I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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The Chicago Symphony in Paris

Felix Mendelssohn: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Op. 27
Claude Debussy: La Mer
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4 in F minor, Op. 36

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: The Tempest, Op. 18
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird, Suite #2 (1919)
Robert Schumann: Symphony #3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 97 “Rhenish”

Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
Paris, Salle Pleyel, 25-26 October 2014

Riccardo Muti

Riccardo Muti (© Todd Rosenberg)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) under their Music Director Riccardo Muti finished two magnificent concerts at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. Part of a European tour that took the orchestra from Poland to Austria, by way of Luxemburg, Switzerland and France, these Paris concerts were easily some of the most rewarding classical music acts I attended this year. The choice of repertoire was agreeable, but it was the outstanding quality of the CSO as well as Muti’s vision which caused most satisfaction.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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The Rite of Spring 100 Years Young

Maurice Ravel: La Valse
Claude Debussy: La Mer
Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 15 May 2013

There is no way to escape it: on May 29 it will be exactly a hundred years ago that Igor Stravinsky’s seminal Rite of Spring was premiered in Paris, as part of the famous Ballets Russes seasons masterminded by Serge Diaghilev. While the fascination of dance-makers with the work has never diminished since its notorious creation at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées – very few scores have been so frequently choreographed throughout the years or triggered man’s boundless imagination – the centenary promises plenty of concerts and music-related events commemorating the Rite. For that matter, one of the most original renditions were to be found at London’s Royal Festival Hall where the complete Rite could be heard whistled in the lavatories – courtesy of Joao Penalva.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Blechacz pairs Debussy and Szymanowski

Claude Debussy:
Pour le piano
Estampes
L’Isle joyeuse
Karol Szymanowski:
Prelude & Fugue in C Sharp minor
Sonata in C minor, Op. 8

Rafał Blechacz, piano
Deutsche Grammophon 4779548 DDD

Rafal Blechacz

Blechacz pairs Debussy and Szymanowski

2005 Warsaw Competition winner Rafał Blechacz is mainly thought of as an outstanding interpreter of Chopin and the Viennese Classical School, yet anybody familiar with the concert performances of the young Polish pianist may have noticed his predilection for two other composers: Claude Debussy and Karol Szymanowski. Blechacz’ new Deutsche Grammophon CD isn’t perhaps so much of a surprise, but with playing of such constant quality, it’s no less welcome.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Dazzling Rollercoaster

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39/4-6; Elegy, Op. 3/1
Gabriel Fauré: Ballade, Op. 19
Alexander Scriabin: Sonata #5
Johannes Brahms: 7 Fantasies, Op. 116
Isaac Albéniz: Triana (from Iberia)
Claude Debussy: La soirée dans Grenade (from Estampes)
Vladimir Horowitz: Variations on a Theme from G. Bizet’s “Carmen”

Yuja Wang, piano
Brussels Conservatory, 20 March 2012

The acclaimed Chinese pianist Yuja Wang made her debut in Belgium with the kind of disparate program that would have made giants like Sviatoslav Richter think twice, yet which seems designed primarily to demonstrate how dazzling a virtuoso she is. (Richter played what he felt like playing at a particular moment, but that’s another story.) Wang’s Brussels recital was largely culled from her coinciding new CD-release, imponderably titled “Fantasia” and sounded in spite of the hyped promise of “a poetic evening” for the most part like a no-brainer, rollercoaster collection of miniatures and bravura transcriptions by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Debussy, Albeniz and Horowitz, wherein the difference between the official program and the encores eventually went completely adrift. The bits of late Brahms and Fauré thrown in for weight couldn’t dispel the frustrating feeling that this evening we only heard part of her talent. Or didn’t we?
Read the full review on Classical Net