Thursday, July 12, 2012

und jetzt... ECHO KLASSIK 2012

Heute wird das Ergebnis/ die Liste der Presitraeger von Echo Klassik 2012 herausgegeben!!! Ich freue mich sehr, manche sind ja mein Lieblings. Anna Prohaska (Nachwuchssaengerin), Anne Sophie-Mutter (20./21. Jahrhundert Einspielung), Klaus Florian Vogt (Saenger), Renée Fleming (Saengerin), Khatia Buniatishvilli (Nachwuchs Klavier), Milos (Nachwuchs Gitarre), uvm. 

So, hier ist die komplette Liste:

Pure happiness...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Benefizkonzert - Zugunsten der Sanierung der Staatsoper Unter den Linden (04.07.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Another Staatsoper highlight before they close the season with their *crappy* new music festival. A benefeit concert! In Philharmonie! With ASM! What could you ask for more?

On the fourth of July (hey, US Independence Day!), it was a Brahms night. His Violinkonzert D-Dur op. 77 opened the night. Mutter, stood beside the ever magnificent Barenboim, executed the piece in such a wonderful, concentrated way. 

Brahms No. 4 is the second part of the concert. It's a good decent interpretation from Barenboim and our folks of Staatskapelle Berlin. 

I'm looking forward for their next beneficial concert! Hope it's gonna be a more colorful programm, but... as for now, it's satisfactory.

Rating: 7.5/10 

EXTRA: a listening-tip, simply a 'classic' album, a must for Brahms' & Mutter's lovers... 

BMW & Salzburger Festspiele Edition > MOZART: Don Giovanni (03.07.2012, Staatsoper im Schiller Theater)

First of all: this opera is a part of STAATSOPER FUER ALLEE programm. On 30. June 2012 the opera was broadcasted live to the Opernplatz (near original place of Staatsoper Berlin, currently under renovation).

 Take a look at this picture (the cast of Don Giovanni went straight from Schiller Theater to Bebelplatz/Operplatz for the audience applause) :

Also a concert by Daniel Barenboim & Yefin Bronfman with Staatskapelle Berlin presenting Tschaikowsky's Klavier Concert No. 1 & his Symphony No. 4

As we know, this production is a borrowed one from Salzburg Festspiele. So you already know it's gonna be special. And yes, it was. Strong performance by the member of the casts. Dorothe Roeschmann was on her top form as Donna Elvira. Erwin Schrott was very energetic on stage but not so amazing in the vocal department, as we would expect from someone who's... just like him. Christopher Maltman is a good Don Juan - he could be better, actually. I personally didn't really feel him. (Somehow I feel Schrott is more suitable for the leading role, eee?? But maybe he's too silly for Giovanni.) And should I start praising my favourite Diva on stage, ANNA PROHASKA?? And... somehow I also didn't feel the vibe from the 'Donna Anna'. 

"Reich mir die Hand, mein Leben": Christopher Maltman und Anna Prohaska in Don Giovanni.   Foto: Monika Rittershaus

Erwin Schrott (Leporello) versorgt Christopher Maltman (Don Giovanni), der im Duell verletzt wurde.

It's a perfect production, spinning wood, BMW on stage, classy... The program notes explains a lot about the background of this production, which is very interesting and philosophical. Claus Guth, you're the man.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Deutschland-Japan Freundschaftskonzert (24.06.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Why I can't find a single picture of this splendid event on the net?

A free concert always turns me off. Low class/obvious commercial repertoire, taking for granted audience, and the list goes on... BUT a miracle happened.

HIROSHI HOSHINA: composer of one of the works and also conductor that night

I personally think this concert is tremendous (as a free one). My personal highlights are the pieces from Japanese composers like "The Song of a Great Tree" from Toshio Mashima or "The Rebirth" from Hiroshi Hoshina. Other than that, the Waltz section (such as the overtures from "Die Fledermaus" and two encores that shake Philharmonie that night") is also very interesting.

Toshio Mashima: composer

Rating: 4/5

MOZART: Idomeneo (20.06.2012, Komische Oper Berlin)

No pictures, nothing. Why? This is a declaration, my people. This production of IDOMENEO is nominated for 'Best Oper of The Year... from the bottom"... Oh God, this production tried to be very serious, with Idomeneo as a traumatized patient, but it just didn't work. It ended up being total boring and meaningless. The whole concept ruined everything, including the cast that actually could be good. Instead they're trapped in this hell of more than 3 hours.

Sorry. But... just don't watch this...

Rating: 2/10

Telefonica SPECIAL: Lang Lang's 30th Birthday Concert (15.06.2012, o2 World Berlin)

What can I say?
I hate this guy even more each day. Now hold up. Here comes the explanation:
1. He's the Britney Spears of classic. No, not the legend thing, but the fact that he's becoming more commercial each day disturbs me. Steinway & Sons: Lang Lang piano? Make sense. But, Nike shoes - logic, please? Dude, you're not a basketball player or runner. I just don't get this kind of endorsement.
2. His last album "Liszt: My Piano Hero" is a piece of lifeless, artless recording, doesn't make any difference to any "Best Of Liszt" albums sold at 4,99 Euros in any discount-CD stores.
3. His next album, "The Chopin Album" will face the same fate: high selling, low art. Why? Because Sony Classical abused him.
4. Deutsche Grammophon keeps on releasing his recycled material. I know, I know, not his fault, but still... WHY did he leave DG? A really bad business (or musical, to be precise?) decision, from my point of view.
5. THIS birthday concert is nothing but a secular spectacle. Move away, classic fans, this concert is NOT for you.

The venue of the concert, o2 World, is definitely not for classical music. I seated on the third class, got a wide view of the venue, and still good sound. But the hall, as we know, is very big. It's a venue for spectacle, not for romantic music night. And beside, big room, big audience, noises... and stuffs... just a big NO.

The program is actually quite good. After Bernsteins' Overture to "Candide", Lang Lang enters the room. Piano Concert of Tschaikowsky starts to play. It went very smooth. And his fingers, oh his fingers... For a moment, I must recognize this: he's a true performer.

On the second part of the concert, Lang brought out Herbie Hancock! Crowd wowed, I just... oh well. Crossover... NOT. Bernstein and Schubert's came in, in both pieces I can feel such smooth play, although it lacks of the 'fun' element, so much control and "holding back". Yes, of course, by the jazzy piece, you need to get a little adventurous, but somehow, it's juts not natural coming from Lang Lang.

The next part: the kids from Lang Lang's competition. An online video voting has been made to pick some kids from many countries around the world, to perform beside Lang Lang for this very special occasion. What a huge adventure for a kid... but no, I refuse to fall into this trick. Since when, this is American Idol? Since when, by seeing these talented kids on stage, we have to believe in a better future of our world (oh God, here I go again..)? Since when an interpretation of a piece on a million-dollar-concert should fall into these hands of kids? The result is clear: Brahms' Hungarian Dance and Beethoven's Fourth Movement from Symphony No. 5 looked very grand with 15 pianos on stage (Yes, all fifteen!), sounded big, loud, but lifeless. Spectacle for the eyes, horror feast for the ears. Shame on you, cruel world.

The concert closes with Gershwinn's "Rhapsody in Blue" and a few encores. End.

By the way the whole stage and lightning are just rad cool... as if I'm on a pop concert. IDGAF 'bout it.

Sorry, for being such a hater. Didn't mean to, but if Lang Lang keeps on running that money wheel that doesn't pay respect to the "roots" of the classical music (don't ask me what does that even mean), BURN. And, no, I won't buy "The Chopin Album" or support the release this October in any kind of way  (even though I indirectly promote it through this post. Oh, cruel world...)

Rating: 6/10
Common people rating: 11/10
("Oh, classical concert of the year... Spectacle... Lang Lang rocks... Woohoo... Herbie Hancock's the s***..." said a man next to me - total turn off)

Liederabend: ANNA PROHASKA (08.06.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Anna Prohaska should celebrate 2012. Her sophomore album, due actually this fall, maybe postponed - BUT an Echo Award is waiting for her on 14.10 in Berlin. This 'Liederabend' is actually also a program to support (or to bridge the gap between her first and) her sophomore album. Moving around the theme/figure of Ophelia, the repertoire that night contains the works by Brahms ("Fuenf Lieder der Ophelia" WoO 22), R. Strauss ("Drei Lieder der Ophelia" op. 67), Berlioz ("La mort d'Ophelie"), and of course selected cuts from her debut.
Quite interesting, the moderator, Lars Eidinger  read a few lines from Shakespeare (yes, also "To Be or Not To Be") and Mueller between songs.
Prohaska's performance that night is very wonderful, I think a piano-vocal recital is one of her favorite (or strongest part too), assuming that she's chosen this kind of music - I mean, not a obvious choice of opera arias album with grand orchestra and renowned conductor - as her debut. Pianist Eric Schneider is on top, no critics. A wonderful night.
*One minus is: she didn't sing my favorite cut from Sirene, which is Schubert's "Des Fischers Liebesglueck". Oh well...

Rating: 8/10

Dunkle Schoenheit: SOL GABETTA, ARVO VOLMER (07.06.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Arvo Volmer
Sol Gabetta
Arvo Pärt Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten 
Dmitri Schostakowitsch Konzert für Violoncello und Orchester Nr. 2 g-Moll op. 126 
Antonín Dvořák Sinfonie Nr. 8 G-Dur op. 88

A very wonderful night started once the orchestra hit the first note of "Cantus". You already know than, that's the whole concert is more like a body of work, a collection of songs in purpose, "dark beauty" as the title of the concert implies. As time reached the end of the season, it's also the last concert for Sol Gabetta as Artist in Residence of our Konzerthaus. Which means the end of quite a wonderful time, since I don't really get excited for their choice next year, Julia Fischer. Anyway, Shostakowitsch No. 2 is a piece no longer strange to Gabetta. In 2008 she released an album containing the piece featuring Munich Philharmoniker. It was superb, winning an ECHO Award a year later. Hearing her performing this piece live, you'll get the sense of her love of the piece. Rarely promoted as his ' older sibling', the piece becomes a tool of virtuos on the hands of Sol Gabetta. Sol Gabetta closed her performance by doing a solo cello on the song 'The Prayer'. 

Arvo Volmer in my opinion did a very good job. I can still recall the performance of Dvořák's No. 8 that night. It was very smart and full of instinct. One thing that saddened me, is his focus on always talking about the finance of concert houses in his residency, Australia, rather than giving us an inspiring musical talk during the interview after the concert. This is a huge turn-off for me. Because at the same time, Gabetta involved very very willingly on the talk and shared her healthy point of view about 'virtuos intrepreter' being a part of the orchestra during a performance. Which is also the reason why she couldn't just leave the stage without an encore. This is an example for all. And I mean, for all of you, musicians who left the stage leaving the audience unsatisfied, pretending you're not a star interpreter and when didn't come to see you.

Rating: 9/10

Praise Gabetta!!

Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly, Hélène Grimaud (15.05.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig 
Riccardo Chailly 
Hélène Grimaud Klavier
Christina Landshamer Sopran

Maurice Ravel Konzert für Klavier und Orchester G-Dur
Gustav Mahler Sinfonie Nr. 4 G-Dur für Orchester und Sopran

Performing Ravel's Piano Concert G-Dur with Gewandhausorchster,  Hélène Grimaud, a star pianist already familiar to the piece, dazzles. It's not a question anymore, actually, how good is her interpretation of this piece. On her 90's release she has received a tremendous praise for her take of the piece with dirigent Jesús López Cobos. "Philosopher of the piano," claims the media. Quite meets the reality. The performance is very good, now this Ravel's piece becomes one of my favourites. I bought her record of this piece and always get stuck to the memory of the night. Chailly definitely did a better interpretation, leading the orchestra, than Cobos.

Promoted as the star of the night,  Hélène Grimaud served not more than just a star filler. A moment of sadness that strucked me once the Ravel's Piano Concert came to an end and the star pianist didn't want to give an encore, instead "giving the applause" to the orchestra. The question is, why, oh why?

The superb Ricardo Chailly, who recently won Conductor of the Year Award by ECHO 2012, is one to be celebrated that night. Under his lead, Gewandhausorchester soared in many 'important' moments of Ravel's. More 'drang' sounds for the concerto add the excitement to the listening. Mahler's Symphony No. 4 comes alive! As the second piece of that night, Chailly able to overcome the empty chair on the 'star-seat' due to leaving Grimaud. The sopran of the night is a good one, although not 'the best one'. So I don't want to comment more on that. 

A very worthy night. 

Rating: 8/10

HILARY HAHN: In 27 Pieces - The Hilary Hahn Encores etc. (03.05.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor BWV 1001 
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major Op. 12 No. 2 
Johannes Brahms
Scherzo from the F-A-E Sonata 

plus a selection of short pieces by modern composers*

*It's a lie. Actually this part is the "main" pieces of the concert. Famous pieces by big composers mentioned above are only "fillers", because this is a concert in the "conservative" Germany and nobody's going to Philharmonie, watching you playing "New Music". 

Along with Cory Smythe, Hahn presented her latest project/competition: In 27 Pieces - The Hilary Hahn Encores, a collection of encores that are written for and dedicated to her. I would totally buying the CD if they're (absolutely) recorded. *Early 2014, here I come*

Thoses pieces are:

Nico Muhly - Two Dash
Lera Auerbach - Speak, Memory
Jennifer Higdon - Echo Dash
Soren Nils Eichberg - Levitation
Avner Dorman - Memory Games
Einojuhani Rautavaara - Whispering
Christos Hatzis - Coming To
Max Richter - Mercy (German entry!!)

I myself, as a fan of "New Music" really enjoyed the night. "Whispering" is very interesting! "Levitation" and "Mercy" are my highlights... That old man next to me just grumbled, coming only to listen Bach's. 

Technically, Hahn's no doubt beyond excellent. These encore pieces that she played very personal and "intimate" made the night even more wonderful. Meanwhile Smythe on piano delivers a very good interpretation, but Hilary shines too bright, you can't see other person on stage. *Sorry*

After seeing Hilary Hahn and being familiar with her musicality, I have one word to describe her: INNOVATION. I can't wait of what comes next.

For more about this project, simply visit:

Rating: 8/10

Klavier-Zyklus V: YUJA WANG (30.04.2012, Schiller Theater)

Sonate Es-Dur op. 27/1

Sonate Nr. 6 A-Dur op. 82

Sonate h-Moll

Yuja Wang is one of the world's renowned youngest pianist. Comes from the 'school of China' (Lang Lang, everyone?), Yuja has reached so much with her 4 albums under Deutsche Grammophon. Beside an Echo Award and a Grammy Nomination, her latest effort, FANTASIA, sells like hot cakes in Dussmann. Nuff said...

That night Ms. Wang played a repertoire that is quite far from her latest album, even though her play of these pieces is quite familiar already. They are nice, but somehow doesn't really suit her. Each piece is great, but somehow they're just good stuffs thrown into the same basket case - they don't connect. I somehow prefer her doing the encores from Fantasia, pieces that she loves. 

Showing off for the encore, Wang picked my personal favorite of Fantasia: Variations on a Theme From Bizet's "Carmen". The whole audience are hypnotized and got very excited!

Rating: 7.5/10

Fantasia is in stores now...

+ Here comes the bonus:

zeitfenster - VI. Biennale Alter Musik Festival: Trauer und Trost (28.04.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin 

RIAS Kammerchor 

Olof Boman 
Berit Norbakken Solset Sopran
Anders J. Dahlin Tenor
Andreas Wolf Bass

Johan Helmich Roman "Herren känner de frommas dagar" - Begräbnismusik für König Frederik I. (1751)

Ingvar Lidholm "... a riveder le stelle" für Chor a cappella

Georg Friedrich Händel Concerto grosso F-Dur op. 6 Nr. 2 HWV 320
Johann Sebastian Bach "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" - Kantate für Soli, Chor und Orchester BWV 21

I'm not really into the whole festival, but I got a chance to watch a highlight concert of it: Trauer & Trost. Conducted by young-talented conductor, Olaf Boman, the concert delivered a very interesting repertoire. the choir piece by Ingvar Lidholm is truly a moment for life - you can't get it from a CD. Berit Solset shined during the sopran part.  

Both parties of the concert, the famous choir and award-winning orchestra, are well to be celebrated. Such a proud night.

Rating: 8/10

AUBER: Das Bronzene Pferd (27.04.2012, Komische Oper Berlin)

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S572, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

It's definitely one of the most entertaining oper I've ever seen. It's a very catchy one, even though musically it's quite hard to differ this work from a broadway production. Serious! But, no, it's quite an oper anyway...

Well, on the production notes it says: "Nur wer das Leben ernst, bitter ernst nimmt, hat auch wirlich Humor." (Immanuel Kant), it's very correct laides and gentleman. Oscar Wilde also has his own wise advice of life, printed on the notes: "Die Maenner heiraten aus Muedigkeit, die Frauen aus Neugierde - und beide sind dann arg enttaeuscht." So, it's clear that the story of this opera revolves around life, specifically, relationship between man and woman, husbie-wifey, sex... all those stuffs. 

This opera uses pandas and monkeys to symbolize the comical similarity between man's and animal's love life, and those two animals also represent China, which is the setting and cultural influence of the piece.

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S571, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Bravo to the Komische Oper Diva! Erika Roos plays the role of Tao Jin, Herr Mandarin's fourth wife. She stole the spotlight that night!! And I guess every night of this production...

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S560, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S555, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S557, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Funny scenes, lively jokes *sometimes too much, you forget you're watching an opera*

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S556, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Sung-Keun Park as the Chinese Prince and Annelie Sophie-Mueller as Pe-Ki are also the bright stars.

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S563, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S569, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Quite dazzling effect for a 'normal' production... 

And this is how they portray Venus in the third act...

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S564, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S565, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk

Fun,fun fun. So, conclusion: if you're a classic opera lover, you'll hate this - except if you're open-minded to try something new. For the beginners and you entertainment demanding people, this just fits you perfectly. 

Rating: 8/10

Komische Oper Berlin, Das bronzene Pferd , Bildnummer: S570, Foto: Thomas M. Jauk