CRITICA MUSICAL / MUSICAL CRITIC

Um blog de Álvaro Sílvio Teixeira

2008/08/31

Proms: New York Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel...

Lorin Maazel, um dos chefes-de-orquestra que (ainda) restam de uma imaginada "idade do ouro", conduziu a "sua" orquestra em dois grandes concertos integrados nos Proms 2008, que foram, em meu entender, dois dos eventos principais destes Proms.

Em 29 de Agosto foi interpretada, em estreia mundial, um obra de Steven Stucky, bem escrita e musicalmente interessante, que recebeu fortes aplausos de um Royal Albert Hall completamente cheio. Seguidamente Jean-Yves Thibaudet foi solista no concerto para piano de Gershwin. Thibaudet, frequentemente neutralizado pela orquestra nos "tuttis", conseguiu ser convincente e demonstrar que possui grande talento e musicalidade.

Mas o "prato forte" foi, evidentemente, The Rite of Spring, de Igor Stravinsky, onde a orquestra demonstrou estarmos perante um dos mais importantes agrupamentos musicais da actualidade e onde Maazel nos relembrou, uma vez mais, ser um dos grandes maestros de todos os tempos.

No dia seguinte esta imensa orquestra, dirigida por este infinito chefe-de-orquestra, ofereceu-nos uma bela leitura da suite Mother Goose, de Maurice Ravel, seguida de um alucinante e miraculoso Miraculous Mandarin, de Bela Bartok, acabando com uma potente, e sublime, Sinfonia no. 4 de Peter Tchaikovsky.

Portanto: em dois concertos que a NYPO trouxe a Londres somente a sinfonia de Tchaikovsky fugiu da "modernidade". E funcionou. Melhor: todos adoraram e pediram mais, ao ponto da Maazel se ver "obrigado", devido ao entusiasmo dos aplausos, a oferecer um total de cinco "encores" nos dois concertos. Claro! Com uma orquestra como a NYPO dirigida por este maestro...

Seria injusto ignorar o concerto do dia seguinte, 30 de Agosto, com a Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, dirigida por Jukka-Pekka Saraste.

Primeiro, porque se trata de uma excelente orquestra dirigida por um excelente maestro. Segundo, porque interpretou um fantástico programa que acrescentou ainda mais luminosidade e genialidade a estes Proms: Seth die Sonne, de Magnus Lindberg; concerto para piano e orquestra no. 3, de Serguei Rachmaninov, onde foi solista Nikolai Lugansky; e a fabulosa sinfonia no. 1 de Jean Sibelius.

Magnus Lindberg, todos sabemos ser um dos mais criativos e mais relevantes compositores da actualidade. Possui uma escrita libre, recusa todas as ortodoxias e baseia-se frequentemente nos espectros sonoros a partir dos quais elabora uma macro-estrutura fundada nos elementos discretos que organiza a partir da análise de um determinado espectro sonoro. Esta obra, que foi apresentada pela primeira vez em Inglaterra, reflete a filosofia que preside ao trabalho deste criador: uma obra que recusa um "corpus homogeneous" subordinado a um pensamento circular. Uma obra que trata o impacto sonoro, o jogo de sonoridades e dos elementos que as constituem. Uma obra que comunica com os ouvintes e visa a musicalidade. Pekka Saraste entendeu, a orquestra compreendeu e o resultado fez levantar os ouvintes das cadeiras (os da arena estavam por natureza, e escolha, levantados...) para aplaudir e saudar o compositor que agradeceu poder ter uma maestro e uma orquestra de grande classe para interpretar a sua obra. E claro, uma casa como o Royal Albert Hall carregada com muitos milhares de ouvintes...

O concerto de Rachmaninov por Lugansky fez, como seria de esperar, ouvir milhares de "bravos" para um pianista que prescindiu de oferecer qualquer "encore" (se tivessem aplaudido um pouco mais ele acabaria por ceder...), muito compreensivelmente pois este concerto deixa exausto qualquer um...

Finalmente a genial primeira sinfonia de Sibelius. Esta sinfonia, todas as sinfonias de Sibelius, pertencem ao grande e mais eterno patrimonio da humanidade. Mas esta primeira sinfonia consegue comover-me mais que as outras, mais inovadoras e mesmo mais interessantes, que o grande Sibelius escreveu. Esta sinfonia noticia o ponto a que Sibelius iria levar a sua escrita em ruptura com um passado marcado por obras marcadas por um pensamento de cariz wagneriano, construindo o seu estilo pessoal, "conservador" porque totalmente desinteressado do pensamento da segunda escola de Wien. Claro que Wagner deixou marcas presentes na primeira sinfonia de Sibelius. A criatividade de Sibelius assumiu-as com naturalidade mas negou-lhes qualquer papel fundamental, e Sibelius surge, com todo explendor, como ele mesmo, Jean Sibelius, um dos maiores criadores musicais de todos os tempos, logo na sua primeira sinfonia.

Pekka Saraste demonstrou compreender o seu compatriota Jean Sibelius melhor que por vezes poderiamos imaginar e o resultado foi simplesmente deslumbrante, forte e comovente. Claro: devido ao excelente desempenho da orquestra. Evidentemente. Mas depois deste concerto creio que especialmente devido ao talento de Saraste que soube conduzir a orquestra a este ponto.

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2008/08/30

Maurizio Pollini reigns supreme

The latest instalment of this embarrassment of riches was the first concert of the Pollini Project - programmes curated by Maurizio Pollini that combine different performers and periods of music history, from the early romantics to the modernists. I've seen him play a few times over the years in London, and talked to him at length about his commitment to new music, but until yesterday I had never heard him play Stockhausen.

In the middle of a programme that started with Boulez and Berg, and ended with Liszt, Pollini performed Stockhausen's Piano Pieces VII, VIII, and IX. He played this music with a complete technical command of its ferocious difficulties, as you would expect, but I wasn't prepared for the blazing emotional and lyrical power Pollini found in this music. He made its every gesture, from the obsessive repetitions of a single chord in the ninth piece, to the unpredictable skirls of sound in the seventh, dazzlingly communicative. From where I was sitting, I could see Pollini's face, contorted with as much passion and intensity as it was in the all-Liszt second half.

This was a brilliant programme: after the modernisms of the first half, you heard Liszt with different ears. Pollini played a selection of Liszt's otherworldly late pieces, such as Nuages gris and La lugubre gondola, music in which you can hear tonality melting into something richer and stranger, as well as the Sonata in B Minor.

The sonata was a vast tour de force of architectural power and technical bravura, but in the context of the whole concert, you heard the disturbing, discontinuous elements most in this music: its thematic obsession no less shocking than Stockhausen, its emotional extremity that tests its structure to breaking point. In fact, the most homogenous and least radical music of the concert was also the most recent: Boulez's Dialogue de l'ombre double, a shadow play for clarinet and tape, in which Alain Damiens stepped in and out of the gloom to play a series of solos with electronic interludes. It was sensuous and beguiling, but seemed expressively one-dimensional, especially next to the diamond-like brilliance of the Stockhausen. in Tom Service´s blog , August 22, 2008, 11:20 AM

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Gergiev's South Ossetia concert

And they say that symphonic music doesn't mean anything: Valery Gergiev's performance yesterday of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony with the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in the ruins of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, completely disproves the point. The choice of work couldn't have been any more symbolic for Russians: Shostakovich completed his piece, known as the Leningrad, during the siege of the city in the second world war. After its premiere in March 1942, it was performed in Leningrad in the still-besieged city by a makeshift orchestra in August.

Gergiev, who comes from Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, spoke last night (in Russian and English) of "the horrible destruction of the city". He said that what happened in Tskhinvali was "a huge act of aggression on the part of the Georgian army". He continued: "If it wasn't for the help of the Russian army here, there would be thousands and thousands more victims. I am very grateful as an Ossetian to my country, Great Russia, for this help." But the music would have made that point even more strongly and even more clearly than his words did. The Seventh Symphony is the sound and symbol of liberation for Russians, as it was for all of the Allies in 1942, when Henry Wood and Arturo Toscanini conducted it that year in transatlantic performances.

Without doubt, Gergiev's performance in Tskhinvali was music as politics. Other conductors, notably Daniel Barenboim with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, have taken political risks with their music-making (although Barenboim always cannily insists that he is not a politician, just a musician who brings people together). But no other conductor in recent years has made so naked a political gesture, in the middle of an ongoing conflict, as Gergiev did last night.

He would have been heard, as well: Gergiev has transformed the musical life of St Petersburg, recently building a new opera house and concert hall in the same time it takes most cities to file a planning application. He is ruthlessly single-minded about getting what he wants, musically speaking, whether pushing his Mariinsky Theatre forces to the limits of their stamina with their concert and touring schedule, or producing incendiary performances with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Although he is a friend of Putin's, Gergiev is no political pawn. There's no doubt that his patriotism is genuine. He felt the tragedy of Beslan with personal intensity and gave an unforgettable benefit concert for the victims at the Coliseum in London. It remains to be seen what effect Gergiev's intervention will have on the situation: at the very least, it can only have galvanised the strength of Ossetians and Russians to stand firm against Georgia and the UN. Gergiev, after all, is a musician who wants to make a difference, musically and politically. August 22, 2008, 1:00 PM

One of the musical highlights of my life was Valery Gergiev playing Shostakovich 7 (the Leningrad) at a Melbourne Festival. Now I see he has performed the same work as a deliberate political statement in South Ossetia as Russian tanks occupy Georgia - and I've bought my last-ever Gergiev CD. I think it is a despicable and contemptible bit of politicisation by an ambitious and unscrupulous careerist. Gergiev would have been right at home in the Third Reich beneath those massive swastikas hobnobbing with Hitler and Goebbels; or kowtowing to Stalin and his friends in a different totalitarian state. Just goes to show, as though we didn't know, that musical genius has nothing to do with ethics or honour. As Putin tries to rebuild the Russian empire on the aspirations and the graves of non-Russians unfortunate enough to live next door, Gergiev will be there conducting encores. It is the exact opposite of courageous conductors such as Barenboim, trying to use music to enhance peace in the Middle East. I can only hope that Western music lovers take notice and react, and that his career in this hemisphere falters as it deserves. Comment No. 1285857, August 23, 16:14

PS: You should be ashamed of such disgusting sycophancy, Tom. No doubt Furtwangler was sublime and patriotic as he conducted Beethoven and shook hands with Goebels afterwards, as the famous YouTube clips show. Doubtless there were brave Serb musicians happy to play amid the ruins of Sarajevo. Your choice of words betrays a remarkable lack of understanding, but what the heck - at least you are on the side of the powerful, the thugs and the bullies, and above all the winners. Good choice, Tom. Comment No. 1285872, August 23, 16:36

David, Deputy - I appreciate your comments, thanks. The point was to show how self-consciously political a gesture Gergiev was making with Shostakovich, and how a piece of supposedly abstract symphonic music can have directly political meanings and consequences, and be used to serve ideas and ideologies; not to take sides or to condone his, and Russia's, view of what's happening in Georgia and Ossetia. Apologies if the piece suggested otherwise - and I see I could have made that clearer. And yes, you're right, certainly Barenboim's initiative is of a different order: peace-enhancing where Gergiev's concert was explicitly politics-enhancing.

I'm not quite with you though, David, on the Furtwaengler case: I don't think the evidence of his biography suggests that he relished the role of Nazi flag-waver, and the final moments of that Beethoven 9 have a terrifying intensity, as you can see even on the few minutes of the performance on YouTube - there's something else in his music-making, I think, apart from state-sponsored celebration. We know that Furtwängler was tortuously conflicted over his relationship with the regime, and we know that Gergiev is a Putin supporter; the issue of how contemporary Russian nationalism relates to 30s Germany is another, more complicated question. Tom. Comment No. 1286306, August 24, 16:05, in Tom Service´s blog

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2008/08/29

Barack Obama vows to deliver a better future

"America, we are better than these last eight years," he said. "We are a better country than this." in independent.co.uk, 29 August 2008

2008/08/21

Orquestra do Algarve - Portugal

We, the members of the Orquestra do Algarve, would like to inform you of the drastic events that have taken place and ask for your solidarity during these difficult times.

Last June, after all attempts at peaceful negotiations were exhausted, all the musicians in our orchestra, United, filed a lawsuit against the Associação Musical do Algarve to contest the legality of our working contracts and the conditions under which we work.

The goal of our lawsuit is to secure legal, "Efectivo" contracts for all musicians in the OA as well as to create a comprehensive set of by-laws or "Regulamentos" that will serve to protect us from the whims of unrestricted Capitalism. Any musician who has played with the OA knows first-hand how an orchestra run by a swimming pool salesmen is treated; unlike the weather here, it's not a paradise!

We hope that the fruits of this lawsuit will create a working environment that will elevate the name and reputation of this orchestra in the national and international community.

Since learning of the lawsuit in July, the administration has been working desperately to intimidate us. Last week, on July 31, they gave us an ultimatum: Either we drop the lawsuit or we will not have work in September. We will not drop it.

We will be at work on September 1. We will do all we can to protect our jobs. For this, we need your help!

If the administration of the OA calls you for extra work, or if you hear that a position has opened in the OA, please turn it down until these internal struggles have been settled.

Accepting any work with the OA will only serve to complicate our struggle. Help us improve the working conditions in our orchestra. Help us to make this an orchestra we can all be proud of!

Again, we ask for your solidarity during these difficult times. Please pass this on to all your friends and colleagues.

Thank you.

Committee of the Orquestra do Algarve

2008/08/07

Nikolai Kapustin plays his Impromptu op. 66 no. 2

Kapustin - Jazz Etude No. 1 - Giuseppe Andaloro

Kapustin - Jazz Etude No. 3 - Giuseppe Andaloro

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György Ligeti - Étude Nr. 1 "Désordre"
Giuseppe Andaloro plays György Ligeti's Étude "Désordre"


Ligeti - Étude Nr. 2 "Corde à vide"
Giuseppe Andaloro plays György Ligeti's Étude "Corde à vide"


Ligeti - Étude Nr. 5 "Arc-en-ciel"
Giuseppe Andaloro plays György Ligeti's Étude "Arc-en-ciel"


Ligeti - Étude Nr. 13 "The Devil's Staircase"
Rudolf P Golez plays György Ligeti's "The Devil's Staircase"

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Ligeti - Poème Symphonique for 100 Metronomes

Ligeti - Artikulation
György Sándor Ligeti (May 28, 1923 – June 12, 2006). In the 70's, Rainer Wehinger created a visual listening score to accompany Gyorgy Ligeti's Artikulation. I scanned the pages and synchronized them with the music. in youtube.com/user/d21d34c55

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