Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Henyrk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 ("of Sorrowful Songs")

Henryk Gorecki
Symphony No.3, Op.36
(Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)

Zofia Kilanowicz, soprano
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Antoni Wit

Arvo Pärt - Fratres for String Orchestra and Percussion

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Paavo Järvi

Richard Wagner: Symphony in C Major

(No information available)

1. Sostenuto e maestoso - Allegro con brio
2. Andante ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
3. Allegro assai
4. Allegro molto e vivace

Note: The YouTube user Michael Canales wrote an interesting comment on this Symphony:

Proof that Wagner was a great composer at a very young age, who just kept getting better and better as time went on. BTW for those making a big deal out of Wagner's article "Judaism in Music" it should be kept in this context. When Wagner sent this score to Mendelssohn it was carelessly ignored by the latter and the full original score is lost forever. The parts themselves were discovered late in Wagner's life and the world premiere was Christmas 1882 conducted by the composer, his very last effort on the podium. He was pissed off at Mendelssohn for losing the score and never forgave him. Hence the ugly comments about Mendelssohn in that article.The jabs at Meyerbeer are much easier to explain. Meyerbeer was basically the Andrew Lloyd Webber of the 19th century and controlled the entire Parisian operatic scene. His idea of "helping" the young Wagner, the youthful genius who wrote this work, was to get him jobs as a hack copyist and arranger for composers we now have forgotten. Later Meyerbeer did actually help Wagner by recommending Rienzi to the theater in Dresden, far away from Paris of course, where the young genius would not be a threat to Meyerbeer and the Parisian establishment. Meyerbeer also played a sinister hand in the "Jockey Club" protests against Tannhauser in the Paris production of 1861. Meyerbeer's reputation has been sanitized by the horrors of WWII just as Wagner's has been stained, but the truth is that Meyerbeer kept Wagner down in Paris, and Wagner never forgave him for it. Hence, yet again the insults in the article. There is more to that article than just crude antisemitism. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

So, here is what happened to Baby Jennifer!

It may sound incredible, but it’s true: The most popular post in a blog devoted to music turned out to be one related to cinema! Our readers may remember a post titled: “What Ever Happened to Baby Jennifer (Lawn)?” (A review article with a similar title was published on IMDb.) Finally, there is an answer to this question. Most important, it was given by “baby” Jennifer herself, thus its authenticity can hardly be disputed!

Read the article

In case you can read Greek, here also are two articles of my own, published in a major news site in Greece:

I have to confess that the whole matter enrages me! If this is not the very definition of child abuse, I wonder what is... Fortunately, Jennifer (a very intelligent person, as far as I can tell) finally overcame this horrible experience and went on living a normal life. From what I read, I know that today she is a very successful, top-ranking person in a major insurance company. She is happily married in Paris and (according to a picture I saw on F/B) she has a beautiful baby! As for the viewers of “that” haunting film, we can only exclaim at the cynicism of the movie industry. How much sacrifice can be made in the name of Art, after all?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bernard Herrmann: Vertigo (Full Soundtrack)

Vertigo - Soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann (1958)

Track Listing:

01 - Prelude and Rooftop - 0:00
02 - Scotty Trails Madeline - 04:56 *
03 - Carlotta's Portrait - 13:20
04 - The Bay - 15:56
05 - By the Fireside - 19:05
06 - The Forest - 22:45
07 - The Beach - 26:11
08 - The Dream - 29:39
09 - Farewell and The Tower - 32:23
10 - The Nightmare and Dawn - 39:06
11 - The Letter - 43:19
12 - Goodnight and The Park - 47:13
13 - Scene d'Amour - 50:23
14 - The Necklace, The Return and Finale - 55:32

* (including: Madeline's First Appearance, Madeline's Car, The Flower Shop, The Alleyway, The Mission, Graveyard and Tombstone)

Monday, September 1, 2014

“Winter Journey” at the Greek Festival 2014

By Thanassis Vavlidas

14/7/2014, “Winter Journey” in the Summer (D. Mitropoulos Concert Hall at Megaron Moussikis of Athens – Greek Festival 2014)

In its summer program, Greek Festival 2014 included only a few concerts of classical and contemporary (not pop) music. However, all concerts were more or less of high quality as far as interpretation standards are concerned.

Hans Zender (Wiesbaden 1936 - ) is an esteemed German composer and conductor who composed, under the title “Winterreise - eine komponierte interpretation for tenor and small orchestra” (1993), a new version of the well-known song cycle composed by Franz Schubert in 1827, one year before his death. The cycle was published as Opus 89 in 1828 and was based on 24 poems written by Wilhelm Mueller, who followed the romantic style of his time, paying much attention to the inner self and its sentimental reflections to Nature. This cycle is considered as a “colossal peak in art song” and audiences always confirm its great appeal.

Hans Zender’s version managed to filter the romantic spirit of the cycle into a summary of the twentieth century’s conquests concerning the art of composition. He also managed to produce a transcription from piano to a small orchestra, although he changed a few key tones and created new sounds. One of Zender’s aims was the accurate description of natural, as well as psychological, phenomena through these new sounds. And although one might object to the need for such an expression of the original composer’s feelings, we must admit that these sounds revealed new paths to the wanderer of music. Zender’s composition was recorded for the first time by RCA with Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor) and the Ensemble Modern, the composer himself conducting.

At the concert we attended in July, the famous Greek conductor Theodoros Kourentzis collaborated with the Afro–American tenor Keith Stonum and the music group “Kyklos Ensemble” which was founded in 2013 and consists of experienced Greek musicians. “Kyklos Ensemble” has already given performances of classical and avant–garde music and is taking part in educational programs. The conductor, Th. Kourentzis, is currently living in Russia. He is the artistic director of the Opera House of Perm and the principal conductor of the orchestra “MusicAeterna”.

The collaboration of the above-mentioned musicians led to an interpretation of high level, which has undoubtedly imposed new standards for the performers of such music in Greece. It was obvious from the start that accuracy and clarity were the main characteristics of their interpretation. The conductor took care of every single detail and no mistake was detected, even when some of the musicians had to change positions playing from different sides of the music hall.

Keith Stonum (tenor) also sang with clarity and his voice seemed to be closer to the original score’s demands. But he did not hesitate to use a... loudspeaker when there was a need to emphasize on extreme desperation arising from the verses!

The verses were translated by the poet Alexandros Issaris and the translation was shown, with adequate synchronization, on a board above the musicians.

We are confident that conductor Kourentzis can perform even the most complicated contemporary compositions and make them attractive to a wider audience, since his great abilities are combined with a strong image promotion.

Thanassis Vavlidas
Member of the “Union of drama and music Greek critics”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014