Wednesday, 5 February 2014

'Ultimate' RVW concert

Anton Dolin as Satan in Job
Anton Dolin as Satan
in RVW's Job
Tonight (5 February 2014) at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Andrew Manze conducts the CBSO in what is billed as Ultimate Vaughan Williams. The concert is indeed very enticing, with three popular short works in the first half (Overture to The Wasps, Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and The Lark Ascending), then in the second half a complete performance of Job: A Masque for Dancing. Andrew Manze conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Laurence Jackson, violin.

RVW's Job was written at the suggestion of the Blake scholar Geoffrey Keynes who drafted out an initial scenario. The artist Gwen Raverat (who was also RVW's cousin) contacted RVW and the idea appealed to him. The ballet was to be written for Diaghilev's troupe, but Diaghilev rejected it. This meant that the work's premiere in 1930 was in concert form, with RVW conducting. Because he didn't have the constraints of a pit band to deal with, RVW uses a very large orchestra. Musically the work represents an important development in RVW's style, with the music for Satan prefiguring the more dissonant style of the Fourth Symphony

Job was finally produced on stage with choreography by Ninette de Valois and designs by Gwen Raverat in 1931. The work was taken into the Vic Wells and Salders Wells Ballet repertoire, eventually being performed at Covent Garden by the Royal Ballet. By this time the designs were by John Piper (which RVW did not really like). The work has had a mixed reception, partly because de Valois's choreography responds to RVW's music (he called the work a masque) so that there is only one virtuoso role, that of Satan. The Royal Ballet have only revived it rarely, famously they would not mount a revival at Nureyev's request as he wished to dance Satan, but Peter Wright mounted an important revival with the Birmingham Royal Ballet which was performed at Covent Garden in the 1980's.


1 comment:

  1. The BRB revival was a memorable event, and I can't imagine why it is not done more often. Dame Ninette was in a Grand Tier Box to receive applause.

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