Saturday, 20 April 2013

Cargo ship Kaie and three Canada geese meet in the Sound

Early this morning the small dry cargo ship Kaie (62mx 14m) passed by on its way to Lidköping. Three Canada geese were at the same time flying southwards in the Sound.

Russian trawler Karacharovo in Øresund

The Russian trawler Karacharovo (62m x 14m) passed HelsingborgHelsingør this afternoon at about 3.15 PM on its way northwards in Øresund

Enjoying a nice April day in Helsingborg

Today, people in Helsingborg were doing the things they usually do on a nice spring day in April:

Friday, 19 April 2013

A swan couple in search of food

This evening, when I was on the local beach waiting for the Copenhagen-Oslo cruise ferry to pass by, I noticed a swan couple in search of food. The fairly good wind was blowing against the shore, which probably increased the probability of success. At one stage the swan couple was joined by a mallard couple.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Early spring flowers in Sofiero

It will take a while before the famous rhododendrons in the Sofiero Palace gardens in Helsingborg are in bloom. However, there are already now plenty of colorful early spring flowers - early orange tulips, wood and blue anemones and others - for visitors to enjoy: 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A wonderful 125th Anniversary Concert from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

The 125 year old Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Early this morning I had my first cup of coffee in the best possible company; I watched the broadcast of the Concertgebouw 125th Anniversary Concert on the French-German ARTE television channel. The concert was a pure delight for both the ears and the eyes. The Concertgebouw is of probably one of the five or six best and most beautiful concert halls in the world, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is without doubt a world class orchestra.

In this festive concert the Concertgebouw was led by its former chief conductor Bernard Haitink,who created an evening of musical magic. The way the orchestra played Beethoven's Pastoral symphony was out of this world. I do not think that I have heard a better version of this delightful work.

The symphony was followed by a selection of songs from Mahler's wonderful cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn, with the velvet voiced Dutch mezzo soprano Christianne Stotijn as soloist. 

Below is a small selection of photographs from the memorable concert, which hopefully will be available on blu ray soon:

The Concertgebouw is famous for its excellent accoustics. 

Bernard Haitink, with some big names in the background.

The Concertgebouw Orchestra flutists and oboists were outstanding in the  Pastoral  Symphony.

The Concertgebouw audience was captivated by the playing.

Haitink in full control of the orchestra.

Haitink and Stotijn in Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

The wonderful Dutch mezzo soprano Christianne Stotijn at the Concertgebouw.

Bernard Haitink, Honorary Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The Royal Swedish Navy's salvage vessel Belos passing by

Today, at about 09.15 AM, the Royal Swedish Navy's salvage vessel Belos passed by on its way from Gothenburg to Karlskrona. The 105m x 18m ship was built in 1985.

Submarine rescue vessel Belos approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør on April 17, 2013

Last year Belos was involved in finding the wreck of a Soviet submarine, which was lost during the WW II

The Swedish Armed Forces said the submarine, believed to have been lost on patrol in late 1941, was found in the Swedish economic zone southeast of the Baltic island of Oland.
It is thought to be that of the S-6, which disappeared in August or September 1941.

It was an area which German forces had mined during the war.
In a statement, the armed forces said: 'In the autumn of 1941, several Russian submarines left their home bases to patrol the Baltic Sea.

Several of them never returned. One of them has now been found, blown up into large pieces, southeast of Oeland.
'There is much to indicate that the submarine headed straight into the minefield while on the surface and was blown apart by a mine.' --

The wreck was first reported by civilian divers during the summer months in the middle of this year.
In the following months, Swedish submarine salvage ship HMS Belos confirmed the find and photographed it, the military said.

Read the entire article here

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A disappointing Eugene Onegin from the Royal Opera in London

Pavol Breslik as Lensky and Simon Keenlyside as Eugene Onegin.

Broadcasts of opera performances from the Royal Opera in London are rare treats. That's why it was with great expectations I began to watch the Royal Opera's new production of Eugene Onegin, which also was RO's director Kasper Holten's directorial debut at Covent Garden

However, it did not take long before my enthusiasm turned into disappointment. Although it was a welcome surprise that the setting was quite traditional, it was clear from the very beginning that Holten's "invention" - to introduce "doppelgängers" for the main characters - was a nonstarter.

It is not difficult to agree with what the Guardian's eminent critic Andrew Clements wrote about Holten's debut:

If Eugene Onegin is a study of how an intelligent man can ruin his life by rejecting the woman who could have been his soul mate and killing his best friend in a duel, then Kasper Holten's production of it is an equally convincing demonstration of how an intelligent director can destroy one of the greatest operas in the repertoire. It's Holten's first staging as director of opera at Covent Garden, which suggests it's a work in which he feels he has something special to offer. But much of what he puts on stage undermines the carefully plotted dramaturgy; it also runs counter to what is left unsaid in Tchaikovsky's libretto, but is clear from Pushkin's poem, to which the opera is so faithful.

Here the action unfolds through the memories of the older Tatyana and Lensky, who watch their younger selves play out the tragedy. It's the double who writes Tatyana's letter, watched by Krassimira Stoyanova's Tatyana, and it's a more youthful incarnation of Onegin who kills Lensky in the duel, while Simon Keenlyside's twitchy, conflicted character watches on, wringing his hands in anguish. The result is muddled and distracting; having effectively destroyed the letter scene, which Stoyanova sings well, Holten undermines the heartbreaking climax of the final scene, too, by bringing both doubles back on stage at precisely the moment when Tatyana remembers how happy the couple could have been.
Read the entire article here

Let's hope that the next Holten staging at the Royal Opera House will be more succesful than this one! 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Sir Colin Davis (1927 - 2013) on Sibelius and his cooperation with the LSO

Sir Colin Davis (2007)
(image wiki)

Friends of classical music all over the world have been paying tribute to Sir Colin Davis, who died yesterday after a short illness at the age of 85.

I would like to pay homage to Sir Colin - whom I was privileged to meet a number of times when living in London in the early 1990s - by quoting a letter I have in my possession. In the letter, dated 15th December 1992, Sir Colin writes about  the Sibelius cycle he did with the LSO at the Barbican in the autumn of the same year:

"For us, the musicians, Sibelius has emerged as a huge figure, who says things which we have forgotten to listen to in ourselves,or that we are too frightened to listen to. Certainly no local landscape artist but a great human spirit"

Sir Colin's 1992 Sibelius cycle was a huge success, and was followed by a great number of other outstanding Sibelius concerts and recordings in the years to follow. However, the concert on the Finnish Independence Day, December 6 1992, when Sir Colin and the LSO performed the Kullervo Symphony and Finlandia, was an event, which those of us who were there will never forget.

Seppo Heikinheimo, the then chief critic of Finland's leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, summed it up in in his report from the Barbican:

"Jean Sibelius's Kullervo and Finlandia almost lifted the roof of the Barbican"

"I have heard quite a few performances of Kullervo, but never anything as impressive as this one." The thanks go to Sir Colin Davis, who stirred up an unbelievable amount of energy from the score." 

In another letter, dated 3rd June 1993, Sir Colin enthuses about his continued cooperation with the LSO:

"The adventure with the L.S.O. is a special one for me: it all began 35 years ago. I feel like a wild goose returning to the land where I was born!