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Taka Kigawa honours Pierre Boulez

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 15 April 2014

Taka Kigawa (c) Taka Kigawa
The highly acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa will honour composer and conductor Pierre Boulez with a solo piano recital of the composer’s works 12 Notations, Première Sonate, Troisième Sonate (including Sigle), Incises and une page d’éphéméride on 17 April at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, and, a week later, on 24 April at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

From the Center for New Music’s programme:

“Pierre Boulez’s piano pieces have been Taka Kigawa’s specialty program. He has performed those pieces in public numerous times worldwide, and has received lots of acclaim from both critics and audiences alike. The New York Times hailed him, as ‘It was music of Mr. Boulez that spurred him to greater intensity and spontaneity. Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material’ and ‘Mr. Kigawa recast the (Boulez’s) sonata as an essay in how to apply suppleness to virtuosity, and the result was an energetic but also characterful account.’ And Pierre Boulez himself highly praised Kigawa’s playing his works as ‘I was very much impressed by the brilliant way he performed them. He was precise, and at the same time inventive.’ […] Also this year Kigawa will be touring with the Pierre Boulez Complete Solo Piano Music program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in late April, in New York City in August, and in Japan in November.”

Through His Teeth #18: rave reviews

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 11 April 2014

Through His Teeth, Victoria Simmonds, Anna Devin (c) ROH, Stephen Cummiskey
Here is a collection of reviews of Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth. Read the full reviews by clicking on the corresponding links. Through His Teeth will be performed one last time tonight, 11 April, at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House.

Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.

(Anne Ozorio, Opera Today, 09.04.2014)

Short, pithy and smart, Through His Teeth managed that elusive feat of being at once gripping and amusing. […] Bedford’s score is surely his most accomplished so far, often turning down the aural volume as the drama grows noisier – to bracing effect.

(Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 06.04.2014)

Bedford sets Harrower’s directly phrased text fluently, infusing his vocal lines with a strong sense of character and situation. The musical-dramatic pacing is swift and almost cinematic – an aspect reinforced by the use of screens with multiple CCTV images placed at the back of the stage, which show us the physical ambience of each scene.

(George Hall, The Guardian, 04.04.2014)

It's a shame that Through His Teeth has only been scheduled for four performances as it deserves a far wider audience. An unqualified success, Through His Teeth looks set to become a modern classic, and is certainly the most ambitious and successful of recent new operas that have been seen on the London stage.

(Keith McDonnell, WhatsOnStage, 10.04.2014)

Through His Teeth, Owen Gilhooly, Anna Devin (c) ROH, Stephen CummiskeyAs music, it manages to be atmospheric and seductive while still pushing the edges of sound art, becoming increasingly disharmonious as the situation becomes more extreme. Composed by Luke Bedford, it will surely be produced by other opera companies in the future as it contributes both to what opera is and to the enduring moral tangle of Faust.

(Eleanor MacFarlane, The Upcoming, 04.04.2014)

Bedford’s score is appropriately tense, explosive, and fragmentary, uncertain in movement and devoid of any conventional lyricism. Charm is not on its aesthetic agenda: exploiting quarter-tones and the sonorities of accordion and percussion, it seems charged with the restless urban angst that fuels Harrower’s libretto.

(Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 04.04.2014)

There might seem to be a mismatch between Harrower’s words (mundane, lots of swearing) and Bedford’s score (subtle, spare, elusive). But the music draws otherworldly sounds out of its small band of harp, accordion, percussion and others, and adds the extra layer of mystery that sets the imagination spinning.

(Richard Fairman, Financial Times)

The vibrant accompaniment of contemporary chamber orchestra CHROMA is a key element of the success in this production, fulfilling the intensity and the surprising lightnesses of the score and pushing the cast on to greater emotional heights.

(Laura Peatman, A Younger Theatre, 05.04.2014)

If there’s one thing you need to see this week, this is it.

This is not the first opera from Luke Bedford […] But it is easily his most impressive - and I hope the comparative ease of staging the score will lead to further productions in future, perhaps from students.

(Intermezzo, 07.04.2014)

Vykintas Baltakas: Egyptian première

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 09 April 2014

The Japanese violinist Takao Hyakutome will perform the Egyptian première of Vykintas Baltakas’ Eine Kleine Nachtmusik together with Luciano Berio’s Sequenza VIII on 13 April at the Cairo Contemporary Music Days 2014 at the Al Falaky Theater in Cairo.

The composer about the piece:

This miniature, played on only one-string on the violin, is a lullaby which I’ve been singing to my daughters for several years. My music in this piece was partially inspired by fractal ideas where a large image is created of many small images of the same shape. I couldn't think of a more fitting title than Eine kleine Nachtmusik. However this is the only reference point to Mozart, borrowed with great respect.

Takao Hyakutome, Cairo (c) EECMS


Listen to a live recording of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, performed by Wibert Aerts at the Transit Festival 2013:

Vykintas Baltakas: Eine kleine Nachtmusik
for violin solo | 7'
prem. 13.04.2014, Al Falaky Theater, Cairo; Takao Hyakutome, vln

Nikolai Badinski in Xiamen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 07 April 2014

Nikolai Badinski, Zhi-Jong Wang, Renchang Fu and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra (c) Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra
In March 2014, the Xiamen University – which, with more than 40.000 students, is one of China’s most important universities and of international renown – invited Nikolai Badinski to present his music and give lectures in the frame of the prestigious „Nanqiang” Lectures of Excellence. Furthermore, the composer was honoured with the badge of honour of the Xiamen University.

Nikolai Badinski on the world première of his Violin Concerto No. 2:

Zhi-Jong Wang, Nikolai Badinski and Renchang Fu With the successful and convincing realisation of the 42 years delayed world première of my lost Violin Concerto No. 2 – performed by the Shanghai violinist Zhi-Jong Wang  and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra under Renchang Fu – the young and extremely gifted soloist Zhi-Jong Wang has categorically confirmed a prediction that I made one year ago – that she is a star of tomorrow. Only that she already plays like a star.

Memorial concert for Claudio Abbado

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 05 April 2014

On Sunday, 6 April, 4pm, arte and the Lucerne Festival offer a live stream of the Lucerne Festival’s memorial concert for Claudio Abbado, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Soloists Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Faust, as well as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Andris Nelsons will honour the conductor.

From the Lucerne Festival’s website:

Isabelle Faust and Claudio Abbado in 2011 (c) Marco Caselli Nirmal for harmonia mundi“Opening the program will be the first movement from Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, which Claudio Abbado conducted during his last performance in Lucerne in August 2013 — the final concert of his career. Therefore no one will take Abbado’s place on the podium for that selection, for the musicians wish to perform this music in his spirit, without any other conductor. Following this, Bruno Ganz, who visited Abbado just a few days before his death and read him verses by Hölderlin, will recite one of these poems. The program continues with Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, which is dedicated ‘to the memory of an angel.’ The soloist will be Isabelle Faust, who recorded this very work with Claudio Abbado in 2011. To conclude the concert, they will perform the finale from Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony, which the composer originally planned to title ‘What love tells me.’ The works by Berg and Mahler will be conducted by Andris Nelsons, who will also lead the Lucerne Festival Orchestra’s four concerts this summer.”

You can watch the stream of the concert on and on the website of the Lucerne Festival.

★★★★★ for Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 April 2014

Faust, illustration by Goethe“Composed by Luke Bedford, it will surely be produced by other opera companies in the future as it contributes both to what opera is and to the enduring moral tangle of Faust.”

Read the first review of Luke Bedford’s chamber opera Through His Teeth, which premièred yesterday at the Linbury Studio Theatre / Royal Opera House, on The Upcoming.

Jean-Guihen Queyras and the Ensemble Resonanz: Tour de France

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 April 2014

Ensemble Resonanz (c) Tobias Schult
Harmonia Mundi, Berg/SchönbergTomorrow, Friday 4 April, the Ensemble Resonanz will start their tour de France together with cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. They will perform Franz Schreker’s Scherzo, Wolfgang Rihm’s Nachtordnung, Arnold Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht and also Matthias Georg Monn’s concert for violoncello and string orchestra.

They will give concerts on Friday at the Maison de la Culture in Grenoble, on Monday at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris and on Tuesday at the Arsenal in Metz.

Furthermore, Queyras and the ensemble are promoting their recent cd release on harmonia mundi; here is a German interview with Jean-Guihen Queyras on Berg, Schönberg and the recording:

The interview is also available in French.

Walter Braunfels’ Der Traum ein Leben in Bonn

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 April 2014

Reviews of Will Humburg’s recent production of Walter Braunfels dramatic fairy tale Der Traum ein Leben at the Theater Bonn are out. You can find a collection of excerpts from German reviews here.

Guido Johannes Rumstadt, who is credited with conducting the first stage performance of the work, once wrote: “If you hear Der Traum ein Leben for the first time, you may be surprised by the many reminiscences as well as by the great ‘beauty’ of this music. If one addresses oneself to a proper study of the score, any accusation of eclecticism vanishes. What may have put one in mind of Wagner turns out to be an unmistakable personal style. The instrumentation is as masterful as any of the best operas of the time as are the dramatic cuts in the plot which have the sharpness of film cuts. The irony of the music reminds one of Shostakovich.”

Walter Braunfels (c) Erbengemeinschaft Walter Braunfels

Finale and “In iij. Noct.” at the 32. rassegna di nuova musica

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 02 April 2014

32. rassegna di nuova musicaGeorg Friedrich Haas’ Finale for flute and his string quartet no. 3 “In iij. Noct.” will be performed at the 32. rassegna di nuova musica in Macerata. The festival for new music, which took place for the first time in 1983, runs from 4 until 6 April.

Mälkki and Haas: before and after the première

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 31 März 2014

Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Astrid Ackermann

hornroh (c) Astrid Ackermann

Georg Friedrich Haas’ concerto grosso No. 1 was premièred last Friday at the Herkulessaal in Munich. Susanna Mälkki conducted the hornroh modern alphornquartet and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.

Here are a few glimpses from the rehearsal and a picture of the conductor and the composer after the concert.

More pictures from the rehearsals and a short documentary are available on BR Klassik. On 8 April BR-Klassik broadcasts a recording of the world première at 20:03. Listen live.

Susanna Mälkki, Georg Friedrich Haas (c) Universal Edition, Wolfgang Schaufler

Susanne Mälkki premières Haas’ concerto grosso No. 1

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 28 März 2014

Susanna Mälkki (c) Simon FowlerThe world première of Georg Friedrich Haas concerto grosso No. 1 for four alphorns and orchestra will take place on 28 March at the Herkulessaal in Munich. Here, the composer sees the alphorns as “the source of another dimension of intonation (overtone chords), used to create contrast and to expand the traditional twelvetone tuning of the symphony orchestra.” Susanna Mälkki conducts the hornroh modern alphornquartet and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.

On 8 April BR-Klassik broadcasts a recording of the world première at 20:03. Listen live.

View the full score of the concerto grosso No. 1.

Georg Friedrich Haas: concerto grosso No. 1
for four alphorns and orchestra | 30'
world prem. 28.03.2014, Herkulessaal, Munich; hornroh modern alphornquartet; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, cond. Susanna Mälkki

Best Edition 2014

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 27 März 2014

Universal Edition, Alban Berg, facsimile

The prizes for the Best Edition were awarded in March 2014 at the Frankfurt Music Fair.

Winfried Jacobs, chairman of the classical music committee of the German Music Publishers Association, presented the prizes.

Universal Edition has been awarded a Best Edition prize for the facsimile volume of Alban Berg’s Lulu.

Alban Berg
Complete Works
Section 1, Music works, volume 2.

Lulu, particell of the third act
UE 18152C

UE 18152D

Congratulations to all involved!

Stockhausen: Carré orchestra I

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 27 März 2014

Here it is: the full study score of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Carré for orchestra I. The work for 4 orchestras and choirs will be performed tomorrow, 28 March, at the Cité de la Musique.

Michel Tabachnik, Ulrich Pöhl, Nathalie Marin and Kaisa Roose conduct the Brussels Philharmonic and Les Cris de Paris (choirmaster: Geoffroy Jourdain).

View the full score:

Happy Birthday Pierre Boulez

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 26 März 2014

Pierre Boulez at the Venice Biennale (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch
Pierre Boulez at the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in October 2012.

Happy 89th Birthday Pierre Boulez!

Ivan Fedele, director of the Biennale’s music sector, on Boulez:

“This is a recognition of the absolute value of an artist who has lived through the history of contemporary music, offering the entire world compositions that, in the opinion of musicologists and artists from around the world, are true masterpieces of modernity.

The Maestro’s work has also expressed itself in the theoretical field with exemplary books that have served as a guide and model for generations of young composers. Furthermore, as a conductor, Boulez has offered interpretations of the classical and contemporary repertoire that are now considered milestones.”


Tour de Brass!

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 März 2014

Watch the Trailer for Onyx Brass’ Tour de Brass, a series of free, outdoor concerts across the UK. On the programme: David Sawer’s Bronze and Iron for brass quintet with bandstand.

View the full study score of Bronze and Iron: