Opera & ballet
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Instrumental Music
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Persons
  • Ingo Metzmacher – I can’t believe it!

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    The well-known maestro, active propagandist of modern music, the one, who all Europe worships – Ingo Metzmacher has visited Moscow. Despite a number of possible difficulties – some heavy days, and, in addition, Friday 13, good luck has smiled to our magazine, and we managed to meet the adherent of modern music world and ask [...]

Editor's Column
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Dates of classical music

Ingo Metzmacher – I can’t believe it!


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The well-known maestro, active propagandist of modern music, the one, who all Europe worships – Ingo Metzmacher has visited Moscow. Despite a number of possible difficulties – some heavy days, and, in addition, Friday 13, good luck has smiled to our magazine, and we managed to meet the adherent of modern music world and ask him some questions, to some of which he has reacted extremely directly.Ingo_Metzmacher_BolshoiAt a meeting which has taken place in a concert hall of Orkestrion in Cheryomushki, there was editor-in-chief Eugene Boyko and journalist Victoria Ivanova.

V. Ivanova: Your reputation of the passionate propagandist of modern music is well-known to whole music world. In Hamburg you have read a course of lectures “Who is afraid of XX-th century music?”, also you’ve published the book on the same theme. How can you explain your aspiration to take into concert programs as much modern music as possible?

I. Metzmacher: I started to think about it when I was student, because I thought usually of concert program is a little boring, because you always see the same pieces. I mean it has change, off course… When I studied, it was a thirty years ago, we started to do our own projects, in University, and everything then I’ve tried to create interesting programs, which means that I’ve tried to play always the pieces of the XX-th century. But XX-th century now is history already, so, we have a XI-st century… So, I’m thinking about time we play important pieces of XX-th century, more often, than we do… But I was liked to combine it with known repertoire, because I believe that music sounds different in different contest.

V. Ivanova: In interview you’ve not once mentioned about your dream to have a performance in Russia. And now your dream is going to be realized. What are you feeling about it?

I. Metzmacher: Oh, yes, it’s a 2-3 days… It was a very exciting moment to me to visit Moscow, because I have a big fable of Russia, Russian music, poetry, Russian theater, the Russian culture at general. I grew at the West of Germany, so, there was a wall… And I think it’s very exciting this has changed, it feels now nearer, more communication… And I hope I can come more often, again.

V. Ivanova: In the future concert program with K. Hartman’s piece there is also the symphony of the Russian composer D. Shostakovich. What is attracted you of this composer?

I. Metzmacher: I have done a lot of Shostakovich. I’ve just did a premiere in Vena – “Lady Makbet”, and I have done not all the symphonies of him, but a many. And I very much like his music, because I always feel it like a big accident. You know, it’s like a breach, like a rainbow… And I like long pieces. I think Shostakovich may be very silent, when nothing moves, lonely and soft… There are many things I like in Shostakovich… I also like Tchaikovsky, for example! But I have not conducted so much…

V. Ivanova: And how, to your opinion, European person perceives Russian music?

I. Metzmacher: I don’t know… But they love it.

V. Ivanova: And how about your own relation to Russian music?

I. Metzmacher: I was very much interested for a while still I am. There was apparition of Russian art, Russian music at the beginning of XX-th century, after the revolution, there were many wonderful, crazy things were happened, because as far as I understand the revolution of the beginning is gave artist a lot of freedom. And there are very interesting composers like Mosolov, Obuhov, Vishnegradskiy, Lurie, who try complete in different ways… One day I want to explore it, because I think that is a treasure there… There is out of composer I like very much Popov, but is later, of course I know Shnitke, but I don’t know so much of listened Russian music, which is composed today. I think that the German is very always attracted by the Russian music, Russian culture. And I don’t know how the Russian think, but Germany is near to each other, they are not so far, because we liked to be a little heavy, melancholic, dreaming, suffering… And not Italians!

V. Ivanova: In this time you have chosen the Seventh Symphony – not simple and banal on the world of characters and contest. It’s known, that it was written in difficult ages for Russia, and then for people it was like a prayer, support in difficult situations. How did you decide to perform this symphony?

I. Metzmacher: I don’t know exactly whose idea it was- Michael Fichtengolc’ or it was my idea, I don’t remember. But I think it’s an interesting idea, because it is a piece everybody knows a story behind it. It’s like propaganda against the Nazism, the War… I’m always very much attracted of pieces like that. And that’s why I also wanted to combine it with Hartman. Hartman did the same in Germany, what Shostakovich did in Russia. They are at the same age, and as they told the orchestra, I think they are the brothers on spirit. They are never met, but I feel they have the same idea how to write music, and I think they were near.

V. Ivanova: You have already met with the Seventh Symphony on your creative way, but you’ve decided to return to it. Maybe, here is the secret of your own perception of this music? What does it mean for yourself and do you think that symbolic of it is universal?

I. Metzmacher: Yes, I do. I think if Shostakovich would be a composer and he would write piece propaganda in very simple, he would be forgotten. His symphony is much more than that. The thinking about music is different thing to thinking about words. I mean composer’s thing is to know which instruments to use etc… That’s complete different way to thinking and there is other logic, other way. We can not translate easily he means this and this… It’s not like a text. But I think that is a message in there. But it’s a complicated message, you would never know exactly what it mean, because it is hidden. But of course it’s about the war, of course it’s about something coming nearer, and the last move of victory… But I don’t think about it when I conducted. For me it is something great. The development of it, form of it – it’s more important for me. What is a temp is it fast, or slow, need I change it – I have to think about it too, not about the whole contest.

V. Ivanova: And the last question. In Russia classical music is not the same obligatory subject of cultural luggage, as other art forms – the literature, theatre…

I. Metzmacher: No?

V. Ivanova: Yes, that is…

I. Metzmacher: Really not?

V. Ivanova: Yes, that’s true. It is a shame not to read Dostoevsky, Pushkin, but not to know Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov, Musorgsky’s music it is not a shame, it as the usual things, destiny of especially refined aesthetes.

I. Metzmacher: I can not believe it! But you have so many wonderful musicians, the orchestra, the concerts… The Russia is the great public in the world! Everyone wants to be in Russia, complete it in different way… And it is in whole the world, I know. I don’t believe it.

V. Ivanova: But unfortunately, it’s so. What could you wish Russian people?

I. Metzmacher: To know more about classical music, of course. As for me it’s so much part of the culture, as much as a literature, painting… I was in Tretiakov’ Gallery, it was very interesting, but I can’t imagine that music can not be a part of that…Anyway, music – is special. Because music can move you, can reach you in a way you nothing can reach.

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Russian composer files a response to Charles Ives

Russian composer files a response to Charles Ives

When american composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) composed a piece he called «The Unanswered Question» in 1906, he couldn’t have dreamed that a Russian composer born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1953, would, if not quite «answer» his question, at least posit a tantalizing musical meditation on it more than a century later.

This new piece, called «Post-scriptum» by its composer, Victor Kissine, will receive its world premiere with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, in concerts scheduled for 8 p.m. March 4, 5, and 6 and 2 p.m. March 7 at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.

Kissine — who makes his home in Belgium, where he is a professor of music at two important conservatories — writes that he was a student at the Leningrad Conservatory when he first discovered Ives’ piece. Considering it a «revelation», he assiduously studied the details of its score, noting that Ives used a trumpet to repeatedly intone his so-called «Perennial Question of Existence». The piece continues, as a series of other instruments offer comments on his question but cannot «answer» it. In his «Post-Scriptum», Kissine engages a series of five sounds, each of which evolves into either a major or minor pitch interval of a third to deal with «the question». During our recent e-mail exchange, I asked Kissine if, in his judgment, an average listener would consider his music in general, and «Post-Scriptum» in particular, to be «beautiful», «pleasing», «interesting» or «shocking» following a first hearing.

He replied, «If the listener finds my music ‘beautiful,’ I’d be overjoyed. I have nothing against ‘pleasing’ or ‘interesting,’ but if he is ‘shocked,’ I’d be disappointed, because this wasn’t my intention at all». Kissine has written a great deal of film music, as well as chamber and orchestral music. However, his approach to composition departs significantly from the assertive, agitated, often ear-grating styles issuing from the fin de siecle era at the beginning of the 20th century.

He explains that his musical language expands to include elements of classical Western-style tonality, 20th-century atonality, minimalism, aleatory sounds and 12-tone techniques, adding that he also uses micro-intervals (notes that fall «between the cracks» of notes on the piano). Further elaborating on his style, he wrote that beyond the four basic parameters of music — duration, pitch level, intensity and timbre — there is yet another: Silence, which he uses to great effect in his compositions.

«Silence», he says, «does not stop the music. It’s part of the music. It’s the flip side of music. Sound without silence wouldn’t exist». In his e-mail, Kissine asserted that he can’t imagine being anything other than a musician and composer. “I started music when I was 5,” he wrote. “So, it was the first language I learned to read. And, the first score I sight-read by myself was ‘Sonata quasi una Fantasia,’ Op. 27, No. 2 by Beethoven (the famous “Moonlight Sonata”). I remember having had enormous problems with the left-hand octaves».

Because his family lived near the Philharmonic Hall in Leningrad, he was taken to musical performances from a very early age. «I especially remember a recital by Sviatoslav Richter which made a great impression me», he wrote. «He was playing ‘my’ Beethoven sonata»! Kissine, father of two and grandfather to a 4-year-old, is a citizen of Belgium, living with his wife in Court-Saint-Etienne, a suburb of Brussels.

Other works scheduled for the S.F. Symphony’s March 4-7 program will be Ravel’s «Valses nobles et sentimentales», Liszt’s «Tasso: Lament and Triumph» and the unabashedly exultant Violin Concerto by another great Russian composer, Peter Tchaikovsky. Its soloist will be Christian Tetzlaff, prizewinning German violinist, who also performs the work with the symphony during its mid-March national tour.

Nobel Prize Concert Classical Music

Nobel Prize Concert Classical Music

Nobel Media, in association with the Stockholm Concert Hall, is proud to present this year’s Nobel Prize Concert – an event of world class stature. The concert is to take place on 8 December as part of the official Nobel Week programme of activities. Tickets will be released to the general public on Friday 29 May.

Stockholm Concert HallMartha Argerich, headstrong, charismatic and technically brilliant pianist, is this year’s soloist at the Nobel Prize Concert. Yuri Temirkanov, Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic will be leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme comprises Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major and Prokoviev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet.

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires in 1941, and had her performing debut at the tender age of eight. Her breakthrough came in 1965, when she won the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. She has worked with most of the world’s leading conductors, and her repertoire includes Bach, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Prokoviev.

Ms Argerich is passionate about supporting young talent. The year 1999 saw the first International Martha Argerich Piano Contest in Buenos Aires, a competition that she founded and of which she is now the chief judge. She has also instituted the Martha Argerich Music Festival in Japan, with concerts and masterclasses.
The Nobel Prize Concert is held to honour the year’s Nobel Laureates, who attend with their respective parties. Also present are members of the Swedish Royal Family and guests of the Nobel Foundation.

The TV broadcast of the Nobel Prize Concert will be produced by EuroArts and distributed internationally. In Sweden the concert will be broadcast by SVT. The Nobel Prize Concert is sponsored by DnB NOR and Statkraft.

For further information contact:
Camilla Hyltén-Cavallius, CEO Nobel Media +46 (0)8-663 14 83 or +46 (0)70-524 57 70
Stefan Forsberg, CEO Stockholm Concert Hall +46 (0)8-786 02 20 or +46 (0)70-786 02 50

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – «Alexander Nevsky»

Dallas Symphony Orchestra – «Alexander Nevsky»

Sounds that kept provoking smells and colors: Thursday was synesthesia night at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Prokofiev’s cantata based on his score for the film Alexander Nevsky took pride of place on conductor Jaap van Zweden’s enterprising program. Before intermission, he typically plugged gaps in the orchestra’s repertoire.

Alexander NevskyWolfgang Rihm currently bears the flag for German modernism and post-modernism. Memoria marked his Dallas Symphony debut – an American premiere and indeed only the third performance of the work anywhere. Like Stravinsky’s late Requiem Canticles, it offers shards of a formal lamentation – in this case for chorus, two soloists and an odd assortment of orchestral personnel. The chorus sometimes hummed and shouted. Offstage batteries of percussion made a furious clamor. I loved the work’s quirky solemnity, and the audience gave it a surprisingly enthusiastic welcome.

One of the orchestra’s own stars, Christopher Adkins, then got his moment in the sun with Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major. Lost until 1961, the piece is one of the few Haydn concertos that suggest his preeminence as a composer. Thank goodness van Zweden is making up for all the years the Dallas Symphony neglected his genius.

The sweet richness of Adkins’ tone, closely matched by the orchestral strings, evoked vocabulary you’d associate with tasting dessert wines: I detected overtones of honey, vanilla and tobacco. The cellist’s extended family has been active on the local early music scene, so I was surprised by the frankly romantic, though not self-indulgent, approach here.

The great filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was fulfilling a commission to prepare the Soviet public for the approaching World War II in Alexander Nevsky. Prokofiev’s soundtrack is inseparable from the images of medieval knights – good Russians, bad Germans – who battle onscreen. The cantata the composer arranged from the score made a great pairing with Rihm’s memorial to the dead of that same war.

Van Zweden seemed to be hurling gobs of paint onto a mighty canvas as he led the piece. The winds produced pungent, saturated colors, underpinned by tubas and contrabassoon, while the pitched percussion overlaid the picture with enamel splashes. Violins shaped delicate transitions between the climaxes piled on climaxes.

The huge Dallas Symphony Chorus blazed brightly when individual sections could revel in exposed lines. All together, the sound could be muddy. Prepared by interim director Terry Price, the chorus managed a convincing attempt at the language, even if the basses lacked that sepulchral low end of their Russian counterparts. Mezzo Gigi Velasco-Mitchell proved a wonderful alternative to the beefy Slavic contraltos we usually hear in the solo. Her singing was as elegant as it was earthy, confirming the excellent impression she (and treble Bryan Leines) had made in the Rihm.

Dallas News

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