A nice advantage of being able to come to Arnhem for concerts is that ticket prices are not high (from €28 to €38 for major single events, mostly €33), at least compared to prices in most of Western Europe. Prices for series of events, for four or five performances, are considerably lower per concert. The downside may sometimes be that there are hardly any really outstanding performances. A few years back we had such greats as Radu Lupu, Stephen Bishop, Kocsis Zoltán with Kelemen Barnabás, or great young talents like Denis Kozhukhin. This season we can still see Grigory Sokolov, as can be read here in earlier posts of mine.
However, as we look through the new season’s programme, we can hardly find anything with a promise of being outstanding. Sure, on the “Meesters van het klavier” series, we have five events, but only Arcady Volodos (on 6th March 2015) and Nikolai Lugansky (on 6th May 2015) belong among the well-established names. Fittingly, a single ticket bought outside the series is for Volodos more highly priced than all the others – he may be the only one considered among the greats of our time. Besides those two, David Fray promises to give a great concert on 24th November, but we may not consider two Beethoven sonatas (Op. 10/1 and the ‘Appassionata’) after parts of Das wohltemperierte Klavier exactly the most thrilling concert. With four Beethoven and two Schubert sonatas besides Bach numbers twice, two Tsaikovsky pieces and one Brahms, the only exciting piece on offer on the whole concert series may be the complete Iberia series by Albéniz on 14th January 2015, but we are not sure many have heard of the performer, Cuban pianist Horge Louis Prats. Sure enough, he is also coming to the Concertgebouw on 15th January 2015, and therefore he has to be called “charismatic” by the Amsterdam organizers on their program. Though this may be his break-through season in the Netherlands, who knows. But for this, he has to be at least nearly as good as the late Alicia de Larrocha, as far as we are concerned.
Sadly, we cannot point to much else for excitement on the whole program for the Musis Sacrum next season. There are the usual Dutch fixtures of concerts of Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, and first Telemann on the “Oude Muziek” series, but we do not know much about the performers at all. The same hold for the “Kamermuziek” series. We wouldn’t call the Nederlands Kamerkoor, or the Amsterdam Sinfonietta exactly outstanding international successes. In their programmes (three concerts by each), there are pieces that promise something interesting, if one holds quite modern English, Scandinavian or American religious choral music, or Russian and English chamber music in high esteem. But we would not consider the likes of Ravel’s La Valse, or the Carnaval des animaux as something we would stand in long queues for.
We sorely miss any interesting song concerts with important singers. There are three concerts with singers we do not know, and Haydn, Mozart, Poulenc, Chaminade, or Satie do not exactly sound very exciting at the moment. Debussi and Fauré here and there and one Reynaldo Hahn on the concert on 27th October, and then Hugo Wolf and R. Strauss on 26th January 2015 sound inviting though. However, the first concert comes complete with a ‘presenter’, so we would like to warn anyone not familiar with this style of enjoying concerts that that feature alone may cost the listener long-long minutes of boredom in among the 18 pieces on the program.
Besides those mentioned above, we are sorry to say that the rest of the program presents a series by a wind band, the “Nederlands Blazers Ensemble” and a few concerts where the point is to introduce the audience to the composition methods of great composers. This is again to be enjoyed by those understanding Dutch and used to long-winded explanations with intermittent music thrown in. And then the series called “Muziek van 1900 tot nu” presents composers and performers who we do not know. Those concerts may prove to be sensational, but we have some cautious doubt about that.
by P. S. & S. Z.J.