I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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An Italian in Paris

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Fantasy Overture “Romeo and Juliet”
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Ottorino Respighi: Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Orchestre National de France/Daniele Gatti
Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, 26 September 2013

The Italian connection was undeniable in this concert of the Orchestre National de France at the Paris Théâtre des Champs Elysées, even if the “Italianness” was offered in various degrees -Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet by way of Shakespeare, Rachmaninoff’s homage to the great Italian violinist Paganini, and finally Respighi’s aural and visual impressions of Roman scenes.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans

Piotr Tchaikovsky: The Maid of Orleans
Irina Arkhipova (Joan)
Yevgeny Vladimirov (Thibaut)
Vladimir Makhov (King Charles)
Klavdia Radchenko (Agnes Sorel)
Vladimir Valaitis (Dunois)
Sergey Yakovenko (Lionel)
Lev Vernigora (Archbishop)
Andrey Sokolov (Raymond)
Viktor Selivanov (Bertrand)
Vartan Mikaelian (Soldier)
Academic Choir & Symphony Orchestra of All-Union Radio & Television, Scene & Wind Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre/Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Melodiya CD 1002053 ADD 3CDs: 53:26, 67:30, 52:51

Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans

Arkhipova sings the Maid of Orleans

In remarkable contrast to the preceding Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky’s fifth surviving opera The Maid of Orleans (1878-81) emulates French grand opera, mixing grandiose pageantry with melodramatic passages against a pseudo-historic background – the intervention of Joan of Arc in the Anglo-French war in the early 15th century. Unlike its predecessor, The Maid of Orleans never achieved a firm place in the international opera repertory. Riddled with a flawed, patchwork libretto penned by the composer himself (largely based on Schiller’s tragedy, but also the libretto by Jules Barbier and other sources) the opera may be overblown and dramatically uneven, yet it doesn’t deserve its status of virtually complete neglect amongst Tchaikovsky’s output either. There is plenty of splendid music to enjoy, in effect quite a lot more than in several other, more reputed operas – try the famous aria in Act 1, sometimes heard in concert programs, where Joan takes leave of the world she has known since childhood, but also her narration in Act 2, the two love duets with Lionel in Act 3 and 4, and the final scene.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Tod und Verklärung

Mikolajus Konstantinas Čiurlionis: In the Forest
Richard Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder; Der Männer Sippe from Die Walküre, Act 1; Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Richard Strauss: Tod und Verklärung

Violeta Urmana, soprano
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra/Modestas Pitrėnas
Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 12 September 2013

Tod und Verklärung or Death and Transfiguration might not be the most alluring title of introduction, but this concert programmed by the International Brussels Music Festival, the “KlaraFestival”, was a calling card for Lithuania, the Baltic state that holds this half year the Presidency of the European Union Council. The major Lithuanian orchestra, the National Symphony founded in 1940, accompanied under its Assistant conductor Modestas Pitrėnas, the Lithuanian diva Violeta Urmana in a program of mainly German music, wherein the notions of melancholia and death made several appearances. Nevertheless it was a festive occasion, not only attended by the President of the Lithuanian Republic, Dalia Grybauskaitė, and the Belgian King, but also by a large group of patrons clearly unfamiliar with concert hall etiquette – judging by the more than frequent smartphone interruptions and the eager clapping almost on top of the dying chords.
Read the full review on Classical Net