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<<  -- 4 --  Tess Crebbin    SYMPHONIES AND LETTERS


Someone else who has a love of music is Michael Kaufmann who has just done the impossible and created a Philharmonie in Essen, of all places. 'It was a difficult undertaking for sure,' Kaufmann, now artistic director of the Philharmonie, said tongue-in-cheek, 'but there is a difference between art and culture, and as far as I am concerned there is no crisis in art, which music making falls into, just in culture with all its bureaucracy.' Indeed, Kaufmann is not likely to have any problems filling his concert halls: he is devastatingly convincing in his enthusiasm and his opening season, which started in June this year, is already proving to be a success. In addition to skill and a positive outlook, Kaufmann has something that has become a rare commodity in the German classical music scene these days: he is nice. The public loves him and as a result, his seats are selling. So it is not surprising that many world-class musicians already flock to Essen, to make Kaufmann's first season not only a friendly but also a successful one: Anne-Sophie Mutter and André Previn, Bruno Weil, Lang Lang, the Petersen Quartet, Kurt Masur and the London Philharmonic, Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Magdalena Kozena, Alfredo Perl, Juliane Banse, Christoph Eschenbach, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau are just a small excerpt from the list. The full season's programme can be found at the website, and also information about ticket sales, sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

Michael Kaufmann at the 2004 BMG Classics Press Conference. Photo: Rudolf Budja
Michael Kaufmann at the 2004 BMG Classics Press Conference. Photo: Rudolf Budja

There is also a new BMG CD tied into this encouraging story: on 13 June 2004, in the new Essen Philharmonie, they recorded a concert version of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. What makes it so special? This is a new recording of the original score, and thus a world première. It is based on a long-overlooked score, from 1841, that bears a number of contrasts to the familiar version: there are deviations in regard to plot, location, characters and even instruments used. Daland was known as Donald and Erik was called Georg then. Originally a one-act work, the story takes place on the Scottish coast and not in Norway. The instruments are those of Wagner's original score: valve horns and hand-horns, valve-and-valveless trumpets. Instead of the bass tuba is its predecessor, the ophicleide. This leads to an entirely different sound calling for changes in the vocal parts: Senta's ballad, for instance, is sung one tone higher, a challenge for the singer and a new auditory experience for us. Expected to be on the market by spring 2005, the performers are as follows: Franz-Josef Selig, Astrid Weber, Jörg Dürmuller and Simone Schröder. Bruno Weil conducts the Cappella Coloniensis, WDR Rundfunkchor Cologne and the Prague Chamber Choir.

With these, artistically and musically, promising recordings on their schedule, it is little surprise that BMG celebrates: a consolidated result of 13.5% in the ten most important international classical markets for the first six months of 2004, and also the nomination of BMG recordings in a total of eleven categories for the upcoming Echo Classics Awards on 24 October 2004 in Munich. Riding on a high, BMG are also investing into the new SACD sound carrier formats, details of which can be found on the BMG website:

'Our economic success in the recent past has enabled us to invest in high-calibre new recordings,' says Senior Vice President Stefan Piendl. 'We are very excited about the many attractive releases scheduled for our artists in the coming year.'

Copyright © 12 August 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


Special thanks to Rudolf Budja of the Rudolf Budja Atmosphere Gallery Salzburg for assistance with photos for this article.





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