Sunday, January 22, 2017
(Rubicon)A protege of Maria João Pires, Julien Brocal has a lot to live up to, and this disc – the first both for him and the new label Rubicon – does so beautifully. Brocal offers a thoughtful traversal of Chopin’s Op 28 Preludes, knitting together these 24 miniatures – some lasting barely half a minute – to form a coherent whole. His playing is quietly riveting, drawing the attention without grand gestures, and so focused that the melodies in ostensibly busy little pieces like No 3 and No 8 hold their stillness while the decorative gossamer accompaniment spirals around them. Only in the frantic No 16 does his composure seem rattled. He rises to the Sonata No 2 in B flat minor with the same intensity on an altogether more expansive scale, and the famous Funeral March that forms its climax is all the more tragic for its contained expression, subtly sighing phrasing and general lack of fuss. Continue reading...
Pierre Boulez once told me that Mozart was ‘trivial’ and he would never waste his time conducting such music. At the New York Philharmonic, he added, he persuaded them to substitute Haydn for Mozart. This was in 1985. Now, a diligent Slipped Disc reader has come up with the facts, which are not quite as Pierre remembered them. Boulez conducted these works by Mozart with the NY Phil (source: NY Phil digital archives), in all, 33 performances of Mozart: ADAGIO AND FUGUE, STRING QUARTET, C MIN, K.546 (QUART./STR. ORCH.) (5) CONCERTO, CLARINET, A MAJOR, K.622 (1) CONCERTO, FLUTE AND HARP IN C, K.297C (OLD K.299) (1) CONCERTO, FLUTE NO. 1, G MAJOR, K.285C (OLD K.313) (1) CONCERTO, HORN NO. 2, E-FLAT MAJOR, K.417 (2) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 09, E-FLAT MAJOR, K.271 (JEUNEHOMME) (2) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 10, E-FLAT MAJOR, K.316A (OLD K.365) (2 PIANOS) (1) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 15, B-FLAT MAJOR, K.450 (1) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 19, F MAJOR, K.459 (1) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 20, D MINOR, K.466 (1) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 24, C MINOR, K.491 (1) CONCERTO, PIANO NO. 27, B-FLAT MAJOR, K.595 (2) CONCERTO, VIOLIN NO. 3, G MAJOR, K.216 (2) CONCERTO, VIOLIN NO. 5, A MAJOR, K.219 (1) COSÌ FAN TUTTE (OVERTURE), K.588 (1) MAGIC FLUTE, THE (OVERTURE), K.620 (1) QUARTET, STRINGS, NO. 23, F MAJOR, K.590 (1) RONDO, PIANO, D MAJOR, K.382 (1) SERENADE NO. 9, D MAJOR, K.320, “POSTHORN” (2) SERENADE NO. 12, C MINOR, K.384A (OLD K.388) (1) SINFONIA CONCERTANTE, VLN/VLA, E-FLAT MAJOR, K.320D (K.364) (1) SYMPHONY NO. 36, C MAJOR, K.425, “LINZ” (2) SYMPHONY NO. 39, E-FLAT MAJOR, K.543 (1) SYMPHONY NO. 40, G MINOR, K.550 (1) VORREI SPIEGARVI OH DIO, K.418 (1) Also, According to the Proms archive, he conducted several Mozart concertos. There is a live recording of the coronation concerto with Clifford Curzon: He recorded some early Mozart concertos with The Domaine Musicale and Yvonne Loriod who was making a complete cycle. Finally, who could forget this remarkable performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with Maria Joao Pires and the Berlin Phil?
The Portuguese pianist will be taking part in a concert celebrating the philosophy of Krishnamurti. She will perform Beethoven’s opus 111 at London’s Cadogan Hall. Very quietly. Details here. In this interview, she says Claudio Abbado held similar views.
When I listen to the music of Frederick Chopin, I seek diversity. I prefer not to hear 12 waltzes, or 17 Etudes (if he wrote that many). My preference is to get some of each. In this recording there are 4 Nocturnes, but happily the other piece is the Piano Concerto #2. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia, Christopher Warren-Green Nocturnes (2), Op. 27 Nocturne No. 14 in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2 Nocturnes (3) Op. 9 Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor, Op. post. Performed by Maria João Pires (piano) The recordings on this album come from Ms. Pires’ concerts in 2010 (when she performed the Piano Concerto in F minor op. 21 with the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green) and 2014 (when she performed a recital including, among other items, the Nocturnes presented here). Here is Ms. Pires, performing the Fantasia Op. 49 by Chopin:
Berliner Philharmoniker/ Abbado/ Barenboim/ Boulez/ Dudamel/ Haitink/ Mehta/ Muti/ Rattle (Warner Classics, 25 DVDs)The Berlin Philharmonic gave its first ever concert in 1892, on 1 May. Since 1991, it has been marking that anniversary with a one-off May Day concert, which is given in a different historical-cultural centre in Europe each year, and which is televised live widely across Europe, though not in the UK. This set of DVDs documenting the first 25-year history of the Europa Concerts has been taken from these broadcasts. Though some of the performances are far more memorable than others, it makes for a fascinating collection. The recordings are generally first-rate, and are blissfully free of video gimmicks, voiceover introductions or commentaries, though there are no subtitles or printed texts for the vocal works. It’s the performances pure and simple, though a few of the discs include additional short documentary films about the cities in which the concerts took place. Those venues range from St Petersburg to Palermo, Istanbul to Oxford, with no fewer than three of them, for some reason, having been in Prague.Concerts under nine conductors are included in the set. As you might expect, the Berlin Philharmonic’s two principal conductors over the quarter century concerned, Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle, feature most prominently, but Daniel Barenboim conducts five concerts, as well as making two appearances as a soloist. Programmes tend to be determinedly populist and mainstream – there’s lots of Mozart and Beethoven, and quite a bit of Brahms; even the one concert that Pierre Boulez conducts, in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon, in 2003, includes a Mozart piano concerto, the D minor, K466, with Maria João Pires as the wonderfully fluent soloist. Continue reading...
Pianist Maria Joao Pires has a new CD out that you might want to explore: Chopin: Piano Concerto and Nocturnes Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, with the Sinfonia Varsovia, Christopher Warren-Green conducting. Nocturnes (2), Op. 27 Nocturne No. 14 in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2 Nocturnes (3) Op. 9 Nocturne No. 20 in C sharp minor, Op. post. Performed by Maria João Pires (piano) This well-known performer in the piano world, has an extraordinarily modest, charming personality – focused on the music, devoted to deeply understanding it – has performed three times during the ‘Chopin and His Europe Festival’ at the invitation of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute. The recordings on this album include selections and 2014 performed at a recital including, among other items, the Nocturnes presented here. I like a presentation of completely different compositions, which nonetheless form an extraordinarily coherent artistic whole. These are wonderful creations displaying the most beautiful side of pianistic art. Here is Ms Pires, performing the second movement from Chopin’s piano concerto number 2: