Today's Classical Music Video

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cecilia Bartoli's New Album "Mission"

Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli made news a few weeks ago when she returned to La Scala after an absence of 19 years. She was featured in a concert of operatic arias with Daniel Barenboim conducting the La Scala Philharmonic. For Bartoli's fans it was a great triumph, but for some others in the audience, not so much. In fact, the boos rained down on Bartoli from a well-organized group of detractors. Barenboim, who is La Scala's artistic director, was outraged but Bartoli took it all in stride.

Bartoli's latest CD release is called "Mission" and features music by the obscure Italian composer Agostino Steffani (1654-1728). Steffani's music is not well-known and seldom-recorded but he is an intriguing figure. He was not only a composer but also a priest and a diplomat. And, according to Bartoli, perhaps even a spy as well!

In this promotional video from Decca Bartoli talks about Steffani and the "Mission" project and we see her rehearsing some of the music from the CD. Another woman makes a brief appearance in this video. She is Donna Leon, an American who moved to Venice to teach and ended up becoming a famous writer of mysteries. Leon loves baroque opera too and manages to work Steffani into her latest book, "The Jewels of Paradise." For more on Donna Leon visit her website at More on Bartoli can be found at

Paul E. Robinson


Friday, December 21, 2012

Myung-Whun Chung and the Seoul Philharmonic

The Seoul Philharmonic and its music director Myung-Whun Chung have emerged recently as world class artists. In this video they celebrate Christmas with appropriate costumes and a well-known medley by Leroy Anderson.

Paul E. Robinson


Monday, December 17, 2012

Kathleen Battle and Fredericka von Stade

This video captures two great singers in their prime: soprano Kathleen Battle and mezzo-soprano Fredericka von Stade. For beauty of sound and expressive power I can't think of anything more impressive. Perhaps this music will also help to console those shocked and saddened by the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. The music is The Evening Prayer from Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel. Paul E. Robinson

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Monday, December 10, 2012

James Ehnes Plays Bach

Canadian violinist James Ehnes is no longer "an exciting young talent" but an international star. He plays regularly with the world's leading orchestras and conductors and his recordings invariably receive the highest praise. One of his most recent recordings in which he plays both Bartok Violin Concertos and the Viola Concerto (Chandos 10690) has had rave reviews.

In this video Ehnes plays Bach's Preludio and Gigue  from Bach's Partita No. 3 for Unaccompanied Violin. The performance was recorded in the studios of radio station WQXR in New York.

Paul E. Robinson


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lopez-Cobos Conducts Boccherini-Berio

Can one short piece be charming and exciting at the same time? Consider this music: Boccherini's Ritirata notturna di Madrid in an orchestration by Luciano Berio. In this video it gets a fine performance in Madrid - how appropriate - May 5, 2005 with Jesus Lopez-Cobos conducting.

Boccherini originally wrote the piece for string quintet as part of a longer work called "Night music of the Streets of Madrid." The final retreat section depicting the nightly return of the Madrid garrison to its barracks and the beginning of the curfew became enormously popular in the composer's lifetime but he never published it. He said "The piece is ridiculous outside Spain because neither the audience nor the performers can understand or appreciate it."

Boccherini wrote several different versions of the Ritirata. When he orchestrated it Berio took elements of all the different versions and combined them in this wonderful realisation.

Paul E. Robinson

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