Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nordlichter 2012 (28.09.2012, Radialsystem)

Initiated and led by Berlin's ow Marcus Hagemann, the festival Nordlichter is a podium for Nordic classical musicians and groups, as wells as composers, to display their works. 
I went there for their opening night and had some fun.

An installation from Timo Kreuser titled SCREAMS stood as the festival opening. It (said to) offers the artistic glanze at birth and death, also a reflection of middle point between 'silence' and 'scream'. For me, it's no music at all. So I won't review things Idon't like or understand even further.


THE REAL CONCERT happened afterwards. Olof Boman led the Danish National Vocal Ensemble for a highly philosophical yet musical concert. Moving aroung the theme of heavenly / spiritual peace (Haydn's "Vater vergib ihnen..." and Monteverdi's "Dixit Dominus" from Vesper 1610), the concept of the concert is clashed with such pieces that portray the war call based on religion (Thomas Jennefelt's "Dixit Dominus" based on the Psalm 110 and the speech of Pope Urban II in Clermont calling the men of the land to join the first holy wars). 
The ensemble gave their best performances and the soloists are the only ones you'll need for this.
Wonderful vocal and exactly the right repertoire. Can't ask for more. Well, thank you Mr. Boman.

Sonar Quartett gave an exquisite interlude "Lady Shalott" from Bent Sørensen that really fits the concert.

Rating: 8/10

Cameron Carpenter Orgel Concert (24.09.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Karl-Schuke-Organ was played very lively and free that night. Yes, the american organist, Cameron Carpenter is not one of those boring mediocre organ player in the churches that your granny took you to see. Beside his innovative mind, he is also often praised (or critizised by some old boring pigs) for his Lady-Gaga avant-garde fashion and mohawk hairstyle on stage. Gayish? Quite absolutely. Appropriate? Not for some. What I think? Capital F for fantastic. 
Le concert c'est moi. indeed. 
Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude from Cello Suite No. 1 in G major BWV 1007 (arr. for organ)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasy and Fugue in G minor BWV 542
Johann Sebastian Bach: From the Violin Partita No. 3 in E major (arr. for organ)
Isaac Albéniz: Evocación from Iberia Volume 1
Cameron Carpenter: Science Fiction Scenes (Selection): I. What Worlds Await V. You Were Now X. Apparition of the Organ from Space Première
Richard Wagner: Forest Murmurs from Siegfried (arr. for organ)
Charles Ives: The Alcotts, 3rd Movement from the "Concord" Sonata (arr. for organ)
Franz Liszt: Fantasy and Fugue on »Ad nos, ad salutarem undam«

With his eccentricity, the arranged Bach pieces are very astonishing. Very fresh and grand with such energy displayed on stage. 
Carpenter's own piece, titled "Science Fiction Scenes" are way too interesting to be missed. On the premiered "Apparition" the organ had a dialogue with a harmonium placed way above the hall. A vision of better organ from the future? Who knows?
The Liszt's Fantasy closes the concert with a bang. Energetic, passionate, yet very inspiring.
After a few more encores (as usual when great concerts happen), everyone came home with a new knowledge: Now that's an organist for this century!!!

For those of you, organ music lovers, I truly encourage you to check out his CDs "Revolutionary" and "Cameron Carpenter Live". Both will rock complete your collection.

Yep, not your every (Sun)day organist. 

Rating: 9/10

Andreas Scholl WANDERER-Concert (15.09.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Andreas Scholl is one of the, if no THE, greatest living Countertenor in the world. And he is simply THE BEST in Germany.
To open their "A Night With..." concert series, where singers performed their personal or project songs without previous announcement of the program to the audience, Konzerthaus has picked Scholl. Which is a very good choice actually, because almost at the same time, Scholl will be releasing his new vocal-solo piano  recital album with Tamar Halperin titled WANDERER. The album track list became our program. 

The songs span from Mozart and Haydn to Schubert and Brahms. Almost all the songs are in German.
Wonderful, simply wonderful recital. For those of you, who know this thing called COUNTERTENOR that I'm talking about, then you must realize the heavenly joy and delight to your ears as you hear them. 

I personally think, this kind of repertoire, outside of his usual Barock repertoire or his pop projects, suits Scholl really well. Simplicity and honesty shimmer from his singing. 

A few interesting cuts: Schubert's "Das Tod und das Mädchen". It's just too 'cool' watching Scholl switching voice from the dark tenor "Death" to the light high voice of the "Girl". Another Schubert's piece "Du bist die Ruh" delivers you to heaven. Straight.

The Haydn pieces are also rare pieces and worth hearing by Scholl.

Very great recital. Halperin shines and serves as a very very excellent companion.

Rating: 9/10

Homage to Kurt Sanderling (22.09.2012, Konzerthaus Berlin)

Welcome Iván Fischer!!! Wow so many new people are becoming regulars in Berlin's music scene.
After being elected as the new Head Conductor of Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, the house gave him the green light to opean the season with a homage festival to the house's deceased previous head conductor, Kurt Sanderling. 

The programme for the main concert during this festival is:

Johannes Brahms
Variationen über ein Thema von Joseph Haydn B-Dur op. 56a 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Konzert für Klavier und Orchester Es-Dur KV 482 
Richard Strauss
Zweite Walzerfolge aus der Oper "Der Rosenkavalier" op. 59 
Richard Strauss
"Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche" - Sinfonische Dichtung op. 28 
Richard Strauss
"Tanz der sieben Schleier" aus der Oper "Salome" op. 54

The highlight of the evening is the pianist Jonathan Biss. Playing the Mozart's piano concert with full passion and power, the piece sounded very inspiring and free. 

First time seeing Fischer live, I realized how powerful he is as a conductor, especially with the Strauss'. Great job! Let's hope the orchestra under his lead keeps getting better!

Rating: 8/10

The Monteverdi-Trilogy (16.09.2012, Komische Oper Berlin)


This production of three Monteverdi main operas is the first official product of Mr. Barrie Kosky as the Intendant of Komische Oper Berlin.

Festive, forest-alike set on ORPHEUS opens the premiere day. The celebration-theme and huge ensemble of singers and dancers helped creating a very fantastic atmosphere of the opera. 
Our "Orpheus", Dominik Köninger, lost his breath at some points, where he must do some stuff with the choreography. Hope he gets better in his role by the next plays. 

The second opera, ODYSSEUS, is more like an opean field, with chamber orchestra on both sides of the grass-field-alike main stage. 
The chemistry between Odysseus (Günter Papendell) and Penelope (Ezgi Kutlu) is very well built. The production is actually quite a success in presenting an alterante world for the story, even though the set is arguably looked cheap. 


The third opera, the politically explosive POPPEA, is quite a prodution. Basically, the stage only has a slide with rocks. Just a ORPHEUS, it used the same water pool on the front left side of the stage. It gives enough room for many scenes with huge ensemble. The atmosphere is empty and dark and again, arguably cheap.
The singers are mediocre, but as we know, the closing duet between Nero & Poppea is one of the most beautiful ever written.  

At some points it's mediocre, but the acting and the presence of "Amour" as a connecting character, played wonderfully by Peter Renz, between these operas made this (these) production(s) a grande big portrait of Monteverdi and signals much more worth-hoping from his intendancy in many years to come.
And he is WAAAAYYYYY better than Andreas Homoki. That one I can guarantee. 

De Ridder tried to be edgy, especially on "Odysseus" where he used a series of African guitar/lute(?)-like instrument to add the tribal/Arabic feel to the orchestration, but somehow didn't succeed. Well, after all he tried. Good luck and be better next time... I hope.

A spectacle and a must if you're a hardcore opera fan. If you're common people checking on this, ORPHEUS is still a must as the most entertaining of all three.

Rating: 7/10

2012/2013 Season Opening: Musikfest Berlin 2012

With this post my reviews for 2012/2013 season shall begin. From 31st of August 'til 18th of September 2012 the classical music institution in Berlin start the new season with a joint-season opening in a form of festival. This year, the Berlin Musikfest program is dedicated to celebrate the works of many modern american composers. From so many concerts during this festival, I only visited two with addition of a konzertant.

So here they are:

1. Schönberg: AARON & MOSES (02.09.2012, Philharmonie)

Seriously, I've never heard of this work before. From all three konzertant of this festival (others are Adams' NIXON IN CHINA and Gershwinn's PORGY & BESS) this konzertant is the least celebrated (by not being sold out) but at the same time it came with this whole programs of movies, art and discussion forum to support the material of this opera
As the title implies, the opera focuses on the conflict between Moses as the 'speaker of the Word of God' and Aaron who is more like the "translator" and the "bridge" who delivers Moses' words to the Israelite
Highlights from the opera itself is the orgy scene of the Isralite while waiting for Moses coming down from the Mount Sinai. The music creates an explicit scene and it's very graphic at the same time, that the music offers a "movie" kinda like point of view of the event, rather than opera's. 
Handling this very difficult work, the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg along with Europachorakademie presents a very grandiose interpretation and execution. Thanks to the powerful vocals of our men of the hour, Franz Grundheber as Moses and Andreas Conrad as Aaron, the hours spent watching this work didn't only turn into a musical magic, but rather gave a raw perspective & great insight to the real event that shaped the Jewish belief and culture, so as Christianity.

Rating: 9/10

-Dirigent: Mariss Jansons

Drum rolls for "THE BEST ORCHESTRA OF THE WORLD" (-Grammophone)!!!
I'm excited from top to toe for this. Who could be better than Mariss Jansons, the principal conductor himself, to lead this pack of wonderful musicians? The stars align so right. 
The works performed that night are:

Arnold Schönberg:

A Survivor from Warsaw op. 46 für Sprecher, Männerchor und Orchester

Igor Strawinsky:
Symphonie des Psaumes für Chor und Orchester

-With the help of Grammy-winning Rundfukchor Berlin, thr orchester has made quite an interpretation of the work. 

Samuel Barber:
Adagio für Streichorchester
-Simply beautiful. Nuff said.

Edgard Varèse:
Amériques für großes Orchester
-A very interesting choice of work that already got me excited even before hearing. The interpretation of this works sounded very huge and grand, at the same time didn't lose the energy 

Mariss Jansons © Marco Borggreve

Overall, I think it's a very interesting concert. I just don't really feel the musical connection between these pieces. It may distract the concert flow to me personally. At the same time, I'm sure, there are tons of other pieces, that are more suitable to  showcase the genius ability of this magnificent orchestra.

Basically, I spent the night with the right orchestra with quite a wrong repertoire. 

Rating: 7/10

3. Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Isabelle Faust
Emilio Pomarico

No more Feldman please. His "Violin and Orchestra", performed that night, made me dizzy and bored. I really can't find the substance of the piece. I hate the piece. Sorry, new music fans. The blame's on me.

Schubert's Seventh ended up being mediocre. Well, it seems the piece is injected to the repertoire so people would come anyway, even though they don't know who the hell is Feldman.

Quite a shame.

Rating: 5/10

It's not all glitter and gay, but I'm sure looking forward for next year's.