Thursday, March 30, 2017
Denis Voronenkov, the rebel Duma MP was assassinated yesterday by a hit squad in Kiev. His widow is the mezzo-soprano Maria Maksakova, a member of the Helikon ensemble in Moscow from 2006 and of the Mariinsky Theatre since 2011, where she has been cast as Dorabella, Cherubino, Eboli and other important roles. She has performed in the UK with Valery Gergiev and released an album on Universal’s Russian label. Maksakova was also a member of the Duma from 2011 to 2016, speaking out against anti-gay laws. Last year, she relocated to Kiev with her husband after threats from the Putin security services. They have a baby son, eleven months old. Fabio Mastrangelo, the Italian artistic director of the St. Petersburg State Theatre, has sent condolences and an offer of concert engagements. No message yet from the Mariinsky.
For my friends in New York, here is a fine musical event for your consideration: Venue: Carnegie Hall Seventh Avenue at 57th street Date: April 3, 2017 at 8:00 PM The first of two concerts that this excellent German orchestra will present at Carnegie Hall with its principal conductor, Valery Gergiev, will include: Ravel’s “La Valse” Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major (with the soloist Pierre-Laurent Aimard) Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. (A second program, featuring music by Debussy, Schubert, and Mahler, follows on April 5.)
Royal Festival Hall, London Funeral Song, honouring the composer’s teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, led a night that also delivered powerhouse Ligeti from pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard In later life, Stravinsky maintained that Funeral Song, written in 1908 as a memorial to his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov, was his finest work before Firebird. The score, left behind in St Petersburg at the time of his emigration, was believed lost, however, until 2015, when a set of orchestral parts were discovered in the library of the St Petersburg State Conservatory. Valery Gergiev conducted its first modern outing at the Mariinsky last year. Esa-Pekka Salonen opened Sunday’s Philharmonia concert with a superb UK premiere.Stravinsky claimed that the piece represented the idea “that all the solo instruments of the orchestra filed past the tomb of the master in succession”, and the work is dominated by a grieving melody, first heard on the horn, then passed in slow, steady progression from instrument to instrument. Shivering low string tremolandos, suggestive of Russian Orthodox church music, pre-empt the opening of Firebird, and there are echoes of Wagner in the brass chords that bring the processional to its eventual close. It’s a work of great nobility. Continue reading...
Interesting things coming up with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival, in contrast to the sad blandness that marks the South Bank's antipathy to serious music. Next for e will be Esa-Pekka Salonen's concert on 19th Feb with Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing Ligeti's Piano Concerto, The complete Debussy Daphnis et Chloé and .Stravinsky's "lost" Funeral Song - read more here about the premiere where Gergiev conducted it in context with Eimsky-Korsakov and The Firebird. On 2nd March, Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Stravinsky The Firebird complete 1910 version with de Falla and Ravel. Preceding this an early evening concert with Pascal Rophé featuring Isang Yun whose music isn't heard nearly as often as it should be. Benjamin Zander returns to London after along absence on 13th March in an all-Beethoven concert which includes Beethoven 9. Then Jakub Hrůša conducts Brahms on 23/3 and Dvořák 6 on 6/4. The early evening concert that day features Bent Sørensen who's very good. Salonen and Pierre Laurent again on 4/5 and 7/5 first with Debussy and Boulez, then with Bartok and Mahler 6.Veteran Philharmonia emeritus Christoph von Dohnányi conducts Schumann and Mendelssohn on 8/6. Elgar and RVW Sea Symphony with Roderick Williams on 29/6. The Philharmonia's 2017 2018 season kicks off on 28/9 with an unusual concert in which Salonen will conduct Sibelius 6 with Thorvaldsdottir and Bjarsen. Since Sibelius so dominates music in Finland, Salonen avoided conducting him until he felt he had something original to express. When Salonen did turn to Sibelius his insights were a revelation. I'll never forget his series at the Barbican a dozen years ago. Infinitely better that a conductor should approach things like that rather than churn things out on autopilot like some wildly popular conductors I won't mention. Equally exciting, Salonen conducts Mahler 3rd on 1st October, which he conducted when the Royal Festival Hall reopened 10 years ago after renovations. What a revelation that was, too, full of energy, light and freshness ! He's conducting Mahler 9 on 30 November, another must go. Also a must for me, on 8/10 Smetana Ma Vlast with Jakub Hrůša. Lots more, too much to write about. And then it's Xmas all over again.
Valery Gergiev made the extraordinary claim in Belgrade, attributing the statistic to the Russian culture minister. The Mariinsky now has two theatres in St Petersburg and a third on the Pacific seaboard. Bolshoi, anyone?