The Metropolitan Opera, the Berliner Philharmoniker and a growing band of others are making great performances available at the click of a mouse, many of them in superb HD video. Try them out – you'll be amazed.
For devotees, opera is the art form which stands above all others; the combination of great singing via unamplified voices, powerful music, engaging productions and the electricity of live theatre stirs the emotions like few other experiences. At its very best, it can floor you, leaving you dazed, uplifted, clamouring for more.
Concert programmes at the Proms often lean toward music of significant scale and heft. The requirement to fill the huge Royal Albert Hall, as well as capturing listeners’ attentions across the airwaves and in many different countries, means that huge expeditions, such as this year’s Ring cycle, are a perfect fit for the festival. Prom 44 was massive too, in its own way.
It was the golden jubilee of Saint-Säens as a concert pianist, and in celebration he performed his crowning glory, the Piano Concerto no. 5 in F, “Egyptian”, which he composed while on tour in Luxor, incorporating exotic Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms.
How very fitting that the Berlin Philharmonic, an orchestra that claims to be made up of 128 soloists, should start Thursday’s concert and their European tour with perhaps one of the most soloistic orchestral pieces ever written: Ligeti’s Atmosphères.
Over the past several years the Cleveland Orchestra has instituted a number of new concert opportunities to attract a new, younger audience, in response to the “greying” of its traditional audience base and the diminished interest in a season-long commitment to regular concerts.
It was, truly, music from another world. Opening the concert with György Ligeti's 1961 Atmosphères, the Berliner Philharmoniker started with the gentlest of wafting string tones with clustered woodwind sounding almost organ-like, whereupon layer after layer piled in, an infinite variety of orchestral textures shifting and swirling.