I just got home from a performance of Mahler 1 by my university orchestra. Yes, I was in it, and yes, I reveled deeply the viola moment in the fourth movement. Absolutely one of the most exciting performances I've been in in a long time!
I saw my daughter play Mahler 1 with her university orchestra on Tuesday. It was the largest (both in length and number of performers) performance ever by that orchestra. Obviously, it was not a great performance; nevertheless, I was captivated. The first two movements seemed to fly by.
They played Shostakovich's 1st violin concerto (lovely 3rd movement) and some Brahms Hungarian Dances (always fun).
Cocktail Hour, Sydney Conservatorium of Music - Schubertiade (6.00pm)
28 March 2011
Goetz Richter violin Jeanell Carrigan piano
Sonatina in A Minor, D384 (1816)
Duo Sonata in A Major, op. 162, D574 (1817)
Fantasia in C Major, D934 (1827)
This recital was of three of Schubert's works for violin and piano. Violinist Goetz Richter explained the background of some of these works. Some critics of Schubert's time complained of the length of his pieces, the number of repeats & modulations, and said they were long-winded. One critic actually left halfway through the premiere of the Duo Sonata! In contrast to this, Schumann praised the "heavenly length" of Schubert's music. This made me wonder whether if the 8th "Unfinished" symphony would have been completed - all four movements - would it be as popular as it is today, or would it attract similar accustations of long windedness? Some people, even today, don't like the 9th "Great" symphony for similar reasons. The first piece in the recital, the Sonatina was published as such (and not as a sonata) in order to encourage amateur violinists to take up the work. This was quite a light work, in a more classical era kind of style. The Duo Sonata (also called the Grand Duo) was a longer work, in four movements. This was the only work on the program that I knew, I have it on disc, and I think they played it brilliantly here. The final work, the Fantasia, is a late work and seemed slightly darker than the other two. It was in four connected movements. The theme and variations had many repeats indeed, it was very intricate and involved. I particularly liked the energetic finale, a lot of vigorous bowing there. A thing I like about Schubert's chamber music is that he doesn't favour one or the other instrument, he treats them as equals. I liked this pair of performers (both lecture at the Sydney Conservatorium), I saw them last year perform three French violin sonatas, and the Schubert program was equally interesting and varied...
Vartoslav Lisinski concert hall, Zagreb
March 2nd, 2011
Ante Knešaurek and Pavao Mašić
Majstori orgulja (Organ masters)
J.S.Bach: 1.Toccata, adagio and fugue in C major, BWV 564
2.Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
3.Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
4.Erbarm' dich mein, Herre Gott, BWV 721
5.Toccata in F major, BWV 540/1
1.Toccata and fugue in d minor, BWV 565
2.Fugue in G major, BWV 577
3.Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, BWV 654
4.Fantasie i fugue in g minor, BWV 542
5.Improvisation on B-A-C-H
Two Croatian organists, both teachers on Zagreb Music academy, played some of the best known and most popular Bach organ pieces.A wonderful concert, great interpretation, and also a great instrument.Organ was built in 1973.
This is a part of their project in which they'll play all Bach's organ music.This was, I think 7th out of 11 concerts.
Sydney Conservatorium of Music Conductors' Series - Moderne revisited - Modern Music Ensemble (6.00pm)
8 April 2011
Modern Music Ensemble
Daryl Pratt director
Steve Reich (b. 1936) - Vermont Counterpoint for eleven flutes (three each of flutes, alto flutes, piccolos & solo part)
Faeron Pileggi, solo flute, alto flute and piccolo/SCM Flute Choir
Haflioi Hallgrimsson (b. 1941) - 'Sonnambulo' Concerto for Double Bass & Chamber Orchestra, Op. 42
Maxime Bibeau, bass soloist
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) - From 'Tierkreis' (Aries - Taurus - Gemini - Leo - Aquarius - Pisces - Aries (reprise))
Jacob Abela, piano/Ivan Cheng, clarinet
Stephen Montague (b. 1943) - At The White Edge of Phrygia, for chamber orchestra with three percussionists and piano
This was a very interesting and enjoyable concert. The two pieces I know (& have on disc) were the Reich & Stockhausen; I had not heard any of the music of the other two composers. Reich's Vermont Counterpoint would be known to many here. It is an exhuberant and bouncy work. Here it was performed fully 'live,' there were no recorded elements.
The Hallgrimsson Concerto for Double Bass included prominent parts for one keyboardist, playing piano and celesta. The central cadenza had an interplay between the soloist, going through the whole gamut of the double bass' range, and the keyboardist. The nocturnal world and delicate colours of this piece reminded me a bit of Dutilleux's string concertos. The theme at the beginning - which sounded a bit new age - eventually came back at the end. Hallgrimsson is a prominent Icelandic composer.
After the interval, selections from Stockhausen's Tierkreis, here for two players who were decked out in golden costumes. The clarinetist played while moving to choreographed movements, taking in the whole of the stage. At times, the clarinet was held high when he was playing the high notes, and held low when playing the low notes. This is quite a fun piece which is best experienced live (I also saw it last year in an arrangement for four players playing a plethora of instruments).
The 'discovery' of the night for me was the Montague piece. The notes by the composer say that "the title refers to the use of "white sound" as well as the Phrygian scale or mode: e to e on the keyboard without any sharps or flats." "Stylistically, the work has been called 'post-minimalist', since it is a fusion of both American minimalism and the European symphonic tradition." The repetitiveness of this work reminded me a bit of Ravel's Bolero, but unlike that work which simply goes from soft to loud, this work was more organic. It had a sense of ebb and flow, like watching waves come in and go out at the seashore. The three percussionists played a variety of instruments - from the usual things like bass drum, high-hat, xylophone, marimba, wood-blocks, tam tams, triangle to less familiar instruments like maraccas and even a set of paint tins! The rhythmic propulsion created by this tightly woven ensemble reminded me very much of Harry Partch's music. Finally the delicate "white noise" in the piece - eg. the use of the prepared piano, string players playing on the wrong side of the bridge to create an almost silent mechanical sound (& also hitting the strings with sticks), the use of muted brass, and the blowing of air through the wind instruments - all had an effect similar to that of a piece I saw in 2009 by Australian composer Brett Dean. By the end of the piece, the objects were taken out of the piano, the mutes were taken out of the brass, and the strings were played normally with a bow, so the dynamic level was gradually raised. I so enjoyed this piece that I'll have to investigate what things I can get from this composer on disc. It's the first time I have heard this 'post-minimalist' music, which I've only read about before. All in all this was a fantastic concert, showcasing the talent and hard work of these students and the mentoring of their conductor, Sydney Conservatorium senior lecturer Daryl Pratt...
April 4th 2011
Vatroslav Lisinski concert hall, Zagreb
PLAY & PRAY FOR JAPAN
Academic choir Ivan Goran Kovačić
UROŠ LAJOVIC, conductor
Johannes Brahms: Tragic overture, op. 81
Tin Ujević: Pobratimstvo lica u svemiru
Ludwig van Beethoven: 5. simphony in c-minor, op. 67
Ivan pl. Zajc: Nikola Šubić Zrinjski - U boj, u boj
A humanitarian concert for Japan was held last Monday here in Zagreb.
It is always nice to hear Beethoven, especially his 5th symphony, one of my favourites.
It was the first time I heard Brahms's Tragic overture, and I liked it a lot, Brahms is wonderful!
Pobratimstvo lica u svemiru (Brotherhood of people in the universe) is a poem by Croatian author Tin Ujević.It was recited by Goran Matović, an actor.Main idea of this poem is: "Do not be afraid, you are not alone", a great message for Japanese people.
The last piece they played was finale from the Nikola Šubić Zrinski opera composed by Ivan pl. Zajc, Croatian romantic composer. U boj, u boj literary means "To fight, to fight!".This opera is a story of the battle of Siget, where a small group of Croatian soldiers fought for days against a great Turkish army.Because they had no supplies left, Croatian soldiers decided to go out of the castle and confront the Turkish army.Although they lost, the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent died in battle along many of his soldiers.This somewhat a Croatian Thermophiles.The battle was fought in 1566 in Siget, today's Hungary."U boj, u boj" is nowdays a very popular among Croatians, especially during the war in Croatia, but also our football (and other sports) fans use it very often. Ivan pl. Zajc used it in the last act of his opera Nikola Šubić Zrinski. Nikola was a Croatian ban (a honored title, something like a duke), who led Croatian army in the Siget battle.
26th Zagreb Biennale
Festival of contemporary music
7 - 14 April 2011
April 7th 2011
Vatroslav Lisinski concert hall, Zagreb
This year we celebrate 50 years since Biennale was founded by Croatian composer Milko Kelemen.
I went so far on two concerts in this years' biennale.
Choir and Orchestra of Music Academy of Zagreb University
Mladen Tarbuk, conductor
Jelena Pavić, piano
Ivo Malec: Sigma
Ivo Malec: Pokreti u boji
Milko Kelemen: Piano concerto
Igor Stravinski: Symphony of psalms
First two pieces are pretty avangard compositions of Croatian composer Ivo Malec, one of the co-founders of the festival.Interesting, but a bit too much for my ears.
The piano concerto was, as opposed to previous, was not only interesting but also beautiful.Composed by the founder of the Biennale, Milko Kelemen.
The soloist was a student of the Music Academy, and she had a decent performance, I can say only the best for her.
In the second part the choir sang Stravinski's Symphony of psalms, which I find also very nice.Stravinski was a pleasant surprise, because I heard a lot about him, and it was not nice
April 9 2011
Vatroslav Lisinski concert hall, Zagreb
Orchestra of the Verona Arena foundation
Marko Letonja, conductor
Günther Sanin, violin
Aldo Orvieto, piano
Biao Li, percussion
Luciano Berio: Requies for orchestra
Carlo Galante: Violin concerto, Yeliel
Bruno Maderna: Piano concerto
Giampaolo Coral: Requiem for the World Trade Centre for orchestra
Berislav Šipuš: In the proximity of the planet Coral for percussion and orchestra
Interesting program, contemporary music, of course.
I liked every piece they played, because they are very interesting and "not so unlistenable" if you know what I mean
The first piece was a bit boring for my taste, but the others were very good, especially the last one, for percussion.
Just went to this one at Sydney Conservatorium last night:
Cocktail Hour - A Glorious Spanish Feast (7.30pm)
11 April 2011
Faculty and their guests present a program of chamber music concerts featuring repertoire that ranges from baroque to contemporary music.
Georg Pedersen cello
Natalia Sheludiakova piano
G. Cassado (1897-1966)
Suite for Cello Solo
Prelude - Fantasia
Sardana - Danza
Intermezzo e Danze Finale
M. de Falla (1876-1946)
Popular Spanish Suite (transc. cello & piano)
El Pano Moruno
E. Granados (1867-1916)
Spanish Dance No. 5 - Andaluza (Playera) from 12 Spanish Dances (transc. cello & piano)
P. de Sarasate (1844-1908)
Zapateado (transc. cello & piano)
M. de Falla
Ritual Fire Dance (transc. cello & piano by Gregor Piatigorsky)
The recital opened with a solo cello work & the rest of the pieces were transcriptions for cello & paino. I had not heard anything by Cassado before, but I was familiar with the other pieces in other shapes and forms. Cellist-composer Cassado's cello suite was a very imaginative piece which often had an improvisatory feel. I particularly liked the last movement which had a bit of plucking (like with a guitar) and harmonies that reminded me of a troubadour song from the middle ages. de Falla's famous set of Seven Popular Spanish Songs - from which we heard six (not all of them were transcribed) has a very earthy feel, employing elements of Spanish folk music like flamenco. Granados is one of my favourite Spanish composers and this the 5th of his Spanish Dances is the most famous. It's my favourite & cellist Georg Pederson said it was his favourite as well. Compared to the more vigorous and dissonant de Falla, the Granados sounded more refined and restrained, but still just as emotional in other ways. About the Sarasate, a fun flashy piece, Pedersen jokingly introduced it as "Now I'll attempt to play a piece originally for violin with my cello. I might end up enjoying it much more than you!" This piece left everyone with a smile on their face. Then to finish up, an encore of de Falla's famous Ritual Fire Dance, transcribed by Pedersen's teacher, the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. The piece lost none of it's intensity in this chamber version.
All in all, this was a great recital. The audience was made up of all ages, from children aged 6 accompanied by their parents to adults of all ages. It's good to go to a more mixed recital like this, as often I go to concerts where I am lost in a sea of grey heads. I look forward to going to more recitals by this excellent cellist, who gives quite a few throughout the year at the Sydney Con, of which he is a senior lecturer. His accompanist on the piano Natalia Sheludiakova also did a great job...
Yesterday I performed two piano pieces in a composer's concert. It was a composition majors' graduation recital, all new music. One of the pieces I played had a feel of perpetual movement and unresolved harmonies that reminded me of Scriabin; I liked it very much. The other was much more conventional.
Australia Ensemble @ University of New South Wales
Saturday April 16, 8pm
Sir John Clancy Auditorium UNSW
Theatre in Music: Surrealist Dreams and Sydney Harbour Anecdotes
Johann STRAUSS Jr (1825-1899): Emperor Waltz (Kaiser-Walzer), Opus 437 for flute, clarinet, string quartet and piano (1889/1925)
Barry CONYNGHAM (b 1944): Showboat Kalang for flute, clarinet, piano, two violins, viola, cello - commissioned by the Albert H. Maggs Foundation for performance by the Australia Ensemble @UNSW (2010)
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951): Pierrot Lunaire for reciter-singer, flute/ piccolo, clarinet/ bass clarinet, violin/viola, cello, voice, piano (1912)
A friend and I went to this concert, with a multimedia aspect (dance & visuals) & we enjoyed it. The choreographer/dancer in the Conyngham & Schoenberg was Connor Dowling, from the Sydney Dance Company. The reciter-singer in the Schoenberg was Fiona Campbell (mezzo soprano) from the Australian Opera.
Strauss' Emperor Waltz, in an arrangement attributed to Schoenberg, was not quite what I expected. I had only heard Strauss' original work for orchestra before. This arrangment was not run of the mill or chliched by any means. I liked how there were solos for each instrument.
Barry Conyngham is a fairly prominent Australian composer in his sixties. He studied with fellow Australian Peter Sculthorpe and the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Like their work, Conygham's music is of a late c20th modern/experimental style. This work was about the history of the Showboat Kalang, a vessel which plied the waters of Sydney harbour from the 1930's to 1960's. The composer's father worked as a banjo player in the dance bands that played on this vessel. The boat was also refitted for war service in Papua New Guinea and Borneo during WW2. Then it came back to Sydney to be a pleasure boat again, but was eventually broken up and ended it's "life" in 1972. This was an interesting piece, that changed mood and style to fit in with what the particular scene was about. It was a journey through Australian history from 1938 to the present. The most dissonant and loud part was in the 1942 scene, when Japanese midget submarines came into Sydney harbour and torpedoed another boat. I remember seeing these actual subs, which were salvaged from the harbour after being attacked & sunk, in an exhibition at the Sydney Maritime Museum on a high school excursion. The music of some others scenes echoed the music that would have been played on the Kalang - eg. the foxtrot and waltz. At the very begining and end of the piece, there was a recording of banjo music from the 1930's. This was an interesting piece, bought to life by the lighting and dancing.
Schoenberg's seminal Pierrot Lunaire was also brought to life by the dancer. I thought that the middle section describing the 'atrocities' was the darkest rendition of this I had ever heard. Perhaps it was because I'm familiar with recordings of it sung by sopranos, but here the voice was deeper and darker, more mysterious (mezzo-soprano). I had listened to the recordings a lot during the past fortnight, so I was so familiar with the piece, that I anticipated most of what happened. The dancer was in a clown outfit, black chequered tights and white painted face, with a black robe that was used to interesting effect. There was one flicker of colour, a red ribbon which appeared and disappeared quickly during the pivotal 'atrocity' scene. There are a lot of references to blood and gore in the text, which was projected in English translation on a screen.
All up this was a very enjoyable evening. Even though I was quite tired after a busy day, I decided to go. These performances aren't repeated, it's just the one night. The friend and I plan to go to their next one next month, which will be a conventional concert of works by Liszt, Richard Meale & Beethoven (the great string quartet Op. 132)...
Just came back from a lecture/recital about Liszt's music by pianist Dr Leslie Howard at Sydney Conservatorium (it was free).
Dr Howard is a pianist specialising in Liszt, who has recently finished recording the composer's entire piano output on 99 discs. He's middle aged with thick greying hair & a neutral British accent. He spoke clearly and engagingly (without notes) for an hour about Liszt's life and work, illustrating his lecture with two pieces. After a break during which the audience had a complimentary drink and some nibblies, Dr Howard treated us to a recital of more of Liszt's works. There were no programs given out, he just announced the pieces & talked about them in depth from the stage. So if the titles I wrote below are incomplete or whatever, please forgive me, because a number of them were announced in languages other than English.
I really enjoyed both the lecture and the recital. Dr Howard was like a limitless fountain of knowledge about this fascinating composer. I took notes during his lecture, and I'll probably put them on my blog by the end of next week. I would describe his playing as quite pumped but restrained at the same time - a bit like the contradictory character of Liszt. Dr Howard knew how to let things rip with a frenzy, but he also made the calmer and more lyrical moments very interesting. He played without music (except the second piece below), and he had a studious gaze, his head looking down at the keyboard during his playing.
Pieces played during lecture:
- A piece composed at age 21, later revised and incorporated into the set of pieces called Harmonies Poétiques Et Religieuses (1850's)
- Piano version of the "Calming of the Storm at Sea" from Part 2 of the oratorio Christus (This was a very dramatic piece, the very vivid storm came first, then the calm which had harmonies not far away from Debussy or even Messiaen)
- Grand Concert Solo (1849), composed as a test piece for the Paris Conservatoire (Dr Howard played the 1851 version) (a percursor to the Sonata in B minor, which in some ways it was similar to - Dr Howard described this work as "kind of like a sonata but not a sonata.")
- Variations for piano on a motif from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (from J. S. Bach's Cantata BWV 12), written in memory of Liszt's first daughter Blandine who died aged 26 while giving birth (this piece showed Liszt's mastery of counterpoint & his concept of thematic transformation)
- Sarabande and Chaconne on theme from the opera Almira by Handel (1879) (my favourite piece of the set - it was like hearing a work composed by Handel imagining that he was Liszt! A beautifully balanced and imaginative piece. The last half had these rapid rippling figures that reminded me of Debussy's watery pieces allied with a song-like lyricism that sounded similar to Schubert)
- Nocturne on a Polonaise by Chopin (Dr Howard announced this in French, this my attempt of writing the title in English!) (Liszt & Chopin admired eachother immensely - Chopin dedicated his Etudes to LIszt. Liszt's nocturne sounded less melancholic to my ears than those of Chopin, it had a kind of sweetness and lightness)
What a marvelous opportunity, Andre. Thank you for the report. Did Dr. Howard talk about Liszt's personal life?
Thanks for reading, Vaneyes. To answer your question, if you mean "personal life" in terms of romantic attachments, Dr Howard only mentioned one of Liszt's wives, Marie d'Agoult but didn't go into any detail (I think she was his first wife?). On a somewhat related front, he did rattle off a list of Liszt's acquaintances, friends & admirers - both musical and non musical - but he was so rapid I couldn't note all of them down (they included names like Berlioz, Dumas, Delacroix, Chopin, Schumann, Hiller, Mendelssohn, Hummel, many prominent aristocrats & even the Pope!...). As I said, I'll post my notes of the lecture soon on my blog or maybe even create a seperate thread on it. Dr Howard's lecture only lasted about an hour, but talking to one of the audience members after, we both had the feeling that he could have easily gone on for another 5 hours and he still wouldn't have covered enough (& there wasn't a dull moment to be had). He is clearly not only an excellent musician but a very erudite and knowledgeable speaker, and that handy combination isn't always the case with our musicians...