Kaboom – Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic at the Southbank Centre: Brahms

We’ve just returned from one of the two London concerts of Sir Simon Rattle’s final tour as the Berlin Philharmonic’s chief conductor. The evening was designed to showcase his time and achievements with his orchestra of the past 16 years (he has taken over the London Symphony Orchestra earlier this year and kept two hats on until now). Known for his love of and expertise with modern pieces, Rattle started the evening with the UK premiere of a piece by the famous, only 44 years old, Munich-born (like me!!), Berlin-based, German composer-clarinettist Jörg Widmann: ‘Tanz auf dem Vulkan‘ (Dance on the volcano), which had been commissioned by the BPO to mark Sir Simon’s departure, and only had its world premiere in Berlin three days earlier. Over the years, the conductor and the composer had collaborated on various occasions. Widmann is known for his wit in how he composes, everything is […]

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Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the Barbican

We are just back from a concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the world’s fourth best orchestra’s (London Symphony Orchestra) home, the Barbican, and it was a riveting performance. This 37 years young Venezuelan-Spanish composer and conductor seems to burst with energy. He is already conducting the 8th best orchestra in the world (LA Phil ), perhaps the coolest orchestra in the world (the Venezuelan youth orchestra), and if this weren’t enough, he’s taking on guest conductor assignments this year at the second best orchestra of the world (Berlin Philharmonic, with whom he’s touring Europe ) and the #3 (Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he’s touring America). The evening started with Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. I’m no fan of Bernstein and never understood the hype about him, to me his music often has the touch of mere musicals and not classical compositions, I’m regularly missing proper depth, […]

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‘Being Modern’ Exhibition: MoMA at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

During a recent trip to Paris, we finally made it to the much talked about MoMA exhibition at our beloved Fondation Louis Vuitton. Masterpieces of Max Beckmann, Alexander Calder, Paul Cézanne, Marcel Duchamp, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Frida Kahlo, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Gustav Klimt, Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Paul Signac, Andy Warhol, and several dozen further artists were included.      The exhibition followed a timeline and opened with MoMA’s first decade. Works included Hopper’s famous House by the Railroad, Cézanne’s The Bather, up to post-war works from Pollock (Echo: Number 25) and de Kooning (Woman I).   The next section was perhaps my favourite one and focused on Minimalism and Pop art.    The third and last section, located on the top floor of the magnificent building, focused on contemporary works from around the world, most of which were acquired by MoMA in the last two years. […]

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Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Old Opera, Frankfurt

While Ms B was visiting Mr B from London in Frankfurt recently, we decided to buy surprisingly good value tickets (at €50 each, for stalls seats in the centre 20 metres away from the stage) to see the world’s best symphony orchestra, Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, perform pieces of Haydn and Mahler at Alte Oper in Frankfurt. Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 was, as it happens, conducted by the composer himself at the 1904 Dutch premiere of his work. This time around, it was directed by the amazing Daniele Gatti, who took over the reins at RCO at the beginning of the last season. Alte Oper, who have a long-standing cooperation arrangement with this orchestra, were welcoming Mr Gatti for the first time since he joined them. (c) The Arts Desk (Featured image is by BerkeleySqB). Some in the audience (not us) were initially rather disappointed when it was announced at […]

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Selfie to Self-Expression – Saatchi Gallery – our Review

We’ve just returned from a visit to this fabulous exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. According to its brochure, “From Selfie to Self-Expression” is “the world’s first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie from the old masters to the present day, and celebrates the creative potential of a form of expression often derided for its inanity”. The first room shows self-portraits of Rembrandt, Edvard Munch, Picasso, Matisse and many of the other greats on i-Phone shaped large electronic displays with actual i-Phones to their bottom right-hand side, showing the Greats’ made-up Instagram profiles with 34,146 likes on the Picasso selfie, and so on. Hilarious. The whole things spreads over three floors, and it gets even better, the further you progress through the many rooms filled with exhibits.                                  We were particularly fond of the exhibit in Gallery 3: “Hello World! […]

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