Saturday, December 3, 2016
Our weekly bulletin from Anthea Kreston of the award-winning Artemis Quartet: We have had a week of illness – first me, then our first violinist was ordered to stay in bed for the week) and now our violist (standing next to me, waiting for security at the airport). Most immediate family members are down as well. A week of cancelled rehearsals buttress the Echo Awards (European Grammys) and performances. A member falls into a desperate, heavy sleep during intermission of our concert, to be gently shaken awake for the second half of the program. The last to fall (or not to fall) is our cellist, who has surrounded himself with ginger tea. In the thick of all this – a behind-the-scene look at the glamorous and magical Echo Awards – from my first red carpet walk to rubbing elbows with classical music’s elite. Pre-show, abundant emails and detail-checking set my expectations high – this was going to be a spectacle – visually, musically, and star-studded. Because of security, we were asked to arrive first one hour, then an hour and a half early, with official identification. A car was sent to my apartment 2 hours before we were to be seated, and my sister, visiting from Berkeley, accompanied me as my plus-one. She came prepared – floor-length black gown with jewelled turquoise straps crisscrossing the just-appropriately low back of the dress. I wore my latest dress – a purple straight lined floor-length dress, covered in teeny glittering beads, and a diamond cut-out in the back. As we giggled in the back of the car, wondering out loud if we were going to have an “entrance” from the car, we rounded the corner to see a magnificently lit Konzerthaus at the Gendarmenmarkt. As we approached the drop-off, we quickly realized that a push of reporters was indeed filming and taking pictures as people were helped from the car. We removed our coats – my sister held mine as I exited the car, doing my best to mimic those countless videos we have all seen of the glamorous limo exits. Red carpet spanned the Lincoln-memorial-sized stairs, and snaked its way through the press photo-tent, television interview area, and along throngs (can this even be possible) of die-hard classical music fans, waiting to glimpse their favorite classical music star. As we exited security, we were ushered aside by our ever-fabulous Publicist, Maren Borchers of “For Artists”. In a straight black woolen coat, cut at an angle, a purple feathered boa, and an ear piece connected to on-and back-stage, she orchestrated her artists, first sending one and then another ahead to the carpet. She sometimes repeated a snippet here or there “lost wardrobe, trouble with moving camera above stage, drink areas ready to go…..”. As all four Artemis arrived, their plus-ones gathered as well, and were ushered around to a side carpet, to reconvene with us later. First we strolled to the photo area, where a blizzard of flashes came from the wall of photographers – first one, then the other grabbed our attention, calling for us to look their way next. Then, to the corner where the TV reporter asked specific questions as to our award and repertoire represented on the CD. It is at this point that I must say that this award belongs not even a hair to me – this was an award for a glorious cd of Brahms released by the Artemis. It belongs to Vineta, Gregor, Friedemann and Eckart. Nonetheless, they included me in these festivities, toasting to the next Echo – for the four of us. As we entered the already-packed building, in which the rectangular hall is surrounded by wide, marble hallways, we were greeted by musicians, managers, record companies, and a seemingly endless line of crisply-dressed wait-staff, holding everything from molecular-gastronomy smoking test-tubes filled with neon-green delicious substances to traditional hearty German food, albeit in amuse-bouche form. Also making the rounds was an updated form of the cigarette girl – with the same tray and neck-ribbon, but in her tray, a dizzying array of top-tier chocolates. Oh my. I took three. As quartet fanned out, each person looking for any number of people with whom Quartet has had business, is in negotiation for business, or wishes to begin a new venture, I again saw these people in their finest – able to talk with anyone on any subject – charming, succinct, creative. I met our manager, the inimitable Sonia Simmenauer, our photo-makeup artist, a reporter in the midst of writing a large article about the quartet. We were ushered into the hall – a large rectangle with velvet chairs, and a full two balconies. I felt like I was in one of those period books – looking around at those in the boxes, trying to recognize the stars. The ceiling was covered in many large, matching chandeliers, camera people roamed the aisles, and a large camera on a pulley spanned the entire hall. We were seated close to the front, where winners were placed to facilitate easy access to the stage. The moderator, Thomas Gottschalk, (their version of Letterman) was charming and witty as he lead us through the basics – allowing us three different dynamics of clapping, and even singling out specific audience members with a funny comment here or there. The next three hours were filled with dazzling performances (unfortunately Jonas Kaufmann – be still my fluttering heart – was unable to sing due to recent health issues – but he spoke and I got to see his dimple from a distance of inches!), from vocal to instrumental to orchestral. I had never heard Philippe Jaroussky before, and I was floored by his rendition of Handel. After his performance, my sister and I turned to each other and said “what the **** was that” – we were without words. Guest speakers from Cold Play’s Chris Martin to author Donna Leon rounded out the show. As we were called to the stage, each of us immediately assuming a larger-than-life persona, I was again struck by the strength of this group. Through thick and thin, they rise and meet the day with hand outstretched, ready to tackle any problem and grateful for the support given them. My sister and I returned home, heads to pillows around 2 am. The after party, with its amazing array of foods and drinks, was like being in a Top Chef episode. A full 11 hour extravaganza – and I couldn’t for the life of me get a wink of sleep.
Jaroussky/Freiburger Barockorchester (Erato)This is the first all-German disc from the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, and about time too: two of JS Bach’s most glorious cantatas find him at his vibrant best. The five movements of Bach’s Vernügte Ruh trace a compelling journey from contentment through agitation to resolution, all the while showcasing Jaroussky’s bright, fluid tone; the few notes where the music dips lower than his comfort zone are all on words for which a rasp of aggression is entirely apt. In the title aria of Ich habe genug he is matched nuance for nuance by Ann-Kathrin Brüggemann’s mellow oboe d’amore, and there follows a performance of Schlummert ein that rivals that of David Daniels for gorgeousness. He’s equally persuasive in two cantatas by Telemann. Though less consistently compelling musically than the Bach, these are still rewarding, and they come alive in the Freiburg Barockorchester’s dramatically aware playing. Continue reading...
The complete awards, presented last night: Female singer of the year: Anna Netrebko Male singer of the year: Philippe Jaroussky Instrumentalist (clarinet): Martin Fröst Instrumentalist (cello): Sol Gabetta Instrumentalist (piano): Grigory Sokolov Instrumentalist (flute): Stefan Temmingh Instrumentalist (violin): Pinchas Zukerman Conductor of the Year: Antonio Pappano Ensemble: Berliner Philharmoniker Bestseller of the Year: Jonas Kaufmann
Muziektheater, Amsterdam Despite excellent performances from the leads Philippe Jaroussky and Davone Tines, Peter Sellars’ staging of Kaija Saariaho’s opera is inert and undramaticThe Dutch National Opera has marked its 50th anniversary with a new annual festival. As the name indicates, Opera Forward is very much concerned with the future; it features up-and-coming performers, directors and designers, and there are new operas too. Michel van der Aa’s Blank Out, reviewed yesterday, was one of two works premiered this year, while the other was the latest stage work from Kaija Saariaho, Only the Sound Remains.Requiring two solo singers, a dancer and a digitally enhanced ensemble of seven instrumentalists and four further singers, it is an adaptation of two Noh plays. Always Strong and Feather Mantle, as they become in the English versions by Ezra Pound that Saariaho uses, share the theme of disappearance. In the first, a priest’s prayers summon the ghost of a fallen warrior, only for the latter to reveal that he is still haunted by memories of the battle in which he died, and he asks to be allowed to vanish into the shadows again. In Feather Mantle a fisherman finds a feather robe that belongs to an angel; he only agrees to return it to her when she performs a celestial dance for him. Continue reading...
It’s hall happening on Wigmore Street this week. Reading backwards, on Friday night a pianist of advanced years will make his belated debut. Simon Rattle, the name is. There has been a late programme change here. Thursday evening, the guvnor John Gilhooly will go live online to break the new season, including – for the first time – live streaming. And more. Twice as many £5 tickets for under-35s. Apparently, parts of the Wigmore Hall have undergone a demographic metamorphosis. A woman composer in residence. Cecilia Bartoli. Brigitte Fassbender. An Igor Levitt Beethoven cycle. Debuts by Barbara Hannigan and Emmanuelle Haïm. The Wigmore just carries on reinventing itself. Don’t miss the launch. Selections from the press release below. Artistic Director, John Gilhooly doubles the number of £5 tickets for under 35s for 2016/17 Wigmore Hall season announced today Doubling of number of £5 tickets offered to under 35s New digital capability of Wigmore Hall further extended internationally with new partnership with medici.tv Helen Grime becomes Wigmore Hall’s first female Composer in Residence Major artist residencies and series from trumpeter Alison Balsom, pianists Angela Hewitt, Igor Levit & Francesco Piemontesi; violinists Janine Jansen & Patricia Kopatchinskaja; harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and Takács Quartet Vibrant Early Music & Baroque Series includes Arcangelo with Jonathan Cohen as first Baroque Ensemble in Residence, plus performances by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Les Arts Florissants, Collegium Vocale Gent, Le Poème Harmonique, The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars, La Venexiana, Vox Luminis Major contemporary music with Thomas Adès Day ‘Arcadiana’, Ensemble 360: Music in the Round weekend and 52 major premieres including 25 world premieres of Wigmore Hall co-commissions Return concerts for Cecilia Bartoli, Philippe Jaroussky, Sir András Schiff, and Violeta Urmana Masterclasses by Brigitte Fassbaender and Sir András Schiff Wigmore debut recitals from René Pape and Barbara Hannigan. Emmanuelle Haïm makes her debut as a conductor Christian McBride returns and celebrated pianist Vijay Iyer becomes Jazz Artist in Residence Schubert: The Complete Songs continues with outstanding and compelling visions of the composer’s late song-cycles, as well as the songs in English as part of Wigmore Hall’s Learning programme Wigmore Hall’s rich legacy of great performances, artistic revelations and creative daring is set to grow throughout the 2016/17 season. The Hall’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director John Gilhooly was last Sunday named as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people in Debrett’s 2016 People of Today list, published in The Sunday Times. He announces his bold new 2016/17 programme on Thursday 28 January, shortly before a performance given by an ensemble of remarkable young artists. The season launch and subsequent concert is the first event to be streamed live from Wigmore Hall, inaugurating an online series designed to broaden international access to Europe’s leading venue for chamber music, early music and song. It was also announced that Wigmore Hall’s 115th Anniversary Gala Concerts on 31 May, 1 & 2 June 2016 will be streamed live in partnership with medici.tv . Wigmore Hall now attracts capacity audiences to many of its 488 concerts each year,’ observes John Gilhooly. ‘We want to share the experience of great music-making with the greatest possible number of people. This is why we created a world-class digital studio as part of our £2.1 million building infrastructure upgrade last year. I am also delighted to announce that, as a result of its overwhelming success, we will increase our £5 ticket scheme for Under-35s from 10,000 tickets this season to 20,000 tickets in 2016/17. Our digital capability and work to attract new and younger audiences belong to the Hall’s vitally important investment in its future.’ Wigmore Hall’s complete survey of Schubert’s 600-plus songs, launched in September 2015 and presented in partnership with Austria’s Schubertiade Schwarzenberg and Hohenems festival, unfolds with 20 concerts across the new season. The series offers the chance to hear many of the world’s finest Schubert interpreters and a carefully chosen group of exceptional young talent. This season’s roster of distinguished Schubertians – singers and pianists – includes Florian Boesch, Robert Holl, Graham Johnson, Simon Keenlyside,Elisabeth Kulman, Stephan Loges, Malcolm Martineau, Georg Nigl, Mauro Peter, Christoph Prégardien, Anna Lucia Richter, Dorothea Röschmann, Markus Schäfer, Sir András Schiff, Violeta Urmana and Elizabeth Watts. The series contains complete performances ofWinterreise with Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman (15 February), Die schöne Müllerin with Henk Neven and Imogen Cooper (11 April), and Schwanengesang with Ian Bostridge and Lars Vogt (10 May). The song-cycles can also be heard in new English translations by Jeremy Sams, performed under the umbrella of Wigmore Hall’s Learning programme by Toby Spence, Roderick Williams, Sir John Tomlinson and Christopher Glynn. Several substantial new series come to Wigmore Hall in 2016/17. Igor Levit starts his first complete survey of Beethoven’s piano sonatas in a major concert hall, comprising a total of eight concerts. Beethoven Cycle: Igor Levit opens on 28 September with four works, including the early Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor Op. 2 No. 1 and the dramatic ‘Waldstein’ Sonata. Takács Quartet: Beethoven String Quartet Cycle presents a prominent platform for Wigmore Hall’s internationally acclaimed Associate Artists to explore some of the greatest works in the chamber music canon. The Takács Quartet’s series starts on 3 February 2017 and unfolds with five further concerts. Angela Hewitt: The Bach Odyssey, devised by John Gilhooly to run over several seasons, starts on 25 September and continues on 20 January and 10 June. The divinely-inspired composer’s keyboard fantasies, inventions and sinfonias provide the creative launch pad for this landmark series, which will grow in 2016/17 to include a complete survey of the French Suites. Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, also at John’s request, begins a long-term survey of Bach’s keyboard works on 21 December with theGoldberg Variations.
The French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky has pulled out of a major tour of Handel’s Partenope with Il Pomo d’Oro after the death of his father. The tour was to have visited Paris, Ferrol, Coruña, Pamplona and Madrid. Lawrence Zazzo will replace Philippe in Paris. The first two Spanish dates are cancelled and it remains to be seen whether Pamplona and Madrid will go ahead. This was to have been the opera’s belated Spanish premiere. We send Philippe warm condolences.
Philippe Jaroussky (13 February 1978) is a French sopranist countertenor. He began his musical career with the violin, winning an award at the Versailles conservatory and then took up the piano before turning to singing. He is noted for a virtuosic coloratura technique and for compelling and enlivened interpretations of baroque cantatas and operas. Jaroussky was inspired to sing by the Martinique-born countertenor Fabrice di Falco. He received his diploma from the Early Music Faculty of the Conservatoire de Paris. Since 1996, he has studied singing with Nicole Fallien. He has formed his own ensemble called Artaserse, and also often performs with the Ensemble Matheus under Jean-Christophe Spinosi and with L'Arpeggiata under Christina Pluhar.
Great opera singers