Concert Concat 2024

This post is one in a sequence which lists (mostly) live music I have heard, as best memory allows. I write to have a record of my musical experiences and these entries are intended as postcards from me to my future self. Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • London Symphony Orchestra under Gianandrea Noseda performing Prokofiev’s 7th Symphony, at the Barbican, London, on Wednesday 19 June 2024.
  • The Elias Quartet in a concert of Felix Mendelssohn’s chamber music, including the Octet (with the Heath Quartet), at Wigmore Hall, London, Tuesday 18 June 2024. The programme:
    • String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2 (1837)
    • String Quintet No. 1 in A, Op. 18 (1826, rev. 1832) (with Gary Pomery, viola)
    • Interval
    • Octet in E flat, Op, 20 (1825)

    This was an outstanding performance to a hall about three-quarters full. The Octet was one of the most joyous performances I have heard of this work: it is clear that the performers were having great fun playing it together.

  • The London Orlando Orchestra under Claudia Jablonski with soloists Alexander Doronin (piano) and Volodymyr Bykhun (trumpet) in a concert in St Cyprian’s Church, Clarence Gate, London on Sunday 16 June 2024. The programme:
    • Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano and Trumpet
    • Schubert: Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”

    About 60 people attended this free concert in the beautiful St Cyprian’s Anglican church, near to Regent’s Park. The Church has a compact Brentwood grand piano. The Orlando Orchestra comprises mostly student musicians and I understand was only founded by Ms Jablonski last year. The performance was absolutely stunning, and both works filled the church. The Schubert was superb, tightly played and serious, and profoundly moving. Ms Jablonski is a conductor to watch out for.

    I have not ever heard the Shostakovich better played than this, and indeed this sublime performance joins my short list of transcendent musical experiences, one for the ages. The performances by the soloists, Mr Doronin and Mr Bykhun, were both very confident and assured. There is a lot of fun in this concerto and that feeling was evident here: everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. The ending is a humorous race to the finish, and even includes some honky-tonk piano and two glissandos. What a joyous and uplifting experience this was.

    This performance was in great contrast to a very dour version of the same concerto that I heard once at the Barbican back in 2013.

    Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 2024’

Transcendent music

Some years ago, I compiled a list of purposes that may motivate composers, performers or listeners of music, under the heading What is music for?

An objective that may motivate many performers is that of reaching a transcendent state, as the Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, describes here. His blog post was written after he had performed all five Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Brussels Philharmonic (under Thierry Fischer) across three evenings, in February 2020 (blog entry of 18 February 2020):

The high point for me was No. 4, during which I experienced something which until now I’ve only felt while playing Russian music: a kind of floating, when your brain disengages or splits in two. One (small) part is alert and following the performance, and perhaps directs the musical flow a little bit, the other (much larger) part is completely sunk into the music, experiencing it in a kind of visceral, instinctive way which precludes logical thinking and seems wired directly to your deepest feelings, without any buffers or defenses. After that concerto I was drained, bewildered, exhilarated – a complete mess. But what an unforgettable night.”

Continue reading ‘Transcendent music’

Concert Concat 2

This post is one in a sequence which lists live music I have heard, as best my memory allows, from the Pandemic onwards. I will update this as time permits. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • Ariel Lanyi – piano recital at the Wigmore Hall, London, 27 December 2023. The program was:
    • Beethoven: Sonata #2 in A, Op 2 No 2 (1794-5)
    • Franck: Prelude, Aria et Final (1887)
    • R. Schumann: Etudes Symphoniques Op 13 (with posthumous etudes) (1834-7)

    A very refined performance to a house about 3/4 full. Many people seemed to know each other. I was not able to stay for the Schumann.

    Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 2’

Concert Concat 1

As part of the diverse mental attic that this blog is, this post simply lists live music I have heard, as best my memory serves, up until the pandemic. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this series are listed here.

  • Gulce Sevgen, piano, in a concert at the Gesellschaft fur Musiktheatre, Turkenstrasse 19, Vienna 1090, Austria, 15 November 2018.   This venue turned out to be a small room holding 48 seats in a converted apartment.  There were 20 people present to hear Ms Sevgen play JS Bach’s Chromatic Fantasie & Fugue in d-minor BWV903, Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata, excerpts from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses, Op. 54, and Liszt’s Concert Etude E/M A218 and Zweite Ballade, E/M A181.  Ms Sevgen’s performance throughout was from memory, a quite remarkable feat.  Her playing was perhaps too loud for the size of the room, even with the piano lid half-down. The Bach, Beethoven and Mendelssohn were all excellent.  I have remarked before that I do not “get” the music of Prokofiev.  His music for Romeo and Juliet is a prime example:  the famous dance with its large-footed stomping bassline conjures up, for me, Norwegian trolls not feuding Italian merchant families, as if the composer had read a different play altogether. (Mendelssohn’s and Shostakovich’s incidental music to Shakespeare, by contrast, both make perfect sense.)  The playing of the Liszt works was fluent and articulate, but devoid of any meaning; it is perhaps unfair to ask performers to add meaning where there was none, since these are simply show-off pieces, all style and no substance.  But it is not unfair to ask performers not to play such vapid, meaningless music in public.
  • Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 1’