During August 2015 the WDR Big Band performed an impressive concert of large ensemble jazz crossed with African timbres and rhythms, at the Cologne Philharmonic. The guests also included Rhani Krija on percussion, Henry Dorina, electric bass, Woz Kaly, vocals and Jean-Philippe Rykiel, keyboard. The pieces were arranged and conducted by Michael Mossmann. The music is presented by Mokhtar Samba: it is about vibrant rhythms and hypnotising melodies. As Samba feels very close to the music of his ancestors, his pieces are naturally heavily influenced by the elementary power of African rhythms.
Floh de Cologne were a German band, active from 1966 to 1983, regarded as a pioneer of krautrock (Floh is German for 'flea'). After success at the beginning of the 70s, the band separated in 1983.The group was formed in 1966 by a group of anarchist students, all from the University of Cologne. Their first album, Vietnam, released in 1968, is a fierce criticism of the war in Vietnam. Impressed by their music and especially their lyrics, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser decided to produce their next two albums: Rockoper Profitgeier (1971) and Lucky Streik (1972).
When this live in the studio performance was taped for German television Martin Ace had only been back in the band for just over two weeks. His recall to the ranks of Man was due to the sudden departure of the previous bassist in Man, Ken Whaley who departed just before the end of the American tour…
The Greek-born Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896–1960) was incredibly gifted – his photographic memory allowed him to conduct without a score in concert and also in rehearsal! After studies in Athens, Brussels and Berlin, he took various posts in Greece. In 1930, Mitropoulos played the solo part in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted the work from the keyboard, becoming the first modern musician to do so. He made his US debut in 1936 and went on to become principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1937–1949) and then music director of the New York Philharmonic (1951–1957), where he was eventually succeeded by Leonard Bernstein. He expanded the repertoire of the NYPO and championed Mahler’s symphonies in particular.
Christian Hommel studied the oboe in Freiburg with Heinz Holliger and the piano with James Avery. He was a prizewinner at the Geneva International Music Competition and at the Trieste Oboe Competition and received various other awards and prizes, including the scholarship of the German Music Council in 1985, the 1987 German Music Competition prize and the 1988 prize of the Wiesbaden Mozart Society. He has appeared throughout Europe, America and Asia as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor. For some years he has served as a member of the Cologne Chamber Orchestras as a soloist and ensemble player and has a special interest in contemporary music. He gives regular international master-classes, is Professor at the Bremen Hochschule für Künste, directs the German Youth Symphony Orchestra and has won awards for his recordings.
The world premieres of Iolanta and The Nutcracker took place on 18 December 1892 at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. “The execution of both,” wrote the composer to his brother Anatoly the next day, “was magnificent, and that of the ballet perhaps too magnificent – its brilliance made one’s eyes tired.” Gustav Mahler conducted the first performance of the one-act opera outside Russia on 3 January 1893 in Hamburg and also directed the Viennese premiere of Iolanta on 22 March 1900.