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Johannes Brahms

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

August 24

New Jersey orch seeks music director

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discpress release: Montclair, NJ – A new orchestra has been established in the New York City suburb of Montclair, New Jersey. The Montclair Orchestra will be a semi-professional full orchestra, with players to include local area professional musicians, conservatory level students, as well as highly trained amateurs. An inaugural 2017-2018 season is in the planning, with full orchestral concert repertoire ranging from traditional classical works from Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms to modern pieces and film scores of twentieth century and contemporary composers. The Montclair Orchestra is the concept of Montclair resident Andre Weker, a classically trained pianist and former orchestral musician. “When our family recently relocated to Montclair, one of the things that drew us to the area was the incredible amount of culture and support for the arts we saw in town,” says Weker. “It was clear that an orchestra would be an ideal complement to the other diverse cultural offerings in Montclair, and people in town have been extremely enthusiastic in the support of the project.” The original “Montclair Orchestra” was established in 1922, with its first concert being held at the Montclair Art Museum. That ensemble merged with other groups in the region, eventually moving to Newark and becoming what is today the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Since then, there are many musical performances and concert series taking place regularly in venues throughout Montclair, but a permanent orchestra has never been re-established, until now. In addition to Weker, others involved in the startup include Robert Cart, the Director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, and Rose Cali, a patron of the arts who also has ties to the Montclair Art Museum and Montclair Film Festival. “One of the goals of The Montclair Orchestra is to become a permanent fixture within the community,” says Cart. “Our goal is to build ties with the residents of the town, in addition to collaborating with the other local institutions such as the Art Museum and the Film Festival. The Montclair Orchestra will also help MSU strengthen its ties to the community at large, with our students becoming more acquainted with residents and venues in town, and in response residents attending concerts at the University’s venues.” A search for a Music Director has begun, and auditions for musicians will be held in the spring of 2017. Apply here. No rush yet.

My Classical Notes

Yesterday

Grimaud Plays Brahms

While this CD is not new, it represents an amazing set of performances, so it deserves to be heard! Helene Grimaud performs both piano concertos by Brahms. Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15, with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83, with the Wiener Philharmoniker Performed by Hélène Grimaud (piano), and conducted by Andris Nelsons. This is romantic music-making from one of the world’s most captivating pianists. These are deeply personal interpretations of the dark, passionate sound-worlds of both Brahms piano concertos. A unique, multi-faceted artist who continues to push creative boundaries, Grimaud is one of few pianists to conquer the monumental dimensions of both works. Recorded at Vienna’s legendary Musikverein, the 2nd Piano Concerto marks Grimaud’s debut recording with the celebrated Wiener Philharmoniker; coupled with the equally coveted Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for the 1st Concerto, Grimaud has discovered exemplary musical counterparts. Conductor Andris Nelsons – dubbed “Der Wunderdirigent” by the Süddeutsche Zeitung – is one of today’s most exciting interpreters of Romantic repertoire. BBC Music Magazine wrote: “a superb pianist at the height of her powers […] teamed to a conductor with whom she seems to have instinctive rapport…there’s drama aplenty in the big first movement of the [Second] Concerto. Nelsons secures some delightfully pointed orchestral playing in No. 1’s finale, and really creates the restorative calm of No. 2’s slow movement.” Here is Ms. Grimaud in the music of Brahms:




My Classical Notes

August 23

Overtures To Bach

Performing artists are continuing to explore new ways to present their music. We have seen works by a contemporary composer joined with compositions from the 1700’s. We have seen works by Schoenberg presented along with music by Brahms. Now there is a new recording called “Overtures to Bach”. These are compositions that anticipate and interlude each of the Bach Cello Suites. 1. Overture 2. Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude 3. The Veronica 4. Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: I. Prélude 5. Run 6. Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: I. Prélude 7. La memoria 8. Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: I. Prélude 9. Es War 10. Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: I. Prélude 11. Lili’uokalani 12. Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: I. Prélude Performed by Matt Haimovitz (cello & cello piccolo) Matt Haimovitz’s continuously-evolving and intense engagement with the Bach Cello Suites reaches new hights with ‘Overtures to Bach’, six new commissions that anticipate and reflect each of the cello suites. The new overtures expand upon the multitude of spiritual, cross-cultural, and vernacular references found in the Bach, building a bridge from the master’s time to our own. The new album, Overtures to Bach, pairs each new work with the Prélude from the suite it introduces, with Haimovitz performing on cello and cello piccolo. Composer Philip Glass simply and eloquently prepares the audience for the first Suite with his Overture, encouraging an open and calm frame of mind. For the second suite, Du Yun creates a heartbreaking quilt of cries in The Veronica, mingling a Russian Orthodox prayer for the dead, Serbian chant, and central European gypsy fiddle music. Vijay Iyer’s Run responds to Bach’s third suite with infectious energy and kinesthetic rhythms that celebrate the natural resonance of the instrument as well as the composer’s jazz roots. Then, Roberto Sierra’s La memoria plays on our memory of Bach’s Suite IV, seamlessly referencing motivic fragments and creating a kaleidoscopic mirage with the exotic flavors of Caribbean bass lines and salsa rhythms. David Sanford’s Es War, a response to the fifth suite, opens with a tour de force of pizzicato, then wrestles with Bach’s epic fugue with a saxophone’s wails. For the sixth and final suite, Luna Pearl Woolf is inspired by pre-Western Hawaiian chant, taking full advantage of the virtuosic properties of the cello piccolo and treating it operatically, from the low bass to the soprano stratosphere. Here is Matt Haimovitz playing the music of Bach:



Tribuna musical

August 22

Vengerov and Saitkoulov: from correction to brilliance

Maxim Vengerov, born 1974, was a child prodigy who won great competitions at an early age: the Wieniawski at ten and the Carl Flesch at fifteen. He went on to have a great career and be recognised as one of the leading violinists of our times, fortunately prodigal in this specialty. Nowadays he is also a conductor and teacher, and has his own Festival. An interesting point: during the recent decade he took a three-year sabbatical from playing; during that time he studied conducting . He came to Buenos Aires several times, the last playing a Chinese concerto with the Shanghai Symphony; although his playing was admirable, the work was subpar and hardly up to his capacities. But late in 2011 he gave a splendid recital of sustained quality, blending ideally intellectual comprehension with virtuoso realisation. Unfortunately I don´t keep archives and can´t vouchsafe if his pianist was Roustem Saitkoulov, but he is Vengerov´s habitual partner, it might have been him. Hand programme biographies should provide information about earlier visits to BA, but they are always mere translations of a standard international biography. I remember that years ago the Mozarteum made it a point of mentioning previous contacts with the artists; I wish they did that again in the future. Saitkoulov is a distinguished pianist in his own right; also,H he does a lot of chamber work. Born at Kazan, Russia, he studied with the great Elisso Virsaladze at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory (she came twice here) and then completed his training in Munich. He won important competitions: the Ferruccio Busoni (Bolzano), Géza Anda (Zürich), Marguerite Long (Paris). He has played with important orchestras and given recitals throughout the world. By the way, he accepts the French version of his name and surname; for us or for Great Britain and USA, it should be Rustem Saitkulov (we write Mussorgsky, not Moussorgsky). So there were good reasons to expect from this Mozarteum concert (repeated with the same programme) a very high level. Technically it was of course impeccable, but the interpretations began coldly, more so in the case of Vengerov. The sonatas chosen were enticing: Schubert´s Sonata in A, D.574, pompously called "Grand Duet"; and Beethoven´s marvelous Sonata Nº 7, in C minor, Op.30 Nº2. Schubert´s sonata was written young, at 20, but his personality is clear from the very beginning, a delicious Allegro moderato. Who else wrote such melodies or was so subtle in the harmonic modulations? He also wrote three other sonatas, a bit less inspired and developed, called Sonatinas by the editor. All of them were published posthumously, the same sad destiny of his symphonies 8 and 9. I fell in love with the sonata in my youth with the wonderful recording by Kreisler and Rachmaninov, for it has charm and beauty: Kreisler sings with captivating timbre, and the great Russian virtuoso adapts to the intimate style perfectly.Too much sliding from Kreisler? Agreed, but he is irresistible. And that´s contrary to what I felt from Vengerov: an academic, correct reading with no involvement. During the interval, a veteran friend said: "it´s as if he were afraid of producing any sound that isn´t round and smooth". Yes, all exact but with little energy and attack. Saitkoulov was better; however, the final result was placid in the wrong sense. As Claudia Guzmán rightly says in her comments referring to Beethoven´s Seventh Sonata: "never until then a work for piano and violin had displayed such dramatic intensity nor had required similar temporal proportions". It is a C minor masterpiece in the same rank as the "Pathetic" Piano Sonata and the Third Piano Concerto. No namby-pamby approach can deal with such a score. Things went gradually better, fired by the greater intensity and virtuoso playing of Soutkulov, but only got to the desirable grade of electricity from both in the last movement. Said my friend: "there I found Beethoven". But things changed, and the whole Second Part, as well as the four encores, went swimmingly. Both showed complete identification with that peculiar Ravel Second Sonata: he believed that piano and violin are incompatible and the music echoes that idea: the players oppose each other instead of being complemental. And you know, it works! The Blues is the best movement and it was played with ideal sinuosity. And then came a final virtuoso section starting with a violin solo piece: Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst´s Variations on "The Last Rose of Summer", Nº 6 of the Polyphonic Etudes for solo violin. The piece on the lovely Irish tune is the devil to play and rarely done; Vengerov at twelve presented it at the Tchaikovsky International Competition. Here he showed the complete range of his fantastic technique. A quiet and reflexive Paganini, the Cantabile Op.17, originally for violin and guitar, was done in a transcription for violin and piano. The final score was the Kreisler arrangement for violin and piano of Paganini´s "I palpiti" for violin and orchestra, Introduction and Variations on a theme from Rossini´s "Tancredi" (the aria "Di tanti palpiti"), a true catalogue of Paganini´s technical innovations, splendidly played. Four encores: two of those inimitable Kreisler pieces that Beecham would have called "lollipops": the famous "Viennese Caprice" and the dynamic "Chinese tambourine". Rachmaninov´s beautiful Vocalise, transcribed from the original for orchestra. And Brahms´ ever so popular Hungarian Dance Nº5, in the Joachim arrangement. All done with panache by the artists. For Buenos Aires Herald

Johannes Brahms
(1833 – 1897)

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 - 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms' popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the Three Bs. Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he also worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed many of his works and left some of them unpublished. Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined method of composition for which Bach is famous, and also of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by J. Haydn, W.A. Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Brahms aimed to honour the "purity" of these venerable "German" structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as the progressive Arnold Schoenberg and the conservative Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms's works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.



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