Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Violinist Janine Jansen has been one of my favorite performers for a long time now. I enjoy the passion, technical skills, and excellence of performance that she brings to each composition. I have prepared a playlist for your enjoyment. There are 7 tracks on this list, comprised of the following: Track 1: Bonus Tracks 2-4: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Track 5: Havanaise for violin and orchestra by Saint-Saens Track 6: Introduction and Rondo Capriccios by Saint-Saens Track 7: The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaghan Williams Click on one of the tracks, relax, and enjoy:
5-day INTERNATIONAL CONDUCTING MASTERCLASS with Maestro LIOR SHAMBADAL ( the Chief Conductor of the Berliner Symphoniker) & KARLOVY VARY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (Carlsbad Symphony Orchestra) 22-26 August 2016, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic. Program: J. Brahms, Symphony No. 1, Op. 68, P. I. Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6, Op. 74, F. Mendelssohn, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Op. […]
My Lebrecht Album of the Week is Lucas Debargue’s debut recital on Sony: This is a great time for piano lovers, a terrible one for young pianists. The past four years have flung up the most phenomenal range of new talent, more than listeners can take in. Daniil Trifonov, the 2011 Tchaikovsky winner, set a new benchmark. Since then, the 2015 Chopin competition has yielded Seong-jin Cho and Charles-Richard Hamelin, the Van Cliburn has brought forth the prodigious Beatrice Rana, the BBC Young Musician winner Benjamin Grosvenor has quickly made a name for himself and there are more coming through all the time. And then there’s Lucas Debargue. Placed fourth in the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition at the age of 24, the former supermarket assistant impressed as much for his courage and naivety as for his technical ability. He had never played with an orchestra before he reached Moscow… So can Cool Hands Lucas cut it on record? Read on here. Or here. Or even here.
One of my earliest teaching positions was at Repton School in the UK. I recently donated a letter to the school’s archives that I found silted up in my ancient piles of correspondence. It’s one I received from the tenor Peter Pears, Benjamin Britten’s companion, whilst I was a young master at the school; in it he mentions that his great uncle, Steuart Adolphus Pears, had been Head Master of Repton from 1854 to 1874, a distinguished connection that had somehow grown hazy in the mists of time. The reason for the visits in 1955 and 1960 by Britten and Pears to perform in the Repton School Subscription Concerts, sparsely documented in the annals, becomes clearer. Some of you may recognise the name Repton from the tune which is sung to the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. An erstwhile Director of Music at Repton had figured that a particular tune from Parry’s oratorio Judith was a bit of a cracker, and so in it went to the school’s hymn book supplement in 1924, subsequently baptised ‘Repton’. But what has this got to do with the subject of this week’s blog—nightingales? Not a lot, except that I was intrigued to discover another musical connection with Repton shortly after taking up my post there. One of my favourite songs had always been A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (8.120663 ), and I learned that the lyrics were written by Eric Maschwitz, a Repton Old Boy. So, this week, I’d like to develop that seed and present a number of works that have an association with the nightingale, beginning with that perennial favourite of mine by Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin. The next two pieces (and there are many more) were inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Nightingale, in which an emperor takes more pleasure from the sounds of a mechanical bird than the song of a real nightingale. Favole (8.555267 ) by Elisabetta Brusa is a suite the composer dedicated to her godson on the occasion of his birth. The second movement, The Real Nightingale and the Mechanical One, is described by Brusa as follows: “[Note] the difference between the lyrical melody of the real nightingale (flute) and the more rhythmical and less emotional melody…of the mechanical bird played by the piccolo and the glockenspiel; all of a sudden the mechanical nightingale breaks down, onomatopoeically expressed by the glissandi of the strings and by the sound of the rattle at the end of the last carillon-like section, so the real nightingale is able to triumph with its lyrical singing.” Here it is . Stravinsky’s The Nightingale (8.557501 ) was first performed in Paris in 1914; it’s a one-act opera in three scenes. Here’s how Robert Craft, the distinguished authority on Stravinsky, described the work’s orchestration: “Stravinsky’s orchestral palette…is never more exotically colourful than in The Nightingale, which is a virtual catalogue of avian imitations: tremolos, trills, appogiaturas, grupetti string harmonics, pizzicato glissandos, flautando and ponticello effects, harp and piano arpeggios, harp harmonics and the retuning of cello strings to produce harmonics on unusual pitches.” You can have fun hunting these down for yourself. Meanwhile, here’s an extract from Scene 2 (The Porcelain Palace of the Chinese Emperor): Song of the Nightingale . The Spanish composer Enrique Granados wrote two books of Goyescas, piano pieces that were inspired by his compatriot Francisco Goya and his ability to depict what Granados saw as the essence of the Spanish character. One of the Goyescas is titled The Maiden and the Nightingale (8.554403 ). The piece is basically a set of variations, but it ends with a cadenza that imitates the song of a nightingale . Edvard Grieg wrote more than 180 songs, but his relationship with singers was frequently one of dissatisfaction with their interpretation of his works. He wrote in his diary of 1906: What are singers? Nothing but vanity, stupidity, ignorance and dilettantism. I hate them, every one of them. ‘Also your wife?’, one will ask, but I answer: ‘I am sorry, but she is lucky enough not to be a singer.’ Hopefully, Grieg would have reconsidered his opinion after hearing this performance of part of his song, The Nightingale’s Secret (8.553781 ), which tells of a nightingale’s discretion in witnessing the amorous encounter of two lovers. Finally, a charming snatch that’s worth 60 seconds of anyone’s time: The Nightingale from Boris Tchaikovsky’s Swineherd Suite (8.572400 ), again based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It tells of the efforts of a lovesick Prince to gain the attentions of a Princess, which include the offering of two special gifts: one is an uncommonly beautiful rose; the other a silver-throated nightingale whose beguiling song is captured on the piccolo against a backdrop of harp and strings Oh, and very finally, having worked there for a while not too long ago, I can report that, sadly, nightingales are nowadays seldom heard singing in London’s Berkeley Square.
press release: San Francisco’s Bay Area Rainbow Symphony will be performing a free concert to remember and honor the victims of the Orlando Victims on Monday June 20th at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 50 Oak Street. Music Director Dawn Harms will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 “Pathetique”. All the tickets had been reserved for the concert in 2 days after ticket sales were launched this past Wednesday. To be on the waiting list, please reserve through Orlando-strong.eventbrite.com . For more information go to www.bars-sf.org or email Ganakajima@yahoo.com Launched in 2008, Bay Area Rainbow Symphony (BARS) is an orchestra dedicated to promoting and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer-identified (LGBTQ) musicians and composers. By creating an artistic community striving for both inclusivity and artistic excellence, BARS is becoming an intersection for LGBTQ artists to connect with each other and a wide range of audiences. Over 25% of BARS musicians and 40% of BARS audience identify as heterosexual/straight. Berlin’s concentus alius, Homophilharmonisches Orchester Berlin will be performing a free concert called “Orlando-Memorial-ein Konzert fuer die Liebe” featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #6 “Pathetique” on Wednesday June 22nd at Emmauskirche. Lausitzer Platz 8. The concert will be conducted by Christiane Silber. concentius alius is Berlin’s LGBTQ orchestra, founded in 1999. For more information go to www.concentus-alius.de
Rómulo Assis was playing the Tchaikovsky concerto in Amarante, northern Portugal, when an extravagant gesture by the conductor Nuno Côrte-Real hit the violin out of his hands and sent it crashing to the floor. The silence that follows is the sound of mass trauma. On inspection, the 1809 Nicola Lupot violin was found to have a crack running upwards from the ‘f’ hole. It is said to be repairable. Rómulo went on to play the concerto on the concertmaster’s instrument.
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