Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, 1925-2012

He was a giant of the music world, and a particularly important figure in Germany’s postwar era. There’s a terrific biography/obituary at The Telegraph. EMI’s new SACD release sporting high-definition transfer of his four groundbreaking early HMV LPs of Schubert lieder with the incomparable Gerald Moore arrived at my office last week; these are among the most important classical recordings of the postwar era.

Lucerne Festival Shake-Up: Mahler Out, Mozart and Beethoven In

I’m hugely disappointed:

Change of program:
LUCERNE FESTIVAL hereby announces that on 8 August as well as on 10 and 11 August, Claudio Abbado will conduct Beethoven’s Incidental music to “Egmont” and Mozart’s Requiem. For artistic reasons, this program replaces the originally scheduled Eighth Symphony by Gustav Mahler.

I had been planning to attend what was to be the culmination of Abbado’s Lucerne Mahler symphony cycle. Interesting that as of the hour of this post seems to be having technical problems (style sheets and javascript are offline). I will post more information as soon as I know more.

… and yes, I’m enjoying every note…

Saturday night listening: Hans Werner Henze’s too-rarely-performed opera “Elegy for Young Lovers”. I know, it’s light listening as usual. An old college friend reminded me earlier today that I would often assert that “music should be rigorous”; that sentiment has changed little in 30-plus years.

The Henze recording features Lisa Saffer (she can sing anything, and I mean anything), Roderick Kennedy, a stunningly good supporting cast, and the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by the much-underrated Reinbert de Leeuw. It’s part of a 27-disc set documenting Schoenberg Ensemble recordings of 20th century music issued about five years ago by Dutch indie Et’Cetera. The performances are consistently excellent.

Maazel / Orchestre de Paris @ Salle Pleyel

I’ve just returned from a sensational concert at the Salle Pleyel. I cannot recall the Orcehstre de Paris ever sounding anything close to as formidable as they were this evening. Lorin Maazel, who returned to the OdP after a decade of absence, led a colorful and characterful performance (with more than a few daring nuances of tempo and phrasing) of works by Ravel and Dukas – Ma mère l’oye, Tzigane (with OdP principal violinist Phillipe Aiche), L’Apprenti Sorcier, Rhapsodie espagnole, and La Valse, with the Farandole from Bizet’s L’Arlesienne as an encore.

The audience was wildly enthusiastic, and (knowing full well that this is probably going to ruffle the feathers of a couple of my friends who are frequent critics of Maazel) so was I. Under Maazel, The New York Philharmonic was never less than engaging and more often than not thrilling; this concert, easily the most enjoyable I’ve seen this season, makes me miss the level of playing he got from the Philharmonic.

Gene Gaudette on classical music, cultural politics, political culture, media, and his record labels.