vendredi 28 décembre 2012

Worst of 2012, if I may ??

My reviews are available in I have to pay tribute to the staff at Concertonet to offer freedom in writing, to regularly check if our facts are validated (No Lebrechtism here) and to maintain a site which at more than 25 thousands readers worldwide must be among the most read musical magazines on the web.

I would therefore let a curious reader see the cases where I was unhappy but wanted to tell a story which I did not mentioned in Concertonet. The Swiss Romande Orchestra's former music director Marek Janowski has regularly played Bruckner and has recorded on Pentatone a cycle which has been receiving glowing reviews.

He played his last concert on November 10 of this year with Bruckner's 4th Symphony in a private concert for the United Nations. I attended as a guest. This was the worst audience I ever experienced. Coughing, page turning, people talking, ..., all was there. At the beginning of the Scherzo, I asked a couple to stop behaving so badly and take example on my 14 years old son who was showing respect and politeness to audience and musicians alike.

This is not typical of the usual Victoria Hall audience. This may be typical of UN guests.

This is really a shame because the concert really began well. In such conditions (and I could see players glancing angrily at the audience more than a few times), the performance lost focus and even the usually strong instrumental level left to be desired.

I feel really bad because Janowski's last concert should have been a case for celebration. He improved the level of the orchestra and expanded their repertory. The CDs he did with the orchestra will stay, not only the Bruckner but also the Bartok violin concertos with Arabella Steinbacher as well as a French program of rare works fom Chausson, D'Indy and Saint-Saëns.

But a good concert means good works, good musicians and a good audience. The latter was really not  there on this occasion?

mercredi 26 décembre 2012

Best of 2012 - on CD

Just as quick sequel to my earlier post of yesterday on live performances ...

I enjoyed Pollini's retake on Chopin's Préludes, Hilary Hahn playing Charles Ives, ..., but the one CD which stands out is Paavo Järvi's revelatory reading of Hans Rott's Symphony coupled with two short pieces that confirms the composer's talent and originality.

If you like Mahler, Bruckner, Wagner ... then this music is for you. It is superbly played here by Järvi and his Frankfurt musicians with a keen sense of line and harmonic richness. I cannot recommend this discovery too highly.

lundi 24 décembre 2012

Best of 2012

Beckmesser is following the end of year tradition of selecting a best performance.

There are many candidates. I am convinced that Yuja Wang is a great artist with significant personality and individuality who is going to last. I miss Marek Janowski who gave us a stunning reading of Bruckner's Second Symphony and led me to better understanding of this composer. The orchestral performance of the year though was the Berlin Philharmonic multi-composer program in Geneva, a clear reminder of why they are really special and please do come back soon.

The Zurich Meistersinger was close to a near perfect evening save for an unfortunate sub-par Eva. I also had in Zurich a delightful Comte Ory which made me realize how little I really knew of Rossini. So, it is without hesitation that the performance of Zimmerman's Die Soldaten at Salzburg is my operatic performance of the year. The dramatic impact achieved in a work of this difficulty was stunning. One has to acknowledge that it is easier to do something special with modern works but this is what Festival production should be about and I look forwards to the forthcoming Gawain from the same team next year.