Monday 31 March 2008

On Saturday we went to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for the Chelsea Opera Group's performance of Verdi's Macbeth, in the original 1847 version. A review will appear in due course.

Then on Sunday it was off to the Barbican where the LSO, under their Principal Guest Conductor Daniel Harding performed Britten's Spring Symphony and Prokofiev's 2nd Violin Concerto. Victoria Mullova was the soloist in the Prokofiev. She was a fiery and impassioned soloist, with a tougher and rather less upholstered tone than some performers, the result perhaps knocked some of the romantic corners off the work. Surprisingly she played from the music, but placed her stand sideways to the stage so that it did not impede the audience's view of her. Though she was turning the pages, she did not seem to be referring to them much.

In the 2nd half the orchestra were joined by Susan Gritton, Sarah Connolly and Mark Padmore, the LSO chorus and the Tiffin Boys Choir. The stage became very, very full, this was another one of those concerts which ideally would not take place in the Barbican at all but in a larger hall such as the Royal Festival Hall. The Tiffin Boys Choir were placed at one side of the stage, not a particularly advantageous position and this told, in the final movement of the Spring Symphony their singing of Summer is i'cumin in, did not carry as well as it ought. Vocal honours were relatively even but the palm must go to Sarah Connolly for a beautifully controlled rendition of Out on the Lawn. Mark Padmore was wonderfully impassioned and managed to not sound like Peter Pears, which is always an advantage. Susan Gritton was glorious, but I felt that the soprano soloist seems under used in this work. The chorus were on fine form and sang brilliantly, though in the louder moments their tone tended to get a little hard, perhaps the result of trying a little too much.

It was a long time since I have heard the work and this was possibly the first time that I have heard it live. I found it magical and engrossing, and I even got to hear a cow horn.

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