I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Tchaikovsky feast in Munich

Piano Concerto #1 in B Flat minor, Op. 23
Symphony #5 in E minor, Op. 64

Alice Sara Ott, piano
Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev
Munich, Gasteig, 26 January 2015

Mikhail Pletnev

Mikhail Pletnev

Mikhail Pletnev is an enigmatic conductor. Each time I have heard him in concert with his Russian National Orchestra he left quite a different impression than with his recordings. While in his discs he often sounds cold, underwhelming or merely eccentric, live I always found him a lot more exciting and even revelatory in the Russian repertoire. This time again, in a Munich concert, his traversal of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth was a gripping experience, offering remarkable musical insights and a sonority that convinced you he was really providing us a look into the composer’s soul. Or how ultra-familiar music can still surprise.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Gallic finesse and Georgian fire

César Franck: Sonata for Violin & Piano in A Major
Edvard Grieg: Sonata for Violin & Piano #3 in C minor, Op. 45
Antonín Dvořák: Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75b

Renaud Capuçon, violin
Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Erato 08256-462501 DDD 66:20

Renaud Capuçon and Khatia Buniatishvili

Renaud Capuçon and Khatia Buniatishvili play romantic chamber music

French violinist Renaud Capuçon and Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili have been frequent partners in chamber music concerts. Their complementing temperaments – Gallic finesse and Georgian fire – have proven an exhilarating blend, while the charisma and winning stage presence of these brilliantly talented young artists evidently add to the fascination. In their debut disc as a duo for the resurrected Erato label they team up for an attractive program containing three romantic chamber music pieces of various origin, remarkably all written within the same time span 1886-1887.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Halloween in London

Ludwig van Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62
Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto #2 in A Major
Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra/Tugan Sokhiev
London, Royal Festival Hall, 30 October 2014

Beethoven, Liszt and Berlioz formed an explosive Romantic trio in the hands of Tugan Sokhiev and the Philharmonia Orchestra in this London concert. The opening moments of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture made it clear that this wasn’t going to be an evening for relaxation. The Roman general’s dilemma was initially brushed with such muscular vigor and dark colors it made you wonder whether he was ever going to give in. It was quite a large-scaled formation for Beethoven, too, but Sokhiev has been a regular guest with the Philharmonia Orchestra and easily carved a convincing balance and lightness of texture, preventing our hero from tipping from grand into heavy.
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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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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Lutosławski, Liszt and Tchaikovsky in Paris

Witold Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra
Franz Liszt: Piano Concerto #2 in A Major, S. 125
Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Suite #3 in G Major, Op. 55

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Orchestre de Paris/Andrey Boreyko
Paris, Salle Pleyel, 12 June 2013

Paris celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994) with a series of concerts, performed by local and invited ensembles throughout the year. The Orchestre de Paris has worked on different occasions with the composer and revives a couple of his works. The Concerto for Orchestra, dating from 1950-54, remains one of his most popular works. For the occasion, at the Paris Salle Pleyel, it was somewhat awkwardly squeezed into a program which also featured Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, with Khatia Buniatishvili as soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s rarely heard Third Suite.
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Buniatishvili in London

Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite
Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Antonin Dvorak: Symphony #7 in D minor, Op. 70

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Philharmonia Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
London, Royal Festival Hall, 7 April 2013

At first glance, the concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Paavo Järvi at the London Royal Festival Hall on April 7 couldn’t have been further removed from the “blazing originality” label that the orchestra’s 2012/13 cycle at the Southbank Centre brandishes on its posters and programs. Sibelius’ Karelia Suite, Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony seem rather safe Sunday matinee fare instead. Yet with an electrifying Khatia Buniatishvili bringing insight and character to the Grieg, with an inspired maestro and above all a Philharmonia in tremendous doing, the concert was nothing short of revelatory.
Read the full review on Classical Net