Vladimir Ashkenazy is a beloved figure in Sydney, one immediately realizes, as he dashes onstage in a signature white turtleneck to lead the Sydney Symphony at the Opera House concert hall. You'd never guess this compact Conductor Laureate, with his full shock of white hair and healthy build is 82 years old. Subtract twenty and you might be closer to the truth. A phalanx of teenage girls in striped school uniforms immediately starts screaming and doesn't let up. As the evening progresses, not entirely aware of when to burst into applause, they will several times bring the proceedings to a momentary halt born of green but great enthusiasm and delight. No musician, of course, genuinely minds that sort of excitement.
Organist Paul Jacobs, chair of Juilliard’s organ department, will perform a three-recital series in September 2019 featuring a program of works drawn from throughout the great French organ tradition. Mr. Jacobs stands out as among the organists of today for his interpretative intellect, virtuosity, and musicological learning. He opens the series performing on the Holtkamp organ in Juilliard’s Paul Hall on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, at 7:30pm. The series continues on the 1933 Aeolian-Skinner “Opus 891” at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at 7:30pm, and concludes on St. Ignatius Loyola’s 1993 Mander Organ on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, at 7:30pm.
The feature I applaud most in this fine new release from BIS is its pairing of Great Britain’s two most internationally popular orchestral showpieces under one baton. You would think it natural to record them together, but a quick look at Amazon reveals only Sir Adrian Boult’s recordings available that way, and these were originally sold separately, supplemented with other music. You can also find Herbert von Karajan’s The Planets accompanied by Pierre Monteux’s Enigma Variations, both performances many decades old. Even these new Andrew Litton versions were actually laid down in studio four years apart (the Elgar in 2013, Holst in 2017) but were clearly intended for this release by BIS, and both were miked in Bergen’s Grieg Hall.