Showing posts with label Brahms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brahms. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The trouble with sparkles

T'other day I was out shopping when the girl behind the counter, returning my credit card, handed me a gift of a Christmas cracker covered in sparkles. I think our neighbours must have got one too, because they put through our door a cracker joke that runs: "Which players can't you trust in an orchestra? The fiddlers."

The trouble with the sparkles is that they're fairy dust and they fall off. Next thing you know, they're on the kitchen floor, in the cat food, under the piano, on the train and, by now, probably all over the Royal Festival Hall.

And they've got into JDCMB. We all sometimes need to get our sparkle back, so here are five favourite bits of musical glitter and winter snow to light the long evenings, aided and abetted by some great dancing. And they're not all Russian. Don't forget that this Friday it's the Winter Solstice and time for the JDCMB Ginger Stripe Awards!

Prokofiev: The Winter Fairy, from Cinderella - Frederick Ashton's choreography, with Zenaida Yanowsky

Schubert: Der Winterabend, sung by Werner Gura with pianist Christoph Berner. The gentler sparkle of moonlight on snowy stillness...

Tchaikovsky: The Silver Fairy variation from Act III of The Sleeping Beauty (look! No Nutcracker!). Danced by the Royal Ballet's Laura Morera.

Brahms: Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang. (Yes, there are sparkles in Brahms. Just listen to this...) Abbado conducts members of the Berlin Phil and the Swedish Radio Choir.

Rachmaninov: Suite No.2 for two pianos, second movement - Waltz. Alexander Goldenweiser and Grigory Ginzburg don't play it as fast as Argerich and Freire, but there's time to wallow in the glitter.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Lost Brahms surfaces in...Ashburton

What a scoop for the Two Moors Festival. This plucky, determined organisation way out west between Exmoor and Dartmoor has had its share of rather impactful incidents. Back in 2007 they bought a Bosendorfer, for which they'd bust many guts to raise funds, and someone dropped it during delivery (no, it wasn't OK). Now, though, they've found something altogether more resilient, and it's by Brahms.

It is, to be precise, an arrangement for piano duet from 1864 by the great Johannes of his own Piano Concerto No.1. It's been sitting undiscovered in a California library since World War II. Here's what happened, according to the festival:

Brahms sends the score to his publisher, Rieter-Biedermann, and it somehow moves thence to the hands of Heinrich Schenker, the legendary musical analyst. After his death in 1935, his wife has the manuscript. But then Mrs Schenker tragically falls prey to the Nazis and is deported to a concentration camp, which she does not survive. Beforehand, she manages to give her husband's substantial collection to one of his pupils, Oswald Jonas, who spirits its contents out of Germany in a trunk. In America, Jonas bequeaths the Schenker collection to the University of California, Riverside. And finally, someone finds the duet there...

Ashley Wass and Christoph Berner are the two lucky pianists who will give the UK premiere in St Andrew's Church, Ashburton, on 13 October, with a script telling its tale written by Sarah Adie and narrated by Ian Price. The pianists will be playing on the festival's replacement Bosendorfer. The festival has 30 concerts this year and its theme, appropriately enough, is Arrangements and Transcriptions.