Sunday, January 22, 2017
Tanja Dorn’s boutique agency has signed Stanley Dodds, a Berlin Philharmonic violinist with conducting ambitions. Dodds has assisted Simon Rattle on various projects and is principal conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, playing seven times a year in the Philharmonie. His bio: Stanley Chia-Ming Dodds was born in Canada, grew up in Australia and as a dual German-Australian citizen is now based in Berlin. He began playin violin and piano in Adelaide at age four, attended the Bruckner Conservatorium and Musik High School in Linz before studying violin and conducting at Lucerne Conservatorium. He continued violin studies at the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic before receiving tenure as a violinist in the orchestra in 1994. He studied conducting in Australia, Switzerland and Germany, his most important mentor being the acclaimed Finnish professor Jorma Panula.
This was no "ordinary" event! When Simon Rattle conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in Mark-Anthony Turnage and Mahler at the Barbican, a statement was being made, of much wider significance than the concert itself. Consider the context. Though he formally becomes the LSO's Music Director later this year, their association goes way back. Rattle is perhaps the greatest mover and shaker that British music has experienced since Sir Henry Wood. His whole life has been dedicated to a love of music that goes beyond conducting, and reaches all aspects of cultural experience. This concert was mega-profile for many reasons. This was the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Remembering 'in memoriam Evan Scofield' , a joint commission between the LSO, the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Turnage is one of the great British composers of our time, and also international, given his long association with the US and his interest in jazz. Remembering was written about a promising young man whose life was cut short by cancer at the age of only 25. Before he died, however, Scofield asked that those who survived him might have the adventures he missed out on. By scattering his ashes, those who loved him could travel with him where he could not have otherwise gone: imagination transcending the annihilation of death. A metaphor for creativity, whose results live beyond their maker. Rattle and Turnage, when they were youngRemembering is a long way from the wildness of Greek and the audacity of Anna Nicole. It resembles Frieze, but may well mark a new period in Turnage's development. It's a very personal work, since the composer knew the dedicatee extremely well. Turnage and John Scofield, the jazz guitarist, Evan's father, collaborated on many projects, including Scorched in 2004. Written in four movements, Remembering resembles a symphony. The first movement is fast and angular, with whips of jerky expression typical of Turnage's funky jazz-influenced style. Suddenly the pace speeds up and the movement ends abruptly. Elongated lines mark the second movement, purposefully dragging as if it were possible to hold back time. Metallic percussion, the cool, pure chill of high flutes. Quiet. ominous rumblings underpin the sharp protests in the scherzo, which cuts out abruptly, like the previous movements, its mood left hanging in the air. Cello and viola duet in the finale. The pace is elegaic, deliberate, cut by a moment in which the orchestra suddenly flares up with sudden energy, before retreating into passages of great refinement and beauty. Muted trumpets, elegant winds: ultimately the mood is transcendence, far from the jerky rhythms of the world. Two "hammerblows" struck on tubular bells. The third is beyond our ken. It was in context with Turnage's Remembering that the Mahler 6th performance which followed can be appreciated. Audiences are used to listening from recordings, but musicians hear from the experience of concert performance. Rattle has been conducting Mahler for forty years, and was, indeed, instrumental in bringing Mahler to widespread public attention in this country. The LSO have also been playing Mahler since way back, under numerous different conductors. On this occasion, Rattle and the LSO approached Mahler through the prism of Turnage's Remembering, which being new, would have taken more rehearsal and study time. This "Tragic" was tragic, but also non-tragic. The hammerblow didn't cut him short – yet – and he went on to greater heights. Andante-Scherzo worked well in this performance, reinforcing the idea of memory. The "Alma Theme" represents happiness, summer, nature, all those good things that make life worth living. When the chill descends, the iciness is all the more poignant, having looked back on what will not come again. A beautifully poised andante, the LSO playing with a tenderness that takes more skill tio achieve than big, noisy outbursts. If music can be as sublime as this, it can never be extinguished, it lives on forever, whatever happens to the individuals playing it at any given point in time. Thus the grotesque absurdity of death which the Scherzo represents is but a setback on a longer journey. The fierce driving passages, and the wailing brass give way to a macabre dance,and eventually to much sparer figures from which the Alma theme can be perceived, before the screams start again. The Finale didn't feel depressing, but why should it have to? I liked the punch with which Rattle and the LSO concluded : more defiance than defeat. Things are not alright when someone dies, but if you know your Mahler, you know that the end is not the end. Last week, Rattle and the LSO announced plans for a future which gives prominence to new British music. Given that London might miss out on a world-class concert hall, and that Paris and Berlin might supplant London as a centre for excellence, focusing on British music might be compensation, up to a point. This season at the Barbican sees several premieres of new British work, Turnage's Remembering being the high-profile first. But whether our politicians like it or not, classical music is a European thing, a culture of such richness and depth that it would be churlish to blank it out in favour of insularity. As Rattle also said last week, the point is that London concert halls just don't have the capacity to do good music justice. It's not just a question of acoustics. At the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall, players are squashed together like sardines. What the public doesn't see is that backstage working conditions aren't up to scratch, either. Read my pieces on why we need a world class concert hall in London HERE. This concert was also the first full concert-length live broadcast by the London Symphony Orchestra, which has done podcasts before but nothing quite as high profile as this. Through the Digital Concert Hall. which originated in the Rattle era, the Berliner Philharmoniker reaches audiences anywhere, breaking down insularity, benefiting all who care about excellence. Musician-led broadcasts are a good way forward, keeping profits in house and breaking the artistic dominance of third parties. Perhaps equally important, audiences get to listen the way musicians listen, through whole concerts and in context. Listen to the Rattle LSO Turnage Mahler concert on medici tv and on the LSO YouTube chaneel (which flopped out for part of the live broadcast).
Hamburg’s new world-class public venue trumpets its host city to the world. London is already a beacon, and doesn’t need Simon Rattle’s dream hall in quite the same way Last week Hamburg got a big one. Now Munich wants one. Paris, which got its own a couple of years ago, is already planning a second. Los Angeles has one. Manchester and Birmingham got theirs in the not-so distant past. London, however, has none.Big cities like to build modern state-of-the-art concert halls. They build them partly for artistic reasons – because good music matters, because a top-notch hall can offer top-notch performing and rehearsal conditions, excellent acoustics, exciting public spaces, flexibility to accommodate different repertoire and be a draw for performers and audiences. Continue reading...
Rattle was blunt about the limitations of the Barbican. “It is very clear we can do a lot of wonderful work at the Barbican, but it is also clear there is about 20% of the repertoire that we can’t,” he said. “In my wishlist of pieces there is so much which simply would not work there. The stage was beautifully designed for a certain size orchestra. It was not designed for a very large orchestra and it was certainly not made with a chorus in mind.”
The London Symphony Orchestra is one of Classic FM's partner orchestras. There has been much media spin linked to Simon Rattle's 2017 Barbican concerts as the LSO's incoming music director. The spin includes a shower of anti-Brexit and pro-new London concert Hall tweets quoting him on the Classic FM Twitter feed, and a news story that "Simon Rattle launches first LSO season with swipe at Brexit". Both the Barbican Hall and proposed new London Hall are in the City of London, and the financial community in the City of London has been one of the most vocal critics of Brexit. In another Classic FM news item critical of Brexit, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation Mark Boleat is quoted as saying: "Britain has long been a magnet for global talent. To continue the sector's success, with 12% of City workers made up of European staff, it is important the flow of leading talent to the UK continues". As pointed out in a 2015 Overgrown Path post Mark Boleat is in favour of the new £278 million+ London concert hall. He is a member of the City of London Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, and with Michael Cassidy sits on the City of London Property Investment Board. From 2000-2003 Michael Cassidy was chairman of the Barbican Arts Centre, and is currently non-executive chairman of Askonas Holt; which is the agency that manages Rattle and represents the LSO. The recently announced £2.5 million of funding for preparing a detailed business case aimed at keeping plans for the new London concert hall advocated by Simon Rattle alive was approved by the City of London Corporation’s Court of Common Council on which Michael Cassidy and Mark Boleat both sit. Simon Rattle argues that he has not met anyone who has said Brexit is going to make life easier for the arts. Which may well be true. But it can also be argued that with or without Brexit, the hegemony over classical music that he is party to will not make life easier for the very many fine musicians who are not fortunate enough to share with him membership of a disturbingly powerful and privileged London-centric club. Also on Facebook and Twitter. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).
He threw his weight behind a £280 million (324 million euro, $347 million) project aimed at creating a "Centre for Music" equipped for the digital era. The plans involve building a new hall on the site of the Museum of London, which is relocating nearby, which would become the new home of the LSO.