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Σάββατο, 22 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VII. Nominations and Awards: Concerto, Recital

The top six recordings in each of the 12 categories as voted for by the panel of Gramophone's critics, and the winners.


Οι πρώτες έξι ηχογραφήσεις κάθε μίας από τις 12 κατηγορίες όπως ψηφίστηκαν από την κριτική επιτροπή του Γκράμοφον, και οι νικητές.

Το Βραβείο Κοντσέρτου απονεμήθηκε στην 30χρονη Νορβηγίδα βιολονίστρια Vilde Frang για την ερμηνεία της στα Κοντσέρτα για βιολί των Μπέντζαμιν Μπρίτεν και Έριχ Βόλφγκανγκ Κόρνγκολντ, στην ηχογράφηση από τη Warner Classics, με τη Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα της Ραδιοφωνίας της Φρανκφούρτης υπό τη διεύθυνση του 37χρονου Αμερικανού μαέστρου James Gaffigan.

Το Βραβείο Ρεσιτάλ απονεμήθηκε στην τριάντα ενός χρόνων Γαλλίδα υψίφωνο Sabine Devieilhe, για την ερμηνεία της στον δίσκο "Mozart - The Weber Sisters", από την Erato Records, με τον Arnaud de Pasquale στο πιάνο και το μουσικό σύνολο Pygmalion υπό τη διεύθυνση του Raphäel Pichon.


Sergei Rachmaninov: Variations – Daniil Trifonov, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (DG)

Benjamin Britten, Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concertos – Vilde Frang, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, James Gaffigan (Warner Classics)

Bohuslav Martinů: Rhapsody-Concerto, Viola Sonata, 3 Madrigals, Duo No.2 – Maxim Rysanov, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Katya Apekisheva, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek (BIS)

Johannes Brahms: Violin Concerto | Béla Bartók: Violin Concerto No.1 – Janine Jansen, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano (Decca)

Antonín Dvořák: Violin Concerto, Romance | Josef Suk: Fantasy – Christian Tetzlaff, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds (Ondine)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 - Maria João Pires, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Frans Brüggen (NIFC)

...and the winner is
Benjamin Britten, Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concertos – Vilde Frang, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, James Gaffigan (Warner Classics)

Collectors of a certain age may look askance at the packaging (there are no fewer than five photographs of the soloist and no one else gets a look-in), but let the carping end there. These are urgently communicative, potentially transformative accounts of scores which, if no longer confined to the fringes of the repertoire, have yet to command universal admiration. Placing them back to back is a risk given their very divergent aesthetic responses to the huge political and moral challenges of their time. So far as I am aware, Gil Shaham and Daniel Hope are the only big-name soloists to have recorded both concertos, never mind actually pairing them. In her brief introduction to the project, Vilde Frang writes that it has long been her wish to bring together two of her favourite concertos. If you've been impressed by her previous releases you'll already have this one marked down as a compulsory purchase and likely Awards contender.

There are several paradoxes at the heart of Frang's captivating performance style. Playing with almost intimidating dexterity and polish, not to mention impeccable intonation (it comes as no surprise to discover that Anne-Sophie Mutter was an early mentor), her music-making still manages to project an impression of honesty and naturalness. An exciting player, she prefers taking chances to playing it safe, in spite of which her interpretations feel airily unforced rather than ostentatious. It's quite a feat and one reliant on supportive collaborators able to unfold a (sometimes unpredictable) musical narrative with comparable ease. Fortunately James Gaffigan, whose international career was launched in Frankfurt at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition, is with her every step of the way, as is the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.

First up is Korngold's escapist confection, and it receives a notably unsentimental reading. This is not to imply that the super-articulate music-making is either cool or predictable. The first-movement cadenza is assaulted with sudden anger, the slow movement played with a clean directness that sounds utterly fresh, at least until a riskily self-conscious inflection just before the end. In the emptier pyrotechnics of the finale Frang comes close to trumping Shaham, if not Heifetz (whose recording is the subject of this month's Classics Reconsidered). Her pure, sweet timbre is leaner but she is much assisted by sensitive conducting and the kind of sound engineering that exposes unexpected strands in the orchestral texture rather than unduly spotlighting the star. I found this a deeply satisfying take on a vehicle intended to slake Heifetz's insatiable thirst for technical display rather than to extend Korngold's compositional range. That said, you may feel that the swashbuckling needs a little more schmaltz to make it palatable.

From Korngold's Romantic patchwork to Britten's high seriousness (and his obsessive working of scalic material) is quite a leap, yet, with these exponents, there's no hint of the latter overreaching himself in this extended, bleakly eloquent take on the Prokofiev violin concerto model. Indeed, the argument is projected with such searing intensity that the work asserts its claim to be considered one of the masterpieces of the last century. Once again Frang proves immaculate above the stave; and, because the third-movement passacaglia never gets bogged down in the manner of Vengerov and Rostropovich or Little and Gardner, the sense of looming threat is ever present through to the equivocal close. While Marwood and Volkov make the whole concerto feel more contemporary, brisker from the outset, texturally spikier and more fractured than Lubotsky with Britten himself as conductor, there are other aesthetic possibilities. Whatever the work's pockets of English reserve, Frang refuses to undersell those passionate outbursts fuelled by the composer's political and moral convictions during and after the Spanish Civil War. This is a remarkable rendition, at once spacious and tautly held together, cool where it needs to be but eminently emotive with just the right kind of "perilous sweetness". The soloist's tone is never remotely wiry or frayed and the harmonics are simply sensational.

Here then are two ardent performances to complement or even supplant existing favourites. Such technical inviolability and emotional truth is born of long familiarity. In 2013 Frang and Gaffigan took the Britten as far afield as Sydney and, as YouTube aficionados will know, the Korngold is an old friend too. That the works' American connections are ably explored in Mervyn Cooke's booklet-note is the icing on the cake.

Source: David Gutman (gramophone.co.uk)


"Nessun Dorma - The Puccini Album" – Jonas Kaufmann, Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano (Sony Classical)

"Mozart - The Weber Sisters" – Sabine Devieilhe, Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon (Erato)

"Arie Napoletane" – Max Emanuel Cencic, Il Pomo D'Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev (Decca)

"Scene!" – Christiane Karg, Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (Berlin Classics)

Francesco Cavalli: Heroines of the Venetian Baroque – Mariana Flores, Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón (Ricercar)

"Paris, Mon Amour" – Sonya Yoncheva, Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Frédéric Chaslin (Sony Classical)

...and the winner is
"Mozart - The Weber Sisters" – Sabine Devieilhe, Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon (Erato)

"A Mozartian hotch-potch" was my uncharitable first reaction when I glanced through the contents of this disc. Eating humble pie, I confess to thoroughly enjoying this "portrait de Mozart amoureux", as French soprano Sabine Devieilhe dubs it: music associated with three of the four Weber sisters, of whom Aloysia (Mozart's first love) and Josefa (the first Queen of the Night) were professional singers, and Constanze his wife. On the whole, the mixed-media sequence of arias, songs and instrumental pieces, rare (including a shrouded "Canonic Adagio" for two basset horns and bassoon) and familiar, works well, even if several have only the slenderest connection to the Webers.

Launched by a fizzing account of the overture to the Paris ballet Les petits riens, the programme centres around three magnificent showpiece arias for Aloysia, famed both for her expressive cantabile and her coloratura prowess. Among her specialities were sustained pianissimo high notes; and I can't imagine they were more delicately floated than they are by Sabine Devieilhe, a lyric coloratura who combines a pure, sweet timbre and dazzling virtuosity. Although her Italian consonants could be sharper, Devieilhe also has a keen dramatic sense. In sympathetic dialogue with the oboe, she realises all the tenderness and agitation of "Vorrei spiegarvi" (where the lovelorn Clorinda has fallen for the "wrong" man); and in the spectacular "Popoli di Tessaglia" she catches each fluctuation of Alceste's grief and protest in the opening recitative, then flies off into the stratosphere (up to top G, capping even the Queen of the Night's F) without shrillness or strain. The period orchestra are vivid accomplices, though with the voice forwardly recorded, wind detail can suffer in the balance.

In one of her signature roles, Devieilhe despatches the Queen's "Der Hölle Rache" with terrific pizzazz, her poise in alt even enabling her to shade the high-wire coloratura at will. You'll hear more sheerly powerful accounts of this warhorse, but few more brilliantly sung. Elsewhere Devieilhe makes the coyly risqué little ariette "Dans un bois solitaire" into a miniature drama, and brings a smiling simplicity to "Nehmt meinen Dank", Mozart's last music for Aloysia. I confess I could have done without the Solfège, the singing exercise he wrote for Constanze as a preparation for the "Christe" of the C minor Mass. And, pace the informative booklet-note, it's unlikely that the unfinished "Et incarnatus" – or indeed any of the Credo – was performed in St Peter's Abbey in Salzburg in 1783. Still, I'm not complaining when it's sung with such radiance and grace, at a tempo that brings out the music's pastoral lilt. If you expect the disc to end here, as it says on the tin, be prepared for a shock. It might initially have you spluttering. My guess is that it would have tickled Mozart's famously antic sense of humour.

Source: Richard Wigmore (gramophone.co.uk)

To be continued / Συνεχίζεται

See also / Δείτε επίσης

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VI. Nominations and Awards: Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part V. Nominations and Awards: Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IV. Special Awards 2016 | Lifetime Achievement: Christa Ludwig | Special Achievement: BBC Radio 3 | Label of the Year: Warner Classics

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part III. Special Awards 2016 | Young Artist of the Year: Benjamin Appl

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part II. Special Awards 2016 | Artist of the Year: Daniil Trifonov

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony


ECHO KLASSIK Awards 2016

Παρασκευή, 21 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major – Yuja Wang, Camerata Salzburg, Lionel Bringuier

Under the baton of French conductor Lionel Bringuier, one of the most promising conductors of his generation, the Camerata Salzburg performs Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major, interpreted by Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. Yuja is especially recognized for her playing which combines the fearless imagination of youth with the discipline and precision of a mature artist.

Υπό τη διεύθυνση του Γάλλου μαέστρου Lionel Bringuier, ενός από τους πλέον υποσχόμενους διευθυντές ορχήστρας της γενιάς του, η Καμεράτα του Σάλτσμπουργκ παρουσιάζει το Κοντσέρτο για πιάνο σε Σολ μείζονα του Μωρίς Ραβέλ. Ερμηνεύει η διάσημη Κινέζα πιανίστρια Γιούτζα Ουάνγκ. Η συναυλία δόθηκε στο πλαίσιο του Φεστιβάλ του Σάλτσμπουργκ στην Αυστρία, στο θέατρο Haus für Mozart, στις 12 Αυγούστου 2016.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

♪ Piano Concerto in G major (1931)

i. Allegramente
ii. Adagio assai
iii. Presto

Yuja Wang, piano

Camerata Salzburg
Conductor: Lionel Bringuier

Austria, Salzburg Festival, Haus für Mozart, August 12, 2016

(HD 720p)

The piano was Ravel's favorite instrument, and of his two extraordinary concertos, the Piano Concerto in G major was, in his opinion, "more Ravelian". Indeed, the two works are profoundly different, but without being, as Vladimir Jankélévitch observed in his book about the composer, more (or less) Ravelian than the other. Nevertheless, Ravel's opinion should not be dismissed, for it reflects his personal predilection, and, as any listener can tell, the work literally overflows with exuberance, delight, and verve. The Concerto may have been conceived in 1928, the year Ravel received his honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford. While some commentators have found the source of this Concerto in Ravel's Rhapsody on Basque themes Zazpiak bat, a project which remained unfinished, Robert de Fragny remembered that the composer had remarked that the dazzling opening theme came to him during a train ride from Oxford to London in 1928. In 1929, despite failing health, Ravel talked about a world tour on which he would perform his Concerto. While the world tour never materialized, the composer's life was sufficiently hectic, as he received a commission to compose another piano concerto, the Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand).

Completed in November 1931, the concerto was premiered in January 1932, in a legendary performance by Marguerite Long. The sensations that this work conjures up, right from the beginning, are brightness and boundless energy. Opening with a whiplash sound, the first movement, Allegramente, proceeds rapidly, from an initial burst of light, composed of a lively piccolo tune threading through crystalline, harp-like piano figuration, to the incisive ending, traversing the many truly magical, even mysterious, moments of repose, when the piano indulges in dreamy, languid soliloquies. Delighting in the piano's expressive potential, Ravel fully employs the instrument's sonority, weaving, for example, a trill into a melody. The piano's rich and subtle discourse is magnificently matched by the orchestra, which, appearing in many guises, mimics and complements the piano, reinforcing the sensation of relentless energy by sharp, metallic, insistent statements by the trumpet. Ravel's splendid orchestration, which tempts the listener to experience this work as a brilliant, and almost self-sufficient, demonstration of sheer musical color, reflects the composer's interest in jazz, evidenced by trombone glissandi and similar effects. However, the jazz elements are profoundly Ravelian, which means that they hardly strike the listener as out of context. The remarkable second movement introduces an introspective, soulful atmosphere, seemingly quite remote from the bustle of the previous movement. A simply stated solo piano theme, of a disarming yet profoundly soulful simplicity, suggesting, perhaps, the image of a solitary promenade in the moonlight, yields to a timeless flute theme which expresses feelings of longing, sorrow, and subdued, yet clearly stated, passion. The final movement, as the piano wends its way through a series of shrieks and wails, executed by woodwind and brass instruments, affects the listener as a mounting wave of sound. A sudden, abrupt exclamation concludes the seductive cacophony of this climactic movement, and the listener experiences a desire to revisit the enchanted landscape of a musical work whose limpid formal structure contains a seemingly boundless world – without a trace of creative fatigue or ambivalence – of elegantly turned musical ideas.

Source: Zoran Minderovic (allmusic.com)

Τα Κοντσέρτα για πιάνο (1929-1931) του Μωρίς Ραβέλ αποτελούν εξαίσιες εμπνεύσεις και διαμάντια του πιανιστικού ρεπερτορίου. O Guy Lelong αναφέρει ότι αν και είχαν γραφτεί πάνω κάτω την ίδια εποχή, το Κοντσέρτο για το αριστερό χέρι εμφανίζεται πιο μοντέρνο συγκριτικά με το Κοντσέρτο σε Σολ. Όντως, το δεύτερο χαρακτηρίζεται από καθαρή νεοκλασική λογική και δομή συντηρητική. Αρχικά ο συνθέτης στόχευε να συνθέσει μια βασκική εικόνα, μια ραψωδία όπου την κεντρική θέση θα έπαιρνε το φολκλόρ. Η παραδοχή ότι σκεφτόταν να γράψει στο στυλ ενός divertimento του Μότσαρτ δικαιολογεί κάπως τον τρόπο με τον οποίο συνέθεσε το "Adagio" του έργου. Τελικώς έχτισε σταθερά ένα κοντσέρτο σε τρία μέρη, ένα δυναμικό πρώτο, ένα τρυφερό δεύτερο κι ένα μοντέρνο, αστραφτερό τρίτο. Η βαθιά επιθυμία του να είναι ο ίδιος ερμηνευτής της πρώτης εκτέλεσης δεν πραγματοποιήθηκε, εξαιτίας των προβλημάτων υγείας που αντιμετώπιζε τότε. Το Κοντσέρτο σε Σολ μείζονα παρουσιάστηκε για πρώτη φορά από τη Γαλλίδα πιανίστρια Marguerite Long (1874-1966) τον Ιανουάριο του 1932 στη Salle Playel στο Παρίσι με την Ορχήστρα Lamoureux, υπό τη διεύθυνση του συνθέτη. Με τους ίδιους συντελεστές πραγματοποιήθηκε η πρώτη ηχογράφηση τρεις μήνες μετά.

Πηγή: Έφη Αγραφιώτη

Yuja Wang was born in Beijing on February 10, 1987, and encouraged at a young age to make music by her dancer mother and percussionist father, starting the never-ending thirst for knowledge that has sustained her musical development. Yuja began piano lessons at the age of six and her progress was accelerated by studies at Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. In 1999 she moved to Canada to participate in the Morningside Music summer programme at Calgary's Mount Royal College and thereafter enrolled as the youngest ever student at Mount Royal Conservatory. Wang's exceptional gifts were widely recognised in 2001 with her appointment as a Steinway Artist, and again the following year when she was offered a place at Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Gary Graffman.

By the time Yuja graduated from the Curtis Institute in May 2008, she had already gathered momentum following the spectacular success of her debut three years earlier with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. Wang attracted widespread international attention in March 2007 when she replaced Martha Argerich on short notice in performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and within the span of just a few seasons she was working with conductors of the highest calibre. Over the past ten years of her career, she has worked with such pre-eminent Maestros as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, and Zubin Mehta.

In January 2009 Yuja Wang became an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist. Her debut album, Sonatas & Etudes, prompted Gramophone to name her as its 2009 Young Artist of the Year. Her 2011 release of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Subsequent releases for the yellow label include Fantasia, an album of encore pieces by Albéniz, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, Scriabin, and others; a live recording of Prokofiev's Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and an acclaimed coupling of Ravel's two piano concertos with Fauré's Ballade, recorded with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and Lionel Bringuier. Reviewers around the world have documented the full range of Wang's work, capturing the essence of her musicianship and observing the development of an artist blessed with consummate technical prowess, an inexhaustible creative imagination, and an unmatched stamina.

She was recently described by the New York Times as "one of the best young pianists around" and hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald for her "blistering technique". In July 2015 the Los Angeles Times declared: "Hers is a nonchalant, brilliant keyboard virtuosity that would have made both Prokofiev (who was a great pianist) and even the fabled Horowitz jealous". The combination of critical acclaim, audience ovations, return engagements at leading international venues, and an exclusive recording relationship with Deutsche Grammophon confirm the 29-year old pianist's status as one of this century's most compelling artists.

The international reach and artistic breadth of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 schedule reflects the strong demand for her work. She unveils her new season in the summer of 2016 with a run of recitals, chamber concerts and concerto performances at the Salzburg, Wolftrap, Tanglewood, Verbier and Baltic Sea festivals including collaborations with Matthias Goerne, Leonidas Kavakos, Lionel Bringuier, Gustavo Gimeno and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following her initial NCPA residency concerts, Wang embarks on an extensive recital tour of China and Japan in September before traveling to the United States to open the Philadelphia Orchestra's season with three performances of Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 in partnership with Yannick-Nézet-Séguin.

Yuja's way of making music connects with a strikingly broad audience. It appeals to everyone, from newcomers to the concert hall to devoted pianophiles, and has attracted an exceptionally youthful following. Her love for fashion, recently recognised by her induction into Giorgio Armani's Sì Women's Circle, has also contributed to the popular appeal of an artist who is armed with the ability to challenge convention and win fresh converts to classical music. She is set to broaden her audience throughout the 2016-2017 season, not least through her term as Artist-in-Residence at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Konserthuset in Stockholm. The Beijing-born pianist returns to her home city in August for the first of six specially curated concerts at the NCPA, where she will explore programmes of Romantic and 20th-century repertoire in solo, chamber, and orchestral concerts. Her time in Stockholm will be filled by chamber music with Leonidas Kavakos, Bartok with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Sakari Oramo as well as a recital programme.

Other bold highlights of Yuja Wang's 2016-2017 season include a nine-concert Asian tour with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas; performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda at New York's Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and an extensive spring tour of Europe with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Antonio Pappano. In December she joins forces with percussionist Martin Grubinger for concerts in Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Tel Aviv, and marks the new year with extensive recital tours of Europe and the United States with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Wang will also undertake a major solo European recital tour in March and April, complete with concerts in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London, and many other cities.

Over the next season's course, Yuja will explore everything from chamber works by Beethoven and Brahms to concertos by Chopin and Shostakovich. Her profound affinity for Bartók falls under the spotlight when she explores each of the composer's three piano concertos, with performances of individual works in Beijing, Cleveland, Dallas, Guangzhou, Stockholm, Taiwan and Toronto, and of the complete set with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel over two consecutive weeks in May and June.

Source: yujawang.com

More photos / Περισσότερες φωτογραφίες

See also / Δείτε επίσης

George Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F major | Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 in D minor – Yuja Wang, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor – Yuja Wang, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Yuri Termikanov (HD 1080p)

Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concertos – Yuja Wang, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Lionel Bringuier (Audio video)

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.2 in G minor – Yuja Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker, Paavo Järvi

Yuja Wang plays Robert Schumann, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven at Verbier Festival 2016

Yuja Wang, the pianist who will not go quietly

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C major – Yuja Wang, Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Πέμπτη, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VI. Nominations and Awards: Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal

The top six recordings in each of the 12 categories as voted for by the panel of Gramophone's critics, and the winners.

2. Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal

Οι πρώτες έξι ηχογραφήσεις κάθε μίας από τις 12 κατηγορίες όπως ψηφίστηκαν από την κριτική επιτροπή του Γκράμοφον, και οι νικητές.

Το Βραβείο Όπερας απέσπασε η ηχογράφηση της «Αΐντα» του Τζουζέπε Βέρντι, από τη Warner Classics, με τους Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Ludovic Tézier, Erwin Schrott, Marco Spotti, Eleonora Buratto και Paolo Fanale, και τη Χορωδία και την Ορχήστρα της Ακαδημίας της Αγίας Καικιλίας της Ρώμης υπό τη διεύθυνση του Αντόνιο Παπάνο.

Το Βραβείο Χορωδιακής Μουσικής κέρδισε ο δίσκος "Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder" από την Hyperion Records, με τους Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer και Johannes Martin Kränzle, τις χορωδίες Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln και Kartäuserkantorei Köln, και την Gürzenich-Orchester Köln (Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα της Κολωνίας) υπό τη διεύθυνση του Γερμανού μαέστρου Markus Stenz.

Η 50χρονη Γαλλίδα υψίφωνος Βερονίκ Γκενς κέρδισε το Βραβείο Τραγουδιού (solo vocal) για την ερμηνεία της στον δίσκο "Néère" (από την Alpha Classics), με τη Susan Manoff να τη συνοδεύει στο πιάνο.


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades – Mariss Jansons (BR Klassik)

Giuseppe Verdi: Aida – Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics)

Ruggero Leoncavallo: Pagliacci | Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana – Christian Thielemann (Sony Classical)

Riccardo Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini – Fabrice Bollon (CPO)

Gaetano Donizetti: Les Martyrs – Mark Elder (Opera Rara)

Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold – Simon Rattle (BR-Klassik)

...and the winner is
Giuseppe Verdi: Aida – Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics)

Aida is the most classically concise of the great 19th-century grand operas yet it remains the one most closely associated with theatrical excess. To savour its qualities, it should be heard first, seen later, which is why the gramophone has played so important a role in its performing history. Nowadays record companies mainly serve up opera on DVD or in cheap-to-record concert performances. Yet, as Antonio Pappano has had the courage to insist, you cannot record Aida in concert. Set in temple and tomb, by river and city gate, the sound planes are too various, the range of dynamics too complex to replicate in concert-hall conditions.

Aida received its first complete studio recording in Rome in 1928 but it was the 1959 Decca recording – produced in Vienna by John Culshaw with Karajan conducting a largely Italian cast – that finally gave us what Andrew Porter, writing in these columns, called "a sound realisation of the score which transcends any shortcomings inherent in physical staging and brings us a step closer to that ideal imagined performance". Not that the Decca set displaced the theatrically thrilling, albeit more conventionally produced, 1955 Serafin recording with Maria Callas as Aida and Tito Gobbi as a near definitive Amonasro.

The new recording, produced by Stephen Johns, stands within that broad EMI tradition, albeit with a larger stage picture and a greatly enhanced dynamic range beautifully accommodated to the opera's need, and the listener's. Where the new set resembles the 1959 Decca is in the quality of the conducting. Pappano's direction, like Karajan's, is organic as the work is organic: each episode finely shaped within itself (the Triumphal Scene is beautifully judged) yet built unerringly into the larger whole. I don't hear this to the same extent in Muti's 1974 EMI recording and certainly not in the 1961 RCA set, where a strong cast headed by Leontyne Price and Jon Vickers has to do battle with Solti's brazen and occasionally thoughtless conducting.

Karajan has the Vienna Philharmonic but it is arguable that Pappano goes one better, with orchestral playing of rare accomplishment from an Italian ensemble which is alive to the opera's every word. (And motion: the ballet sequences are superbly realised.) In both performances the orchestra is a powerful additional player which supports the singers at every turn. The result is a vocally lyrical Aida with Pappano's cast, like Karajan's, never needing to force the moment. We hear this at the very outset in Jonas Kaufmann's account of "Celeste Aida", less visceral than some but wonderfully mellifluous and crowned by a rarely heard quietly diminishing high B flat.

Anja Harteros is arguably the most interesting Aida on record since Callas, albeit differently characterised. Where Callas is every inch the lovelorn warrior princess, Harteros is a humane and articulate Aida who is palpably not the mistress of her destiny. Her top C near the end of "O patria mia" is neither as pianissimo nor as dolce as Caballé's on the Muti recording, but that – for all but the most ardent canary-fancier – is beside the point when Caballé lacks the power persistently to outface Fiorenza Cossotto's dauntless Amneris and is never as at one with her Radamès, Plácido Domingo, as Harteros is with the leonine yet liquid-toned Kaufmann.

It matters little in an intelligently produced studio recording that of the principals only Ekaterina Semenchuk has sung her role on stage, though her Amneris is indeed one of the finest on record. Ludovic Tézier is an impressive Amonasro. Apart from an indistinct final syllable on "Ei t'ama" as Amonasro confronts his daughter with the fact of Radamès's love for her, he is a consistently strong player. Marco Spotti makes a plausible King, but Erwin Schrott's High Priest sounds too benign to be the regime's political enforcer.

Pappano has already given us an exceptional recording of the Messa da Requiem (EMI, 10/09), which Verdi wrote shortly after Aida. The concentrated quiet of the choral work in the temple scenes, where Eleonora Buratto contributes an exquisite High Priestess, echoes this. In the trial scene and the lovers' entombment, the new recording perhaps deploys too few tricks. I rather miss Culshaw's contrived but subtly layered acoustic picture; and prefer hieratic brass which is palpably nel sotterraneo as Verdi directs. (The 1955 Serafin recording has this exactly right.) But the singing of the doomed lovers has tenderness and beauty, and the preternaturally quiet Santa Cecilia string-playing is exquisitely managed as the drama makes its longed-for tryst with silence.

No recording is without the occasional oddity of balance and perspective. And Warner's booklet is poor, preferring a PR puff to an essay on the opera itself. But these are minor matters in the presence of what is as fine an all-round Aida as the gramophone has yet given us.

Source: Richard Osborne (gramophone.co.uk)


Herbert Howells: Collegium Regale & other choral works – Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (Hyperion)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Missa solemnis – Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink (BR-Klassik)

Arthur Bliss: Morning Heroes, Hymn for Apollo – BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Andrew Davis (Chandos)

Arnold Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder – Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln & Kartäuserkantorei Köln, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz (Hyperion)

"Amuse-Bouche" – Anna Markland, I Fagiolini, Robert Hollingworth (Decca)

"Poetry in Music" – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (Coro)

...and the winner is
Arnold Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder – Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln & Kartäuserkantorei Köln, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz (Hyperion)

This new Gurre-Lieder, a follow-up in some ways to Hyperion's well-received disc of Strauss tone-poems with the Gürzenich Orchestra (5/13), marks something of a departure for the label. Though recorded in Cologne with a local production team, however, it's a release that still seems to capture the essence of the label's "house style", presenting a profoundly musical performance of clarity and intelligence. Technically, too, it's a formidable achievement, not just in terms of engineering that is transparent and gloriously detailed – especially when heard in Hyperion's Studio Master download – but in playing and singing that is able to encompass all of the vast work’s demands.

The Gürzenich Orchestra does not, admittedly, make as luxurious a sound as, say, Abbado's Vienna Philharmonic or Rattle's Berliners, whose players – particularly the richly seductive upper strings and luxurious horns – bring a greater Romantic swell and swoon to such key passages as Part 1's Zwischenspiel. The sound Stenz gets from his orchestra is leaner, the strings more silk than velvet, but no less beautiful as a result, offering a more delicate picture of longing in the first part, occasionally displaying more languour than ardour; the musical structure and essential clarity are never lost in the clatter of Part 3. And Stenz retains a canny knack for opening the lyrical floodgates when required: the ebb and flow he brings to Tove and Waldemar's final songs in Part 1 is exquisite.

He's helped by very fine soloists. Barbara Haveman might not have the compelling charisma of Karita Matilla (for Rattle), but the voice is wonderfully rich and expansive, soaring up to a powerful top B. Brandon Jovanovich brings a rugged vocal handsomeness to Waldemar, and there is a touching sensitivity and slight vulnerability in the timbre – a Heldentenor with a ringing top who retains some lyrical colour. Like Haveman, he has all the notes under his belt. Claudia Mahnke's Waldtaube is rich-voiced and moving, occasionally reminiscent of Brigitte Fassbaender on the Chailly set – high praise indeed. Gerhard Siegel is a fine Klaus-Narr, though not quite as multicoloured as Philip Langridge (Abbado and Rattle), and Thomas Bauer does his bit for nominative determinism as a lively Bauer. There are benefits, too, to having Johannes Martin Kränzle, a baritone in his prime, filling out the Speaker's Sprechgesang strongly, without the mannerisms some bring to it – his "Ach, war das licht und hell!" is rapturously done.

Negatives? The massed choruses feel to me as though they’re balanced a little far back, sounding a touch hazy – the concluding "Seht die Sonne" isn't quite as heart-stopping as it might be as a result. I'm not sure, either, whether Stenz finds as much darkness in Parts 2 and 3 as others. In sum: the set might not jump immediately to the top of a well-stocked pile, but it shines a new light on this fascinating piece and has a fierce conviction and integrity all its own. I can't imagine anyone interested in the work will want to be without it.

Source: Hugo Shirley (gramophone.co.uk)

Solo Vocal

Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite on Poems by Michelangelo | Franz Liszt: Petrarch Sonnets – Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ivari Ilja (Ondine)

L'Heure Exquise, A French Songbook – Alice Coote, Graham Johnson (Hyperion)

"Musica e Poesia" – Rosa Feola, Iain Burnside (Opus Arte)

"Néère" – Véronique Gens, Susan Manoff (Alpha Classics)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Lieder & Bagatellen – Werner Güra, Christoph Berner (Harmonia Mundi)

"Joyce & Tony", Live at Wigmore Hall – Joyce DiDonato, Antonio Pappano (Erato)

...and the winner is
"Néère" – Véronique Gens, Susan Manoff (Alpha Classics)

Véronique Gens's new album is an important issue on several fronts. First and foremost, it is arguably the most perfectly realised recital of French songs since Stéphane Degout's very different "Mélodies" (Naïve, 4/11). Second, it is quite remarkable and insightful in its programming. At its centre is Chausson's Op.2 set, dating from 1881, much excerpted ("Le colibri" is very famous), but recorded here complete for the first time since Graham Johnson's survey of the composer's songs (Hyperion, 5/01). Around it are grouped works by Duparc and Hahn, the latter represented not only by such familiar items as "A Chloris" but by songs from his Etudes Latines, a mixed solo-choral collection setting texts by Leconte de Lisle, published in 1900. They are quite wonderfully original – their sinewy melodies and pulsing accompaniments are closer in style to Satie's Gnossiennes than anything else in Hahn's output – and the disc as a whole makes a superb case for considering his songs, sometimes thought dilettantish, as being on a level with those of his elder contemporaries.

Gens, as one might expect, is exceptional in this repertoire. Most of the songs are about erotic anticipation and tristesse, and her dark, slightly smoky tone adds to the sensuality of it all. She sings as much off the text as the line, but nothing is nudged or forced in an overtly interventionist way. Neither she nor her pianist Susan Manoff seemingly believe that French song is necessarily about restraint and delicacy, and both are prepared to use bold colours and effects when the situation demands. "Au pays où se fait la guerre" delivers near-Gothic frissons as a lurch of vocal anxiety and a piano shudder accompany the sound of strange footfalls on the tower stairs, and the arpeggios with which Manoff surrounds the image of the fields coloured "d'hyacinthe et d'or" in "L’invitation au voyage" glitter and sparkle like the contents of some sumptuous, decadent jewel box. Elsewhere, poise is all. Gens's "A Chloris" is one of the best there is, and Hahn's "Néère", which gives the disc its title, leaves you open-mouthed with its beauty.

Source: Tim Ashley (gramophone.co.uk)

To be continued / Συνεχίζεται

See also / Δείτε επίσης

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VII. Nominations and Awards: Concerto, Recital

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part V. Nominations and Awards: Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IV. Special Awards 2016 | Lifetime Achievement: Christa Ludwig | Special Achievement: BBC Radio 3 | Label of the Year: Warner Classics

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part III. Special Awards 2016 | Young Artist of the Year: Benjamin Appl

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part II. Special Awards 2016 | Artist of the Year: Daniil Trifonov

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony


ECHO KLASSIK Awards 2016

Τρίτη, 18 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part V. Nominations and Awards: Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music

The top six recordings in each of the 12 categories as voted for by the panel of Gramophone's critics, and the winners.

1. Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music

Οι πρώτες έξι ηχογραφήσεις κάθε μίας από τις 12 κατηγορίες όπως ψηφίστηκαν από την κριτική επιτροπή του Γκράμοφον, και οι νικητές.

Η 48χρονη Αγγλίδα βιολονίστρια Rachel Podger κέρδισε το Βραβείο Μπαρόκ Ορχηστρικής Μουσικής για τον δίσκο "Rosary Sonatas" του Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, από την Channel Classics. Το Βραβείο Μπαρόκ Φωνητικής Μουσικής απονεμήθηκε στο φωνητικό σύνολο Les Arts Florissants και τον Σκωτσέζο τενόρο και μουσικό διευθυντή του συνόλου, Paul Agnew, για τον δίσκο "Monteverdi: Madrigali, Vol. 1 – Cremona", από την Les Arts Florissants Editions. Το μπαρόκ σύνολο Taverner Choir & Players υπό τη διεύθυνση του Βρετανού μαέστρου και ιδρυτή του συνόλου, Andrew Parrott, απέσπασε το Βραβείο Παλαιάς Μουσικής, με τον δίσκο "Western Wind", από την Avie Records.

Baroque Instrumental

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: Concertos pour clavecin et cordes – Il Convito, Maude Gratton

Heinrich Ignaz von Biber: Rosary Sonatas – Rachel Podger (Channel Classics)

Lawes: The Royal Consort – Phantasm (Linn)

"Bach in Montecassino" – Luca Guglielmi (Vivat)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Organ Works – Masaaki Suzuki (BIS)

Antonio Vivaldi: Four Seasons – La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler (Avie)

...and the winner is
Heinrich Ignaz von Biber: Rosary Sonatas – Rachel Podger (Channel Classics)

How heartening it is to see new recordings of Biber continuing to come through, even well after the double boost they got from the composer's two anniversaries in 1994 and 2004! Of all his music, it is surely the Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas – 15 sonatas for violin and continuo, each representing an episode from the lives of Jesus and Mary corresponding to the sacred devotional "mysteries" of the Rosary, with a solo passacaglia to finish – that not only provide the most stimulating listening but also the most fascinating insights into his way of thinking. Indeed, one could go further and claim them as one of the most profound and coherent instrumental cycles of the entire Baroque period. Approaches among players differ on a scale from seeking out all the descriptive detail they can find to relying more on the subliminal effects of the music's symbolic and rhetorical gestures and constant scordature (each of the sonatas requires a different tuning system for the violin). All the successful ones, however, draw power from their depth of personal response, which is surely as it should be. This, after all, is music by a composer for whom the violin was a natural means of expression, a part of his being.

Of the new recordings of the Rosaries, perhaps the most keenly anticipated will be that by Rachel Podger, ever a glorious example of someone who lives life through her violin. Yet although her booklet-note makes clear that she appreciates how the violin is made literally to "suffer" through the dark retunings associated with Jesus's death, she also states that she sees her own role as that of evangelist. This may, I suppose, be why her performances (in which she is joined by lutenist David Miller and keyboard player Marcin Swiatkiewicz) are less directly involving than might have been expected. Of course she can play with grace and beauty – at the opening of "The Carrying of the Cross", for instance, in the smooth Canzona of "The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin" and throughout the Passacaglia (not a new recording, by the way, but taken from her "Guardian Angel" solo disc – 11/13). There are also many subtleties of articulation and timing, almost as if there are words and pauses lying behind the notes, though sometimes these develop into lingerings that stretch the boundaries of continuity. Those used to Podger's habitual natural exuberance may well find this recording surprisingly inward, even cool.

Source: Lindsay Kemp (gramophone.co.uk)

Baroque Vocal

George Frideric Handel: Partenope – Il Pomo d'oro, Riccardo Minasi (Erato)

"Concert Royal de la Nuit" – Ensemble Correspondances, Sébastien Daucé (Harmonia Mundi)

Claudio Monteverdi: Madrigali, Vol. 1. Cremona – Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew (Les Arts Florissants)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B Minor – Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (CPO)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Magnificat – Dunedin Consort, John Butt(Linn)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B minor – English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner (SDG)

...and the winner is
Claudio Monteverdi: Madrigali, Vol. 1. Cremona – Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew (Les Arts Florissants)

What was it with Cremona? The great luthiers Amati, Guarnari and Stradivari all had shops in the sleepy Lombardy town. Claudio Monteverdi was born there in 1567, and although he was eventually lured away by the brighter lights of Mantua, Rome and Venice, his auspicious early works were all crafted at home. Paul Agnew and his stylish baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants are currently performing Monteverdi's complete madrigals – eight miraculous books spanning the composer's career – Agnew calls them Monteverdi's musical autobiography. They're recording them, too, though not comprehensively or chronologically. More interestingly, they're grouping them according to city. Volume 2, a lens into Monteverdi's Mantua years, was released last year. Now Cremona dips into Books 1-3 to show a ballsy young composer flexing his muscles, breathlessly setting love poems and brimming with clever tricks. Les Arts capture all the exuberant invention. Their delivery is fresh and colloquial, like animated conversation between friends. The vocal blend isn't smooth – the character of each singer shines through, and the result is all the more colourful for it.

Source: Kate Molleson (theguardian.com)

Early Music

Heinrich Isaac: Missa Misericordias Domini & Motets – Cantica Symphonia, Giuseppe Maletto (Glossa)

Western Wind. Mass by John Taverner & Court Music for Henry VIII – Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott (Avie)

Jacquet of Mantua: Missa Surge Petre & Motets – The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (Hyperion)

Arnold & Hugo de Lantins: Secular Works – Le Miroir de Musique, Baptiste Romain

Loyset Compère: Magnificat, motets & chansons – The Orlando Consort (Hyperion)

"Scattered Ashes" – Magnificat, Philip Cave (Linn)

...and the winner is
Western Wind: Mass by John Taverner & Court Music for Henry VIII – Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott (Avie)

Andrew Parrott and his Taverner Choir & Players turn to music of their namesake alongside works by his contemporary King Henry VIII, an exceptionally musical monarch, and two composers of the previous generation, William Cornysh and Hugh Ashton. With Taverner's Western Wind mass as its corner-stone, this recording takes its lead from the unashamedly secular character of that work and ventures beyond the chapel door to explore the parallel world of courtly vernacular song and instrumental music.

To be continued / Συνεχίζεται

See also / Δείτε επίσης

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VII. Nominations and Awards: Concerto, Recital

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VI. Nominations and Awards: Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IV. Special Awards 2016 | Lifetime Achievement: Christa Ludwig | Special Achievement: BBC Radio 3 | Label of the Year: Warner Classics

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part III. Special Awards 2016 | Young Artist of the Year: Benjamin Appl

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part II. Special Awards 2016 | Artist of the Year: Daniil Trifonov

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony


ECHO KLASSIK Awards 2016

Δευτέρα, 17 Οκτωβρίου 2016

Frédéric Chopin – 167th anniversary of his death

Frédéric Chopin
(March 1, 1810 - October 17, 1849 • 1η Μαρτίου 1810 - 17 Οκτωβρίου 1849)

167th anniversary of his death – 167η επέτειος από το θάνατό του

Portrait of Frederic Chopin, by P. Schick (1873)
/ Πορτρέτο του Φρεντερίκ Σοπέν, από τον P. Schick (1873)
Considered Poland's greatest composer, Frédéric Chopin focused his efforts on piano composition and was a strong influence on composers who followed him.

Born on March 1, 1810, in Zelazowa Wola, Poland, Frédéric Chopin, grew up in a middle-class family. He published his first composition at age 7 and began performing one year later. In 1832, he moved to Paris, socialized with high society and was known as an excellent piano teacher. His piano compositions were highly influential. He died of tuberculosis and ill health on October 17, 1849, in Paris, France.

Frédéric Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen on March 1, 1810, in the small village of Zelazowa Wola, Duchy of Warsaw (now Poland). His Father, Nicholas, was a French émigré who was working as a bookkeeper when he met and married Justyna Krzyzanowska. Soon after Frédéric was born, Nicholas found employment as a tutor for aristocratic families in Warsaw.

His father's employment exposed young Chopin to cultured Warsaw society, and his mother introduced him to music at an early age. By age 6, young Chopin was ably playing the piano and composing tunes. Recognizing his talent, his family engaged professional musician Wojcheh Zywny for lessons, and soon pupil surpassed teacher in both technique and imagination.

By 1818, Chopin was performing in elegant salons and writing his own compositions, including the Polonaise in G Minor. By 1826, he had composed several piano pieces in different styles, and his parents enrolled him in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, where he studied for three years under Polish composer Josef Elsner.

Sensing he needed a broader musical experience, Chopin's parents sent him to Vienna, where he made his performance debut in 1829. Audiences were enthralled with his highly technical yet poetically expressive performances. Over the next few years, Chopin performed in Poland, Germany, Austria and Paris, where he settled in 1832. There he quickly established relationships with other young composers, among them Franz Liszt, Vincenzo Bellini and Felix Mendelssohn.

While in Paris, Chopin found his delicate style didn't always enthrall the larger concert audiences, who had been exposed to the works of Franz Schubert and Ludwig Van Beethoven. A fortuitous introduction to the Rothschild family opened new doors, however, and Chopin soon found employment in the great parlors of Paris as both recitalist and teacher. His increased income allowed him to live well and compose such pieces as Nocturnes of Opp. 9 and 15, the Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op.31 and the Sonata in B-flat minor, Op.35.

Though Chopin had had youthful love affairs and was at one time engaged, none of his relationships lasted more than a year. In 1838 he began a love affair with French novelist Aurore Dedevant, aka, George Sand. The couple spent a harsh winter on the island of Majorca, south of France, where Chopin became ill. In March 1839, Sand realized that he needed medical attention and took him to Marseille, where he was diagnosed with consumption (tuberculosis). There, a skilled physician helped him recover.

In May 1839, Frederic Chopin and George Sand settled south of Paris in Nohant, Sand's country home. The next seven years proved to be the happiest and most productive period of Chopin's life. He steadily composed a series of masterpieces, including the B Minor Sonata, the Opus 55 Nocturnes and the Opus 56 Mazurkas. The growing demand for his new works and his greater understanding of the publishing business also brought increased income and provided Chopin an elegant lifestyle.

By the mid-1840s, both Chopin's health and his relationship with George Sand were deteriorating. His behavior had become erratic, possibly due to an undiagnosed form of epilepsy. The affair ended in 1848 after, among other things, Sand's unflattering portrayal of their relationship in her 1846 novel Lucrezia Floriani. At the end, both parties were too proud to reconcile, and Chopin's spirit and health were broken. He made an extended tour to the British Isles, where he struggled under an exhausting schedule, making his last public appearance on November 16, 1848. He then returned to Paris, where he died on October 17, 1849, at age 38. His body was buried at Père Lachaise cemetery, but his heart was interred at a church in Warsaw, near the place of his birth.

Source: biography.com

Frédéric Chopin (Photo: Louis-Auguste Bisson, 1849)
/ Φρεντερίκ Σοπέν (Φωτογραφία: Λουί-Ωγκύστ Μπισόν, 1849)
O Φρειδερίκος Φραγκίσκος Σοπέν, γαλλικής καταγωγής Πολωνός συνθέτης και πιανίστας, γεννήθηκε την 1η Μαρτίου 1810, στη Ζελάζοβα Βόλα κοντά στη Βαρσοβία, και πέθανε στις 17 Οκτωβρίου 1849 στο Παρίσι. Κηδεύτηκε στις 30 Οκτωβρίου παρουσία 3.000 πολιτών και μεταξύ αυτών που μετέφεραν το φέρετρό του ήταν ο συνθέτης Τζιάκομο Μεγερμπέεερ και ο ζωγράφος Ευγένιος Ντελακρουά.

Ήταν το δεύτερο παιδί του Νικολάου Σοπέν, Γάλλου μετανάστη από τη Μαρενβίλ της Λορένης και καθηγητή της γαλλικής, και της Πολωνής Ιουστίνης Κρζιζανόφσκα. Από νωρίς αποκαλύφτηκε το μουσικό του ταλέντο – μόλις σε ηλικία οκτώ χρόνων έγραψε ως πρώτη του σύνθεση μία «πολωνέζα», και έδωσε το πρώτο του κονσέρτο στη Βαρσοβία. Μολονότι οι καιροί για την πατρίδα του ήταν δύσκολοι – το 1815 η Πολωνία διαμελίστηκε για τέταρτη φορά από τους Ρώσους, τους Πρώσους και τους Αυστριακούς – σπούδασε αρμονία και αντίστιξη κοντά στον Ιωσήφ Έλσνερ, συμπλήρωσε τη μουσική του μόρφωση στο ωδείο της Βαρσοβίας και το 1826 τελείωσε το Λύκειο.

Το 1829 πήγε στη Βιένη, όπου έδωσε δύο κονσέρτα με καταπληκτική επιτυχία για το απαιτητικό βιενέζικο κοινό που είχε συνηθίσει στους κορυφαίους της μουσικής πυραμίδας Μπετόβεν και Μότσαρτ. Τα δύο κονσέρτα που έδωσε τον επόμενο χρόνο στη Βαρσοβία καθιέρωσαν «το νέο αστέρι του Βορρά» ως τον πιο αντιπροσωπευτικό μουσικό της Πολωνίας.

Παράλληλα ξανάρχισε τη σύνθεση του κονσέρτου του σε Μι μινόρε, προϊόν του πρώτου έρωτά του για την Κονστάντσα Γκλαντκόφσκα, τραγουδίστρια του ωδείου, στην οποία αφιέρωσε επίσης το «λαργκέτο» του κονσέρτου, έργο 21 και το «Βαλς», έργο 70.

Το 1830 εγκατέλειψε την Πολωνία, στην οποία δεν επέστρεψε ποτέ πλέον. Η νοσταλγία της θα τον ακολουθεί σε όλη του τη ζωή και θα αποτυπωθεί σε όλα σχεδόν τα επόμενα έργα του, ιδιαίτερα μετά την αποτυχία, το 1831, των Πολωνών να αποτινάξουν τον ρωσικό ζυγό.

Εγκαταστάθηκε στο Παρίσι, όπου στις 26 Φεβρουαρίου 1932, έδωσε το πρώτο από τα δύο κονσέρτα στην αίθουσα Πλεγιέλ, τα οποία αποκάλυψαν το μουσικό του ταλέντο στο εκλεκτό παριζιάνικο κοινό, ερμηνεύοντας και το έργο του Κονσέρτο για πιάνο. Γνωρίστηκε με τον άλλο μεγάλο Μαγυάρο, τον Φραντς Λιστ, με τον οποίο συνδέθηκε φιλικά. Το καλοκαίρι του 1836 ζήτησε το χέρι της μαθήτριάς του Μαρίας Βοντζίνσκα, το γάμο όμως εμπόδισε η μητέρα της, που φοβόταν το στηθικό του νόσημα.

Στο σπίτι του Λιστ γνώρισε την πασίγνωστη και εκκεντρική συγγραφέα Γεωργία Σάνδη, με την οποία συνδέθηκε και μαζί επισκέφτηκαν το Λονδίνο και το 1838 τις Βαλεαρίδες, όπου συνέχισε να συνθέτει και όπου επέστρεφε τα καλοκαίρια τα επόμενα χρόνια, ενώ τους χειμώνες έμενε στο Παρίσι, παρά τη φθίση που ταλαιπωρούσε τον οργανισμό του.

Τον Αύγουστο του 1847 ήρθε σε ρήξη με τη Γεωργία Σάνδη, ενώ η αρρώστια του επιδεινώθηκε και τον Φεβρουάριο του 1848 έδωσε τα τελευταία του κονσέρτα στο Παρίσι και στη Σκωτία.

Δεν ακολούθησε τη σχολή κανενός περίφημου συνθέτη για να γράψει μουσική, ακολουθώντας κάποιο ξένο ύψος, αλλά δημιούργησε δικό του ύφος από τα πρώτα κιόλας έργα του.

Και η τεχνική, που παρουσιάζει στο πιάνο, δεν προέρχεται από τους μεγαλύτερούς του, Μότσαρτ, Μπετόβεν, ή τους σύγχρονούς του, Ντούσεκ, Φιλνδ και Λιούμελ, αλλά είναι αρμονική με το πνεύμα των συνθέσεών του κι αποτελεί βασικό στοιχείο έκφρασης. Αυτό γίνεται φανερό όταν κανείς εξετάζει τα στολίσματα και τις φιοριτούρες του που δεν είναι πρόσθετοι ήχοι, αλλά αποτελούν μέρος της όλης μουσικής του σκέψης.

Θεωρείται ο πρόδρομος των ιμπρεσιονιστών. Το πιο σπουδαίο όμως στη μουσική του, είναι η πρωτοτυπία που οφείλεται σε ανεξήγητα στοιχεία και δεν κουράζει ποτέ. Μερικές φορές είναι ποιητικός και γλυκός, άλλοτε ορμητικός, άλλοτε παράξενος κι άλλοτε σκληρός και αρρενωπός.

«Η ψυχή του πιάνου» ονομάστηκε από τους σύγχρονούς του. Η μεγαλοφυΐα του δεν ταιριάζει με τις συνθέσεις για ορχήστρα και από τα κοντσέρτα του και τις σονάτες του λείπει η ενότητα, η σωστή ανάπτυξη του θέματος και το μέτρο. Η τέχνη του όμως στις μαζούρκες, στα πρελούδια, στις μπαλάντες και τα ωραιότατα νυχτερινά, είναι εξαιρετική.

Συνδυάζει τον σλαβικό συναισθηματισμό και τη μελαγχολία με τη γερμανική αντίληψη της αρμονίας, τη γαλλική χάρη και ποικιλία των ρυθμών με τη μελωδική ευκολία της ιταλικής μουσικής. Στη μουσική του ακούμε την κραυγή και τον πόνο της πατρίδας του, τη νοσταλγία της ελευθερίας. Ήταν φύση ευαίσθητη και λεπτή κι είναι αγαπητός ακόμη και σήμερα, γιατί τα έργα του δεν έχουν τίποτα το συμβατικό και το πλούσιο περιεχόμενό τους συγκινεί την ευαισθησία του σημερινού ανθρώπου.

Πηγή: livepedia.gr

Chopin's grave at Père-Lachaise cemetery, Paris
/ Ο τάφος του Σοπέν στο κοιμητήριο Περ Λασαίζ, στο Παρίσι

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