Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Liebreich’

2024 International Classical Music Awards.

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

I don’t remember enjoying such a concert in a very long time. This is a YouTube video of a concert in Valencia which features winning artists from 2024 International Classical Music Awards. This gala concert was April 12 and posted on YouTube May 3.
There are big names performing and others that will be big names very soon. Soprano Aida Pascu is only one example of the latter.
I enjoyed the excellent artists who brought the music alive when performing. It was an amazing hour and a half.

MKO Powers Up

Monday, March 24th, 2014

British conductor Clement Power, 33, with the Münchener Kammerorchester

Published: March 24, 2014

MUNICH — Few conductors can jump into a Berg-Zemlinsky-Honegger program on three days’ notice and lead it fluently without change. Enter Clement Power (33), a gray-haired Londoner, for the Münchener Kammerorchester’s March 13 subscription concert here at the Prinz-Regenten-Theater. The newcomer showed an easy rapport with the players (6-5-4-4-2 strings) and technical mastery, resulting in persuasive readings of four challenging scores.

He fostered a warm sound, with precise articulation in Berg’s Drei Stücke aus der Lyrischen Suite (1928) and clear, glowing layers in Honegger’s D-Major String Symphony (1941). The MKO responded passionately in the outer two Berg “pieces” and sustained rhythmic exactness in the forwards-then-backwards Allegro misterioso. The Honegger resounded with such refinement and allure that it was hard to channel the composer’s morose wartime outlook. Ideas swirled vigorously, swooned more than mourned. Rupprecht Drees’s trumpet made a happily unobtrusive entry in the last movement, and the chorale tune soared to rapturous applause.

In between, Sandrine Piau applied her elegant, bright lyric soprano to Zemlinsky’s lush Maiblumen blühten überall (1898) and Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder (1908), both heard in arrangements, the Berg being Reinbert de Leeuw’s pungent reduction. Although sensitive to the German texts, however, she proved overparted.

String for string, the MKO may be Munich’s most accomplished orchestra. An ensemble of two dozen musicians founded in 1950, it has scant competition yet plays at consistently high levels in enterprising programs (often resulting in enterprising CDs on ECM Records). Its seasons in the Hellenistic-Romantic opulence of the Prinz-Regenten-Theater (1901), an architectural cousin of Bayreuth’s Festspielhaus (1875), are rounded out by chamber performances in the Jugendstil Schauspielhaus (also 1901) on ritzy-retail Maximilianstraße and by much touring. The ensemble favors Classical, Modern and new scores, augmenting itself as need be. In marketing, the Münchener Kammerorchester’s acronym usually stands alone, in a neat insignia that reduces its K to a less-than sign: less than a symphony orchestra, perhaps.

Chief conductor Alexander Liebreich, originally listed for March 13, enjoys a reputation for versatility but has compromised his career by numerous visits since 2002 to North Korea. Indeed the MKO itself ventured to Pyongyang in 2012 under a do-good Goethe Institute program, explained by Liebreich to the BBC. Anyway the players must like venturing beyond safe Germany: a trip to drug cartel paradise Medellín comes on a tour next month. Call them adventurous.

Clement Power, meanwhile, remains barely known. While pretty-boy maestros in his age group win coveted awards and take up rural British opera company and New York chamber orchestra jobs, this prodigiously gifted artist works apparently without representation.

Photo © Münchener Kammerorchester

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Season of Concessions

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Josef Köpplinger, Marco Comin, Brigitte Fassbaender

Published: October 11, 2012

MUNICH — Arts groups here present a restrained 2012–13 season facing pros and cons not always aligned with those in America. Funding, for instance, holds steady: city and state (Bavaria) play their part, as do local corporations Siemens, BMW, Audi, Allianz and Linde. Excellent pools of musicians, instrumental and vocal, fill the rosters of the choir, chamber orchestra, two opera companies, and five symphony orchestras discussed below. Audiences are large and regular; not incidentally, tickets for most events are affordably priced and come with free access to the train and bus network, covering residents in a 25-mile radius. The cons are few, but they matter. Creative torpor impedes the main orchestras, a reflection in part of more than one sadly filled music directorship. The Regietheater problem rages in Germany, defiling the worthiest efforts in opera. Atrocious acoustics plague Munich’s main concert hall, and one vintage venue is shut for now for a retrofit. All that said, the groups enter the new season with active agendas.

The 201-year-old Bavarian State Orchestra ventures six programs at its home, the National Theater. Mostly led by outgoing Generalmusikdirektor Kent Nagano, these Akademie concerts extend a tradition begun when the ensemble was new; their past features names like Strauss, Walter, Knappertsbusch, Krauss, Fricsay, Sawallisch and Kleiber. Under-rehearsal can hamper results, however, a consequence of the musicians’ hectic theater schedule; that the GMD does not always supply the last ounce of insight or much rhythmic thrust only accentuates the negative. Despite and still, one upcoming program has allure (April 8 and 9): the eloquent young Czech conductor Tomáš Hanus tackles Mahler’s kaleidoscopic Seventh Symphony.

Clarinetist Jörg Widmann’s seven-scene opera Babylon is a fall commission of Bavarian State Opera, Germany’s largest and busiest opera company. Nagano conducts as part of his last season, and Carlus Padrissa, who last year introduced a circus-tent Turandot, has been entrusted with the stage action (premiere Oct. 27). Several of the season’s productions will be streamed at no charge, starting with the Widmann on Nov. 3. Hanus follows his persuasive (and filmed) Rusalka of two years ago with a revival of Jenůfa (from March 6) as well as a Richard Jones production of Hänsel und Gretel (March 24). Constantinos Carydis, among the company’s other worthy conductors — and indeed winner of its first Carlos Kleiber Prize — is absent from the 2012–13 slate, effecting a sabbatical.

The smaller but versatile Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz company enters a second season as refugee while its genial home undergoes construction work. Not all the substitute venues are ideal, but at the Cuvilliés Theater a Don Pasquale (premiere Oct. 25) should bring smiles: Franz Hawlata sings the title role, retired mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender (pictured with Intendant Josef Köpplinger and conductor Marco Comin) serves as régisseuse. This company labors under a mixed mandate, complementing Bavarian State Opera with Baroque and rare operas but also catering to a broad audience with operettas and musicals, at times amplified. Its orchestra copes gamely with the assortment, its singers less well.

Alexander Liebreich’s ongoing leadership of the MKO, a.k.a. Münchener Kammerorchester, has been yielding tidy ensemble and a crisp image for the group. Subscription concerts at MKO’s base, the Bayreuth-Festspielhaus-like Prinz-Regenten-Theater, habitually pair old and brand new, as on Oct. 18: Salvatore Sciarrino’s L’ideale lucente e le pagine rubate (2012) and Beethoven’s music for Egmont. Or Dec. 13: Ligeti’s Violin Concerto (old) and a Helena Winkelman piece jointly commissioned with Musica femina München.

Guest conductors, in contrast, are what enliven the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Ranked highly for its expertise, and drilled weekly for clean-as-a-whistle broadcasts, the BRSO perseveres under monochrome directorship. Antonini, Rattle, Haitink, Muti, Harding, Gilbert, Robertson, Salonen, Chailly and Metzmacher are names implying color in upcoming programs. The season splits as usual between the modest shoebox Herkulessaal, part of Munich’s Residenz arts complex, and the city-operated, fan-cum-vineyard Gasteig hall, where only the intra-ensemble sound travels properly.

The adventurous Münchner Rundfunk-Orchester, a second BR (Bavarian Broadcasting) ensemble, devotes much of 2012–13 to oddball concert opera — Franz Lachner’s Catharina Cornaro? — when its exploratory funds would go further in orchestral music and better balance the BRSO. Welcome projects include a German-language take (May 3) on Hindemith’s FDR oratorio When Lilacs Last In the Dooryard Bloom’d, which may find its way to disc alongside this orchestra’s award-winning 2005 recording of Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend by Hartmann (who wove the Whitman elegy into his own First Symphony). Playing standards have been high under Künstlerischer Leiter Ulf Schirmer. He stepped into the shoes of the late Marcello Viotti in 2006 and has more recently also assumed musical and managerial duties at Oper Leipzig.

Still under broadcasting auspices, the BR Chor supports both of the above orchestras. Alert, flexible singing places this group among Germany’s best large choirs, with perhaps only Leipzig’s MDR Chor ahead in precision. Certainly it draws the better Munich choristers, those disinclined to strip down to their underwear and strike mindless poses, as repeatedly required of their colleagues in local opera companies. Dutchman Peter Dijkstra is the affable artistic leader. BR Chor concerts this season, in the group’s own series, include Mozart’s C-Minor Mass (Nov. 24) and a well-cast Matthäus-Passion (Feb. 16), at the Prinz-Regenten-Theater and Herkulessaal respectively.

The Munich Philharmonic seemed to want to dive off a cliff three years ago when its management publicly bickered with its greatly-in-demand Generalmusikdirektor Christian Thielemann, effectively losing him, and just eight months later chose Lorin Maazel as his successor. (One tabloid reported Thielemann’s salary to be €800,000.) Those twin decisions are now home to roost, as the 82-year-old American unfurls his inaugural season. Maazel’s work ethic can only be admired, but he appeared artistically drained in interregnum Gasteig programs ten months ago — in music in which he long ago excelled, such as Debussy’s La Mer. This orchestra will gain the most if Munich ever does build a proper concert hall, as recently championed by Bavarian Minister for Science, Research and Art, Wolfgang Heubisch. As a city-run ensemble, it is today confined almost entirely to the problematic Gasteig.

Less glamorous, though certainly busy, the Münchner Symphoniker offers concert series at the acoustically preferable Prinz-Regenten-Theater and Herkulessaal. Georg Schmöhe is Chefdirigent and pianist Philippe Entremont serves as Ehrendirigent. In 2011 this orchestra undertook a long U.S. tour devoted to movie music. This season at home it offers an all-Beethoven program (Jan. 27 and 28) and a mostly Haydn evening (March 20) as part of a generally conservative lineup.

Photo © Christian Zach

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