Saturday, 21 September 2019

A mystical intensity: Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout in Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin

Mark Padmore, Kristian Bezuidenhout (Photo Marco Borggreve)
Mark Padmore, Kristian Bezuidenhout
(Photo Marco Borggreve)
Schubert Die schöne Müllerin; Mark Padmore, Kristian Bezuidenhout; Wigmore Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 20 September 2019 Star rating: 4.5 (★★★★½)
A magical evening, voice and fortepiano in Schubert's first song-cycle

Mark Padmore returned to the Wigmore Hall on Friday 20 September 2019 to perform Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin accompanied by Kristian Bezuidenhout on fortepiano. The fortepiano in question was not credited in the programme but was a magnificent red-veneered specimen.

Having a fortepiano accompany, with its range of colours, faster decay on the strings and general lack of the super-charged volume of the modern piano, meant that Padmore could be even more daring in the extremes of expression, bringing not only a remarkable range of colour and intensity to the role but also a lovely quietness, with a remarkable use of voix mixte. In many ways this was a very interior mystical performance. And Padmore's voice still has it's strikingly mesmerising, youthful quality.

'Das Wandern' started with firm and vigorous piano, this was an energetic and youthful man, and Padmore was in real story telling mode with full use of colours in the voice and the words. The piano in 'Wohin?' was flowing, certainly, but not untroubled whilst Padmore was lyrical and confiding with a lovely way of fining his voice down. In 'Halt!' the accompaniment was full of accents; Padmore's young man was eager and inspired, but the piano seemed to say otherwise, whilst 'Danksagung an den Bach' was very tender.

The Roaring Whirl: for Sarah Rodgers returning to her cross-cultural musical narrative after 27 years brings mixed emotions.

Geraldine Allen, Sarah Rodgers, Timothy Walker and Baluji Shrivastav in 1992 (Photo Roy Cuckow0
Geraldine Allen, Sarah Rodgers, Timothy Walker and Baluji Shrivastav in 1992 (Photo Roy Cuckow)
As part of Nottingham NOW festival in 1992 there was the world premiere staging of The Roaring Whirl a music-theatre piece based on Rudyard Kipling's Kim with music by Sarah Rodgers for Geraldine Allen (clarinet), Baluji Shrivastav (sitar/tabla/pakhavaj), Timothy Walker (guitar) and narrator Bhasker Patel. As part of the preparations for the performance, a recording of the work was made with a view to issuing it on disc. Following the festival there were further performances planned complete with a TV appearance, but unfortunately clarinettist Geraldine Allen had a life-changing accident which put everything on hold. The work was never revived and the materials (plus the recording) went into Sarah Rodgers' personal archive.

Twenty seven years later the recording is now being issued on Divine Art's metier label. I recently met up with Sarah to find out more about The Roaring Whirl and how it came about, and what it is like to revisit a score from 27 years ago.

The Roaring Whirl is essentially a musical narrative, telling the story through music. The work went through some development and the final version for the Nottingham NOW Festival in 1992 was fully staged with costumes for the instrumentalists and a kathak dancer as well as the narrator. It was originally an East Midlands Arts commission, they wanted a work which crossed over with another culture. The clarinettist Geraldine Allen was in the project from the beginning and as it grew the instrumentalists were brought in including Baluji Shrivastav playing a range of Indian instruments and narrator Bhasker Patel (who is now well-known for his role in the TV series Emmerdale).

Friday, 20 September 2019

Oliver Leith to be Guildhall School and Royal Opera's fourth Doctoral Composer-in-Residence

Oliver Leith (Photo © Anton Lukoszevieze)
Oliver Leith (Photo © Anton Lukoszevieze)
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Opera House have announced that the fourth Doctoral Composer-in-Residence will be Oliver Leith. Created in 2013, the collaboration between the Guildhall School and the Royal Opera is one of the first examples of an opera house and a conservatoire joining forces to offer a composer-in-residence studentship leading to a doctoral degree. Oliver Leith will be in residence over the period 2019 to 2022, during which time he will research and write a major work, to be staged by the Royal Opera at the end of the period.

Leith’s forthcoming opera will explore how to create a theatrical world in opera, through the shifts between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds (sounds audible to actors versus sounds meant only for the audience) a convention regularly used in film to support the creation of mood and atmosphere. Interested in composing in ways which explore visual (rather than textual) stimulus, Leith will take inspiration from moments in cinema that have made a particularly strong impression on him.

The current Doctoral Composer-in-Residence is Matt Rogers, and his opera She Described it to Death will premiere at the Linbury Theatre on 17 July 2020. The inaugural Doctoral Composer-in-Residence was Philip Venables and his opera 4.48 Psychosis [see my review], which premiered in May 2016, has won numerous awards including the UK Theatre Award for Achievement in Opera (2016), the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-Scale Composition (2017) and the British Composer Award for Stage Work (2017). It was also nominated for the Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production (2017) and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Best Opera (2017).

The other Fausts: a very different version of Gounod's classic opera is revealed by this important new recording from Palazzetto Bru Zane

Gounod: Faust - Palazzetto Bru Zane
Gounod: Faust; Benjamin Bernheim, Véronique Gens, Andrew Foster-Williams, Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset; Palazzetto Bru Zane
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 20 September 2019 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
A revelation, Gounod's classic proves to be a far more varied and characterful opera in this exploration of the versions he originally wrote in the 1850s

For such an established classic, Charles Gounod's Faust has a remarkably complex history. The work's present grand opera form, hides a rather more diverse work. On this new recording from Palazzetto Bru Zane, Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques explores the earlier Faust (or perhaps Fausts) as they explore Gounod's earlier versions of the opera, with Benjamin Bernheim as Faust, Véronique Gens as Marguerite, Andrew Foster-Williams as Méphistophéles, Jean-Sébastien Bou as Valentin, and Juliette Mars as Siebel, and the Flemish Radio Choir.

Charles Gounod and his librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre (on whose play Barbier based the libretto) completed Faust in 1858. It was submitted to the Théâtre Lyrique, accepted and went into rehearsal. Gounod would have a long relationship with the Théâtre Lyrique, writing a significant number of operas for it - Le médecin malgré lui (1858), Faust (1859), Philémon et Baucis (1860), La colombe (1860), Mireille (1864), Roméo et Juliette (1867). The theatre's director, Leon Carvalho took a very active role in the creation of the opera, and forced a number of modifications on Gounod; notably Carvalho's wife Madame Miolan-Carvalho was a coloratura soprano and the role of Marguerite had to be suitable for her. Gounod would further modify the opera to make it acceptable to the Paris Opéra, where it was performed in 1869 and it is this version which is the common version.

There are thus, at least three possible versions of the piece, 1858 (as first written by Gounod), 1859 (as performed by the Théâtre Lyrique) and 1869 (as performed by the Paris Opera). The big difference between 1869 and the earlier versions is, of course, the replacement of the spoken dialogue by recitative, but the process is more complex than that and at the Théâtre Lyrique Faust seems to have undergone a sort of continuous modification.

Gounod: Faust: Veronique Gens, Christophe Rousset, Benjamin Bernheim, Andrew Foster Williams, Les Talens Lyriques, Flemish Radio Choir (Photo ©Palazzetto Bru Zane / Amélie Debray)
Gounod: Faust: Veronique Gens, Christophe Rousset, Benjamin Bernheim, Andrew Foster Williams, Les Talens Lyriques, Flemish Radio Choir (Photo ©Palazzetto Bru Zane / Amélie Debray)
The recording is based on a new critical edition by Paul Prevost, and he explains in a fascinating article in the CD book that it is now no longer possible to re-create that first, 1858 Faust, as not everything survives and some has had to be orchestrated from the 1859 vocal score. So what we have here is an alternative Faust which uses the libretto of 1858 and 1859 with its spoken dialogue, and opts for the unpublished or unknown versions of any music where choices are to be made. The result is a very different Faust.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Mysterious hauntings & magical happenings - Tales of the Beyond at the Oxford Lieder Festival

Tales of the Beyond - Oxford Lieder Festival
This year's Oxford Lieder Festival, which runs from 11 to 26 October 2019, takes as its theme Tales of the Beyond: Magic, Myths and Mortals, exploring everything from Nordic myth to mysterious hauntings and magical happenings, and even a Day of the Dead, through the art of song.

The festival's artistic director and founder, Sholto Kynoch, enjoys the theme because it enables the festival to explore and enjoy song as story telling and exciting narrative, and not just be 'love songs and nature'. In fact, Sholto's original idea for the theme was simply Death, and he points out that this would not be totally gloomy and there is plenty of 'exciting and fun stuff' on the theme, but ultimately it was rather too restricting and morphed into the Tales of the Beyond.

Part of the appeal of such a fun and exciting theme is to get more people involved in song, whether it be through the festival's education events or coming to concerts. Having a theme like this gives the festival an opportunity to present world class song in a way which makes people see the art form in a different light.

So far, the comments have been good and the advanced ticket sales are good.

Showcasing Nordic culture: the Northern Star Festival

The Marriage of the Northern Star at the Brighton Early Music Festival in 2018
The Marriage of the Northern Star at the Brighton Early Music Festival in 2018
The Northern Star Festival, which runs from 20 to 22 September 2019, is a new initiate which aims to be an annual showcase for Nordic culture, musical and beyond. This year presents a chance to experience lesser-known Nordic repertoire. Based at the Swedish Church in Marylebone, the festival is the brainchild of Yu-Wei Hu and Johan Löfving of the ensemble Flaugissimo, and this year they will be joined by the Consone Quartet, baroque dancer Steve Player and Finnish-Swedish soprano Andrea Eklund.

The centrepiece of this year's festival is The Marriage of the Northern Star, a programme focused around the 1744 Swedish royal wedding between Adolf Frederick of Sweden and Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, featuring music by the earthy songs of Bellman and the refined elegance of Roman (the "Swedish Handel", who indeed spent some six years studying in London with Handel and others) and Kraus (in his turn later nicknamed the "Swedish Mozart"). Another programme explores the flute music associated with Louisa Ulrika’s sister Anna Amalia and brother Frederick the Great who were both flautists, active musicians and passionate patrons of music and musicians such as Johann Joachim Quantz and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

Full details from the festival website, tickets from Ticket Source.

A satisfying evening, certainly: whatever the caveats - Juan Diego Flórez & Isabel Leonard in Massenet's 'Werther' at Covent Garden

Massenet: Werther - Juan Diego Florez and Isabel Leonard - Royal Opera (Photo: Catherine Ashmore, (C) ROH 2019)
Massenet: Werther - Juan Diego Florez and Isabel Leonard - Royal Opera (Photo: Catherine Ashmore, (C) ROH 2019)
Massenet Werther; Juan Diego Flórez, Isabel Leonard, Alastair Miles Jacques Imbrailo, Heather Engebretson, Byeongmin Gil, Vincent Ordonneau, Michael Mofidian, Stephanie Wake-Edwards, Pearse Cole, Emily Barton, Laurence Taylor, Victoria Nekhaenk, Paul Warren, Toby Yates, dir: Benoît Jacquot, revival dir: Andrew Sinclair, set designer, lighting designer: Charles Edwards, costume designer: Christian Gasc, cond: Edward Gardner; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 5 July 2019 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Massenet's Goethe-inspired opera returns to Covent Garden with Juan Diego Flórez and Isabel Leonard.

Massenet: Werther - Isabel Leonard, Jacques Imbrailo - Royal Opera (Photo: Catherine Ashmore, (C) ROH 2019)
Massenet: Werther - Isabel Leonard, Jacques Imbrailo
Royal Opera (Photo: Catherine Ashmore, (C) ROH 2019)
This is the third outing at the Royal Opera House (seen 17 September 2019) of Benoît Jacquot’s superb production of Massenet’s Werther, first seen in 2004. Moody, brilliantly lit skyscapes for the ideal backdrop to this classic tale, derived from Goethe’s iconic Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther). Simpler is better; this production is a far cry from the trickery of the Don Giovanni that opened the season just the night before.

The piece has attracted superstar tenors, with Rolando Villazón taking the lead in the last production I saw here at Covent Garden (2011: his Charlotte was Sophie Koch); the conductor on that occasion was Antonio Pappano. All change, and Juan Diego Flórez took up the mantle of the doomed, lovestruck young man while Edward Gardner headed the Royal Opera’s forces.

The power of a conductor was rarely obvious as here: just the previous night, under Hartmut Haenchen in Don Giovanni, the orchestra had seemed decidedly ill-at-ease (unsurprisingly given some of the dragging speeds). Now, just 24 hours later, the orchestra was transformed into a slick, passionate, powerful group, perfectly attuned to Massenet’s invitingly Romantic, heart-wrenching world, perhaps a measure of the respect they have for Gardner. There were some issues of dynamics, though, with Flórez’ voice completely drowned out in the earlier stages, his voice absolutely tested to its limit and beyond. Flórez is superb in Rossini and Donizetti (his performances in Donizetti’s Fille du Régiment here unforgettable evenings); he felt less at home here.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Celebrating the centenary of The Planet's on Holst's piano

Gustav Holst's Broadwood piano today
Gustav Holst's Broadwood piano today
Whilst Gustav Holst worked at St Paul's Girls School, which he did from 1905 until his death, he did much of his composing on the Broadwood grand piano in his teaching studio. It was this instrument on which he composed The Planets, and on which two pianists at the school Nora Day and Vally Lasker played excerpts of the work to him. The piano was ordered from Broadwoods in 1913, Number 5 Drawing Room model, of length 7’ 6’’ (229cm), and was clearly highly regarded at the school. Eventually it ended up retired, in private ownership and cherished but its history forgotten. In 2016, during a chance search of the Broadwood archives, the piano Number 51868 was identified.

To celebrate the centenary of the first public performance of The Planets, Broadwoods is sponsoring a series of recitals the centrepiece of which is a performance of the piano duet version of The Planets on Holst's re-discovered piano at St Paul's Girls' School on Saturday 21 September 2019 (Holst's birthday), performed by pianists John and Fiona York who will be joined by Heidi Pegler (soprano) and the Paulina Voices. Tickets from EventBrite.

Gustav Holst's Broadwood piano in the music studio at St Paul's Girls' School
Gustav Holst's Broadwood piano in the music studio at St Paul's Girls' School
Additional performances will take place at Finchcocks piano school, Kent (28/9/2019) and the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham (13/10/2019).

The first Liverpool Early Music Festival

Liverpool Early Music Festival
The first ever Liverpool Early Music Festival takes place next week, from 20 to 27 September 2019. Presented by The Telling, the festival features six quirky and heartfelt events across three venues in the city. The Sixteen will open the festival with their Choral Pilgrimmage performance at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, juxtaposing the music of Sir James MacMillan with music by Wylkynson, Fairfax and Sheppard.

The Telling will be giving three performances including two of their trade-mark staged concerts, with Contemplation mixing the music of Hildegard of Bingen with troubadour songs, and  Into the Melting Pot which explores the stories of integration, love, cultural heritage & radical intolerance experienced by a community of Jewish, Christian & Muslim women in Spain (21 & 22/9).

The young recorder quartet Palisander brings a programme inspired by Renaissance exploration and discovery, with music from people and countries explored by Christopher Columbus, Sir Frances Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh (24/9). Palisander will also be taking part in workshops and performances with local schools.

We return to Spain for the festival finale as Lux Musicae London explores flamenco's roots in Medieval Spanish, Arabic and Sephardic music, with the group being joined by masters of Flamenco and Arabic oud Ignacio Lusardi and Julian Harris (27/9).

Full details from The Telling's website, and tickets from Eventbrite.


What they did before Figaro: Bampton Classical Opera revives Stephen Storace's comedy written for Vienna's Burgtheater the year before they premiered Mozart's comedy

Stephen Storace Gli sposi malconteni (Bride & Gloom) - Robert Davies, Caroline Kennedy, Jenny Stafford (At Bampton in July 2019) - Bampton Classical Opera (Photo Anthony Hall)
Stephen Storace Gli sposi malconteni (Bride & Gloom) - Robert Davies, Caroline Kennedy, Jenny Stafford, with Arthur Bruce under the cover (At Bampton in July 2019) - Bampton Classical Opera (Photo Anthony Hall)
Stephen Storace Gli sposi malconteni (Bride & Gloom); Robert Davies, Gavan Ring, Jenny Stafford, Aoife O'Sullivan, Arthur Bruce, Adam Tunnicliffe, Caroline Kennedy, dir: Jeremy Gray, Chroma, cond: Anthony Kraus; Bampton Classical Opera at St John's Smith Square
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 17 September 2019 Star rating: 3.5 (★★★½)
Premiered a year before Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro by the same company, Stephen Storace's first opera is an illuminating look at the Viennese opera world of the 1780s

The composer Stephen Storace (1762-1796) was the elder brother of the soprano Nancy Storace who created the role of Susanna in Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro. English-born with an Italian father and English mother, the two lived in Vienna in the 1780s where Nancy developed a significant career as a soprano and Stephen as a composer, with Stephen composing two operas for Vienna's Burgtheater, Gli sposi malcontenti (1785) and Gli equivoci (1786), the latter to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte based on Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. These are Storace's only scores for Vienna, but he wrote 16 operas in English for London though unfortunately only one of these survives in full score.

Bampton Classical Opera caused something of a stir with its production of Stephen Storace's Gli equivoci in 2000, so it was with great interest that I went along to their performance of Storace's Gli sposi malcontenti (performed under the title of Bride and Gloom) at St John's Smith Square on 17 September 2019. The production, directed and designed by Jeremy Gray, debuted at Bampton this Summer and featured Robert Davies as Rosmondo, Gavan Ring as Casimiro, Jenny Stafford as Eginia, Aoife O'Sullivan as Enrichetta, Arthur Bruce as Artidoro, Adam Tunnicliffe as Valente and Caroline Kennedy as Bettina. Anthony Kraus conducted Chroma.

Gaetano Brunetti's libretto has some remarkable pre-echoes of Le nozze di Figaro (which the same company would premiere in 1786), so clearly Brunetti had been reading Beaumarchais' play; there is a scene with someone hiding behind and on a sofa, and the climactic final scene is full of disguises and misunderstandings in a garden at night! And many of the singers who took part in the premiere of Gli sposi malcontenti, performed roles for Mozart. So that Nancy Storace (Eginia in Storace's opera) sang Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and most of the rest of the cast for the premiere of Storace's opera pop up on roles in the Vienna performances of Mozart's three Da Ponte operas!

One of the valuable things about Bampton Classical Opera's performances is that it enables us to hear the operas which were current when Mozart was working on his operas with Lorenzo Da Ponte, so that Antonio Salieri's La grotta di Trofonio (which Bampton performed in 1785, see my review) enabled us to hear how much of a debt Mozart owed to Salieri's rich, Gluck-inspired orchestration.

Stephen Storace Gli sposi malconteni (Bride & Gloom) - Robert Davies, Gavan Ring (At Bampton in July 2019) - Bampton Classical Opera (Photo Anthony Hall)
Stephen Storace Gli sposi malconteni (Bride & Gloom) - Robert Davies, Gavan Ring (At Bampton in July 2019)
Bampton Classical Opera (Photo Anthony Hall)
Stephen Storace was rather different, he was trained in Naples (where his father came from) and Storace's orchestra in Gli sposi malcontenti accompanies the arias with relative simplicity and clarity, usually keeping the focus on the voice and making us understand why contemporary audiences could perceive Mozart's comedies as complex. And the arias were frequently in the same form (two part, fast then slow), with much of the music seemingly based on a relatively limited array of motifs. But then Storace was only 23 when the opera was performed and it was his first one. So a promising piece, rather than an undiscovered masterpiece.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

New season, new premieres: Britten Sinfonia in Turnage and more

Britten Sinfonia (Photo Harry Rankin)
Britten Sinfonia (Photo Harry Rankin)
The Britten Sinfonia kicks off its 2019/20 season this week with the UK premiere of a new song-cycle by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Tenor Allan Clayton joins the Britten Sinfonia and conductor Andrew Gourlay for Turnage's Refugee setting texts by Benjamin Zephaniah, Emily Dickinson, Brian Bilston and W H Auden, exploring what it means to be a refugee now and through the ages. Clayton and the orchestra will be giving the work's premiere at the Enescu Festival in Romania in 19 September 2019, and they perform it at Milton Court Concert Hall in London on Friday 20 September 2019. Also in the programme is Benjamin Britten's Nocturne, his 1958 song cycle for tenor, seven solo instruments and strings, Oliver Knussen's Songs without Voices and Tippett's Divertimento on Sellinger's Round.

Further ahead, the orchestra's A Lunch season begins with a concert with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani in JS Bach, CPE Bach, Richard Strauss, De Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto, and a new work by Laurence Osborn. To celebrate Sir James MacMillan's 60th birthday the orchestra joins forces with The Sixteen to perform MacMillan's The Sun Danced and Symphony No. 5, Le Grand Inconnu at the Barbican Hall, and the two groups give the American premiere of MacMillan's Stabat Mater at Alice Tully Hall in New York. A new collaboration between Steve Reich and artist Gerhard Richter receives its UK premiere conducted by Colin Currie at the Barbican and Saffron Hall in October. Whilst violinist Thomas Gould leads the orchestra in Norwich for Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

The orchestra is participating in the Barbican's Ada Lovelace Day on Saturday 2 November 2019, events curated by Emily Howard celebrating the visionary Victorian mathematician. The day features the Barbican commissioned world premieres of new works by Shiva Feshareki, Patricia Alessandrini and Emily Howard’s own Ada Sketches, plus music generated by artificial intelligence!

In November, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will be directing the Britten Sinfonia from the keyboard in Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 9, in a programme which also includes a new William Alwyn Foundation commission by Robin Haigh, alongside Dobrinka Tabakova’s Fantasy Homage to Schubert and arrangement of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for strings, in Norwich, Saffron Hall and at Milton Court, London.

Full details from the orchestra's website.

Playing of great presence, yet on an intimate scale: chamber versions of Beethoven's symphonic music from I Musicanti at Conway Hall

Franz Clement, for whom Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto, here shown aged 8
Franz Clement, for whom Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto,
here shown aged 8 in 1789 drawn by Henri Hessell
Beethoven Symphony No. 1, Violin Concerto, Romances in versions for chamber ensemble; I Musicanti; Conway Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 15 September 2019
Beethoven's symphonic music brought to a domestic scale in a contemporary arrangement of his symphony and a modern version of the violin concerto made in the same spirit

On Sunday 15 September 2019 at Conway Hall Sunday Concerts, I Musicanti performed a fascinating programme of Beethoven arrangements, an anonymous version of Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21 for string quartet which was printed by Beethoven's publisher Simrock 1803, along with modern arrangements of the Violin Concerto in D op. 61 and the two Romances for solo violin and string quintet by composer Carl Hinde. Before the concert, I gave the pre-concert talk looking at the importance of transcription and arrangement, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, to supply the burgeoning domestic market. A market for which this version of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 was aimed, enabling amateurs to bring Beethoven's symphony into their drawing rooms.

The arrangement of the symphony is anonymous, but almost certain from the circle around Beethoven; his pupil Carl Czerny did a number of such arrangements of Beethoven's works, and Beethoven himself did a piano trio version of one of his symphonies. It was rather effective, a neat boiling down of the symphony into just four parts (Ben Holland and Raja Halder, violins, Robert Smissen, viola, and Richard Harwood, cello), what we lost in weight and colour we gained in clarity, the sense of four very clear lines, and a sense of real intimacy.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Come and sing Palestrina with London Concord Singers

Jessica Norton and London Concord Singers (Photo Alessandro Tamagno)
Jessica Norton and London Concord Singers (Photo Alessandro Tamagno)
My choir, London Concord Singers, has a Come and Sing Palestrina evening next Monday, 23 September 2019, at 7pm at St Michael's Church, Chester Square, London SW1W 9EF (a short walk from Victoria Station), let by the choir's music director Jessica Norton.

We are inviting singers to come and spend an evening working on ensemble singing technique and learning the magnificent Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est by Palestrina. There is a £10 fee to cover music hire.

Please book a place via email: info@londonconcordsingers.org.uk

Coruscating: Leila Josefowicz in Colin Matthews with Simon Rattle & the LSO in an all-British opening concert including Emily Howard & William Walton

Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle - Barbican Centre (Photo Mark Allan)
Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle
Barbican Centre (Photo Mark Allan)
Emily Howard, Colin Matthews, William Walton; Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle; Barbican Centre
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 14 September 2019 Star rating: 4.5 (★★★★½)
Rattle and the LSO open the new season with an all-British programme, including a premiere, a further outing for Colin Matthew's fine violin concerto and Walton in prime form

It seems to be becoming a tradition that Sir Simon Rattle opens the London Symphony Orchestra's season with a concert of British music. On Saturday 14 September 2019, at the Barbican, Rattle and the LSO launched the 2019/20 season with the world premiere of Emily Howard's Antisphere (commissioned by the Barbican), Colin Matthew's Violin Concerto with soloist Leila Josefowicz and William Walton's Symphony No. 1. The evening was a significant anniversary, celebrating 20 years since the founding of LSO Live, the orchestra's highly successful own label.

An anti-spheres is a theoretical concept, the opposite of a sphere, where the surface everywhere curves away from the centre. A concept which brings ideas of infinity, shrinkage, distortion (think of an image projected onto the surface), and being of a scientific turn of mind, Emily Howard has found inspiration in these concepts for her new piece.

Written for large orchestra including triple woodwind, a very large body of strings and five percussion, it opened with a series of gestures dominated by the brass with noise of lots of bangy-things in the percussion.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Prom 74: Beethoven Night is Back - imaginative programming from Andrew Manze and NDR Radiophilharmonie, Hanover

Prom 74 - NDR Radiophilharmonie, Andrew Manze, Elizabeth Watts - BBC Proms (Photo Chris Christodoulou / BBC)
Prom 74 - NDR Radiophilharmonie, Andrew Manze, Elizabeth Watts
BBC Proms (Photo Chris Christodoulou / BBC)
Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks,
Beethoven Concert Aria, "Ah Perfido!",
Bach (arr. Elgar) Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV537,
Beethoven Fidelio, Overture and 'Abscheulicher!', Symphony No. 5;
Elizabeth Watts (soprano),
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover/Andrew Manze;
BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 13 September 2019
Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)

Coupling Beethoven’s music with that of two of his great musical heroes, Handel and Bach

Friday the 13th (13 September 2019) brought a Proms tradition – Beethoven Night – back to life with a visit from the North German Radio (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) orchestra, Hanover under their Chief Conductor since 2014, Andrew Manze, with soprano Elizabeth Watts. Coupling Beethoven’s music with that of two of his great musical heroes, Handel and Bach, was effective and imaginative programming.

Initially associated with early music, Manze was a member of the group Romanesca; in 1996 he was appointed as Associate Conductor and Director of the Academy of Ancient Music. Manze’s contract with The NDR Hannover Orchestra has been extended until Summer 2023, and it is easy to see how the orchestra admires him and responds well to him. Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks was given a surprisingly smooth, even gentle reading, the 'Largo alla siciliana', also called 'La paix' actually fairly indulgent, although rescued by a pronounced linear awareness. Perhaps 'La Rejouissance' could have been more festive, although that was in keeping with the rest of the performance. It was Handel, too, who provided the final pieces of the concert, in encore form: two movements from the Water Music Suite in G.

In between was a rare outing of Beethoven’s Concert Aria, 'Ah, perfido!'. Young man’s music (written aged 25), this was the point at which the whole evening went up a notch or two. Elizabeth Watts was a superb interpreter, pure and smooth at 'Per pietà,' properly agitated at 'Ah, crudel!'. The opening section (the bit with the text by Metastasio) was superbly accompanied by Manze, the orchestra light but presenting great detail. It was difficult to imagine a greater contrast than the Bach/Elgar Fantasia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 537). No missing the Elgarian sheen to the Fantasia; this is echt-Prom material. If the ear does have to adjust to that harp, there is no denying the effectiveness of the timpani heartbeat. All this was brilliantly delivered by Manze’s forces; impossible to ignore, too, the cheeky flourishes of the cymbal.

Two Fidelio excerpts formed the opening of the second part of the concert, the Overture light in the opening exchanges, lithe in the faster section. Clarity again at a premium, the performance was nevertheless a touch underpowered; not a criticism that could be levelled at the superb 'Abscheulicher!' that followed, Watts absolutely inside the role (how she enjoyed the “sch” sound of 'Abscheulicher') supported by a fine set of horns, individuals all in their solos and yet as one when required.

And so to the Fifth. That word again – “lithe.” Fast, light, exposition repeat intact, the woodwind/strings exchanges scrupulously observed. The most mesmeric moments of the evening were contained in a beautiful plateau of chords in the 'Andante con moto', revelatory in their spectral demeanour. The scampering double-basses of the Scherzo were a true delight alongside bullet-hard timpani, the transition to the finale intelligent rather than apocalyptic. The finale’s ebb and flow enabled a more variegated landscape than most, enabling moments of an almost startling tenderness. The coda, fast but not pressed, seemed perfectly in accord with Manze’s interpretation: enlightening, intelligent and ultimately more satisfying than any dash to the finishing line.
Reviewed by Colin Clarke

Elsewhere on this blog
  • An interesting and illuminating mix: I chat to Ensemble Hesperi about combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance - interview
  • A listening challenge: Philippe Manoury's large-scale musical fresco for piano duo and electronics in a stunning performance (★★) - Cd review
  • A terrific place to start an exploration of Jonathan Dove's non-operatic output: Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic, Timothy Redmond on Orchid Classics  (★★★) - CD review
  • A considerable company achievement: David Blake's Scoring a Century from British Youth Opera - Opera review
  • Prom 63: A 'nice mountain to climb', Yuja Wang, Dresden Staatskapelle, Myung-Whun Chung at the BBC Proms  (★★★) - concert review
  • To avoid being the sort of group which comes in, does a concert & goes away again: I chat to violinist David Le Page, artistic director of the Orchestra of the Swan - interview
  • The Late Romantic Violin: music by Vladigerov, Poulenc & Seaborne (★★★) - CD review
  • Prom 61: Ultimately, rather uninvolved - the Vienna Philharmonic in Dvořák and Korngold (★★★) - concert review
  • All was stylish & expressive, leaving us to enjoy the music & the comedy in such an engaging way that the time sped by: British Youth Opera in Rossini's La Cenerentola  - opera review
  • An unforgettable night: a true slice of history in the making: Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic & Emmanuel Ax at the BBC Proms (★★★) - concert review
  • A passionate evening: Bellini's I Capuleti ed I Montecchi  at Grimeborn (★★★) - opera review
  • A dazzling carnival erupts onto the stage and we don't want it to stop: Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini at the BBC Proms  (★★★) - opera review
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Saturday, 14 September 2019

An interesting and illuminating mix: I chat to Ensemble Hesperi about combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance:

The Pheasant's Eye - Ensemble Hesperi & Kathleen Gilbert - St Marylebone Festival
The Pheasant's Eye - Ensemble Hesperi & Kathleen Gilbert - St Marylebone Festival
The young Early Music ensemble, Ensemble Hesperi, is in the middle of a tour of a programme called The Pheasant's Eye in which they combine rarely performed 18th century Scottish Baroque music with dance from Kathleen Gilbert who is a Highland dancer. Ensemble Hesperi is Mary-Jannet Leith (recorders), Magdalena Loth-Hill (baroque violin), Florence Petit (baroque cello) and Thomas Allery (harpsichord), and I met up with the four musicians and dancer Kathleen Gilbert to chat about the programme and the idea of combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance.

The ensemble started as a duo, with Mary-Jannet Leith and Thomas Allery and as Mary-Jannet is Scottish she was keen to explore the Scottish Baroque repertoire, some of which she had grown up with. Then in 2018, they were joined by Magdalena Loth-Hill and Florence Petit, continuing to have a strong interest in Scottish classical music. The core of Ensemble Hesperi's current programme is Airs for the Seasons, a series of 96 short movements by the Scottish composer James Oswald (1710-1769), with each movement named after a flower. These are a series of remarkable miniatures, and though they sound Scots they do not in fact use Scottish melodies and were very much written for the London market.

Beyond James Oswald, much of the surviving music is inspired by Scottish folk songs, what Mary-Jannet refers to as a fusion style, combining Scots folk melody with the classical figured bass. Composers like the Scot, William McGibbon (1690-1756) and the Italian, Francesco Geminiani created such pieces for  publication in London, but a lot of the material is unpublished and manuscripts are still being discovered in castles! As recently as 1989 a manuscript of music largely by the Earl of Kellie (1732-1781) was discovered, and Thomas is sure that there is plenty more to be found. As a Scottish aristocrat the Earl did not need earn a living and he was prone to writing pieces and giving the manuscripts away, often composing the music on the spot. So, though he is known to have written wind music, none so-far as turned up. He was, though, far more than an amateur and had studied in Mannheim. One of his larger pieces is a Sinfonia which Ensemble Hesperi have their eyes on for a future project.

Ensemble Hesperi
Ensemble Hesperi
For The Pheasant's Eye the ensemble has been joined by Highland dancer Kathleen Gilbert. The group admits that their approach is a bit 'irreligious' and essentially they selected pieces which are dance-like and asked Kathleen to dance to them.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Music@Malling

By Klaus D.Peter, Wiehl, Germany - Own work, CC BY 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3506949
All Saint's Church, Tudeley - Marc Chagall window
(Photo Klaus D.Peter, Wiehl, Germany)
Each September, Music@Malling brings the music of contemporary composers alongside classical, jazz, vocal, world and film music to a variety of historic venues in an around the Kent town of West Malling. Founded by artistic director Thomas Kemp in 2011, this year's festival, the ninth, runs from 15 to 28 September 2019. One of the focuses this year is the composer Alexander Goehr (87 this year), and there will be a series of events featuring his music across the festival, the Villiers String Quartet will be performing Goehr's string quartets, and there are interviews with the composer.

Other highlights include Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale from Thomas Kemp and his ensemble Chamber Domaine with Charles Dance narrating, BBC New Generation Artist Alessandro Fisher in songs by Mahler, Schumann and Strauss accompanied by Sholto Kynoch, accordionist Inigo Mikelez, who is a Park Lane Group Artist, in Mozart, Lindberg, Gubaidulina and Piazzolla, and guitarist Craig Ogden in Dowland, Britten and Walton. Ogden will join violinist David Juritz and cellist Adrian Bradbury to perform an arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

All Saint's Church, Tudeley is the only church in the world to have a complete set of windows by the artist Marc Chagall. In this inspirational setting violinist and vocalist Lizzie Ball will perform her programme A Musical Portrait of Stravinsky and Chanel, which looks at the various artists who made their home in Paris after World War One.

Outreach plays an important role in the festival, and this year 1200 children from 15 Primary Schools will take park in workshops and concerts based on Roald Dahl's The Three Little Pigs. The centre pieces will be Paul Patterson's setting of The Three Little Pigs narrated by Matthew Sharp, but classes will also write their own songs that will be woven into the performances.

Full details from the Music@Malling website.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Internationale Opernwerkstatt Waiblingen: 13 young singers working with Melanie Diener & Thomas Hampson

Melanie Diener and Thomas Hampson
Melanie Diener and Thomas Hampson
You may not have heard of the town of Waiblingen, near Stuttgart in Germany but it happens to be the home town of German soprano Melanie Diener. But if you are a young singer then Melanie Diener and baritone Thomas Hampson aim to put the town on the musical map. With the aid of a remarkably supportive city council, Diener and Hampson have created an international opera workshop, the first of which runs from 23 to 28 September 2019, culminating in a grand closing concert with all the soloists and the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dan Ettinger. And for the 13 young people taking part, it is all free!

Waiblingen in 2007
Waiblingen in 2007
Diener and Hampson have invited 13 young singers from eight countries to be scholarship holders and take part in the workshop. Participation is free to the scholarship holders, travel costs are covered by the city of Waiblingen, and accommodation will be with host families in Waiblingen. The singers will spend the week working with Diener and Hampson, often in public masterclasses, with an emphasis on technique, expression and presentation, things that should be in the foreground of a singer's artistic development and career. And as well as being open to the public, the masterclasses are open to school groups as well.

Melanie Diener points out that Waiblingen is already a cultural city, with many art and music initiatives, and by supporting the International Opera Workshop the city council wishes to further anchor the theme of opera in the city and bring it closer to its citizens. And you don't have to even attend, the events will be streamed live on the workshop's website:

 https://www.internationale-opernwerkstatt-waiblingen.de/willkommen.

On the initiative, Thomas Hampson commented:
"So much of what happens on stage and inspires the audience has been preceded by a long process of intensive learning and preparation. Young artists first have to develop all the skills they need for a professional career. Today in particular, the expectations of young singers who dare to step onto the opera stage are more complex than ever. I consider it a pleasure, a privilege and a sign of confidence that I can help young colleagues to acquire the skills they need for a long and successful career. For a career in an art form that is constantly evolving and that expresses emotions and human behaviour in a language called 'music' and presented in a place called 'theatre'."


Further information from the workshop website.

Celebrating Eleanor Alberga's 70th birthday with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Eleanor Alberga
Eleanor Alberga
The Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga is 70 this year, and the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) has been celebrating by performing Alberga's musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After performances on tour in the Czech Republic and Slovakia this summer, the orchestra and conductor Peter Ash will be performing Alberga's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Barbican on 23 September 2019 in a programme which includes Dvořák's Scherzo Capriccioso and Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem.

Alberga's colourful and challenging Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for orchestra and narrator was first performed in 1994 by the London Philharmonic and Franz Welser-Möst, with Griff Rhys Jones, Geraldine James and Dinsdale Landen narrating.

Conductor Peter Ash commented that the work is complex, 'perhaps more technically complex than anything the LSSO have previously attempted – yet the piece has a charm, ease and infectious joy that delights any first-time listener. There’s nothing in the repertoire quite like it and it deserves to be as well-known as Peter and the Wolf.' In fact Ash first recorded the work in 2011 with the Taliesin Orchestra and a series of celebrity narrators for Orchid Classics.

Roald Dahl's rhyming version of the Brothers Grimm fable breathes new comic life into a familiar story, whilst Dahl sustains the dark atmosphere and narrative drive of the original, as well as adding elements of cannibalism, gambling, and slapstick comedy into the mix, creating something that is uniquely his own. For the performance at the Barbican the LSSO will be joined by narrator Simon Callow and dancers from Elmhurst Ballet School.

Full details from the Barbican website.

A listening challenge: Philippe Manoury's large-scale musical fresco for piano duo and electronics in a stunning performance

Philippe Manoury Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi; GrauSchumacher Piano Duo, SWR Experimentalstudio; NEOS
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 12 September 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Some stunning playing in the world premiere recording of this challenging musical fresco for piano duo and electronics

For this new disc NEOS from the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo (Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher) features their 2014 commission from French composer Philippe Manoury Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi (Time, Instructions for Use) for piano duet (two pianos) and electronics. The duo gave the UK premiere of the work in 2015 when Andrew Clements in The Guardian described it as a 'rigorous listening challenge'. On the disc the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo is joined by the SWR Experimentalstudio (live electronic realisation, Jose Miguel Fernandez and Dominik Kleinknecht, sound directors).(The disc is released on 27 September 2019)

Philippe Manoury studied composition with Max Deutsch (one of Schoenberg's first students in Vienna), at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris, and he studied computer-assisted composition with Pierre Barbaud, and joined IRCAM in 1980. His 1987 work for percussion sextet, Le Livre des Claviers (The Book of Keyboards), was recorded by Third Coast Percussion on New Focus Recordings [see my review].

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Starting the celebrations early: rare Beethoven, new perspectives and contemporary transcriptions

Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman
Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman
Next year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, which means that we are in for a lot of Beethoven, but it is also a chance to look at neglected aspects of the composer's output and to gain insights by performing music rarely given. Inevitably organisations are starting early in the 2019/20 season. So, on 2 October 2019, the Academy of Ancient Music launches its new season at the Barbican with a complete performance of Beethoven's incidental music to Goethe's play Egmont. Whilst the play is about the Netherlands in the 17th century (Count Egmont is a patriot standing up to the Spanish domination), Beethoven saw it as a metaphor for Napoleon's domination of Europe. The overture is well known, his extended incidental music is less so; mature, neglected Beethoven. Just the material we should be welcoming for the centenary. Full details from the Barbican website.

And next weekend (14 and 15 September), the Wigmore Hall kicks things off with its Beethoven Festival Weekend. The Wigmore Hall will be celebrating Beethoven's music throughout 2020 until the anniversary of his birth in December 2020, enabling us to hear almost all his instrumental and chamber music. The festival weekend is a chance for major artists to provide some interesting new perspectives on the composer, his music, his health and composers who were influenced by him.

Steven Isserlis (cello) and Robert Levin (fortepiano) open the festival weekend at the Wigmore Hall with the complete cello sonatas and variations, whilst Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt offer us a series of intriguing perspectives on Beethoven's convalescence from illness (including the Heiliger Dankgesang - string quartet no. 15), his immortal beloved and the influence he had on Brahms! The ensemble will be joined by guest artists.

The festival weekend also gives us a chance to hear Beethoven's music for unusual combinations of instruments such as the quintet for piano and winds. And the event ends with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja in Beethoven's final three piano sonatas.

Full details of the Beethoven Festival Weekend from the Wigmore Hall website.

Over at Conway Hall this weekend, Leon Bosch and I Musicanti will be performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C in a transcription for chamber ensemble published during Beethoven's lifetime by his publisher, and I will be giving the pre-concert talk about the art of transcription and arrangement [details from the Conway Hall website]. Beethoven's own transcription of his Symphony No. 2 for piano trio will be performed at Conway Hall on 24 November [details from the Conway Hall website].

A terrific place to start an exploration of Jonathan Dove's non-operatic output: Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic, Timothy Redmond on Orchid Classics

Jonathan Dove: Orchestral Music - Orchid Classics
Jonathan Dove Hojoko (An Account of my Hut), Gaia Theory, orchestral works; Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Timothy Redmond; Orchid Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 5 September 2019 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A slightly different side to Jonathan Dove with a selection of music for orchestra alongside a large-scale scena for counter-tenor and orchestra

Calling this disc, from Orchid Classics, The Orchestral Music of Jonathan Dove is, perhaps, somewhat misleading as the disc's centrepiece is Jonathan Dove's Hojoki (An Account of my Hut), his 30-minute dramatic cantata for counter-tenor and orchestra, here performed by Lawrence Zazzo and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Redmond. Around this, Redmond and the orchestra place four of Dove's orchestral pieces,  Run to the Edge (2003), The Ringing Isle (1997), Airport Scenes (2006) and the relatively substantial Gaia Theory (2014).

Hojoki (An Account of my Hut) is a setting of a 13th century Japanese text by the poet Kamo no Chame (1153-1216) in a translation by Donald Keene. It is quite a wordy text, and on this recording we are reliant of Lawrence Zazzo's fine (but not perfect) diction as there is no printed text. Zazzo narrates a series of (real) natural disasters which befell Japan in the poet's lifetime, narrated from his old age when he has retreated to the little hut of the title.

It is a slightly curious story but Zazzo has great fun with it and proves to be an avid story-teller.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

A considerable company achievement: David Blake's Scoring a Century from British Youth Opera

David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake Scoring a Century; Hugo Herman-Wilson, Holly Marie Bingham, Florian Panzieri, dir: Keith Warner, cond: Lionel Friend; British Youth Opera at the Peacock Theatre
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 6 September 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
David Blake's operatic entertainment disappoints but receives a fine performance

David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake: Scoring a Century
British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
This must have sounded like a dream when it was first mooted. Lionel Friend and Keith Warner collaborating on a work originally conceived as part of the millennium celebrations. With a libretto by Keith Warner and composed by David Blake Scoring a Century has been described as 'low entertainment for highbrows, or vice versa'. Originally intended to debut at Portland Opera, Oregon, the 9/11 attacks caused a creative hiatus - a collective drawing in of horns that scuppered its premiere.

The work tells the history of Mr and Mrs Jedermann, a couple of song and dance merchants. There is dialogue – lots, and songs, and from time to time the action is interrupted by mini-operas which contain the serious heart of the show. More musical comedy than opera it reviews the twentieth century in twenty ‘Panels’. Our pair of Everymen, the Jedermann’s stumble through the politics and social change of the last one hundred years, never ageing and only reluctantly adapting to the times. Their sole aim is to provide some songs and snatches, to raise a laugh or provoke a tear.

On March 4, 2010 the opera received its World Premiere at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, by students from Birmingham Conservatoire, directed by Warner and conducted by Lionel Friend.
On 31 August, 4 and 6 September British Youth Opera revived David Blake and Keith Warner's Scoring a Century again at the Peacock Theatre. Mr. and Mrs. Jedermann, the ageless fulcra of the piece, were played by Hugo Herman-Wilson and Holly Marie Bingham with their wingman and composer Bertold played by Florian Panzieri. Lionel Friend was once more in the pit.

The Gardeners at the Garden Museum

The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
Last night we had a terrific performance of Joanna Wyld and my opera The Gardeners at the Garden Museum. William Vann conducted, with Peter Brathwaite as the Old Gardener, Magid El-Bushra as the Angry Young Man, Julian Debreuil as the Gardener, Flora McIntosh as the Grandmother and Georgia Mae Bishop as the Mother, with an instrumental ensemble of Oliver Wass (harp), Charlotte Amherst (violin), Joanna Patrick (viola), Sophie Haynes (cello) and Sacha Rattle (clarinet). The chorus of the Dead were William Johnston Davies, Sam Dressel, Christopher Fitzgerald-Lombard, James Arthur and Jake Muffett.

Audience members at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
Audience members at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)

The Gardeners: Robert Hugill & William Vann in rehearsal (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners: Robert Hugill & William Vann in rehearsal (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum - the climactic penultimate scene (Photo Robert Piwko)

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