First seen as part of a 1912 double bill, Ariadne auf Naxos was revised and reshaped as Europe plunged into the carnage of the First World War. Strauss was profoundly relieved when his son, Franz, was declared unfit for military service. But his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, had already served as a reservist when the now familiar version of their backstage comedy on high and low art premiered in Vienna in 1916, four days after the assassination of the prime minister in the dining room of a hotel a few minutes' walk from the opera house.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
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Thursday 09 July 2009
Sunday 28 June 2009
The symphonic debut of a new conductor and orchestra partnership is always an event. Long associated with contemporary music, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra tears into the first of a cycle of Tchaikovsky's symphonies for the German label Orfeo under its young Latvian music director Andris Nelsons.
Tuesday 09 June 2009
Andris Nelsons knows that Mahler's Second Symphony is inextricably linked with Sir Simon Rattle's time as Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Back in his native Latvia, Nelsons more or less grew up with the famous Rattle recording of the Resurrection Symphony but, conducting the work with the CBSO, he talks of "polishing the mosaics in a different way". Polish, however, is exactly what was lacking here. At the same time, you could argue that however much this sprawling performance also lacked depth, Nelsons' dynamic interpretation made up for it in breathtaking immediacy and striking theatricality.
Sunday 10 May 2009
Monday 20 April 2009
You don't have to be a devotee of Handel – and estimations of his place in the musical canon differ – to appreciate the vision and planning that went into yesterday's Handel Day, arranged by the European Broadcasting Union, or to have enjoyed the result. Listeners feasted on 17 hours of live music relayed, as the world turned, from almost everywhere to almost everywhere else. But Handel Day was just one of many treats of cross-border music-making in recent days.
Thursday 09 April 2009
Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer. Under the conspicuously talented Yannick Nezet-Seguin, it shone, it thundered, it inspired all-enveloping awe and consolation.
Wednesday 08 April 2009
Another night, another student orchestra. If you want to learn the secret of classical music's perennial good health, look no further; the conservatoires are bristling with talent. The Orion draws its players from all four London conservatoires, and the Sonitus Chamber Choir, which joined it for this event, does likewise. One purpose of this orchestra is to promote "unjustly forgotten masterpieces"; another is to give the players experience of working under real-world pressure.
Monday 06 April 2009
Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem should be mandatory for anyone (and there are many) who has ever uttered a disparaging or ill-considered word against its composer.
Wednesday 01 April 2009
After the sunset, a new dawn. There was a kind of poetic symmetry about the pairing of Strauss' Four Last Songs and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe in the second half of this Mariss Jansons concert with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Straussian sunset was richly evoked in precisely the kind of dusky autumnal colours that are the signature of this splendid orchestra – and if Strauss imagined a dramatic yet lyric voice for his poignant valedictions in song then he had it all in Anja Harteros.
Monday 26 January 2009
Celebrating the music of Carl Nielsen, the Hallé and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras are beginning the new year by leaving symphonic visiting cards on each other's home territory.
Sunday 25 January 2009
Engaging Anne-Sophie Mutter for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is certainly one way of guaranteeing a full house for orchestral rarities by Martinu and Strauss. Throw in a rather charming public defence of the Strauss - the much-maligned Symphonia Domestica - by the conductor, Mark Elder, and you've got yourself an event.
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