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Herbert von Karajan

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

June 15

Which maestro has the most jobs?

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discNot a month goes by without the music director of one little-known North American orchestra taking the same post at another , and arranging to commute between them. This is a common occurrence. Less common nowadays is the phenomenon of a leading conductor holding several jobs in different countries. Herbert von Karajan held the record in the 1950s with five – Vienna State Opera, Berlin Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, La Scala (German rep) and the Salzburg Festival. One current champion, we think, works in triplicate. That would be Jonathan Nott at Geneva, and Tokyo and Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (he has given up Bamberg). Can anyone beat that? Well, there’s Rossen Milanov with four, or possibly five. Any other busy batons out there?

On An Overgrown Path

June 11

Just add complexity and stir vigorously

Music is a multi-sensory experience. Many visionaries have exploited this, notably Alexander Scriabin who extended the multi-sensory experience into the olfactual domain in his uncompleted masterwork Mysterium. In the late 1960s light shows were an integral part of rock music performance, while in the classical tradition visual artists such as the still photographer Siegfreid Lauterwasser - celebrated for his images of Herbert von Karajan - and cinematographer Ken Russell - famed for music related movies such as the Tchaikovsky biopic The Music Lovers - exploited the common ground between the auditory and visual. But the advent of the digital age has diluted music into a mono-sensory experience: the art of the album sleeve is now dead, bland PR images are the stock-in-trade of the music industry, concert halls remain temples of sound and not multi-sensory temples, and Western classical music offers little to nourish the visually literate multi-sensory younger audience. But all is not quite lost. The photos reproduced here are from the website of the photographer Stéphane Louesdon who splits his time between France and Morocco. These remarkable images were captured at a Sufi sama - ritual of divine remembrance - led by Sheikh Hassan Dyck in Essaouira, Morocco. Sheikh Hassan is an adept of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order and a classically-trained cellist, and at the sama he played with his Muhabbat Caravan ensemble and Afghan rabab master Daud Khan. Stéphane Louesdon's atmospheric photos are a salutary reminder that music is a multi-sensory and highly complex emotional force. And that force loses much of its power and appeal when distilled down to a commercial property crammed into the size constraints of Instagram and Twitter message and MP3 files. For years Western classical music has been relentlessly pursuing an audience-chasing strategy of reducing complexity by selective dumbing down. There is no evidence at all that this strategy is working, so surely it is now time to try the alternative of putting brains in gear by adding complexity and stirring vigorously. Related Overgrown Path resources include: * See the light * How sleeve artwork changes the sound of CDs * Learn as if you were to live forever * Why classical music needs to see the light * Classical music must return to its esoteric roots * Music should be dangerous All photos are (c)Stéphane Louesdon. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.




Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

June 9

Label news: Kissin cuts a deal

After an absence of quarter of a century, the Russian pianist has returned to Deutsche Grammophon with a new contract and a Beethoven sonata set. photo: DG/Johann Sebastian Haenel press release: After a break of 25 years, legendary pianist Evgeny Kissin has signed a new exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His discography already contains landmark recordings for the Yellow Label, critically acclaimed collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado among them, and the association between artist and label resumes with the release of a new Beethoven album in August. The double-disc set, its programme personally chosen by Kissin from recitals given over the past decade, includes Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas No. 14 Op. 27 No. 2, ‘Moonlight’, No. 23 Op. 57, ‘Appassionata’, and No. 26 Op. 81a, ‘Les Adieux’. It also comprises the evergreen 32 Variations in C minor WoO 80 and a profound exploration of the sublime two-movement Piano Sonata No. 32 Op. 111, the composer’s final work in the genre. The album, Kissin’s first solo recital recording in more than a decade, represents a major addition to his Beethoven discography and an essential document of his artistic development. “These recordings were made in the moment of performance,” observes Kissin. “Live recordings always surpass studio albums for me, because I feel more inspired when playing for an audience. It means a lot to me to be able to share the spirit of that live experience with others.”

Royal Opera House

June 6

Jonas Kaufmann on why he's excited about his first Otello at the Royal Opera House

Jonas Kaufmann © Gregor Hohenberg / Sony Music 'There are a million mistakes you can make', says world-renowned tenor Jonas Kaufmann of Verdi's late, great opera Otello . 'You need people who really watch you and say "No! Wait! Careful!". If this doesn’t happen you just fall into the traps.' Kaufmann is back at the Royal Opera House this summer to sing the title role in The Royal Opera's major new production directed by Keith Warner . In the years since his Covent Garden debut in 2004 in Puccini 's La rondine , he has become a firm audience favourite and much in-demand around the world. Why then, has he waited until now to tackle one of the repertory's top roles, and why has he chosen to do so in London? 'I can’t tell you exactly the amount of offers I got for this part... You need an enormous amount of experience. It’s not so much the technical side of singing the role, but the challenge of losing yourself in the craziness of this character and pushing yourself to a limit where your voice might be harmed. I waited very long and I finally realized, "If I don’t do it now, when then?". It has to be done under the best possible circumstances. The Royal Opera House has always been a place where I’ve felt very at home and the acoustic is good – it's not too big but still has a glory. 'Otello is the perfect Verdi opera. It starts, the curtain opens and you’re thrown right into it. A lot of actors are very jealous of opera singers in operas like Otello because we have this carpet of emotions. You don’t have to do it from scratch. The audience is already captivated – you just have to go and harvest.' One of the key drivers however, was the involvement of Music Director Antonio Pappano , who will be conducting the opera: 'I wanted to do this first Otello with him', says the tenor. 'If he doesn’t come to my place – to Munich – I have to come to London!' On 28 June, the production will be relayed live to cinemas as round the world as part of the ROH Live Cinema Season . But Kaufmann, despite being seen up close in high definition on the silver screen, approaches performing for cameras the same way that he does for those watching in the back row of the auditorium: 'I’ve been asked many times if I would change for a live relay and I always answer "Not a hair". I've experienced both being on stage and being in the audience. I can see immediately if someone is honest on stage or not – not only in opera but in all art forms. Acting isn't pretending to be someone, acting means slipping like a glove into this character and just living it. 'If you’re able to do that, you don’t need to change anything because the natural gestures, movements and positions read regardless of distance. You can see the back of somebody and you know their mood if it’s done in the right way... There are opera houses where the audience is miles away and still it works – you know exactly the situation and the mood.' And for a famously intense performer, Kaufmann is focused on the nuanced balance of emotion required: 'I think Karajan once said that we are seeking controlled ecstasy... I want to convince the audience that I am this other person. Nevertheless, deep inside there must be control. But playing on the edge is fantastic.' Otello runs 21 June—15 July 2017 . Tickets are still available for some performances. The opera will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 28 June 2017. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list . This production is staged with generous support from Rolex, and with generous philanthropic support from Lord and Lady Laidlaw, Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Alfiya and Timur Kuanyshev, Mr and Mrs Baha Bassatne, John G. Turner & Jerry G. Fischer, Ian and Helen Andrews, Mercedes T. Bass, Maggie Copus, Mrs Trevor Swete, Beth Madison, John McGinn and Cary Davis, the Otello Production Syndicate, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and an anonymous donor.



Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

June 4

Anne-Sophie Mutter marks 40 years on stage

The German violinist, 54 next month, celebrated an anniversary today at Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler, Cecilia Bartoli, Anne-Sophie Mutter. Photo: SF/Marco Borrelli Press release: “On 29 May 1977, this stage witnessed a Pentecostal miracle in music. Herbert von Karajan, to whom Salzburg owes so much, including this very theatre, invited the prodigy violinist to perform even before her 14th birthday. She came, played and conquered audience and reviewers. And thus it has remained ever since,” said Helga Rabl-Stadler. The Festival President thanked Mutter for this morning, which was not merely an “event”, but a musical highlight that was going to live on in the consciousness of all those present. She called Anne-Sophie Mutter a discoverer, enabling new interpretations of supposedly familiar pieces. Anne-Sophie Mutter also briefly addressed the audience, commemorating Herbert von Karajan, with whom she worked for 13 years until his death, recalling how he would often ask her to join him shortly before a concert, to keep polishing details of their interpretations. Cecilia Bartoli, whose birthday is today, was celebrated by the musicians and audience with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” before the audience again broke into rapturous applause. After Anne-Sophie Mutter’s anniversary concert, Cecilia Bartoli hosted a Charity Lunch at the Karl-Böhm-Saal. The award-winning chef Johanna Maier and her sons treated the guests to an early-summer menu created especially for the Festival. Net proceeds will be donated to the Salzburg Festival’s education programmes and the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation.

Herbert von Karajan
(1908 – 1989)

Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 - 16 July 1989) was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor. To the wider world he was perhaps most famously associated with the Berlin Philharmonic of which he was principal conductor for 35 years. Although he was not without criticism, he is generally considered to have been one of the greatest conductors of all time, and he was a dominant figure in European classical music from the 1960s until his death. Part of the reason for this was the large number of recordings he made and their prominence during his lifetime. By one estimate he was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records.



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