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Robert Schumann

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


My Classical Notes

Yesterday

Piano Daydreams

My Classical NotesThis is a wonderful collection of solo piano compositions played by different artists, such as Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Lang Lang, and more. Here is a long list of the selections that are recorded for your enjoyment: Bach, J S: Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 1 in C major, BWV846: Prelude Hélène Grimaud (piano) Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight’: Adagio sostenuto Daniel Barenboim (piano) Brahms: Intermezzo in E flat major, Op. 117 No. 1 Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Chopin: Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2 Daniel Barenboim (piano) Nocturne No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 15 No. 2 Daniel Barenboim (piano) Prelude Op. 28 No. 4 in E minor Martha Argerich (piano) Prelude Op. 28 No. 7 in A major Martha Argerich (piano) Debussy: Préludes – Book 1: No. 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin Dino Ciani (piano) Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque) Alexis Weissenberg (piano) Grieg: Lyric Pieces Op. 43: No. 6 – To Spring Mikhail Pletnev (piano) Lyric Pieces Op. 54: No. 4 – Nocturne Andrei Gavrilov (piano) Liszt: Consolation, S. 172 No. 3 in D flat major Daniel Barenboim (piano) Liebestraum, S541 No. 3 (Nocturne in A flat major) Yundi Li (piano) Mendelssohn: Song without Words, Op. 19b No. 1 in E major ‘Sweet Remembrance’ Daniel Barenboim (piano) Song without Words, Op. 30 No. 6 in F sharp minor ‘Venezianisches Gondellied No. 2’ Daniel Barenboim (piano) Rachmaninov: Prelude Op. 23 No. 4 in D major Lazar Berman (piano) Prelude Op. 32 No. 12 in G sharp minor Lilya Zilberstein (piano) Satie: Gymnopédie No. 1 Jean-Marc Luisada (piano) Schubert: Impromptu in G flat major, D899 No. 3 Daniel Barenboim (piano) Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Traümerei Lang Lang (piano)

My Classical Notes

July 23

Christiane Karg

Soprano Christiane Karg is one of my favorite singers. While my reasons are numerous, one of the chief reasons is that I have experienced her performances where she LIVES her art. Via a video, let alone a live performance, I can see her singing come to life, and I feel that the composer smiles… This new recording features the following Arias and Lieder: Gluck: Adieu, conservez dans votre âme (from Iphigénie en Aulide) Sacre piante (from Il Parnaso Confuso) Gretry: Il va venir…Pardonne, o mon juge (from Silvain) Mendelssohn: Infelice – concert aria for soprano and orchestra, Op. 94 Mozart: Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete (from La Finta Semplice) Schreker: Sommerfäden, Op. 2, No. 1 Schubert: Herbst, D945 Schumann: Frühlingsnacht (No. 12 from Liederkreis, Op. 39) Schumann, Clara: Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen, Op. 12 No. 2 (Text: Friedrich Rückert) Strauss, R: Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3 Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4 Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4 Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8 Wolf, H: Auf eine Christblume II (No. 21 from Mörike-Lieder) All performed by Christiane Karg (soprano) Christiane Karg is one of the most-sought-after lyric sopranos of the present day, acclaimed for her embodiment of operatic roles and as a lieder, concert and oratorio singer. She can be seen and heard all around the world: at lieder recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall and in the Vienna Konzerthaus, at La Scala in Milan with her 2016 debut in “Der Rosenkavalier”, at regular guest appearances at the Munich State Opera and the Dresden Semperoper, at the Salzburg Festival and at Glyndebourne. By a wise selection of roles and repertoire, the soprano has continued to develop her voice and strike out in new directions. Christiane Karg tells us that: “All of the recordings I have borrowed from, whether they be pure lieder programs with Burkhard Kehring and Malcolm Martineau, or those with Jonathan Cohen and his ensemble Arcangelo, are the fruit of longstanding ideas, the outcome of hours of sifting through material in libraries and archives, and the result of discussions with artistic colleagues. All of these pieces provide some form of insight into my inner thoughts, my very soul.”




Royal Opera House

July 20

How the Royal Opera House became the world’s most elegant pop venue

Pet Shop Boys. By Pelle Crépin © Pet Shop Boys Partnership, 2016 Red velvet, stucco cherubs and a whole lot of gilt: the main stage of the Royal Opera House has offered a glamorous home to opera and ballet since 1856. But why stop there? Over the years the ROH has moonlighted as a venue for pantomimes , ice-skating and glitzy award ceremonies – and most recently as a destination for leading pop artists. Pet Shop Boys take over the main stage for four shows this summer , becoming the latest in a starry roll-call of ROH performers. The ROH’s relatively short history of playing host to pop started in December 2001, with Björk . The gig was part of her world tour for the album Vespertine, and included new songs with previous hits. Included in Björk’s ensemble were electronic duo Matmos, an Icelandic choir, an onstage harpist and a full orchestra in the pit. Responses to this new venture were mixed: The Guardian saw cynical manoeuvres on both sides, the ROH in ‘search for a younger clientele’ and the pop world stuck in an ‘ongoing obsession with conservatism’. But there’s no denying the power of Björk’s performance. There was a lot less controversy around Elton John ’s ROH show the following year, a gala performance to raise funds for, and awareness of, his new scholarship fund for his alma mater the Royal Academy of Music . He and his band joined with a large orchestra and choir drawn from current RAM students, in a set of 11 songs arranged on massive scale. The show was broadcast by the BBC, presenting to a wide audience the argument that the worlds of pop and classical are in some ways closely linked. In 2004, Motörhead became the first band to venture beyond the main auditorium, in characteristically eardrum-busting performance in the Floral Hall – a lofty, light-filled structure usually home to the ROH champagne bar. Two years later, Snow Patrol followed (somewhat more sedately) in their footsteps with a ‘secret gig’ held as part of their Eyes Open world tour. The idea was to offer a free, spontaneous gig at an unusual venue: enter the Floral Hall once more. The set included three new songs, including Chasing Cars, and was later broadcast on Channel 4. Later that year choreographer Wayne McGregor pushing the envelope further, creating the ballet Chroma to an arrangement of White Stripes songs by Divine Comedy keyboardist Joby Talbot (now a veteran ballet composer). The ballet’s uproarious acclaim paved the way for McGregor’s appointment as The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. In 2012 McGregor made pop even more central to his work in Carbon Life , a collaboration with Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow that saw performers including Boy George and Alison Mosshart of The Kills join Royal Ballet dancers on stage. In recent years the ROH’s previously quiet summer period has become its regular pop slot. Sting swooped by in 2007, not to sing but to act in a show celebrating Robert and Clara Schumann. In 2008 Damon Albarn of Blur brought his stage extravaganza Monkey: Journey to the West, based on a Tang Dynasty manuscript. Rufus Wainwright was joined by father Loudon and sisters Martha and Lucy for a five-night residency in 2011 that included both his Judy Garland tribute and his opera Prima Donna. In 2013 Antony and the Johnsons presented Swanlights , originally commissioned by the New York Museum of Modern Art and accompanied here by the Britten Sinfonia . So it’s never going to be your usual gig – but then it is the Royal Opera House. Antony and the Johnsons: Swanlights © Clive Osbourne Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum runs 20–23 July 2016. Tickets are sold out. Chroma/New Wayne McGregor/Carbon Life runs 10–19 November 2016. Tickets are currently available.



Classical iconoclast

July 5

Lieder as Social Comment? Boesch Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall Monday Afternoon  recitals differ from evening concerts because they're shorter and more relaxed. Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau proved that "relaxed" does not in any way mean lowering of standards.  They presented a strong programme of Schumann and Wolf with refreshing panache.  ,For example, Die beiden Grenadiere, Op.49 No.1 where they seemed to create the physical presence of two tough soldiers, still marching defiantly in defeat.  One man thinks of home, but the other is still truculent, the strains of the Marseillaise ringing in his ears.   More Heine, with  Abends am Strand, Op.45 No.3  Another pair watch a fishing boat, and chat about  distant lands "und von den seltsamen Menschen und seltsammen Sitten  dort"  They don't like dirty foreigners (literally) ! So they sit, unmoved, on the beach, on the fringes of life,  as darkness envelops them, in every sense. Die feindlichen Brüder, Op.49  yet another pair of men fight a battle so cataclysmic that they and their castle are destroyed, and their ghosts continue to struggle, for centuries  after. Boesch and Martineau would have compiled this programme ages ago, but Heine feels remarkably prescient in the light of recent events.   For a breather, Boesch and Martineau then switched to Schumann's settings of Chamisso, Op 40, where they did all four songs in the set to telling effect. The first two songs, Märzvielchen Op 40/1 and Muttertraum Op 40/2, are relatively gentle but Der Soldat  Op40//3 ends in sheer horror.  A man loves another more dearly than anyone else in the world, But what's happening ? His pal is being executed. And by whom, and in what circumstances ? The psychological levels are complex. This is an extremely disturbing song, despite the steady march pace.   In comparison even Der Spielmann Op 40/4  might seem conventional.  since it connects to ancient traditions connecting fiddlers with death  In a macabre twist, Schumann set this poem about a cursed  wedding on the eve of his marriage to Clara.   Eight songs by Hugo Wolf, including the less ubiquitous Wolf settings of Goethe's Harfenspeiler songs, then back to Schumann and Heine for Belsatzar op 54.  In the piano part, the music reels riotously, as if at a drunken orgy.  "Ich bin der Kõnig von Babylon!", sang Boesch, just slightly off kilter so you could imagine the King puffed up but wobbly. At his moment of triumph, the King is struck down  Heed the Writing on the Wall, puffed-up would-be leaders of men. "The Twitter of the 19th century", announced Boesch before commencing  another Schumann setting of Chamisso,  Verratene Lieder . Two lovers kiss in secret but the stars pass it on, and soon everyone is in on the act.   Let no one think that Lieder is not cutting-edge social observation.  Listen again here on BBC Radio 3.

Robert Schumann
(1810 – 1856)

Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 - 29 July 1856) was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher, Friedrich Wieck, that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury caused by a device he created with the false belief that it would help increase the size of his hands prevented that. One of the most promising careers as a pianist had thus come to an end. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing. Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. His writings about music appeared mostly in the New Journal for Music, a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded. In 1840, Schumann married pianist Clara Wieck when she was of age, following a long and acrimonious legal battle with her father, his former teacher, to gain his approval of the match. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career. For the last two years of his life, after an attempted suicide, Schumann was confined to a mental institution, at his own request.



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