Beethoven: Piano Concertos 2 & 3 | Leon Fleisher, Margarita Höhenrieder

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concertos No. 2 & 3

Margarita Höhenrieder
Leon Fleisher

Kammerphilharmonie Amadé
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn

Beethoven’s piano concertos impressively reflect the personality and creativity of the revolutionary composer. They are a challenge for each pianist. In this recording of the 2nd and 3rd concertos, the legendary pianist, conductor, and teacher Leon Fleisher and his star pupil Margarita Höhenrieder, who has also gained international recognition, show their personal relationship with Beethoven. At two unusual concert locations – the Zollverein World Heritage Site in Germany’s Ruhr area and the famous Max-Littmann-Saal in Bad Kissingen, which is known for its acoustics – the two discerning artists perform the two concertos together with the Kammerphilharmonie Amadé and the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn. Continue reading

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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You and Me – A Peking Opera

You and Me

A Peking opera in five acts
Composed and conducted by Zhu Shaoyu
Staged by Zhang Yimou

Recorded live in March 2014
Directed by Barbara Willis Sweete
Produced by Paul Smaczny

Zhang Yimou, the renowned Chinese film director and winner of the Golden Globe Award (Red Cornfield, Red Lantern, Hero, House of Flying Daggers), is staging his first Peking opera at the NCPA, spectacularly fusing the traditional and modern together for his production of You and Me. The result is an overwhelming feast for the senses. Lavish and colorful costumes, unique music composed and conducted by Zhu Shaoyu, and a world class ensemble that features the greatest stars of the Peking opera, including Meng Guanglu, Shi Yihong and Li Mingyan, turn You and Me into an unforgettable experience. Continue reading

Giacomo Puccini – Turandot

China National Centre for the Performing Arts
Orchestra & Chorus

Conducted by Daniel Oren
Staged by Chen Xinyi
Finale composed by Hao Weiya

Turandot, the late gem of Italian opera, is a celebration of the sounds and the mythical figures intimately associated with Chinese culture. The dramatic punch of the libretto inspired Giacomo Puccini to imagine a sound world of unusual splendour: The score features original Chinese melodies, Asian pentatonic scales and colourful orchestration with percussion writing that is strongly reminiscent of Asian music.

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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

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro

Commedia per musica in four acts Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Text by Lorenzo Da Ponte

from the
China National Centre for the Performing Arts

Conductor: Lü Jia
Staged by: José Luis Castro

NCPA’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) shines a new light on one of the most famous operas created by W. A. Mozart in 1786 during the summit of his composing life: It combines traditional Western elements with an outstanding Chinese cast. Stage director José Luis Castro from Seville – where the story happens – embeds the opera in the traditional setting of his hometown. The NCPA Orchestra and Chorus, under the baton of their music director Lü Jia, bring the music to life in a fresh contemporary interpretation that lays the ground for the excellent lead soloists. Le Nozze di Figaro once more shows that the NCPA is a venue of choice for opera lovers in the Chinese capital and well beyond.

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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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Music – A Journey For Life – Riccardo Chailly

A documentary by Paul Smaczny

“Without inner fire, without physical energy, this profession would be unthinkable,” according to Riccardo Chailly, in whose style of conducting accuracy and elegance are unforgettably united with an inexhaustible temperament. This is clear in Music – A Journey for Life, the first film portrait of the Italian maestro, which accompanies him working with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, at La Scala in Milan, and in rehearsals for La Bohème at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia. Chailly’s impressive physical and mental strength lend a uniquely personal dynamic to the musical processes and the collaboration between the conductor and musicians. Music – A Journey for Life also reveals the private person Riccardo Chailly, for whom the rigorous study of scores and time with his family are as important as a steady routine is not. Continue reading