Friday 13 February 2009

To the Barbican Centre last night for The Sixteen's performance of Handel's Samson (a review will appear in due course). Their 1996 recording of the work lasts some 205 minutes so we were not surprised to find the concert starting at 6.30pm, though getting to the Barbican by this time is always quite a challenge unless you have the sort of job where its OK to leave early. Not surprisingly the hall seemed to be full of rather flustered and stressed audients.

The programme said that there was only 1 interval, after Act 1, which was a surprise. In fact the work was cut, quite significantly. The article in the programme mentioned that it was common to cut the work, because of its length, but entirely failed to specify what cuts had been made. Surely some mention should have been made of the fact that three entire characters had disappeared!

In fact the cuts were such that we lost around 40 minutes of music and the concert finished at 9.30pm. Why on earth did the management of the Barbican Centre put us through the stress of arriving for a concert at 6.30pm if it was scheduled to last only 3 hours. We could have 1) started the concert later, 2) had more music, or 3) had two intervals. Or even a combination of the above.

All I can think is that when the concert was originally programmed, no-one had decided on the cuts so it was assumed that the work would be done full length. This isn't the first time that this has happened at the Barbican, its almost as if they delight in making us struggle to enjoy the music.

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