Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Stenhammar's "Tirfing" to be played in Malmö

Malmö Opera in the south of Sweden had planned to play Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar's wagneresque opera "Tirfing" this season. But, due to hard economic problems, the theatre instead decided to play the musical "Singing in the rain", a huge hit in Stockholm.

But... a close source to Classicalify now confirms "Tirfing" will be played next season, 2011-2012. As the source is also going to sing one of the roles, Calssicalify judge the roumor as true.

About Stenhammar on Wikipedia:

Stenhammar was born in Stockholm, where he received his first musical education. He then went to Berlin to further his studies in music. He became a glowing admirer of German music, particularly that of Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. Stenhammar himself described the style of his First Symphony in F major as "idyllic Bruckner". He subsequently sought to emancipate himself and write in a more "Nordic" style, looking to Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius for guidance. The latter's Symphony No. 2, especially, had a great effect on him, leading him to change his style and refuse to refer to his First Symphony as anything but a trivial piece.
From 1906 to 1922 he was Artistic Director and chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, the first full-time professional orchestra in Sweden. In this capacity, he organized many performances of music by contemporary Scandinavian composers. Briefly, in 1909, he held the position of director of music at Uppsala University, where he was succeeded in the following year by Hugo Alfvén.
Wilhelm Stenhammar died of a stroke at 56 years of age in Jonsered in the historic province of Västergötland. He is buried in Gothenburg.

Gustav Mahler Symphony Nr 9.

Gustav Mahler Symphony Nr 9
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Claudio Abbado

Gustav Mahler is inescapable in this, the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Next year is the anniversary of his death and more Mahler to come. I doubt if either year will produce a performance like the one Classicalify heard recently with Abbado and his hand-picked festival orchestra. The first movement is notable for crises. Abbado mantained a steady stream in the great build-ups and expertly avoided losing momentum. The second movement was held within a regular pulse and with fierce accents. Producing sophisticated and coarse sounds.

In the third Abbado highlighted the contrast between earthly parody and the glimpses of heaven provided by the solo trumpet, and brought the movement to thrilling conclusion.

The last movement was played with richness and transparancy. The lush passages was filled with a powerfull brass-section. As the violins slowly winded down towards the end I had tears running down my face and could hear my own heartbeats. As the final note was whispered with such feeling and tendernes there was a silence in the audience I have never experienced before.

It was total silence for three minutes and then the applause started. It was twenty minutes of standing ovation. An amazing evening.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Swedish gay actor to play Maria Callas

Classicalify came upon this information about a new play in Stockholm, Sweden, of the life of La Divina - Maria Callas. The Swedish gay actor Rikard Wolff is to play Maria and opening night is on December 11, at the Stadsteatern in Stockholm.

Here is the information in Swedish given on the theater's internetpage:

Sen kväll i Paris. Åren har gått, rösten är borta, Onassis har gift sig med Jackie.En gång var hon en tjock oälskad flicka i Brooklyn.Det var innan hon skapade sin röst och sin nya kropp och blev gudinnan Callas. Vem var det?Och vem är hon nu?En människa utan röst.Men med en vacker vit kappa från Biki.

Av: Lucas Svensson
Regi och ljus: Linus Fellbom
Scenografi: Lars Östbergh
Kostym: Camilla Thulin
Mask: Kjerstin Elg
Ljud: Terese Johansson

Tickets are on sale and the show is played until the end of January 2011.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Lucerne Festival. Lieder Recital 1

Lieder Recital 1
Thomas Quasthoff baryton
Helene Grimaud piano
Robert Schumann: Dichterliebe
Johannes Brahms: Nine lieder and songs and Opus 94:Five songs.
Thomas Quasthoff is the best lieder singer of our time.
He is one of many singers who keeps the tradition of lieder alive. Yesterday at the first lieder concert of the Lucerne Festival he showed just beautiful lieder singing is.
At the piano was Helene Grimaud who has now slowly returned to the concert stage after
a long absence due to illnes. The first act contained lieder by Schumann. The famous Dichterliebe (Poems of love). A series of songs from Schumanns favorite poet Heinrich Heine.
Quasthoff sang with such beauty and longing that time and space doesn't excist.
Grimaud how ever seemed not to have warmed up before the concert.
She didn't play the wrong notes, she didn't reflect what Quasthoff was singing.
Brahms was followed after the interval. Nine lieder and songs. Quasthoff opened the second act by saying "that he and Grimaud felt the concert was a little short" so they desided to perform five songs more by Brahms which we audience didn't object to. This time Grimaud sounded much better. Why does she always play better after a interval or on a second concert??.
Quasthoff spoke to us again before the encore. He joked about the microphone not working.
"-Hallo,We have a small technical problem". He desided to speak whitout. He informed us not to cough and that the KKL staff would be collecting money for the catastrophe in Pakistan. Classicalify of course made a donation. Quasthoff and Grimaud did too.
A standing ovation was given to Quasthoff after the concert.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lucerne Festival. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Andris Nelsons
Percussion Martin Grubinger
Richard Wagner: Prelude from Lohengrin
Avner Dorman: Frozen in Time. Concerto for percussion and orchestra.
Tchaikovsky: Symphony nr 6

The Lucerne Festival is a world stage and all the best orchestras in the world are here.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is one.
A very good orchestra with great sound and colour.

They looked very relaxed and controlled apart from the conductor Andris Nelsons who realy was high on emotions.

The concert opened with the prelude from Wagners Lohengrin which Nelsons has conducted at this years Bayreuth Festival.
This was followed by Dormans Frozen in Time with soloist Martin Grubinger.
This is the first time I ever heard a piece by Donmar.

It was amazing. The title helps to describe it.

Images of snow and ice comes to mind and the sound of composers such as Stravinsky and Mozart is there. Martin Grubinger realy is an electric performer who realy knows how to thrill his audience.

He can play 1,400 beats a minute. This piece is composed for Grubinger and I can't imagine anyone else performing it. He performed a solo drum for encore. Balancing a drumstick on his arm. If you ever get the chance to see him live. Do it.
The concert ended with Tchaikovskys symphony nr 6. A standard piece performed often.

But hearing it with this orchestra was hearing for the first time. Nelsons of course showed colours of emotions in his body to the orchestra. For me it was a bit over the top but the orchestra toned the emotions down. That made it a breathtaking performance.

This symphony is not like the fifth which ends in truimph. The sixth ends in sadnes.
A lost love perhaps of the composer. The orchestra ended the evening with an encore. Intermezzo from Puccinis Manon Lescaut.

Lucerne Festival. Summer 2010

Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Claudio Abbado

Peter Mattei Don Fernando
Falk Struckmann Don Pizzaro
Jonas Kaufmann Florestan
Nina Stemme Leonora
Rachel Harnisch Marzelline
Christoph Fischesser Rocco
Christop Strehl Jaquino

Directed by Tatjana Gürbaca
Stage design by Stefan Heyne
Light design by Reinhard Traub

Fidelio is a good opera and Beethoven is my favorite composer. To hear this amazing cast of singers and Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado is a dream come true. Claudio Abbado has conducted this opera before and he is realy a master of music and when he is conducting his own Mahler Chamber Orchestra you realy are in heaven.
Nina Stemme makes her debut at the Lucerne Festival with an amazing performance as Leonora. She is also a wonderful actress and this combined with her beautiful voice is just wonderful. And in the part of her husband is none other than Jonas Kaufmann. A glorius tenor with a voice that is very dramatic and powerful. A must have for fans of Jonas Kaufmann is a recording from Decca with german arias together with Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado.
As you can tell by the picture above it was a very dark stage and all the performers were dressed in black. Army uniforms lying on the stage as a pile of laundry.
Above the stage a large white globe used for projection of images.
The problem with this concert version is not the performers it's the set design and the stage direction. It would have been much better if it would have been a concert performance with the singers standing next to each other and not a mile away. The singers should have been given more time with the stage direction. But in the end I ask myself how many times do you get to see singers like this again? Not very often. Even though Peter Mattei appears in the finale he has enough time to show the audience in Lucerne how amazing he is. So in the end it's the performers I will remember from this concert version of Fidelio.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Lettere amorose in Edinburgh

Magdalena Kozena *****
Queen's Hall *****

Classicalify took the train to Edinburgh and went to beautiful Queen's Hall early in the morning. During the fabulous Edinburgh Festival, Queen's Hall are giving morning recitals with the world's leading singers. This time it was superstar and mezzosoprano Magdalena Kozena and Private Musicke with a program called "Love letters" or "Lettere amorose", madrigals from Spain and Italy. And we must say it was well worth the trip. More than actually!
The CD will be released in September-October.

What a delight it was, and Kozena once again showed us that she is one of the best singers in the world. Classicalify wonders though, how the f*** can you be in such good voice at 11 o'clock in the morning...?

Here is the link to if you like to pre-order the new CD. Classicalify of course bought it on the venue and got it signed from Kozena herself!

If you want to hear the Edinburgh concert, BBC3 will broadcast it on August 25.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Jonas Kaufmann gets real

Kaufmann lovers, look this way. Come this september opera's tenor du jour releases his next cd. A quite delectable disc of verismo arias conducted by Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Classicalify is most of all looking forward to the final duet from Andrea Chenier with our favorite Eva Maria Westbroek. Bring the bite!

For more visit Decca's campaign site for Jonas's new album.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Opera Holand Park, London

If you, like some of us on Classicalify do, spend time in London during the summer, why not try out Opera Holland Park? This festival is one of the most distinguished festivals during the summer in the capital. Holland Park offers traditional operas for the common man and also more interesting works for afficionados like Classicalify and friends. Be prepared though to a somewhat "downscaled Glyndebourne" as a friend said... But, skip the picnic, hampers and well-to-do people and go for opera. Because in Holland Park you can see works like Zandonai's "Francesca da Rimini", Montemezzi's "L'amore dei tre Re", Mascagni's "L'amico Fritz" and "La Wally" by Catalani... Every year they put on 5-7 different works and at least two are NOT the usual ones.

This year Classicalify went to "Francesca da Rimini" (Pictured: Jeffrey Black as Gianciotto) and Verdi's "La Forza del destino". Both productions very good, even though La Forza tend to be too long...

Well, next year we will be more than happy to see "L'amico Fritz" and "La Wally". Why don't you join Classicalify for a drink and some music in Holland Park?
Find out more on:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Netrebko goes heavy

Classicalify is hearing some pretty loud and consistent rumours about Netrebko moving into heavier territory. For now let's just commit two of these rumours to the everlasting digital memory of the world wide web.

As part of the celebration of Verdi's birth in 1813, Anna Netrebko will debut her Trovatore Leonora in 2013 under the baton of Barenboim at the Berliner Staatsoper. We at classicalify think this will be a move in the right direction for the russian diva. Even better would it have been with a more sympathetic Verdi conductor.

Also in 2013 Netrebko will debut her Puccini Manon Lescaut in Munich, partnered by the dashing and "what would we do in these dire tenor times without" Jonas Kaufmann. The latter will fare well in this verismo power house, but dear Anna, is this really your path into the future? Manon Lescaut is a heavy sing, with a killer last act that demands some real spinto power. Still, who are we to complain. In any case it will sound good on the dvd.

Also for our Russian readers, alas, Netrebko has apparently withdrawn from the Mariinsky Anna Bolena. That means that our lovely songbird will go to her first scaffold, cursing the regal bastard couple, in the starrily cast Viennese Bolena.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Stockholm Pride Concert

Classicalify went to the beautiful Sofia Church in Stockholm last Friday for the "Klassisk Pridekonsert" and was more than happy.

The concert started with some music by Bach - the best of it being "Agnus Dei" sung by the tall, slender alto Susanna Sundberg. The mezzo Hélène Kimblad gave a powerful "Che faro senza Euridice" by Gluck and the part before the interval ended with a tall, boyishlooking baryton, Mattias Elverljung, who sang "Ombra mai fu" from Handel's opera "Xerxes". Classicalify guess he stepped in on short notice... his singing was not to Classicalify's liking. No time to rehears maybe?

After a short interval we had some more Handel, first two parts from "Messiah". Once again Susanna Sundberg gave an impressive performance ("Oh thou tellest...) and she was followed by Linus Flogell, baryton, who sang "Why do the nations..." very powerful.
Beatrice Orler continued with "Dopo notte" from Handel's "Ariodante". Goodlooking young girl with a nice mezzo voice.

The concert ended with the horrifying scene between La Zia Principessa and Sour Angelica, from Puccini's "Sour Angelica". Hélène Kimblad was a scaring Principessa and her power over Sour Angelica, Mira Pyne, could be felt in the air. Mira ended with Sour Angelica's "Senza mamma". Both singers were dressed up and acted in the church. Angelica's kneeling in front of the altar was follow by La Principessa's entrance from the side, cane and all... Very impressive!

The young ensemble played well under the baton of Jacob Laustsen. The different pieces were introduced carfully and dignified by Stockholm Gay Operalover's leading guy, Roger Wallén.