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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Southern Fire Against Nordic Cool

Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony
Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Jean Sibelius: Symphony #1 in E minor, Op. 39

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 28 April 2012

The German city of Munich boasts no less than three symphony orchestras of international stature. Next to the Bavarian State Orchestra (the former Bavarian Court Orchestra, now the opera ensemble) and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, it is however the Munich Philharmonic which is considered the true city orchestra. Founded in 1893, in recent times the Munich Philharmonic became mainly associated with Sergiu Celibidache, who was its influential general Music Director from 1979 until his death in 1996, and whose memory remains to this day very much alive – the legendary Romanian maestro even has a (smallish) square named after him next to the concert hall. As of 2012/13 Lorin Maazel will act as the orchestra’s Music Director.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Alice Sara Ott at the BBC Proms

Jean Sibelius: Symphony #6 in D minor, Op. 104
Edvard Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
Carl Nielsen: Symphony #4 “Inextinguishable”

Alice Sara Ott, piano
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
BBC Proms – London, Royal Albert Hall, 8 August 2011

The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under their chief conductor Sakari Oramo brought a delectable all-Scandinavian program for the 33rd installment of this year’s BBC Proms. Two rarely played works, Jean Sibelius’ 6th Symphony and Carl Nielsen’s 4th Symphony, framed Edvard Grieg’s ever-popular Piano Concerto. The soloist in the concerto was Alice Sara Ott in her Proms debut.
Read the full review on Classical Net