Sunday, October 23, 2016
Berlin’s Komische Oper, whose recent chief conductors include Kirill Petrenko and the late Yakov Kreizberg, has got itself into a tangle over its next music director. The incumbent, Henrik Nanasi, is on the way out. A shortlist of six has yielded one outstanding candidate who is well liked by the artistic director and ovated by the public in Barber of Seville. Antonella Manacorda, 46, is a former Abbado concertmaster who studied with Jorma Panula and now heads the orchestra at Arnhem in the Netherlands. He is also rumoured to have a Sony record deal, according to the combative Manuel Brug in Die Welt. But musicians of the excellent Komische Oper orchestra have voted him down. They want a bigger name. Simon Rattle has been mentioned. (Won’t happen: Manacorda shares an agent with Rattle.) So they’ve got stalemate. Story here.
Giuliano Carmignola, Amandine Beyer, Gli Incogniti (Harmonia Mundi)Are there still revelations to be heard in new Vivaldi concerto recordings? There certainly are in this dazzling, extrovert collection of concertos all for two violins – like a tennis match in music, the two protagonists toss figures, rhythms and phrases across the net with ever-increasing excitement and intensity. To imagine these virtuosic pieces played by Vivaldi’s girl pupils at the Ospedale della Pietà adds an almost erotic charge to the music-making. Many of the movements are flamboyant, like RV 507 with its initial solo flourishes, but others are sober and deep, like the Andante from RV 513. Giuliano Carmignola (who recorded with Abbado’s Orchestra Mozart) and Amandine Beyer match perfectly. A winner. Continue reading...
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: It is so rare to hear the Gurre Lieder live that most of us are acquainted with it only on record — in memorable interpretations by Rafael Kubelik, Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado and others. The work employs a vast orchestra and chorus for an unbroken duration of ninety minutes, much of which occupies a zone of uncertainty as to whether what we are hearing is ancient or modern. Schoenberg began composing the cycle in Wagnerian modalities in 1900, abandoned it three years later, finished it in 1911 as a provocative atonalist, and achieved the greatest triumph of his life at its 1913 Vienna premiere, turning his back on the cheering audience and acknowledging only the participant musicians. Austere Arnold was not cut out for popular acclaim…. Read the full review here. And here. Also here. Take your pick.
The Mayor of Berlin announced today that he ad signed a new music director and general manager for the philharmonic orchestra. Release follows. New General Manager for the Berliner Philharmoniker Contract signing of Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann The chairman of the board of trustees, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, today signed the contracts with Kirill Petrenko as chief conductor, and Andrea Zietzschmann as general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. Kirill Petrenko will take up his position on 19 August 2019. In the spring of last year, the Berliner Philharmoniker elected Kirill Petrenko as successor to Sir Simon Rattle who will leave the post in 2018. The orchestral and cultural manager Andrea Zietzschmann will become the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation on 1 September 2017, taking over the position from Martin Hoffmann who is leaving at his own request. The Governing Mayor Michael Müller: “I am delighted that we have succeeded today in signing the contracts of both Kirill Petrenko and Andrea Zietzschmann. We now have two internationally very well-connected, innovative and creative personalities at our side for the future work of the Berliner Phiharmoniker. In Andrea Zietzschmann, who takes up her position in 2017, a highly experienced cultural and orchestra manager will become the general manager of the most important orchestra in Germany. This forward-looking personnel decision has the full support of the orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle and Kirill Petrenko.” Kirill Petrenko, future chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “I am delighted that Andrea Zietzschmann is to be the new general manager of the Berliner Philharmonker. She is very personable and as a result of many years of experience with various orchestras, she knows best how a musician’s soul functions. As such, Andrea Zietzschmann is perfectly equipped for the task.” Knut Weber for the orchestra board: “We orchestra musicians are also looking forward to working with Andrea Zietzschmann. In addition to her wide-ranging experience in challenging management positions, she has proven skills and imagination in the development and planning of concert programmes. Moreover, we also share the experience of working closely together with Claudio Abbado at the same time. We look forward to a fruitful future and another exciting chapter in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker.” Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker: “Andrea Zietzschmann has a remarkable portfolio of experience dealing both with large institutions and the delicacies of a self-governing orchestra. She is knowledgeable, smart and tough, all qualities which she will need in this famously demanding and difficult job. I am delighted to welcome her to the Berliner Philharmoniker family!” Andrea Zietzschmann on her new position: “I see it as a great pleasure and privilege to accompany the work of the Berliner Philharmoniker from September 2017. I look forward to working with Sir Simon Rattle – and also to shaping the future of this extraordinary orchestra at the side of Kirill Petrenko and the musicians.” Kirill Petrenko, born in Omsk, Russia in 1972, moved with his family to the Austrian Vorarlberg in 1990 when his father found a job as a violinist with the local symphony orchestra. In 1995, Kirill Petrenko made his debut as an opera conductor with this orchestra at just 23 years of age. When he was 30, Petrenko came to Berlin where he was music director of the Komische Oper Berlin from 2002 to 2007. He appeared as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Petrenko has been general music director of the Bayerische Staastsoper since 2013. Andrea Zietzschmann, born in 1970, studied musicology, business administration and art history in Freiburg, Vienna and Hamburg. While graduating with a Master of Arts, she worked in parallel with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. In 1997, she founded the Mahler Chamber Orchestra together with Claudio Abbado, and worked for six years as general manager of the ensemble. In 2003, she became the orchestra manager at Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), and in 2008, took on the role of head of music at HR, including responsibility for the broadcaster’s orchestras and festivals. Since September 2013, she has been manager of the four Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestras and is head of NDR’s orchestral, choral and concert activities.
Jiří Bělohlávek in ceremonial robes, after receiving his honorary doctorate. photo credit Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, June 2016 Jiří Bělohlávek conducted the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinium, Prague, last week, in Tchaikovsky and Mahler, with soloists Joshua Bell, Bernarda Fink and Pavel Cernoch. The Rudolfinium is a shrine to the blossoming of Czech music and national spirit. A statue of Antonin Dvořák proudly faces the building. The interior is beautifully unrestored, the ambience enhanced, gracefully, by the fading patina of the gold painted columns and the mellow glow of antique wood panelling. Yet the orchestra members wore flowers, symbolizing Spring, for the concert marked the start of a new season. Renewal amid the autumnal weather outside, and the vintage atmosphere inside the hall. Utterly appropriate for a performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Bělohlávek has conducted the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and National Theatre for years, and has brought authentic, idiomatic Czech music to the world. Once he cut a striking figure with his bouffant hair and sturdy body language. Now he's frail, thin and bald, but if anything, that's added to the impact of his performances. As Abbado showed in Lucerne, tough challenges can inspire. Bělohlávek may not have been a particularly Mahler-oriented conductor, but so what? He understands the fundamental emotional depth of Das Lied von der Erde and that counts for a lot. This was an elegaic performance, not rushed, not somnolent, but dignified. The composure of those who are truly strong from within themselves. The trumpets attacked, with truculent fervour. Das Trinklied is no "drinking song". Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod. The protagonist isn't giving up without a fight. Life is short but what lies ahead but an ape, grinning in the moonlight? For me, Trinklieds need a sense of feisty defiance. Golden goblets mean nothing when wine runs out. Pavel Cernoch, a regular at the Czech National Theatre, doesn't have honeyed tones, but gets the right sense of anguish. This framed the characteristic warmth of Bernarda Fink's voice, making one appreciate what she's singing about, and why. She's not in the first bloom of youth, but that would be inappropriate. Instead, Fink sings with the poise of maturity. The "gold" in Das Lied von der Erde lies in the timbre, and in delivery informed by life experience. Although her roots are Slovenian, Fink grew up in South America, and came to Prague when she was a Junge Mädchen. Perhaps this had a bearing on her performance, which was magisterial yet sensitive : characteristic Bernarda Fink, but this time with extra, personal expressiveness. The glow in Fink's singing was amplified by the orchestra, whose highly individual sound, honed on the feistiness of Czech repertoire, balanced warmth with pungent spirit, again, utterly appropriate to Das Lied von der Erde. Nostalgia, yet not sentimentality, a sense of loss, yet not of meek submission. Von der Jugend kicked off with energy : already we can hear the images of movement to come in Von der Schönheit. where the orchestra played with sprightly vigour : the image of young men on prancing horses. The last, quiet moments cast a chill, as they should, a detail which is often overlooked. Der Abschied began gently, suggesting the gathering of clouds: autumnal mists filled not with mellow fruitfulness, but something altogether more mysterious. Clarinets, bassoons, horns and harp : something cosmic is happening . The flute swoops in graceful ellipse : moving us on. Der Abschied moves in a series of stages, a miniature "procession" as Mahler's transitions so often resemble. Bělohlávek observed the long central interlude carefully, for it is during this section that the transformation, whatever it may be, germinates. When the vocal line returns, we've entered a new scenario. "Er stieg vom Pferd": the moment of departure. Fink's singing became even more gracious. The winds sprang up, almost literally, leading to another transit. "Ich wandle nach der Heimat". Then the celeste, truly "celestial", and we're on another plane of existence, where the earth becomes green again, and blossoms bloom "Ewig.....ewig". Joshua Bell, Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic began this concert with Tchaikovsky beautifully played, but for me, this Das Lied von der Erde was one to remember.
The person who will negotiate the delicate balance between the Berlin Phil and its incoming music director Kirill Petrenko will make her first appearance on Thursday at his contract signing. Andrea Zietzschmann, 46, has been in charge until recently of the NDR orchestras in Hamburg, preparing them for residency in the new Elbphilharmonie hall. Her two previous jobs were as head of music at Frankfurt radio and manager of Claudio Abbado’s Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She was also involved with Abbado in the founding of the Lucerne Chamber Orchestra. She seems to have all the right credentials to be Intendantin of the Berlin Phil. photo: NDR