Schubert’s Schwanengesang by Matthias Goerne & Christoph Eschenbach

Matthias Goerne, Christoph Eschenbach, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 11 2012

The Schwanengesang evening by Matthias Goerne & Christoph Eschenbach in Salle Pleyel was the last of 3 concerts dedicated to Schubert’s lied cycles.

Since the early retirement of Thomas Quasthoff a few months ago, Goerne is without doubt the most accomplished lied baritone singer of our time. Eschenbach – today mainly active as a noted conductor – remains an excellent pianist. His career as a pianist was always shared between “standard” repertoire and lied accompaniment: his recording of Schumann’s Dichterliebe with the legendary Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is among the very finest. I also keep in mind the Schöne Müllerin concert in Pleyel 2 decades ago – a memorable evening, fortunately available on DVD. Fischer-Dieskau, who taught both Goerne & Quasthoff, has died just a few days after this concert and 10 days short of his 87th birthday and will be sadly missed by all opera, religious music and lied lovers.

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Mozart with Menahem Pressler and musicians from the Orchestre de Paris

Menahem Pressler, Orchestre de Paris, Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique, Paris, May 5 2012

The Orchestre de Paris, one of France leading orchestras – which I had the chance to admire under conductors such as Carlo Maria Giulini, Georg Solti, Kurt Sanderling, Pierre Boulez or Daniel Barenboim to name but a few – organized a Mozart chamber music weekend in the elegant hall of the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique. They invited legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, the co-founder of the Beaux-Arts Trio who played during all its 53 years of existence, who remains as active as ever in his 88th year! Continue reading

Peter Eötvös replaces Pierre Boulez in an all 20th century programme

Peter Eötvös, Christian Tetzlaff, London Symphony Orchestra, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 1 2012
Peter Eötvös, Nikolaj Znaider, London Symphony Orchestra, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 2 2012

Prominent French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez had imagined 2 programmes with the London Symphony Orchestra around works from the 1st half of the 20th century from Claude Debussy, Karol Szymanowski, Alexander Scriabin and Béla Bartók.

Due to a recommendation from his oculist, he had to step down for both evenings and chose Peter Eötvös to replace him. The 2 men know each other well, and the Hungarian conductor is also a recognized composer. Continue reading

Parallels between Kurt Masur & Michel Plasson concerts in Paris

Michel Plasson, Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris, Opéra Bastille, Paris, April 25 2012
Kurt Masur, Orchestre National de France, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, April 26 2012

I thought I would start this blog with a word on these 2 maestros who graced Paris concert halls this week.

Both conductors share a remarkable insight on music (Plasson obviously for French music, but not exclusively, Masur for German & Russian music among others, due to his youth in Eastern Germany), both have what I would call a “classical” approach – which to me is clearly a compliment – and are loved by the musicians for their humanism. Continue reading