5 July 2011

Concerts in 2011/2012

I apologise in advance for my readers that don't live in The Netherlands, this post will probably not be interesting to you. Now that it's july, most concert halls don't have many exciting things going on (apart from the Concertgebouw where the Robeco Zomerconcerten have just started, with lots of great concerts, I'm particularely excited about Andriss Nelsons conducting Wagner, R. Strauss and Shostakovich, and Lugansky playing Prokofiev's 2nd piano concerto!) and so I've had plenty of time to figure out what concerts I want to go to next season (in classical music the seasons usually start in september). And I thought that it might be fun to post my absolute favourites in here, as a sort of recommendation. So I've picked a few.

First off, I'd like to say that for all you young people both the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra have youth organisations that are pretty great, not only do they organize events, they also provide us poor students with ways to get cheap tickets. To become a member of Entrée, the youth organisation of the Concertgebouw (run by a bunch of wonderful people) you pay 10€ a year and then you'll be able to go to a selection of concerts in the Concertgebouw for 10€ a ticket (and you can buy two tickets per concert, so bring a friend!). Their membership is available for everyone under 30.

For the Young Person's Guide, the youth organisation of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra you also pay 10€ a year and then you can go to all concerts by the Rotterdam Philharmonic in De Doelen for only 5 euros per ticket (and again you can buy two tickets per concert). Their membership is for everyone between 16 and 30 years old. So if you're considering going to concerts and live in or near either of these cities, I definitely recommend becoming a member, it'll save you so much money.

Here are some of the concerts I want to recommend. I've tried to post links to youtube videos with the music, but some I couldn't find, so sorry about that. This is also really not an exhaustive list, I actually feel quite bad for not writing down some of them (like Sergey Khachatryan's tour with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and Gubaidulina's 80th birthday concert in the Concertgebouw) but I couldn't really post a million concerts on here, right? I got a bit lazy about descriptions towards the end, so if you want to know anything else, feel free to ask.

Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Sunday 11 September 2011
Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Nationaal Jeugdkoor, conductor - Serge Baudo, choir conductor - Wilma ten Wolde, piano - Nikolaj Lugansky
Ravel - Pianoconcerto for the left hand
Poulenc - Litanies à la vierge noire
Debussy - Nocturnes

Ravel's Piano concerto for the left hand is rather fascinating. It was written for Paul Wittgenstein, a pianist who had lost his hand in WWI (and he was Ludwig Wittgenstein's brother!). When two-handed pianists play it, like Nikolai Lugansky, they still only use one hand, which might seem gimicky but it's actually a really wonderful concerto (and Lugansky plays it ridiculously well). Poulenc's Litanies à la vierge noire is a beautiful choral work, I think Poulenc really was one of the best choral composers ever. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with Debussy because some of his works I find beautiful and some just bore me to death. Fortunately the Nocturnes fall into the first category!

Rotterdam De Doelen, Friday 2 December 2011
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, conductor - Sir Mark Elder, piano - Martin Helmchen
Beethoven - Piano Concerto No.2
Shostakovich - Symphony No.4

I'm taking a bunch of friends to this concert because Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony is one of the loudest things in the world ever. That should be reason enough to go (it's also beautiful and melodic and wonderful and I could quite easily never listen to anything else ever, but well... it's just really loud). I don't care much for the Beethoven to be honest but at least it'll be a nice way to ease into Shostakovich.

Rotterdam De Doelen, Saturday 17 December 2011
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, conductor - Yannick Nézet-Séguin, mezzo-soprano - Christianne Stotijn, tenor - Christian Elsner
Britten - Four Sea Interludes
Mahler - Das Lied von der Erde

This concert is of course partly about seeing Yannick Nézet-Séguin in action, because everyone should experience that at least once in their life (or once a month, or once a year, y'know, as often as possible). But on top of that, the Four Sea Interludes by Benjamin Britten are taken from his opera Peter Grimes, which is actually my favourite opera, and Britten is quickly becoming one of my favourite composers. Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde is a work that gets performed quite often and with good reason, it's a massive work for two soloists and orchestra and is all kinds of amazing.

Dr. Anton Philipszaal Den Haag, Friday/Sunday 9/11 March 2012
Residentieorkest, conductor - Otto Tausk, piano - Nikolai Lugansky
Rimski-Korsakov - Russian Easter Festival Overture
Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No.1
Mussorgsky/Ravel - Pictures at an Exhibition

Okay, another Nikolai Lugansky concert, but bear with me! All three of these pieces are absolute classics of Russian music, they'll all have bits you'll probably recognize and that's only because the music's so fantastic and well-liked. Of course I've already written about Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition before (here) so I won't have to write about that again, but the other piece are great as well. Especially the Tchaikovksy piano concerto, definitely one of my favourites. And Lugansky always kills it (I've seen him play it before). If you're worried about music being too difficult or being too overwhelmed, this is definitely a concert I'd recommend, I can't think of a single person who wouldn't love it.

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ Amsterdam, Friday 6 April 2012
Amsterdam Sinfonietta, conductor + violin - Candida Thompson, mezzosoprano - Christianne Stotijn
Shostakovich - Prelude en Scherzo
Mussorgsky - Songs and dances of death (the one performed will be arranged by Theo Verbey, this version is arranged by Shostakovich)

Debussy - Three Préludes for string orchestra
Shostakovich - Chamber Symphony opus 118a

Too much Shostakovich? Nahh. Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death are incredibly beautiful, and I'm actually quite keen on hearing Theo Verbey's orchestration for chamber orchestra, I bet it'll be good. Shostakovich's Chamber Symphony op. 118a is an arrangment of his 10th string quartet by Rudolf Barshai. I'm a bit of an annoying purist but the Barshai arrangements of Shostakovich's string quartets are usually really effective and beautiful.

Concertgebouw Amsterdam,Saturday 28 April 2012
Radio Kamer Filharmonie, conductor - James MacMillan, violin - Vadim Repin
Bartók - Romanian Folk Dances
- Violin Concerto (Dutch premiere)

Shostakovich - Symphony No.9

Okay so this one isn't about the Shostakovich work (although the ninth symphony is probably the most fun thing he ever wrote), but about MacMillan's violin concerto. James MacMillan is a contemporary English composer who I mainly know from his incredible St. Luke's Passion and other choral works. I've loved everything by him I've heard so far, so the idea of a violin concerto played by none other than Vadim Repin with the composer himself conducting is really very very enticing. (Also, having it billed with Bartók and Shostakovich certainly doesn't hurt).

Rotterdam De Doelen, Thursday 31 May 2012
Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, conductor - Yannick Nézet-Séguin, mezzo-soprano - Magdalena Kožená, alto - Nathalie Stutzmann, soprano - Aline Kutan, soprano - Karine Gauvin, tenor - Jean-Paul Fouchecourt, bass - Matthew Rose, chorus - Vlaams Radiokoor
Ravel - Ma mère l’oye
Ravel - L’enfant et les sortilèges

You can never have too much Yannick, too much opera or too much Ravel. So this one should be pretty impressive. I can't wait to hear L'Enfant et les Sortilèges live, it's glorious!


  1. Deze al gezien? http://www.muziekgebouw.nl/agenda/Concerten/1687/Alexander_Melnikov/Preludes_fuga_s/

  2. Ik vond de omschrijving nogal vreemd: 'De Preludes en Fuga’s van Dmitri Sjostakovitsj. Veel pianisten lopen er met een grote boog omheen.'

    Hoezo? :-S

  3. Dat is inderdaad best raar want over het algemeen zijn ze niet héél ingewikkeld en hebben best veel pianisten ze gespeeld!! Het zijn onwijs mooie stukken. Ik wist niet dat er zo over werd gedacht :/.