Friday 31 August 2007

A Date for your Diary

We are planning a FifteenB concert on Saturday 23rd February, 2008. The concert is planned to be at St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, which has a lovely organ. We'll be performing Haydn's Missa Brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo (a.k.a. Little Organ Mass) along with some works of mine. I'm hoping to include 6 choruses from my Passion arranged for SATB chorus - 2008 is the 10th anniversary of the première of this work - doesn't time fly.

Given that we have a church with a good organ, I am also thinking of reviving the settings of Rabindranth Tagore, for chorus and organ, which we premièred at the Chelsea Festival last year.

Progress so far

On Wednesday we (the librettist and I) met to discuss the progress so far on the new opera. Its the first time that I've worked so interactively with someone. My previous opera was based on a play by a writer living in America, so we corresponded by email - not quite the same. We picked at details in the 2 scenes written, and the revised results are a lot stronger. We have also decided what sort of shape the remainder of the piece could take. Since then I have been working on the revisions, progress indeed.

The next thing to think about will be a workshop/run through!

Wednesday 29 August 2007

The politics of cultural tourism

Its is a considerable number of years since I was in any way involved in active gay politics, and even then I wasn't that active; more just interested and concerned. But age, and the changes in the UK political climate have meant that I only think about politics when reading a couple of gay news blogs.

The news from these has now intersected with my musical activities. A choir I know is thinking of travelling to Poland next year, to sing in Krakow. From a musical point of view, this makes a great deal of sense. Krakow is a lovely, historic place for the choristers to visit and they would be entitled to expect a musical welcome.

Unfortunately the current Polish government is evidently rather Right wing and is currently having a crack-down on Lesbians and Gay men. The question is, of course, how much should these political issues impinge on a cultural trip.

This raises the sort of questions that I remember from proposed Cricket tours to South Africa under apartheid. How much should the cultural tourists be influenced by the political situation in the host country and how much does their visit, in some way, validate the government and political situation.

Should a cultural group worry about these issues, or should they simply leave it to market forces to decide. I.e., let the choir members decide whether they wish to travel. The problem with this scenario is that not all people are politically aware. But there is an additional problem with a choir, you need a balance of members to provide a good range of voices. If certain key members feel unwilling or unable to travel, then it can endanger the viability of the choir and thus cause problems on the tour.

There are two issues which relate to me personally. The first is the simple on of whether it is safe for me and my partner, as gay men, to travel in Poland. The other is one of simple politics and solidarity, whether we want to travel to Poland when other Lesbians and Gay men are being persecuted by the regime, even if we ourselves are not in danger.

I must confess that these issues are not ones that I ever anticipated having to consider when travelling to an EU country. Normally I try to keep my politics out of this blog and concentrate on musical issues. But here we have them intersecting in a startling way. Anyone wanting to learn more, you can read a little here.

Tuesday 28 August 2007

St. Matthew Passion at Glyndebourne

On Friday we went to one of the final performances of the St. Matthew Passion at Glyndebourne. Katie Mitchell, in her production has opted to embed the performance of the passion in a scenario involving a community who have lost a number of children in a tragic accident. They are being helped by a group of 4 travelling players who enact the passion, with help from members of the community.

I found that the imposed scenario either did not go far enough or went too far; whichever way it seemed to me to be unhelpful except in the way that it engendered superb performances from some of the singers. The plight of the villagers neither moved me nor involved me. I felt that Mitchell should have either staged the work as a theatre piece based on the passion, thus allowing her to be much more interventionist and to give the villagers a real voice. Or to have simply staged the work without specific reference to them. Embedded in the performance was in interesting (and confusing) symbolic view of the passion.

Mark Padmore, strikingly shaven headed, made a passionate and committed Evangelist. Henry Waddington was the noble and much put upon Christ (repeatedly dowsed with salt, water and generally abused). Ingela Bohlin was an impressive soprano soloist and Sarah Connolly the superb alto soloist, both obviously took strength from Mitchell's interpretation. Andrew Tortise sang the tenor solos. At times he tended to push his voice for dramatic effect, which spoiled the musical performance; but when he relaxed he sang with his familiar easy and fluency. Christopher Purves was the bass soloist and I must confess to finding his performance a little boring.

The set, by Vicki Mortimer, was most impressive. The conducting, from Richard Egarr, was not. Even so late in the run, Egarr was having trouble keeping the chorus in time. Bach's big choruses are not meant to be sung by singers careering around the stage, so extra care needs to be taken. Unfortunately the closing choruses from Parts 1 and Parts 2 were marred by serious disagreements between stage and pit. Granted, the chorus sound was not ideal. In the opening chorus they were stationary, and so perfectly in time. But the chorus sound is heavily vibrato based and designed for 19th and 20th century music. The results in Bach's choruses made the sound confused and occluded.

I was glad I went to the performance, it was frequently musically satisfying. Also, it was provocative so that even if we didn't like it, it made us think and talk about what we would have wanted from a staging of the work.

Tete a Tete opera festival again

On Thursday we went to another instalment of the Tete a Tete opera festival. This time the party included the librettist of my new opera. We are currently mid collaboration so the operas in the festival gave rise to extensive discussion about what opera was and what we intended.

The first part consisted of 4 short operas from their forthcoming programme, Blind Date. The full programme will include 6 short operas all fully staged, here we saw 2 staged and 2 done in concert. Perhaps the most successful was the first, Feathered Friend in which a parrott (played by soprano Stephanie Corley, with a glove puppet on her hand), revealed the truth about a cheating wife (Susdan Atherton). Husband, Damian Thantrey, had such a close relationship with the parrott that the opera could easily have slipped into anthropomorphic surrealism. It didn't and perhaps it would have been even better if it had. My only reservation was that we laughed at the antics of the parrott but not at the parrott's music.

The middle two 'operas' were as yet unstaged, but seemed to be the ones most in need of it. Neither was overtly dramatic and both seemed to have librettos and music which were closer to choral music or vocal ensemble than dramatic opera. I will be interested in seeing what they look like in their ultimate form this autumn.

The final opera was both more dramatic in form and well staged. A curious fantasy about a Russian man searching for a new childhood nanny figure. Damian Thantrey was wonderfully amusing and touching in the main role.

After the interval we had The Girl Who Liked to Be Thrown Around, a monologue sung by Natalie Raybould, really a series of intercut monologues from the same character. A trashy girl who liked dodgy men. A brilliant short idea, it did rather go one to long, she made a few too many phone calls to her friend and watched the film Now Voyager once or twice too often. Still Raybould certainly impressed and I would like to see her in stronger material.

The final event was not opera, just cabaret; a lively and imaginative sax player called Jason Yarde, who is currently an LSO Sound Adventure Artist.

Wednesday 22 August 2007

From this month's Opera Magazine

Rather late, I'm afraid, come my gleanings from the August edition of Opera.

The main interview is with Nina Stemme. An attractive Swede who has been making a name for herself as Isolde, I was very surprised to find that she is already in her early 40's; she was 30 when she launched herself professionally. This is becoming increasingly rare and but is very necessary to vocal health, particularly if the bigger roles are in sight. Another welcome piece of Stemme's make-up is that fact that she recognises that that, currently, Isolde is her physical limit and she limits her appearances in that role to one per year. She has recently sung Maguerite in Faust, with considerable success, so she is not limited to Wagnerian roles and seems to preserve an admirable suppleness of vocal line. I have only heard her live once, as Amelia in the Covent Garden Un Ballo in Maschera and would love to hear her in a more sympathetic production.

A diva from another generation, Galina Vishnevskaya, appears in Alexander Sokurov's latest film Alexandra about a grandmother making her way on train and on foot, pulling a shopping cart, to the Russian army camp where her grandson is stationed on the Chechen front. Always a dramatic presence on stage, I look forward to seeing her on film.

One sad loss, the bass John Connell and he was only 50. I remember hearing Connell at ENO and at Opera North. He was one of those people who disappeared and whom one hoped were actively engaged somewhere else. Sadly not the case here.

There is a major article reviewing Peter Gelb's first year at the Met. One interesting point, which also struck me when I was last there (for Les Troyens) is that in recent years the feeling of the theatre was that it was for a small group of high-level patrons. That us plebs were not seen as part of the essential fabric of the theatre going.

Evidently the much revered Rudoph Bing used to ride the subway to work and chat to the audience during the interval, thus providing his rather autocratic administrative style with a more humane public face.

The issue of Meyerbeer's reputation continues to rumble, now in the letter pages where Jennifer Jackson makes some very apposite points. L'Africaine is schedules in Gelsenkirchen for April 2008, let us hope this is followed by some higher profile opera houses as well.

Nigel Osborne's most recent opera received its first performances in Mostar (Bosnia and Hercegovina). It will be travelling to the UK, but Osborne is admirably putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to making a difference with music-making.

La Fille du Regiment crops up in Brazil, with the dialogue in Portugese. The only French person in the cast, Jacqueline Laurence, played the Duchess of Krakentorp. She spoke only French, thus highlighting the character's aristocratic arrogance - rather a neat device I think. And in Chile they have been celebrating the 150th anniversary of one of the oldest theatres in the Americals, the Theatro Municipal in Santiago.

And over in Toronto, Eva Podles took on the mantle of Klytemnestra for the first time. Podles is a sing whom I admire, even though I've never seen her live. Joseph K. So was impressed and so perhaps, one day, I'll get the chance to hear for myself.

According to Joel Kasow, in his review of Les Pecheurs des Perles from Avignon, the opera is not often done in France. Strange, because in the UK it went through a period of being ubiquitous. And Rodney Milnes, reviewing the new Carmen from the Chatelet, said it was only the 2nd time in 50 years that he'd heard a French mezzo-soprano in the title role! The performance, conducted by Mark Minkowski, was described by Milnes as surprisingly Teutonic and he didn't like the production much either. Will ENO and Sally Potter manage to do better in the Autumn, we'll have to wait and see.

Luc Bondy's staging of Handel's Hercules, which I missed when it came to the Barbican, has made its way to Amsterdam. Michael Davidson liked the production about as much as my friends who did see it (i.e. not a lot).

The reviews of the new Aida from Houston, designed by Zandra Rhodes, don't make me regret my decision to not buy tickets for ENO forthcoming version of the production. I still find the costumes and general look of the piece ugly and unsympathetic to the singers though I must admit this is made purely on the basis of photographs in magazines - hardly a reliable guide I admit.

In New York, Riccardo Muti made the patrons at the New York Philharmonic concerts sit up by scheduling Paul Hindemith's Sancta Susana. How about doing this in a double bill with Suor Angelica - from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Over in the UK, Music Theatre Wales's production of Boesman's Miss Julie was the first staging of any of his work in the UK - surely an omission indeed.

Hugh Canning's review of The Magic Flute from Grange Park made me think that he'd been at a different opera to us. The performance we heard wasn't perfect, but the faults that I perceived and those described in Canning's review seemed to be almost complementary. The delights of reviewing. But George Hall's review of The Gambler from the same company, did describe substantially the same production as we saw.

Andrew Porter's review of Capriccio from the Guildhall makes the interesting comment that he is old enough to have attended Mme de Noailles's salon - which was evoked in the John Cox productions of the opera at Glyndebourne and at La Monnaie. Incidentally I saw both of these and found the Brussells version quite, quite stunning (with Felicity Lott as the Countess). Porter is unhappy that the Guildhall performed the opera in French, with a polyglot cast. But I'm not sure that hearing it in badly accented English would be any better. I've heard that in other student operas and its not pretty.

An interesting quote from Patrick O'Connor relating to the Aldeburgh Death in Venice. Those who like to claim that this is not an opera about frustrated sexuality have not altogether grasped the implications that there are from the very first phrases, as Aschenbach first beholds the Traveller loitering in the cemetery near the English Gardens in Munich. Quite so. Perhaps something of this frustrated sexual tension might not have gone amiss in the ENO production.

Michael Kennedy complains about Ivor Bolton's sluggish tempi in Don Giovanni: With sluggish tempos from the conductor Ivor Bolton, I sometimes found myself sighing for the brevity of Gödämmerung..

And Primaveria did Ethel Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate at the Finborough Theatre. And I missed it!!!! Andrew Porter was highly complimentary about the straightforward production, perhaps they can find the money to revive it just for me.

Tuesday 21 August 2007

We're off the the Tete a Tete opera festival at the Riverside Studios again on Thursday for another stimulating evening. The on Friday to Glyndebourne for their new staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. This has got rather mixed reviews, some critics like it, some don't (Opera Magazine describes it as dreary), so I'll report back.

Whilst at the Proms on Saturday we succumbed to their marketing campaign and bought tickets for the Nov. 11th performance of John Foulds World Requiem given by BBC forces under Leon Bottstein. The strong cast includes Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Stuart Skelton and Gerald Finley. As the performance starts at 6.30pm does this mean that the work is mammoth in length as well as scale?

Elgar's The Apostles

On Saturday we saw Elgar's Apostles at the Proms. A work that I enjoy seeing once every 10 years or so. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus were directed by their Finnish musical director, Sakari Oramo. He made the best possible case for the work, providing a magical performance that was beautifully flexible and the CBSO conjured a gorgeous sound-world.

Amanda Roocroft sang luxuriantly as the soprano soloist (Virgin Mary and Angel Gabriel) but I think the role calls for a purer type voice (think Isobel Baillie). Catherine Wyn-Rogers was Mary Magdalene, but she and Oramo still did not convince me that the Magdalene's bit scene actually worked. Perhaps if one had a smokey voiced opera singer in the role, it just might; but I doubt it. Apart from Judas (James Rutherford) the men do not get any really big moments. But each managed to be very distinctive of voice and utterance thus providing some neat distinctions and characterisations. Anthony Dean Griffey was a meliflous John, Alan Opie a strong voiced Jesus, Peter Rose characterised each of Peter's utterances vividly.

All in all this was a strong and captivating performance. Oramo made much of Elgar's varied textures in the piece and the final chorus came over very strongly. To my ears, the work lacks the dramatic pacing and sheer oomph that The Dream of Gerontius has but there were some lovely moments.

Tete a Tete opera festival

Last Friday (17th August) we went off to the Tete a Tete opera festival at the Riverside Studios. There were three events that evening. To start with a workshop on the opera La Cantatrice Chauve by Jean Philippe Calvin, based on the play by Ionesco. I must confess to being unfamiliar with the play (a severe gap in my education). In the workshop we got potted highlights of the opera, accompanied by piano, percussions (the composer) and live electronics (Stefan Tiedje). We heard the conclusion twice, once with and once without electronics. The electronics repeat, echo and distort the voices of the singers providing an eerie chorus of comment which adds to the distortion in communication which is part of the play. The singers (Alison Bell, Jeremy Williams, Rachel Nichols and Daniel Norman) were admirable and I look forward to hearing the full opera. I gather that the workshop is part of a process of working towards a production to tour in the autumn.

The main event of the evening was less of an opera than an art installation. The visual s were presented by ArtProjx and curated by Clare Fitzpatrick. The composer and sound designer Ian Dearden provided a sound installation against which soprano Linda Hirst improvised, at times it was difficult to tell what was live and what not. The underlying music was based on Monteverdi, but mostly this was quite deeply hidden. Though presented on stage, it was not dramatic in the conventional sense and relied heavily on the interaction between sounds and the projected visuals. The results were, for me, rather mixed; though I'll never be able to see the famous scene from Brief Encounter without thinking of the evening's take on it.

Finally, we were treated to 'cabaret' by the duo Hereby a Scorecard; Matt Rogers and Chris Mayo use lo-fi electronic components (no computer, just lots of off the shelf bits and lots of wires) to create a remarkable sound world. A CD is in the offing I gather.

Saturday 18 August 2007

London Handel Festival

I see that the programme for next year's London Handel Festival is on line. It looks interesting as ever. The oratorio is Joshua, one of those for which we know a couple of items but the rest is a blank (or a blur at best). Its not one of his best, and the libretto is a bit crap but nothing Handel wrote is entirely without interest,

They are also doing the Italian version of the Acis and Galatea story, Aci, Galatea e Polifemo a rather different take on the events to the more familiar English pastoral. The opera is Atalanta, which was written to celebrate a Royal Wedding and is charming but less 'heavy' than some of his pieces. I have an old recording of it on LP's but have not seem the opera on stage.

I notice that there is some variation in venue this year. Acis and Galatea will be disporting themselves in Middle Temple Hall and there is a chamber music concert, Handel at Home, in the Wigmore Hall. This is welcome as, frankly, I find St. George's Hanover Square neither comfortable nor adequate in regard of sight lines.

Friday 17 August 2007

True to the score

If you read Ethel Smyth’s autobiography she has some very amusing things to say about the trials of a young composer dealing with copyists, translators etc. In early 20th century Europe a composer was still dependent on manually copying to create vocal scores and orchestral parts, and without these there could be no performance.

It is easy, in our photocopy and desktop printer world to forget that it is not so long ago that composers where highly dependent on manual copying. And for a large scale work, this copying could be a significant overhead.

When Bach died, his manuscripts were divided. When it came to the St. Matthew Passion, one son got the score and another son got the parts so that each had enough information to perform the work. There was no question of having a second copy of the score made; it was probably just too expensive.

Bach was a great re-user of music, re-cycling works or movements in other forms. One of the more interesting areas for musicologists and instrumentalists is the attempted re-creation of his early instrumental concertos. Some of these are only know in their re-used form, as cantata movements or as transcriptions for harpsichord concertos. In at least one case, the original instrumental parts were used to accompany the new harpsichord solo part.

The reason why the originals of these concertos have disappeared is probably that once Bach had re-used the concerto and had no use for the original, there was never much impetus to ensure that the original score/parts did not disintegrate or to replace them if damaged.

Often, of course, we only know works from early copies, the original score having disappeared. This can mean that works get mis-assigned or simply overlooked and forgotten. Scholarship in the 20th and 21st centuries has done much work re-assigning misattributed works. Also, a number of manuscripts which have got overlooked have turned up. Such as the Handel Gloria, unattributed in the score, it has been attributed to Handel on the basis of the vocal style. Another striking example is the recently discovered Striggio mass, premiered at the Proms this summer. This survives in a presentation score send to the French King, but mis-filed in the Royal Archives. It took much detective work for the work to come to light again.

Buxtehude wrote a series of oratorios for his evening concerts at his church in Lübeck. These concerts and the works performed were highly influential, but no complete scores have survived. We have a number of surviving librettos, plus the score of one oratorio which Ton Koopman confidently attributes to Buxtehude. But the format of the work does not quite correspond to what we would expect from one of Buxtehude’s oratorios, leaving us to wonder what might have happened to the structure of the work between the original score and the copy that we have.

Sometimes things do turn up, and with the opening of libraries in Eastern Europe, the possibility of more scores appearing is appealing. But we must remember that much has been lost in the wars which have ignited Europe over the last 200 years.

Part of the problem is that, if a work was popular then the score could be used to destruction. Purcell’s theatre works suffered from this problem. As the composer died young, he did not have time to make archive copies of his works; and might not have wished to even if he had lived. So the scores were used, almost to destruction in the theatre.

The score of The Fairy Queen is so unproblematical because it was lost quite early on. Only to be re-discovered in the late 19th century, thus allowing us to be relatively confident that what we hear is what Purcell intended. But with Dido and Aeneas our only musical source, is a score for the work which has been dismembered and each act forms a musical interlude in each act of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. To us, a rather bizarre treatment of a masterpiece; luckily we have early librettos of the work so we know that what we are missing is probably not large. Though it would be fascinating to know what form Purcell’s prologue took.

A composer like Handel was pretty obsessive about keeping his scores, for which we must be grateful. He was also lucky in that his musical executors and heirs took some care of his scores (both the originals and conducting scores) so that a large part of his output is readily available in libraries. Handel was also eminent enough and sufficiently in the public eye that collectors tended to have his music copied so we have a number of early copies of his music.

Handel, of course, also published his music, some of it supervised by himself, but much of it in pirate editions. One way of assessing how close the pirate edition is to the composer is to check how far the publication is from the autograph score. It is evident that some of the ‘pirate’ editions, though not officially sanctioned, were based on scores which had originated either from the composer or from his circle. But this was because Handel was surrounded by the admiring group of aristocrats, who supported and collected his music.

This is something that did not seem to happen to Bach, his scores seem to have been restricted to his family. If his circumstances in Leipzig had been a little different then we might have had an interesting selection of very early copies of Bach’s major works to compare to the surviving manuscripts. Or perhaps selections from the oratorios arranged for chamber performance.

In the case of their contemporary, Telemann, we have lost a great deal. A composer who was positively profligate in his writing, Telemann’s output of cantatas, passions and passion oratorios baffles by its sheer size. Inevitably much has been lost as scores and parts reached the end of their life and no-one bothered to copy them out again.

It is sheer popularity which contributes to the loss of the score to Monteverdi’s opera Arianna. It was never published and we can imagine the original score gradually disintegrating with use. It is possible that an aristocratic collection somewhere has a copy of the score, after all its popularity makes this a possibility. But I’m not holding my breath.

The sheer fragility of works written on paper means that it is truly amazing that so much has survived; what with war, fire and incendiary religious upheavals, it is heartbreaking to thing of what has been lost but heartening to learn of remarkable survivals.

Wednesday 15 August 2007

Opera Festival

The ever enterprising Tete-a-Tete opera company, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones, are in the middle of their 3 week opera festival at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

The aim is to offer a wide range of diverse contemporary takes on opera, ranging from fully formed stage performances to workshops or merest sketches to allow composers to try things out and perhaps, take them to another level. It is a format which they originated at Battersea Arts Centre and works well, because it gives us composers the chance to put something before the public. And find out what the reaction is.

The evenings are organised in 3 parts, with Starters, Mains and Afters. The Starters and Mains are the meat of the performances, the Afters are the fun bits in which writers and performers involved in the festival perform and improvise.

Inevitably the Hammersmith location is not ideal for everyone, but we hope to be going to a couple of the performances. This week includes a new piece based on Ionesco's La Cantatrice Chauve by French composers Jean-Philippe Calvin and Broken Voices a new multimedia performance by Terry Smith and Linda Hirst based on music by Monteverdi. Then at the end of the evening there's a chance to hear Jean-Philippe Calvin and Stefan Tiedje performing electronic music. Quite a mix for one evening.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

Now that's more like it

Chelsea Opera Group have just announced the 3 operas which they are performing next season. After my rather jaded reaction to the Royal Opera's new booking period (December to April), COG's season came like a breath of fresh air.

COG specialise in concert performances of operas not being performed currently in London. At the moment, this means we get a lot of Bel Canto, which is nice.

On Sat. 24th November they are doing Donizetti's Maria Stuarda at the Cadogan Hall, with Majella Cullagh in the title role. The opera has not been seen in London, I believe, since the ENO production mounted for Anne Murray. Notable for its lovely Jasper Conran costumes, it does not seem to have been revived (I understand for economic reasons).

On Sat. 29th March 2008 the group returns to the Queen Elizabeth Hall (hurrah!), for a performance of Verdi's original 1847 version of Macbeth with Nelly Miricioiu as the Lady and Brad Cohen conducting. This version of the opera has not been seen in London since the semi-staged production at Covent Garden just prior to closing. A promised revival of the current production but using the 1847 text never seemed to materialise. I've always been fond of this version, with its rather dour ending and rather more showy arias for the Lady. Do try the Opera Rara CD set from the BBC with Rita Hunter as the Lady.

The final opera of their season is Massenet's Cendrillon on Sat. 1st June 2008 , again at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. I know this opera has been done by the colleges but I'm not sure its ever feature at the Coliseum or Covent Garden, though WNO did once have a notable production.

So all in all, a magical trio of operas. Significantly, Bel Canto features highly as it seems out of favour on our London stages at the moment. Covent Garden do provide us with the odd morsel, but Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini have become something of a rarity in St. Martin's Lane. Though this seems, perhaps, set to change as they are doing a new Lucia di Lamermoor at the Coliseum in February.

Monday 13 August 2007

All Traviata'd out

Amongst my in-tray awaiting my return from holiday was the latest Royal Opera, Covent Garden booking. Now I know that I ought to find David McVicar's new production of Salome, Parsifal with Christopher Ventris, John Tomlinson, Petra Lang, Willard White and Bernard Haitink, Eugene Onegin with Gerald Finlay, exciting. But some how, I feel as if I've seen rather too many. Perhaps my tastes are changing and the current slant on the ROH repertoire is not what I want.

I think that I've definitely reached a plateau with Wagner and can't see many visits to his operas on the horizon. Similarly, I am only really tempted by the more unusual Strauss operas. Yep. I think I'm definitely getting jaded.

Sunday 12 August 2007

Whilst I've been away a whole batch of reviews have come out, all are on MusicWeb International.

My review of a new disc which mixes jazz and gregorian chant is here.
This isn't for everyone. You have to be interested in both plainchant and modern jazz to get the best out of this disc. ...

My review of a disc of Georg Schumann's choral music is here.
Fine performances of well-crafted music. Anyone interested in the byways of German neo-Romantic composers in the 20th century would be well advised to try this disc. ...

My review of the 2nd volume of Buxtehude Choral music from Ton Koopman is here.
All it remains to say is that everyone should have a copy of this lively and
inspiring disc on their library shelves. ...

My review of Vivaldi's L'Estro Harmonico is here .
Will not appeal to everyone but their sheer brilliance and rhythmic impetus is her attractive. A very welcome release ...

My review of a disc of Rameau and Campra cantatas is here.
A charming, well performed disc. Anyone interested in exploring French baroque music further should buy it immediately ...

And finally, my review of Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good, is here.
This is one of those sets which I would have liked to have liked more. ...

Friday 3 August 2007

A quick posting from Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. We have been travelling for the past week, with no internet cafes in the French and Swiss countryside. But it is back to work tomorrow(Saturday) as London Concord Singers will be performing twice in Basel in the Basler Muenster plus singing mass on Sunday morning at Maria Stein monastery. We will be then travelling more, so posts will be scarce again.

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