Friday, January 20, 2017
Ian Page and Classical Opera reached 1767 in their Mozart 250 project, the ambitious series planned to cover 27 years of Mozart's music and influences. 1767 was the year in which the young Mozart began to write more substantial and ambitious work, so this programme at the Wigmore Hall, London, was a good taster for what is to come later in the series. Read Claire Seymour's review of the concert HERE in Opera Today. Coming up next, my review of the latest recital in the Wigmore Hall's complete Schubert song series, Pianoforte Schubert, with Georg Nigl and Andreas Staier
An opportunity to hear a very unusual programme this Sunday at the Wigmore Hall. The Academy Song Circle presents the songs of Muriel Herbert, (1897-1983), a composer of promise whose career was restricted by the circumstances of her life and times. Tickets are still available, HERE. Although Herbert was born into alarge, musical family, her father died when she was 12, leaving the family in poverty. Her mother fell into depression. Yet Muriel started writing music in her teens and was ambitious enough to get accepted into the Royal College of Music in 1917, then in the grip of Charles Villiers Stanford, a man not given to innovation nor to female emancipation. In front of all the other students, Stanford made he play from sight, the Beethoven piano concerto arranged for two pianos. These days that would be deemed intimidation. Luckily, Herbert knew the arrangement well. then, as now, talent alone isn't enough : women have to be extra capable simply to be able to allowed into consideration. After her brief, unhappy marriage ended, Herbert returned to England, bit not to London and spent the rest of her life in rekativeobscurity. Fortunately her daughter, the novelist Claire Tomalin preserved her manuscripts. In 2008, Herbert's songs were recorded by James Gilchrist, Ailish Tynan and David Owen Norris. This is the CD to get, from which I've taken the biographical information. The Academy Song Circle (Nika Gorič, Katie Stevenson, Nicholas Mogg, Michael Mofidian, Yi-shing Cheng and Michael Pandya) are performing a selection of Herbert's songs including the lovely How Beautiful is the Night,(1918) to a poem by Southey. and the set of Childrens Songs which Herbert wrote in 1938, when Herbert's own children were young. Playful songs, setting a popular contemporary poem : songs about tadpoles, Jack Spratt, gypsies. Escapism, or the multitasking of a mother who wanted to write music but had to earn a living and raise children oin her own. Or memories ? While Herbert's mother was giving birth to her, the doctor played Schubert, Brahms and Schumann on the piano in the parlour. Herbert set modern poets as well as old , like Robert Bridges When Death to either of shall come, (1923) which has an early 20's feel. The Academy Song Circle perform Herbert's songs in ontext. One of her most beautiful songs Renouncement, a setting of a Victorian poet, , was written after Herbert fell in love with Roger Quilter, not realizing that he was gay. How she must have idolized father figures ! The wistfulness in this song masks genuine, personal anguish. Herbert met James Joyce in her youth, and set one of his poems too, which isn't on this programme. Quilter's own songs are heard somewhat to Herbert's disadvantage as they are major works, like Love's Philosophy and Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. Several of Charles Villiers Stanfird are also on this programme, showing that Herbert wasn't dominated by him. He had status, money and power. She didn't. But she did her own thing as best as she was able.
The much-loved former music director is too fluish to fly: The Cleveland Orchestra has announced a conductor update for February 9, 10 and 11. Christoph von Dohnányi, upon the advice of his physician, cannot travel at this time due to the flu and has regretfully cancelled his engagement to lead the Orchestra in Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”) and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde . Conductor Donald Runnicles will perform in Mr. Dohnányi’s place. In Boston, he will be replaced by Juanjo Mena.
Doric String Quartet (Chandos)The feverish unease that pervades these late Schubert works, with their ambiguous shifts from major to minor, tremolo triplets and searing outbursts, is perfectly captured by the excellent Doric String Quartet in this latest in their series for Chandos. They attack the 1820 “Quartettsatz” in C minor with alarming intensity, flashing through its single movement with fiery determination, and maintain the same tension throughout the 50 minutes of the massive quartet in G major from 1826 (observing the often-cut repeat in the first movement). Their headlong rush through the dizzying key changes of the final allegro is a breathless treat. A standout recording of 2017 – and it’s still only January. Continue reading...
András Schiff (ECM 11 CDs)Taken from recitals he gave at the Tonhalle in Zürich between 2004 and 2007, András Schiff’s cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas appeared chronologically disc by disc. Boxed together now, the ordering and even packaging of the original discs has been preserved, meaning, for example, that the E flat major Sonata Op 7 and the Waldstein Op 53 (with its original slow movement, the Andante Favori, as an appendix) each get a disc all to themselves. Taken as a whole, the set is a bit uneven: there are mighty performances of the later sonatas that sweep all before them, and accounts of some of the earlier works that seem prissy and over-manicured, with moments when Schiff could have allowed the music to flow more naturally than it does.But the collection now includes the encores that Schiff played at the original recitals. There are pieces by Bach, Mozart, Schubert (including marvellously enigmatic performances of the late C minor Allegretto D915 and the first of the D946 Piano Pieces) and Haydn (the whole of the G minor Sonata), all perfectly fashioned and carefully matched to what had preceded them in each recital. For those who collected the ECM sonata discs when they first came out, the encores have also been released separately; those who invest in the complete set won’t have many disappointments either. Continue reading...
Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797 November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer. Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death at the age of 31. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th Century. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.
Great composers of classical music