I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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The Berlin Philharmonic launches its own record label

Robert Schumann: Symphony #1 in B Flat Major “Spring”, Op. 38; Symphony #2 in C Major, Op. 61; Symphony #3 in E Flat Major “Rhenish”, Op. 97; Symphony #4 in D minor (first version, 1841)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Rattle
Recorded in 2013
Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings 140011 2CDs (125 min) + 1 Blu-ray (175 min)

The Berlin Philharmonic plays Schumann

The Berlin Philharmonic plays Schumann

Last May, following the example of many top orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic launched its own record label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings. The twilight of the great recording labels has moved into another phase. The former flagship of Deutsche Grammophon and of EMI is going to market its discs itself. The inaugural release of Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings is a splendidly packaged Robert Schumann Symphonies cycle conducted by Simon Rattle, recorded during concerts throughout 2013. The Berliner wouldn’t be the Berliner if the presentation wasn’t extra special. In the form of a landscape-sized linen-bound book with quality paper decorated with motifs from the posh Berlin porcelain factory, this Schumann box not only contains two CDs, but also a Blu-ray disc offering the concerts in Pure Audio 24-bit/96 kHz (2.0 LPCM Stereo or 5.0 DTS-HD MA) and in High Definition Video (Full HD 16:9/PCM Stereo or 5.0 Surround DTS-HD). Moreover included are a download code for high resolution audio files of the entire album (in 24 bit/up to 192 kHz) and a 7-day ticket for the Digital Concert Hall, Berlin Philharmonic’s video streaming service. This is sheer audiophile heaven.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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A New Maestro in the Making and a Pianist on Fire

Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 *
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Fantasy Overture “Romeo & Juliet”
Serge Prokofieff: Romeo & Juliet, Op. 64bis & ter (fragments)

* Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Gustavo Gimeno
Gasteig, Munich, 15 May 2014

Cancellations always carry their bit of disappointment. 84-year-old Lorin Maazel had to sit out all concerts with his Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in May due to illness; he was already replaced on the orchestra’s New York tour in April, but we are told the maestro is recovering. Enter Gustavo Gimeno, totally unknown as a conductor in the international arena. The 37-year-old Spanish-born principal percussionist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra stepped in for his music director Mariss Jansons earlier this year and made a favorable impression in Amsterdam. Needless to say he has conducting experience and previously worked assisting old masters like Claudio Abbado and Bernard Haitink besides Jansons. Amsterdam clearly meant a huge break which put him on the map. Gimeno will soon quit playing percussion and devote himself full-time to conducting.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Abbado turns to Schumann

Robert Schumann: Symphony #2 in C Major, Op. 61; Overture “Manfred”, Op. 115; Overture “Genoveva”, Op. 81
Orchestra Mozart/Claudio Abbado
Deutsche Grammophon 4791061 DDD 59m

Schumann

Claudio Abbado plays Schumann

In the autumn of his career Claudio Abbado turns to Robert Schumann’s Second Symphony. Interestingly, this is a first for the 80-year old Italian maestro in spite of his profuse recorded legacy. Although he focused on Schumann repeatedly (the Piano and Cello Concerto, as well as lesser-known pages like the Scenes from Goethe’s Faust and the complete incidental music to Manfred), until now he never committed any of the Symphonies to disc.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Heavenly Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven: Overture “Leonore” #2; Piano Concerto #2 in B Flat Major, Op. 19; Symphony #4 in B Flat Major, Op. 60
Maria João Pires, piano
Orchestra Mozart/Bernard Haitink
Brussels, Center for Fine Arts, 29 September 2013

Cancellations can go in every direction. An opportunity to see the legendary couple Claudio Abbado-Martha Argerich once more at work was abruptly shattered when the 80-year old Italian maestro had to annul his European tour with his Orchestra Mozart on doctor’s orders. It had been almost fifteen years since Abbado was last in Brussels, expectations were understandably high, but the “big comeback” was clearly not to be this time. And with Abbado out, so was Argerich, and the scheduled Haydn-Mozart program.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Abbado: A Life Dedicated to Music

EuroArts 2059588 8DVDs, Widescreen 749min, PCM Stereo/Dolby Digital/DTS

A life dedicated to music

Claudio Abbado

To celebrate the 80th birthday of Claudio Abbado EuroArts reassembled a box of 8 DVDs – 7 concerts and a documentary – dubbed for the occasion “A life dedicated to music”. “Life” may be slightly over-ambitious within this context, yet the box covers the years 1994 to 2007, in effect, a crucial period in the life and career of the Italian maestro, including his unexpected departure from the Berlin Philharmonic, his battle against cancer, and his miraculous recovery marked by a renewed interest in new-generation orchestral culture. In 1986 Abbado had already founded the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, soon followed by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. After Berlin he moreover established the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, continuing a project inaugurated by Arturo Toscanini in the late 1930s, while the Orchestra Mozart which he formed in Bologna in 2004 gathers young musicians from various European countries. All these orchestras are represented in this box.
Read the full review on Classical Net