; Philippe Jaroussky; I Barocchisti) Label: Decca Schubert: Winterreise, Christoph Prégardien (Michael Gees), Label: Challenge Wagner, Jonas Kaufmann (Donald Runnicles; Markus Brück; Chor Der Deutschen Oper Berlin; Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin) Label: Decca Winter Morning Walks, Dawn Upshaw (Maria Schneider; Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson; Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Label: ArtistShare 79. BEST CLASSICAL COMPENDIUM Hindemith: Violinkonzert; Symphonic Metamorphosis; Konzertmusik, Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Label: Ondine Holmboe: Concertos, Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor; Preben Iwan, producer Label: Dacapo Records Tabakova: String Paths, Maxim Rysanov; Manfred Eicher, producer Label: ECM New Series 80. BEST CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL COMPOSITION Lindberg, Magnus: Piano Concerto No. 2, Magnus Lindberg, composer, (Yefim Bronfman, Alan Gilbert & New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg Label: Dacapo Records Pärt, Arvo: Adam’s Lament, Arvo Pärt, composer (Tõnu Kaljuste, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis & Sinfonietta Riga) Track from: Arvo Pärt: Adam’s Lament Label: ECM New Series Salonen, Esa-Pekka: Violin Concerto, Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer and conductor, below (Leila Josefowicz, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Track from: Out Of Nowhere Label: Deutsche Grammophon Schneider, Maria: Winter Morning Walks, Maria Schneider, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough, Scott Robinson & Australian Chamber Orchestra) Track from: Winter Morning Walks Label: ArtistShare Shaw, Caroline: Partita For 8 Voices, Caroline Shaw, composer (Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth) Track from: Roomful Of Teeth Label: New Amsterdam Records
A couple of concerto mixup stories have been making the rounds. First, for some reason, this video from 1999 recently attracted some Internet buzz. It features pianist Maria João Pires realizing only as the orchestra begins playing that they're playing a different Mozart concerto than she'd expected! The story is not told very clearly in that video, but apparently this was a sort of open dress rehearsal in front of a live audience. Pires definitely looks distressed, but the calm conductor talks her into giving it a go (they'd played the piece before and he knew it was securely in her repertoire) and she apparently came through with flying colors. So next, Norman Lebrecht posts about how the Berlin Philharmonic intentionally started in on the wrong concerto as a prank in a Prokofiev rehearsal with their concertmaster. Not too surprisingly, the violinist was able to react on a dime and come in on time with Mendelssohn's great tune, though they only play a few bars. I think even I could make it that far into the Mendelssohn concerto, albeit with my patented one-finger L.H. technique. The Lebrecht post spawned a whole series of commenters retelling other stories about concerto mixups. It's likely that most of these stories are at least partly fabricated, but that doesn't mean they're not good stories! The eminent Martin Bookspan recounts that a pianist expecting to play Beethoven's 5th sat confused waiting for the opening orchestral chord while the orchestra waited for him to begin the piano intro to Beethoven's 4th. Bookspan couldn't recall who the pianist was, which made me wonder if his story had descended from this one described by Gary Graffman regarding Rachmaninoff's second concerto (which begins with piano chords) and the "Paganini Rhapsody" (which begins with violins): "Years ago in Los Angeles I was scheduled to perform the Piano Concerto No 2. Unfortunately, my manager had told me it was the Variations. Having just arrived in the city, I dashed to the rehearsal in the morning, took my place, and waited for the downbeat of the conductor. He turned around expectantly, stared at me quizzically, and waited. I waited. He waited. I waited. Where were the violins stating the familiar theme? Finally, in a burst of excitement and confusion we untangled the misunderstanding. ‘If you are set to play the Variations we can change our program,’ the conductor soothed. ‘Oh no, it really doesn’t matter to me at all,’ I stubbornly countered, ‘I know them both equally well.’ A few hours later we performed the Concerto.”I remembered this story because I read it at least 100 times on the back of this much-loved LP that belonged to my parents. (You can read the liner notes here.) I could make the case that this is the single most important record in my own musical life, as it's the first music I really fell in love with (first the rhapsody, and then some time later when I "discovered" the other side), so perhaps it can be blamed for all the words I'm spilling here. So there's that. Both I and another commenter chimed in with an old story about a conductor surprising a soloist by giving the orchestral downbeat too soon in the Schumann concerto (in which the pianist comes in right after) with the pianist getting revenge by starting the 2nd movement before the conductor was ready. I also like the version in which the unprepared pianist manages the cascade of Schumann chords and then promptly throws up. (My wife just told me her youth orchestra conductor used to tell that version of the story as well.) But my favorite commenter story was this: ....In the cello circles the famous Wierzbiłłowicz, a heavy drinker himself, asked the conductor: what key we are in? A minor, came the reply. Unfortunately, it was Schumann, not Saint-Saens.Here's how Schumann's cello concerto begins: Here's how Saint-Saëns' begins: And here's how I'd like to think Mr. Wierzbiłłowicz's apocryphal performance might've sounded, with the soloist suddenly sobering up 10 seconds or so in: You know what? It kinda works...