Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky needed only a few weeks to compose his famous violin concerto at the beginning of the year 1878 at until today it is one of the most played pieces worldwide. The audience at the premiere in 1881 in Vienna, though, had a rather mixed reaction: The wild and fanciful concerto instantly gained enthusiastic fans as well as fierce opponents. more
Most classical music guides write that Gustav Mahler’s symphonies all originate from and are inspired by the impressive backdrop of the Alps. All except one: the First. Mahler wrote his first symphony in the springtime of 1888 in Leipzig, close to the Rosental, where the then 28 year-old had moved into an apartment.
Muscular yet elegant, eloquent and charismatic – terms that flow from journalists’ pens when referring to Nikolaj Znaider. The Danish artist once again affirmed his reputation as one of the most distinguished violinists of our time with his performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s violin concerto with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of its musical director Riccardo Chailly. more
“It is magnificent, how Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester left no doubts as to the frightening ambiguity and grimacing in the Twelfth Symphony’s conclusion with its apparent loyalty to the regime by Dmitri Shostakovich,” stated Die Presse. The Twelfth is certainly not Shostakovich’s most prominent symphony, but it is often underestimated – this is proven on an impressive scale by Chailly and his orchestra at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. more
“Gerstein’s blistering technique is matched only by his deeply soulful connection to standard repertoire,” the Time out New York says about the Russian pianist. With the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, Kirill Gerstein testified to these qualities: He put emphasis on expression and effect in Sergei Rachmaninov‘s Second Piano Concerto.
In 2014, the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle completed their cycle “Moving to Modern Times” with Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird which the composer set to gorgeous, scintillatingly colorful ballet music in 1909-10. Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker paired this lush score of orientalizing lyricism with another masterpiece of Russian late Romanticism: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s rousing Symphonic Dances, which likewise escorts us into a magical realm of fantasy.
To be sure, there are pianists who also conduct, and concert masters who lead their orchestra from the violin desk. But a star soprano who coordinates a large instrumental ensemble while at the same time negotiating the trickiest coloratura singing is something entirely new. That is, until Barbara Hannigan came along to reveal this remarkable skill with such high-profile orchestras as the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. more
“Ah, who will heal the pains/of one for whom balm turned to poison?” wrote the poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe in December 1777, after visiting a depressed admirer who – inspired by the example of Goethe’s legendary protagonist, the young Werther – had actually tried to take his own life. Johannes Brahms based his “Alto Rhapsody” on these lines from “Harzreise im Winter”. more
It was an appropriate and deeply affecting farewell. Anyone who was able to participate in these two hours will never forget the experience. The spirit of Claudio Abbado, the great conductor and founder of orchestras who died on 20 January 2014, was honored in music, words, and silence. more
The Leipzig orchestra and the Italian conductor have been working together for over eight years. The magnificent Mahler cycle, which has evoked standing ovations across the musical capitals of Europe and has been described by critics with rhapsodic adjectives such as “radiant”, “unforgettable” or “out of this world”, testifies to the musical fruits born of this cooperation. more