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Richard Strauss

Saturday, September 23, 2017


The Well-Tempered Ear

Yesterday

Classical music: Today is the start of Fall. Here is autumnal music by Richard Strauss. Plus, UW-Madison soprano Jeanette Thompson makes her FREE debut tonight at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall.

The Well-Tempered EarALERT: UW-Madison faculty soprano Jeanette Thompson gives her FREE debut recital tonight at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall. Guest performers are pianist Thomas Kasdorf and faculty colleague baritone Paul Rowe. Thompson has put together a concert of some of her favorite love songs, though not always typical of love songs: some of them are about a love that is lost, some of them are about a love desired, and some of them are about a love for God. These songs include excerpts from Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Johannes Brahms’ Volksbuchlieder. In addition to Rückert, they include some of her favorite poets like Charles Baudelaire and Eduard Möricke. She will perform songs by Cole Porter and George Gershwin , and will be joined by baritone Paul Rowe to sing two of the most beautiful “Porgy and Bess” love duets ever written. Thompson (below) will conclude the concert with some of her favorite spirituals, including her mother’s favorite song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.“ By Jacob Stockinger Today is the autumnal equinox, which arrives at 3:02 p.m. CDT. It marks when the day has an equal amount of daylight and night. It also means that today is the first official day of Fall. And despite the hot weather right now, Fall is often a great time to start returning to indoor activities. That makes it a good time for listening to classical music. There are the usual candidates such as Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and its modern counterpart “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by tango master Astor Piazzolla . If you want to hear other season-appropriate music, YouTube , Spotify , Classical-music.com and other websites have generous compilations. Just Google “classical music for autumn.” But today The Ear want to feature just one selection to celebrate the season. It is soprano Jessye Norman singing “September” from “Four Last Songs ” by Richard Strauss. What is you favorite music to greet autumn with? Use the COMMENT section to let us know, along with a link to a video performance if possible. Tagged: activity , art song , Arts , Autumn , autumnal equinox , baritone , Baudelaire , beautiful , beauty , Buenos Aires , Chamber music , choral music , Classic-music.com , Classical music , Cole Porter , Concert , day , daylight , debut , desire , duet , eye , faculty , fall , folk song , Four Last Songs , Four Seasons , Four Seasons of Buenos Aires , free , George Gershwin , God , Google , indoor , Internet , Jacob Stockinger , Jeanette Thompson , Jessye Norman , Johannes Brahms , John Paulson , lieder , light , Love , love duet , love song , Madison , Mahler , Master , Mörike , Mother , Music , New York Times , night , opera , Orchestra , Paul Rowe , Pianist , Piano , Piazzolla , poem , poet , Poetry , Porgy and Bess , recital , Richer Lieder , September , singer , Sonata , song , soprano , sparrow , spiritual , Spotify , symphony , tango , Thomas Kasdorf , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Viola , Violin , Vivaldi , vocal music , Website , YouTube

The Well-Tempered Ear

September 15

Classical music: Famed opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa says she will not be singing in public anymore

By Jacob Stockinger It happened a year ago. But since then Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (below), the celebrated soprano and opera diva, has kept her insight to herself: She would not sing again in any kind of public performance. She is 73, so the news is not surprising. But it is disappointing. Much as The Ear admires superstar soprano Renée Fleming , he preferred Te Kanawa’s tone, phrasing and vibrato. He particularly liked her voice in operas and other music by Mozart , Puccini and Richard Strauss . (You can hear her in her prime singing the aria “O mio babbino caro ” by Puccini in the YouTube video at the bottom.) But whatever your preference, seeing such a career come to an end is a sad milestone, however inevitable. Perhaps the best story about the New Zealand artist that The Ear has seen about this came in The Guardian . Here is a link: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/13/kiri-te-kanawa-quits-public-performance-after-five-decade-career And here is a column about retirement in various fields, including professional sports, that praises Te Kanawa’s decision and timing: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/13/kiri-te-kanawa-bowed-out Tagged: aria , Arts , BBC , Classical music , column , Compact Disc , Diana , diva , insight , Jacob Stockinger , Kiri Te Kanawa , Mozart , Music , New Zealand , news , O mio bambino caro , opera , Orchestra , performance , phrase , phrasing , Princess of Wales , professional , public , Puccini , Renée Fleming , Retirement , Richard Strauss , Royal Opera House , singer , Singing , song , soprano , sportd , Sports , superstar , The Guardian , The Marriage of Figaro , tone , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , vibrato , voice , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , YouTube




Royal Opera House

September 1

Pick of the Proms: 5 BBC Proms you won’t want to miss

Semyon Bychkov at the BBC Proms © 2013 Chris Christodoulou Prom 9: Beethoven’s Fidelio Love and liberty triumph over political oppression in Beethoven’s only opera. Soprano Ricarda Merbeth stars as the daring Leonora who disguises herself as prison guard Fidelio in order to save her husband Florestan, sung by tenor Stuart Skelton. Part of the Revolutionary Music series at this year’s Proms, Fidelio is passionate and powerful. Listen to a clip of the performance on iPlayer Prom 49: Bach’s St John Passion Bach’s stirring setting of the Passion narrative is brought to the Proms by Bach expert John Butt and the Dunedin Consort in their Proms debut, alongside soloists including soprano Sophie Bevan . For the more daring members of the audience, this Prom offers aspiring singers the chance to join in with the chorale passages. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 59: Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito If you can’t wait until the start of The Royal Opera’s Autumn Season for a dose of Mozart (Die Zauberflöte opens on 12 September 2017) Prom 59 is a fantastic opportunity to experience a work which premiered in the same year. Set in Ancient Rome, La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus) is a sophisticated tale of political intrigue and dangerous passions played out to Mozart’s stunning score. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote leads a magnificent Glyndebourne cast, under Music Director Robin Ticciati in this semi-staged performance. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 61: Renée Fleming sings Strauss After a captivating performance in Richard Strauss ’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Opera House last Season, American soprano Renée Fleming returns to London, this time taking to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall. Joining Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra , Fleming sings a programme including the opulent music from the ending of Strauss’s Daphne, the memorable ‘transformation’ scene. As part of the Classical for Starters series, this Prom is the perfect introduction to the voice of one of the world’s most famous sopranos and the mesmerizing music of Strauss. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer Prom 63: Taneyev, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky Semyon Bychkov continues his Tchaikovsky Project season with this stunning Russian programme culminating with Tchaikovsky ’s epic Manfred Symphony. The passion and colour of this programmatic symphony, based on Byron’s poem of the same name, shows the narrative power of Tchaikovsky’s music. His three full-length ballet scores – The Nutcracker , Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty – remain favourites of classical music audiences the world over. Listen to the performance in full on BBC iPlayer What were your Proms 2017 highlights? Let us know in the comments below. The Royal Opera House and the BBC are partners.

parterre box

August 22

And the villain still pursued her

Last month tenor Piotr Beczala triumphantly posted on Instagram the news that the Theater an der Wien would produce Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Halka in 2019. However New Yorkers didn’t have to wait two years as Bard College presented a semi-staged concert of Halka on Saturday evening as part of its impressively wide-ranging two-week “Chopin and his World” festival. Despite the laudable efforts of the large forces involved, led by a soaring Amanda Majeski in the title role, the “Polish National Opera” was revealed to be a musically accomplished but theatrically inert and uninvolving work. If one knows of Halka at all, it’s as “the Polish National Opera” as if every country has one. I racked my brains trying to come up with other works worthy of that sobriquet and wondered if perhaps Erkel’s Bánk Bán might be Hungary’s but otherwise I came up empty. In her fascinating pre-concert talk Halina Goldberg delved into the thorny question of why colleagues of Chopin were so insistent that he write an opera, one that would be embraced world-wide as “the Polish Opera.” But yet Chopin despite his love for bel canto chose not to rise to the bait. But Moniuszko, whose oeuvre consists primarily of vocal and choral works, did although it’s unlikely his ambitions were so lofty. As Poland per se didn’t exist in the 19th century the cultural elite believed an important music-drama could become a boon to promoting a national identity, but Halka’s emergence as that vessel remains most peculiar. As Goldberg discussed, there had been overtly political operas composed in Polish dating back to the late 18th century but all had been considered either too parochial or less than musically distinguished. However, the libretto of Halka by Wlodzimerz Wolski surprisingly contains little specifically indigenous to Poland—it’s standard “spoiled nobleman seduces and abandons naïve peasant girl” fare. While Moniuszko’s stirring and colorful music elevates this commonplace trope, the crown of “Polish National Opera” sits uneasily on Halka’s head. The opera premiered as a small-scale two-act work in 1848 but then was much expanded into a four-act version which opened to rapturous acclaim in Warsaw ten years later. While it did gain some international recognition and has been performed occasionally outside of Poland, it unfortunately lacks a compelling dramatic profile. Its static “Debbie Downer” heroine must be one of opera’s most clueless and masochistic central figures—and that is saying something! Impregnated by Janusz, Halka first “appears” off-stage bemoaning her cruel fate during her seducer’s engagement party to the more appropriate Zofia, daughter of the wealthy Stolnik. Halka stays in “woe is me” mode for nearly the entire opera except for a flicker of deluded hope that Janusz will return to her (and their child). True, there is an arresting moment during her final monologue where she is sorely tempted to burn down the church where Janusz is marrying Zofia but she relents, forgives him (!) despite their child having recently died of starvation (!!) and jumps into the river. Janusz functions solely a cardboard villain despite having an occasional pang of remorse but more sympathetic is Jontek, Halka’s helplessly co-dependent ex-boyfriend. Despite her never listening to a thing he says, he can’t stop himself from following her everywhere warning her about her bad life choices. The other characters—Janusz’s clueless fiancée, her father and Dziemba, the all-purpose bass factotum—are ciphers. Compelling, expansive arias for Halka and Jontek open the second and fourth acts respectively, but Moniuszko adopts a through-composed style that frustrates an audience’s urge to applaud those poignant solos. Noted for its use of folk melodies, the work resembles some pre-Wagner German operas like those of Weber and Marschner, composers championed recently by Halka’s conductor Leon Botstein. Ironically the best-known excerpt is the traditionally Polish grand mazurka that concludes the first act—a moment which contributes little to the doom-laden plot. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XhgXjC70kE Several times the opera reminded me of a darkly inverted Bartered Bride, a work which Smetana (who conducted the Prague premiere of Halka) composed nearly a decade later. Though the evening got off to a rocky start with a drab performance of the lackluster overture, Botstein and his large committed orchestra steadily found their from and did justice to that mazurka although the less grand dance music in the fourth act swirled even more infectiously. The full-throated Bard Festival Chorale was as impressive as it had been earlier this summer in Dvorak’s Dimitrij. As the two men in Halka’s life, Miles Mykkanen and Aubrey Allicock excelled. Mykkanen, the hapless Jontek, radiated good will and concern while singing with increasing ardor and alarm although at times he pushed for more and more volume. He displayed again an especial flair for Eastern European opera; he had made a strong impression earlier this year as Tichon (another poor sap) in Juilliard’s production of Janacek’s Katya Kabanova. The first time I heard Allicock was also in Janacek at Juilliard—as a superb Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen. As Janusz he wisely underplayed the villainy and sounded more like a bass-baritone than I had remembered. I could imagine his pungent grainy voice working well in a role like Tomsky in Tchaikovsky’s Pikovaya Dama. Yet, as with Mykkenen, I thought his role was a size too big for him at this moment in his young career. Best known for her Mozart and Richard Strauss roles, Majeski proudly acknowledges being “an only child of 100% Polish ancestry” on her website. That said she didn’t seem at ease with the language and made less of the text than some of the others. While one could imagine a more overtly passionate and despairing interpretation of Halka, her coolly radiant soprano dominated the evening. Her rapid vibrato has an exciting edge that rose thrillingly above the ensembles. x Occasionally I wanted more dynamic variation and the top could turn tight but this was all in all a thrilling first stab at a demanding role and much more rewarding than my previous encounter with her at her Met debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro. Despite her best efforts Halka’s desperation proved unmoving—even the chorus is unsympathetic tut-tutting that a peasant girl should know better than to get mixed up with a nobleman. However, Zurich would do well to engage her for its upcoming Halka production to be directed by Mariuz Treli?ski who produced the Met’s recent Tristan. But before then Majeski will be Fiordiligi in the Met’s new Coney Island-Così fan Tutte and don trousers as the (soprano!) Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos in Santa Fe next summer. Mary Birnbaum’s concert staging for the most part presented the action simply and effectively while nimbly clearing away the music stands when the four dancers needed to do their thing in the narrow performing space in front of the orchestra. A happy fluke of the casting wittily indicated that Janusz definitely had a “type”: both Majeski and Teresa Buchholz (Zofia) are lovely tall slender blondes! Adam Cates’s choreography was apt when dancing was called for; but his additions such as a dancer miming the ominous raven that appeared at the end of third act were less felicitous. The performance’s major flaw was the wildly erratic lighting design by Anshuman Bhatia which tried for a lot of dramatic effects but ended up plunging the singers’s faces into darkness far too often. Despite the opera’s many colorful and arresting moments, it wasn’t difficult to understand why Halka has never gained a place in opera houses worldwide. Along with its self-pitying, ultimately unsympathetic heroine, the unwieldy and high-minded poetic contrivances of the libretto—everyone is constantly referred to as birds or animals: Halka is a dove and Janusz her falcon, etc.—contribute mightily to the work’s flat affect. If it wasn’t a revelation comparable to last summer’s semi-staged Busoni Turandot, I was grateful to have experienced Halka live. The Polish language issue may have also contributed to its relative neglect but then who would have guessed fifty years ago that Czech and Russian operas would be done so regularly in their native languages worldwide. But as the Met is not producing any Russian (or Czech) opera this season, one will have to wait until next year when Bard programs Rubinstein’s superb The Demon as its Summerscape centerpiece and the attendant “Rimsky-Korsakov and His World” festova; might present at least one rare Rimsky opera as well.



Iron Tongue of Midnight

August 15

That's One Less Turandot Performance I'll Have to See

Toni Marie PalmertreePhoto: Valentina Sadiul Toni Marie Palmertree will sing Liu in all of the September performances of Turnadot, replacing Maria Agresta, who has withdrawn owing to illness. Here's most of the press release: SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 15, 2017) — San Francisco Opera announced today a casting update for its season-opening production of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, running from September 8 through 30 at the War Memorial Opera House. American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree will sing Liù, replacing Maria Agresta who has withdrawn due to illness. Originally scheduled to portray Puccini’s tragic heroine on September 24 and 30, Palmertree will now perform in all six September performances. Palmertree scored a triumph last season when she substituted for an ailing colleague on two hours’ notice as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’sMadama Butterfly. The occasion marked her first time portraying the character on stage and her first leading role with the Company. San Francisco Classical Voice remarked: “The young soprano not only met the challenge, but she claimed her place among the finest vocal interpreters of the role heard here recently.” Currently in her second year of a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship, Palmertree has sung the Priestess in Verdi’s Aida, the Heavenly Voice in Don Carlo and appeared in Company productions of Jenůfa and Dream of the Red Chamber. She recently starred in West Bay Opera’s production of Puccini’s Il Trittico, portraying Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Suor Angelica.  San Francisco Opera inaugurates its 95th season on Friday, September 8, with Puccini’s Turandot, staged in the iconic production by English artist David Hockney and conducted by Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti, and two opening night galas. Saturday, September 9 features the opening of a new production of Richard Strauss’ Elektra. The festivities continue on Sunday, September 10, withSan Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park, an annual Bay Area tradition celebrating the opening of the opera season with a free concert in Golden Gate Park.  Puccini’s 1926 masterpiece is set in fabled Peking and follows the courtship of a beautiful and untouchable princess by a mysterious stranger who must triumph in a deadly game of riddles to win her love. The opera is renowned for its powerful choruses and extraordinary vocal highlights, including Turandot’s commanding “In questa reggia” (“In this palace”), Liù’s dramatic death scene and Calaf’s famous Act III aria, “Nessun dorma” (“No one sleeps”). Left unfinished at the time of Puccini’s death, Turandot was completed by Italian composer Franco Alfano and had one of the 20th century’s most spectacular operatic premieres.  An internationally acclaimed artist who is known for a diverse repertory of roles, Martina Serafin returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage in one her most celebrated portrayals as Princess Turandot. This season, the Austrian soprano also performs Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera and Opernhaus Zürich; Abigaille in Verdi’s Nabucco at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; and the title role of Tosca at London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Serafin made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2007 as the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.

Tribuna musical

August 14

Festival Barenboim: Segunda Parte

El tercer concierto del Festival presentó al Trío formado por Daniel Barenboim (piano), Michael Barenboim (violín) y Kian Soltani (cello) en tres tríos de Beethoven: N1, Op.1 Nº1; Nº4, Op.70 Nº 1. "de los Espíritus" ("Geister"); y Nº6, Op. 97, "Archiduque". El programa de mano tuvo curiosos errores: a) no aclaró si había intervalo (no marcaba Primera y Segunda Parte), pero por supuesto lo hubo; b) no es un error pero no tiene sentido poner en el título Músicos de la WEDO; c) No hubo comentarios sobre las obras; d) el sobrenombre alemán del Nº4 es "Geister", "espíritus" o "de los espíritus", no "Geist" ("Espíritu"), como figuraba; e) y conviene ponerle número a los tríos.               Daniel Barenboim especificó en la conferencia de prensa que habían decidido que este trío sea estable. Y esto lleva a un viejo problema de los tríos para piano y cuerdas, y es que el pianista casi siempre queda como "primus inter pares", como ciertamente ocurrió con los famosos tríos Beaux Arts (Menahem Pressler) o de Trieste (Dario de Rosa). Sin embargo, hubo tríos con integrantes parejos y admirables: Cortot-Thibaud-Casals; Rubinstein-Heifetz-Feuermann; Istomin-Stern-Rose. Para que ello ocurra se necesita que los ejecutantes de cuerda tengan un sonido amplio y poderoso y una fuerte personalidad para poder equipararse con el mayor volumen del piano, sobre todo si es un artista de la envergadura de Daniel Barenboim. Y aquí esto no ocurre. El problema se nota menos en Soltani, un profesional de muy buen nivel, con grato timbre y fraseo musical, pero que en los pasajes forte o fortissimo quedó dominado por el piano. Pero Michael Barenboim, siendo correcto y de buen gusto, no tiene la presencia requerida para tomar el mando cuando la música lo requiere ni la intensidad para aquellos momentos donde Beethoven exige mucho.  Y sin embargo, el total fue mejor que la suma de las partes, porque las interpretaciones estuvieron claramente dominadas por las ideas del pianista, consumado beethoveniano como bien lo hemos experimentado aquí. Foto: facebook.com/PorSiempreColoneros             Daniel Barenboim dijo algo más en la conferencia de prensa: que iban a ejecutar la integral de Beethoven en Europa, y allí harían algo que me parece audaz: combinarlos con tríos de contemporáneos.  Y los mencionó: Borovsky, Alexander Goehr, Aribert Reimann.             El Op.1 Nº1 no es el mejor de de los tres de ese opus, escritos entre 1793 y 1795, ya en la etapa vienesa de Beethoven. Pero el compositor ya en sus muy tempranos tres cuartetos para piano y cuerdas de 1785 cuando vivía en Bonn (se discute si éstos o los dos de Mozart son los primeros escritos en la historia para esa combinación) había mostrado gérmenes de su particular estilo, y en el ínterin hubo varias otras piezas de cámara sin número de opus, incluso un Trío para piano y cuerdas, un duo y un octeto. De modo que vale la pena escuchar ese Op.1 Nº1 por sus propios valores, ya considerables, y en una versión que tuvo el necesario transparente clasicismo.             Por supuesto, hay una enorme diferencia con el Op.70 Nº1 de 1808, en pleno período intermedio marcado por obras como los cuartetos Rasumovsky o la Quinta sinfonía;  es una obra maestra en la que un extenso movimiento lento lleno de sombras y misterio (los espíritus) es encuadrado por dos rápidos de inmensa vitalidad. Estuvo en el pianista toda la garra requerida en los dos extremos y la sutileza tímbrica para el intermedio; intentaron seguirlo con buen pero no óptimo resultado los instrumentistas de cuerda.             Y naturalmente, el extenso Trío Nº6, "Archiduque", es la culminación de la escritura beethoveniana en este equilibrio de instrumentos opuestos. Algo posterior (1811), y precedido por los cuartetos Nos.10 y 11, la maestría es total. El fraseo del pianista fue desde el principio el que debía ser, con ortodoxia bien entendida, firme estructura, matices exactos y articulación límpida. Sus compañeros fueron muy aplicados pero fue demasiado claro quién mandaba.             Y esta vez Daniel Barenboim tenía las obras bien en dedos, sin las vacilaciones que hubo cuando tocó el Trío de Tchaikovsky tiempo atrás. Es que incluso un gran maestro como él no debe confiarse demasiado, el trabajo es siempre necesario.             No hubo pieza agregada y estoy de acuerdo: fue un programa extenso y arduo. No me molestó que bajara la tapa del piano tras saludar al público durante varios minutos.                                                CUARTO CONCIERTO             El último programa reunió dos partituras extraordinarias escritas con pocos años de diferencia: "Don Quijote" de Richard Strauss (1897) y la Quinta sinfonía de Tchaikovsky (1888). Las dos están entre las obras cumbres del postromanticismo. Se ofreció esta combinación con la Orquesta WEDO dirigida por Barenboim tres veces: como cuarta función del Abono Barenboim y en días consecutivos para los dos abonos del Mozarteum Argentino. Elegí la última función como homenaje mío a la institución que trajo de vuelta al artista hace varias décadas y nunca ha dejado de tenerlo en sus abonos en las numerosas veces que vino desde entonces.             Décadas atrás escribí un muy detallado artículo para Ars, esas revistas-libro que Isidor Schlagman editó durante fructíferos años sobre determinados grandes creadores, en este caso Strauss; yo me ocupé de los poemas sinfónicos y no me cupo duda de que fue la figura máxima en este género que había inventado Franz Liszt con una profusa y despareja producción aún mal conocida aquí (ello debería repararse) y que otros como Sibelius o el propio Tchaikovsky también ilustraron. Ya desde "Don Juan" (1888, creado a los 24 años) el dominio de Strauss de lo narrativo y de la orquestación fue asombroso, y siguieron maravillas como "Muerte y Transfiguración", "Las alegres travesuras de Till" y "Así habló Zarathustra" antes de "Don Quijote" y "Una vida de héroe". O sea que antes de ser el más importante operista alemán del siglo XX fue el más gran compositor sinfónico de esa nacionalidad en las postrimerías del XIX.              "Don Quijote", la maravilla de Cervantes, fue leída en alemán por Strauss, y el compositor fue influenciado por las sabrosas caricaturas de Daumier.  Pensando no sólo en la narración sino en la estructura, el músico agregó: "Variaciones fantásticas sobre un tema de carácter caballeresco". Y así, la obra consta de Introducción, tema, diez Variaciones y Final. Dura  unos 45 minutos y son una constante revelación analizando una partitura de enorme riqueza y complejidad. Don Quijote (violoncelo solista), Sancho Panza (viola solista, pero también tuba tenor y clarinete bajo combinados) y brevemente Dulcinea (violín solista) se entremezclan con una orquesta poderosa y variadísima. La manera en la que Strauss refleja la pérdida de la razón de su antihéroe en la Introducción es la de una frondosa trama de contradicciones; luego el noble tema del violoncelo nos da la esencia del personaje; y las variaciones son de un ingenio y una audacia inolvidables: basten la evocación del rebaño de ovejas en la segunda variación, que parece el Penderecki vanguardista, o el viaje por los aires en la séptima (con máquina de viento). Aunque también están los minutos de belleza serena en la tercera y sexta. Y luego el retorno a la razón en el Final y los conmovedores acentos del violoncelo antes de la muerte del Quijote. Foto: facebook.com/PorSiempreColoneros             Una pequeña anécdota personal: cuando en 1973 programé el abono de la Filarmónica vino Leonard Rose y le pregunté si aceptaba en vez de un  concierto ser solista en "Don Quijote"; respondió entusiasmado que sí, pero el director no conocía la obra y luego canceló por enfermedad; con poco tiempo fue reemplazado por Tauriello, que no la tenía en repertorio, y terminaron ofreciendo una notable versión del concierto de Dvorák…             Quiso la casualidad que "Don Quijote" fue presentado por el Mozarteum el año pasado por la Filarmónica de Hamburgo dirigida por Kent Nagano y con el admirable Gautier Capuçon como solista. Me las veo en figurillas para decidirme por esa versión o la más reciente y declaro un empate de muy alto nivel, ya que hubo dos grandes directores, muy buenas orquestas y solistas de notable talento. Fue un constante placer con momentos memorables, y de paso quedó claro que Soltani es ya un solista internacional de primer plano con un sonido de gran belleza y una sensibilidad en el fraseo que nos dio el personaje. También, que la violista Miriam Manasherov es de muy alta calidad.  Curiosamente se dio una pieza extra: un arreglo para violoncelo y cuerdas realizado por Lahav Shaní de "El cisne" de Saint-Saëns (de "El Carnaval de los animales").  Otra ocasión para que Soltani (austríaco de familia persa) despliegue su habilidad para el "cantabile".             Pocas sinfonías son tan justamente famosas como la Quinta de Tchaikovsky en su fusión ideal de temperamento hiperromántico y de consumado dominio compositivo; en ella el temperamento melancólico es finalmente vencido por la voluntad positiva, a diferencia de lo que ocurre en una obra todavía superior, la Sexta, "Patética". Se han escuchado versiones de calidad superlativa en nuestra ciudad, como las de Mehta con la Filarmónica de Israel, una orquesta permanente de gran nivel, pero Barenboim logró de la WEDO un  rendimiento extraordinario, apenas opacado por muy circunstanciales errores. Pensando en el director que uno asocia con estructuras gigantescas como las sinfonías de Bruckner o el que logra dilucidar obras de Berg o Boulez, me asombró su afinidad con una personalidad tan hipersensible como la de Tchaikovsky, pero Barenboim demostró que todo lo que hay que hacer es ser fiel a la partitura sin agregar exageraciones a lo que ya de por sí está al rojo vivo. De ese modo la estructura queda resaltada y se comprende porqué Tchaikovsky fue un gran sinfonista.             No está de más comentar que la gestualidad de Barenboim es muy particular: hace muy altos movimientos para dar entradas, en pasajes que tienen una métrica similar apenas marca el compás tras hacerlo al principio del fragmento, y tiene una infalible percepción de cuáles son los momentos que  necesitan de una energía total. En cuanto a la WEDO merece mencionarse la intensidad de los violines en el temible final y el bello sonido de la primera trompa en su famosa melodía del movimiento lento. Y vale felicitarlos por llegar al final de su visita tan espontáneos y entusiastas tras días de arduo trabajo.             La pieza extra en esta ocasión fue la Polonesa del "Eugen Onegin" de Tchaikovsky, en una espléndida versión (habían tocado el día anterior la obertura de "Ruslan y Ludmila" de Glinka). Lástima que cuando el director se dirigió al público deslució su justo homenaje al Mozarteum con una despectiva alusión al Coliseo comparándolo con el Colón, ello después de decir que siempre se iban tristes por tener que dejar al mejor teatro del mundo. Pero  conviene decir que este festival fue realmente bueno, y me intriga mucho el de 2018 sin Argerich cuando todo será Barenboim y su orquesta berlinesa y por primera vez estará en el foso para dirigir una ópera. Pablo Bardin ​​

Richard Strauss
(1864 – 1949)

Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Also sprach Zarathustra, An Alpine Symphony, and Metamorphosen. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Strauss, along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.



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