Last night’s event at the Senate House sparked great conversation and debate on writing about classical music. Frances Wilson, pianist, classical music reviewer and blogger, chaired the event whilst making an invaluable contribution to the Q & A session at the end. (She also made sure the event ran smoothly.) I spoke as a panellist alongside Simon Brackenborough (founder and editor of Corymbus.co.uk), Jessica Duchen (music journalist at the Independent) and classical music blogger) and Imogen Tilden (commissioning music editor at the Guardian).
[January 23rd, 2016] Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs (Vier letzte lieder) was performed by Finnish lyric Soprano and leider singer, Soile Isokoski and the London
Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and, indeed, it was beautiful but that’s not surprising considering Isokoski is no stranger to the work of Strauss. This was even more evident during her performance as she sang with her eyes closed (to some sections of the piece), calmly and passionately to the German seasons. Each song had its own heartfelt temperament with the music embedded with a diverse range of emotions felt by the composer himself when he wrote it. For Isokoski though, some moments seemed louder than others, but she was still in her comfort zone and gave a performance that did not disappoint.
The LPO didn’t fail either as they offered a refreshing performance to the Royal Festival Hall audience. Continue reading
Paul Weitz, director of teenage sex education film American Pie, has just witnessed the unveiling of his Amazon Prime series Mozart in the Jungle, but let’s get one thing straight. It has nothing to do with the great composer.
The inspiration behind the series comes from Blair Tindall’s 2005 memoir of life as a professional oboist.
In Weitz’s production, viewers watch girl next-door amateur musician Hailey (Lola Kirke) and her amusing journey playing for phantom orchestra, the New York Symphony after impressing new, young and eclectic maestro Roderigo (Gael García Bernal) with his bohemian hair and unconventional charm.
Rodrigo, the supposed rebel conductor is animated, passionate, and South American, which sounds like exotic heartthrob qualities, but, honesty, there is nothing fiery or magical about him besides his outlandishness.
I had no intention of reviewing Prom 75, the penultimate night before the BBC Proms ended but how could I stop myself? It was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9: the Choral, which as much as it has been over played at international halls since the 1824, hasn’t become stale… ever. To put it bluntly, it’s just a bloody good symphony. Last year, I saw the Philharmonic orchestra perform with the London Symphony Chorus (who also performed this evening) at the Barbican Centre as part of the Raymond Gubbay tradition, and I still recall fond memories.
All attempts to buy return tickets were out-of-bounds and stall seats were still unaffordable. Alas, at such short notice, I ran to the Royal Albert Hall and stood in the proms arena queue just after 2 o’ clock. When it came to 7 o’ clock, revellers were dusting themselves off from the September sun filing up the spaces of the 6000-seater auditorium. Prommers were slowly edging into the stage and there sat above the orchestral stage were the multiple choir members (or as I’d like to call them, ‘the angelic voices’) of the Leipzig Opera Chorus, Leipzig Gewandhaus Choir, Leipzig Gewandhaus Childrens Choir and London Symphony Chorus – phew, that’s quite a mouthful.
|View as a ‘prommer’|
The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra graciously entered the stage shortly followed by the half Japanese, half American conductor Alan Gilbert. Gilbert, originally a violinist, is currently the musical director of the New York Philharmonic who stepped in last moment as Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly, who has conducted the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra numerous times, had to ‘withdraw’ due to medical reasons.
Proms 49 welcomed the Finnish husband-and-wife team, Chief conductor Sakari Oramo and Anu Komsi with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a family event filled with fantasy, imagination and Russian Fairy Tales.
Tonight was the UK’s premier of Jukka Tiensuu’s (a well-known Finnish composer) Voice Verser (2012) which is a humorous piece composed for the power of voice. Two trios were located in the arena with prommers either side of the orchestra consisting of wood wind and brass instruments.
The first of the three movements was called Desparia and it depicted no other but an air of despair, eeriness and dreariness through highly chromatic scales and gibberish notes from Komsi.
Notes of sadness and tensions were created by the shrilling of violins, repetitive glissandos and unsettling sounds of what one could interpret as mischievous rats. In slight confusion, Desparia ending with Komsi emulated loud cries of moaning which left the audience possibly dumbfounded, yet amused at the same time by its riveting versatility.
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