Birthday Boy

May 22, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, WAGNER |

Birthday cheer

Richard Wagner (b. 22 May 1813) Happy 202nd anniversary to the Old Fellow!  We present an image of the artist as a young Lohengrin, hope Placido sings a little Swan-King today and look forward to Wagner Society SA bash on Sunday (see below).  “Mein lieber Schwann!” Sunday afternoon, 24 May, the Wagner Society of SA hosted a lunch and talk by Gillian and Nicholas Braithwaite.  Jill is a violinist of note and Nicholas is the highly esteemed conductor (he led ASO from 1987 to 1991), he has recorded and conducted all over the world. The Braithwaites gave a sparkling talk on the…

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The Sixteen

March 11, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music |

Julius III accepts score from da Palestrina, promises to pay later.

Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House (10 March 2015) A brilliant evening of sacred choral music.  TVC was not the only guest counting his fingers; with conductor Harry Christophers CBE, there were 19 on the stage but 16 is the historical name for the ensemble formed in 1979, and we are almost embarrassed at such a quibble.  The 18 were magnificent.  Their harmonising made musical accompaniment superfluous – at times, the 4 bass singers simulated an entire wood section.  During the first part of the programme, four of the, er, 16, ascended to an elevated rear part of the hall to supply some…

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Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

March 1, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Opera, WAGNER |

Stage Design by Helmut Jurgens, Munich 1949

(Richard Wagner) (Met, N.Y., Dec. 2014) Whilst perhaps a German might find an opera of over 6 hours duration a droll concept, only Richard Wagner would turn that concept into reality.  Yet in mirific fashion, he succeeds with his most human and entertaining work, a wonderful mix of romance and comedy that does not equate, thanks god, to a ‘romantic comedy’.  From the Magisterial overture to the polyphonous redux of the Masters’ motto, we are enthralled and can even look past the score-settling with critics like Eduard Hanslick (the libretto originally had Beckmesser as ‘Hanslich’), with Jews such as Meyerbeer,…

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Valentine’s Day

February 15, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Ulalume, WAGNER |

St. Valentine (from 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'

(2015 – ASO) After champagne and real Turkish delight, and the annual re-run of Picnic at Hanging Rock, it was time to head through Adelaide’s February furnace to the Festival Theatre, where Arvo Volmer conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s version of a concert, curiously and incongruously entitled “Passionate Tchaikovsky”.  We had the Russian composer’s Violin Concerto, with Ilya Gringolts sublime on lead violin, wearing a frock coat straight from Fiddler on the Roof.  Written in 1878 to console its creator for the unfortunate and instantly-regretted decision to marry the loopy and self-centred Antonina Milyukova, the piece was not played till…

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Der Freischutz

February 5, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, Opera, THEATRE, Ulalume, WAGNER |

(By Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber, premiering in Berlin on 18 June, 1821) It is good news that Melbourne Opera staged this neglected gem not so long ago – bad news that TVC couldn’t get there to see it, and at the Athanaeum what’s more!  It was reviewed by Peter Burch in ‘The Australian’.  Quite daring when first staged in 1821, as much for the lower class characters as the ghostly theme that enchanted a young Wagner, Weber’s music is accomplished and highly accessible (touches redolent of Beethoven, and even, in overture, AIbioni) with effects used to great advantage, especially in the…

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