Thursday 29 May 2008

City of London Festival

The City of London Festival kicks off on 20th June. This year's festival has a number of themes running through it.

First off, of course, is RVW. His Mass in G minor is given by the choir of St. Pauls, under Andrew Carwood, at the Festival's opening service. Ronan Collett includes his Songs of Travel in a recital which also includes Holst's Vedic Hymns and a group of lieder setting words by Goethe.

Goethe is another thread running through the Festival. There are a pair of concerts entitled Goethe and the Lied, Goethe's poetry crops up in songs features in a number of recitals, and Richard Stokes gives a lecture. Extending this theme, Samuel West and David Owen Norris give a Byron themed programme which mixes Byron's poems, music by Liszt, Mendelssohns (both), Schumann and Judith Bingham with a new melodrama featuring Byron's words and Aidan Andrew Dun's music and Alberto Venzago's photography.

Another thread is West-East, a thread which links neatly into Holst's Vedic Hymns. His choral versions of these crop up in a BBC Singers concert which includes Messiaen's amazing Cinq Rechants and music by Param Vir and Jonathan Harvey. Param Vir (again a West-East feeling here) is one of the composers featured in a recital by Patricia Rozario, Rohan de Saram and Julius Drake entitled a West-Eastern Divan, which mixes exotica by Schubert and Mendelssohn with Param Vir, John Tavener and Heinz Holliger. It is here that multiple threads link as one of the pieces features Goethe's östlichen Divan.

The Swiss influence continues with a new melodrama by Edward Rushton based on the writings of Sir Arnold Lunn, the reciter is Eleanor Bron.

Emily Beynon and Cedric Tiberghien perform George Benjamin's FLight amid a programme of Ravel, Messiaen and Couperin. Messiaen and Carl Rütti appear in an organ recital by Greg Morris; Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr and Pavel Haas feature in a recital by the Pavel Haas Quartet and percussionist Colin Currie. John Tavener and Peter Maxwell Davies crop up in a programme from St. Paul's Cathedral Choir which also includes Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and a new piece to words by Andrew Motion celebrating the 300th anniversary of St. Pauls.

And for those of you that yearn for something bigger, Valery Gergiev is doing Mahler's 8th Symphony with the LSO, with both the London Symphony Chorus and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Apart from Ailish Tynan, the soloists have a distinctly Slav cast to them which should give an interesting slant to the performance. This takes place, of course, at St. Paul's Cathedral.

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