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The Five Best Classical Concerts of the Year on STAGE+

María Dueñas
Christoph Koestlin

What were the best concerts of the last year? Since launching in November 2022, STAGE+ has broadcast weekly live-streams and premieres from around the world, so there’s been a superb selection to choose from. We’ve chosen our five favourites and we’re sure there’ll be plenty for you to love, too!

Yuja Wang & Gustavo Dudamel: Rachmaninoff Works for Piano & Orchestra
LA Phil

After her critically-acclaimed Rachmaninoff marathon in New York, Yuja Wang brings her characteristic sparkling virtuosity and quicksilver musicality to all the composer’s works for piano and orchestra in Los Angeles, with support from Gustavo Dudamel. Filmed at concerts in the Walt Disney Concert Hall over February 2023, the performances offer a dazzling showcase of the pianist’s artistry in works that span almost all of the composer’s career: from the early passion of the first concerto, through the sweeping romance and swirling intensity of the second and third, to the mercurial brilliance of two later works: the fourth concerto and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. 

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Pretty Yende & Nadine Sierra in Concert
Philharmonie de Paris

Pretty Yende and Nadine Sierra, two of the brightest stars in the operatic firmament, join Les Frivolités Parisiennes and conductor Giacomo Sagripanti for a varied programme of arias and duets celebrating and reflecting on the joys and challenges of life. The concert, filmed live at the Philharmonie de Paris in March 2023, features composers ranging from Rossini to Bernstein and encompasses both audience favourites and repertoire rarities.

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DG125 – Nelsons conducts Mendelssohn & Schumann – with Seong-Jin Cho
Seoul Arts Center

As part of the celebrations of DG125 – marking 125 years of the Yellow Label – Andris Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester bring a programme rich in Leipzig’s unrivalled musical heritage to the Seoul Arts Center. Felix Mendelssohn, one of Nelsons’s celebrated predecessors as Gewandhauskapellmeister, is represented by his concert overture “Die schöne Melusine” and his atmospheric Symphony No. 3 “Scottish”, inspired by his travels in Britain in 1829 and premiered at the Gewandhaus in 1842. Three years later, Robert Schumann completed his piano concerto, one of the most popular concertos in the repertoire, and that work completes the programme here, performed by Seong-Jin Cho, one of the most celebrated pianists of his generation.

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Bayreuth 2023: Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Parsifal—with Elīna Garanča
Directed by Jay Scheib

Any new production of Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival – in the theatre for which Wagner conceived his “Bühnenweihfestspiel” – is a major operatic event. But US director Jay Scheib’s new staging for the 2023 Festival, which will employ Augmented Reality, is likely to break new boundaries in terms of technological innovation – even for a theatre whose history is bound up with revolutionary theatrical ideas. Pablo Heras-Casado, making his Bayreuth debut, conducts a superb cast, with tenor Andreas Schager and mezzo Elīna Garanča – also making a highly anticipated Bayreuth debut as Kundry – leading the line-up alongside Georg Zeppenfeld’s seasoned Gurnemanz.

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María Dueñas plays the Beethoven Violin Concerto
Musikverein, Vienna

Recently-signed Deutsche Grammophon artist María Dueñas is the soloist in this concert, recorded in January 2023 in the Musikverein in Vienna. The Spanish violinist, still only 20 at the time, performs Beethoven’s lyrical but hugely demanding violin concerto, incorporating her own virtuosic cadenzas. For the work, which forms the centrepiece of her debut album on the Yellow Label, she is accompanied by Manfred Honeck conducting the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the second half of the concert, Honeck and the orchestra turn to Austrian composer Franz Schmidt’s moving final symphony, an elegiac masterpiece composed in memory of his daughter and premiered in the Musikverein in 1934.

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Bonus: Bernstein conducts Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (1974)
London Symphony Orchestra

And as an extra bonus, we’ve included a classic concert from the archive as well. The legendary performance of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein in Ely Cathedral that in reenacted in Bradley Cooper’s critically acclaimed Maestro film.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in this legendary performance of Mahler’s mighty “Resurrection” Symphony. The filming in Ely Cathedral in the east of England was an enormous undertaking, and its re-enactment plays central role in actor-director Bradley Cooper’s critically acclaimed 2023 Bernstein biopic, Maestro. And for good reason: the performance captures all the passion, ambition and spiritual generosity that characterised Bernstein’s music-making – qualities that helped him play a central role in establishing Mahler’s works in the concert hall, as well as ensuring his position as one of the most important and most beloved musicians of his time.

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All concerts are available on STAGE+, the streaming service for classical music. Subscribe now and try STAGE+ for free: http://www.stage-plus.com/tickets


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