Musikfest 1: Return to Form

Klaus Mäkelä © 2020 by Harrison Parrott
It was a good weekend for Mahler fans in Berlin.Only two nights after the Berlin Philharmonic kicked off their season with a performance of the Seventh, the 2022 edition of Musikfest Berlin got underway with the Sixth, performed by Amsterdam’s Concertgebouworkest under the direction of their future chief conductor Klaus Mäkelä

Living in the Ice Age

Michieletto, Jenůfa © 2022 by Bernd Uhlig
With a slightly altered cast and musical direction taken over by Thomas Guggeis, the Jenůfa's first public performance was a triumph, placing considerable vocal riches in the service of a thoroughly engrossing drama

The subtle betrayal

Huguet, Don Giovanni © 2022 by Matthias Baus
The new production of Don Giovanni at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden has a magnificent cast.The quality of the performances, however, must be weighed against that of the staging.

Grand Gestures

Mr Barenboim's reading, full of grand gestures and sudden intrusions, strove for the highest possible levels of drama and had little room for tidy formalities.The music that emerged was full of raw, rough edges, unsanded and unpolished, but burning with fresh heat from the cut.

Thomas Adès Studies

Thomas Adès Studies © 2021 by Cambridge University Press
Adès escribe instrucciones ("sombreros de fieltro", "pedal"), por ejemplo, para controlar los detalles de silenciamiento y resonancia.Otras marcas de expresión son más abiertamente metafóricas: al percusionista le dice que golpee el gong "noblemente", como si quisiera transmitir un propósito ceremonial, y está el título del movimiento, "Ángeles".

The men who were recklessly curious

Huguet, Così fan tutte © Matthias Baus
Between a superb ensemble cast and Daniel Barenboim’s perfectly-judged musical direction, it was a thrilling opening to the Staatsoper’s new season

A Misremembered Past

Huguet, Le nozze di Figaro © 2021 by Matthias Baus
For its first run of live performances, the production benefitted from both the buzz of a real audience and a generally superior cast to that of the première.Vincent Huguet’s staging, however, remained aggressively bland and perplexingly uninspired, a triumph of sets and costumes over ideas and characters.

Kurt Weill y los Estados Unidos

Kurt Weill's America © 2021 by Oxford University Press
Estoy convencido de que el gran arte de todas las épocas era actual, en el sentido de que estaba destinado no a la eternidad, sino al tiempo en que se originó, o al menos al futuro próximo, a cuya formación debía contribuir.

The full extent of Granados’s genius will remain elusive for some time to come

Enrique Granados en contexto © 2020 by FIMTE
While hardly a ‘Spanish Craze’ there was nevertheless a marked increase in performances of music by Spanish composers in England in the wake of Granados’s death, a movement that undoubtedly paved the way for the spectacular success of El sombrero de tres picos in London in 1919.

Cold Passions

Francesconi, Quartett © Monika Rittershaus, 2020
Although Luca Francesconi’s Quartett production had undoubtedly been scheduled long before the first wave of the COVID pandemic, the opera, a claustrophobic and occasionally harrowing adaptation of Heiner Müller’s stage play of the same name, had an edge of lockdown madness that made it especially timely.