New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
John F
Posts: 18778
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by John F » Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:55 pm

With the death of Herbert von Karajan, the Salzburg Festival ceased to be a showplace for the best of the best and jumped on the Eurotrash bandwagon, following the Bayreuth Festival. The only relic of the original festival appears to be the participation of the Vienna Philharmonic - and this new guy has them playing Shostakovich, while a no-name band from the Russian provinces does the Mozart. Sheesh!

A Pianist With Modern Flair Takes Over the Salzburg Festival
By MICHAEL COOPER
AUG. 18, 2017

SALZBURG, Austria — The last time Markus Hinterhäuser worked with the South African artist William Kentridge and the German baritone Matthias Goerne, he was the accompanist — bringing his intense, sensitive piano playing to their multimedia production of Schubert’s “Winterreise” song cycle, which won wide praise and went on to tour the world.

But when the three men reunited here this month to collaborate on a high-stakes new production of Berg’s harrowing opera “Wozzeck,” Mr. Hinterhäuser had switched roles, trading his piano bench for an impresario’s chair. He is the new artistic director of the fabled Salzburg Festival, and the “Wozzeck” is one of several ambitious new productions he has programmed this year to establish his vision, and to make his mark at a time when the big summer music festivals must compete with one another for both audiences and artists.

“Maybe it’s not a disadvantage that I know the other side — what it means to be onstage, what it means to perform, what it means to be in this situation, which is anything but free of stress,” Mr. Hinterhäuser said in an interview.

Mr. Hinterhäuser, 59, cuts a very different figure from some of his predecessors at the Salzburg Festival, including the imperious Herbert von Karajan (whom Mr. Hinterhäuser, as a young piano student here, once saw leaving a concert in his Porsche while the police stopped traffic for him) and the iconoclastic Gerard Mortier (for whom he programmed a contemporary music series). He is soft-spoken, favors causally cool clothes over designer suits, and seems to run on coffee and cigarettes. He has a cracked smartphone with an overstuffed calendar that he constantly checks.
Observing him over the course of a jam-packed week here — with two opera premieres; a variety of high-level concerts; and a schedule loaded with meetings — offered a glimpse of what it takes to run one of classical music’s most important festivals. Last Tuesday, the morning of the “Wozzeck” premiere, he sat down with festival staff members and discussed the week ahead
The premiere of Verdi’s “Aida” two nights earlier, starring Anna Netrebko singing the title role for the first time and Riccardo Muti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, had gone smoothly. The new production of Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtensk,” starring Nina Stemme and conducted by Mariss Jansons, had proved such a success that the festival’s broadcasting partners were scrambling to add it to their lineups. And a few days earlier Peter Sellars had personally directed the telecast of his modern truth-and-reconciliation-themed production of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito,” apparently employing a somewhat improvisational style that kept the crew in the control booth on their toes...

The festival, which was founded nearly a century ago in Mozart’s birthplace, is a huge undertaking. This summer it is mounting five new fully staged opera productions (plus the return of Handel’s “Ariodante” starring Cecilia Bartoli, which premiered at Salzburg’s Whitsun festival this spring), over the course of just six weeks — close to what many big opera houses do over an entire season. Between its opera, concert and theater offerings, it will give 195 performances in more than a dozen venues across this small city in 41 days — and must sell what officials estimate is around 230,000 tickets, including many at steep prices, while catering to the donors and sponsors who are increasingly key to its survival.

Some of his ideas have been unconventional. He brought Teodor Currentzis and his orchestra musicAeterna from Perm, Russia, to perform Mozart’s “Clemenza” and Mahler’s First Symphony — while the Vienna Philharmonic, which often laid claim to those Austrian-based composers in the past, performed Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” and his “Leningrad” Symphony. He gave the green light to Mr. Sellars and Mr. Currentzis to interpolate other music by Mozart, including from his Mass in C minor, in their “Clemenza,” alarming some purists. (“It’s a new era,” Mr. Currentzis said.) He brought in new artists and new music, and programmed several mini festivals, including “Time With Shostakovich” and “Time With Grisey,” devoted to the music of Gérard Grisey, a student of Messiaen who died in 1998...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/arts ... tival.html
John Francis

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 16916
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by Lance » Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:44 pm

TIME changes everything. Generally, it isn't so great.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

maestrob
Posts: 4849
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by maestrob » Sun Aug 20, 2017 10:42 am

Currentzis & Mozart? Now THERE's a combination I'll pass on.

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:28 am

Every orchestra comes from somewhere, and Perm right now certainly qualifies as somewhere.

Currentzis/MusicAeterna has released on a major label the Da Ponte operas in arresting performances that reviewers have not always entirely praised but have taken seriously.

So maybe Currentzis won't measure up to the three ghosts of Salzburg past: Karajan, Furtwangler and Bohm. Who else among the quick, if not the dead, has a shot?

Image

Image

Image

John F
Posts: 18778
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by John F » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:45 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:28 am
Every orchestra comes from somewhere, and Perm right now certainly qualifies as somewhere.
So?

jserraglio wrote:Currentzis/MusicAeterna has released on a major label the Da Ponte operas in arresting performances that reviewers have not always entirely praised but have taken seriously

I don't know about that, but here's one comment from amazon.com's page for the "Figaro" that doesn't quite concur: "I do believe there's something of the charlatan about Currentzis and it is his audacity that not only makes for some wondrous, effervescent, at times even visionary music making; it also raises questions about the wisdom of what turns out to be a rather idiosyncratic approach on Currentzis's part to making music in general."
jserraglio wrote:So maybe Currentzis won't measure up to the three ghosts of Salzburg past: Karajan, Furtwangler and Bohm. Who else among the quick, if not the dead, has a shot?
Other ghosts of Salzburg past include Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini, who conducted all the operas in 1936 and 1937. Among the living, one such is still conducting Mozart at the Metropolitan Opera, such as last season's "Idomeneo," and he spent many summers in Salzburg years ago, though he apparently hasn't been invited to return.
John Francis

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:00 pm

So? So Perm's orchestra may be in the provinces without being of the provinces.

So? So we are now asked to credit a no-name Amazon reviewer tagging as "something of [a] charlatan" the conductor of an orchestra already dismissed here as a "no-name band from the Russian provinces".

I recall Gramophone giving Currentzis's latest, Don Giovanni, a positive review. Fanfare give his Figaro (the first in the Da Ponte series) a mixed review, mostly critical, esp. of the singing. Some reviews have been very negative, some positive. But all that I've read or seen synopses of have been professional in tone.

Norrington has been called a charlatan, so too Stokowski, Harnoncourt too in his early days. A friend of mine even called Toscanini a charlatan! I guess poor Currentzis must be doing something right then if he inspires such name-calling in Sir Lack-Name.

I listened to his recent Don Giovanni and liked it enough to want to hear it again. I haven't yet heard the other two. Have you?

As for ghosts, there just isn't enough room in the tale for five Ghosts of Salzburg Past, only three. AT. BW and HvK would would certainly qualify as consensus choices. And since Levine hasn't been invited back lately, maybe Currentzis has a shot to become the Ghost of Salzburg Present

John F
Posts: 18778
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by John F » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:24 am

What a strange string of assertions! They can't be serious, so I won't waste the effort of answering them.

As I said, the Salzburg Festival's criterion of choice used to be the best of the best. That's what a "festival" should offer, above and beyond the routines and compromises of the regular season. From the first international festival of 1922, when the four Mozart operas were divided between Richard Strauss and Franz Schalk, that's what the Festival visitors got for their money (and plenty of it).

No longer. This summer only half the opera conductors are internationally important. Riccardo Muti (Aida), Mariss Jansons (Lady Macbeth), Vladimir Jurowski (Wozzeck), Franz Welser-Möst (Lear), and John Eliot Gardiner (Orfeo) are plausible for a great international festival, but the other four, definitely including Teodor Currentzis, are not. This puts in question Markus Hinterhäuser's suitability and indeed competence as the festival's artistic director, as does his background as reported by the Times.
John Francis

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:06 am

Teodor Currentzis has been labeled as not "internationally important". His orchestra musicAeterna has been termed a "no-name band from the Russian provinces". Absent any specifics about their actual performances, I regard these claims as "a strange string of assertions" in their own right.

After listening to their Don Giovanni record and being intrigued enough to slate it for a second hearing, I also watched parts of their Clemenza. I kinda liked it, though I do not know this opera well enough to trust my opinion. But on another forum, several listeners who do know the opera well made these observations after seeing the recent Clemenza broadcast from the Salzburg Festival.
... they cut the recitatives and included other music like a movement from the C minor Mass and the Maurerische Trauermusik. Here is Der Spiegel's review (in German): http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/musik/salz ... 60102.html

Listening right now, and loving every minute of it. I can see that Currentzis (and Sellars) got rave reviews for the Salzburg premiere.

Me too, though it's a shame that (as is too often the case) the Tito simply can't sing the florid music in "Se all'impero". The musical additions and omissions seem silly, but I'm not going to complain too much, at least inasmuch as I don't think I've heard the "Laudamus te" from the C Minor Mass better conducted. I've not seen all of it yet, but his Mozart Requiem from the same festival seems superb (and if there are any gimmicks, I've not encountered them yet).

It’s even better if you watch it – video from medici TV (where it’s still available, evidently). “Parto” (stunningly sung – aside from missing trills – and played) is especially impressive, a real duet (the clarinetist is up on stage, “acting” with her), and the extraneous music is impressively integrated. I’m sure many will dismiss the whole thing as too gimmicky; if so, too bad for them.

THEHORN
Posts: 2504
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:57 am

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by THEHORN » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:13 pm

I've only heard a few isolated bits Currentzis conducting on youtube, so I'll have to reserve judgment on him until I hear more . But he certainly sounds like a fascinating character and definitely not a boring conductor whatever you may think of his conducting .
This show you the double standard so many critics and fans apply to judging recordings and live performances of famous names from the past and those of the present day .
They whine endlessly about how "lacking in personality " today's classical musicians supposedly are , and how pedantically literal and lacking in interpretive flair and individuality .
Yet they mercilessly lambaste today's musicians when they show THEIR individuality and accuse them of being "charlatans ". But you can't have it both ways .

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:49 pm

THEHORN wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:13 pm
[snip] . . . the double standard so many critics and fans apply to judging recordings and live performances of famous names from the past and those of the present day . . .
With a dollop of snobbery for good measure, moderns sometimes can be as susceptible to ancestor worship as the ancients.

Christoph von Dohnanyi put it well: "We give a great performance and George Szell gets all the credit."

John F
Posts: 18778
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by John F » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:48 am

There's a difference between a distinctive approach to music and messing around with it. A case in point among celebrated conductors of the last century is Willem Mengelberg. In some music he is unequaled - the classic NY Phil recording of Strauss's "Ein Heldenleben," for example. It's not for nothing that Strauss dedicated the piece to Mengelberg. But his musically senseless tempo changes in standard repertoire make me wonder what he can have been thinking. Listen after 2:00 in Beethoven Symphony No. 1:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPWmVDDzZWA

I would say, then, that there was something wrong with Mengelberg's musical sensibility, whether you call it charlatanry is up to you, not in all his performances but enough of them not to be explained away as merely occasional. Critics and fans who object are not applying a double standard (as THEHORN says) but rather showing that they have standards. Likewise regarding Currentzis's messing with Mozart, as described. This apart from the broader issue of whether such a marginal conductor and ensemble should have a place in a great (or presently not so great) international music festival.
John Francis

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:58 am

Currentzis conducts Mozart at this year's Salzburg Festival, for anyone interested to see and hear the performance:

http://www.medici.tv/en/operas/mozart-l ... -festival/
Last edited by jserraglio on Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.

John F
Posts: 18778
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by John F » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:06 am

Here's that 1928 Mengelberg recording of "Heldenleben," for those who don't know it. Besides its interpretive power, it shows what a great orchestra the New York Philharmonic was even before Toscanini first conducted it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfAebZrRRk8

The sound of the original 78s isn't as muffled as this; in fact it's remarkably vivid.
John Francis

jserraglio
Posts: 3336
Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Re: New Salzburg Festival director: who he?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:23 am

Hearing always trumps mere hearsay.

I am currently listening to Teodor Currentzis performing Russian music & EM (Handel, Rameau).

Prokofiev


Shostakovich


Handel


Rameau

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests