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Milan: The 2013 ICMA gala

This year’s annual gala of the International Classical Music Awards was held at the Milan Auditorium, where the laureates were treated to an enjoyable evening of music. The Symphony Orchestra of Milan , which was founded in 1993, has become one of the greatest symphonic ensembles in Europe under the baton of and others. In addition to the symphonic orchestra, LaVerdi has broadened its range of activities over the years: it now includes a choir, a baroque orchestra and an amateur orchestra, which allow for a wide array of concerts. The Chinese conductor is the ensemble’s director, and is the orchestra’s first guest conductor. For this gala, the latter undertook most of the conducting.

The programme proposed a great overview of music, from the Baroque to the twentieth century, a reflection of the diversity of the jury’s choice of recordings. As an opening, Les Cornets Noirs tackled works of Gabrielli and Schütz. Then, they passed the torch to one of the young artists of the year, the countertenor Valer Barn-Sabadus, in an extract from Haendel’s Rinaldo, accompanied by LaVerdi’s Baroque orchestra conducted by . The audience was charmed by the artist’s crystalline tone and sensitive musicality. The ICMA artist of the year, , showed both self-confidence and a high level view in the first movement of Korngold’s violin concerto. and the LaVerdi brought out the shining luxuriance of the orchestration. The young Spanish clarinettist tackled Copland’s concerto. The challenges of the work’s spectacular solo part were transcended by the young artist, whose interpretation showed very subtle dynamics and a great variety of colors.

After the intermission, , who received an award for his career, performed Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s “Death of Isolde.” The rigorous construction and the simple emotions of his very poetic interpretation met with a standing ovation. Another great moment was Russian ’s conducting of two extracts from The Firebird. He expanded Stravinsky’s prism of colors through a gestural language without adding anything superfluous. Then, John Axelrod and the orchestra gave a breezy account of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2, two arias by Moniuszko, and ended on a high note with the overture from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino.

Next year, the 2014 gala will be held in Warsaw, as part of Beethoven Festival there. On 12 April 2014, will conduct the orchestra.

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