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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

The world lost one of the greats when Claudio Abbado, 80, passed away earlier today in Bologna, Italy.  His many accomplishments included being the music director of La Scala as well as being the successor to Herbert von Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic. This clip perfectly shows the intensity that Abbado brought to the podium.  At the conclusion of this performance of Mozart's 'Requiem' by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, he paused for a full 40 seconds of silence before ending the performance, including a very intense glance upwards.  This is a man in the later stages of life cherishing every moment on the podium.

This clip gives me goosebumps every time I see it.  RIP, maestro.  You were truly one of the greats.

Stefan Dohr: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

What can you say about this guy? Stefan Dohr is on everyone's short list for best horn player in the world. Like, everyone's list. And seeing as how he's not even 50 yet, he has a long career ahead of him. Dohr is the principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic and teaches at the Herbert von Karajan Academy. He is a special talent to say the least.

This video is of him playing one of the most famous horn solos in the orchestral repertoire, from the 2nd movement of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, sure makes this excerpt sound easy. The best players in the world give the rest of us the feeling of "Hey! That doesn't seem that hard. I bet I could do it."

If only it were that easy. Get ready for some effortless and spectacular phrasing.


Anne Sophie von Otter: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

All instrumentalists, whether we realize or not, are trying to imitate the same thing: the human voice.  I model my phrasing, vibrato, note endings and much, much more after the great vocalists. Last week I saw the great Swedish mezzo-soprano, Anne Sophie von Otter, perform for the first time.  She sang the solo part in a Boston Symphony performance of Mahler's Third Symphony at Symphony Hall in Boston.  I was eighth row and was absolutely blown away by the elegance and effortless power with which she sang.  She stole the show.

I have seen Mahler 3 performed a number of times but she sang the solo part unlike anyone I had heard before.  There was an intensity about her performance that is hard to put into words.  It left me breathless.

This clip is of her singing Schubert's famous Der Erlkönig.  This version is the one orchestrated by Hector Berlioz and is performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under the direction of Claudio Abbado.

She does a stunning job of changing into the different characters right before your very eyes.  I firmly believe you can't teach the kind of intensity this woman has when she sings.  Thanks to Spotify, I have been listening to her incredibly varied recordings ever since the concert and I'm a better musician for it.