The Stranglers, L’Olympia, Paris, The Ruby Tour

The Stranglers were back in town 2 years after their last visit, playing the same famous Parisian venue.

As in 2012, Jet Black was not on stage – age and bad health have been taking their toll on the drummer, now in his mid 70s! – replaced by a newcomer, Jim McCaulay. This was the only difference in the line-up compared to 2012, which featured Ian Barnard on drums, and naturally Dave Greenfield (keyboards), Baz Warne (guitar and vocals) and Jean-Jacques Burnel (bass and vocals).

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Schubert’s Schwanengesang by Matthias Goerne & Christoph Eschenbach

Matthias Goerne, Christoph Eschenbach, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 11 2012

The Schwanengesang evening by Matthias Goerne & Christoph Eschenbach in Salle Pleyel was the last of 3 concerts dedicated to Schubert’s lied cycles.

Since the early retirement of Thomas Quasthoff a few months ago, Goerne is without doubt the most accomplished lied baritone singer of our time. Eschenbach – today mainly active as a noted conductor – remains an excellent pianist. His career as a pianist was always shared between “standard” repertoire and lied accompaniment: his recording of Schumann’s Dichterliebe with the legendary Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is among the very finest. I also keep in mind the Schöne Müllerin concert in Pleyel 2 decades ago – a memorable evening, fortunately available on DVD. Fischer-Dieskau, who taught both Goerne & Quasthoff, has died just a few days after this concert and 10 days short of his 87th birthday and will be sadly missed by all opera, religious music and lied lovers.

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Exhibition Modigliani, Soutine and the legend of Montparnasse, Pinacothèque

The exhibition focuses on the paintings that Jonas Netter, an inspired art collector, acquired from art dealer Léopold Zborowski. He was one of the first to buy paintings by Amedeo Modigliani (with Paul Alexandre) – acquiring some 40 paintings in about 15 years – and Chaim Soutine before the famous Barnes episode.

But his collection – and the exhibition – goes well beyond these 2 masters and includes works by Maurice de VlaminckAndré Derain, and artists who made up the Paris School: Maurice Utrillo (there are also paintings by his mother Suzanne Valadon),  Moise Kisling, Pinchus Krémègne, Michel Kikoine, and less famous artists. Continue reading

Exhibition Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s ultimate masterpiece, Le Louvre

If you ask anyone about “Leonardo” and “Le Louvre”, the answer will invariably be “La Joconde (Mona Lisa)”.

It is present through an alternate version from the master’s studio, but it is Leonardo’s master-work The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne which is the centerpiece of this exhibition. Da Vinci started working on it in 1501 and left it unfinished upon his death 18 years later. After long years of restoration works, it is finally possible to see this large painting on display with all surviving related works: sketches, preparatory drawings, alternate versions, including the famous Burlington House cartoon. Continue reading

Mozart with Menahem Pressler and musicians from the Orchestre de Paris

Menahem Pressler, Orchestre de Paris, Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique, Paris, May 5 2012

The Orchestre de Paris, one of France leading orchestras – which I had the chance to admire under conductors such as Carlo Maria Giulini, Georg Solti, Kurt Sanderling, Pierre Boulez or Daniel Barenboim to name but a few – organized a Mozart chamber music weekend in the elegant hall of the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique. They invited legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, the co-founder of the Beaux-Arts Trio who played during all its 53 years of existence, who remains as active as ever in his 88th year! Continue reading

Peter Eötvös replaces Pierre Boulez in an all 20th century programme

Peter Eötvös, Christian Tetzlaff, London Symphony Orchestra, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 1 2012
Peter Eötvös, Nikolaj Znaider, London Symphony Orchestra, Salle Pleyel, Paris, May 2 2012

Prominent French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez had imagined 2 programmes with the London Symphony Orchestra around works from the 1st half of the 20th century from Claude Debussy, Karol Szymanowski, Alexander Scriabin and Béla Bartók.

Due to a recommendation from his oculist, he had to step down for both evenings and chose Peter Eötvös to replace him. The 2 men know each other well, and the Hungarian conductor is also a recognized composer. Continue reading

Parallels between Kurt Masur & Michel Plasson concerts in Paris

Michel Plasson, Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris, Opéra Bastille, Paris, April 25 2012
Kurt Masur, Orchestre National de France, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, April 26 2012

I thought I would start this blog with a word on these 2 maestros who graced Paris concert halls this week.

Both conductors share a remarkable insight on music (Plasson obviously for French music, but not exclusively, Masur for German & Russian music among others, due to his youth in Eastern Germany), both have what I would call a “classical” approach – which to me is clearly a compliment – and are loved by the musicians for their humanism. Continue reading