Diana Damrau puts the sparkle into the RCO’s Opening Night

Mozart/Dvořák/Bernstein: RCO/Hengelbrock/Damrau

Concertgebouw, 14th September 2017

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Drawing of Antonin Dvořák by M. V. Nadherny

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra officially opened their 2017-18 season with a well-chosen, festive programme. In the presence of Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, conductor Thomas Hengelbrock led an all-Mozart first half, introducing arias with anecdotes and great enthusiasm. Antonín Dvořák’s optimistic Eighth Symphony took up the second half.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra throws a glossy Bernstein party

Bernstein: RCO/Wilson

Concertgebouw, 7th July 2017

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Leonard Bernstein in 1955. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For almost thirty years, summer at the Concertgebouw has been synonymous with Robeco SummerNights. This popular series expands the classical concert formula with pop, film music, jazz and more, served straight up or mixed together. Composer Leonard Bernstein’s versatility makes his oeuvre, ranging from Broadway to opera, prime SummerNight fare.

Full review on Opera Today.

Beautiful role debut for Malin Byström in Amsterdam Salome

Strauss: Salome

Dutch National Opera, 9th June 2017

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Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (c. 1861) by Jan Adam Kruseman at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

While the audience cheered at the end of the new Salome at Dutch National Opera, Malin Byström punched the air triumphantly with her fist. With good reason, because this was a wonderful role debut.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra premieres Easter Passions

Debussy/Ali-Zadeh/Živković: RCO/Brabbins

Concertgebouw, 7th April 2017

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Saint Sebastian by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), Sarria Church, Floriana, Malta

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra continues its recent tradition of commissioning a new Eastertide passion every four years. This year they commissioned two new works, Mystical Sacrifice by Djuro Živković and Nasimi-Passion by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. Symphonic fragments from Debussy’s incidental music for a mystery play about Saint Sebastian completed the programme.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Over-the-top Elgar and hushed Mahler from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Elgar/Mahler: RCO/Gardiner

Concertgebouw, 2nd March 2017

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Mahler and Elgar are not two composers one would automatically associate with each other. For the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra the former is an intrinsic part of their tradition, the latter only sporadically on their music stands. So much so that on Thursday evening it was the first time ever that they performed his Cockaigne Overture.

Full review on Bachtrack.

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Wagner: Die Walküre, Act III

Concertgebouw, 9th December 2016

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Wotan Bidding Farewell to Brunhilde (1908) by Ferdinand Leeke

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

Presumably, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, foremost in the land and one of the best in the world, could not muster the budget for a complete Walküre — a worrisome fact, if this was indeed the case.

Full review on Opera Today.

Magnificent terror in new Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Concertgebouw, 5th November 2016

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Detail from The Last Judgement (circa 1505) by Hieronymus Bosch

Like the work of it’s dedicatee, Detlev Glanert’s Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch spans the mortal and the immortal, the demonic and the angelic, the putrid and the sublime. It is one of the events commemorating the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death, and premiered one day before this Amsterdam performance, at St John’s Cathedral in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Bosch’s birthplace. It was an extraordinary performance…

Full review on Bachtrack.