Presto News - 22nd July 2013
Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Celebration Concert
Summer is upon us, and those of us still in the (sweltering) Presto office rather than on holiday are finding that our listening is becoming increasingly geared around the fruits of various music festivals. With the Proms now well underway, we’ve been catching up on the previous night’s offerings in between enjoying the current crop of DVDs celebrating the wonderful international events which rejuvenate artists and visiting audiences alike.
Pick of the week is a 75th birthday present to and from the Tanglewood Festival, which takes place each year in Massachusetts: founded by Serge Koussevitzky, the Festival fast became one of the highlights of America’s musical year, with a particular commitment to American music of the early and mid-twentieth century. Due out next Monday, the programme on this DVD juxtaposes what is on paper an incongruous array of genres and performers: after a brassy, sassy first course of Copland and Bernstein (both composers had close ties with Tanglewood), we have jazz legend James Taylor in selections from the Great American Songbook followed by Festival stalwart Emanuel Ax in two movements from a Haydn piano concerto, then Yo-Yo Ma in a serenely radiant arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Andante cantabile, before Anne-Sophie Mutter delivers a blistering account of Sarasate’s fiendish Carmen Fantasy. Next there’s Ravel’s La Valse under Andris Nelsons (a newcomer to Tanglewood) in a performance which captures all of the piece’s manic urbanity, and finally a massed performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the collected Festival forces.
If this all sounds rather eclectic, well, yes it is – but it all hangs together beautifully as a celebration of the festival’s diversity and joie de vivre. The performance styles, too, come together in a strange harmony of contrasts: witness Taylor’s louche, unbuttoned understatement next to the classical poise of Ax, or Ma’s still centredness cheek-by-jowl with Nelsons’s mercurial energy (his facial expression as he gives the upbeat to the Sarasate is a one-second masterclass in how to galvanise a youth orchestra!). But what’s common to all these approaches is the camaraderie and commitment which they all exude: the sense of shared experience and generosity is particularly evident in those performances which pair old hands with talented novices. As with the Lugano Festival recordings which Chris enjoyed a few weeks back, there’s a palpable sense of the ‘holiday mood’ and of that special synthesis of relaxation and energy which is generated when musicians get to live and work together for a short spell in such a beautiful and inspiring setting.
There are brief but insightful ‘talking heads’ from the key artists, all of whom pay tribute to the unique atmosphere of the Festival and its significance in their development, as well as a short documentary summarising its history (some lovely historical performance clips in here!). The camerawork captures the spirit of the evening beautifully: revealing without being intrusive or over-busy, there’s just the right mixture of panoramic shots and well-timed close-ups, and during the opening Fanfare for the Common Man we get some lovely glimpses of the al fresco audience settling in under the early-evening stars, from toddlers to those old enough to remember the Festival in its infancy.
If this brief excursion to Tanglewood has whetted your appetite for a virtual Grand Tour of the great festivals, it will definitely be worth catching The Magic Mountain, a 5-DVD celebration of the Verbier Festival, also due for release next week: a baby in comparison with Tanglewood, Verbier turns twenty this year. Happy (musical) holidays!
Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Celebration (DVD)
Boston Pops Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra; Keith Lockhart, David Zinman, John Williams, Andris Nelsons (conductors)
Blu-ray version also available here.
The Magic Mountain: Verbier Festival Anniversary Edition (DVD)
Highlights from 20 Years of the Verbier Festival
Martha Argerich, Adam Laloum, Susan Graham, Martin Helmchen, Lars Vogt, Thomas Quasthoff, Hélène Grimaud and many more
Win Presto Classical vouchers in association with Bärenreiter Urtext!
The music publisher, Bärenreiter, has recently launched a campaign aimed at explaining the meaning of Urtext and outlining the benefits of investing in high-quality printed music. To celebrate this, we are currently offering the chance to win up to £50 of vouchers to spend on anything at Presto. Simply purchase any piece of Bärenreiter sheet music before the end of July and you will automatically be entered into the draw. Full details of the promotion here.
Katherine Cooper - firstname.lastname@example.org
22nd July 2013
Vivaldi: A Tale of Two Seasons
Adrian Chandler (violin, director) & Sally Bruce-Payne (mezzo-soprano), La Serenissima
Adrian Chandler and La Serenissima, with mezzo-soprano Sally Bruce-Payne, continue their enlightening exploration of the music of Vivaldi. Focusing on two Venetian operatic seasons of 1717 and 1733, the disc juxtaposes the work of an eager young man with that of an older, more cunning composer who had adapted his music to that of the fashionable Neapolitan style.
Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E minor
Gürzenich-Orchestra Cologne, Markus Stenz
This release sees the continuation of Markus Stenz’s Mahler cycle. The seventh symphony was completed in only four weeks and is recorded here in a live recording from Cologne, June 2012.
French Trumpet Concertos
Ole Edvard Antonsen (trumpet), São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Lan Shui
In France, where jazz enjoyed a greater influence on classical composers than perhaps anywhere else, there was a regular explosion of trumpet works during the 20th century. Virtuoso Ole Edvard Antonsen has gathered five works composed between 1944 and 1966 that clearly demonstrate the colourful, vibrant and technical abilities of the trumpet.
Scelsi Edition Volume 10: The Violin Works
Weiping Lin (violin)
This is the first complete recording of Scelsi’s works for solo violin. The pieces span from Scelsi’s early virtuoso style of the “Divertimenti” to his later explorations of the “inside of sound.” Taiwanese-born violinist Weiping Lin is a specialist in contemporary music, and has performed in prestigious ensembles such as Ensemble Modern and Ensemble Die Reihe.
Sir Colin Davis and Staatskapelle Dresden
Staatskapelle Dresden, Sir Colin Davis
This 6-CD set celebrates the work of Sir Colin Davis (1927 – 2013) with the Staatskapelle Dresden, for whom he was Conductor Laureate. The set includes music by Berlioz, Brahms, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Sibelius.
The Seasons: 20th-Century Music for Wind Quintet
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
The possibilities that the wind quintet offered were exploited to the full by composers such as Nielsen, Hindemith and Milhaud. One of the most extreme cases is Henze's L'autunno, in which each player is required to perform on almost all the related instruments in the family of his main instrument. Together with three other compositions, Henze’s autumnal piece has lent its name to the discs included in this set. Individually released between 1992 and 2003, these four discs are here gathered into a full seasonal cycle: a catalogue of 20th-century music for wind quintet.
The Philharmonics: Oblivion
Patricia Petibon (soprano), The Philharmonics
A unique and extraordinary cross-border musical marriage, The Philharmonics features the very best players from the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as two exceptional jazz artists. Oblivion features music of nearly forgotten composers, newly arranged by The Philharmonics in their style of Gypsy, Klezmer and Jazz.
From the New World (DVD)
Symphonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Andris Nelsons
From the New World is a concert featuring Dvořák’s iconic Symphony No. 9 alongside works by Ives, John Adams and Stravinsky.The concert is performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons.
Blu-ray version also available here.
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