Author Archive | Jens F. Laurson

Anima Eterna and the Contrabassoon That Could

Vienna, November 6, 2019; Konzerthaus—Vienna was in an early-music mood this November: Christophe Rousset’s Les Talens Lyrique was performing Ariodante at the State Opera; the Musikverein hosted the fast declining Concentus Musicus as well as the endearingly chaotic but often exciting Vienna Academy Orchestra; and the Konzerthaus opened its doors to Jos van Immerseel and […]

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Moo Is For Mozart: Notes From The Andermatt Music Festival, Part 1

Andermatt is not the prettiest Swiss village. Certainly not the most famous or even otherwise particularly notable in a country positively littered with gorgeous little alpine towns straight out of a kitschy re-make of Heidi. It had been an important trade post along the route connecting Milan and Zurich, Italy, and much of north-western Europe. […]

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Thielemann’s Good If Not Revelatory Bruckner From Vienna

Vienna, October 5, 2019; Musikverein—When Christian Thielemann stands in front of the Vienna Philharmonic, you can be sure of one thing: The orchestra does what he wants. Famous for simply ignoring or not caring about who stands in front of them or how they are conducted, the finicky Vienna Philharmonic likes and listens to the […]

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Rusalka Gets Wet Feet In Vienna

Vienna, September 23, 2019; Theater an der Wien—The Theater an der Wien, Vienna’s interesting opera house, put on Dvořák’s Rusalka last month, directed by Amélie Niermeyer and conducted by David Afkham. The most notable aspect about the production might well have been the set, designed by Christian Schmidt, intending to make a splash – literally […]

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All-Bartók Season-Opener With The Hungarian National Philharmonic

Budapest, September 25, 2019; Müpa—For my ongoing survey of Budapest’s orchestral scene, I picked out an all-Bartók evening with the Hungarian National Philharmonic. The National Philharmonic came to (Western) fame under its longtime director János Ferencsik and again when it was led for two decades by Zoltán Kocsis until the latter’s death in 2016. The […]

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Big Opera-Feud: To say “dick” or not to say “dick”, that is the Question

The German word “dick” has many translations. It does, as so often, depend on context. It could mean “fat” or “tubby”. More likely it means: “big”, “chubby”, “corpulent”, “Rubenesque”, or “thick” (as in a slice of bread). It is a descriptive word. Like many descriptive words, it can be turned into an insult, assuming it […]

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A Magnificent Budapest Ring, Part 2: Walküre, Siegfried, & Götterdämmerung

Budapest, June 13-16, 2019; Müpa—If the Rheingold of the Budapest Wagner Week’s annual Ring Cycle was a stunner for its excellent-yet-largely-unknown cast, the three remaining operas of the tetralogy boasted excellence with well-known stars of the Wagnerian world. Apart from Johan Reuter’s elegant, noble Wotan – ever the host of an elegant 1920s dinner party […]

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A Magnificent Budapest Ring: Prelude and Rheingold

Budapest, June 13-16, 2019; Müpa—Loved by the cognoscenti – but a bit off the radar for much of the rest of the Wagner-loving world – Ádám Fischer has been throwing a little Wagner Festival for the last 15 years, right on the banks of the Danube in the Müpa, Budapest’s fine modern arts center. The […]

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My Augsburg Confession

Augsburg, June 8, 2019, Leopold Mozart Violin Competition—After a week with five long days of trials, amounting to some 35 net hours of intense Mozart-, Paganini-, Bach-, and Mendelssohn-listening, the 10th Leopold Mozart Violin Competition is in the books. It will conclude tonight with the Prize Winners’ Concerts. In yesterday’s finals, three candidates out of […]

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Mariss Jansons Delivers AM-Berlioz in Vienna

Vienna, May 30, 2019; Musikverein—I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks Hector Berlioz in the AM is a terribly bright idea. Certainly not the ingeniously over-egged, self-important frivolity of his Symphonie fantastique, not even with Mariss Jansons leading the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikverein’s Golden Hall, as was […]

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