Daniel Barenboim: promoting peace through classical music

Exploring how classical music contributes to peaceful coexistence in crisis regions around the world has helped define Daniel Barenboim’s life work.

‘Barenboim or the Power of Music’ is a documentary that examines Barenboim as not only one of the most outstanding conductors and pianists of our time but as a deeply political man as well. Barenboim has said that every great work of art has two faces, one toward its own time and one toward the future, toward eternity. In November 2017 this progressive thinker and free spirit turns 75.

The film begins with the opening of the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin in the spring of 2017. The concert hall named after Barenboim’s close friend Pierre Boulez and designed by star architect Frank Gehry seats 700 people. The oval shaped space located in the heart of Berlin is more than just a spectacular new venue for classical and contemporary chamber music; young musicians from the Middle East – Jews, Christians and Muslims – are given the opportunity to study and play music together here. The idea behind the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin grew out of a project that Barenboim and his friend, the intellectual Edward Said realized in 1999 when they founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra made up of Israeli and Arab musicians. The viewer gets a vivid sense of Barenboim’s lifelong view that any solution to political conflicts, such as those in the Middle East, can only be cultural and personal, and not decreed by policy-makers.

Advertisements

Ravel’s ‘Pavane pour une infante défunte’

Ravel_PavanePourUneInfanteDefunte

Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Infanta) is a well-known piece written for solo piano by the French composer Maurice Ravel in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris under Gabriel Fauré. Ravel also published an orchestrated version of the Pavane in 1910; it is scored for two flutes, oboe, two clarinets (in B-flat), two bassoons, two horns, harp, and strings. A typical performance of the piece lasts between six and seven minutes. It is widely considered a masterpiece.

Conductor: Andre Previn
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Recording: 1980.

Stravinsky’s ‘Suite For Small Orchestra No.1 and No.2’ recorded in Italy in 1953

The Suite For Small Orchestra No.1 was composed between 1917 and 1925. This miniature work, comprising an introduction and three national dances, is notable for its prominent rhythms and rich orchestral colouring.

Suite No.2 is extremely witty and rhythmically varied. The employment of the piano obligato, tuba, and the colourful application of the percussion instruments are described as particularly original orchestral effects.

Conductor: Hermann Scherchen
Orchestra: Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai di Torino
Recording: November 6, 1953

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 / Haitink, Bavarian Radio Symphony

NEW RELEASE

For a long time, Anton Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony (alongside the Second) was regarded as something of a ‘poor relation’ in his immense symphonic oeuvre, although the composer himself had moodily referred to it as his “boldest.” Over the decades, in view of its performance figures and recordings, this changed significantly: The work has now secured itself a permanent place in the repertoire. The Sixth Symphony belongs to the creative process of the two preceding symphonies, the “Romantic” Fourth and the Fifth, and is now understood as an important preliminary stage in Bruckner’s last great upsurge that followed the composition of the “Te Deum” and culminated in the sublime grandeur of his final symphonies, the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth. The “very solemn” Adagio of the Sixth Symphony, in particular, provided the model for the famous Adagio of the Seventh Symphony that followed it. The recent Munich concert performance of May 2017 has now been released by BR-Klassik. This outstanding interpretation of one of the key compositions in the late Romantic symphonic repertoire is conducted by Bernard Haitink.