Monday, February 28, 2005

With apologies to Robert Ashley and Music with Roots in the Aether

As the late Ronald Reagan once famously said to Mikhail Gorbachev, "Trust, but verify." Well, I'd certainly like to be able to verify this information, but, after waiting a significant of amount of time for a denial, all I can report now remains a rumor for the moment, thanks to my spies in Germany!

"I am working in the Alte Oper concerthall in Frankfurt and I have heard rumours from many musicians, that Paavo will be the next chief-conductor of the Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt. There was also a note of this rumour in Frankfurt's important newspaper FAZ. It is said that they made the contract ready in last December. At the moment there's Hugh Wolffconducting, but he is leaving the orchestra in Summer 2007."
 
If anyone out there could send me a copy of the FAZ article referred to in the message above, I would dearly love to have it! Write to me!!

Looking for Maestro Right

Hey, ho! Chicago's Tribune's on the go--when it comes to trying to find out what in the world the fans in the surrounding environs want in their next music Director, that is!

As Tribune music critic John von Rhein reports in Looking for Maestro Right: One year in, CSO's director search still at an early stage (registration required) there are still a lot of responsibilities yet to be determined for the Windy City's next major cultural icon (2/27/05)...

The orchestra is "fighting a slump in attendance and ...working to contain a $2 million operating deficit."

"Over the past eight months the search committee has been collecting input from every branch of the orchestra family, including, crucially, the players themselves. The public is being invited to share its views, by mail and by logging onto a website.Last week the committee, chaired by CSO Association board chairman William H. Strong, hosted the first of a planned series of "town meetings" in Symphony Center at which a couple of hundred music lovers sounded off on the search, the state of the Symphony and other matters. Having identified the qualities that are essential for a CSO music director and consistent with the orchestra's artistic mission, the committee has shifted into winnowing mode, Strong told the gathering.

"Right now we know who our logical list of candidates is," he said. "Some we know well, others we haven't heard lately. This is not like attracting a new CEO. It can't be done quickly. It's almost like a marriage -- you've got to get to know the person first."

More contemporary music
Beyond voicing pleas on behalf of several candidates -- Leonard Slatkin and Riccardo Chailly garnered by far the most ardent support -- a surprising number of audience members called for more, rather than less, contemporary music at the CSO. Some said the orchestra needs to do more to educate the young people who will be the audiences of tomorrow, including bringing back ECHO, the shuttered music education lab. Others praised Barenboim's multifaceted talents and lamented his departure.

On the other hand, Honora Simon, a longtime CSO subscriber, alluded to Barenboim's expressed aversion to taking on extra musical duties. Chicagoans want a music director "who we feel belongs to us, in a sense," she said. "We haven't had that, and it's created somewhat of a distance between the subscribers."

A few contenders
Next season they will be taking a close look at how various prospective candidates -- including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Alan Gilbert, Andrey Boreyko and Paavo Jarvi -- fare with the orchestra, the audience and the press....

The leading conductors project their schedules four or five years in advance, but most orchestras don't plan quite so far out. Card and company have firmed up much of the podium roster for the 2006-07 season and are already working on 2007-08 and 2008-09.

Even if a successor to Barenboim were to be identified by fall 2006, the earliest he or she would be able to commit to the orchestra on a full-time basis would be 2008 or, more likely, 2009. The CSO thus will have to identify very soon which conductor, or conductors, will be in charge of its artistic affairs in the intervening seasons....

"A good music director is an entrenched member of his or her community, an indispensable tool for orchestra fundraisers and the public voice and face for the organization," says Drew McManus, whose "Adaptistration" blog on artsjournal.com is widely read by music professionals.
- - -
Conductors who score with CSO musicians
Here, in order of popularity, are those conductors who rate most positively with the CSO musicians and with whom they wish to have a continuing relationship, according to a poll conducted by the search committee:

Riccardo Chailly, Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Bernard Haitink, Daniele Gatti, David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Christian Thielemann, Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Mariss Jansons, Jeffrey Kahane, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Andrey Boreyko, James Conlon, Yuri Temirkanov, Franz Welser-Most, Neemi Jarvi, Yoel Levi, James Levine, Robert Spano.

Conductors whom the orchestra would favor as an interim music director:
Dohnanyi, Abbado, Haitink, Dutoit, [Neeme] Jarvi, Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Conductors favored as guest conductor:
Chailly, Dohnanyi, Dutoit, Gilbert, Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Jansons, Paavo Jarvi.

Up sticks: when to whip out your baton?

Up sticks
by Michael Berkeley
The Guardian, January 19, 2005

It's the age-old problem: when to whip out your baton? Historically, conductors reflect human nature. Many, faced with a sensuous score, will simply use their hands and keep the baton until things hot up in the final movement. Slow, lyrical passages require a caressing touch so that the shapes and curves can be fully savoured; a baton would get in the way.

Most conductors, however, feel that they can control the proceedings only with a forward extension of their body. But what form should that take? There are many shops nowadays that can provide suitable implements, but a new exhibition, Passing the Baton, at the Design Museum in London - from February 16 to April 25; details, 0870 833 9955 - shows just what leading designers such as Barber Osgerby and Fernando Brizio, given their head, can come up with.

The genesis of the baton goes back to the earliest form of music-making, when a stick was used to indicate speed. The military still use a massive ornamental shaft to sustain the uniformity of a march. Outdoors, there is plenty of room to wield the baton, but in the concert hall there have been accidents on the podium (a phrase often used by orchestral players to describe the conductor) - soloists impaled and timpanists bombarded by fragments of an over-enthusiastically beaten stick. So some of the new designs are welcome, although I doubt Herbert von Karajan would have wanted to lead the Berlin Philharmonic into a battle with a baguette, as produced by Augustin Scott de Martinville.

Players who have already been stabbed might feel somewhat intimidated by the ingenious scissor-baton, which presumably allows conductors to cut out pages of a score they don't like. And I cannot see an Edwardian figure such as Adrian Boult appreciating my favourite offering, the feather-duster baton, since he was someone for whom size, not colour, really mattered.

Singing under him, you came to marvel at the control wielded with one hand over a 19-incher, while the other lovingly twirled and twisted the equally generous whiskers of his fine moustache. Still, if he were with us, Sir Adrian might find more use for the giant cotton-bud baton or the thermometer. On the other hand, looking down on this delightfully frivolous and somewhat surreal collection, he might be glad that he is safely where he is.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Coming Soon! Debussy CD with the Cincinnati Symphony


OUCH! Look what I just stumbled across!

Paavo Jarvi/Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Nocturnes, La mer and Berceuse heroique
Release Date: 3/22/2005
( Available for advance purchase; Will ship on release date )
Telarc Release# CD-80617

"The Debussy recording is Paavo Järvi’s seventh disc with Telarc and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the latest chapter in an outstanding legacy of recordings. His previous six Telarc releases have garnered lavish critical praise. Music of Ravel (CD-80601) was awarded a Diapason d’or and also was named an “Editor’s Choice” in Gramophone. For his performance of Romeo and Juliet: Complete Suites from the Ballet by Prokofiev (CD-80597), American Record Guide wrote, 'If there’s any doubt that the Cincinnati Symphony is one of the world’s greatest ensembles, this release will quickly silence it.' "

To order in advance or to listen to MP3 audio clips, click here.

Estonian conductor to make U.S. debut

Cincinnati Post classical music critic Mary Ellyn Hutton visited with up-and-coming Estonian conductor Olari Elts as he prepared for his engagement this week with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in her article Estonian conductor to make U.S. debut (2/25/05). Maestro Elts shares some memories of Estonia and the influence of Paavo 's father Neeme on the cultural life of their native country:

Excerpts

Olari Elts will be away from his country on Estonian Independence Day (today), but no Estonian is ever away entirely.

"Never," he said.

"It's the mentality of a small country. If we are not thinking about those things, who is? Wherever I am, my brain vibrations go through Estonia. I think always through Estonia." ....

Elts spoke from Riga, where he is music director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. "Paavo has told me a lot about Cincinnati. I am thrilled to meet this marvelous orchestra."

Elts and Järvi shared the same podium in Tallinn last summer, when both conducted at Estonia's famous Song Festival before a crowd estimated at 100,000 people. Focus of Estonia's "Singing Revolution," the festival is a national event (Estonia regained its freedom after 50 years of Soviet occupation in 1991). "For us as Estonians, one of the top moments is if you can conduct in the song festival," he said....

...Earlier this month, Elts led the world premiere of [Erkki-Sven] Tüür's Symphony No. 5 in Stuttgart, a work for symphony orchestra, big band and electric guitar (Elts led the Latvian premiere Feb. 18). Guitarist Adrian Belew, a Northern Kentucky native, has been in contact with Tüür about the work, The Post's Rick Bird reported last week.

"That's definitely a piece the orchestra (CSO) should play. It suits American orchestras very well," Elts said
....

After Estonian re-independence -- Feb. 24 celebrates Estonia's first independence, when it threw off two centuries of czarist rule in 1918 -- Elts went to Vienna to study  conducting. "Most Estonian conductors studied in Moscow or St. Petersburg (including Järvi's father, Neeme Järvi)."

Elts also studied with Neeme Järvi at Järvi's summer conducting academy in Pärnu, Estonia. "I just adored the Russian school. That was one of the reasons I went to Neeme's master class. I think he has the best technique in the world."

Elts remembers the years of silence when the Järvi name was not spoken in Estonia. One of the most famous conductors in the Soviet Union, Neeme Järvi emigrated to the U.S. in 1980 to escape official persecution (Paavo was 17 at the time). He had come under censure for programming music unacceptable to the Communist regime, such as Estonian Arvo Pärt's Credo, a work containing text from the Bible
.

"If you look at the official press at the time, they just disappeared," Elts said. "They even took all (Neeme's) recordings from the radio. If somebody played on the radio music he was conducting, then it just wasn't allowed to say who was conducting. You cannot imagine how big was his comeback years later." ....

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Capturing the moment

Andrew Clark of the Financial Times of London had an interesting piece in the Friday, February 25, edition, titled Capturing the moment about current practices in creating so-called "live" recordings. Excerpts from his article appear below. Read the entire piece by clicking on the link above.

Excerpts:

Capturing the moment
By Andrew Clark
Financial Times, February 25 2005

Next month sees the release of one of the most eagerly awaited classical recordings of modern times. Simon Rattle’s interpretation of Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” rounds off his EMI cycle of all nine Mahler symphonies, an achievement matched only by a handful of conductors. The recording was made at two public concerts and a fully attended dress rehearsal last June in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. The CD will be marketed as “live”. What no one will mention is that two long patching sessions, under studio conditions, were needed to complete it.

Patching has become standard practice with so-called “live” recordings. Judicious editing enables the recording producer to cover technical slips, audience coughs and other noises that might irritate the listener and detract from the music on repeated hearing. Consumers are promised a listening experience that replicates that of the concert hall. The reality is a collection of edited highlights from different performances and back-up sessions, with all the flaws airbrushed out.

Does this matter? It depends how far you believe a recording should mirror the experience of live performance, complete with its faults, and whether you regard recording as an art form in itself, with its own rules. Most CD collectors recognise that any recording is to a greater or lesser degree a “lie” - no one listening to their CD player or iPod wants repeatedly to hear the technical flaws and audience coughs that invariably creep into public performances. What counts is the inner vitality of the music-making and its consistent impact. It doesn’t really matter how much the master tape is edited or doctored, or whether it was made “live” or in the studio, as long as the finished result mirrors the artistic viewpoint of the performers.

But the proliferation of live recordings and the sales talk around them often suggests that they are somehow artistically superior to performances taped under clinical studio conditions. “It’s that thing of capturing the excitement of the moment,” says Clive Gillinson, managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra, whose pioneering label, LSO Live, has issued 31 CDs in five years. “Perfection may be wonderful,” Gillinson adds, “but it’s not an artistic experience. Music is about performance, about the emotion of the moment, and it’s that excitement we want to grab.”

Consumers seem to agree. Thanks to sparkling performances of Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Dvorak’s Sixth Symphony and others, LSO Live has notched up sales of 750,000 CDs, making it the envy of more established labels. But the implication that “live” automatically brings artistic gains is not borne out by LSO Live’s less attractive recordings. Other labels have experienced similarly mixed results with live recordings.

Consider David Zinman’s Beethoven on Arte Nova, or Charles Mackerras’s Janacek on Decca, or the hundreds of other great recordings of the past 50 years, all made in the studio: they do not lack electricity, spontaneity or musical integrity. And as an audio experience they offer more than any live recording can.

The force driving the “live” phenomenon is not artistic gain but economics. Musicians who 10 or 20 years ago took recording work for granted are finally coming to terms with the fact that unless they go down the “live” route, their market penetration will be minimal. Production costs for a live recording of a standard symphony can be as low as £15,000, compared to £45,000 for a studio version. For an opera recording such as EMI’s Tristan und Isolde with Placido Domingo, due out in July, the bill runs to something like £250,000. On that basis, studio-based opera recordings don’t make sense any more - and it comes as no surprise to learn that Tristan will be EMI’s last. The future for opera is DVD.

Big labels are under pressure to produce quick returns on new investment, because they already have huge back catalogues of perfectly acceptable recordings. The “live” option suits them. They don’t have to spend time or money gathering and preparing a dream team of artists, as they did in the medium’s heyday. They simply turn up to record the best live acts.

Within the music industry, opinion is sharply divided on the merits of the live format. “On a wonderful night, when it all clicks perfectly, yes, you cannot capture that in a studio, but this sort of event is very rare,” says Klaus Heymann, founder and owner of budget label Naxos. “In a studio you can risk more, because you know you have the chance to do it again. It’s the artists themselves who increasingly insist on manicured perfection.”

That is certainly true of soloists. One well-known pianist approved the stitching together of an entire sequence, one note at a time, so that his Mozartian runs could have a pearl-like evenness on the recording - an effect he could never produce live. Singers and instrumentalists are all too aware that when they get their one chance to immortalise their interpretation, it will be compared with classic versions from the past. If they begin to feel tired, the studio environment enables them to take a break and come back with their energy, commitment and motivation refreshed, something that is not possible with an audience present.

The studio is the only realistic option for recording contemporary music, which requires pinpoint balance and precision, and for period orchestras, whose intonation problems are part of live performance but would be unacceptable on a recording. The studio is also the preferred format for a surprising number of conductors - Riccardo Chailly and Paavo Jarvi among them. “I do like to listen to a recording where everything is clear, worked out and in tune, especially when it has my name on it,” says Jarvi, who is recording the Beethoven symphonies with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie for the Pentatone label. “When you do it live, you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.”...

Freundliche Ansichten: Paavo Järvi und Truls Mörk in Paris

Ah! Those wiley critics! Just when I thought I had exhausted all of the possibilities for finding another source for a review for Paavo's Paris concert last week, suddenly, what should appear in my e-mail's IN box, but a link to a review of the French concert written in German from klassik.com!

Paris > Théâtre des Champs-Elysées - 18.02.2005
Orchestre Philharmonic, P.Jaervi, T.Moerk > Martinu, Schumann, Dvoràk
Freundliche Ansichten: Paavo Järvi und Truls Mörk in Paris


Kritik von Alexander Gurdon

Ein ganzes Rudel Cellokästen hatte sich vor dem Théâtre des Champs-Elysées versammelt und tanzte lustig auf den Rücken ihrer Besitzer hin und her. Dieses Meer aus schwankenden Celloköpfen über der Menge der Zuschauer, die sich noch eine Karte kaufen wollten, hätte spätestens darauf hingewiesen, dass am gestrigen Abend ein besonderer Leckerbissen all diese Musiker angezogen hatte: Schumanns Cellokonzert stand auf dem Programm mit niemand geringerem als dem Norwegen Truls Mörk, in wohlbekannter Begleitung durch den estnischen Dirigenten Paavo Järvi und das Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Mörk und Järvi haben schon in der Vergangenheit immer wieder miteinander begeistert, und von Schumanns Cellokonzert liegt sogar mit eben jenem Orchestre Philharmonique eine neue Einspielung bei Virgin vor, so dass man sich gewiss sein konnte, kein halbherziges oder flüchtig durchdachtes Konzert präsentiert zu bekommen.

Tschechisch – amerikanisch

Als frische, unglaublich beschwingte Eröffnung stand aber zunächst die 2. Sinfonie von Bohuslav Martinu auf dem Plan. Martinu, der alle seine Sinfonien in Amerika nach seiner Auswanderung komponierte, hatte für jene Sinfonie den Auftrag durch die in Ohio lebenden Tschechen bekommen und später wurde sie von niemand geringerem als George Szell und dem Cleveland Orchestra aus der Taufe gehoben.

Mit dieser klanglichen Synthese aus tschechischer Musik-Tradition und amerikanischen Einflüssen, die aber doch so ganz in der eigenen Musiksprache Martinus steht, gelang Paavo Järvi und dem Orchestre Philharmonique eine rhythmisch brillant funkelnde und griffig-kompakte Interpretation. Das unterschwellige Pulsieren, das sich durch den gesamten ersten Satz zog, war nie so greifbar, dass man es hätte definieren können, aber doch immer so mit der Melodie und dem Ausdruck des Satzes im Einklang, dass Stimmung und diese Art von quirliger Freude wirklich perfekt gerieten. Dieses Klangbild durchzog die gesamte Sinfonie, keine Ausfälle trübten die herrlichen Soli in den Holzbläsern und auch so manch schmachtende Streicherpassagen ließ Järvi voluminös in das Theater gleiten.

Norwegisch – deutsch

Nun folgte Schumanns Cellokonzert, für viele der Erscheinungsgrund an diesem Abend, wie man auch an der gespannten Atmosphäre merken konnte. Der hünenhafte Truls Mörk schien zunächst etwas verloren auf der kleinen Bühne, viel Platz bot sich ihm nicht auf dem kleinen Podest, ganz nah an den Geigen postiert. Doch ab dem ersten Ton vergaß man eh alles um ihn herum, das einzige was noch zählte, war sein üppiger, warmer, berührender Ton, den er mit Gefühl in sein Montagnana-Cello von 1723 massierte. Besonders im langsamen Mittelsatz öffneten sich so neue Welten, die träumen ließen, auch dank der hervorragenden 1.Cellistin des Orchesters, die die vielen gemeinsamen Soli mit Bedacht und Empfindung musizierte. Hier blitzte dann auch ein ums andere Mal jener Klang auf, den man manchmal als den nordischen Klang beschreibt: mit einer gewissen Reserviertheit erging sich Mörk nicht in platt-romantischen Klischees, sondern schaffte auch manche kühl-glühenden Eindrücke, die Schumann in einem gänzlich neuen Gewand zeigten. Die Ecksätze sprühten dann nur so von der einkomponierten Virtuosität, die von allen Seiten makellos erklang, nur ein manches Mal hätte man sich mehr Tiefe in der Interpretation gewünscht: stets frisch und heiter standen diese Sätze mehr im Zeichen von Lebensfreude und unbekümmertem Musikgenuss, doch in Anbetracht von Schumanns schwerer, damals bereits stark fortgeschrittener Nervenkrankheit hätten etwas dunklere Ansätze hier noch neue Erleuchtungen bieten können.

Estnisch – französisch – tschechisch

Abschluss des Abends war Dvoráks 7. Sinfonie, womit ein deutlicher Bogen wieder zu Martinu geschlagen wurde, und man so quasi zu den tschechischen Ursprüngen zurückgeführt wurde. Dass diese 7. Sinfonie eigentlich Dvoráks dramatischste und düsterste ist, erfuhr man dann leider nicht durchgängig, und auch all die Mühe und der Schweiß, die aufgebracht worden waren, um Martinu beeindruckend zum Leben zu erwecken, hätten dieser Sinfonie sehr gut getan. So merkte man leider ein ums andere Mal, dass diese Sinfonie mehr zum gängigen Repertoire gehört und so schlichen sich einige rhythmische Unstimmigkeiten und generelle Abspracheprobleme in das Werk, die in Martinus Sinfonie eine knappe Stunde vorher noch undenkbar gewesen wären.

Nichtsdestotrotz gestaltete der stets charmante und sympathische Järvi seinen Dvorák abwechslungsreich, weiche wuchtige Akzente kennzeichneten den ersten Satz, wundervolle Soli der Holzbläser erinnerten an die vielen böhmischen Sehnsüchte, die aber leider durch das allzu rasche Tempo dieses ’poco adagio’ nicht viel Raum zur Entwicklung bekamen. Die unverhohlene Dramatik des letzen Satzes färbte Järvi dann wieder eher sympathisch-positiv als konsequent melancholisch-düster, so dass das Konzept der Sinfonie leider nicht ganz aufging. In den großen Tuttipassagen war es dann aber wieder das Orchestre Philharmonique, das durch seine Begeisterungsfähigkeit und bedingungslose Musikalität fast alles herumriss und Freude über den satten Klang aufkommen ließ (wobei die Hörner ein ums andere Mal der fatalen Akustik des Theaters erlagen, da sie zu weit hinten und zu sehr im leeren Raum saßen).

Insgesamt ein sehr abwechslungsreicher, bunter, frischer, aber auch anrührender Konzertabend, der in Schumanns Cellokonzert herrliche neue Seiten offenbarte, mit Martinus Sinfonie neue Wege in die Zukunft wies (sowohl musikalisch als auch für Konzertplanungen), um dann leider im Dvorák so manche Einbuße zu kassieren.

Original article here.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Chicago to World: "Who's Our Next Maestro?"

Wynne Delacoma of the Chicago Sun-Times wondered in last Friday's paper (2/18/05), as the Chicago Symphony searches for a replacement for Daniel Barenboim when his contract expires at the end of the 2005-2006 season, Who's Our Next Maestro?

Among those on the presumed list of possibilities are Sir Simon Rattle, David Robertson, Robert Spano, Riccardo Chailly, and Paavo! "One of conductor Neeme Jarvi's musically gifted children, he has earned raves for his work with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has extended his contract there through 2008-09."

Did You Know...


that Paavo and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra's recording of Arvo Part's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for String Orchestra & Bell is included on the soundtrack of Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 411?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Paavo & the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London


Thursday, February 24, at 7:30 pm will find Paavo on the podium at the Barbican Centre in London conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Once again, the special guest will be Truls Mørk performing Schumann's Cello Concerto, along with Arvo Pärt's Pro et Contra. Also included on this week's program: Erkki-Sven Tüür's Aditus; and Nielsen's Symphony No.5.

Tickets for this concert are £16, £12 and £8. Full price tickets can be booked online here. To purchase discounted tickets, please contact the Box Office on 020 7638 8891.

If you can't attend this concert in person, you can always do so vicariously by clicking on the links provided here to purchase Paavo's recordings of works on this program: Arvo Pärt's Pro et Contra with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Erkki-Sven Tüür's Exodus with Paavo and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (includes Aditus) and the new Schumann's Cello Concerto by Truls Mørk and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
************
ARGHHHH!!!! This is SO frustrating! I was just clicking around and accidentally discovered that this concert was streamed live on BBC3 and it's just ended! There's a page here calIed BBC Radio 3 Listen Again which says you can "Listen to a selection of Radio 3 programmes and concerts, anytime, for up to 7 days after broadcast." Good luck if you can figure out how it works because I can't! I will try harder to keep us all better informed in the future.

Paavo Järvi Meets Elizabeth Leonskaja


Check out the cheesy artwork -- a non-artful attempt to make it look like they're both photographed in the same picture, instead of just pasted together. They even posed her arms in a similar way!

I must admit that I try to be more well-informed than your average person when it comes to PJ's inventory, but even I have never heard of this DVD: Paavo Järvi Meets Elizabeth Leonskaja (with the Israel Philharmonic)! (Brahms: Klavierkonzert Nr. 2; Schumann: Symphonie Nr. 1; Glinka: Ruslan & Ludmilla-Ouvertüre)

The only details I could glean from other sources were these: Publisher - Nutech Digital; Running Time: 95 Minutes; Release Date: November 23, 2004; Format DVD; Features Color; ASIN: B00068WRNE; UPC 064572153373. Encoding: Region 0 (Viewable in all countries.)

Just let me know if you'd like to send one my way! (By the way, my friend Alan Teder of ErkkiSvenTuur.com advises me: "If you are going to post more on the site about European or Japanese DVDs then you best alert people that they'll need an international region-free (sometimes called a code-free) DVD player. There are many reasonably cheap models for only $50 or $60 for example at Best Buy here in Canada, so I'm assuming they might be even cheaper in the USA?")

ConcertoNet.com Review of Paris Concert!

WELL! It certainly took long enough for me to finally find a review of last Saturday's concert in Paris, didn't it? And as a bonus for you, it's all in French! I suggest you try to Google translate it. I'm digging out my Harrap's Shorter French-English Dictionary. Bon chance, mes amis!

Efficace
par Simon Corley, ConcertoNet

Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris
02/18/2005  
Bohuslav Martinu : Symphonie n° 2, H. 295
Robert Schumann : Concerto pour violoncelle, opus 129
Antonin Dvorak : Symphonie n° 7, B. 141

Truls Mork (violoncelle)
Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Paavo Järvi (direction)

Invité régulier des orchestres parisiens – et notamment de ceux de Radio France – depuis plusieurs saisons (voir récemment ici), Paavo Järvi – fils de Neeme et frère de Kristjan, faut-il le rappeler? – retrouvait ici l’Orchestre philharmonique, avec lequel il a en outre gravé trois disques.

Des six symphonies de Martinu, la Deuxième (1943), d’esprit léger et détendu, est la plus brève et la moins ambitieuse, mais, surtout, sans doute la plus tchèque de caractère. Elle se souvient d’ailleurs au moins autant de Smetana que de Dvorak, tandis que sa dédicace «A mes amis concitoyens travailleurs de Cleveland» et sa création (sous la direction de Szell) le jour du vingt-cinquième anniversaire de l’indépendance de la Tchécoslovaquie évoquent le contexte de la Sinfonietta de Janacek. Mais avec un «Philhar’» des grands soirs, cette orchestration si raffinée suggère également l’influence de Roussel, pour lequel le jeune compositeur avait décidé de faire, vingt ans plus tôt, le voyage de Paris.

Dans l’Allegro moderato initial, Järvi peine ici ou là à trouver le bon équilibre entre les pupitres, mais alterne efficacement sonorités opulentes et mordantes, parfois stravinskiennes. Assez allant, le Poco adagio perd en poésie ce qu’il gagne en simplicité. Après un Poco allegro particulièrement astringent, le chef estonien livre un Allegro final entraînant à souhait, emportant la conviction du public, qui avait amplement garni les rangs du Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Comme il n’est pas interdit de rêver, pourquoi ce succès ne convaincrait il Jacques Taddéi, le nouveau patron de la musique à Radio France, présent à ce concert, de programmer ultérieurement les cinq autres symphonies dans le cadre d’une intégrale étalée sur plusieurs saisons?

A chacune de ses apparitions, Truls Mork fascine tant il parvient, malgré une économie de moyens qui confine à l’ascèse, à éclairer les œuvres sous un jour nouveau, à mettre sa concentration et son autorité au service d’une exploration intransigeante qui pousse le texte dans ses derniers retranchements. Malgré le contexte de sa composition, le Concerto pour violoncelle (1850) de Schumann est rarement soumis à un tel traitement, qui aura sans doute déçu les amateurs d’un romantisme moins sobre ou retenu, plus en rondeur ou en expansivité. Mais le timbre du Montagnana, tout de pureté et de finesse, n’en est pas moins à l’unisson d’une formation réduite à sa plus simple expression (trente-trois cordes): la complicité entre soliste, orchestre et chef – qui viennent d’enregistrer ce concerto pour Virgin, accompagné de pièces de Bruch et de Bloch – culmine avec l’ambiance chambriste du Langsam central. En bis, le violoncelliste norvégien confirme d’exceptionnelles affinités avec Britten, dans le Declamato tiré de sa Deuxième suite (1967), qui n’est d’ailleurs pas sans rapports avec les errances schumanniennes.

Chère au cœur du directeur musical de l’Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Myung-Whun Chung, la Septième symphonie (1885) de Dvorak pâtit regrettablement de l’ombre portée par les deux suivantes. Souvent rapprochée de Brahms, la partition, sous la baguette à la fois frémissante, acérée et détaillée de Järvi, prend des couleurs plus wagnériennes et s’abandonne même à des élans straussiens. Sans véritable souci d’idiomatisme, il va droit au but, dans une conception délibérément extérieure et animée par un sens dramatique très sûr. Les musiciens s’y montrent à leur meilleur, manifestement galvanisés par un chef avec lequel ils apprécient de travailler et qu’ils retrouveront dès le 13 mai pour jouer Prokofiev, Liszt (avec Nicholas Angelich) et Rachmaninov.

Monday, February 21, 2005

As Mainstream Outlets for Classical Music Criticism Shrink, Blogging, as an Alternative, Grows!

Verbatim:

Champions of music claim new cyber-turf
By Richard Scheinin
San Jose Mercury News, 2/20/05

In a post last month on his popular blog about classical music, Alex Ross wrote that the music he loves "exists off the radar screen of the major media'' these days. But "it's actually kind of exciting,'' he added. "If I were in the business of marketing classical music to younger audiences, I'd make a virtue of this. Classical music is the new underground.''

Classical music as the new underground: That compelling image hasn't really surfaced in mainstream media writing on the arts. But Ross, the New Yorker magazine's classical music critic, plows fertile ground all the time on his own blog, titled The Rest Is Noise, a daily read for a couple of thousand classical music fanatics.


On any given day, Ross may fire off an essay on his favorite Finnish conductors (the Finns are in); or he may send shock waves through the blogosphere by challenging the idea that dead silence in the concert hall -- no clapping allowed between the movements of a concerto, for instance -- is a good thing. He can be a learned cheerleader for the music, likely to declare that an opera singer or chamber ensemble rocks or is severe -- though, on a slow day, he simply may post photos of his cats.

As the number of column inches devoted to classical music dwindles in many print publications and as major television networks continue to ignore the music, its advocates happily are grabbing the reins and riding into the blogosphere. By one count, there are 45 English-language blogs -- short for "Web logs'' -- devoted to classical music: CD and concert reviews, musical and historical analyses, musings, rants and assorted pokings into looming issues including the economic downturn's impact on symphony orchestras and classical music's very survival.

Suddenly, a whole new world of writing about classical music has cropped up. Not everyone agrees, but some plotters of this revolution predict the blogosphere will create an entry point for new listeners, because blog writing often is informal, energetic, underground-ish -- without the deadening preachiness that infects much classical music writing, driving people away.


Seasoned journalists and critics blog, but so do musicologists, composers, performers, arts administrators, amateur writers and everyday concertgoers: "There are a lot more people out there who can write intelligently about music than have outlets to write about it,'' says Lisa Hirsch, an East Bay tech writer and jujitsu instructor who did graduate work in musicology. Her blog, Iron Tongue of Midnight mixes informed commentary and hot opinion.

After panning a concerto performance in San Francisco by pianist Garrick Ohlsson the other day, Hirsch asked Ross, in an "Iron Tongue'' post, whether -- if he now thinks it's OK to applaud during a good performance -- it would be OK to throw tomatoes at the stage between movements of a bad one.

Hirsch and Ross started their blogs less than a year ago, as have most classical music bloggers. In addition to the contraction of coverage by the pop-obsessed media that has almost necessitated another venue for writing about classical music, there's the increasing availability of easy-to-use software for blogging.

Most classical music bloggers also theorize that the recent attention paid to political bloggers is triggering an unconscious copycat movement in their world: "It's just in the air; everybody is talking about it,'' says Terry Teachout, a well-known freelance arts writer whose blog, About Last Night receives about 2,000 hits every weekday. He likens his online outlet to a "little magazine, an intellectual magazine.''

Teachout began thinking about blogging four years ago, when he came across a blog by Andrew Sullivan, the political writer. "I looked at it,'' he remembers, "and said, 'I could do this and make it about the arts.' ''

About 18 months ago, he started "About Last Night'' on the artsjournal.com website, which also hosts blogs by Greg Sandow, a penetrating essayist on the music's future, and composer Kyle Gann, whose blog links to his "post-modern'' Internet radio station.

It didn't take long for Teachout to recognize the "amazing velocity'' with which ideas travel from blog to blog as one blogger links to the next in a classical music daisy chain.

In a fragmented culture full of niche markets, blogs connect lovers of the music around the globe: "One of the big problems in classical music is that it just isolated itself, and this is a way of redressing that a bit,'' says Helen Radice, a 25-year-old British freelance harpist, whose twang twang twang blog is a much-discussed up-and-comer. "You get a sense of classical music -- or classical music writers -- as normal,'' she says.

Radice's posts include semi-comical reportage: her gig playing at what turned out to be a sexual swingers' Venetian masked ball in Shropshire -- and being asked to participate (she didn't); her performance for a London spiritualist society, whose members relegated her to a hallway next to the men's bathroom once their guru began speaking. She remembers sitting there thinking, "I am so going to blog this when I get home.''

"The dry musicology that exists on library shelves, it's not for me,'' she says. Yet she also posts artful mini-essays on contemporary British symphonists and on the technical capabilities of the harp.

That last posting happened at the request of Ross, who had written about the "twang of death'' conjured by the bass strings of the harp in Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde.'' He wanted to know how that sound gets produced, and Radice supplied the explanation.

This sort of discussion may be too "inside baseball'' for some people, but for bloggers it signifies the free flow of information, as well as the chumminess, that exists in the blogosphere. Ross likens it to "a fantasy village occupied by people who love music and love talking about music, who sort of lean over their white picket fences to chat a couple times a day.''

Spend some time scanning the blogs and you may come away with a conflicting sense of what this village is like: The bloggers' constant cross-linking can seem closed off, a bit incestuous. On the other hand, the bloggers are opening up discussion across an enormous range of subjects that bear on the music's future: "It's a way of talking about the actual role of the musician as creator, today,'' says Houston-based composer Marcus Maroney, whose blog is called Sounds Like New. "Do people really care about us? What's going to support us? The world is changing.''

For Radice, blogging is a way to project some "positivity'' about the music profession, which is fraught with depressives who can't find work. She wants people to know that "classical music is this marvelous and vital art form and there's a lot to be discussed.'' In fact, she hopes to discuss it over drinks with Teachout, Ross and other bloggers in New York next month when she visits Manhattan for the first time in seven years.

Bloggers have their routines. When she isn't working, Radice blogs in the evenings, after she practices. Teachout often blogs at midnight, after returning home from performances, though he tries to blog spontaneously, whenever the Muse calls. Ross blogs mornings, as a rule.

A busy guy to begin with -- in addition to his New Yorker job, he is writing a book on 20th-century music -- Ross blogs for a couple of hours most days. He sounds liberated talking about it: It lets him play with language, to be "snide or snippy'' or to "just be innocently enthusiastic.''

It's a way of evangelizing for the music, of "spreading the word. I just love the serendipity of it,'' he says, "seeing what kinds of wacky Google searches bring people to my site. I can just read them in the daily log and see what brought them to me. I found one today where 'we hate Richard Wagner' brought them to the site. Or 'pure Stravinsky sunglasses' -- it came from Sweden or somewhere. Maybe there was a language problem.''

There are practical reasons for blogging, too. Ross started "The Rest Is Noise'' in part as a place to talk about topics related to his upcoming book, which is due next year and has the same title. Since then, he says, the blog has "taken on a life of its own.''

Teachout, who writes for the Wall Street Journal and other publications, hails the birth of a virtual community and the rise of a new form of journalism. But he also hopes, ultimately, to earn an income through blogging. That's not an impossibility, according to some bloggers. "I can pretty easily imagine a model where people will pay to read blogs,'' says Hirsch. "Would I pay $25 a year to read Teachout? Of course.''

Hirsch doesn't necessarily have the same expectations. For now, she hopes her blogging will attract the attention of editors and increase her freelance writing assignments. (She writes for the San Francisco Classical Voice website).

For Ching Chang, blogging has become an alternative to the freelance life. A technical project manager for an East Bay medical clinic and an opera maven, Chang spent a decade reviewing Bay Area classical performances for editors who didn't always understand and sometimes seemed hostile to the music, he says. A little less than a year ago, he "got a little tired of dealing with them. . . . I just thought it would be great to have total control over what you say, what you cover.''

So he launched The Bay Buzz a blog. His literate and sometimes barbed reviews of the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony and other ensembles appear unadulterated and are as long or as short as he wants them to be. He hasn't made a dime -- well, he's made $25 on a single advertisement. But Chang is running the show.

"It's very satisfying,'' he says. "It's a lot more fun, I must say.''

Richard Scheinin can be reached at (408) 920-5069 or rscheinin@mercurynews.com.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Wanted: Rock Star Seeks New Gig with Orchestra!


Rick Bird, hard-working rock/pop/jazz critic for the Cincinnati Post, had a nice, long article in the Friday paper about rock guitar icon and Northern Kentucky native Adrian Belew: Adrian Belew: Rock's renaissance man.

It seems that Adrian, a longtime fan of the Cincinnati Symphony, dating back to his school days here, is just itching for the chance to make his classical music debut. As Bird writes:

"Northern Kentucky native Adrian Belew has seemingly done it all in the world of rock guitar.

"He's played with Frank Zappa's acid rock big band, toured with glam rocker David Bowie, worked on the New Wave of Talking Heads, played in the power pop quartet the Bears and the art rock of King Crimson. He's released more than a dozen solo albums in his 30-year career.

"Belew has a few other unexplored areas he's working on. He recently took up painting. And he has a dream of some day playing with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra."
...

I think those words must be music to the ears of one Erkki-Sven Tuur, himself formerly a highly esteemed rock star in Estonia as the leader of the progressive rock band, In Spe. When Erkki-Sven visited Cincinnati in 2001during Paavo's first season, he was excited to learn that Adrian Belew grew up so close to Cincinnati and had hopes of finally meeting his longtime idol face to face. While that dream went unfulfilled on that particular visit, he did make the acquaintance of Rob Fetters, one of Adrian's bandmates in The Bears.

As Bird continues in his article:

"What's next? A new Bears album is 95 percent done and will likely be out late this year. Belew continues to write material and record with King Crimson. And there is that little dream about a symphony appearance.

"Belew has befriended Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tuur, who is writing a new symphony that includes a guitarist, set to debut this fall in Austria. Belew is hopeful he will be that guest guitarist. The CSO has already debuted a Tuur symphony and Belew hopes Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Paavo Jarvi might be interested in this one.

" 'Playing with a symphony is different. I would really love to do that debut in Cincinnati -- in my hometown. That would be fabulous.' "

-------------------
UPDATE

Alan Teder, proprietor of erkki sven tuur.com reports that Erkki-Sven's Symphony No. 5 for electric guitar, big band and symphony orchestra premiered on February 1, 2005, in Stuttgart, Germany with Martin Scales (guitar); SWR Big Band; SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra; and Olari Elts conducting. (This programme will likely be broadcast live or recorded for future broadcast on SWR South West Radio, Stuttgart, Germany) Südwestrundfunk . Alan says that Erkki-Sven was recently in Latvia for the second performance of this new work.

Paavo to Guest with Chicago Symphony

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that, as part of Daniel Barenboim's last season as the Chicago Symphony's Music Director, Paavo has been invited to guest conduct the orchestra (see For final season here, some of Barenboim's favorites by Wynne Delacoma, February 18, 2005.)

Excerpt:

..."Four of the 21 guest conductors will preside over two sets of concerts each: the rising star David Robertson Feb. 8-11 and Apr. 27-May 2, and the more seasoned masters Bernard Haitink Mar. 2-11, Charles Dutoit Mar. 22-Apr. 1 and David Zinman Apr. 20-25 and May 4-6. Other notable young conductors scheduled for 2005-06 are Daniel Harding and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, both making their CSO debuts; Robert Spano, Alan Gilbert, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andrey Boreyko and Paavo Jarvi.

"In a program the CSO is calling 'Chicago's Choice,'' Jarvi will conduct repertoire chosen by audience vote Apr. 11-15, 2006, along with George Tsontakis' Violin Concerto No. 2 with CSO concertmaster Samuel Magad.


"For more information, call (312) 294-3000."

Friday, February 18, 2005

PJ on the Internet's Role in the Classical Music World

From the archives comes this Andante.com interview with Thomas May from May 2001: The exciting young conductor, soon to take over the Cincinnati Symphony, talks with andante about the Internet's role in the classical music world and the relationship between an orchestra and its audiences.

Excerpt:

Thomas May: You're an Internet-savvy conductor - in fact you even have your own Web site. What are your thoughts about how the Internet might affect the classical music audience?

PJ: The Internet, as far as I can see now - since I'm a very strong believer in live music - is probably going to become most important in its capacity for reaching wider audiences in order to promote classical music, rather than for actually listening to it. One problem with the classical music community is that [it needs] a central source of information where you can log in and not only have the party line, so to speak, but where you can find out about programs everywhere, who the soloists are, etc. [We need a place where] you can also have a truly live, constantly updated news service for classical music and a live column about what's going on and where and what happened. That's something that, in classical music especially, travels by word of mouth, but is always a bit distorted.

Au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées: Truls Mork

Au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées: Truls Mork
par Yves Bourgade,
Figaroscope.fr, 16 février 2005

Le Norvégien Truls Mork est un virtuose du violoncelle. Il se produit au TCE le 18 février, en soliste du Philharmonique de Radio France, sous la baguette de l’Estonien Paavo Jarvi, pour interpréter un cheval de bataille de son instrument, le concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre de Schumann. Par sa curiosité pour les partitions de ses contemporains ou du XXe siècle, Truls Mork se range dans la filiation de Rostropovitch. C’est ainsi qu’il a gravé des suites pour violoncelle seul de Britten plutôt que de Bach. Il a créé encore, cette saison, des concertos de Matthias Pintscher et de Halflidi Halgrimsson. Ce qui ne l’empêche pas d’aborder le triple concerto de Beethoven avec deux complices en musique de chambre, le violoniste Gil Shaham et le pianiste Yefim Bronfman.

FAUT-IL Y ALLER ? Son dernier enregistrement, paru chez Virgin classics avec, justement, le Philharmonique de Radio France et Paavo Jarvi, donne une bonne idée de l’esprit ouvert dans lequel Truls Mork aborde les oeuvres. A côté de deux pièces signées respectivement par Max Bruch et Enest Bloch, il joue le concerto de Schumann sans concession à la virtuosité.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

CD REVIEW: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Really Digs New PJ/Mork/Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France CD


Cellist Truls Mork releases new CD
by R.M. Campbell
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 18, 2005

Schumann's Cello Concerto, Bruch's "Kol Nidrei" and Bloch's "Schelomo," with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Paavo Jarvi. (EMI Classics)

In its short but brilliant history, the International Music Festival introduced an amazing number of notable European artists, some virtually unknown in the U.S., to Seattle. One of the most dazzling was Norwegian cellist Truls Mork, who made his local debut in 1994.

He has returned, never failing to impress with the eloquence of his musicality, warmth of tone and generous intelligence. Those traits are in abundance in his recording of deeply romantic works for cello and orchestra.

What's notable is Mork's ability to balance the sometimes overwrought quality of the music with gravity and refinement. The sheer beauty of his playing never falters.

GRADE: A

Bravo, Paavo, a City Paper/The Baltic States Interview


For anyone who may have missed this interview with Paavo from September 2003, I am happy to provide you with a link to it.

Conductors and Sex Appeal

Thanks to blogger Mad Musings of Me, we have just come across this lovely article from the Times of London: Passion, power and the podium by Richard Morrison (July 16, 2004).
As the proms begin, our correspondent asks why, in the cauldron of emotion that is classical music, conductors have all the pulling power. Beware. This story is a heavenly three pages long!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Glowing Die Welt Review of Hamburg Concert

Peter Krause of Die Welt found a lot to like about the February 14 Hamburg concert!

Perfektion in jedem Ton der fein schattierten Impression
Das NDR-Sinfonieorchester unter Paavo Järvi und die Violinistin Lisa Batiashvili begeisterten in der Musikhalle
von Peter Krause
Die Welt, 16. Februar 2005

Schwerelos glitten sie auf einem sanft schwingenden See über allerdünnstes Eis. Nur ein Hauch mehr an Vibrato oder Bogendruck - und die gläsern hochgespannte Fläche hätte in ihrem Bersten die in luxuriöser Differenzierung musizierenden Spieler des NDR Sinfonieorchesters unter sich begraben. Dank Paavo Järvi, dem Maestro aus Estland und Sohn des berühmten Dirigenten Neeme Järvi, war diese Gefahr am Montag gebannt.

Denn die irisierenden, gänsehautspendenden Klangspiele eines Debussy oder Ravel hat Järvi in der Musikhalle in jeder Nuance sensibel ausgehört, hat Schicht um Schicht der sphärischen Farbmusiken behutsam übereinander gelegt. Das war Impressionismus vom Feinsten und zudem vom Klügsten. Denn die Abkehr vom romantischen Sentiment und konkret ausgedrückten Gefühl verführt ja allzu leicht zu jener poetischen Verschleierung der Expression in verschwommen ungefähren Impressionen.

Am Ausgang des 19. Jahrhunderts drohte ein klangdichterischer Ästhetizismus musikalischer Auflösungssymptome: Tönende Nebelschwaden statt klingender Seelenlandschaften. Debussy und sein kongenialer Nachschöpfer Järvi wußten, daß es eben nicht reicht, die avancierte harmonische Basis des Tristan unendlich zu weiten, um in einem unbestimmten Wellenmeer geschmeidiger Reihungen und Rückungen oder fernöstlicher Skalen baden zu gehen. An die Stelle harmonischer Ankerplätze trat vielmehr das offene Changieren mit unendlichen Valeurs orchestraler Farbigkeit, die zum dominanten Parameter dieser Klangsprache mutierte. Debussys Préludes à l'après-midi d'un faune folgt Gestalten des von ihm bewunderten Symbolisten Stéphane Mallarmé. Subjekt des Poems ist jener verliebte Faun, der sich in nachmittäglicher Sommerhitze Flöte spielend manch wollüstigen Träumereien über zwei Nymphen hingibt. Wie geschmeidig stimmte die Flöte hier ihren lustvollen Gesang an, der einmal mehr auf Debussys späteres, entrücktes Flötensolostück Syrinx vorauswies. Wie wundervoll austariert und im Pianissimo abschattiert breitete das Orchester jenen mystisch verhangenen Streicherteppich schwirrender Atmosphären aus.

Eine nicht minder ausgefeilte Zauberkunst nächtlicher Lichtstimmungen entfaltete Järvi in den Trois Nocturne des Franzosen. Dem fast reglosen Himmelsflirren der Nuages folgt das furios entfesselte Hexenwerk dieser Klangstudie in Grau. Dem verführerischen Säuseln der todbringenden Wassernixen der finalen Sirènes liehen die Damen des NDR Chores mit schwebenden Vokalisen ihren Stimmen. Eine Spur ätherischer, ja körperloser hätten sie singen mögen, doch modellierte Järvi die magischen Klangströme elegant, modulationsreich, ja berückend schön.

In Ravels choreographisches Poem La Valse, zunächst geplant als Apotheose des Wiener Walzers und für Serge Diaghilews Ballets Russes komponiert, lugen wild wogende Walzerklänge immer frecher herein, bis sie sich überheblich ausbreiten und behaupten, um letztlich als taumelnder Tanz auf dem Vulkan in negativer Übersteigerung zu explodieren: 1919 konnte die Straußsche Walzerseeligkeit über politische Unruhen und Umbrüche kaum mehr hinwegtäuschen. Prokofjews erstes Violinkonzert war das rechte Bindeglied zwischen Debussy und Ravel: Der wie tonlos gehauchten Kantilene des Beginns steht im Scherzo eine grotesk überreizte Rhythmik gegenüber. Lisa Batiashvilis tollkühne, kühle Brillanz, ihre traumwandlerisch intonierten Doppelgriffe, ihr aberwitziges Temperament machten atemlos. Ein nur äußerlich zartbesaitetes Teufelsweib ritt mit göttlichem Stradivariton übers Eis, das mächtig bebte.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Paavo in Paris!


What could be a more appropriate setting for a concert than Paris, that most romantic of cities, during Valentine's Day week? Friday, February 18, finds Paavo in residence at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 15 Avenue Montaigne, 8me arrondissement, (Métro: Alma-Marceau/line 9 or Franklin D. Roosevelt/lines 1 and 9; Bus: lines 42 and 80, across from the Hotel Plaza Athenée at 25 Avenue Montaigne) with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

On this week's program: Martinu˚'s Symphony No. 2; Schumann's Cello Concerto (guest soloist: Truls Mørk); and Dvorˇák's Symphony No.7.

To buy tickets, click here.

According to the Radio France website, Virgin Classics will be recording a new CD with the same repertoire and performers for future release.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Järvis..."the Estonian Music Mafia"!

Just found. Better late than never!

And to quote Google's translation, Paavo says: "We [conductors] are not the navel of the world, not center of something. That is always a composer." :-))

"Das Publikum will innerlich beteiligt sein"
Paavo Järvi und das NDR-Sinfonieorchester

von Bettina Brinker
Hamburger Abendbltt, 28. Januar 2005

Hamburg - Für die Skandinavier sind sie scherzhaft die "estnische Musikmafia": die Järvis. Und wenn sie einmal zu einem großen Familientreffen zusammenkämen, dann könnten sie als komplettes Sinfonieorchester auftreten.

Das NDR-Sinfonieorchester allerdings machen die Järvis Mitte Februar nicht arbeitslos. Sie schicken nur einen aus ihrer weitverzweigten Musikerfamilie: Paavo Järvi, geboren 1962, kommt am 13. und 14. Februar nach Hamburg und dirigiert Ravels "La Valse" sowie von Debussy "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" und "Trois Nocturnes". Außerdem steht Prokofjews Violinkonzert mit der georgischen Geigerin Lisa Batiashvili auf dem Programm, die bereits mit zwei Jahren auf einer Geige übte und jetzt, mit ihren 26 Jahren, auf dem Geigenolymp mitspielt. Vor drei Jahren spielte sie sich mit demselben Orchester und Bartoks zweitem Violinkonzert in die Herzen der Hamburger. Warum kommt sie gerade mit Prokofjew? "Ich bin zwar Georgierin, aber ein bißchen habe auch ich diese russische Seele", sagt sie und bekennt, daß sie Oistrachs Prokofjew besonders liebt: "Er spielt ohne Make-up."

Wie Lisa Batiashvili wußte auch Paavo Järvi von klein auf, welchen Musikerweg er einschlagen würde. Eine bewußte Entscheidung allerdings hat er nie getroffen. "Man wird kein Dirigent", sagt er einmal in einem Interview, "andere Menschen machen einen dazu." Bis heute ist Paavo Järvi bescheiden geblieben. Im Mittelpunkt will er - auch wenn er das allabendlich im Konzert praktiziert - nicht stehen. "Für mich ist es wichtig, daß die Musik das Zentrum ist." Deswegen sieht er sich auch nicht als Star-Dirigent. "Wir sind nicht der Nabel der Welt, nicht Mittelpunkt von irgendwas. Das ist immer der Komponist."

Gern geht Paavo Järvi auf Entdeckungsreise und musiziert mit Orchestern rund um den Globus. "Der stärkste, vielleicht einzige Grund, warum ich überhaupt Musik mache, ist, weil Musik Menschen beschäftigt. Ich würde mich nicht mit Musik abgeben, wenn sie aus sich selbst heraus existieren würde. Erst, wenn man ein musikalisches und menschliches Mitgefühl entwickelt hat, kann Musik wahrhaftig geschehen." Wenn man mal hier mal da dirigiert, muß es natürlich eine gemeinsame Ebene geben. "Wenn dieser menschliche Funke fehlt, ist alles sehr grau, und so etwas macht mich sehr unglücklich. Man kann es immer spüren, wenn es so ist. Das Publikum kümmert sich nicht um Details, es will innerlich beteilig sein."

* 13. Februar, 11 Uhr und 14. Februar, 20 Uhr, Laeiszhalle/Musikhalle, Kartentelefon: 0180/178 79 80.

Hamburger Abendblatt Review, 14 February 2005

Even I could tell from my rather lame Google translation that this is a very good review. It sounds like La Valse was a major crowd-pleaser, too. I had a feeling it would be!

Die Fratze hinter der Walzerseligkeit
von Bettina Brinker
Hamburger Abendblatt, 14. Februar 2005

Hamburg - Eins, zwei, drei. Eins, zwei, drei . . . Alles dreht sich. Immer schneller und immer toller. Ob links oder rechts herum ist unwichtig. Denn egal in welcher Richtung man in diesem perfiden Walzer mittanzt, mit jedem Schritt gerät man näher an den Abgrund. Ravels "La Valse" ist keine augenzwinkernde Parodie auf die Walzerhochburg Wien, sondern eine doppelbödige Klangorgie ohne gemütliche Dreivierteltakt-Drehungen.

Als hedonistischen Totentanz inszenierte der estnische Dirigent Paavo Järvi Ravels "La Valse" in der Sonntags-Matinee des NDR Sinfonieorchesters. Wie aus der Ferne ließ er das gesamte Personal des Wiener Opernballs aufmarschieren, einschließlich seines Walzerkönigs Johann Strauß. Doch die Walzerseligkeit entwickelt sich immer mehr zum zwanghaften Taumel. Die Gesichter wirken verzerrt, niemand kann dem Sog der Musik entrinnen. Auch die Zuhörer nicht. Sie waren berauscht vom beißend-humoristischen Spiel der NDR-Musiker.

Schon vorher hatten sie gezeigt, wie bilderreich sie musizieren können. Wie ein Maler mit seinen Farben, so hantierten sie mit Debussys Tönen. Hell zerfließende und mild gestrichelte Klänge entlockten sie ihren Instrumenten und beschworen mythische Naturbilder: sowohl im "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune" als auch in den "Trois Nocturnes". Ein raffiniertes Spiel mit Licht, Luft und Farbe war das. Sinnliche Stimmungsbilder. Impressionistisch? Debussy hat sich gegen eine solche Einordnung gewehrt. Impressionen aber waren das allemal. Man denke ans Ende des ersten Nocturnes "Nuages", wo man zu sehen glaubt, wie sich der Himmel bewölkt. Oder an den Schluß von "Sirènes", wo die Zeit einfach stehenbleibt und der Hörer jeder Wirklichkeit entrückt wird.

Gelassen virtuos interpretierte die junge georgische Geigerin Lisa Batiashvili außerdem Prokofjews 1. Violinkonzert. Bezaubernd: ihr schöner, sensibler, manchmal auch fragil-brüchiger Ton (besonders zu Beginn des 1. Satzes). Hinreißend: Ihr ungebändigter Ausdruckswille, mit dem sie alle Nuancen und Stimmungen ihres Parts auslotete und ihre Geige auch mal zur Zigeunerfidel umfunktionierte. Verdiente Bravos für die meisterhafte Geigerin - und ihre hellhörigen Begleiter!

* Wiederholung: heute, 20 Uhr, Laeiszhalle, großer Saal, Kartentelefon: 0180/178 79 80

NDR-Sinfoniekonzert: Lübeck Article, 11. Februar 2005

Finally, a nice long article about the first concert of this mini-tour:

NDR-Sinfoniekonzert
Das NDR-Sinfonieorchester lädt am Freitag, 11. Februar, 19.30 Uhr, unter der Leitung von Paavo Järvi zum 5. Sinfoniekonzert in die Lübecker Musik- und Kongresshalle ein.

Bravo Paavo! - das Publikum in den Staaten ist elektrisiert, die Kritik begeistert. Paavo Järvi, ältester Sohn des großen estnischen Dirigenten Neeme Järvi, ist auf dem besten Wege in die Fußstapfen seines Vaters zu treten. Nach der Immigration 1980 zog es die kleine Dirigenten-Dynastie, der noch Bruder Kristjan angehört, in die USA, wo Neeme in Detroit das Orchester übernahm, Kristjan in New York das Avantgarde-Ensemble "Absolut" gründete und Paavo seit dem Herbst 2001 das Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra leitet. Der Bezug zur Heimat ist insbesondere in Paavo Järvis Schaffen allgegenwärtig. So arbeitet er seit der Perestrojka nicht nur regelmäßig mit dem Estnischen Nationalen Sinfonieorchester zusammen, sondern setzt sich auch mit großem Enthusiasmus für die Aufführung und Einspielung von Werken estnischer Komponisten ein: Arvo Pärts Sinfonien Nr. 1 bis 3 sind bei Virgin Classics und das Violin-Konzert des jungen Ausnahmekomponisten Erkki-Sven Tüür beim Münchner Label ECM erschienen. Viel Beachtung finden auch seine Sibelius-Bearbeitungen, dessen zweite Sinfonie er im Herbst 2002 in der MuK vorstellte. Trotz seiner nordischen Affinität verfolgt der "Gramophone Artist of the Year 2004" das Prinzip der Vielfalt.

Seine Herangehensweise an die Literatur sei stark von Bernstein geprägt, gestand Järvi in einem Interview mit dem Fachmagazin FonoForum. "Du musst die Stücke studieren, du musst die intellektuelle Kontrolle herstellen. Aber dann, wenn die Hausaufgaben gemacht sind, musst du dich ganz dem Gefühl überlassen", habe ihm Lenny mit auf den Weg gegeben. Und dieser Mut, "diese Bereitschaft, sich auch einmal über die Klippe fallen zu lassen", widerborstige Akzente zu setzen, drückt Järvis mitreißenden Stil den Stempel auf. Neben lustvoller Risikobereitschaft zeichnen eine sinnlich-warme und kraftvolle Klangkultur sowie aufs sorgfältigste erarbeitete Phrasierungen und motivische Gewebe seine Interpretationen aus. Kein Wunder, dass ihn der Mittlere Westen auf Händen trägt, führt Järvi hier doch die große Tradition der differenzierten europäischen Orchesterführung beim 1895 gegründeten Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in der Nachfolge von Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaye, Fritz Reiner und Michael Gielen weiter.

Von Allüren hingegen keine Spur bei dem 41-Jährigen, der zudem den Posten des künstlerischen Leiters der Kammerphilharmonie Bremen bekleidet. Es gebe keine Abkürzungen. Das Repertoire sei riesig und gute Dirigenten würden erst am Ende ihres Lebens zu großen Dirigenten, wenn sie immer freier agieren können.

In der MuK stehen an diesem Abend Werke der Avantgarde von Gestern auf dem Programm: Die sensitiven Klangträume des Franzosen Claude Debussy, "La Valse" seines Kollegen Maurice Ravel und Prokofjews erstes Violinkonzert.

Gespielt wird es von Lisa Batiasvili, die vor zwei Jahren im Rahmen des Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festivals mit dem Leonard Bernstein Award ausgezeichnet wurde. Internationales Aufsehen erregte die seit 10 Jahren in München ansässige Georgierin erstmals, als sie als jüngste Teilnehmerin 1995 den zweiten Preis beim Jean-Sibelius-Wettbewerb in Helsinki errang. Bereits ihre ersten Engagements – wie mit Mozarts Sinfonia Concertante unter Sir Colin Davis, ihre Debüts in Solo- und Orchesterkonzerten beim Ravinia-Festival mit Christoph Eschenbach und dem Chicago Symphony Orchestra oder in Japan mit dem Tokyo Symphony Orchestra – wurden von Publikum und Kritik gleichermaßen gefeiert. Ihr Debüt bei den BBC Proms mit dem BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra unter Osmo Vänskä wurde vom BBC Music Magazine zum Debüt des Jahres 2000 nominiert. Mit diesen Erfolgen begann ihre internationale Solo-Karriere und die Zusammenarbeit mit bedeutenden Dirigenten wie Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel und Christoph von Dohnányi. Zu ihren Partnern in der Kammermusik gehören u. a. Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Till Fellner, Alban Gerhardt, Steven Osborne und Milana Chernyavska.

Lisa Batiashvili ist in der renommierten BBC Konzertreihe "New Generation Artists" vertreten. In Verbindung mit dieser Reihe hat sie ihre erste CD bei EMI veröffentlicht: mit Musik von Brahms, Schubert und Bach. Den Ritterschlag erhielt die heute 26-Jährige von keinem Geringeren als Alfred Brendel, der im September 2001 in der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung über ihr Beethoven-Violinkonzert sagte "Jeder Ton sang und sprach; Phantasie und Kontrolle, Wärme und Überlegtheit, Strenge und Flexibilität hielten sich die Waage."

Damen des NDR Chor
Dirigent: Paavo Järvi
Solist: Lisa Batiashvili, Violine
Werke: Claude Debussy, Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune, Trois Nocturnes ; Sergej Prokofjew, Violinkonzert Nr. 1 D-dur op. 19 ; Maurice Ravel, La Valse
Freitag, 11. Februar, 19.30 Uhr MuK

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Berliner Zeitung Review, 7 February 2005

Husten und husten lassen
Paavo Järvi, Tanja Tetzlaff und das DSO spielten Bartók und Schostakowitsch
von Wolfgang Fuhrmann
Berliner Zeitung, 7 February 2005

Die Cellistin Tanja Tetzlaff muss Nerven wie Stahlseile haben. Während sie am Sonnabend das berückende Moderato aus Dimitri Schostakowitschs erstem Cellokonzert spielte, setzte das Publikum seine eigene interaktive Rauminstallation in Gang: Je inniger, zarter und verhaltener Tetzlaff spielte, desto schnaubender wurde geniest, desto explosiver gehustet, und dies im Großen Saal der Philharmonie mit ausgeklügelter Raumdramaturgie: mal vom Rang links, mal aus dem Parkett, und so weiter. Nach dem souverän bewältigten Finalsatz - so weit man von Souveränität sprechen kann in diesem Konzert, das den Solisten in den schnellen Sätzen in eine Art Musikvollzugsanstalt versetzt - hatte Tetzlaff auch noch die Größe, eine Bach-Zugabe zu spielen, voll tänzerischer Grazie.

Die außerordentliche Spannung, die sich in Schostakowitschs Konzert zwischen motorischer Unterwerfung und privater Aussprache hergestellt hatte, war auch das Verdienst des Dirigenten. Paavo Järvi, der Sohn des als Orchesterleiter berühmten Neeme Järvi, hat die Unerbittlichkeit und Atemlosigkeit vor allem des ersten Satzes mit dem Deutschen Symphonie-Orchester in solcher Präzision dargestellt, dass die musikalischen Charaktere wie mechanische Spielzeuge vorbeimarschierten. Auch für die Musik seines estnischen Landsmanns Erkki-Sven Tüür, dessen Stück "Zeitraum" zu Beginn am Sonnabend erklang, entwickelte Järvi einen kongenialen Ansatz: Alles wird rhythmisch scharf herausgemeißelt, Klangfarben liegen offen und rau zutage wie Bruchflächen. Der Titel "Zeitraum" (1992) suggeriert bereits, dass hier Musik auf ihre Fähigkeit befragt wird, einen phänomenalen Raum zu öffnen, zu weiten oder zu verengen: eine Dramaturgie voller Kontraste zwischen leise sich verknotenden Kanons der tiefen Streicher, grell-dissonanten Bläserakkorden und minimalistischen Moll-Aktionen. Wenn der klangfarblich vielfältig modulierte Endton wieder in den Ausgangston zurückzukehren scheint, entsteht der Eindruck, man sei um eine Skulptur herumgegangen und nun wieder am Ausgangspunkt angelangt.

Auch beim Schlussstück, Béla Bartóks Konzert für Orchester, machte Järvi eine bemerkenswerte Figur: Meist gelassen und mit seiner sparsamen Taktgebung fast technokratisch wirkend, kann er fließend zu einer suggestiv-modellierenden Zeichengebung übergehen. Wie er im zweiten Satz, dem "Giuoco delle coppie", im fliegenden Wechsel die paarweise fürbass schreitenden Bläser organisierte und andererseits die mutwilligen Einwürfe der Streicher animierte, das war eine kaum zu übertreffende Leistung dirigentischer Polyphonie.

Cracking the Secret Orchestral Codes

Daniel J. Wakin has yet another article worth reading, titled Cracking the Secret Orchestral Codes in the February 13, 2005 issue of The New York Times:

"From dress to choreographed movements and the courtly interplay between conductor and musicians, the classical music stage is rich in etiquette and sometimes hijinks that are not always obvious to the audience. Chronicling this tradition goes back to Hector Berlioz and his classic Evenings With an Orchestra, a collection of essays dissecting the world of 19th-century orchestras and musical culture.

"As a lifelong concertgoer - even a sometime orchestra member - I had been aware of many of these practices. But in five months on the classical music beat, I have come to be amazed at their breadth and intricacy. Such traditions figure in the argument by some that classical music's popularity suffers from stuffiness, although plenty of musicians and fans welcome their sense of timelessness and refinement.

" 'It's true, we do strange things,' said Eric Wyrick, the concertmaster of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and a wry commentator on the subject. 'Who knows why?'

"As concertmaster, Mr. Wyrick is in the thick of these rituals. With the orchestra seated, he comes out for a solo bow before the conductor. 'I don't know why I have one,' he said, 'but there it is.' The tradition may have its roots in the days before the invention of the modern conductor, when the first violinist or a keyboard player would lead the group.

"Before the concertmaster emerges, many American orchestra musicians are likely to straggle out, tune up and even practice that evening's parts. European orchestras tend to tune backstage and come out all together, as the London Symphony Orchestra did recently at Carnegie Hall. For some, the difference is striking. ' We in Europe think the American habit of sitting onstage for half an hour is abominable,' said Harold Clarkson, a former cellist who represents orchestras on tour. 'In Europe it always causes comment.'

"Onstage, the American concertmaster's nod to the principal oboist produces an A for the winds to tune to concert pitch, and another A for the strings. As Mr. Wyrick tells it, the conductor enters and shakes his hand. Sometimes they exchange half bows. 'It's a very antique way of greeting,' Mr. Wyrick said. 'It's theatrical, except that musicians are not very theatrical-minded, so it comes off as stiff.'

"Often a conductor signals for the orchestra to stand. Once, an imperious Russian conductor told Mr. Wyrick that the orchestra should rise on his entrance, a command that could rub proud musicians the wrong way. Mr. Wyrick said he defused the situation by saying, 'Maestro, we will stand up when you ask us to stand, because we want to follow you right away.'

"During performances, orchestra musicians have their own internal rules, too. Never turn around if someone makes a mistake. (New York Philharmonic musicians speak of one colleague who got into hot water for doing so.) Never turn a page if someone nearby has a solo. Signal praise with a slight shuffling of the feet. For a nearby string player who has a solo, a slight rubbing of the music with the edge of the bow does the trick.

" 'Musicians have incredible peripheral vision,' said Carl Schiebler, the personnel manager of the Philharmonic. 'They're looking at their music and watching every nuance of the conductor. Any kind of unusual motion on the stage is noticed immediately by everybody.' At the end of the concert, the orchestra takes its cue from the concertmaster about whether to rise again. Occasionally, when the orchestra feels particular warmth toward a conductor, it will show appreciation by declining to rise (again, at the concertmaster's cue).

" 'There's nothing that will make the conductor any happier,' said Mr. Arron, the Met violist. He paused and added, 'Other than a good review.'


"Mr. Wyrick said he has seen conductors steal bows by not asking the orchestra to rise and pretending to bask in their glow.

"Tradition also dictates that in certain pieces with major solos, the conductor will acknowledge individual players or sections by having them rise separately.

" 'Some conductors will actually go into the orchestra and individually shake hands,' said John Hagstrom, the second trumpeter of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 'Rostropovich is famous for kissing people,' he said of the bearlike Russian cellist-turned-conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. 'It's fun because he's Rostropovich. If some young conductor did that, you'd think he's nuts.'

Read the rest of this article here (requires registration).

Now, I really have to dig out my copy of Berlioz's Evenings With an Orchestra and finally read it!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

English Language Translation of the Berlin Concert with Mini-Explosion!

Many thanks go out to my good friend and translator extraordinaire, Werner Richter in Vienna for taking time out of his busy schedule to keep me happy with this entertaining English version of the Berliner Morgenpost's review of Paavo's concert of February 5. Werner, who is more frequently found translating works of literary fiction from English into German and who served as the longtime German translator for the well-known American author T. Coraghessan (T.C.) Boyle, clearly got a kick out of this review. As he wrote in his e-mail to me: "...I guess the journalists also have in mind the famous saying of Mr. Neven DuMont, another German tabloid czar, "Kultur ist, wenn Karajan der Kronleuchter auf den Kopf fällt" ("Culture, i.e. a cultural event worth writing up in our paper, is when Karajan gets the [concert hall] chandelier dropped down on his head.").

Paavo Jervis Concert with Miniature Explosion
Berliner Morgenpost, 2/7/05


"They sure have crazy ideas, those modern composers. Like, right after the brass section start their tooting their horns and the whole orchestra clashes and crashes, and right in the middle of a polyphonic string canon, they even arrange for a little explosion. However, the bang had not at all been planned for by Erkki-Sven Tüür for his orchestral composition Zeitraum (1992).

"What happened was that one of the rostrum lights blew its bulb and shed some dust downwards. Paavo Jervi only once scowled up at the little cloud of smoke on the concert hall ceiling and immediately found his way back into the once harshly colliding instrumental clusters, then softly gliding moods of this remarkable piece of music.

"The German Symphony Orchestra with him [was] disciplined and conformistic. Although this explicitly uncomfortable concert programme was probably meant as a deliberate contrast to that Saturday afternoon’s carnival atmosphere. The ear-blasting piece by Tüür complete with illumination bang was followed by Dmitriy Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto in E-flat. Tanja Tetzlaff meandered nonchalantly through the rather mechanistic first movement with a sonorous, drawn-out expressivo. Next was a series of delicate and radiant lyrisms, instantaneously changing over into the third movement that was treated as a solo cadenza losing itself in extensive, fine cello meditations. For the sparkling muscularity of the final movement, La Tetzlaff once more pulled all the strings, as it were – and her strings have quite a spectrum. Even after the intermission, Paavo Jervi never ceased to put his spell on the audience, serving Bela Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra as an impressive freestyle sample.

"Suddenly, 'Oboist Wanted' Signs Are Everywhere"

PJ was quoted in an article titled Suddenly, 'Oboist Wanted' Signs Are Everywhere by Daniel J. Wakin in the February 12, 2005 issue of The New York Times.

"Where have all the oboes gone?

"More precisely, where have the principal oboists in the nation's leading symphony orchestras gone?

"The job - a critical one in any orchestra - is open, or about to be, at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the San Diego Symphony.

"...The lack of a permanent, full-time principal may not be readily obvious to the concertgoer, accustomed to hearing the orchestra tune to the oboist's pitch, a plaintive A. But the instrument has some of the most prominent solo material in symphonic music....

"...Over the long term, musicians say, the void can affect an orchestra's sound, internal culture and morale.

"Changing any principal position can be subtly disruptive in an organism whose artistic expression depends on years of playing together. Personalities and musical profiles must mesh. The oboist is particularly important, and is often seen as the pre-eminent woodwind voice (though clarinetists and flutists may dispute that judgment).

" 'They are the principal fiddle of the wind section,' said Paavo Jarvi, the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. 'There is a musical and moral authority that comes with the position.' The principal oboist is often seen as 'the second concertmaster of the orchestra,' he said.

"The prominence of the oboe, one of the earliest winds to join the orchestra, stems from tradition, the role of the principal player and the vividness and intensity of the instrument's sound.

"...Delaying the appointment of principal oboists also delays the learning curve.

" 'Being a solo oboe player, you are basically playing a concerto every night,' Mr. Jarvi said. 'A new person will have an incredibly difficult 10 years in front of them, because everything is new, everything is exposed. You have to have nerves of steel.'

"Given the pressure, it is remarkable that many principal oboists stay around for several decades.

"...Richard Johnson, the Cincinnati Symphony's principal for 30 years, has been out most of this season with health problems, and he plans to take over the vacant second oboist job and its relatively lower level of pressure next season, Mr. Jarvi said."

Read the entire article on doublereeds' blog here.

Well, At Least They Spelled His Name Right!

On the eve of his concert in Kiel, here's an interview with the "Finnish" conductor, Paavo Järvi(!). ROTFL!

Interview mit dem finnischen Dirigenten Paavo Järvi
Von Marcus Stäbler
Kieler Nachrichten vom 12.02.2005

Paavo Järvi gehört zu den spannendsten und gefragtesten Orchesterleitern seiner Generation: Der 1962 in Tallinn gebürtige Wahl-Amerikaner – Sohn des Dirigenten Neeme Järvi – hat schon bei nahezu allen bedeutenden Orchestern zwischen Berlin, New York, Tokyo und Sydney am Pult gestanden und ist seit 2001 Music Director des Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Mit dem NDR-Sinfonieorchester gastiert er heute Abend im Kieler Schloss. KN-Mitarbeiter Marcus Stäbler traf ihn bei den Proben zum Gespräch über französischen Klang und dirigentische Strategien.

Auf dem Programm ihres Konzerts stehen zwei Werke von Debussy und Ravels La Valse – Sie haben wohl ein besonderes Faible für das französische Repertoire?

Ja, das stimmt, ich mag die französische Musik besonders. Vielleicht gerade deshalb, weil sie für mich nicht selbstverständlich ist – in Estland bin ich ja vor allem mit deutschem, russischen und ein bisschen skandinavischem Repertoire aufgewachsen. Als ich die französische Musik so mit 18 Jahren entdeckte, hat es mir Ohren und Augen geöffnet. Ich war fasziniert, welche Effekte man mit verschiedenen Methoden erreichen kann. Es zwingt einen mit einem ganz anderen Teil des Gehirns zu denken – nicht mit dem Brahms-Teil, zum Beispiel (lacht).

Was tun Sie, um dieses sehr spezielle Klangbild zu erzeugen?

Es geschieht natürlich nicht von selbst, das NDR hat schließlich eine sehr deutsche Tradition und Klangkultur. Aber die Musiker machen es sehr gut. Der französische Sound hat zum Beispiel viel mit der Frage zu tun, wie man das Vibrato einsetzt. Wenn etwa die Streicher nur wenig Vibrato benutzen und dabei mit viel Bogen, aber gleichzeitig sehr wenig Druck spielen, entsteht ein sehr anderer, sehr viel luftigerer Klang. Das ist so der Anfang. Der andere Aspekt ist, das Orchester dazu zu bewegen, sich mit der Musik zu identifizieren, so dass alle kollektiv an den Komponisten glauben – für eine überzeugende Aufführung reicht es eben nicht, einfach nur die Noten zu beherrschen.

Und abgesehen vom Klang – was macht den Dirigenten Paavo Järvi aus?

Tja, schwer zu sagen. Das ist so ein "process in progress". Ich denke, je älter ich werde, desto mehr traue ich der nonverbalen Kommunikation. Ich finde entscheidend, dass es einen Draht zwischen Dirigent und Orchester gibt, der während des Musikmachens flexibel bleibt. Wenn man bei den Proben ständig abbricht und immer wieder erklärt, ist ja die Gefahr, dass es bei der Aufführung keine echte Wechselwirkung mehr gibt, weil man sich über bestimmte Sachen schon geeinigt hat. Damit gibt es aber keine Spontaneität mehr. Für mich ist es wichtig,, dass es einen echten Kontakt gibt, es reicht nicht, dass sie hingucken, sondern es muss eine echte Kommunikation da sein. Wenn das klappt, dann kann man etwas erschaffen, was in dem Moment lebendig ist.

Konzert heute Abend um 20 Uhr im Kieler Schloss

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Found: The Source of that Berlin "mini-explosion"!

Paavo Järvi Wins Over DSO Musicians (If Not Its Audience)
By Paul Moor
MusicalAmerica.com
February 8, 2005

BERLIN - When I went backstage at the Philharmonie to meet friends after Paavo Järvi's Feb. 5 appearance as guest conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, I happened upon a situation that seemed without precedent in all my decades of concert-going: A surprising number of the case-hardened musicians who compose this orchestra, thoroughly accustomed to playing under the batons of some of the finest conductors extant, stood waiting in an orderly German line to shake Järvi's hand, congratulate him, and thank him for the rare musical experience they had just had the good fortune to share.

At 43, Paavo Järvi -- son of Neeme, elder brother of Kristjan, also an up-and-comer -- has two distinguished orchestras of his own: the Cincinnati Symphony and Bremen's Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. As guest conductor, he also has appearances behind him with the major orchestras of Europe and the U.S. He also works regularly with Claudio Abbado's Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the European Union Youth Orchestra, and Moscow's Russian-American Youth Orchestra. Those credentials abundantly confirm Paavo Järvi's status as no longer a comer, but as a conductor who has definitely arrived. With Berlin's DSO he had already made his debut appearance five years ago this past December.

Trained at The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Philharmonic Institute in Los Angeles but born in Estonia, Paavo has acted as an enthusiastic propagandist for living Estonian composers (e.g., Arvo Pärt, for years now a Berliner by choice), and one such work, with debatable prudence, opened this concert: Zeitraum, by Erkki-Sven Tüür, who himself gave it that invented German title meaning "Time-Space." If that terminology evokes post-Einstein "new physics" and science fiction, Tüür may have hit upon le mot juste. After that things proceeded more conventionally, with the first Shostakovich Cello Concerto and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra.

Only four days previously, that admirable London newspaper "The Guardian" had published a thoughtful book review by Martin Kettle (of the Oxford University Press's "Roots of the Classical: the Popular Origins of Western Music," by the South African musicologist Peter van der Merwe) that repeatedly came to mind during the Tüür opener. I find this excerpt, from the lead passage of Kettle's review, appropriate enough to justify quoting:

"When did the music die? And why? It will be 30 years in August since the death of Dmitri Shostakovich.... [W]hat is the most recently composed piece of classical music to have achieved a genuinely established place in the repertoire? I mean a piece that you can count on hearing in most major cities most years, and a performance of which is likely to bring in a large general audience. Shostakovich's first cello concerto, written in 1959, perhaps? Even that is stretching a point. A more truthful answer might be Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, composed 56 years ago in 1948...." (Read Kettle's complete article.)

Conventionally enough for the present day, "Time-Space" dispensed with two of all music's four fundamental components -- melody and harmony -- and not what we heard but only Järvi's implacable beat (approximately 60 to the minute, with no perceptible deviation) provided even a smidgin of rhythmic sense. Tone color, on the other hand, did abound. A high point of some sort came when the audience sat up short at what sounded exactly like a pistol shot. That recalled one of the pieces the young and still frisky Paul Hindemith simply called Kammermusik (Chamber Music), in which he ended one movement with a galvanizing pistol shot. Opening my thoughtfully closed eyes, I discovered that Tüür had in fact not copycatted Hindemith; one of the Philharmonie's lightbulbs had simply exploded (critically?), showering some of the hapless musicians with splinters - but not in the least fazing Järvi.

Tanja Tetzlaff, looking almost frail in crimson pants and a sleeveless black jumper, laced fearlessly into that technically demanding Shostakovich concerto, and got such an ovation for her energetic performance that after a few returns to the stage, she sat back down and favored us with a sensitively played movement from one of the Bach Suites. The Bartók afforded this fine orchestra's various instrumental choirs a rich opportunity to show off their prowess to the fullest, and at the end Järvi properly deflected the protracted ovation toward the orchestra, which had just played out its collective heart for him.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Música do Báltico

From Portugal (or perhaps, Brazil) comes João Oliveira Santos' blog O ouvido pensante and this posting about Baltic Music from October 14, 2004:

"O Ouvido já aqui falou de um maestro natural da Estónia (Paavo Järvi). Hoje vai referenciar três compositores (Arvo Pärt ficará para um outro post) que, conjuntamente com (outros) dois (o dinamarquês Per Norgard e o russo Alfred Schnittke), compõem o naipe constante do disco Baltic voices II, music from Estonia, Denmark, & Russia (Harmonia Mundi HMU 907331), interpretado por Paul Hillier e o Coro (de câmara) da Orquestra Filarmónica da Estónia (produção de Rabina G. Young e de Brad Michel, gravação do último e de Everett Porter).

"Urmas Sisak, nasceu em Rapla, em Setembro de 1960, graduou-se na Escola (secundária) de Música de Tallinn, em 1980, e no conservatório da mesma cidade, em 1985, na classe de composição de René Eespere. É um verdadeiro apaixonado pela composição, pela astronomia (a música das esferas?) e por uma pequena localidade chamada Jäneda, onde, na torre do velho castelo, tem o seu observatório (cf. as suas composições Starry sky cycle ou Tähistaeva tsükkel, para piano, de 1987; Pleiads ou Plejaadid, igualmente para piano, de 1989; Milky way ou Linnutee galaktika, para dois pianos, de 1990; e Andromeda ou Andromeda galaktika, para piano ou oito mãos, de 1991). Outros vectores da sua composição são a música sacra (cf. as vinte e quatro canções de 1998, designadas, genericamente, de Gloria Patri, das quais cinco constam do referido disco) e a música coral.

"Por seu lado, Toivo Tulev, nasceu em Tallinn, a 18 de Julho de 1958, estudou (1976-1980) na (sétima) escola secundária da localidade, e, depois, na Escola Superior de Música G. Ots (Anti Marguste foi o seu professor de teoria e composição). De 1981 a 1988 trabalhou como coralista no Coro (de câmara) da Orquestra Filarmónica da Estónia, cantando, igualmente, em vários grupos (vocais), tais como o Vox clamantis, o Coro (gregoriano) de Paris, etc. (foi, em 1995, o fundador do Scandicus ensemble). Em 1990 graduou-se em composição (com o professor Eino Tamberg) no Conservatório de Tallinn, prosseguindo, no ano seguinte, os estudos na Escola Superior de Música de Estocolmo com o professor Sven David Sandström, e electro-acústica na Escola Superior de Música de Colónia, para, em 1995-1998 se doutorar pela Academia de Música da Estónia. Neste disco está integrada a sua composição And then in silence there with me be only you.

"Finalmente, Galina Grigorjeva, nasceu em 1962, estudou na Escola de Música de Simferopol e no Conservatório de Odessa, graduando-se no de São Petesburgo sob a direcção do professor Juri Falik. É casada com um natural da Estónia, continuando a aprofundar os seus estudos na Academia de Música (da Estónia) com o professor Lepo Sumera. A composição apresentada chama-se On leaving..."

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