Stenz conducts an impressive Babylon at the Holland Festival

Widmann: Babylon

Concertgebouw, 3rd June 2017

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The Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

According to the programme, at one point composer Jörg Widmann requires the chorus in his opera Babylon to split into 94 parts. I hope this is a misprint, but Babylon is a fearlessly ambitious composition. This impressive performance at the Holland Festival, led by the intrepid Markus Stenz, was deservedly cheered at length.

Full review on Backtrack.

Buoyant Brahms’ First from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Iván Fischer

Bach/Brahms: RCO/Fischer

Concertgebouw, 6th April 2016

What is Bach to Brahms? The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra concluded their four-programme exposition on this question with a Magnificat followed by Brahms’ Symphony no. 1 in C minor. Brahms not only championed Bach when it was not a given to do so, but also drew copious inspiration from his works. After labouring in Beethoven’s vast shadow for about fourteen years, he revealed his fully-fledged First Symphony, which was both an overt tribute to Beethoven and Brahms’ coronation as his successor as master of the genre. The work also owes much to Bach, however, in its use of complex counterpoint. Juxtaposing the two masterpieces clarified their common lineage.

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Johannes Brahms

Full review on Bachtrack.

Amsterdam world première of Blank Out a heightened sensory trip

Van der Aa: Blank Out

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, 20th March 2016

While the mainstream opera world discusses live opera versus cinema relays, and whether or not they are friends or enemies, composer Michel van der Aa continues to break with tradition, mixing disciplines and media to create uniquely structured works.

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Michel van der Aa © Marco Borggreve

Full review on Bachtrack.