Friday, October 28, 2016
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein is out with a new CD for your enjoyment, and it is the Cd of the month for October, 2016. Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 107 Cello Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 126 Performed by Alisa Weilerstein (cello), with the Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Pablo Heras-Casado conducting. It was in Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto that ‘cellist Alisa Weilerstein prompted the Los Angeles Times to write: “Weilerstein’s cello is her id… She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same.” Ms. Weilerstein now returns with Shostakovich’s cello Concertos 1 and 2. Composed for the virtuosic cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the coupling and contrasting of these two amazing works is irresistible: the anti-heroic, relentless, emotionally suppressed First Concerto set alongside the sarcasm and isolation of the Second. Weilerstein’s interpretation is likely influenced by her meeting Rostropovich –a close friend of the composer – when she was 22, playing Shostakovich for him and absorbing his advice and wisdom. The Sunday Times wrote last month: “Weilerstein follows outstanding Decca recordings of the Elgar and Dvorak concertos with this pairing, which illustrates her depth and range…Heras-Casado and the Bavarians match the sardonic bite of her playing: this is one of the best accounts ever recorded of a work we don’t hear often enough in concert.” Here is Ms. Weilerstein in an album sampler:
Misha Maisky is a special personality among the great cellists of our time. Born in Latvia and now in his middle sixties, he is the only one that had instruction both from Gregor Piatigorsky and Mstislav Rostropovich, leading figures of yore. Great friend of Martha Argerich, he has given many concerts and made a recording of the complete Beethoven cello-piano sonatas with her. He has made 35 CDs, including three times the Bach cello suites. He visited us a long time ago, and now he returned at the height of his fame. Not for a recital but with a chamber orchestra, the Tel Aviv Soloists under their founder Barak Tal. It was a presentation of Nuova Harmonia at the Colón. The fact that it´s a chamber, not a symphony orchestra, limits the choices to works that can be played with 29 instruments, thus eliminating all the famous Concerti. The choices were: a short Tchaikovsky Nocturne, adapted by the composer from the fourth of his Six pieces op.19 for piano; "Kol Nidrei" by Max Bruch, which in the original is for cello and full orchestra, was played with less instruments (two horns, three trombones and harp were absent); and Haydn´s Concerto Nº1, Hob VIIb:1, in C. The Nocturne is a lovely melody and Maisky showed that he can really sing with his cello. With his disheveled mane of grey hair and informal dress code,. Maisky doesn´t look like a classical artist, but he most certainly is. "Kol Nidrei" means "all vows", an Aramaic prayer sung on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and is an 188l score defined as an Adagio on Hebrew melodies. It´s a beautiful piece that lasts ten minutes and Maisky phrased it with great expression. In the First Part, however, there were no fireworks and the music was slow. The splendid Haydn Concerto provided Allegro music and difficulties in the first and third movements, whilst leaving the middle Adagio for sensitive molding of melody. In the Allegros Maisky showed his flashy side, attacking wirth gusto and exaggerating the intensity in certain fragments, even risking some harshness, but never losing control. The audience, which had been friendly but contained before, exploded with ovations and got three encores. The two final variations (slow and very fast) of Tchaikovsky´s "Rococo Variations" (with less orchestra than the original) again let us hear the contrast between his plangent and subtle slow playing and the exciting, almost frantic playing of the virtuosic bits. Again Tchaikovsky, his arrangement of the Andante cantabile from the First Quartet, one of his most memorable melodies, was another proof of Maisky´s empathy with the composer. And the slow middle movement of Haydn´s Concerto for violin in C, transcribed for cello, played with exquisite control of pianissimo. By the way, the artist suffered from heat, and often wiped dry his face. Now to the Orchestra. Although the appellation "Soloists" hardly applies to an orchestra, some ensembles call themselves so, meaning that they play with great quality. The Zagreb Soloists did, but I feel that the Tel Aviv group doesn´t quite make the grade. Founded in 2001 by Tal, it is a good, decent group of young musicians, with particularly proficient oboes and flutes, but, either because it is the taste of the director or that there is a lack of impulse in themselves, the strings are relegated, especially the first violins; and one bass isn´t enough, you need at least two. There are 16 strings plus 8 woodwinds, 4 brass, and tympani. The purely orchestral scores on the programme were Mozart´s Symphony Nº 41, "Jupiter", and Prokofiev´s Symphony Nº 1, "Classical". Curiously in both cases I felt the same: low energy in the first two movements and a pickup in the last two. Surely there´s plenty of interesting content in the first movement of the "Jupiter" but it had no more than a lackluster reading this time; the Menuet was better, and the tour de force of counterpoint of the Finale emerged clean and positive. In the delightful Prokofiev opus, the Allegro start should be joyful and fresh, not tentative; the slow movement was correct. However, the Gavotte was rhythmically alive, and the exhilarating Finale took fire. In their accompanying role, Tal and the players were closely attuned to Maisky´s phrasing and did a good job. For Buenos Aires Herald
At 0935 yesterday the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic were informed that their Proms soloist Truls Mork was sick. At 1529 his replacement Alexey Stadler flew into Heathrow, little-known and 25 years old. At 1640 he was rehearsing on stage. At 1930 he made his Proms debut. No announcement was made to the audience. So how did he do? Ariane Todes was there: …This was an intelligent performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, with long lines and beautiful phrasing. If it was under-rehearsed, there was little evidence … Stadler holds his cello quite low, reminiscent of Rostropovich, but as yet he lacks the weight of sound and depth of vibrato of that master. There might have been a little more ugliness and anger in the characters of Shostakovich’s acerbic concerto, but no doubt that will come with age. Indeed, the Bach (the Sarabande from the Suite no.2) suited him better, beautifully conceived, simple and unmannered, but expressive and meaningful. It certainly made me want to hear more from him, and I’m sure we will. Read the full review here. photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht
First Graham Parker quit as general manager of New York’s WQXR to head Universal’s classical labels in the US. Now Steve Robinson has quit Chicago’s outstanding WFMT after 16 years. Here’s the official version: photo: Todd Rosenberg, at Andrew Patner’s memorial CHICAGO – August 8, 2016 – WFMT, Chicago’s classical and fine arts radio station, today announced that Executive Vice President and General Manager STEVE ROBINSON will depart from WFMT, effective October 1, 2016. His last day at the station will be Friday, September 30. “It is with great regret that we bid farewell to an indispensable member of our WFMT family,” said President and CEO Dan Schmidt of WFMT and WTTW. “It is difficult to imagine the station without his unflagging energy, endless creativity, and deep knowledge of classical music and radio operations. He will be greatly missed, and I know I speak for all of us when I wish him success in his future endeavors.” “Working at WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network has been the greatest privilege and challenge of my career,” said Robinson. “When people ask, ‘Oh, you run WFMT?’ I always say, ‘No, I run after it.’ And that’s because everyone at WFMT is immensely creative, knowledgeable, and passionate about their work, and all I’ve really done is try to harness this incredible talent to move the station forward. If it has progressed at all in the 16 years I’ve been there, it’s because of them, and I will always be grateful.” Steve has led WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network since 2000. Under his leadership, WFMT diversified its programming and increased its member base, and the Network became a leading producer and syndicator of music and spoken word programs. In 2002, Steve brought to the WFMT Radio Network a live broadcast of Princess Magogo, the first indigenous South African opera and the first with a libretto in the Zulu language. Steve hosted, and the opera was heard by more than four million listeners throughout the U.S. and Europe. Steve created Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin in 2003, a daily series heard by more than 400,000 listeners a week, and he also instituted a comprehensive subscription website. Other popular WFMT series and programs created during Steve’s tenure include include Impromptu, a daytime showcase for local and visiting artists; Introductions, a unique weekly series that features promising young pre-college musician; and the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, which was launched in 2015 in partnership with Chicago History Museum. Last year, at Steve’s direction, the Network began exporting classical music radio concerts by American ensembles for broadcast in China and importing Chinese music performances for broadcast in the West, marking the first time a cultural exchange of this kind had happened between America and China. In 2007, the Chicago Tribune named Steve a “Chicagoan of the Year” in the arts. His many other honors include two Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism; the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award; two Westbury Awards from the Red Cross of Greater Chicago for coordinating fundraising efforts among the city’s television and radio stations in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake; an Award of Excellence from the Chicago Sinfonietta; a special award from the Illinois Philharmonic; the first Champion Award from the Merit School of Music; and, with Bill McGlaughlin, Dushkin Award from the Music Institute of Chicago– previous winners have included Sir George Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Placido Domingo, Yo Yo Ma, Midori, Leon Fleischer, Sir Andrew Davis, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Steve currently serves on the boards of Cedille Records, the Merit School of Music, the Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Rush Hour Concerts. His past board service includes the Grant Park Orchestra, Chicago Children’s Choir, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Music in the Loft. Previously, Steve worked at WBUR, WGBH, WCRB, KPFA, WVPR, WBGO, and Nebraska Public Radio.
Alan Wilkinson, who founded Music in Country Churches in 1989, has died at the age of 86. An English gentleman of the old school, unfailingly courteous and polite, and backed by a formidable knowledge of music and musicians, over 27 years he arranged an annual series of high class concert weekends in some of the finest English rural churches. Names such as Bartoli, te Kanawa, Brendel, Rostropovich, Zukerman, Perahia, Lang Lang, Marriner, Kissin, Pires and von Otter, together with equally fine orchestras and ensembles, were drawn in by Wilkinson’s charm and persistence, and ensured a loyal and knowledgeable audience, raising along the way well in excess of half a million pounds to support the upkeep of English rural churches. The series will continue, but English music has lost a unique and much-loved figure.
(Sony) (2 CDs)This is exactly what it says: selected highlights from 125 years of performance history at New York’s great concert hall, which opened on 5 May 1891. The choice may look like a box of bonbons – it is – but it’s fascinating as a swift if slightly jerky gallop through performance styles and big stars of the past (mainly) half century. The earliest track, from 1943, is the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1, conducted by Arturo Toscanini with Vladimir Horowitz as soloist. Other big names include Bernstein, Bolet, Van Cliburn, Richter, Menuhin, Fischer-Dieskau, Rostropovich. Sample them and, if the names are new to you, see what the fuss was about. Also available in a deluxe 43-CD box set. Continue reading...