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Thread: A Personal Diary of Notable Performances

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Default A Personal Diary of Notable Performances

    ...being a collection of semi-random posts triggered either by finding new, interesting and memorable performances or rediscovering older ones. Note that I said 'performances' as I am not restricting myself to commercially available recordings but also including those which maybe found on YouTube, the BPO's Digital Concert Hall, the Gothenburg Symphony site and other such locations.

    Now onto the first such post...

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Default Berlioz - Requiem - Philharmonia Orch., John Nelson

    I doubt that anyone would describe London's Royal Albert Hall as an acoustic marvel and ideal performance venue but it probably could qualify when compared to St. Paul's Cathedral. Admittedly the latter was not designed for concert performances but it is still occasionally used for such. One very recent instance was in March of this year when the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic Choirs and tenor Michael Spyres gathered under the direction of John Nelson to perform Berlioz' Requiem. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of Berlioz' death and it was recorded and has recently been released.

    Over the years I have listened to many recordings of the Requiem and collected a few of them, and as excellent as many are, there was always the nagging feeling that something was missing. That something was the sense of location and occasion for which Berlioz conceived the work and so carefully constructed it. Until recently the recording that seemed to come the closest was the 2010 Paul McCreesh performance with the combined Wrocław Philharmonic and Gabriel Consort. As good as that was, the Nelson/Philharmonia is almost exactly what I imagined the work should be. Yes the acoustic and almost 5 second decay time are never in any doubt but neither do they muddy the waters. For that we must thank Berlioz who knew exactly what he was doing, and John Nelson who made it work in the cathedral. I won't go into detail about the performance, it is best that it just be experienced, but if you want an example of how well it worked, listen to the Lacrymosa.

    This is not the Lacrymosa, just a teaser for the recording...

    Last edited by Becca; Nov-24-2019 at 05:05.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    The Bach D-Minor keyboard concerto is one of my all-time favorite pieces of classical music, and has been so for many decades. It triggers deep feelings of both the sheer, simple joy of living and, in the slow movement, of deeply moving, poignant emotion. I am also an enthusiast for the carefully, tastefully presented video (YouTube) concert performance, especially of concertos, as it gives one an Eye Of God close-up view of a soloist's performance including glimpses into the perceived cause/effect relationship between soloist and the work at hand.

    The video below is a triumph, in my view, of a total presentation of a beloved work. We have a mature artist at the keyboard, richly and tastefully dressed, fully at ease, master of the work, and performing it sensitively and sympathetically as we watch the emotions of her interaction play over her face. Viewing this video almost always evokes tears in my eyes as I watch and listen--the two senses powerfully combining to offer a singularly profound experience.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=osg_WmeLxQk

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    One not very well known work that I often return to with great pleasure is Herbert Howell's Suite for Orchestra 'The 5 Bs'. It is a youthful work (age 22 - 1914) in which he paints musical pictures of himself and 4 of his friends from the Royal College of Music, each of whom had a nickname beginning with 'B'...

    1. Overture: Bublum - (Herbert Howells)
    2. Lament: Bartholomew - (Ivor Gurney)
    3. Scherzo: Blissy - (Arthur Bliss)
    4. Mazurka alias Minuet: Bunny - (Frances Warren)
    5. March: Benjee - (Arthur Benjamin)

    This suite would be at the top of my list if only for the Lament - I wonder if Howells had some sort of premonition?


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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    In the 'rediscovering' category - a work which I very much enjoyed but have very rarely played since vinyl days - E.J. Moeran's Sinfonietta. It is not a complex or deep piece, just a very enjoyable, fun one. Part of the fun was just listening to the Norman Del Mar / Bournemouth Sinfonietta recording.

    Here is the middle movement from it...

    Last edited by Becca; Feb-03-2020 at 06:11.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    It is not uncommon to come across new recordings which on first hearing seem to be something quite special, only to find that they don't wear well, something particularly true when the work is from the central repertoire. One which I do think will be a keeper is Sir Mark Elder's new recording of Sibelius' 6th symphony with the Halle Orchestra (coupled with the 4th which I have yet to listen to.) While I got to know the work via the Davis/Boston recording, the Gibson/SNO has been my 'go to' recordings for quite some time but there may now be two 'go to's'! What I can say for sure is that I have never heard a recording where all the various interwoven threads are so clear and yet without any exaggerated spread, and that is particularly important in this symphony.

    On the subject of new Sibelius symphony recordings, there is a newly released version of the 2nd with Santtu-Matias Rouvali and the Gothenburg Symphony. I have been very impressed by much of what I have seen/heard of Rouvali, especially his Kullervo and a recent recording of the 1st symphony. I haven't yet listened to all of it but while I am enjoying it, it doesn't seem likely to replace the Barbirolli/RPO recording, that one is definitely a case of 'hold on tight and enjoy the ride'!
    Last edited by Becca; Feb-15-2020 at 04:19.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Talking about keepers, if you like Josef Suk and have access to the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall, do watch Kirill Petrenko's recent performance of the 'Asrael Symphony' (Jan 2020). Suk has been an important part of Petrenko's repertoire going back over 15 years and he really 'gets it',

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    Finnish Radio TV Symphony Orchestra - Hannu Lintu (cond.) Recorded live in concert on XXIII.X.2015 at the Symphony Hall, Helsinki Music Centre, Töölönlahti, Helsinki.

    I find this to be a very exciting and electrifying performance of this great modern symphony.
    Short-term thinkers are rewarded with reelection, while those who dare to take seriously our responsibility to future generations commonly find themselves out of office.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I was just listening to a recording the Beethoven 9th done by the Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra from a live performance in the Royal Festival Hall in 1957. This is not to be confused with one from some years later as the inaugural of the New Philharmonia. This particular performance was the first concert for the Philharmonia chorus and was done a few days before they made the studio recording with the same soloists. What is noteworthy is the last movement which is over 1 minute faster than Solti/CSO, Karajan/BPO about 3 minutes faster than Bernstein/NYPO. Yes, Klemperer and Beethoven and faster!! Definitely worth investigating.

    61K5KF9FmfL._SY355_.jpg

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