Sunday, 12 April 2020

A Life On-Line: Norma from the Met, visceral Verdi from the LSO, multi-tracking and more.

Pianist Tom Poster and violinist Elena Urioste on Instagram
Pianist Tom Poster and violinist Elena Urioste on Instagram

Musical life continues on-line in some remarkable ways. On Instagram, clarinettist Peter Cigleris has been multi-tracking Bach to striking effect, and Matt Sharp has been channelling Sondheim whilst cooking, and still on Instagram, dancersdiary shared a delightful and imaginative film from the Mikhailovsky Theatre, whilst Finchcocks has been running its piano courses remotely.

Over on Twitter, Peter Whelan, artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra, not only multi-tracked but multi-instrumented to give us the 'Quoniam' from Bach's Mass in B minor, whilst oboist Peter Facer has been multi-tracking The Corrs! Madeleine Pierard, meanwhile, has been discovering her inner baritone.

And on Facebook you can see a beautiful rendition of Rusalka's 'Song to the moon' from Dvorak's opera, performed by three clarinettists from the English National Opera orchestra. Music without Quarantine is now giving regular concerts from musicians homes, check out their Facebook page.


Pianist Tom Poster and violinist Elena Urioste are whiling their time by taking requests, filming themselves and posting the results. I was rather taking with a multi-tracked version of Glen Miller's Moonlight Serenade involving kazoos, but visit their website for many more.

Our listening and watching has included Gianandrea Noseda conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a stirring performance of Verdi's Requiem from the Barbican Centre [originally performed on 18 September 2016, see Ruth's review 'Visceral Verdi'] with a striking quartet of Italian soloists, Erika Grimaldi, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli and Michele Pertusi. Whilst language is, perhaps, not what you immediately think of when listening to this work, hearing three Italians singing it, relishing the Latin as much as their own language,  was terrific.  And still with the LSO, we caught up on Simon Rattle's outrageous and outstanding performance of Stravinsky's first three ballets for Diaghilev, Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring, terrific stuff.

David McVicar's new production of Bellini's Norma was streamed from the Metropolitan Opera, [see Anthony's review, 'Baffling and emotionally constipate', of the Live in HD video transmission] with Carlo Rizzi conducting Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, Joseph Calleja, and Matthew Rose. Performances were very fine, with Radvanovsky as very much a bel canto Norma, without any of the dramatic heft we often associate with this role. McVicar's production was handsome and traditional, which meant that in Act Two, Norma's 'primitive hut' was somewhat ridiculously palatial, and McVicar did not seem to have been able to stop some of the singers simply standing and giving hand signals.

Then last night on YouTube, we caught up with Opera North's recent revival of Alessandro Talevi's striking production of Britten's Turn of the Screw, with Leo McFall conducting Nicholas Watts as the prologue and Peter Quint, Sarah Tynan as the Governess, Eleanor Dennis as Miss Jessel, Heather Shipp as Mrs Grose, Jennifer Clark as Flora and Tim Gasiorek as Miles. Often with the operatic version, the sheer presence on stage of singers as Peter Quint and Miss Jessel means that we take it as read that the ghosts exist (in Henry James' original story it is far less clear cut). But Talevi's production, with very imaginative sets from Madeleine Boyd, set the whole piece in the Governess' bedroom, and you were never sure where reality stopped and her imagination took over. Watching on TV (the film was originally streamed live, but this version had more post-production work done on it), I did wonder whether the production would work for someone who was not familiar with the story. But this was a dramatic, and sometimes scary take with some terrific performances.

On the radio, BBC Radio 3 broadcast both Bach's St John Passion and Bach's St Matthew Passion, whilst the Leipzig Bach Fest broadcast an on-line version of the St John Passion which involved just three performers plus singers from all over the world, and a suggestion that we might join in at home.

But I leave you on a lighter note, with the Louloubelles in Billy Joel's And so it goes.

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