From the Royal Albert Hall, Daniel Barenboim returns to the Proms with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the celebrated ensemble of young Arabs and Israelis. Following his highly acclaimed Proms performance of Wagner's Ring in 2013, Barenboim conducts two Wagner overtures - Tannhauser and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg - alongside music from Gotterdammerung. The great pianist Martha Argerich is the soloist in Liszt's Piano Concerto No 1 and the programme also includes Jorg Widmann's lively Con Brio.
The old model for creating a hit classical recording – big-name soloist plus big-name conductor in major repertory work – is not so common anymore, but this live Brahms recording from the Staatskapelle Berlin under Venezuela's Gustavo Dudamel, with Argentine-Israeli-Palestinian-Spanish pianist Daniel Barenboim as soloist, shows that there's life in the concept yet. One could point to the virtues of pianist and conductor separately: it's a rare septuagenarian who can combine power and clear articulation of detail the way Barenboim does, and Dudamel builds a vast sweep in, especially, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. But it's the way that the two work together that really makes news. Chalk it up to shared South American heritage or to whatever the listener wants, but the way the orchestra and piano define separate spheres and work them together is extraordinary. Again, it is in the Piano Concerto No. 1 and its Beethovenian drama that their mutual understanding is most evident, but there is a sense of great variety powerfully unified throughout.
After Decca’s best-selling Beethoven For All campaign and Barenboim’s Olympic appearance comes a celebration of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s 10th anniversary in a stunning Berlioz recording from the BBC Proms. This recording comes from WEDO’s 2009 Prom, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the West Eastern Divan Orchestra and marking a return to the roots of the orchestra’s conception in Weimar – a place where Liszt championed the works of Berlioz.
Eindrucksvoll beschreibt Barenboim, was uns die Musik über das Leben lehrt. Er äußert sich zu brennenden politischen Fragen, wie dem israelisch-palestinensichen Konflikt aber auch zum Streit um Richard Wagners Antisemitismus u. lasst uns teilhaben an seiner sehr persönlichen Reflexion über die Grundlagen unserer Existenz u. die Antworten, die wir in der Musik finden können.
Why has one piece of music here, the Elgar Cello Concerto played by Jacqueline DuPre become so legendary? Of course it is the music itself. It has an overpowerful haunting deeply hypnotic feeling. Elgar wrote it after his recovery from a serious illness towards the end of the First War, and his thoughts were certainly on the suffering of life, and the inevitability of death. Du Pre brings to the piece not only her great mastery as cellist, but some deeper element of feeling. There is in the playing a sense of romantic abandoment of wild disturbance, and of intense and even ferious concentration.