I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Loud, louder, loudest

Jean Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela (from Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22/2)
Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto, Op. 16
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #5, Op. 64

Alice Sara Ott, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium/Stefan Blunier
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 23 November 2012

In the Meet & Greet that preceded the performance, Swiss-born conductor Stefan Blunier pointed out how difficult it is to start a concert with Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela. That was unfortunately proven true in this concert with the National Orchestra of Belgium on the next to the last day of the Brussels Bozar Marathon Week. The program was dubbed “Strong musical stories”. Strong they may have been, but the stories sounded surprisingly similar in Blunier’s hands. Leading a massive orchestra for Sibelius’ Swan, Blunier opted for a slow pace but remained more analytical than atmospheric and allowed far too outspoken contrasts and brusque interruptions of orchestral sections (especially brass and bass drum). The cor anglais made a commendable contribution but he was too prominent as if it was his concerto and a swifter tempo would have saved him from some uncomfortable moments. The violins, massed to the left, sounded rather cold, yet the lower strings created an impressive sonority.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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A Stop at Beethoven in a Music Marathon

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto #1; Piano Concerto #3
Igor Stravinsky: Concerto for String Orchestra in D Major; Octet for Wind Instruments

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Leif Ove Andsnes
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 21 November 2012

Anyone who still considers classical music elitist or inaccessible, should have a go at the Music Marathon organized by the Bozar, aka Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. In the space of just one week, November 18 through 24, Bozar is hosting a non-stop succession of big names. Cecilia Bartoli, René Jacobs, Nelson Freire, Leif Ove Andsnes, Alice Sara Ott, and Antonio Pappano appear with prestigious orchestras in celebrated works such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Beethoven’s Piano Concertos. And to make it even more attractive the program includes introductions, meet-and-greet opportunities, a video screening, and public rehearsals, all adding up to a thoroughly complete musical experience.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Russians in Paris

Sergei Prokofieff: Violin Concerto #2, Op. 63
Piano Concerto #3, Op. 26
Romeo and Juliet, Suites #1 & 2 (fragments), Op. 64bis & ter
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4, Op. 36

Boris Belkin, violin
Nikolai Demidenko, piano
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Yuri Temirkanov
Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 17 & 18 November 2012

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is a frequent guest at the Paris Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Last November, the orchestra and their artistic director and principal conductor Yuri Temirkanov returned for an all-Russian weekend, performing music by Prokofieff and Tchaikovsky.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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She came, she played, and she conquered

Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor
Frédéric Chopin: Ballade #4, Piano Sonata #2
Serge Prokofieff: Piano Sonata #7

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Paris, Salle Pleyel, 19 November 2012

Since I first attended a solo recital by Khatia Buniatishvili in the smallish auditorium of the Cité de la Musique in Paris, hardly ten months ago, things have been going fast for the 25-year old Georgian pianist. Meanwhile she released her second solo CD (Sony 97129), media attention has soared, she was awarded the German “Echo Klassik” prize for most promising artist, and above all she has been touring extensively throughout Europe, and also recently San Francisco and Japan – either as soloist, with orchestras or as member of chamber music formations joining distinguished colleagues like Gidon Kremer, Truls Mørk and Renaud Capuçon. Buniatishvili had played Pleyel before in a concert with the Orchestre de Paris. But until now the big hurdle of a solo recital in the most prestigious concert venue in the French capital – which is currently her hometown – still needed to be taken. On 19 November it was taken, and how.
Read the full review on Classical Net