Concert reviews

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Concert reviews

Hello all. This section of the Forum hasn't really 'taken off', even though I would take for granted that Gramophone forum members would be regular concert-goers. Perhaps we should just begin simply and ask: what concert have you just attended, and what was it like? Now, who would like to start...

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RE: Concert reviews

Martin, I’m not ignoring you but thinking my own experience a bit unique, I kept out of this or the other thread in this section. However perhaps I’m not so unique and anyway, to get the ball rolling:

 

Premiers. I’ve seen lots over the years, mostly a bit depressing because you feel for the composer. This is probably the first, and last, time he or she will hear this work. For some reason I missed the premier of Rubbra’s Symphony 8 back in 1971 (Groves, Royal Liverpool Phil), even though I was an avid Liverpool concert-goer at that time. Maybe I was broke from going to football matches. I’ve since grown to love the work.

 

Concert going today. I don’t go. I live just outside Vancouver and although the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is apparently enjoying a period of comparative success, its current programming doesn’t appeal to me. Its financial health stems partly from a high rate of subscription which in turn may be due to a focus on “pop” concerts and the tried-and-true favourites. In a climate of harsh financial reality, perhaps this is the way of the future. But between high ticket prices, boring programming and the kind of audience behaviour that afflicts most live events these days, it’s a rare concert that tempts me to brave downtown traffic and astronomical parking fees.

Ironically, the availability of high quality recordings is partly responsible. I’ll still make the trip for good jazz. But for classical, why would I pay double the price of a cd to hear a little-known conductor perform Beethoven’s 4th Symphony when I’ve got all kinds of recordings featuring the world’s best? If Yannick Nezet Seguin ever comes to town or they start playing Martinu, that’ll be different.

RE: Concert reviews

Did anyone go and hear Yevgeny Sudbin at the QEH on March 25th ? I've heard him before and was impressed (Rachmaninov and Scriabin). I was horribly un-impressed on Thursday. His Chopin was too percussive, fast and over pedalled (as a friend I met said "what do they teach them in Russian masterclasses once they have said "play fast and with lots of pedal") - the silence before the coda in the 4th Ballade was pedalled through, and he generally had little feel for the idiom. The Liszt Harmonies du Soir had no organic development and was pulled about - as well as lacking depth of tone (Lazar Berman  and Richter being incomparable in this piece). Gaspard was the least bad.... I am unable to comment on his performance of the Ronald Stephenson Chopin fragment

RE: Concert reviews

Micos, I'm sick with envy when I see what's happening in Liverpool right now. That was a great music scene in the 60s, Groves doing Mahler when he was still considered offbeat, a pint in the Phil beforehand and maybe one afterwards too. I'm looking forward to Petrenko's Shostakovich 4. Maybe somebody can at long last come close to what Kondrashin made of it.

I missed Meredith Davies here, unfortunately. Barshai's arrival was exciting but it just didn't work out. Too 'out there' for Vancouver taste. Lots of great concert-going during my six years in Toronto though. Terrific Elgar 1 and Prokofiev 6 from Andrew Davis, Pavarotti singing to a half-empty, but 90% Italian, Massey Hall, Ancerl in his twilight years.

RE: Concert reviews

Recently caught up with the BBC/ Belohlavek Martinu cycle at the London Barbican. Apparently he had his work cut out to agree risking all the Martinu symphonies in a season during these straitened times but has ingeniously mixed them in with programmes of several safer pieces or as in this case with the Fifth symphony tacked it on to the Brahms Requiem which often stands alone. This concert was certainly well attended with two of the three tiers virtually full for a concert also broadcast live. In my case it was actually the combination of the two which attracted me to travel from outside London-I probably wouldn't have bothered just for the Brahms much as I love it. Martinu is a comparatively recent discovery for me following a glowing review of his violin concerto in Gramophone a couple of years back! Now for the Sixth symphony as Marin Alsop makes a much anticipated guest return to the Bournemouth Symphony later this month.

RE: Concert reviews

I had a great concert experience last year when Daniel Harding conducted Vaughan-Williams fifth symphony with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,of which he is chief conductor.An overwhelming performance.One of the best concerts I ever attended.

I must say that we are lucky in Stockholm for having Harding, he is a brilliant

and wonderful musician.I´ve attended many great concerts with him, for example Verdis Requiem,Bruckners ninth, Mahlers third to name just a few.

Now he has signed for another three years and that is really great news.I´ve just bought tickets for a concert that will take place in three weeks , with him and Helen Grimaud will play Ravel piano concerto and then the Mahler 6!I´m looking forward very much to this concert,especially the Mahler 6. 

RE: Concert reviews

Hello Martin

I can read why this section hasn't really taken off, as I do not doubt that we are all active concert-goers, but it is diffcult to only relate to one reviewer's opinion of a recent concert. Perhaps if more than one person was to report on a concert then it would stimultae debate or interest. Otherwise unless I was there or had heard X or Y perform at the same or another time, I could not possibly comment. regards MyronC.

RE: Concert reviews

MyronC,

 

This is a good point: this forum will no doubt gather many reviews, but the chance at present  of an overlap covering one specific concert would be very unlikely.

 

Martin: Would it help to set up a directory in which forum members could indicate which orchestra(s) they patronise so there's a chance that some discussion of specific concerts could be facilitated?  At present, it is hard to see where forum posters are based, unless like tagalie and myself they have disclosed this online.

 

I should imagine that for a start,  forum members based in London - presumabkly a fair number of the total - could set up this kind of directory.

RE: Home

Already posted on "Blogs" under "Beethoven's human voice", but, will also offer it here:

I had the good fortune to attend the Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer March 28th concert of Beethoven's 6th and 9th symphonies at Lincoln Center which was indeed a memorable afternoon. It was of great interest to see how innovative Fischer's approach is to these well known symphonies, not the least of which was the placement of his players.

For the 6th, the six basses were dead center on a platform which elevated them well above the rest of the orchestra, with the exception of the piccolo and trombones, which were seated together on a separate platform, behind and slightly above them, to their left. The principal clarinet was directly in front of Fischer, flanked by the principal flute and oboe. The remaining winds were scattered among the strings.  The clarity and balance he achieved in the challenging space that Avery Fisher Hall is, was remarkable, and though tempos leaned towards the extremes, they worked; the “Scene by the Brook”, strings shimmering, as graceful and moving as I’ve ever heard.  

Player placement for the 9th was, if anything, even more interesting; it included the timpanist sitting directly in front of and slightly to Ivan's left, the four soloists singing from individual platforms, evenly fanned out across the stage among the strings, and most surprising, the chorus positioned on the floor in front of the stage, only 3 deep, seated with their backs to the audience, turning only when singing. The performance was magnificent; in particular, the Adagio, lovingly, languidly played, was most affecting.

To say that these performances succeeded beyond even my already high expectations, and made these often heard masterpieces sound fresh and spontaneous, is no small matter. Indeed, scheduling these two symphonies on the same program, brilliant musical expressions of two of Beethoven’s great passions, his love of nature and his love for humanity, was triumphant.

Fischer's beaming face told me that he was as enthused with the audience response as they were to what they had just heard.   I would be interested to know if the seating arrangement for the Pastoral was used for the forthcoming Channel SACD.

 

Patrick

RE: Home

The most recent concert I attended was Martin Roscoe with members of Manchester Camerata at the RNCM in Manchester.  I was particularly intrigued to see that they were playing a chamber version of Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto.  The small-scale forces were enlightening and bought a new level of clarity to the music.  The interweaving of parts came across much more effectively and the piano writing had more space in which to breathe.  Of course, the chamber forces leave the piano soloist far more exposed than is usually the case in this work and Martin Roscoe rose to the challenge with a poetic and sensitive account, with an artful sense of balance. This also helped to make the second half performance of the Schubert 'Trout' Quintet so enjoyable.  There was a remarkable freshness to the music that is quite hard to achieve with a work that has had such huge exposure over time.

I've enjoyed Martin Roscoe's playing on many occasions over the years but in this concert, and in his playing on 'In Tune' a few days before, I heard a more complete pianist.  Likewise with the extracts I've heard from his new Beethoven recordings in which there is a wonderful sense of nobility and musical communication supported by a deftness of touch that reminds me of the late Dinu Lipatti.  As with Clifford Curzon, it seems that Roscoe takes the utmost care over every sound he produces without once interrupting the overall flow of the music.  The over-arching sense is of listening to a superb musician rather than just a pianist. 

RE: Concert reviews

The headline on this site caught my eye and I went to the Liverpool Phil link to look at their upcoming concert calendar.

There are 17 concerts I would definitely want to attend, at least another half dozen I'd go to if it fitted (mostly the lunchtime stuff). It's not the most adventurous calendar imagineable, but it sure beats the fare on offer here. Niklausvogel, you are one lucky ___________ (insert politically-correct, Gramophone-approved, expletive).

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