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My Classical Notes
A Musician's List of Events & Artist Reviews
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Richard Strauss composed a total of more than two hundred songs, most of them for a high female voice. He was repeatedly inspired by sopranos, and the fact that he married one of these ladies, Pauline de Ahna, is proof of his intimate association with this wonderful art.

Maria Bengtsson’s fine selection from all his compositional periods demonstrates the versatility of Straussian composition, and in Sarah Tysman she has a piano partner whose subtle interpretations far transcend mere accompaniment.

Maria Bengtsson meets these challenges with the natural magnificence of a virtuoso also schooled on Strauss’s theatrical accomplishments. And her teamwork with Sarah Tysman can be experienced in impressive transparency above all in the three-dimensional reproduction of this meticulously produced Super Audio CD.

Here is Maria Bengtsson in a sad scene from Mozart’s Magic Flute:

1 day ago |
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The works of chamber music that showcase the rich dark sounds of the viola are relatively scarce. Brahms’ two sonatas, Op. 120, elegant and highly expressive, demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of the viola with a simplicity that only perfect mastery of musical composition can achieve. The music of Brahms and Yuri Bashmet’s viola were made for each other. Here again, Yuri Bashmet has transformed the previously modest viola into a brilliant solo instrument in its own right.

Admirably accompanied by his daughter, Ksenia Bashmet, he takes us into a world of depth, virtuosity and technical excellence. Bashmet founded the International Viola Competition in Moscow, a competition that remains, to this day, the only one devoted to this instrument in Russia. This renowned viola player constantly makes international headlines in the realm of music, and his talent has been rewarded on countless occasions in both Russia and the rest of the world.

Since 1983, when he was awarded the title of Artist Emeritus of the RSFSR, Bashmet has garnered titles and awards: winner of the State Prize of the USSR in 1986, People’s Artist of the USSR in 1991, and he also won the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 1994, 1996 and 2001, and in 1993 was named instrumentalist of the year (the equivalent of an Oscar in the world of music).

Here is the Sonata Opus 120 number 2, as played by violist Yuri Bashmet and pianist Evgeny Kissin:

2 days ago |
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Date:

June 7, 2018

Venue:

Large Hall of the Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria

Address:

Mirabellplatz 1, 5020 Salzburg, Austria

Program:

Music by Gershwin, Rachmaninov, Milhaud, and Ravel

Performing artist:

Khatia Buniatishvili

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Singer Magdalena Kozena is the wife of conductor Sir Simon Rattle. As such, she has many opportunities to venture into diverse musical journies. Now she undertakes an unusual journey of her own:

The world-famous mezzo-soprano decided to leave the world of classical music behind for a while and embarked on an exploration with the ‘light muses’. She chose a truly soulful and immensely witty author for her excursion into the world of classical American musical – Cole Porter.

She sings his renowned, jazz-inspired hits to the accompaniment of Ondrej Havelka and His Melody Makers, an orchestra which ranks among the world’s leaders in authentic interpretation of jazz, swing and dance music of the 1930s and 1940s.

The album is released by Magdalena´s new recording label “Brnofon” and distributed by Supraphon. You can enjoy the famous melodies Night And Day, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Love For Sale or Begin To Beguin sung by Magdalena Kožená who invites you to listen by saying: Let’s Misbehave!

Magdalena Kožená Wrote the following as an introduction:

“I fell in love with Cole Porter’s songs and the music of that period during the years when I was a student. I am a great admirer of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and other jazz legends. Their recordings are still amongst my favourites… I was inspired by listening to the songs of Cole Porter performed by Frederica von Stade, whom I admire greatly. Without in any way endeavouring to alter her singing style, she gave Porter’s songs great charm and brought them into a different, interesting dimension. So, I decided that I would try and present my own take on these timeless melodies to audiences.”

Here is music from this recording:

3 days ago |
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Gustav Mahler was born on July 7, 1860. Life during his early years included his experiencing the early death of several of his siblings. And he determined that he needed to express his own feelings about life through the sounds of music. He progressed as student, pianist, operatic assistant and other early leadership positions. Ultimately he became known as an Opera conductor in the small towns of Hungary and Germany.

After many years of struggle and conflict, conductor Gustav Mahler reached the zenith of possible accomplishments when he was appointed General Director of the Vienna Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. As a child who happened to be born into Jewish home, this was astonishing, and also highly controversial. Mahler accumulated many enemies, especialy in the Viennese press, amd also among performers. He demanded the kind of dedication and excellence that had been somewhat lax in the music making of those days.

As a composer, Mahler devoted his vacations to creating his own sounds. At first he composed Lieder (songs) based on old German verse and poems. Eventually he progressed to composing symphonies. There was at the beginning tremendous opposition to his music. Even his own oorchestra in Vienna found Mahler’s music to be too crass, too rough, even too ugly for the “refined” Viennese tastes.

Mahler was diagnosed with a severe heart illness in 1910 after he had had enough of the attacks in Vienna, amd he resigned from his positions there. For a couple of years he moved to New York and conducted there. Ultimately he returned to Vienna as a very ill man, and he died there on May 18, 1911. For the next 30 years or so, Mahler’s music was rarely performed.

After 1945, however, his compositions were rediscovered and championed by a new generation of listeners and conductors. Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century. When BBC Music Magazine surveyed 151 conductors to name their top three symphonies, Mahler was represented with three symphonies in the top-ten list.

Here is Leonard Bernstein, directing the Vienna Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony number 1:

4 days ago |
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Between the years 1782 and 1785 Wolfgang Mozart composed six quartets that were dedicated to Joseph Haydn. And famously, Haydn made this famous comment to Mozart’s father: “I have to tell you before God and men that your son is the greatest composer known to me”.

Surely the older Mozart must have been very proud on that day.

On this CD we get to listen to the following:

Works:

Artists:

Here is the opening of the Quartet number 19:

5 days ago |
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Korngold’s Violin Concerto was completed in 1945. This is a beautiful, late Romantic work that harks back clearly to Korngold’s earlier compositional style, when he was a younger man living in Vienna. But had he really turned his back on film music he was used to compose in America?

Every movement of the Concerto is scattered with fragments from a range of his film scores. The Violin Concerto was a huge success at its premiere, not least due to the performance by Jascha Heifetz as soloist.

During the 1950’s when Korngold’s career and indeed his life were drawing to a close, these years were most productive time for Leonard Bernstein. He was achieving major successes on Broadway with his musicals.

The Bernstein Serenade for violin, strings, harp and percussion had its premiere in Venice in 1954. There were two factors behind the composition. He had accepted a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation. Also, he had long been promising a new piece for his close friend, the violinist Isaac Stern. Both of these commitments coincided in the Serenade, an extremely lyrical, five-movement work, akin to a violin concerto.

Here is music from this recording:

6 days ago |
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Khatia Buniatishvili has a very active season performing all over the world, and on this post we have for you her performance of Edvard Grieg’s Concerto in A- Minor. Grieg composed this in 1868, and here we are still enjoying it more than 130 years later.

Here Ms. Buniatishvili poses at an amazing tea store in Paris:

And next… here is the music:

7 days ago |
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When performers play for me with incredible feeling, the world stops for a while while I experience this wonder. While I have listened to pianist David Fray many times, I was blown away by this particulars playing of the Largo from Bach’s Concerto number 5: This is totally wonderful:

8 days ago |
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Here is a collection that is sure to please:

Contents:

Bach, J S: English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV808

  • Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)

Bach, J S: Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 1 in C major, BWV846

  • Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)

Bach, J S: Prelude & Fugue Book 2 No. 7, BWV876

  • Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)

Bach, J S: Prelude & Fugue Book 2 No. 12 in F minor, BWV881

  • Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)

Bach, J S: Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue in D minor, BWV903

  • Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord)

Bach, J S: French Suite No. 5 in G major, BWV816

Here is the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, as performed by Andras Schiff:

9 days ago |
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