lundi 31 mai 2010

Have you heard Mason Bates ?

He is the LAPO's composer in residence. L Slatkin cancelled a concert (he is reported to have suffered a strike so we wish him prompt recovery) so both John Adams and Jayce Ogren shared duties to replace him for one of their East Coast - West Coast series.

Time for us to hear the broadcast in Europe and to discover that in the program,  Mason Bates's Liquid Interface is a stunning work. Like John Adams or Guillaume Connesson, his handling of orchestral colors and blend of contemporary - electronic scores is first-rate.

I need to spend more time relistening to the work to speak more about it but right now I have no doubt that this is a unique distinctive voice and hope to hear his works soon in the concert halls.

How mainstream is Sibelius ?

I was in Victoria Hall last Thursday for a Sibelius - Henze concert. The Henze was a discovery but I have to admit that Ihave been very early a huge fan of Sibelius whose control of musical form and orchestral colors is just unique.

How accepted is Sibelius even today ? It seems that he is still not that known in Germany and that Rattle has to do some efforts to get a full cycle accepted in Berlin.

Looking at my notes, I first heard the second Symphony with K Penderecki in Paris in 1983 at a concert where I was mostly going to hear Rostropovitch premiere the composer's cell concerto. Two years after in London, I heard the same Symphony with Rattle and the Philharmonia in my encounter with this conductor. Muhai Tang played end 85 the first with the Paris Orchestra and told me that it was the first time the players encountered this piece.

Then I had to wait 1992 to hear Rattle play the same second in London with the LPO followed by Ashkenazy in Boston a few months after. C Telzlaff and Dohnany played the violin concerto in London five years after.

More significant was Salonen and the LAPO toured Europe with a cycle three years ago which allowed to hear the first, third (outstanding work), 6th and 5th ...

(and I cannot I cannot count various encore like the Scene with cranes, a 5 mn max encore played by Rattle and the VPO after a Beethoven 5th in Paris, nor a few Valses Tristes encored with Jansons and the GMYO or P Jaärvi and the VPO ...)

Bottom line, hearing Sibelius in the concert hall is still a rare event. Mahler works are repeated ad nauseam and works are losing freshness whereas fact is that Sibelius remain totally underplayed.

mercredi 26 mai 2010

Kids ...

Claudio Abbado has been admitted to a hospital following exhaustion. His short-term concerts including the Mahler 2nd at la Scala and the Mozart Prokovief Mendelssohn in Paris has not yet been officially cancelled but will be soon ...

We wish him the best and prompt recovery but never expected to see the name of Abbado in this ...

(31/05/2010: A quick udpate, there are plans to move the Pleyel concert in October 2010, so if you have tickets, do not try to get a refund too fast ...)

mardi 18 mai 2010

A few days in Vienna

Back from an extended week-end in Vienna. No Concert or Opera performances to report but music is everywhere and we do recommend the Gustav Mahler und Wien exhibition at the Österreichisches theater museum.

We probably know a lot about Mahler and shedding new light can be difficult. Mahler's Czech influence was well represented and it was a pleasure to see that Hans Rott's picture was visible in the room devoted to Mahler's formative year (Who knows works by Rudolf Kryzyaznowski ?)

The Mahler exhibition was close to one devoted to Thomas Bernhard. Both suffered or fought Austria's conservatism  and were also revered by some circles. In art like in business or politics, it is good to have a clear designated enemy. If these were looking for one today, they should look no further than the mercantilisation of music in Vienna. At every monument, you find cheap concert peddlers dressed in 18th century clothes, trying to get you in some Wiener-Residence Orchestra or Wiener-Mozart-Ensemble. There are everywhere which  probably means that there is a public for this sort of thing and that they must be either tolerated or officially approved.

How did they said: Kleider machen Leute ?

Vienna has also a few museums - centers of interest which arehouses of famous people. Sissi's appartements are enjoyable as they give a good impression of who she was and what her life looked like. Best even is Freud house. A not to be missed visit which shows his encyclopedic knowledge and endless curiosity. One may have doubts as to his enduring legacy but not on his ability to probe.

These are at the opposite of Mozart's house which is not only really empty but hardly tries to make any statement on the composer. Walls are white, there is hardly any content and a video clip of Amadeus nor a few tunes from Magic Flute of Figaro are enough to give a sense of his status and position in Vienna.

While Gérard Mortier was the director of the Paris Opera, he did several lectures on Mozart which were brillant; He portrayed a Mozart at the opposite of either the devilish genius of Amadeus (a brillant movie nonetheless) or the boy genius. In other words, he fought the "Images d'Epinal" of Mozart and would have felt similarly cheated visiting this batiment.

Enclosed here is a picture taken at the first floor of Mozart's house. Was this as clean on his time ?

samedi 1 mai 2010

Neglegted Masterpieces

Hans Rott is not the only composer whose works are unjustly neglegted in concert halls. Allow me to add a selected list of works which are masterpieces which I have never heard live:

  • Villa-Lobos has written a Symfonia which is a Mozart hommage. My friend Muhai Tang recorded it with his Zurich forces. It is a work full of rythmic subtleties, elegance and finesse with yes, a Mozartian spirit.

  • Do you know Rzewki's The people united will not be defeated. This is a modern set in the line of the Goldberg Variations or Webern ones, full of invention and internal logic. A fascinating titanic work:

  • Kodaly: if you thought that Bartok composed the definitive Concerto for Orchestra, you still need to hear Kodaly's one
  • Martinu: Zimmerman is touring the world with the Czech composer second violin Concerto, it is a stong rapshodic work. There are also some great piano concertos from Martinu.
  • Ives: Everyone would agree on the importance of his works, yet, I have only heard live his 4th Symphony (In Boston under Ozawa in 1992) (and why have I ever just heard one work by Copland  ?)
  • Nielsen: Sibelius is starting to feature in some concert programs: Jaarvi will open his tenure in Paris with the Kullervo which is a stunning work but Nielsen remain totally absent. Once again, I just heard the 3rd Symphony with Soprano and Barytone ages ago.
  • Speaking of Nordic composers, you should know Stenhamar's second Symphony
So please, we all like Tchaikowsky's Pathétique,  Mahler's Second, Brahms ..., but these would be welcome.

Question to you all: what should be on your wish-list ?