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Gustav Mahler

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Classical iconoclast

May 20

Mahler early Songs orch. Berio, Matthias Goerne

Classical iconoclastTwo of the three sets of  Mahler early songs, arranged by Luciano Berio, for baritone and orchestra, with Matthias Goerne, the BBC SO and conductor Josep Pons, HERE on BBC Radio 3. The Mahler songs start 50 minutes into the broadcast. Berio's orchestrations are interesting, because they are "Berio" though they are absolutely faithful to the spirit of Mahler's original songs for piano. Mahler himself worked from piano song to symphonic movement. Berio's arrangements were premiered at the Mahler Musikwochen in Toblach where serious Mahler minds meet. The two sets on this broadcast are 5 frühe Lieder (1986),and 7 frühe Lieder(1987). Berio's 6 frühe Lieder dates from 2011, though the songs are even earlier, from 1880 to 1889. Thomas Hampson made the first recording in January 1992, with Berio himself conducting the Philharmonia, London. It's still the classic, but Goerne and Pons should be strong competition. Goerne has been singing Mahler for more than 20 years - long before Mahler became fashionable. He sang the Rückert-Lieder which is is a treasured collector's item, never commercially released. Goerne's Ich bin der Welt abhanden geworden is moving : a great Mahler enthusiast chose it for her funeral. Goerne's fondness for Mahler's early songs goes way back. In 2000, he did an unusual programme at the Wigmore Hall, mixing the early songs with songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn The songs date from 1880 to 1896, but, by grouping them by theme, Goerne brought out the connections between them. The earliest songs were not based on Brentano and von Arnim, but they all convey a sense of wonder. Wo die Schone Trumpeten blasen was followed by Erinnerung and Phantasie came after Urlicht. Der Tambourgs'll preceded Zu Strassbourg auf der Schanz. Thematic connections, and a reaffirmation of the way Mahler's morphed from song to symphony. Sixteen years later, Goerne's voice has matured. These Mahler/Berio songs are very well done indeed. Recently, Goerne sang Das Lied von der Erde in Austria, also with Josep Pons, in the tenor/baritone version. Though Fischer-Dieskau sang it several times, it's still "off the beaten track". But I think Goerne would be interesting.

Guardian

May 22

Beethoven, Schumann, Françaix: Equal CD review – colour and nuance

Sebastian Bohren (violin), Chaarts Chamber Artists (RCA Red Seal)Youth to the fore here, with the stylish Sebastian Bohren giving a silky account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, accompanied by the conductorless Chaarts Chamber Artists, founded by former members of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in 2010 and since embellished by instrumentalists from leading orchestras and chamber ensembles. Their deliciously forthright reading of the Beethoven makes the Schumann Phantasie for violin and orchestra in C Major feel a bit thin in comparison, but Bohren and the players sparkle in Jean Jean Françaix’s Nonetto from 1995, an arrangement of Mozart’s E flat major quintet, K452. Françaix takes the piano part and redistributes it for string quartet and double bass, while retaining the wind parts of the original. The result is refreshingly rich in colour and nuance. Recommended. Continue reading...




Classical iconoclast

May 20

Pappano Mahler 6 LSO Barbican

Publicity at the Barbican Hall last week had advertised "Pappano Violin Concertos" leading one to think that Pappano had added another string to his bow. Pappano did conduct Shostakovich Violin Concerto no 1 with Viktoria Mullova, but for me the question was : what would Pappano do with Mahler Symphony no 6 ? Answer : he';s do Pappano Mahler. Given that Mahler isso ubiquitous these days, there's no reason we can't come with Mahler of a very different flavour. Pappano is a brilliant conductor of Italian operatic repertoire, gut he's no mean conductor of symphonic work, Indeed some of his finest moments have been with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He's introduced a new series of orchestral concerts at the Royal Opera House, too, an excellent idea which complements the operatic fare. Surprisngly enough, some opera fans  don't often listen to music without singing or celebrity stars, so Papano's intiative enhances their experience. (Read my review "Text Sublimated" of Pappano's first ROH orchestral concert here)  In his day job, Mahler conducted opera, so Pappano's Mahler was certainly interesting in that context.  Pappano does Mahler with flair, though he has far too much taste and good sense to overdose on theatrical histrionics. Good solid playing from the LSO, with whom Pappano has worked many times. Altogether enjoyable enough, though not as illuminating as one might expect from Mahler specialists. Pappano won't go down in history as a Mahler conductor. Some will never get his Wagner, either.  Pappano's Mahler was certainly much more rewarding than Sinaisky and Karabits, who've both done Mahler this week. At the end of the day, being a really good conductor, as opposed to a good conductor, pays dividends.



Classical iconoclast

May 18

Kaufmann saves Meistersinger, superb Salonen Stravinsky

All quiet on the Live Front, but a glut of good listening links online. For starters : Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - live from Munich :  Jonas Kaufmann is a dream Walter von Stolzing, giving depth and maturity to the role with his now slightly darker timbre.  Definitely an interesting take on the part.   That Prize Song is so ardent that it's not the work of someone new to the game.  Kaufmann is such a singular Walter that this is worth hearing for him alone.  Any new Die Meistersinger is high profile, especially when it is in Munich, so close to Nuremburg and also to Bayreuth, so perhaps I was expecting too much.  At this level, no performance is ever going to be bad, but I would have preferred something less generic. Because Kaufmann is the Bayerisches Staatsoper's greatest asset, you'd think they could have created  the whole thing around him. He's not a typical Walter, but that could have been an ideal opportunity to rethink things musically.  It's not as if the opera is unfamiliar, is it ?  We could cope with something unique, making the most of  Kaufmann's distinctive timbre. Walter Koch is a good Hans Sachs, but everything needs to be stronger and more individual not to be eclipsed by such a powerful Walter.  Despite listening carefully twice over, which takes 10+ hours,  I can't get specially fired up. Meistersinger should be much more than generic. Meistersinger opens the Glyndebourne season on Friday. Munich ought to win hands down; But who knows ? Michael Güttler is conducting. Although he's relatively unknown in the UK, at 50, he is no ingénu and has a reasonably solid background. Stravinsky : Myths and Rituals :  Esa Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra continues a fascinating season devoted to Igor Stravinsky.  As usual, Salonen's in-depth explorations with the Philharmonia go far beyond simply presenting "greatest hits". The concert on Sunday May 15th is now available on BBC Radio 3.  It includes Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1947 version). .  Salonen does wonders, bringing out its quirky originality. In the last few weeks I've been immersed in Boulez's recording of the 1920 version. What a joy to compare the two,and with two conductors who really understand.   On the radio, we miss out on the choreography specially commissioned for this performance of Agon, which is a pity since the work is usually heard without the context of dance, but the playing is so vivid, you can use your imagination.  A stunning Rite of Spring, too. On Sunday 21st,  Salonen and the Philharmonia will be doing Oedipus Rex with a good cast and a semi-staging by Peter Sellars.  Not being a Sellars fan, I think I'll stick to the live broadcast. More to come : Matthias Goerne : Mahler Early Lieder orch.  Berio, Heinrich Schutz from Regensburg, English Song Weekend and much more

Gustav Mahler
(1860 – 1911)

Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 - 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian-Bohemian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer, he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 the music was discovered and championed by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers. After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, Malherhe held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper). During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler experienced regular opposition and hostility from the anti-Semitic press. Late in his life he was briefly director of New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. Mahler's œuvre is relatively small and is confined to the genres of symphony and song, except for one piano quartet. Most of his ten symphonies are very large-scale works. These works were often controversial when first performed. Mahler's immediate musical successors were the composers Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten are among later 20th-century composers who admired and were influenced by Mahler. The International Gustav Mahler Institute was established in 1955, to honour the composer's life and work.



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