Friday, December 9, 2016
Niklas Benjamin Hoffman, 26, was declared winner of the LSO Donatella Flick conducting competition last night. A student of Nicolas Pasquet, Gunter Kahlert, Markus Frank and Martin Hoff at the Franz Liszt University of Music, Weimar, Niklas is chief conductor of the academic orchestra in Göttingen. He wins £15,000 and an assistant conductor’s post with the LSO. Runners up were Vlad Vizireanu of Romania and Kerem Hasan from the UK. The competition is restricted to citiens of the 28 EU states. The rules may have to change, post-Brexit. See here for past winners.
Falvai/Hungarian National PO/Kocsis (Celestial Harmonies)The release of these studio recordings, made in Hungary this summer, must have been planned well before Zoltan Kocsis’s death in November. Their appearance now, though, provides a fine memorial to a musician who was much better known, in Britain at least, as a superlative pianist than as a conductor.The pairing of works is a curious one. The sleeve notes – more on which later – offer no explanation as to why one of Brahms’s best known scores should be yoked in a two-disc set with three orchestral laments by Liszt from 1866 that are rarely heard in concerts. The two composers were hardly stylistic soul mates, and the works have little in common. Continue reading...
Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s), London The pianist’s very fine recital featured a set of variations written for the festival’s former director, a birthday tribute to Tan himself, and Liszt’s Three Concert Études Melvyn Tan opened his Spitalfields Music recital with Variations for Judith, a set of variations on Bach’s Bist Du Bei Mir, each written by a different composer for Judith Serota, the Spitalfields festivals’ inspirational executive director from 1988 to 2007. Originally consisting of seven pieces, the set has grown over time to 12, with Tan giving the world premiere, on this occasion, of Rolf Hind’s new variation – a sombre, intense meditation on mortality, placed at the work’s centre. Despite the variety of styles – which range from Thea Musgrave’s linear elegance to Anthony Payne’s hard-edged assertiveness, via Stephen Johns’s baroque grandeur and Judith Weir’s glittering wit – the sequence has a wonderful cogency. It admirably suits Tan, whose playing combines intelligence, refinement and understated dexterity. Continue reading...
Venue: Konzerthaus: Mozart Saal Lothringerstraße 20, Vienna, 1030, Austria Performer: Khatia Buniatishvili, pianist Date: Monday 5 December 2016 at 19:30 PROGRAM: Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich (1839-1881): Pictures at an Exhibition Liszt, Franz (1811-1886): Rhapsodie Espagnole, S 254 Additional works by Liszt, Franz (1811-1886) Here is a musical preview for you, with Khatia playing Liebestraum
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: If there was an award for surprise of the year, this unpretentious release would win both the jury and the public vote. (NN) born 1814, was written off by music history as an also-ran, one of those stern faces in the back row of romantic group portraits, somewhere behind Chopin and Liszt. Read on here.
Enrique Arturo Diemecke has been at the helm of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic for twelve years, a long period, and maybe it´s time to evaluate globally his good and bad points. For some people feel –and I agree- that it would be fruitful to change Principal Conductor. On the plus side: fantastic memory; technical capacity; affinity with the Postromantic repertoire, particularly Mahler. On the minus side: a clownish personality aggravated each year by irritating and often mediocre and unnecessary comments; programming that isn´t inclusive enough ( some examples: almost no Schönberg-Berg-Webern; few good after WWII choices; neglect of composers such as Hindemith, Martinu or Milhaud; almost no relevant USA music, although he has worked there for decades); less subscription concerts than we should have (not 15 but at least 18); too much hogging: this year nine out of fifteen concerts are conducted by him; and too little presence of important colleagues, Argentine and foreign. In this visual and light society, many like the showman aspects that trivialize concertgoing; but such recent visits as the mature Nagano and the young Bringuier demonstrate that you can be vital, perceptive and communicative without lowering standards of behavior. I believe we need another sort of Principal Conductor: one with Diemecke´s strong points but one that corrects the weak ones. There are a lot of fine conductors nowadays and a hunt should be on to find somebody that accepts the experience of working here. Diemecke has led the Flint, Mich, Orchestra for 27 years; doesn´t anyone wonder why a man of such technical capacity hasn´t moved to a higher-rank USA orchestra? Or to a good European one? I do, and think that his personality is the problem. Let him come as guest, for he has quite a following, and his better concerts are quite enjoyable. The tenth subscription concert was rather good, though it started with a crossover Mexican piece too often played here, the Danzón Nº 2 by Arturo Márquez, "danced" by Diemecke on the podium (he premièred it here fifteen years ago). Then, an homage to Ginastera by one of his historic interpreters, the veteran pianist Luis Ascot: the Concerto Nº1, Op.28, a tough score of his Neo-expressionist period, premièred in 1961 both in Washington and BA by Joao Carlos Martins and conductor Howard Mitchell. Ascot has always been a Ginastera champion and has played this concerto often in his international career. Now there´s a sense of strain and intent concentration, but by and large his was a true voice, and was well supported by the conductor. Feted by the audience, he played two quiet encores: Liszt´s Consolation Nº3 and Ginastera´s "Canción al árbol del olvido" ("Song to the tree of oblivion"). The concert ended with a very good reading of Mussorgsky´s "Pictures from an exhibition" in Ravel´s unparalleled orchestration. Here Diemecke was at his best, giving its true character to every fragment of this extraordinary score, and there were brilliant solos (saxophone, trumpet) as well as powerful brass ensembles. I wasn´t happy with the following concert, too short and strangely made up of two concerti and a famous Ravel piece, "La Valse". I love Poulenc´s Two-Piano Concerto, one of his best scores, particularly as they are played by the Labèque sisters; the artists brought over on this occasion are first-rate: Jean-Philippe Collard, a masterful French pianist whose white mane tells of a long career documented by splendid records, such as the two Ravel Concertos; and our Marcela Roggeri, who lives in Paris and visits us regularly. The concerto hardly lasts twenty minutes; in what was an exciting interpretation, I question some harshness from the orchestra and an excessively brusque rhythmic accent, almost machinistic at times, though played with stamina and clarity, apart from minor misadjustments. The charming encore was Poulenc´s waltz-musette "L´embarquement pour Cythère" ("The embarkation for Cytherea"), vaguely based on Watteau´s lovely painting. I didn´t enjoy the South-American première of Pascal Dusapin´s Cello Concerto, of course well played by the Finnish specialist Anssi Karttunen, who was the first to execute 135 contemporary pieces! I found the music arid, though in some moments there are interesting sonic effects. There was an encore which I couldn´t place. Finally, "La Valse" was played grossly, without the refinement that most of it needs; this was Diemecke in poor form. For Buenos Aires Herald
Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 July 31, 1886) was a 19th century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist and teacher. Liszt became renowned throughout Europe during the 19th century for his great skill as a performer. Liszt was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age and perhaps the greatest pianist of all time. Liszt was also an important and influential composer, a notable piano teacher, a conductor who contributed significantly to the modern development of the art, and a benefactor to other composers and performers, notably Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg and Alexander Borodin. As a composer, Franz Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the New German School. He left behind an extensive and diverse body of work, in which he influenced his forward-looking contemporaries and anticipated some 20th-century ideas and trends. Some of Liszt's most notable contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form and making radical departures in harmony.
Great composers of classical music