Tuesday 6 June 2006

Ivan Ho!

I see in the latest British Music Society newsletter that Chandos are planning a new recording of Sir Arthur Sullivan's only grand opera, Ivanho. The Sullivan Society are helping with funding. Amazingly, it will be the opera's first fully professional recording and will be one of those once in a lifetime occasions to remedy the work's bad reputation. Of course this does not always work. The BBC bravely did a concert performance of Dame Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers which went on to disc but the performance had nothing of the dash and verve that it seemed to have when I saw it staged at Warwick University. Still, I await the recording of Ivanhoewith bated breath.

As ever, foreigners seem to be better at doing these things than us. The Spanish are bravely ploughing through the English language operas of Albeniz despite their rather lamentable librettos.

Other items from the newsletter which caught my eye include the possibility of a recording for Tovey's opera The Bride of Dionysius. I heard an extract of this, done in concert once and would be curious to hear how it sounded complete. But expertise in writing symphonic music do not necessarily bring expertise on the opera stage.

A recording from the 1950's of Douglas Coates's Violin Concerto has re-surfaced on Divine Art. Rather sadly, this composer's scores seem to have evaporated and despite Rob Barnett's excellent review for the Violin concerto, our chances of hearing the cello concert and the violin sonata would seem to be slim.

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