Posts Tagged ‘Howard Arman’

Jansons Turns 75

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Mariss Jansons and Martin Angerer in rehearsal in Munich’s Gasteig in January 2018

Published: January 12, 2018

MUNICH — Against the medical odds, perhaps, Mariss Jansons turns seventy-five on Sunday, still adored by his favorite orchestra. Bavarian Broadcasting marks the occasion with a 44-minute video portrait, Im Zeichen der Musik, or In the Music’s Character, freely watchable. Last evening here at the Gasteig, a subscription concert of the Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks paraded contrasting sides of the musicians’ long union with Jansons, and everyone’s versatility. Martin Angerer navigated the elegant byways and tricky trills of Hummel’s Concerto a trombe principale (1803) with apparent ease in its original key of E, tidily accompanied. In an interview, the section principal distinguished this “godly” tonality from the “mundane” feel of E-flat, taken often in a convenience edition of the Hummel he deems a “stab in the heart,” but he stopped short of chancing the performance with the kind of Klappen-Trompete used originally, preferring the luxuries of a modern American piston instrument. (Soloist and conductor are pictured midweek.) Genia Kühmeier, Gerhild Romberger, Maximilian Schmitt and Luca Pisaroni made an impeccable quartet for the program’s main work, after the break, Beethoven’s C-Major Mass (1807), although the bass for some reason sang half-voice. The BR Chor glowingly intoned its lines yet struggled to focus the words in the acoustically poor venue. Jansons led supportively but as always from the ground up, never from the bowels of the Earth, and showing no inquirer’s zeal for the imaginative score. His clinical manner and the Bavarian players’ skill found their most persuasive outlet in an episodic exercise in chromatic unrest at the top of the evening: the Symphony in Three Movements (1945) of Stravinsky. Here, structure reigned, details sparkled, and the con moto third movement sounded (suitably) die-cast. It was in 2003 that this celebrated partnership began, since when the demanding and fussy but personable Latvian maestro’s contract has been renewed with accelerating commitment: for three years in 2013, and for three more years less than two years later — right after he sounded receptive to a theoretical, but as it turned out imagined, offer in Berlin. Which takes us up to 2021, past several happy birthday returns.

Photo © Bayerischer Rundfunk

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BR’s Full-Bodied Vin Herbé

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Prinzregententheater in Munich

Published: March 18, 2016

MUNICH — It would be a novelty to hear Le vin herbé the way composer Frank Martin conceived it. The 1940 secular chamber oratorio reportedly soars when realized in concert by twelve French-singing voices, double string trio, double bass and piano — its lean forces yet complex harmony producing intriguing shafts of color; its drama predicated on shuffling the voices, used one-to-a-part and as a chorus. But a listener could wait decades for the chance. When Martin’s 100-minute Tristan et Iseut saga shows up at all, it has either morphed into an opera (Katie Mitchell’s realist concept for Berlin as example) or, more often, been puffed up for standard choral forces. This was its fate in a Bayerischer Rundfunk outing Jan. 23 here at the Prinz-Regenten-Theater, a missed opportunity given the broadcaster’s resources and artistic umbrella.

BR Chor artistic leader Peter Dijkstra kept Martin’s instrumentation but fielded 38 singers, blocking entry to the planned sound world and permitting only sporadic drama. Martin’s varied commentaries took on a sameness, so that for instance no urgency accompanied the waking of Gorvenal and the “last night-flight through the beloved woods.” Still, tenor Marcel Reijans’ keen and heroic Tristan injected vitality, and with good French. In support: soprano Johanna Winkel’s sensitive Iseut, soprano Barbara Fleckenstein’s clearly worried Branghien, and the unruffled, oaky Marc of baritone Andreas Burkhart. Refined choral contributions only emphasized what was amiss texturally, despite peppy punctuation from members of the Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, and Dijkstra’s conducting brought out the intriguing harmonies at reverential speeds.

This project should have benefitted from the intervention of Mariss Jansons in his supposed joint capacity as chief conductor of the BR Chor and the BRSO, to ensure forces were cast in line with Martin’s wishes and to properly serve the broadcaster’s listeners. The charismatic Dutchman, meanwhile, is closing out his 11-year BR Chor tenure. He has not been the most imaginative musician in Romantic and Modern works, but Bach he conducts naturally and lyrically. His St Matthew Passion three years ago deserved its plaudits, and his St John Passion, with the mellifluous Kuwaiti bass Tareq Nazmi as Jesus, has just appeared in a neatly documented BR Klassik CD set. Dijkstra’s farewell actually comes soon, with the B-Minor Mass here and in Baden-Baden, Nuremberg and Ingolstadt. Replacing him in September will be British conductor Howard Arman, while Jansons remains chief conductor, for what that is worth. As for Le vin herbé, Victor Desarzens’ 1961 recording with Eric Tappy as Tristan and Frank Martin at the piano (on the Westminster label) provides an authentic path through the score.

Photo (modified) © Martina Bogdahn for BR

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