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Edward Elgar

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

Yesterday

America assembles a super-orchestra

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc This is the cello section of the Gerard Schwarz All-Star orchestra recording for PBS television at Suny College New York. It features principals of the Met, Cincinnati, Richmond, associate of San Francisco, two members from the Philadelphia Orchestra, one from the New York Philharmonic, one from the National Symphony and Gerard Schwarz. Over four sessions in two days they recorded: Sibelius no.2, Elgar Enigma Variations, Goosens Jubilee Variations, Mussorgsky’s Bald Mountain, Britten Variations, Hovaness Mysterious Mountain, Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet. They should get together more often.

My Classical Notes

August 30

Grafenegg Music Festival – Austria

If you love music, this new DVD is for you: Grafenegg is celebrating its 10th birthday. Past, present and future come together in the Midsummer Night’s Gala jubilee. Having won over the audience at the very first Gala with his deeply resonant voice, Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel is joined this year by the young Russian coloratura soprano Olga Peretyatko. Selections played are as follows: Bizet: Vasco da Gama: Ouvre ton coeur, with Olga Peretyatko (soprano) Donizetti: OAh! tardai troppo…O luce di quest’anima (from Linda di Chamounix) Quanto amore (from L’elisir d’amore), with Olga Peretyatko (soprano), Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone) Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major, Op. 39 No. 1 Gounod: Mireille: Overture Ö légère hirondelle (from Mireille), with Olga Peretyatko (soprano) Le veau d’or est toujours debout (from Faust), with Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone) Lehár: Lippen schweigen (from Die Lustige Witwe Leigh, M: Man of La Mancha: The Impossible Dream Offenbach: La Vie Parisienne: Overture Verdi: Vanne, la tua meta gia vedo…Credo in un Dio crudel (from Otello) Weber: Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Konzertstück in F minor, Op. 79 for piano & orchestra, with Rudolf Buchbinder (piano) All supported by the Tonkunstler-Orchester, Yutaka Sado conducting Pianist and Artistic Director of Grafenegg, Rudolf Buchbinder, joins the celebrations at the piano. As is tradition, this atmospheric evening concludes with a fireworks display accompanied by Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” March. Here is the performance from Junee, 2016:






Tribuna musical

August 22

Barenboim/Kaufmann, an anticlimax closing the Festival

This is a sad review, for after calling the preceding concert (Barenboim/Argerich/WEDO) the event of the year, readers may expect a rather enthusiastic response to the last session of the Festival. But I went to the Colón in morose mood, for three facts were inexorable: the programme was too short; it presented the famous tenor in baritone repertoire; and it´s simply and irrevocably unethical to repeat a major score in the same subscription series. What drove me mad was the fact that the season programme, distributed in March, says: "we will present the dashing debut of German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who will delight our public with the music of Richard Wagner, avid to know one the maximal lyric expressions of our time". And this is what we got: the Prelude to the Third Act of Wagner´s "The Mastersingers"; Gustav Mahler´s "Songs of a Wayfarer"; and Mozart´s Symphony Nº41, "Jupiter". I can accept the first item (it was the encore of Concert Nº5; the encore, not one of the announced fragments). But baritone Mahler? And the repetition of Mozart´s "Jupiter" (played in the initial concert along with Nos. 39 and 40)? Sorry, there´s a limit to arbitrariness, even coming from world figures like Kaufmann and Barenboim. About Mahler: was it the tenor´s wish? Or did he propose something else and Barenboim vetoed it? I don´t know, but I give you a piece of news: Kaufmann will sing in Santiago de Chile a programme of operatic arias from Italian and French composers: "Tosca", "Aida", "Carmen", "Cavalleria Rusticana", "Le Cid", "Andrea Chenier" and "Turandot". Mouth-watering indeed, although it has no Wagner. Two ways to have done a decent programme: a) change the Wagner symphonic pieces in the concert with Argerich with, say, Brahms´ Fourth Symphony, and play the same symphonic fragments around Kaufmann, singing arias from "Lohengrin", "Die Walküre" and "The Mastersingers" (he has just sung the complete "Mastersingers" in Munich). b) Do the same programme as in Santiago, adding symphonic opera music to round it off. I have perused the CD R.E.R. catalogue of 2000 in the entry: Mahler: "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" ("Songs of a wayfarer"). The character of the songs is clearly manly, but several ladies of great career haven´t resisted the temptation and have recorded the lovely music. But not one tenor risked recording it and for good reason: hear the young Fischer-Dieskau with Furtwängler and then recollect what you heard at the Colón with Kaufmann, and what a falling off! Is it an experiment and he decided to try it here? For I read that he has an even stranger idea: to sing both the tenor and the baritone parts in Mahler´s masterpiece "Das Lied von der Erde" (Song of the Earth"); and that lasts an hour! The voice sounded veiled and out of register, but the man is an artist and of course he phrased with expression and taste, splendidly accompanied by Barenboim and his WEDO (West-Eastern Divan Orchestra). Then came the very partial saving grace, after just 18 minutes of singing: the lovely "Winsterstürme", Siegmund´s aria from "Die Walküre". There his real voice appeared. And then, helpers moved the piano and Barenboim accompanied him in the Tristanesque "Träume", last of the Five Wesendonk Lieder: beautifully done, though he was poaching in soprano repertoire. At least in this case Kaufmann has two antecedents: Melchior and Kollo, but both with orchestrations not done by Wagner. Readers may remember that two years ago I wrote enthusiastically about his Alvaro ("La Forza del Destino") in Munich: even in a horrid staging there was no doubt about his exalted category. So he owes us a second visit singing opera and has shown bad judgment in his debut. I do hold great hopes for his forthcoming Lieder recital. It transpired that both Argerich and Barenboim were affected by the flu, markedly so when they repeated the fifth programme, in which there were no encores; and that Barenboim wasn´t cured on the concert with Kaufmann. There was no encore after the "Jupiter", to my mind played with less rhythmic bite than on the first concert (of course everyone was fresher then). I do hope that next year Barenboim will be more careful and ethical: he owes it not just to the public, but to himself. This is a very expensive series, and two concerts in it were clearly below par; a third one is a controversial decision, that of Arabic music. Let´s have a real Festival where everything is topnotch. A personal desire: he has expressed his enthusiasm with Elgar: wouldn´t it be a great contribution to bring the powerful Second Symphony? For Buenos Aires Herald

Edward Elgar
(1857 – 1934)

Sir Edward William Elgar (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. Although Elgar is often regarded as a typically English composer, most of his musical influences were not from England but from continental Europe. He felt himself to be an outsider, not only musically, but socially. In musical circles dominated by academics, he was a self-taught composer; in Protestant Britain, his Roman Catholicism was regarded with suspicion in some quarters; and in the class-conscious society of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he was acutely sensitive about his humble origins even after he achieved recognition. After a series of moderately successful works his Enigma Variations (1899) became immediately popular in Britain and overseas. His later full-length religious choral works were well received but have not entered the regular repertory. The first of his Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901) is well-known in the UK and in the US. Elgar has been described as the first composer to take the gramophone seriously. Between 1914 and 1925, he conducted a series of recordings of his works. The introduction of the microphone in 1925 made far more accurate sound reproduction possible, and Elgar made new recordings of most of his major orchestral.



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