MP3: Claude Debussy – La Mer 2. “Jeux des vagues” from Quadromania CD1 – The Complete Orchestral Works, performed by Radio Luxemburg Orchestra under the direction of Louis de Forment
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts with the ease of a man who has world and time enough to sculpt with sound. This is no small triumph for NYC’s Avery Fisher Hall, where much can get swallowed if a conductor is not careful. The acoustics are kind to the Steinway, and dampen the coughing, but diminish a great orchestra. The higher your pitch the better off you are when playing this venue. Still, the programming was fantastic: Bartók, Ravel, Debussy. And this orchestra is one of the oldest in the world, with the most performances under its belt at 14,916.
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MP3: Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5 – Iv. Allegro Non Troppo by Bernstein & the NY Phil
In 2008, the Brit music mag Gramaphone ranked the top-world orchestras with the help of critics and musicians. We could, of course, head to Amsterdam, Berlin, or Vienna to capture the best of the best, but our home turf is rich. Here’s my take on performances that will bring the 2008-2009 season to a wondrous, raucous close.
1. Chicago Symphony Orchestra (pictured right)
We read excellent things about the CSO’s brass, which is, at times Baltimore’s Achilles’ heel. In Chicago, immerse yourself in contemporary classical. See the noble father-and-sometime-bully, Pierre Boulez conduct a unique “American” homage: the work of Stravinsky who expatriated to Cali, Edgard Varèse, French transplant to New York, and Elliot Carter — the true American centenarian — born on Dec. 11, 1908. Celebrations and new compositions are being mounted everywhere.
This Carter-champion, Boulez, himself is 83, so witness this living master while the getting is still good: Feb. 26th – Mar. 3rd.
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