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Showing posts from August, 2015

Mahler Symphony No 1, San Francisco Symphony

The Schoenberg 'Theme and Variations Op. 43b' opened this San Francisco Symphony concert under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). It was a very tonal Schoenberg with a rich tapestry of sound, though we detected a bit of stiffness in the orchestra - not sure why. This was followed by Henry Cowell 'Piano Concerto' - its Proms debut. Well, the soloist Jeremy Denk did a lot of thumping and elbowing to the Model D on stage - interesting to have heard it. Denk then played a short encore 'Piano Sonata No2, 3rd Mov.' by Charles Ives (contemporary of Cowell) with much subtlety and finesse - arguably the best piece in the first half of the concert.

Then it was Mahler Symphony No 1. MTT conducted without score and somehow the whole band was transformed. The mysteriousness of the opening movement, the slightly decadent dances in the middle movements, through to the visceral 'young' Mahlerian sound world of the last movement were all beautifully played. The b…

Mahler Symphony No 6, Boston Symphony Orchestra

The concert started with Brett Dean 'Dramatis personae. An interesting work, with film music quality at the beginning, intrigues in the middle with splendid playing by Håkan Hardenberger on the trumpet, but the final movement was too populist for my liking (did we hear some Charles Ives?) A bit of stick waving from Andris Nelsons throughout.

Not so much frantic waving from Nelsons in the Mahler 6. The reading of the score was good, dynamics observed and the whole band played with accuracy. But the performance lacked emotional qualities and space. There was a certain detachment in the playing. It lacked intimacy. The tragedy just wasn't there.

Foulds and Messiaen at BBC Proms

Foulds Three Mantras was a thick wash of sound - a lot like a film score (think a marching Imperial Roman army). OK I Guess. Messiaen - Turangalila Symphony. That was epic. The orchestral colours still sound modern to our 21st century ears. Steven Osbourne's hands flew across the keyboard while Valérie Hartmann-Claverie conjured up some weird 'Doctor Who' sound from the ondes martenot. BBC Philharmonic under Juanjo Mena did the complex score justice. Loved the last movement - oozing with joy.

L’heure espagnole / L’enfant et les sortilèges at Glyndebourne

As expected, Danielle de Niese was great as Concepción in L'heure. she was wonderfully witty and playful. The whole cast worked really well together. L'enfant was very well put together. The outsized furniture added that fantasy quality to it. All the creatures were fun and added something to the story.
Robin Ticciati really did Ravel's score justice - and the LPO responded beautifully.