Today's Classical Music Video

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hannigan Sings and Conducts Ligeti

Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is an extraordinary artist, and is rapidly becoming internationally renowned. Here she is both singing and conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre. Is there any other performer who could have pulled this off?

Hannigan is so good it is going to be hard to decide whether she is more gifted as a soprano or as a conductor. Not to mention her remarkable talents as an actress.

She has already given over 75 premieres, and just over a week ago gave the first performance of the Hans Abrahamsen song cycle Let me tell you with Andris Nelsons and the Berlin Philharmonic.

For more about Barbara visit her website at

Paul E. Robinson

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas at King's College

From the great tradition of Christmas at King's College, Cambridge, here is John Rutter's arrangement of O Holy Night. The carol was composed by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856), the man who also wrote the score for the ballet Giselle.

Paul E. Robinson

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Celibidache Conducts Enesco

I first saw Sergiu Celibidache conduct in 1969. It was at the Helsinki Festival with the Swedish Radio Symphony. I was amazed at his ability to control every detail of the music he conducted. And he was a charismatic figure, especially in the encores. He danced, he shouted, he did everything but stand on his head. As the years went by he became less flamboyant but his tempi got slower and slower. His demands for extra rehearsal time became more and more outrageous, to the point where few orchestras would hire him. It didn't help that he talked incessantly during rehearsals and often treated the players badly.

This video shows Celibidache at his best, in music of his native Romania. This concert was given in Bucharest in 1978 and the performance is superbly controlled and exciting. The conductor smiles, grimaces, swings his hips from side to side, and at one climactic moment lets out a tremendous bellow. The art of conducting, indeed!

Paul E. Robinson


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rattle and the BPO Play Britten's War Requiem

November 22 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten. During his lifetime Britten was recognized as one of the foremost composers of the Twentieth Century. Since his death his reputation has grown even more. The operas are performed regularly in most of the world's leading opera houses and his vocal music is often heard in recitals and in churches.

Britten developed a style that was contemporary but never academic. He had a great lyrical gift and a talent for expressing the meaning of words through music.

In this 100th anniversary year his music is being celebrated throughout the world. For example, the Pushkin State Museum in Moscow is presenting an exhibition called "Britten's Artistic World," drawing on material supplied by the Britten-Pears Foundation (BPF).

The BPF is now located in the Red House, the place in Aldeburgh, England where Britten and Peter Pears lived for many years.

Closer to home, the Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario has organized a 9-day Britten Festival under the direction of longtime Britten exponent Stephen Ralls.

For more on the Britten tributes this year visit the website

This week's video includes an excerpt from Britten's War Requiem conducted by Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Paul E. Robinson