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Posts from the ‘Concert Hall’ Category

Leonard Bernstein & The Vienna Philharmonic Perform Brahms 2nd Symphony

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic often appeared on PBS performing Beethoven and Mozart symphonies and, as seen here, all of the Brahms symphonies. Also performed were concertos of Brahms for violin, piano and the double concerto for violin and cello. I used to video tape these concerts, watching them over and over again until the music warbled due to the increasingly damaged video tape.

The video above is Brahms 2nd symphony in D major, Op. 73 performed at the Musikverein in Vienna, arguably the greatest concert hall in the world. In addition to these concerts on PBS, each episode in this series often had Bernstein himself discussing the music for that night’s program, all in his typical style of humor, sarcasm and musical brilliance (seen after after the jump).

While serving as director of a chamber music festival I founded in Austria several years back, we were fortunate to be close enough to the town of Pörtschach near the Carinthian capital of Klagenfurt in the south of Austria, a popular vacation spot for various composers in the 19th and early 20th centuries such as Gustav Mahler, Hugo Wolf, Alban Berg and Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent the summers of 1877–79 in Pörtschach and composed some of his most famous works there, including the second symphony. One should know that “summers” spent in places like this were not from June to August, like today, but more like five to six months until October, plenty of time to crank out works like this.

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Bach Cantatas BWV 179, 191 & 113, St. David’s Cathedral, Dyfed

In the year 2000, conductor Sir Eliot Gardiner, The Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Solists embarked on what was called the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, an ambitious 52-week project of performing all of Bach’s cantatas in churches around Europe and culminating in New York City. The tour was to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death in 1750.

Here Gardiner and his ensemble performs with soloists Magdalena Kozená and William Towers cantatas BWV 179, 191 & 113 at St Davids Cathedral, Dyfed in the United Kingdom.

I really hope that we don’t have to wait until Bach’s 300th anniversary of his death or 400th birthday for the next pilgrimage. Gardiner won’t be around until then.

Jacqueline du Pre Performs The Elgar Cello Concerto

There are many great recordings of Elgar’s cello concerto, whether it be Pierre Fournier or maybe even today with Alisa Weilerstein. But in my mind, nothing tops the performance(s) given by Jacqueline du Pre, which the world lost at too early an age. I would have loved to hear how du Pre would have grown with this piece over the years, like a maturing bottle of red wine. But instead we have frozen in time those performances from earlier in her career. Here she performs with her husband Daniel Barenboim conducting. I am not aware of which orchestra she performs with. And can I just say that I think du Pre had the best pizzicato technique of anyone in the world. I have yet to hear someone equal the power and ringing that she was able to produce.

Leonard Bernstein Rehearses Mahler 5 With The Vienna Philharmonic

Leonard Bernstein was a key player in helping make the music of Gustav Mahler a mainstay in concert halls around the world. Here is a clip from the TV documentary ‘Leonard Bernstein Rehearses Mahler‘ from 1975 where he rehearses the first movement of Mahler’s 5th symphony. By the looks of it, the rehearsal seemed to be a bit of a slog, bringing the older members along with the music. The music of Mahler was virtually non-existent in Germany and Austria after his death until the 50s and 60s.

Ruggiero Ricci Dead At Age 94

The violinist Ruggiero Ricci, who died in 2012, is here playing Ernst’s “Last Rose of Summer” and “Romance de Amor”.

Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night 1891 From the Carnegie Hall Archives

A wonderful little video of Carnegie Hall’s opening concert in 1891 with the conductor Walter Damrosch and none other than Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky himself. My dream volunteer job has always been to work in an archive such as Carnegie Hall’s. When I was a student at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine in the early 90s, my scholarship job was working in the festival’s archives. The archive contained documents from the festival’s founder Franz Kneisel as well as Fritz Kreisler, Pierre MonteuxHenry Krehbiel and much, much more, all who were summer residents of Blue Hill. There was everything from edited scores, concert programs, letters, photographs and more. I particular loved seeing pictures of Kneisel, Kreisler and Krehbiel playing cards outside on a sunny day in Blue Hill. I could stay in there all day looking over forgotten history.

Bernstein: Conducting With Only the Face

The world will never again see a conductor like Leonard Bernstein. I cannot imagine a conductor alive today that could pull this off with the same type of power Bernstein was capable of. The reason for this is the power of personality and Bernstein was certainly larger than life. Orchestras the world over absolutely adored Bernstein throughout his career. Of course in this video he has the Vienna Philharmonic at his disposal to help him pull it off. But there is no doubt that there is a “real time” reaction to his facial expressions in conveying the spirit of the piece in this performance. Here Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic in Haydn’s Symphony no. 88, in G Major (last mvt).

The Future of Concert Halls

Here is an interesting slide show of recently built and future concert halls from around the world and how they are breaking the mould of what has been the norm over the past 300 years. Gone are the horseshoe opera houses and the shoebox concert halls. I would imagine that with the advances in computer modeling, architects and builders are much more willing to try out even the most sensational designs possible. While some may be a bit over the top, there are some really wonderful concert halls in the planning in just the next few years. Sadly, none of the halls mentioned in this video are in the United States, with the exception of Lincoln Center. Perhaps the Disney Hall is the last hall of this kind to be built in the United States for some time. Is this due to the decline of classical music in general in this country?

Learn more: The New Yorker | Haydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Azerbaijan

Yuja Wang’s ‘Flight of the Bumble-Bee’ A Blur

Yuja Wang is all the rage these days, and not just because of her concert dress. Here she performs an encore at a concert given last summer at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat with Leila Josefowicz, Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Rubinstein

In the summer of 2002, SummerFest performed Stravinsky’s ‘L’Histoire du Soldat’ which I think is one of the finest performances of this work that I’ve ever heard. The narrator is actor John Rubinstein, son of pianist Arthur Rubinstein. They really need to release a higher definition version of this concert on DVD. Until now, this performance has only been found on YouTube and UCTV. It’s definitely worth you while to sit through the entire one hour and fourteen minutes.