I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Russian troika bogged down in the quest for authenticity in Bruges

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36
Sergei Rachmaninov: Vocalise, Op. 34 no. 14
Sergei Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A Minor, Op. 43
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Suite no. 2, Op. 64ter

Anna Vinnitskaya, piano
Jos van Immerseel, Anima Eterna Brugge
Bruges, Concertgebouw, 29 November 2019

In this triptych from Jos van Immerseel and his Anima Eterna Brugge, three Russian composers underwent the authentic instrument treatment for which this Belgian ensemble is famous. Using the instruments and orchestral layout the composers knew may be admirable but has its limitations. Some fifty years were spanned in this concert and yet everything was performed with the same instruments. Are we to assume the Philadelphia Orchestra which premiered Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in 1934 sounded the same as Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestra in 1888, not to mention the Czech or Russian forces playing Prokofiev’s Romeo in the late 1930s? I guess not, but eventually this wasn’t the main concern.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.


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Russian delights with Lugansky and Kochanovsky in Brussels

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol, Op.34
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto no. 2 in G Minor, Op.16
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 5 in E Minor, Op.64

Nikolai Lugansky, piano
Stanislav Kochanovsky, Belgian National Orchestra
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), 27 September 2019

Conductors do make a difference with orchestras. We were reminded of this once again when Stanislav Kochanovsky stood before the Belgian National Orchestra to lead them through an all-Russian triple bill, gathering Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. The Russian maestro has been guesting with the BNO on a handful of occasions and their collaboration hints at real chemistry. With the sort of repertoire that only a few years ago in other hands tended towards loudness contests, BNO audiences are now rewarded with excellent, musical performances.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.


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Luminous Beethoven and impetuous Connesson in Bruges

Guillaume Connesson: Flammenschrift
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, excerpts

Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider, violin
Brussels Philharmonic, Stéphane Denève
Bruges, Concertgebouw, 1 March 2019

The success story of the Brussels Philharmonic is one of the miracles of the Belgian classical music scene. Under conductors Michel Tabachnik and, since 2015/16, Stéphane Denève the stuffy, bureaucratic Flemish radio band from yesteryear happily morphed into a vibrant, independent formation of international fame and acclaim. This concert led by Denève with music by Connesson, Beethoven and Prokofiev duly demonstrated its strengths, as well as some limitations. A luminous performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major by Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider considerably added to its attraction.

Read the full review on Bachtrack.


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Stunning Romeo and Juliet Suite from Chicago

Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CSO Resound CSOR9011402 DDD Live Recording 2013 48:52

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This is by far the most compelling selection from Serge Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet I have heard in a long time. Recorded live in October 2013 in Chicago, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only depict each scene with an unerring sense of drama, but also a complete understanding of the fabrics of the score and the composer’s individual sonorities. The selection is culled from the First and Second Suites, yet in spite of the tragically short total timing (a meager 48:52), we are given Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet in a nutshell.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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The Dutch National Ballet in The Nutcracker and Cinderella

Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
Clara Staalboom – Anna Tsygankova
Prince/Mr. Drosselmeyer’s nephew – Matthew Golding
Nutcracker – James Stout
Mr. Drosselmeyer – Wolfgang Tietze
Mouse King – Alexander Zhembrovskyy
Artists of the Dutch National Ballet
Holland Symfonia/Ermanno Florio
Choreography by Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling
Filmed live at the Music Theatre in Amsterdam, 2011
Arthaus Musik Blu-ray 108087 108m PCM Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio

Serge Prokofieff: Cinderella
Cinderella – Anna Tsygankova
Prince Guillaume – Matthew Golding
Stepmother Hortensia – Larissa Lezhnina
Stepsister Edwina – Megan Zimny Grey
Stepsister Clementine – Nadia Yanowsky
Benjamin – Remi Wörtmeyer
Artists of the Dutch National Ballet
Holland Symfonia/Ermanno Florio
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
Filmed live at the Music Theatre in Amsterdam, 26 December 2012
Opus Arte Blu-ray OABD7126D 139m (incl. bonus) LPCM Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio

Cinderella by the Dutch National Ballet

Cinderella by the Dutch National Ballet

The Dutch National Ballet, the sole classical company in The Netherlands, is doing well on home video. The Blu-ray/DVD catalogue of the Amsterdam-based troupe is steadily growing with interesting titles, often linked to the successful practice of live broadcasts in movie theatres. Both Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Prokofieff’s Cinderella are of course popular favorites, yet the Dutch productions boast plenty of individual qualities to justify their purchase. While cast in a traditionally classical mold, the ballets reviewed here are not only spectacularly staged with grand sets and magnificent costumes that benefit from the high definition transfer in widescreen, they are also splendidly danced.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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She came, she played, and she conquered

Franz Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor
Frédéric Chopin: Ballade #4, Piano Sonata #2
Serge Prokofieff: Piano Sonata #7

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Paris, Salle Pleyel, 19 November 2012

Since I first attended a solo recital by Khatia Buniatishvili in the smallish auditorium of the Cité de la Musique in Paris, hardly ten months ago, things have been going fast for the 25-year old Georgian pianist. Meanwhile she released her second solo CD (Sony 97129), media attention has soared, she was awarded the German “Echo Klassik” prize for most promising artist, and above all she has been touring extensively throughout Europe, and also recently San Francisco and Japan – either as soloist, with orchestras or as member of chamber music formations joining distinguished colleagues like Gidon Kremer, Truls Mørk and Renaud Capuçon. Buniatishvili had played Pleyel before in a concert with the Orchestre de Paris. But until now the big hurdle of a solo recital in the most prestigious concert venue in the French capital – which is currently her hometown – still needed to be taken. On 19 November it was taken, and how.
Read the full review on Classical Net