Glance at Beethoven
"My mother tongue is Bartók, and Bartók's mother tongue was Beethoven," explained György Kurtág, whose composition Quasi una fantasia is the focus of Bas Wiegers' debut concert with the SWR Symphony Orchestra. On 30 January, the Freiburg E-Werk will feature this Kurtág piece and Beethoven's piano sonata by the same name, as well as Gustav Mahler's string orchestra version of Beethoven's String Quartet op. 95.
Above Lake Lucerne
After his debut in 2017, Maximilian Hornung accepted a second invitation to the Bürgenstock Winter Festival in Switzerland. The artistic directors Andreas Ottensamer and José Gallardo have put together a varied chamber music programme, running from 21 to 26 January, which will be dedicated to, among others, the jubilees Beethoven and Bruch.
Together with Yuja Wang, Thomas Hampson, Ray Chen, Roberto González-Monjas, Andreas Ottensamer and José Gallardo, Maximilian Hornung will also present works by Antonín Dvorák, Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninov, Moritz Moszkowski, Darius Milhaud, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Aaron Copland. After the opening concert at Club Kaufleuten in Zurich on 21 January, the other concerts will take place at the Hotel Villa Honegg in the municipality of Ennetbürgen, idyllically situated above Lake Lucerne. Afterwards, as part of a new musical cooperation with the Musikkollegium Winterthur, an additional concert is planned in the Stadthaus Winterthur.
u.a. Hotel Villa Honegg
Termine siehe links
Robert followed by Clara
After her celebrated Düsseldorf debut at the end of May/beginning of June 2019 with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor op. 7, Mariam Batsashvili can be heard again in the Rhine metropolis on 26 January with a recital in the Robert Schumann Hall. She will play works by Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Schumann.
For her appearance at the concert series erstKlassik! organised by the Kunstpalast/Robert-Schumann-Saal with the support of the Robert-Schumann-Gesellschaft e.V. Düsseldorf, Mariam Batsashvili has put together a programme which, in addition to the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor BWV 903 by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Sonata No. 8 D major KV 311 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Rhapsodie espagnole p. 254 by Franz Liszt, also features Robert Schumann's Fantasiestücke op. 12, a piano cycle of eight compositions composed in 1837.
The Westdeutsche Zeitung wrote about her interpretation of the Piano Concerto, which Clara Wieck composed in 1834 at the age of only 15 and which the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexandre Bloch, performed to celebrate Clara Schumann's 200th birthday in 2019: "Batsashvili (...) elicits girlish tenderness and magic from Clara's compositional journeyman piece. (...) She relies on reserved, shy sound that glows from within." It will be interesting to see how Mariam Batsashvili will interpret Robert Schumann's piano cycle, which was written almost at the same time and which she is performing for the first time.
With and without piano
In January, François-Frédéric Guy performs two concerts in the double role of soloist and conductor: On 18 January, he will play all five of Ludwig van Beethoven's piano concertos with the Orchestre de chambre de Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées before conducting the Sinfonia Varsiova in Metz on 22 January, which will feature Beethoven's 4th Symphony amongst others.
Similarly to the complete recording of Beethoven's piano concertos with the Sinfonia Varsovia, which was released at the end of last year, the concert on 18 January will also offer a unique opportunity for music lovers to follow Beethoven's compositional development from the Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major op. 15, written between 1795-1801, to the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major op. 73 from 1808/09.
François-Frédéric Guy has been conducting Beethoven's Piano Concertos from the piano for several years. On 22 January, he will also conduct two orchestral works for the first time at the desk of the Sinfonia Varsovia in the Arsenal de Metz. In addition to the Sinfonietta per archi by Krzysztof Penderecki, the orchestra's artistic director since 2003, Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 in B flat major op. 60 will be performed, and François-Frédéric Guy will also conduct the Second Piano Concerto in F minor op. 21 by Frédéric Chopin from the piano.
Paris, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
During the Beethoven anniversary year, the Beethoven-Haus Bonn invites you to a jubilee edition of its annual Beethoven Week: the complete chamber music of the composer will be presented in 16 concerts from 17 January to 9 February, grouped into four concert blocks. Tabea Zimmermann, artistic director of the festival since 2015, executed the programme planning once again.
In contrast to previous years, only works by Beethoven will be heard, most of which will be a mixture of the various genres in unusual combinations of works to illustrate Beethoven's development. After an introductory lecture by Jörg Widmann, the opening concert will take place on 17 January in the Bundeskunsthalle. In addition to Tabea Zimmermann, the Belcea Quartet, Isabelle Faust, Daniel Sepec, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov will be taking part. High-ranking artists who are intensively involved with Beethoven can also be heard in the following concerts in the chamber music hall of the Beethoven-Haus, such as Meta4 in a concert on 6 February. Olli Mustonen will also take part in several concerts; at the final concert of the festival on 9 February, a commissioned work by him will be premiered, and will be the only work on the programme by another composer.
17/1 through 9/2/2020
Beethoven House Bonn
Find more information about Beethoven Week 2020 in our magazine.
On New Year's Day, Marie Heeschen will make her role debut as Marzelline in the premiere of Beethoven's Fidelio at Theater Bonn. The production, directed by Volker Lösch, puts a focus on the composer right at the beginning of the Beethoven anniversary year and shows the work’s relevance for our times by referring to the political situation in Turkey.
Dirk Kaftan will conduct the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn and the choir of the Bonn Theater. Marie Heeschen has been a permanent ensemble member in Bonn since the 2016/17 season.
In parallel, Marie Heeschen will perform Maria in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story until summer 2020. The musical has been running in Bonn in a celebrated production by Erik Petersen under the direction of Daniel Johannes Mayr since September 2019. Praised by Das Opernmagazin as an outstanding actress, "Marie Heeschen gives this figure, which is musically designed as a tragic opera heroine, with her girlish charisma and her wonderfully performed lyrical soprano, the necessary creative depth." (DAS OPERNMAGAZIN, 17.9.2019)
1/1 - 15/2/2020 Fidelio
2/1 - 28/6/2020 West Side Story
See left for dates
New Beethoven CD Box
OUT NOW: François-Frédéric Guy celebrates the start of the Beethoven year 2020 with a play-conduct recording of the complete piano concertos of the great composer. Together with the Sinfonia Varsovia, the Beethoven specialist presents his interpretation of the works at the piano and on the podium in a CD box released on Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo.
Click here for the CD.
New boss for Florence
Eva Ollikainen has been announced as the new Principal Conductor of the Orchestra della Toscana. She will take over from her predecessor Daniele Rustioni at the beginning of the 2020/21 season. The ORT, located in the historic Teatro Verdi in Florence, will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2020 and on this occasion implement a complete artistic and personnel realignment.
In addition to Eva Ollikainen as Principal Conductor, Beatrice Venezi (pictured left) and Nil Venditti (pictured right) will regularly lead the orchestra as permanent guest conductors, and James Conlon as honorary conductor. In its press release, the orchestra explains: "We see it as our duty to ask ourselves what it means to be an orchestra in 2020, and we are looking for answers that are relevant to our time. The classical music world is said to be very self-centred and sometimes exclusive. Our goal is to develop a new attitude and new tools with which we can overcome these clichés".
At its concerts in Florence and abroad, the Orchestra della Toscana, with Giorgio Battistelli as artistic director, features repertoire from baroque to modern, with a special emphasis on contemporary works. For the next two seasons with ORT, Eva Ollikainen is planning a Brahms cycle. Currently Principal Conductor of the Nordic Chamber Orchestra in Sweden, she will also serve as Music Director and Artistic Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra from the 2020/21 season.
Between the polarities
In mid-October 2019 Mark Andre's cycle riss was released on CD. The Ensemble Modern, which performed the cycle at the Kölner Philharmonie, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, Innsbruck, the Klangspuren Schwaz and the Shanghai New Music Week in 2019, recorded the triptych under the baton of Ingo Metzmacher.
Mark Andre searches in all three parts of the cycle riss (German for crack, tear) for compositional interstices - "spaces that are often latent or very fragile and breathless between polarities," says the composer. In 2011, he met the theologian Margareta Gruber during a research trip to Jerusalem. Her reference to the double figure of the crack in St. Mark's Gospel provided the decisive impulse for the creation of the work group, which Mark Andre did not compose in numerical order: in 2014, riss 2 was premiered by the Ensemble Modern; in 2016, the premiere of riss 3 with the Ensemble Musikfabrik followed; and in 2017, riss 1 with the Ensemble intercontemporain.
conductor: Ingo Metzmacher
Ensemble Modern Medien
Schumann and Wagner
Christoph Prégardien's recording of Schumann's Dichterliebe, his Lenau Lieder as well as Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder has been released in September 2019. Together with pianist Michael Gees, with whom he has worked intensively for many years, Prégardien recorded the works for the Challenge label. The duo has already recorded a whole series of highly acclaimed CDs for Challenge:
Amongst others, Die schöne Müllerin, which was awarded as Editor's Choice of the magazine Gramophone and with the MIDEM Record of the Year Award; Between Life and Death as well as the Grammy nominated new recording of Winterreise - were released.
Robert Schumann: Dichterliebe Op. 48, Lenau-Lieder and Requiem Op. 90
Richard Wagner: Wesendonck Songs
Christoph Prégardien, Michael Gees
Challenge Classics CC 72788
Antje Weithaas' recording with the NDR Radiophilharmonie, under the direction of its chief conductor Andrew Manze, has been released on the cpo label on 16 September 2019. In addition to Schumann's Violin Concerto, the violinist recorded Brahms' Double Concerto, whose cello part was played by Maximilian Hornung. The recording thus unites two outstanding soloists, as well as two composers who were closely interwoven:
Both works were written for the renown violinist Joseph Joachim, who played a central role for both Schumann and Brahms.
In addition to her artistic friendship with Maximilian Hornung, Antje Weithaas also has a longstanding collaboration with the NDR Radiophilharmonie. Her complete recording of Max Bruch's works for violin and orchestra with the orchestra on the cpo label was released in 2016.
Schumann Violin Concerto
Brahms Double Concerto
Antje Weithaas, Maximilian Hornung, NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Manze
dialogue between composers
The award-winning young pianist Claire Huangci, together with the conductor Shiyeon Sung and the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, dares to perform an unusual repertoire. On her new album, which was released on 23 August 2019 by Berlin Classics, she juxtaposes the two early piano concertos by I.J. Paderewski and F. Chopin.
The result is an inspiring dialogue between two composers who are as different as they are extraordinary. Claire Huangci, as a masterful interpreter, brings to life the youthful energy of the works, along with the longings and raw emotions of the music.
WARNER CLASSICS DEBUT
Mariam Batsashvili’s first album for Warner Classics was released on 30 August 2019. In her Warner debut, the young Georgian pianist dedicates herself to her favourite composer Franz Liszt and illuminates an interesting chapter: Liszt's relationship to his contemporary Frédéric Chopin. Here the link to the album.
The Observer writes „Her technical prowess and ability to negotiate Liszt’s showy grandeur is a given, but her sense of his inner world, his wistful, nonchalant poetry – in the Grande études in A flat or the Consolations (Pensées poétiques) or the Polish Songs after Chopin – sets her apart as one to watch.“
new position for Eva Ollikainen
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has appointed Eva Ollikainen Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, with an initial four-year contract beginning with the 2020/21 season. The ISO is the national orchestra of Iceland and resident at Harpa Concert Hall, a landmark building in Reykjavík’s waterfront area. She will be working alongside Managing Director Lára Sóley Jóhannsdóttir:
“Eva Ollikainen's appointment marks a new chapter for the orchestra – a start of an incredibly exciting time of great opportunities. With her previous work with the orchestra, she has gained a strong connection with our musicians and audiences through her commitment, vibrant energy and enthusiasm. She understands how important the orchestra is to our society and how that connection can be developed even further. But most importantly Eva shares our vision for the future. She has all the qualities needed to raise the artistic level of the orchestra. We cannot wait to welcome Eva to our team.”
During her tenure, she will conduct a minimum of eight weeks during the regular concert season and will join the orchestra on international tours. Before her inaugural season, Ollikainen takes to the stage in March 2020 for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s 70th anniversary.
“I have always felt a deep bond with the musicians of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Not only are they virtuosos on the highest international level, but their way of understanding and communicating music is unique. I very much look forward to our collaboration exploring new and old repertoire together, and the musical encounters with our fantastic audience," says the Finnish conductor.