Saturday, July 23, 2016
James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook at the Wigmore Hall, London with Sally Beamish's West Wind. Gilchrist has been one of the most determined advocates of English song, almost from the beginning of his career. Although his core repertoire is built on solid foundations of Handel, Purcell, RVW, Britten, and especially Gerald Finzi of whom he is a great exponent, Gilchrist has always made a point of promoting composers who should be more in the mainstream, like Hugh Wood, Lennox Berkeley and John Jeffreys and others whom he's performed live but not recorded. . By commissioning Beamish, one of the most prominent British composers for voice, Gilchrist is again making a valuable contribution to British music. Beamish's West Wind is based on Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ode to the West Wind, which everyone knows as a poem, but which has hardly ever been set to music, at least not in full. English poets dominate world literature - Shakespeare, the Restoration poets, Wordsworth, Keats - but this heritage is hardly reflected in music. History might explain things. The Industrial Revolution transformed British society, making it more urban and centralized than was the case elsewhere in Europe. British and European Romanticism were very different, in ways too complex to describe here. Furthermore, the British choral tradition was so strong that other forms of music making didn't get much attention. Perhaps the very nature of English Romantic poetry is relevant. The style is fulsome and elegaic, lending itself to oratorio rather than to art song. It's significant that Hubert Parry was one of the first to create art song from English poetry. Read here about the ground breaking series of Parry's songs to English texts from Somm Records (Gilchrist, Roderick Williams and Susan Gritton.) Rolling, circular figures introduce Beamish's West Wind the voice entering from a distance as if it were being blown in by the "pestilence stricken multitudes". Soon, though, the voice asserts itself., Gilchrist dings the words "Cold and low.....the corpse within its grave". A slow, penetrating chill descends, but, like the wind, the music changes direction, at turns capricious, rhen still, then rushing forth. The third section is particularly beautiful. Delicate piano figures lead into curling, keening vocal phrases that seem to hover in the air, "Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streams". In the lower register of the piano, perhaps we can detect sonorous "lungs" . Suddenly lightness returns. "If I were a dead leaf", Gilchrist sings, almost unaccompanied, suggesting fragility. His touch is delicate, yet perfectly poised. The phrasing suits his voice. Gilchrist has the strange esoteric timbre of a typical English tenor, but also direct, almost conversational naturalness. From vulnerable sensitivity to the ferocity of the last poem. "Make me thy lyre" Gilchrist growls at the bottom of his timbre. Now Tilbrook's playing flutters weightlessly, like falling leaves. "Scatter, scatter, scatter" Gilchrist sings, each word on a slightly different level. "O.. O...O " he sang, mimicking the sound of wind, the word "Wind" pitched and held so high that it floated, rarified, into air. Beamish's West Wind is quirky, underlining the disturbing undercurrents in a poem ostensibly about Nature, but too malign to be a "nature poem". I kept thinking of Peter Warlock's The Curlew, another cycle well suited to Gilchrist's style. I also remembered Gilchrist's Die Schöne Müllerin. There are hundreds of recordings, but his stood out out from the competition because it was an interpretation derived as if from clinical observation of the miller's psychology. In this Wigmore Hall recital, Gilchrist and Tilbrook included songs by Mendelssohn,and Liszt and Schumann's Liederkreis op 39. Eichendorff's poems are less overtly ironic than Heine's, which formed the basis of Schumann's Leiderkreis Op 24. but are perhaps closer to,the spirit of the very early Romantic period. After hearing this performance, I've decided to grt Gilchrist's recent recording of the Schumann song cycles on Linn. photo credit operomnia.uk/Hazard Chase Management
The Royal Albert Hall © David Samuel 2012 Prom 2: Mussorgsky – Boris Godunov (16 July) Boris is back - and conveniently for us, compiling this list in date order means the Royal Opera House Prom comes out on top. With a cast led by bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and conducted by Antonio Pappano , this concert performance of Mussorgsky ’s operatic masterpiece tells the tragic tale of a Russian Tsar plagued by guilt. The semi-staged performance is preceded by a workshop from the BBC Singers , where aspiring performers can join in with some of the opera’s choruses. Prom 5: Beethoven — Missa Solemnis (19 July) Fresh from conducting Verdi ’s epic Il trovatore on the Covent Garden stage, Gianandrea Noseda is at the helm of – if possible – an even larger masterpiece. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis was composed over four years towards the end of the composer’s life and is considered to be is one of his supreme achievements. With a stellar cast of singers including soprano Camilla Nylund, mezzo-soprano Birgit Remmert, tenor Stuart Skelton, bass Hanno Müller-Brachmann, the Hallé Choir , Manchester Chamber Choir and BBC Philharmonic , the effect is sure to be breathtaking. Proms 10 and 11: Wagner and Tippett (23 July) A full day of Wagner may feel relatively short for those attuned to his lengthy operas – but for newcomers to this composer’s work, 11 July should serve as an introduction. Prom 10 at 11am showcases the 'Ride of the Valkyries' from Die Walküre in a family-friendly performance, alongside other classical staples from the BBC’s Ten Pieces series – music designed to open up the world of classical music to children and young people. The evening’s Prom 11 includes the final scene from Die Walküre, alongside Tippett ’s contemplative oratorio, A Child of Our Time. Prom 14: Rossini – The Barber of Seville (25 July) There’s something of a Rossini focus at this year’s BBC Proms, and who better to celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Barber of Seville than our friends at Glyndebourne ? Danielle de Niese leads the cast as Rosina, a young girl eager to escape the elderly Count Almaviva’s affection, with comic consequences. There’s also a pre-concert talk for those wanting to learn more about the role and politics of hair-styling in 18th- and 19th-century Europe (!) with Alun Withey and historian Kathryn Hughes. Proms 27 and 30: Stravinsky (5 and 7 August) Fans of Stravinsky ’s ballet scores won’t be disappointed with this Proms Season: over the weekend of 5, 6 and 7 August, audiences will be treated to Petrushka (1947 version) , The Firebird , and The Rite of Spring , complete with pre-performance talks. Those looking to collect all the performances of Stravinsky’s works over the 58 day-long festival should also save the date for the Pulcinella Suite on 20 July . Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe (13 August) A suitably Shakespearean recommendation in the 400th anniversary of his death. This performance takes regular Prommers away from the familiar surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall to an altogether smaller performance space: the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe . Expect English Baroque music in spades, with music by Purcell , Blow , Locke and Draghi , as well as incidental music for Shakespeare’s The Tempest . Prom 41: The Hallé – Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (16 August) Tenor Gregory Kunde stars alongside mezzo-soprano Alice Coote and the Hallé in Mahler ’s synthesis of song and symphony, Das Lied von der Erde, conducted by Mark Elder . Continuing the Season’s focus on cello music, (kicking off on the First Night with a digital light projection from Sol Gabetta), Leonard Elschenbroich will perform a London premiere: Colin Matthews’s Berceuse for Dresden, which takes inspiration from the eight bells of the Dresden church at which it was premiered. Prom 45: Janáček — The Makropulos Affair (19 August) A dream team of singers assemble for a concert performance of Janáček ’s tragic satire, The Makropulos Affair, performed under the baton of Czech conductor Jiří Běhlohlávek . Finnish soprano Karita Mattila — acclaimed for her portrayal of the opera’s heroine at New York’s Metropolitan Opera — leads the cast. Prom 59: (More) Beethoven (29 August) A rare treat to hear music from Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio . Despite his prolific musical output, the composer appeared to struggle with the overture, eventually writing four versions. This version (Leonore No. 2) is the first attempt and is thought to have been composed for the 1805 premiere – but nowadays the final version, Leonore No. 1, much lighter in style and with fresh musical material, is often heard in performance. This Prom also features András Schiff playing the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, 'Emperor', and the Symphony No. 7, performed by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and conducted by Herbert Blomstedt . Prom 67: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel (4 September) The conductor affectionately dubbed ‘The Dude’ is back, conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in their first Proms appearance since 2011. In this Olympic year, the Proms is celebrating South American music and musicians with a premiere of Venezuelan composer Paul Desenne ’s Hipnosis mariposa, alongside Villa-Lobos ’s effervescent orchestral tribute to J. S. Bach, Bachianas Brasileiras No 2. For ballet fans, the performance ends with two dizzying works by Ravel : La Valse , originally conceived as a ballet but now frequently heard as a concert work, and the Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe . Prom 75: The Last Night of the Proms (10 September) There’s much more to the Last Night than tub-thumping Elgar and flag-waving pomp (although if that’s your cup of tea, you won’t be disappointed). Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez is the star soloist for a diverse evening of music, including 'Una furtiva lagrima’ from Donizetti’s L'elisir d'amore , 'Ah ! mes amis' from La fille du regiment , as well as a generous helping of lush English song. Jette Parker Young Artist Lauren Fagan is also set to perform in a jewel in the evening’s programme, Vaughan Williams ’ Serenade to Music, scored for 16 soloists, alongside the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo. Don your black tie and get queuing! What are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s BBC Proms? Let us know via the comments below. Tickets for the BBC Proms 2016 can be purchased from the Royal Albert Hall website . All Proms will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 , with a selection available to watch on BBC Four .
In recent seasons the Colón Ballet offered varied Contemporary Trilogies, changing them each year. This time what we have is a quartet: two premières commissioned by the Colón to Argentine choreographers, and two famous works by established choreographers which hadn´t been seen at our great house. The results were uneven but sufficiently valid to justify the evening. And all four were very different from each other. The start wasn´t very enticing. "Amor, el miedo desaparecerá" ("Love, fear will disappear") is the work of Walter Cammertoni, who hails from Córdoba and has created "Consecuencias" for Maximiliano Guerra´s Ballet del Mercosur. Paradoxically what interested me was the music: Johann Sebastian Bach´s great Chaconne for solo violin (closing Partita Nº2) heard fragmentarily in its original form, in the cello adaptation by Robert Bockmühl, in the flashily Romantic Busoni piano transcription, and briefly at the end in Stokowski´s full orchestra version. But the dancing steps were morose and grey, too literally like the choreographer´s description: "a lost man, downtrodden and trampled, who also wounds and abandons". Although at the end there was an imaginative suggestion of raindrops in the stage design of Santiago Pérez, the cold impression was accentuated by Renata Schussheim´s costumes. Roberto Traferri´s lighting gave the requisite contrasts. Thirteen dancers from the Resident Ballet and five from the Art Institute did their best to give some life to a very static piece. Constanza Macras lives in Berlin since 1995; in 2003 she founded with dramaturgist Carmen Mehnert the company of dance theatre Constanza Macras/Dorky Park, combining dance, spoken text, video and live music, on such subjects as segregation or globalisation. She follows those guidelines in "Bosque de Espejos" ("Mirrors Wood"): in it reflexions on the human body by Michel Foucault are said by aged dancers; the music contrasts Lieder by Berg and Webern (admirably done by Carla Filipcic Holm and Fernando Pérez) with choral music by Purcell and Bach (a good chamber choir directed by Ulises Maino and accompanied by organist Ezequiel Fautario). Norma Molina and Ricardo Ale, veteran resident dancers, enact scenes from "Giselle" and "Romeo and Juliet" both dealing with death. Along with two younger soloists (Carla Vincelli and Alejandro Parente) an ample group of 21 dancers do complex psychological steps that seem to combine Merce Cunningham´s influence with classical ballet. Macras has brought along her production team: stage designs by Laura Gamberg, meaningful costumes by Allie Saunders and expert lighting by Sergio Pessanha. Macras is creative and audacious; even if one doesn´t always like the results, there´s a sensitive mind at work. Nacho Duato has had a distinguished career: after early experience in London, Brussels, New York, Stockholm and Holland with great choreographers, he was named in 1990 Artistic Director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza at Madrid and stayed there until 2007; during that period he came to Buenos Aires with his company twenty years ago, and presented at the Teatro San Martín among other things "Por vos muero" ("I die for you"), a beautiful Neoclassic ballet based on texts of Garcilaso de la Vega and with a fine selection of old Spanish music interpreted by Jordi Savall´s group. Guerra asked Duato´s permission to revive the ballet at the Colón, and Duato tells in the hand programme that he is very excited to present one of his works for the first time at the Colón; he even praises the rehearsals, so I suppose that Catharine Habasque and Kim McCarthy have been faithful to the original in this revival. Done with much style and precision by eleven dancers, with lovely music very adequate for dancing, fine stage design by Duato and costumes by Duato and Ismael Aznar (I liked the ones for women but found the bare-legged men contradictory with the refined ambience otherwise present), plus skillful lighting by Nicolás Fischtel, this was for me the best part of the evening. The voice of Miguel Bosé communicated the moving verses of De la Vega admirably. William Forsythe is considered in Europe an important choreographer; he was for twenty years at the head of the Frankfurt Ballet, and when it closed, he formed The Forsythe Company. Somehow his work was never seen at the Colón until now, when his most famous piece was premièred; it has a strange title, "In the middle, somewhat elevated", and it was commissioned by Nureyev for the Paris Opera in 1987. Frankly, I won´t mince words: I hated the music of his long-time collaborator Thom Willems, a continuous electronic clangor in strong but unvaried rhythm. Kathryn Bennetts was in charge of this revival; she says: "this work extends, prolongs and pushes classical technique...It is the most abstract and innovative choreography of its time". The girls dance in points but with expansive, athletic postures, and the men must certainly be in fine shape to cope with the material. Costumes and lighting are by the choreographer . Nine dancers impressed with their display of agility and coordination. Although the Colón Ballet is in dire need of institutional reform, it certainly has very capable artists. But due to the lack of competitions, right now there´s only one prima ballerina (no male counterpart), three official soloists (including Silvina Perillo, who danced her goodbye two years ago), and all the rest have no recognised rank, although as you read the names you find all those that dance main roles ... For Buenos Aires Herald
In this year of Shakespeare celebrations, the opera world too is marking the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. Glyndebourne not least, with one new and one old Shakespearean productions in their summer season. Do you know your Titania from your Trinculo? Try our quizWhich Italian tenor sang the title role in Verdi’s Otello more than 400 times and was buried in his Otello costume? Luciano Pavarotti Enrico CarusoMario del MonacoFrancesco TamagnoIn Thomas Ades’s opera The Tempest, Caliban’s original speech “The isle is full of noises, / Sounds, and sweet airs” becomes which glorious aria? “Twangling instruments will hum”“This noisy place”“Friends don’t fear” “Friends do fear” In cutting and rearranging the text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to make the play work as an opera libretto, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears made one mistake with the plot. Did they:Forget to cure Tytania of her infatuation with BottomForget to cure Bottom of his ass headForget to wake up the lovers; the opera ends with everyone still asleep in the forest Forget to marry off the mortals before Theseus sends them all to bedWagner’s second opera was a flop when it premiered: it was performed once in 1836 then cancelled the next night when only three people showed up. Wagner himself later called it “a sin of my youth”… What’s the opera, and on which Shakespeare play is it based?Die Feen (The Fairies), based on A Midsummer Night’s DreamDas Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love), based on Measure for MeasureMännerlist größer als Frauenlist oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie (Men are more cunning than women or The Happy Bear family), based on Twelfth Night Die hohe Braut (The High-born Bride), based on The Taming of the ShrewFor the Paris version of Verdi’s Otello, premiered at the Theatre de L’Opera in 1894, Verdi added what to the opera’s third act?Live animals A raffle A Punch and Judy précis of the plot A ballet The text of Hans Abrahamsen’s sublime song cycle Let Me Tell You — composed in 2013 for the soprano Barbara Hannigan — strings together the lines of which female Shakespeare character? Juliet Lady Macbeth Ophelia Desdemona Which two Shakespeare plays form the basis of Verdi’s Falstaff? The Taming of the Shrew The Merry Wives of Windsor Much Ado About Nothing King Henry IVOn New Year’s Eve 2011, Placido Domingo played his first-ever god role and finally achieved on-stage status to match the deified heights of his career. The production was Jeremy Sams’s pasticcio This Enchanted Island — a mash-up of The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream plus bits of Handel and Vivaldi. It premiered at the Metropolitan Opera. Which god did Domingo play?Apollo NeptuneCupidDionysus Where and when was the first UK performance of Berlioz’s 1862 opera comique Béatrice et Bénédict?London, 1863London, 1963Glasgow, 1936Cardiff, 2001Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream contains just one line of text that doesn’t come directly from the Shakespeare play. Is it: Lysander to Hermia: “Compelling thee to marry with Demetrius”Hippolyta to Theseus: “Thou art foxier than all our subjects put together” Tytania to Puck: “more of thy trippy herb, good sir”Bottom to nobody in particular: “methinks this wall must fall”“No one but a barbarian or a Frenchman would have dared to make such a lamentable burlesque of so tragic a theme”. The words of a London critic for the Pall Mall Gazette in 1890 — but to which opera did he refer? Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector BerliozHamlet by Ambroise ThomasLe Marchand de Venise by Reynaldo HahnRoméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod Among the cast of Jonathan Kent’s 2009 production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at Glyndebourne was a corps de ballet of: Bonking rabbits Humping voles Rutting hedgehogsBanging badgers 10 and above. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (Twelfth Night, Act II, v)0 and above."Lord what fools these mortals be" (Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, iii)5 and above."Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt.” (Measure for Measure, Act I, iv) Continue reading...
English Baroque opera at St Jiohn's , Smith Square, ready for booking now. The English baroque style is unique, more "classical" than mor exuberant, southern forms, yet connected to contemporary theatrical values. St John's, Smith Square is a gem of British baroque architecture, an ideal place in which to enjoy English baroque music. Bampton Classical Opera starts the new season with "Diviner Comedies"| on 13/9, pairing Thomas Arne's The Judgement of Paris, "a witty account of a celestial beauty contest" with "the supremely lyrical Gluck Philemon and Baucis, continuing Bampton's, enterprising exploration of Gluck's lesser known operas. Paul Wingfield will conduct CHROMA Henry Purcell Dido and Aeneas on 29/9 with the celebrated La Nuova Musica, led by David Peter Bates. Major headliners - Dame Ann Murray will sing Dido and George Humphreys will sing Aneas. Again, a very good cast. What's more, with typical adventurous La Nuova Musica flair, this performance will be illustrated with dancers, choreographed by Zack Winokur. This should be one of the highlights of the season - book early ! Thomas Linley's Lyric Ode: on the Fairies, Aerial Beings and Witches of Shakespeare features in Bampton Classical Opera's second concert on 15/11. A glorious piuece,, vivisly dramatic. It's being paired with excerpts from Georg Benda's Singspeil Romeo and Juliet,which Bampton Opera did in 2007. Gilly French conducts the Bampton Classical Players and cast that includes Rosemary Coad, Caroline kennedy, Thomas Hereford and James Harrison. Anothernhighlight ! The Early Opera Company, conducted by Christopher Curnyn malkes a werlcome return to St Jihns Smith Square on 18/11 with Handel's Serse HWV40 , this time with Anna Stépany, Rupert Enticknap, Callum Thorpe and Claire booth, among others. Lots more, too. La Nuova Musica is doing Bach Mozart and Haydn in December. And don't foirget the famus SJSS Christmas season, which sells out fast because it's so much fun. For more details visit the SJSS . website HERE>
Carolyn Sampson, Elizabeth Kenny, Jonathan Manson, Laurence Cummings (Wigmore Hall Live)Versatile and ever engaging, soprano Carolyn Sampson shines in this showcase of contrasting Purcell songs, recorded live at Wigmore Hall last year. She and three top baroque players have drawn on the “Gresham manuscript”, written in the composer’s own hand in the last decade of the 17th century but forgotten until the mid-20th century. The disc opens with four richly expressive songs from The Fairy Queen and includes two “mad songs”: Let the dreadful Engines of Eternal Will and From rosy bow’rs from Don Quixote. Laurence Cummings, Elizabeth Kenny and Jonathan Manson contribute instrumental works by Draghi, Corbetta, Simpson and Purcell himself. As an encore, Sampson sings Fairest Isle, unhurried, with lovely ornament and pure tone. Continue reading...
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