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Ainola
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We got a treat here in Toronto this past Saturday night. Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducted the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Pekka Kuusisto as guest soloist.

Program:
Sibelius; Tapiola
Prokofiev; Violin Concerto No. 1
Brahms; Symphony No. 3

Without getting into this particular performance itself, there was one comment I would make. Saraste and the TSO have a mixed past and at times he can make them do great things but when they become fickle it was impossible. Even when he returned as a guest, I saw an amazing Mahler 5 and a horrible Sibelius 5 performance....it was bad enough that he refused to come out for the encore bows. But since 2001, when he left, there has been enough change in players that the performance although not flawless seemed refreshing. Even the Brahms seemed rejuvenated, which the TSO always plays as they did under Gunther Herbig regardless of who conducts.

And as for Kuusisto, Prokofiev was great but that frock he was wearing........oh lord.
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Kurkikohtaus
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the chance to watch Saraste rehearse in Köln on a regular basis, in the 2011-12 season he has performed Brahms' 1st and 2nd. When I asked him once what programming plans he has for the orchestra's upcoming seasons, he replied with his usual brevity:

"The orchestra doesn't play enough Brahms."

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha ha - trying to calm them down a bit, is he?

Incidentally JPS has an all-Sibelius concert at Brighton Dome on 2nd February 2013:

Kurkikohtaus (!!)
Canzonetta
Valse triste

Violin Concerto (Henning Kraggerud)

Symphony No. 4


All this with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Jukka-Pekka conducted a complete cycle in Brighton many years ago and has been back with other repertoire since. Given the acoustics of the Dome, the term 'glutton for punishment' springs readily to mind... but it still promises to be an unmissable evening.

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two great symphonic works last thursday evening at Manchesters Bridgewater Hall. The Halle was under chief conductor Sir Mark Elder.

First off Brahms mighty second piano concerto played by Sunwoo Kim. This concerto [a favourite of mine] is indeed on a symphonic scale. In many concertos the soloist tends to dominate, but here the orchestra is on equal footing with the piano. The Halle's principle horn deserves a mention. Beautiful opening. Brahms has some great themes. In the bracing second movement Kim was impressive. In the third movement the cellos sang, what a marvellous tune. The somewhat lighthearted finale with its playful melodies brought a joyous conclusion to a masterly concerto.

Elder impressed in the final item, Sibelius's evergreen second symphony. After a moderately paced opening, cogently argued with great response from the orchestra we came to the second movement. The maestro avoided that ponderous Germanic plodding in the opening pizzicato that as disfigured many a performance. The two seemingly opposing forces in this dramatic second movement, one lyrical and full of hope and the other more violent and sinister were well delivered. After a firery third movement with a lovely oboe in the trio Elder led the orchestra into the triumphant finale with a vision of towering grandeur. The brass impressed with majesty and sublimity. Incidentally Barbirolli always used to bridge the final chords with the strings. Elder had the timps playing across the silences. Effective all the same.--kp

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EsaTero
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ranking the symphonies is difficult as the "easy" ones will always sound good. The 2nd, I have many recordings I sort of don't like, so I can see I would not like every concert. It happens to be the only Sibelius on offer here this season, in April. So I will go. I am forced to buy 4 tickets. Will need to give two away in a raffle.
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EsaTero wrote:
Ranking the symphonies is difficult as the "easy" ones will always sound good. The 2nd, I have many recordings I sort of don't like, so I can see I would not like every concert. It happens to be the only Sibelius on offer here this season, in April. So I will go. I am forced to buy 4 tickets. Will need to give two away in a raffle.


I think that the finale of the second symphony is probably the only part of the Sibelius symphonies that almost plays itself [I have heard some poor ones] Esatero, what don't you like about the popular No.2- Wink kp

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to say. My listening experience (age 5Cool included rock and then baroque music from my 20s. So I do stand volume. But my symphony listening is very little outside of Sibelius. For the 2nd I prefer The Vänskä approach. Loud and soft as needed. I really can't stand modern rock that all sounds flat due to extreme compression.

I have an easier time at classical concerts where the sound is all natural. But I don't go much. Last concerts were all chamber orchestra size.

Summing up: orchestras at full blast are not me. I'm sort of anti-Tchaikovskian.
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last nights concert at the Bridgewater Hall was pretty special with the BBC Philharmonic under Vassily Sinaisky.
Opening with Dvoraks joyous 'Carnival' overture. Daniil Trifonov was then superb soloist in Chopins youthful second piano concerto.
In part two, one work the fourth symphony by Franz Schmidt [1934] This gravely neglected masterpiece is one of the finest symphonies of the 20th century. Schmidt, born in Bratislava in 1874 tought at the Vienna Academy of music and was first cellist of the VPO for many years. The symphony was written as a requiem for his daughter shortly after her death.
This mystical work opens and closes with a solo trumpet. The Adagio of this one-movement symphony is a profound outpouring of grief with a solo cello prominent. We were told that Schmidt is close to the world of Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler, but I would also include Sibelius. I don't know if Schmidt was aware of any of the Finns music but this adagio contains music very close to parts of 'The Swan of Tuonela' [a work also concerned with death]
Following a playful molto vivace the trumpets deep refrain closes the symphony/ which according to Schmidt 'is the final music paying its last respects to eternity'.
Anyone not familier with this great symphony would do well to seek it out Smile kp

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many international solo instrumentalists have gone on to be decent conductors. I'm thinking of people like Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim. Last night at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall violinist Nikolaj Znaider conducted the Halle in Wagner, R. Strauss and Sibelius first symphony. Znaider has recorded the Sib concerto and played it all over the world. What of his account of the symphony. I enjoyed it enormously. Clearly Znaider saw the work not as Tchaikovsky's seventh but in the European tradition in a line going back to Haydn. The reading featured extremes of pace. Unlike Vanska who for my money rushes through the first movement, Znaider brought moments of stillness combined with bristling energy. Those chirping woodwinds towards the end of the movement tremendous. Superb woodwind in fact, especially the second movement. The scherzo was taken at a fair lick with a relaxed trio. The Halle strings superb in the finale and the coda was impressive.--kp

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kullervopete wrote:
I'm thinking of people like Vladimir Ashkenazy ...

Ashkenazy was indeed the chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in the early 2000's. Best piano concerto conductor I have ever seen. His son Dimitri is a clarinet player, we will be performing the Nielsen clarinet concerto together in February in Plzen, home of the Pilsner Lager (and a decent orchestra). I wonder if Dimitri will follow in his father's footsteps?

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kurkikohtaus wrote:
kullervopete wrote:
I'm thinking of people like Vladimir Ashkenazy ...

Ashkenazy was indeed the chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in the early 2000's. Best piano concerto conductor I have ever seen. His son Dimitri is a clarinet player, we will be performing the Nielsen clarinet concerto together in February in Plzen, home of the Pilsner Lager (and a decent orchestra). I wonder if Dimitri will follow in his father's footsteps?


Yes indeed. I seem to recall a young clarinet player by the name of Osmo Vanska. He certainly succeeded with his baton. I have made a note in my diary for Tuesday 29th April. Ashkenazy is bringing the Philharmonia Orchestra to Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Programme : Sibelius 'Finlandia' Rachmaninov 'Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky 'Fifth symphony'.--kp

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Popular programme last night at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. My chance to hear Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The Russian maestro looked very spritely as he bounced onto the platform. The opening piece for a large and appreciative audience was a certain 'Finlandia'. For a Russian Ashkenazy really feels this music and that final hymn never fails to lift the spirits.
A change of seating and moving the piano into place for the next work, Rachmaninov's second piano concerto, soloist Jean- Efflam Bavouzet. As Kurki remarked Ashkenazy is a superb accompanist in the piano concerto repertoire and we heard a splendid performance. It has to be said that my wife who is no classical music aficionado was bored to tears!
After the interval Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony. I was especially impressed by the young female first horn who executed the famous horn solo in the second movement so flawlessly. Ashkenazy took the finale at a fair lick, highlighting the orchestras great precision--kp

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kullervopete wrote:
Popular programme last night at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. My chance to hear Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The Russian maestro looked very spritely as he bounced onto the platform. The opening piece for a large and appreciative audience was a certain 'Finlandia'. For a Russian Ashkenazy really feels this music and that final hymn never fails to lift the spirits.
A change of seating and moving the piano into place for the next work, Rachmaninov's second piano concerto, soloist Jean- Efflam Bavouzet. As Kurki remarked Ashkenazy is a superb accompanist in the piano concerto repertoire and we heard a splendid performance. It has to be said that my wife who is no classical music aficionado was bored to tears!
After the interval Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony. I was especially impressed by the young female first horn who executed the famous horn solo in the second movement so flawlessly. Ashkenazy took the finale at a fair lick, highlighting the orchestras great precision--kp


I saw that they were doing that program; I follow the Philharmonia, as they're one of my favorite orchestras these days. I'd love to see them live some time--especially as I see Esa-Pekka Salonen is conducting them in both Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande and Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony next season!

And Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is really fantastic. There's a video performance of him with Salonen somewhere around the internets doing Ravel's Left Hand Concerto. Very spirited performance it is, too.
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the Bridgewater Hall yesterday evening Okku Kamu conducted the Halle. The concert opened with Richard Strauss 'Don Juan' with fabulous playing from the orchestra'. Alexander Gavrylyuk joined the orchestra for a performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto. Crouched over the piano Gavrylyuk gave a bravura display. It was the finest account I have heard in years. After the interval Kamu gave the Sibelius Fifth Symphony. The Finns Sibelian credentials were very much in evidence and the Halle has a long tradition with this music. Not much to quibble about and the orchestra was on top form, especially the horns who had also shone in the Strauss. If I am being hyper-critical regarding the finale of the Symphony, it seemed to me that Kamu did not 'hold back' enough as the music built up to its awe inspiring climax and especially as the trumpets take up the 'Swan Hymn'. I feel that you need to save something for the final moments. But who am I to criticise a performance of such conviction and musicianship--kp

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I attended the Halle Sunday evening performance and agree about the pianist in the Grieg. Thought 5th good. Kamu tries to stick absolutely to score so sometimes his performances miss the tweaks others introduce.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pmg wrote:
Thought 5th good. Kamu tries to stick absolutely to score so sometimes his performances miss the tweaks others introduce.


If I remember rightly, Kamu conducted the Sibelius Fifth Symphony without a score--kp

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