Alberic Magnard - Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.4
Gustav Holst Venus, The Bringer of Peace
Georges Bizet Carmen: Act III
Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47
Karen P. Thomas Wild Nights!

The Classical Notebook

Classical KING FM announcers and featured musicians share their thoughts on local concerts, seasonal music and evergreen classical favorites.
by Melinda Bargreen posted May 4 2016 10:47AM
It doesn't happen until July 5 – so why are single tickets now available, and why should music lovers bother to think now about the 35th Summer Festival of the Seattle Chamber Music Society?

Because the good stuff will sell out early, following this week's announcement about the single ticket sales. And because July 5 will be here before you know it. Seriously: Memorial Day is only about a month away, and then school's out and shortly thereafter it's the Fourth of July weekend … and then the festival starts on July 5.

This year, there are lots of changes in the lineup that includes artists festivalgoers love (like Ehnes and fellow violinist Augustin Hadelich, to mention only a few), and some newcomers – like cellist Raphael Bell (principal of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic) and violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley (concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic). You'll also hear the festival debuts of such prizewinners as pianist George Li, a Tchaikovsky Competition silver medalist, and Alessio Bax, winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition.

One of the most interesting debuts: the arrival of mandolinist Chris Thile, a Grammy winner who will join artistic director/violinist James Ehnes (another Grammy winner) in the world premiere of a new duo work by Jeremy Turner. Turner, who also is a cellist, was chosen by the SCMS Commissioning Club to create this new piece, whose title apparently hasn't been announced yet; it's just called "New Work" in the promotional materials.

Artistic director and violinist James Ehnes has stuck to the familiar format of 12 chamber concerts preceded by free, 30-minute pre-concert recitals, in the Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall. What a boon those free recitals are, particularly for students! You can just show up, go in, and listen, even if you can't afford tickets to the main-event concert or are uncertain whether it's for you. You can sample the programming, see which artists you like, and experience some new works. Because seats are unassigned, you can also discover where you like (or don't like) to sit in the Nordstrom recital hall, whose so-called "continental seating" means you approach the seats from the side aisles only (there are no center aisles).

Another terrific free opportunity: three "Classical Conversations" on July 13, 20, and 29 in Soundbridge (the education center at Benaroya Hall, accessed from the downhill side on the corner of Second Avenue at Union Street), where Classical KING FM host Dave Beck – who also is a fine cellist – will record informal discussions with Festival musicians Karen Gomyo, Bion Tsang, and Julie Albers, respectively. Each of these Conversations will be followed by one of the free open rehearsals in the main hall, which start at 1:15 p.m. (You also can subscribe to the Classical Conversation Podcast on the festival's website, www.seattlechambermusic.org, or via iTunes.)

The focus on new and seldom-heard works – including William Walton's "Façade" and an evening of Viennese waltzes in transcriptions by "Second Viennese School" composers – doesn't mean that the festival is bypassing traditional repertoire for 2016. Far from it: all "Three Bs" are well represented. Ehnes is following up last year's Beethoven-heavy programming with more Beethoven works for 2016. There'll be early and late string quartets; some early and rarely heard works for mandolin and piano; the familiar "Ghost" Piano Trio, the Op. 16 Piano Quartet, the Op. 29 String Quintet, and the Op. 9 No. 1 String Trio.

If you love Beethoven string quartets, the night to be in the house is opening night, July 5th, when Ehnes' string quartet (he is joined by Amy Schwartz Moretti, Richard O'Neill, and Robert deMaine) plays not only the opening recital but also the last piece on the main program.

Every year, I go through the festival lineup and see which pieces I really want to hear. High up on this year's list are Ravel's "Introduction and Allegro" (July 6), the new Jeremy Turner piece (July 11), anything with violinist Augustin Hadelich (July 18, 20, 22), what looks like a spectacular pre-concert recital by George Li (July 18), a solo Bach Partita by Ehnes (July 25), the rarely presented Walton/Sitwell "Façade" (July 8), the exuberant Mendelssohn Octet (in the free outdoor "Chamber Music in the Park" event at Volunteer Park, July 27), and the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet that wraps up the festival on July 30.

But, of course, there's lots more. Happy listening!
by Melinda Bargreen posted Apr 5 2016 10:49AM
Difficult to spell; easy to enjoy.

That’s the case with guest artists coming to the Seattle Symphony in the next few weeks – starting off April 7 and 9, when violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja makes her Seattle debut. She will soon be followed by cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, playing one of the great concerti of the repertoire – the Dvorak – on April 14 and 16. Both are highly praised, prize-winning soloists whose arrival is eagerly anticipated by string connoisseurs.

April is a month of debuts at the Symphony, and judging from the kudos these soloists have already earned, Benaroya Hall will be an exciting place to be. Both those programs (April 7/9, April 14/16) also will feature guest conductors in their first Seattle Symphony performances. The former program will be led by David Zinman, whose illustrious history includes directorships of the orchestras of Rotterdam, Rochester, Baltimore, Aspen Music Festival, and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (as well as a long list of award-winning recordings).

The April 14/16 concert features Russian maestro Mikhail Tatarnikov, who has conducted leading orchestras and opera productions in several countries; he is based in St. Petersburg, where he is music director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre. In Seattle, he’ll conduct a program of Liadov, Dvorak, and the U.S. premiere of Valentin Silvestrov's Symphony No. 8.

This month’s first soloist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, is of Moldovan/Austrian ancestry; born in 1977, she began violin lessons at six, studied in Vienna and Bern (Switzerland), and began a solo career that has extended from appearances with major European orchestras to engagements in Japan, China, Australia, South America, Russia, and the U.S. For her Seattle debut, she has chosen the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, a colorful 1935 work that presents several folkloric elements in a symphonic context – from a traditional Russian folk tune to a Spanish theme in which the orchestral accompaniment includes castanets.

Kopatchinskaja was once described as “the wild child of the violin” (London Telegraph, 2014), whose interviewer continued, “Whether it’s a Corelli sonata or a concerto by Ligeti, she plays with an astonishing, folk-like passion, throwing speaking looks at the other players that are just as expressive as the sounds she makes.” Strong-willed and outspoken, she also has confessed to the occasional bout of stage fright: “I still get so nervous, sometimes I have to be dragged from the toilet to the stage,” she told the Telegraph.
 
The second soloist (April 14/16), cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan (born in 1988), catapulted to fame when he won the 2011 Tchaikovsky International Competition. Earlier mentored by the great Mstislav Rostropovich, the young Armenian-born artist has gone on to win wildly favorable critical accolades (the Washington Post noted the “insolent ease” of his playing; the New York Times praised his "intense focus and expressive artistry,” and the Los Angeles Times observed that “his tone is as gorgeously sure as it is huge”). Seattle audiences will find out what he can do with the challenges and opportunities posed by the Dvorak Concerto. One thing seems certain: it won’t be “business as usual” this month in Benaroya Hall.
by Melinda Bargreen posted Mar 22 2016 3:32PM
It has long been obvious to Classical KING FM listeners and fans of the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival: Augustin Hadelich is one of the world’s greatest violinists. Grammy voters agreed last month, when the 31-year-old Hadelich won his first Grammy for his recording of Dutilleux’s Violin concerto (“l’Arbre des songes”) with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Ludovic Morlot. And he returns to the Seattle Symphony this week (March 24-26) for three concerto performances -- great news for local music lovers.
 
Known for his enthusiasm for new scores, Hadelich brought David Lang’s acclaimed “Mystery Sonatas” to the SCMS Summer Festival two years ago, only weeks after their New York premiere. He also is a proponent of such composers as Ligeti, Thomas Adès, and Piazzolla, among some of his more venturesome repertoire  .
 
Ever since his gold-medal victory ten years ago in the Indianapolis International Violin Competition, Hadelich has been considered one of the finest violinists of his generation. His further awards include an Avery Fisher Career Grant (2009), a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in the UK (2011), and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award (2012).
 
Now a U.S. citizen, he was raised by German parents in Italy, where a horrific 1999 farm accident resulted in serious burns to his upper body and face -- requiring more than a year’s hiatus from the violin while the 15-year-old Augustin underwent treatment and rehabilitation. A second year of professional preparation was required before he could restart his performance career.
 
Hadelich moved to New York to study at the Juilliard School with Joel Smirnoff. For four years after his Indianapolis victory, Hadelich had the loan of the 1683 Ex-Gingold Stradivarius (the instrument was once owned by Russian-born violinist Josef Gingold, who founded the Indianapolis Competition). He now plays on the 1723 “Ex-Kiesewetter” Stradivari violin, on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
 
Here in Seattle, Hadelich arrives this week for three performances of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, possibly the best-known piece in the fiddle repertoire, and one he has recorded and frequently played. He’ll perform it with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. March 24, noon on March 25, and 8 p.m. March 26, in Benaroya Hall, with guest conductor Jesús López-Cobos on the podium.
 
The Tchaikovsky, composed in 1878, is such a beloved virtuoso piece that it probably will be played as long as there are violins and violinists. Hadelich, who gives the concerto the all-out, super-romantic treatment, has recently recorded it with the London Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko, and has been playing it since he was 12. Over the years, he has reexamined the Tchaikovsky score, which over the generations has been cut and altered, with some of the composer’s original indications ignored.
 
Hadelich hopes his audiences won’t be afraid to applaud at the end of some of the more exciting bravura passages in the Tchaikovsky Concerto, rather than waiting for the last notes of the final, third movement to sound. In his website essay, he observes:
 
“I will always remember the day in early 2007 when I performed the Tchaikovsky with the Fort Worth Symphony and Miguel Harth-Bedoya in front of large groups of high school students in South Lake, TX. (We repeated the performance three times in one day, for three groups of students!) These were not regular concertgoers and I found it wonderful how uninhibited they were, without much awareness nor concern about how to behave "appropriately" at a classical concert. At the end of the exposition of the first movement, where the first long violin solo ends and the orchestra plays the first theme, the students started clapping! When this music was written, it was customary for audiences to cheer whenever they liked something they were hearing (or to boo if they didn’t). And doesn’t it feel so artificial when people don't clap after the first movement of the Tchaikovsky? I found the unrestrained enthusiasm of the students very refreshing. To this day I still think back fondly to those performances whenever I play the Tchaikovsky.”
 
So now you have it: the soloist’s written permission to applaud when that spectacular first movement is over! After years of hearing performances of this concerto, it can be almost painful to sense the audience’s intense desire to applaud at the end of that movement, overcome by the knowledge that “one doesn’t applaud until the concerto is over.” This time, you have official approval to applaud – and this is very likely to be a performance well worth applauding.
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