Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 9

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 9 “Choral”

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Herbert Blomstedt,

Simona SaturovaMihoko FujimuraChristian ElsnerChristian Gerhaher
MDR Rundfunkchor

Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the musical city of Leipzig are closely intertwined with each other: Felix Mendelssohn, Kapellmeister of the Gewandhausorchester, made the work an indispensable part of the concert hall repertoire and Arthur Nikisch, one of his successors, established in 1918 the worldwide tradition of performing this groundbreaking and pioneering work at the end of the year. The phenomenal Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhaus-kapellmeister from 1998 to 2005, once again conducted Beethoven’s Ninth in Leipzig for the 2016 New Year celebrations.

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Vincenzo Bellini – I Capuleti e i Montecchi

Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)

I Capuleti e i Montecchi
Tragedia lirica in two act

Fabio Luisi, Conductor
Christof Loy, Stage Director

Philharmonia Zürich, Chor der Oper Zürich
Joyce DiDonato (Romeo)
Olga Kulchynska (Julia)


The story of Romeo and Juliet, who pay for their passion with their lives, has been interpreted in the widest variety of literary and musical genres ever since the Renaissance. Vincenzo Bellini’s much too rarely staged Romeo and Juliet opera, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, is far removed from Shakespeare’s version: rather than telling the story of a tenderly burgeoning love, the piece is an account of the last 24 hours in the two young people’s lives. The underlying mood of the piece is thus one of melancholy – which then develops into a catastrophic maelstrom. The première of the thrilling Zurich production of this bel canto gem, directed by Christof Loy and conducted by Fabio Luisi, was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences alike. The two protagonists also met with acclaim: experience world star Joyce DiDonato in the trouser role of Romeo, with the young Ukrainian soprano Olga Kulchynska at her side as Giulietta. Continue reading

Alban Berg – Wozzeck

Opera in three acts (15 scenes) after Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck”

Fabio Luisi, Conductor
Andreas Homoki, Stage Director

Philharmonia Zürich, Chor der Oper Zürich
Christian Gerhaher (Wozzeck)
Gun-Brit Barkmin (Marie)

The soldier Wozzeck (Christian Gerhaher) flits through a world that he is unable to decipher. The doctor torments him with absurd medical experiments; the captain humiliates and ridicules him. And Wozzeck’s lover, Marie (Gun-Brit Barkmin), with whom he has a child, cuckolds him with the drum major. Wozzeck becomes a murderer, stabbing Marie to death. Georg Büchner’s drama fragment, on which Alban Berg based his first opera, is an unflinching case study of social injustice and human suffering. But it is also a grotesque piece that thrives on exaggeration – and in which only a fine line separates the unfathomable from the ridiculous. Accordingly, director Andreas Homoki forgoes all realism.

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Lucerne Festival 2015 – Andris Nelsons – Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5

Selected Songs from “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”
Rheinlegendchen, Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen,
Das irdische Leben, Urlicht,
Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt,
Revelge, Der Tamboursg’sell

Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Matthias Goerne, baritone

Andris Nelsons conducted the Lucerne Festival Orchestra for the third time in August 2015, the orchestra’s second summer without founder and guiding spirit Claudio Abbado. The first half of his concert was already highlight: the baritone Matthias Goerne seemed completely at home in a selection of songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. His warm, dark voice allows him to capture the somber and tragic atmosphere of this music like no one else. Its shaded timbre is most perfectly suited to the work’s melancholy and nocturnal moods, where one can directly experience how an artist of this caliber can bring music to the edge of the abyss. Continue reading

Nikolaj Znaider, Riccardo Chailly – Mendelssohn and Beethoven – Violin Concertos

Nikolaj Znaider, violin
Riccardo Chailly
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

Felix Mendelssohn
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 64
Ludwig van Beethoven
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61

The Daily Telegraph describes Nikolaj Znaider as “the most stimulating young musician playing today, drawing on musical intelligence, perception and dynamism to give performances of rare intensity.” This release presents one of the world’s foremost violinists playing two landmark concertos, accompanied by the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester – “one of Europe’s finest orchestras” (The Guardian) – under the baton of its music director Riccardo Chailly. It was the Gewandhausorchester that, in 1845, first performed Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor. Mendelssohn himself had conducted Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major several times and helped this milestone in the history of music to its great breakthrough.

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Daniel Barenboim, Staatskapelle Berlin – Anton Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 4-9 (box set)

Anton Bruckner’s symphonies are gigantic mountain ranges carved out of sound, traversed by steep chasms, broad steppes, and dark valleys. The effect of their performance is comparable to the exalted feeling of reaching the summit of a mighty peak. Daniel Barenboim guides the Staatskapelle Berlin to the heights of Bruckner’s lofty sound formations. With a vision hewn from experience, Barenboim follows the harmonic development of the symphonies 4 through 9, revealing to us the breathtaking musical panorama of these exceptional symphonic masterpieces. “Heard together, one understood so much about this strange music, with its obsessive monumentality, terrifying expressive strength, and dizzying compositional syntheses of elements from the Middle Ages to Schubert and Wagner.” (Berliner Zeitung) This unforgettable Bruckner cycle sets new standards, and guarantees the Staatskapelle Berlin and their principal conductor “a place in the Bruckner pantheon.” (Der Tagesspiegel) Continue reading

Adam’s Passion – Arvo Pärt, Robert Wilson

Music by Arvo Pärt

Adam’s Lament
Tabula rasa

Stage Direction, Set Design & Lighting Concept: Robert Wilson

Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste

Michalis Theophanous, Lucinda Childs

“You see, this story is your story, one that questions me. And this story is my story, one that responds to you. This is our common story. The story of Adam is the story of all mankind. And it is one of tragedy.” Arvo Pärt Continue reading

Riccardo Chailly & Gewandhausorchester Leipzig: Mahler 7

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 7

Riccardo Chailly
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

“It is my best work, with a primarily cheerful character”. This was Gustav Mahler’s assessment of his Symphony No. 7, which was also highly regarded by Arnold Schoenberg, who said, “I had an impression of absolute peace based on artistic harmony. Something able to set me in motion without recklessly unsettling my center of gravity.” Riccardo Chailly, in his internationally acclaimed interpretations of Mahler’s symphonies – which he and the Gewandhaus Orchestra are bringing together in a complete cycle – focuses on the musical qualities of the works, eschewing false pathos and sentimentality while giving up none of the music’s dramatic intensity. Continue reading

Lucerne Festival, Andris Nelsons – Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms
Serenade No. 2 in A major, Op. 16
Alto Rhapsody with male chorus and orchestra, Op. 53
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73

Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Sara Mingardo, alto
Bavarian Radio Choir

In 2014, all signs pointed to a new beginning at the Lucerne Festival. For the first time, the festival would take place without the incomparable Claudio Abbado, with the young Latvian Andris Nelsons leading the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Nelsons had already won the trust and respect of both listeners and performers in a moving memorial concert for Abbado in Lucerne. He is known internationally as one of the most gifted conductors of his generation. Now he was poised to lead the prestigious festival into a new era – he brilliantly mastered this “greatest challenge” (as he himself called it) of his career. Continue reading

Beethoven, Mozart – Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra

Claudio Abbado
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Christine Schäfer, Juliane Banse, Bruno Ganz

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony No. 35 in D major, Haffner, K. 385

Misera, dove son! – Ah, non son io che parlo, K. 369
Ah, lo previdi! – Ah, t’invola – Deh, non varcar, K. 272
Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!, K. 418
Christine Schäfer (soprano)

Ludwig van Beethoven
Incidental music to Goethe’s tragedy Egmont, Op. 84
for soprano, narrator and orchestra
Juliane Banse (soprano), Bruno Ganz (narrator) Continue reading