Sunday, October 23, 2016
The Escher Quartet continues their survey of Mendelssohn’s chamber music: Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 6 Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 3 String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 Capriccio in E minor, Op. 81 No. 3 Fugue in E flat major, Op. 81 No. 4 All performed by the Escher String Quartet. The Escher Quartet opened their presentat On the third and final CD in the series, time has come for the two last quartets, as well as the Capriccio and Fugue from the Op. 81 set of Four Pieces for String Quartet begun on the previous instalment. The String Quartet No. 5 in E flat major belongs to the three quartets composed in 1837-38 as Op. 44 and is often considered a masterpiece of the genre. Ever modest, Mendelssohn himself recommended the set to his friend, the pianist Ignaz Moscheles, with the words: ‘there are one or two amongst them I am pleased with myself, and I should like to know that I am right, and that you too are satisfied with them’. Published posthumously, the Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 holds a special place in Mendelssohn’s list of works: not only is it one of his very last compositions, but the amazing work is the direct and heartfelt response to the unexpected death of his beloved sister Fanny. Here is the Schumann Quartet, performing the quartet number 6 by Mendelssohn:
This year's Oxford Lieder Festival is an immersion in Robert Schumann, but any intensive focus on Schumann would feature his music for piano, and his wife, Clara Schumann, one of the first celebrity pianists, and a pioneer in her own right. Thus the "Carnival of Pianos" on Friday, 14th October with all day performances and talks, focusing on the music Schumann wrote before the Liederjahre of 1840. Stuart Jackson, highly regarded and much loved, sings the earliest of Schumann's songs for voice and piano at the Holywell Music Room, followed by the piano works Schumann concentrated upon at this time in his career : the virtuosic Piano Sonata no 1, the Etudes symphoniques, the Kreisleriana, Carneval, Faschingsschwank aus Wien, culminating in an evening recital at the Sheldonian Theatre with Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber in an all-Schumann programme. Lots more : On 17th the Piano Quartet in E Flat with Sholto Kyncih, Festival Director and the Gildas Quartet who will also be playing music for string quartet and voice on 20th October. There's a special event, led by Natasha Loges, on Clara Schumann on 19th October, followed by a performance of Clara's only Piano Trio, paired with Robert's Piano Trio no 2 with The Pheonix Piano Trio. In the evening, songs by both Robert and Clara on the "Clara Piano", an instrument bought from Clara herself in the 1860's and carefully preserved in Donegal ever since. It was made by W Wieck, Clara's cousin who had a business in Dresden. It's being brought to Oxford to be played by David Owen Norris at the Holywell Music Room. The photo at right is Robert Schumann's piano in Zwickau. Graham Johnson is givingbtwo Study Days into Schumann, extending the focus bneyond Schumann himself, and into the composers and writers who so inspired him: Bach, Mendelssohn, Heine, Eichendorff, part of the canon now but relatively new in Schumann's time. This aspect of Schumann's work is impoirtant for it places what he did in context. Although nearly all Schumann's songs will be included in this year's Oxford Lieder festival, performed by great singers like Wolfgang Holzmair, Christoph Prégardien, Mark Stone, Juliane Banse, Benjamin Appl, Roderick Williams, Sarah Connolly, James Gilchrist, Bo Skovhus, Mark Padmore and others, there will be more esoteric fare, like the Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, the Pilgrimage of the Rose, (26/10) Schumann's cantata for full orchestra, heard here in the original scoring for piano and voices. There's also a talk on Schumann and opera, and another, with concert, on Schumann's late style, which is often under rated. The Oxford Lieder festival, now in its 15th year is unique in that ut is far more than just as series of concerts. It's total immersion : detailed focus on the subject and its wider background,:concerts complemented by talks, films, art exhibitioins, and this year a play. Lieder is, as Mark Stone and Sholto Kynoch have often said, an art of the mind as werll as of the ear. Read Mark Stone's interview on the differences between opera and Lieder HERE in Opera Today, and Julius Drake also HERE in Opera Today. Furthermore, a key tenet of the Oxford Lieder philosophy is its emphasis on performance experience, with its masterclasses and innovative performance workshops, young artist schemes and engagement with the singing public. Oxford Lieder represents the best It's a beacon of excellence this country should cherish.
Over a six-decade career the conductor recorded many hundreds of works new and old with his Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Andrew Clements picks his ten favourites, from Telemann to Tippett, and Mozart to MendelssohnFew musicians of his generation recorded more prolifically than Neville Marriner. He made his first discs as an orchestral player in the 1950s, first with the Philharmonia and then as principal second violin of the London Symphony Orchestra, under conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Pierre Monteux. But it was after he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in 1959, initially with the musicologist and harpsichordist Thurston Dart, that Marriner’s recording career really took off. Here’s a brief chronological sample of some of the best of them – my personal choice, and by no means definitive! Neville Marriner: The Early Recordings (1961-63) Continue reading...
Our series continues with Germany’s second largest city – where Brahms and Mendelssohn were born, Telemann and Mahler worked and the Beatles came of ageThis week’s stop on our tour of Europe’s great musical centres is the northern German city of Hamburg, the country’s second largest, the eighth biggest in the EU and – Wikipedia tells me – the second biggest port in Europe.Wikipedia is less useful when it comes to music: the entry for Hamburg leads with the fact that the German premiere of Cats took place there 30 years ago. But the city is also the birthplace of Johannes Brahms and where the Beatles cut their teeth between 1960 and 62. It is also big in heavy metal and hip-hop. Continue reading...
From the classical archive, 20 May 1856: The Manchester Guardian reviews Clara Schumann’s ‘Soiree Musicale’ at the Town HallWe have already had occasion to advert to Madame Schumann’s piano forte playing. The concert of last night affords us another opportunity of noticing her claims to public support; and these can be summed up in a few words. Madame Schumann has mustered all the mechanical difficulties of the instrument, her touch is delicate and refined, and powerful when power is wanted. Her execution is even rapid and certain in scale passages; brilliant and sure in arpeggio ones. But, guiding and controlling all these lesser forces, she has a musical genius of the highest order. Beethoven and Mendelssohn never had an interpreter more sympathetic in feeling, nor more certain in expression. With the dreamy Chopin, she is not so much en rapport: and as regards the interpretation of her husband’s music, all we will venture to say at present is, fortunate the composer that has such an interpreter. Her playing of Beethoven’s sonata was superb: she seemed to have caught the very soul of that great musician and compelled him to re-utter himself. We are certain that the finale of the sonata in D minor never was, and never will be more perfectly rendered. Continue reading...
And they must be praying this will continue throughout the season. The Baltimore Symphony scored heavily with the black-tie crowd thanks to a rare appearance by Itzhak Perlman in the Mendelssohn concerto . Seattle made $920,000+ thanks to having Bill Gates in the audience and Joyce DiDonato on stage. Third best were Houston, at $730,000, with Sir Ben Kingsley narrating Peter and the Wolf. The last-named was kept well away from the door.
Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 - 4 November 1847) was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Felix Mendelssohn was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his parents were cautious and did not seek to capitalise on his abilities. Early success in Germany, where he also revived interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, was followed by travel throughout Europe. Mendelssohn was particularly well-received in Britain as a composer, conductor and soloist. His essentially conservative musical tastes however set him apart from many of his more adventurous musical contemporaries such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Hector Berlioz. The Leipzig Conservatoire which he founded, became a bastion of this anti-radical outlook. Mendelssohn's work includes symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music. His most-performed works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the Hebrides Overture, his Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality has now been recognised and re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.
Great composers of classical music