Saturday, October 22, 2016
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: For a troubled London teenager in the 1960s, there were three available sources of relief. One was illegal, one was immoral, and the third was available every other week at the Royal Festival Hall. I took myself to hear the Tchaikovsky Pathétique more often than I remember, sitting in the backless choir seats, watching the wealthier part of the audience indulge in plush catharsis. Over time, the relief wore thin. Tchaikovsky gave way to Mahler, and the Pathétique became a rare item, out of fashion, off the concert menu….. Read on here.
Viviana Durante and Laura Morera in rehearsal for Anastasia, The Royal Ballet © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton Two worlds Anna Anderson sits in a Berlin mental institution, watching video footage of the Romanov family . She believes herself to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia , youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II , having survived the massacre that killed her family in 1918 . Some people believe her, but many do not, and she is haunted by memories of a past that may not be hers. In Acts I and II of Kenneth MacMillan ’s Anastasia , we watch the young Anastasia grow up, amid the final days of the Russian Empire – but in Act III, we encounter the conflicted Anna Anderson as she battles with her possibly imagined Imperial past. An expanded look through history MacMillan originally created Act III of Anastasia as a one-act ballet for Deutsche Oper Ballet in 1967, and expanded it into a three-act work for The Royal Ballet in 1971, early in his tenure as the Company’s Director. Lengthening the work allowed MacMillan the opportunity to look at the history lying behind Anna Anderson’s claim, as well as creating a work that shows the skills of the entire company. The role of Anastasia/Anna Anderson was created on MacMillan’s muse Lynn Seymour , who had earlier created lead roles for MacMillan in The Invitation and Romeo and Juliet . A new production, designed by Bob Crowley , was created in 1996, and it returns in 2016 for its second revival. Belief and memory The story of Anna Anderson gripped the public in the 1960s and 70s, with many people believing – or wanting to believe – her extraordinary claim. DNA evidence has since proved that she cannot have been the Grand Duchess. But MacMillan’s ambiguous depiction of her remains a fascinating portrayal of a tortured figure and a startling exploration of memory and identity. A volatile musical universe There is as much contrast in the music for Anastasia as there is in the choreography: Tchaikovsky ’s First and Third Symphonies for Acts I and II; Martinů ’s Sixth for Act III. Tchaikovsky’s First is a wistful, youthful work that is the ideal setting for Anastasia’s reminiscences. His Third, filled with dance forms, creates the grandeur of a party at the Imperial palace that comes to a tumultuous end as revolutionaries invade. Martinů’s’s Sixth Symphony, titled Fantaisies symphoniques, is a dark array of thoughts and memories, hopes and fears, as volatile and uncertain as the ballet’s protagonist. A demanding lead role Lynn Seymour, the first ballerina to dance Anastasia/Anna Anderson, was renowned for the expressivity of her performances. In this ballet MacMillan created a role that spans the gamut of ballet, demanding facility in more neoclassical styles early on, and a show-stealing dramatic turn in the final act. Former Royal Ballet Principal Viviana Durante danced the role in 1996, and coaches it this year in her first return to the Company since 2000. Anastasia runs 26 October–12 November 2016. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 2 November 2016. Find your nearest cinema. The production is given with generous philanthropic support from Hans and Julia Rausing, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Richard and Delia Baker, The Tsukanov Family Foundation, Simon and Virginia Robertson and The Fonteyn Circle .
L’Amico Fritz | Beloved Friend: The Tchaikovsky Project | St John Passion | Jane Eyre | HerculanumThe first in Scottish Opera’s winter series of operatic collectors’ items is Mascagni’s second opera. Stuart Stratford conducts this sparky comedy, with Peter Auty as Fritz. Continue reading...
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Bychkov (Decca)Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Project spans two continents and three orchestras. The London leg is a series of three concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra this month at the Barbican in London; a similar series follows with the New York Philharmonic in January. In parallel with the live performances, Bychkov is recording some of the same repertoire with the Czech Philharmonic in Prague, of which this is the first disc.The running order puts the Pathétique Symphony before the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy, so that the strengths and weakness of Bychkov’s approach are writ large from the start. There are passages in both works that are undeniably thrilling – the great climaxes in both the first movement of the symphony and in the overture are irresistible, with the Czech orchestra, its brass especially, on top form. But set against those are too many sections when tempi seem indulgently slow and phrasing self-consciously mannered, moulded as if it had been squeezed out of a tube. Even the placing of individual chords is sometimes so deliberate the effect is deadening, and the moments of genuine excitement don’t come close to outweighing such contrivances. Continue reading...
Some way beyond crossover, the former R. E. M. rock group bassist Mike Mills is going on tour with violinist Robert McDuffie and the chamber orchestra Fifth House Ensemble . The musicians are boyhood friends whose tastes are converging. Mills is reaching back to his symphony-going childhood while McDuffie says he’s bored of playing the circuit of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky concertos. There’s a very nice feature on them in Rolling Stone. Meantime, here’s a taster. For those in the biz, it’s a CAMI tour.
For decades the Mozarteum Argentino has been the main force in bringing us important orchestras from all over the world. Back in 1978 we had the first Argentine visit of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra, conducted by their Principal Conductor Gerd Albrecht. The presence of the Tonhalle confirmed its European prestige. Then, in 1988 they returned with Hiroshi Wakasugi, their PC at the time, with pianist Rudolf Buchbinder; another positive experience. The venue was then and now the Colón. And this season they returned with their new PC, Lionel Bringuier, and the violinist Lisa Batiashvili. And the results were nothing short of stunning. The artists have youth in common: Bringuier is only 30, born in Nice, and was named PC at 28! And the violinist looks a similar age, though the biography gives no details about age; nor her place of birth, but her surname is Georgian. However it does inform about her career, and it is quite impressive, for she has played with the best orchestras and conductors of the world. As to Bringuier, he studied at the Paris Conservatory, where he received the influence of conductor and composer Peter Eötvös, for long the leader of the famous Ensemble Intercontemporain; now Eötvös has been named Creative Chair of the Tonhalle during this season, and several works of his will be played, one of them in BA. The other essential influence came from his six years as Resident Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, first with Salonen and then with Dudamel. About the Tonhalle: it started in 1862; after World War II it had eminent artists as PC: Vokmae Andreae ended his dilated tenure in 1949 and was succeeded by Rosbaud, Kempe, Dutoit, Albrecht, Eschenbach, Wakasugi, and before Bringuier, by David Zinman from 1995 to 2014. There´s a mistake in their hand programme biography: it isn´t the orchestra of the Zürich Opera, and it could hardly be: the Opera´s orchestra, called the Philharmonic, plays 250 performances a year! The 2016-17 season of the Tonhalle Orchestra boasts such names as Haitink, P.Järvi, Nagano, Ch.Von Dohnányi, Dutoit, Blomstedt, Zinman , Eötvös and Runnicles. They play at their New Hall, 1600 capacity. Their South American tour started at BA and continued at Montevideo, Sao Paulo and Rio, where the soloist was pianist Nelson Freire. Here they played two programmes, both having Batiashvili in Tchaikovsky´s Concerto. From the moment she started playing, there was no doubt that we were hearing an exceptional violinist: the timbre was as beautiful as she is, the phrasing was exact, the impulse and excitement were contagious, and when she had an ample melody she sang it as the best opera singer. She is also consistent, for on Tuesday she was as splendid as on Monday. And the Orchestra under Bringuier never lost pace nor technical perfection. The encore was unusual and welcome: the Kreisler arrangement for violin and orchestra of the principal melody of Dvorák´s Second Movement from the New World Symphony, interpreted as meltingly as can be. Two symphonies were heard: on Monday, Shostakovich ´s Sixth; on Tuesday, Mahler´s First. Before Shostakovich, a seven minute score by Ötvös with a particular title: "The gliding of the Eagle in the skies" (première). Written for the National Basque Orchestra in 2012, it features a big orchestra with much percussion, especially a "caja" (drum case), and flighty sounds from the flutes. I found the music evocative and interesting . The Sixth was premièred just as World War II started, and as it ends with a sarcastic Presto it was rejected at the time, but it starts with a desolate Adagio in the best stark mood of the author, and it is an important score. Apart from being overfast in the second movement, Bringuier was impeccable, and the orchestra, a round hundred players, showed first-rate quality in all sections. Mahler´s First was heard for the third time this year, but the music resists repetition as few others, for it is immensely creative and atractive throughout. Bringuier´s reading was quite satisfactory, and the playing had many moments of moving communication. Encores: on Monday, a sprightly rendition of Rossini´s Overture for "L´Italiana in Algeri". On Tuesday, a surprise: Florian Walser, the Tonhalle´s clarinettist, composed a funny showpiece with no name on traditional Swiss tunes, featuring characteristic wether bells, played with gusto by his colleagues. For Buenos Aires Herald
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840 - November 6, 1893) was a Russian composer of the Romantic era. His wide ranging output includes symphonies, operas, ballets, instrumental and chamber music and songs. He wrote some of the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the 1812 Overture, his First Piano Concerto, his last three numbered symphonies, and the opera Eugene Onegin. Born into a middle-class family, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant, despite his obvious musical precocity. He pursued a musical career against the wishes of his family, entering the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1862 and graduating in 1865. This formal, Western-oriented training set him apart from the contemporary nationalistic movement embodied by the influential group of young Russian composers known as The Five, with whom Tchaikovsky's professional relationship was mixed.
Great composers of classical music