Second (and last this year) concert of Gardiner Schumann cycle with the London Symphony Orchestra. The initial programmed Schumann piano concerto was dropped long time ago as Maria Joao Pires is retiring. Replacement was a Mozart piano concerto by Piotr Anderszewski that didn’t make that much sense in the context of the cycle. However, Anderszewski got the flu and he got replaced by Isabelle Faust playing Schumann own violin concerto, that was much more suited.
What a great concert! Ann Hallenberg is one of the top singers nowadays in the baroque repertoire. She, however, takes also part in some specific romantic opera and concert roles. Berlioz Les nuits d’été is a perfect work for her high mezzo voice and allows her to show characteristics other than her agility: character development and expressiveness. With Gardiner complicity she achieved a top level of beauty with a impressive blending with the orchestral textures.
Martin Helmchen has just released his recording of Beethoven Diabelli variations in alpha and his is touring them: However the most interesting part of this Southbank Center International Piano series programme was the inclusion of 4 Novellettes by Robert Schumann, a music rarely heard in concert. This was serious stuff. Helmchen played the music with intense concentration, not allowing any rest in between pieces, trying to make a coherent narrative with these somehow disjointed pieces.
This was one of the highlights of the Barbican presents season and it not only kept up but exceeded the expectations. Maisky and Argerich have been long term partners on stage and recordings and we all knew how well they worked together. But how well the young Janise Jansen would fit the team was the unknown bit here. But hell, we all known how Martha leads her chamber music making bringing out the best from each of her partners.
Very interesting piano recital with Jonathan Biss at Wigmore Hall. Since the very beginning of the sonata K310 we realized it was not the conventional academic Mozart so common nowadays between those clone-like-pianist. His approach was not classic at all, but more like a sturm-und-drang Mozart, emphasizing contrasts with flexible dynamics and subordinating tempi to the narrative. It was a quite valid performance which made a lot of more sense in the context of what was coming next.
This review is easy: Benjamin Appl has one of the most beautiful baritone voices I have listened to in the recent years. He is charming and expressive and does a very intelligent singing. And the superb Graham Johnson is one of the top references as lieder pianist from the previous generation. So yes, they made it pretty well. With a programme focused on lieder with oriental themes, without no applause until the intermission it was risky to sing all these songs, with different moods all together almost without interruption.
What a mixture for the 33th Prom! Nordic music + German romanticism + German anti-romanticism. And a vocal soloist for the first part of the concert and a cello one for the second one. And what a success! Things didn’t start quite well in the initial pieces of the Peer Gynt selection: Storgårds was conducting too straight to the point with too much energy without letting the lyrical aspect of the score to arise.