December 17, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Franz Schubert ‘s Symphony 8, the unfinished one, debuted 17 December 1865 in Vienna.  The composer was not able to hear it, having been decomposing since 1828. Yet it is a marvellous piece of work, and all the more intriguing as we don’t know why Franz didn’t get around to finishing, apart from a hatred of paperwork, a love of booze and a touch of syphilis. This because he was actually a real grind, with an astonishing output considering his short life.  Our review of a recent work is here covering Die Winterreise. When he sat down to sketch out…

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Das Rheingold

December 2, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WAGNER |

(Opera Australia, Melbourne, 30 November 2016) (Dir. Neil Armfield) This reprise of the production from 2013 seems tighter but the essentials of staging and (thankfully) the precision of the Melbourne Ring Orchestra under Pietari Inkinen, are retained. In a minor miracle of timing, we have had the election of Mr Trump, an Alberich for our times. Moreover, reports of a dark-haired, wide-browed man – Nibelungen-like – making off with $2.1m in gold from the back of a bank truck in Manhattan – suggest that the stars had aligned for this production. Having said that, there is a lot of tosh written about The…

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Richard Wagner Society of Victoria

November 30, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, LIFE, MUSIC, OPERA, WAGNER |

(Federation Hall, Melbourne, 30 November 2016) The Varnished Culture was honoured to attend a soirée at the Victorian College of the (we trust, Beaux,) Arts on the eve of the 2nd cycle of Melbourne’s Ring.  New President of The Richard Wagner Society (in Victoria) Inc., the urbane and congenial Mr. Trevor Clarke, who’s learned discourses on Wagner matters are well known, welcomed Wagnerites from all compass-points, including the Presidents and representatives of Wagner Societies in Singapore, Toronto and the great State of Western Australia. Over copious drinks and sandwiches on trays prettily bedecked in tussie-mussie, distributed by diverse and erudite Norns from the Society, TVC…

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Zukerman Unbound

November 27, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Pinchas Zukerman and friends, 27 November 2016, Adelaide Town Hall. The famous Zukerman trio (the Big Z directing and on violin; Angela Cheng on piano and Amanda Forsyth on cello) and selected members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra variously performed Debussy’s Cello Sonata; Franck’s Violin Sonata, and Mendelssohn’s Octet, impeccably, with real brio and élan. The Cello Sonata is a mess, frankly, an example of Debussy’s notorious musical impressionism, likely to be enjoyed only by the likes of free-former Scratchy Impasto. But then Mr. Zukerman strode onto the stage and with piano accompaniment, delivered a beautiful version of Cesar’s Franck’s intricate…

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Musical Heroics

October 30, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

(Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Festival Theatre, Saturday 29 October 2016) On this warm spring evening, a presage to summer, Adelaide’s creaking, soi-disant theatre played triumphant host to an evening of welcome nostalgia: the legendary Jeffrey Tate, conducting the grand and magisterial prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (described as “one of the great milestones of music…if Wagner had written nothing else this one would have put him up there with the greats.”*)  The ASO, celebrating its 80th birthday, responded to Tate (who conducted the seminal Adelaide Ring Cycle in 1998) as they would have to Bülow, who conducted the Mastersinger premiere in Munich (curiously, not Nuremberg as Wagner…

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