Thursday, 5 January 2012

Top Birds

If I were a bird, I would probably also enjoy the possibility of placing myself on the top ....

Location: Abbekås, Sweden

Location: Kronborg castle, Denmark

Location: Channel Ferry, Dover

Location: Deal (Kent)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Sailing ships in Øresund in the late 19th and early 20th century

Sailing ships dominated the second half of the 19th and the first years of the 20th century in the Sound. Here are a few artists´ impressions of that era:

C.D. Kennedy (later af Chapman) with Helsingborg on the left (J. Hägg)

The Swedish corvette Saga in Øresund (H. af Sillén, 1902)

Ships in the Sound with Kronborg in the background (C.F. Sørensen, 1898)

A ship in front of Kronborg castle (Carl Locher, 1897)

Sunset in Øresund (H. af Sillén, 1895)

Kronborg in moonlight (Marcus Larson, 1856)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Passau - The City of Three Rivers

'Passau is One of the Seven Most Beautiful Cities in the World'
(Alexander von Humboldt)

This time of the year it is nice to start making holiday plans for the summer. If you are planning to visit Bavaria, my own favourite German state, try to include a visit to Passau in Lower Bavaria in your schedule. The "City of Three Rivers" is beautifully located, where the Danube is joined by the rivers Inn and Ilz.

The well preserved historical center - the Altstadt, on an island in the Danube - is very charming with lots of beautiful gothic and baroque architecture to admire. About 10.000 of the city´s altogether 50.000 inhabitants are students of the local University of Passau, which  is renowned in Germany for its institutes of Economics, Law, Theology, Computer Sciences and Cultural Studies.

Below a few pictures from a recent visit:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The best European New Year´s concerts

Fortunately the eagerly awaited New Year´s concerts on European television channels did not disappoint this year either. At least those concerts I was able to watch were all outstanding and offered a multitude of top quality music, dance and visual delights.

The Musikverein is a wonderful setting for the Vienna New Year´s concerts

The traditional Vienna New Year´s concert is of course the "Emperor" of them all. This year´s concert was superbly conducted by the great Latvian Maestro Mariss Jansons.

Maestro Jansons

The Wiener Philharmoniker, arguably the world´s number one orchesta (at least when it comes to Viennese music) sounded great, as always, and the contribution of the Wiener Sängerknaben was very much appreciated.

Members of the Wiener Sängerknaben Choir

The Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle are musically on the same world class level as its "competitor" in Vienna. This year´s New Year´s gala concert from Berlin was outstanding, with the additional bonus of Jevgenij Kissin as soloist in Grieg´s piano concerto.

Sir Simon and Jevgenij Kissin

The Berlin concert was without doubt one of the musical highlights of the new year. However, Sir Simon seems to have made the conscious decision to make the programme as close to a "normal" concert as possible. In a way it is a pity, because particularly on New Year´s Eve most people would probably appreciate a somewhat lighter touch.

Christian Thielemann, the soon to be principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden
One of my personal favourites is always the New Year´s concert by the Staatkapelle Dresden broadcast from the beautiful Semper Oper in Dresden. This year the orchestra´s future principal conductor Christian Thielemann had created a programme consisting of a selection of operetta pearls by Lehár. All in all, a wonderful New Year´s Eve programme which made at least this listener and viewer feel good!

The talented tenor Piotr Beczala was on of the soloists in Dresden

The operetta theme continued later on the same evening with a live broadcast of the second act of Die Fledermaus from the Wiener Staatsoper. Die Fledermaus and the Staatsoper on New Year´s Eve is of course an unbeatable combination. What a delight it was to watch last night! Thank you ARTE for broadcasting this exquisite musical champagne truffle!

Ildikó Raimondi as Rosalinde and Kurt Streit as her husband Gabriel von Eisenstein
Ildikó Raimondi and Alfred Šramek (Frank)

On new year´s eve the ARTE channel also showed a special 75th festival gala concert with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Zubin Mehta.

Zubin Mehta and Vadim Repin

 A wonderful concert with two world class soloists, Vadim Repin and Jevgenij Kissin. (The concert was recorded on December 24, so Kissin was able to travel to Berlin for the New Year´s concert).

The newly rebuilt La Fenice is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world

Last, but not least, there was the traditional New Year´s gala concert from the La Fenice opera in Venice. This year the opera´s new music director Diego Matheuz conducted the orchestra in a traditional programme of Italian opera favourites.

Diego Matheuz applauding soprano Jessica Pratt

 A succesful debut by the young ( he is only 27!) Venezuelan. The classical beauty of the theater is always an additional bonus in concerts or operas broadcast from La Fenice.