Friday 18 May 2007

New Season at the RFH

The Royal Festival Hall opens again in June, duly refurbished, and the South Bank Centre's 2007/08 Classical Music season is set out in a brochure which has just popped through my letter box. There are 5 resident ensembles, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Sinfonietta and the Sixteen.

So inevitably, a significant part of the classical programme is made up of performances by these groups, whereas at the Barbican there is more of a feel of buying in 'events'. This means that the Barbican seems to favour the one off, big event and has quite a lot of baroque opera etc., whereas the South Bank can put together very long running series. The new season includes a long sequence of concerts devoted to music by Messiaen and a series called Luigi Nono:Fragments of Venice which explores Nono's music in the context of Venetian music.

The result is that I find less to exclaim about in the Festival Hall programme, admirable though it is. There are just slightly too many tri-partite symphony concerts for my taste even though they are admirably constructed. Just one example, Sir Charles Mackerras is conducting Janacek's Sinfonietta, but to her it we must also listen to Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25 with Mitsuko Uchida. In the 30 years since leaving university I have gradually learned to appreciate, even love, many areas of music which I then despised (at the time my main interests were late Romanticism and Baroque, with nothing in between). But I am afraid that I am still rather blind to the beauties of Mozart's piano concertos.

A quick dash through the programme though, gives the following personal highlights.

  • Catherine Bott singing her programme Convivencia; anything Bott does is wonderful

  • Dido and Aeneas from the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment, directed by Tim Carroll, with bits of Marlowe and puppets woven in!!!

  • The OAE again, this time doing an all Vivaldi programme with Lucy Crowe and the all women Scuola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi

  • The LPO, under David Parry, doing Bellini's La Straniera, in collaboration with Opera Rara

  • The LPO, again, doing Korngold's Der Wunder des Heliane, under Vladimir Jurowski

  • The OAE doing Schumann's Der Paradies und die Peri

  • The Sixteen in a programme which mixes Britten (including the Ceremony of Carols), with Durufle and Poulenc
  • .
  • Zurich Opera doing Der Rosenkavalier with Nina Stemme as the Marschallin.

  • Vladimir Jurowski doing Verdi's Requiem with the LPO and soloists including Barbara Frittoli and Ildiko Komlosi

  • The Philharmonia, under Richard Hickox, doing Vaughan Williams Symphonies Nos. 1, 7, and 8, as well as Job in a pair of delectable concerts

I'm sure I've missed things, but this gives a flavour of the things that appeal to me. Elsewhere John Eliot Gardiner is doing a pair of Brahms programmes with his Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique, including Symphony No. 1 and the Requiem, might be worth a look/

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