Saturday 30 May 2009

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine

Rather later than usual, here are my gleanings from the May edition of Opera magazine.

The interview is with Christopher Purves, who is currently singing Falstaff at Glyndebourne. He comments that he finds sight-reading easy but difficult to learn music - its gratifying to learn that better singers than me have such problems. Purves still sings Bach, Purcell and Handel and comments that they are a colossal challenge and few other operatic roles approach them.

Various eminent musicians and writers were asked to name their favourite Haydn opera. I rather liked Rupert Christiansen's comment 'Haydn. I stared hard at the Editor's email requesting a paragraph about my favourite Haydn opera with disbelief. Haydn? Surely a misprint for Handel.'

There is an obituary for Christopher Raeburn, the record producer who did so many of Decca's post-war operatic recordings.

Deborah Warner's ENO production of Death in Venice popped up in Brussels with John Graham Hall doing some of the performances. So why didn't we get the chance to hear him in the role in London? And Death in Venice amazingly received its first Czech performance in January at the State Opera in Prague. Even more impressively, the title role was sung in English (good English as well evidently) by Jiri Hajek.

Massenet's Werther had received 1389 performances at the Opera Comique in Paris by the 1970's but took until 1984 to reach the Palais Garnier.

And Long Beach Opera in California gave what were only the 3rd and 4th performances of The Cunning Little Vixen in Southern California.

Handel's Partenope seems to be popping up all over, probably because it is one of his few lighter operas. Pierre Audi has just done it in Vienna, at the Theater an der Wien. But he has fudged the ending and Rosmira goes off with Emilio rather than Arsace. Hmmm.

Philippe Boesmann's new opera, Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne, has just appeared in Paris. Evidently it has tunes, a story, a structure that works etc. So many new operas don't, lets hope that it travels.

The Met in New York celebrated its 125th birthday with a gala which included 26 different operatic excerpts, many presented in stagings evoking the original stagings. Juan Diego Florez performed La donna e mobile wearing a copy of the costume Caruso wore (needless to say Florez's costume was far smaller than Caruso's). And Natalie Dessay gave a taster for her complete Violetta in Santa Fe this summer (which we'll be seeing I'm delighted to say).

The Met have also unveiled a new production of La Sonnambula, its first new production of the opera for 36 years amazingly.

Over in the Lincoln Centre, the revamped Alice Tully Hall was the site of a rare revival of Kurt Weill's The Firebrand of Florence.

In Andrew Clark's review of Scottish Opera's latest Five:15 offering, he comments that too often 'composers and libettists are encouraged to behave like opera virgins; they think their job is to reinvent the wheel'. Quite so! I wish more people thought like that in opera admin, and we might get a few more well crafted new operas. It seems that Five:15 did offer this, Clark described Stuart MacRae's Remembrance Day as a full fledged operatic miniature; heartening given that MacRae's first opera, The Assassin Tree was disappointing. His librettist in the new piece is the novelist Louise Welch (someone whose novels I love) and she seems to have come up with a good economical text. Hurrah. Lets hope they do more.

The DVD of the 1983 performance of Strauss's Intermezzo from Glyndebourne has turned up. I remember being there at one of the performances and finding the opera enchanting, with Felicity Lott superb as Pauline.

From the We hear that... column.

Emma Bell is doing Eva (Die Meistersinger) at Covent Garden in 2011, conducted by Pappano. So presumably she is finally saying good by to her Handel roles.

Martin Duncan is directing Rossini's Armida at Garsington next year. That's the one with the trio for three tenors (an ensemble never sung by The Three Tenors, not surprisingly). Almost worth braving the weather for.

Barbara Frittoli is doing her first Adriana Lecouvreur at the Liceu in 2012, now that is worth travelling to Barcelona for.

John Graham-Hall will be singing in Peter Grimes at La Scala in 2012, in the role of Bob Boles.

Janis Kelly makes her much overdue Covent Garden debut in October in Gianni Schicchi.

And Charles Mackerras will be conducting The Cunning Little Vixen at the Garden in 2010 with Emmas Matthews and Bell!

All in all, lots to look forward to.

Friday 29 May 2009

How did I miss it!

One of my correspondents pointed out to me that the London Handel Festival production of Handel's Alessandro at the Britten Theatre, was intended to all be Alessandro's dream. During the overture he has an argument with his boyfriend, hits his head and then dreams the opera where he has become butch and heterosexual. I must confess that I missed all this and took the opening and closing tableau to be pointless flash-backs, meant to indicate that Alessandro was bisexual (like the real Alexander). I'm not sure that understanding this mis en scene would have helped me enjoy the opera more, probably not; in fact I rather think it might have annoyed me even more.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Catch up - Manon at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow

We've been away on holiday, hence the pause in posting. On Saturday we caught Massenet's Manon given by Scottish Opera at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Reading the reviews was interesting as it was obvious that one or two reviewers rather wished that Massenet's Manon wasn't Massenet's Manon but something grittier. It might, I suppose, be possible to give a gritty version of Manon but Renaud Doucet and Andre Barbe didn't try to. One of their rationales was that Scottish Opera had never, ever performed the work so that they had a duty to give it relatively straight, something which doesn't always apply when you let producers loose on a work.

Most of the money seems to have gone on the costumes, lots (and lots) of elegant 18th century ones. The production used a large chorus and the big scenes, particularly the opening, seemed to indicate a slight lack of rehearsal time, the chorus were sometimes faulty in ensemble and the opening scene did not quite register as well as it could. For the set, we had a selection of props but the main 'set' was a group of huge, fragment-shaped mirrors. The rationale behind these was all to do with reflection on society etc. But in effect they mirrored the costumes and gave us a glittering stage image without having to resort to expensive sets or tawdry pseudo-glittering ones. The lighting was superb and changed from moment to moment. It was amazing how the lighting designer managed to change the entire mood from scene to scene. The Saint Sulpice scene was particularly notable for the eerie quality of its light.

Anne Sophie Duprels does not quite have the girlishly fragile tones needed for the opening scene, but then again her repertoire does stretch from Massenet to Janacek (by way of Dvorak's Rusalka). Instead, in the first scene she created the perfect picture of the young naive. This developed as the opera went on and Manon's development was mirrored in Duprels deportment and body language. By the end she managed to imbue the final scene with a moving power which is not really in the music.

As her lover, Des Grieux, Paul Charles Clarke displayed the sort of narrow focused heroic tones which have effectively disappeared from this repertoire, but which were routinely used by French tenors in the pre-war period. His is not a perfectly elegant singer and there were moments, when his voice was under pressure, when his voice seemed to be trying to escape. But he did not simply belt the role out in an open Italianate way, it sounded as if he was singing a French opera. For that we must be grateful. During the opening scene, I thought that the relationship between Manon and Des Grieux rather lacked a sexual charge, but this developed and you firmly believe in their relationship by the final act.

Manon's cousin Lescaut was played more as an amiable buffoon than a venal gambler by Benjamin Bevan. Bevan sang the role beautifully, but I did rather want something nastier. Adrian Powter made a strong impression as the cool, controlled De Bretigny and was suitably nasty as Guillaume de Morfontaine.

This was the first time that I had seen the opera since it was done at the London Coliseum as a vehicle for Valerie Masterson. This performance was not quite up on that one's level of perfection, but it was a damn good evening. The orchestra under their new chief conductor Francesco Corti, played Massenet as if they'd been doing it all their lives.

It would be possible to imagine darker interpretations of the piece, but it is pointless wishing that Massenet's opera is something that it is not. The virtue of Doucet and Barbe's production was that it took the opera at something like face value and did so within Scottish Opera's budgetary constraints.

Recent CD Reviews

My review of Hans-Peter Türk's Siebenburgischen Passion, which sets a traditional Transylvanian German text, is here.

Fascinating … interesting, approachable and highly recommendable ...

And my review of a compilation of soprano Patrizia Ciofi's live recordings is here. Both reviews are on MusicWeb International.

Impressive - a highly communicative singer ...

Friday 15 May 2009

Recent CD Review

My review of EMI's 4 CD boxed set of opera arias sung by Montserrat Caballe is here, on MusicWeb International.
A finely digested overview of the soprano’s art ...

Thursday 14 May 2009

Scottish Opera new season

Scottish Opera's 2009/10 continues what seems to be the company's revival. They start with a revival of Giles Havergal's 1994 production fo The Elixir of Love with Elena Xanthoudakis and Edgaras Montvidas as Adina and Nemorino.

Then a new production of Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers with Karen Kargill as Isabella, Thomas Walker as Lindoro and Tiziano Bracci (his UK Debut) as Mustafa. The production is conducted by Scottish Opera's new musical director Francesco Corti and directed by Colin McColl. Francesco Corti is also conducting the revival of Stewart Lang's 2004 production of La Boheme.

Then the new production of The Adventures of Mr. Broucek makes its appearance, in a co-production with Opera North. Cast and conductor are the same as for the Opera North performances of the production. The inclusion of this opera is interesting as I don't think it appeared in Scottish Opera's Janacek cycle in the 1970's and 1980's. They are also touring a small scale production of Katya Kabanova

They are finishing of with a further group of new commissions in Five:15 - Opera Made in Scotland. This is the 3rd time that they have done this and I do hope that one of the smaller operas will be leading to a full scale commission.

This is not the most exciting season on earth, but within their chosen economic confines Scottish Opera have managed to put together a group of operas which mix the tried and tested with the more unusual.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Opera North new season

Opera North's 2009/10 season has been announced, and there are some gems in it.

Tom Cairns is directing a new production of Massenet's Werther with Alice Coote as Charlotte, which makes it unmissable. Paul Nilon is in the title role, which should be interesting as this intelligent artist does not have the typical type of tenor voice used in the role. Richard Farnes conducts. Also new in the autumn is Janacek's The Adventures of Mr. Broucek, one of the rarest of Janacek's mature operas. John Graham-Hall is in the title role, with a strong cast including Anne-Sophie Duprels, Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts, Frances McCafferty, Donald Maxwell and Jonathan Best. John Fulljames directs. Also during the Autumn they are touring a small scale production of a new opera by Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton called Swanhunter. It will premiere in the new Howard Assembly Room at the Grand Theatre in Leeds before touring to smaller venues.

Then in Winter 2010 we are getting a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore directed by Jo Davies; no cast details yet. Finally in Spring 2010 the highlight of the season, for me, Sarah Connolly in the title role of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda. Antonia Cifrone is Elizabeth and Turkish tenor Bulent Bezduz is Leicester. Bezduz was seen most recently on the South Bank as Pilade in Opera Rara's Ermione. The production is directed and designed by Antony McDonald.

For the revivals there is Cosi van Tutte with Victoria Simmonds as Dorabella, Phyllida Lloyd's 1993 production of La Boheme with Anne-Sophie Duprels and Bulent Bezduz and Rusalka with Giselle Allen in the title role.

Review of "Peter Grimes"

My review of the new ENO production of Peter Grimes is here, on Music and Vision.

Sunday 10 May 2009

Step In

This version should work.

Review of Endymion's 30th birthday concert

The chamber ensemble Endymion started its birthday celebrations in style with a concert at the Temple church; my review his here, on Music and Vision.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Recent CD Review

My review of a disc of Handel cantatas and trio sonatas from Musica Alta Ripa is here, on MusicWeb International.

Brings out the freshness Handel’s invention ...

Friday 8 May 2009

Review of "King Arthur"

Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel have already given a run of staged performances of Purcell's King Arthur in Montpelier. Wednesday's night's appearance in the Barbican concert hall marked the beginning of a concert tour of King Arthur. But this time they are performing just the musical portions of the piece and sensibly Niquet has opted for an Anglophone cast (with one Swede).

This year's Handel and Purcell anniversaries rather cause a problem for many French and Italian groups, as singing in English is not necessarily one of their strong points; whereas German, Dutch and Scandinavian singers and ensembles tend to be more comfortable in English. Niquet's cast (Susan Gritton, Deborah York, Anders J. Dahlin, James Gilchrist and Andrew Foster-Williams) ensured that the solos were given in impeccable English and his choir sang the choruses with admirable credibility and clarity and only the occasionally dodgy vowel.

Rather impressively, the only people using music were the orchestral players. Niquet, his choristers and soloists were all singing from memory; though Deborah York discreetly consulted a vocal score when not singing and Dahlin had one unfortunate lapse). As is becoming the norm, Niquet performed the work with high tenors rather than altos.

Niquet's speeds were noticeably brisk. Not that he sounded in a hurry but he ensured that everything sped past at quite a lively pace. There were some moments when I wished that he would linger rather. Rhythms were always sprung and the results were a delight to listen to whatever the speed, Niquet's background in the French baroque ensuring that Purcell's French influences came to the fore, even in a work as quintessentially English as this.

Having the singers performing off the book meant that they could be far more communicative than usual. Though no director was credited, this was more than a concert performance. The singers walked on and off and these entrances and exits were made part of the show. Each piece, or group of pieces was carefully placed in terms of blocking and the relationships between the singers. The results were enormously communicative and in an amorphous work like King Arthur (performed sans spoken text) this ensured that we understood what was being sung from a comprehension and emotional point of view. For the famous Frost scene, the staging went a little further with Andrew Foster-Williams and the chorus all wrapped up in shawls, hats and scarves. The only time this 'demi-semi staging' went too far was in the Comus 'harvest home' section of the last act when both singers and choir had to put on Mummerset accents (with variable results) and the choristers had to act drunk. Luckily this did not last long and was succeeded by Susan Gritton singing 'Fairest Isle' with glorious directness and simplicity. Mezzo-soprano Melodie Ruvio stepped up from the chorus to form a confident third Nymph in trio with Gritton and York.

Most of the singers have extensive experience of both period and non-period performance and this seems to have aided their ability to project a character and shape the music. Niquet took no prisoners however and all the singers had to dash off ornaments often at an alarming pace; the results were brilliant and wonderfully creditable.

Gritton and York have different voices and stage demeanours but they complemented each other perfectly and made a delicious pair of nymphs trying to tempt King Arthur. York was a charming Cupid in the Frost Scene and, as mentioned, Gritton was perfect in Fairest Isle.

Dahlin provided the high tenor parts. His stage demeanour is a little mannered but he sings these high tenor parts to perfection and even managed a good approximation of a Mummerset accent. James Gilchrist sang the remaining tenor roles, showing that despite his burgeoning career in 19th and 20th century music, he is still difficult to beat in this repertoire as well.

Similarly Andrew Foster-Williams was nicely communicative whilst displaying some fine, focussed tone and lovely low notes.

This is a work where choir and orchestra matter as much as the soloists and here Le Concert Spirituel responded to Niquet's lively and imaginative direction. The ensemble used two harpsichords and three theorbos so we got a very rich sound. There were some nice instrumental solos from various members of the ensemble. The hard working choir were equally communicative. All seemed enthusiastic and communicated their enthusiasm. In fact this sense of joy came from all the performers, and infected the audience sending us delightfully home

Thursday 7 May 2009

Mendelssohn - Evensong from the Temple

The Temple Church was the scene of Ernest Lough's famous recording of Mendelssohn's Oh for the wings of a dove, which he made as a treble in 1927 with George Thalben-Ball at the organ. So it was entirely appropriate that the BBC should be broadcasting Evensong from there on Wednesday 7th May in the run up to their Mendelssohn celebrations. I went along to hear the service live.

Under their musical director James Vivian the choir of Temple Church made a good showing, fielding 15 trebles and 14 singing men (altos, tenors and basses). The programme, alas, did not include Mendelssohn's own Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (some of the last choral music which he wrote, and music written with the English service of Evensong in mind). But they opened with the motet Richte mich Gott. Written for 8-part choir, Mendelssohn alternates the upper and lower voices, the choir created a severe majesty particularly as the upper sections were sung by counter-tenors and trebles rather than women. The tone blossomed nicely at the words 'Sende dein Licht', the point where Mendelssohn lets himself go. The motet is rather long to be used as an introit, but on such a special occasion it was well worth hearing in this position, especially in a performance which showed Mendelssohn at his most Brahmsian.

The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were Walmisley in D minor; Thomas Atwood Walmisly (1814 - 1856) was a distinguished Victorian organist who had Thomas Atwood as his godfather and he was taught by both his father and Atwood (Atwood, of course, was one of Mozart's favorite pupils). His Mag and Nunc are standard Anglican fare, relying on the alternation of upper and lower voices, along with passages in unison, over a strong organ part. Only in the final 'Glory be to the Father' do we get 4 part polyphony. Whilst I could have wished for a more interesting setting of the Canticles, the choir gave the pieces a strong and musical performance.

The closing anthem was the first choral movement from Mendelssohn's Lobesgesang, along with an organ prelude taken from the instrumental movements of the piece. This is music written for large scale forces and you can hear it in full at the Proms this year (Prom 19 on 30th July). The choir and organ did a superb job at conveying the breadth of the piece.

The service concluded with a fine account of Mendelssohn's Prelude and Fugue in C minor.

The Mendelssohn jubilation commences in earnest on Friday with a live broadcast from Birmingham Town Hall which re-creates the premiere of Elijah. This performance uses 9 soloists (as opposed to the regular 4), which means that Mendelssohn's writing for vocal ensemble (including the wonderful octet) can be performed correctly (as opposed to by semi-chorus).

Recent CD Review

My review of Salmow Kernewek, a disc of contemporary choral music from Cornwall, is here on MusicWeb International.

Well-made and useful music ...

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Review of Don Carlos

I enjoyed Tim Albery's production of Don Carlos, with sets by Hildegard Bechtler, when Opera North first performed it in 1993 and welcomed its latest revival which we saw in Leeds on Saturday 2nd May. Bechtler's sets were stylishly stripped and pared down, with a limited tonal palette, imaginatively lit by Charles Edwards. The result was one of the most visually satisfying productions of the opera that I have seen - knocking Covent Garden's 2 most recent productions of the opera into a cocked hat (Luc Bondy's 'Habitat' production and Nicholas Hyntner's visually confused one).

Unfortunately this all came at a price. Each scene required a scene change and each scene change lasted an unconscionably long time (some up to 5 minutes). The first half had 3 scene changes and the second half 2, so we were sat staring at the drop curtain for a significant amount of time. These hiatuses impeded the dramatic impetus that Richard Farnes and the Opera North Orchestra created, and nullified Verdi's revision which were aimed at creating a swifter, more compact version of the opera.

It is a shame that, for this revival, Bechtler could not have been asked to provide a slimmed down version of the set which would have needed fewer, shorter scene changes.

Opera North performed the 4-act Milan version in which, by extensive cutting and rewriting, Verdi created a sleeker, more incisive, less discursive opera. Opera North performed in English, neatly side stepping the French/Italian dilemma. Verdi wrote this revision (as with all his versions of the opera) in French but the 4-act version was premiered in Milan in Italian translation and companies have been notoriously reluctant to perform the Milan version in French. The cast are going to record the opera for Chandos in June, which is great news.

Don Carlos was played by Julian Gavin. Gavin is not the most dramatically detailed of actors. But he sang with frank, open tone and was generous and tireless with his voice. He showed that he was well able to pace himself and stayed in impressive vocal form right through to the final duet. Gavin succeeded in making the character of Carlos rather less annoying than usual, developing our sympathy rather than our annoyance (as can sometimes happen).

In this he was able supported by the distinguished and subtle Rodrigue, Marquis de Posa, from William Dazeley. Dazeley's voice is still a half-size too small for the role, but he used it musically and intelligently. Most importantly the role was beautifully sung with no feeling of forcing.

Most productions of the opera shy away from any suggestion of the homo-erotic elements in Carlos and Posa's relationship, elements which seem embedded in the music that Verdi wrote for them. Albery, Gavin and Dazeley seemed to come closest in acknowledging this and as a result developed a strong bond between the two characters. Though frankly, I think there is scope for a version of the opera which acknowledges this bond more directly; by making Pose more 'in love' with Carlos you develop proper love triangle rather than one based on both politics and love.

The role of Elisabeth suffers a bit in the 4-act version. Whilst Carlos gets his Fontainebleau Act aria rewritten and moved to the new 1st act, Elisabeth loses hers. This means that her two solo utterances are the aria sung to console the Countess of Aremberg and the great aria in the final act. Apart from this we see Elisabeth mainly in ensemble with others, almost as if we see her through others eyes. Janice Watson took a little time to warm up. I doubt that she is a real Verdi soprano, but there again who is at the moment. It is pointless listening to Watson and complaining that she doesn't sound like Caballe!. Watson's voice is warm with a strong, but pleasant vibrato. In the opening acts she seemed to have to work hard to establish a good sense of line, particularly in the quieter moments. Also, the high tessitura seemed to give her pause. But by the time we came to Act 4 everything was in place and Watson delivered the sort of fully rounded dramatic performance that we might expect of her. This might have something to do with the fact that it is only here that Verdi gives Elisabeth some real meat.

Princesse Eboli was played by American mezzo-soprano Jane Dutton, recently seen as Santuzza at the London Coliseum. Dutton has a dark, low mezzo voice with a rich (strong) vibrato - ideal for Santuzza and Amneris. I am not quite as convinced that she was as suited to Eboli and frankly I would have preferred a voice which was more used to Rossini (as with Covent Garden's most recent casting of the role). Still, Dutton gave the role her all and did not shirk the high notes, which she sang in a full, frank manner. Her voice is not perfect for the coloratura as her vibrato is slow-ish, but she moved relatively cleanly and evenly.

Brindley Sherratt made a severe, distinguished and slightly elderly Philippe. Sherratt has a dry-ish voice, in fact he reminded me rather of Norman Bailey. And though he might never make a traditional sounding Philippe, he made a very notable one. He was severe rather than the monstrous tyrant. When Robert Lloyd first sang the role, in French, at Covent Garden (in the last days of the Visconti production) he said that he found the role far less tyrannical than he had expected and put this down to the differences in the language; that the role in Italian was more tyrannical. Perhaps something of this has rubbed off on Sherratt.

Bechtler and costume designer Nicky Gillibrand conspired to give us a closed in world, where love was mainly absent. Within this framework the singers worked well, but I wonder whether the personenregie had been more detailed, had more depth when I first saw the production.

The smaller, but still important, roles were well played. Julia Sporsen made a lively and believable Thibault, contributing strongly to the Veil Song. Clive Bayley was an impressive Grand Inquisitor; it was wonderful to have the role sung by a singer still with a full bass voice. This gave his scene with Philippe a balance of voices and an edge which it doesn't always get.

The chorus made a strong showing, as always, and managed the awkward blocking in the Auto De Fe scene so that it looked convincing. The orchestra were on similarly strong form giving a big boned version of the score. Sometimes too big boned as their enthusiasm got the better of them at times and the orchestral sound rather dominated the singers.

Richard Farnes kept the drama flowing, it was only a shame that the scene changes impeded him. Still, we have the recording to look forward to.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Mendelssohn Week (1)

The BBC are in full Mendelssohn mode at the moment, gearing up for their Mendelssohn weekend. On Wednesday Evensong is being broadcast live at 4pm from the Temple Church when the choir will be performing Mendelssohn's Richte mich Gott and the first choral movement from the Lobesgesang. The voluntary is the Prelude and Fugue in C minor, Opus 37 no. 1.

Richte mich Gott is from Mendelssohn's Opus 78 motets. These wonderful, Bach inspired pieces were written in 1843 and first performed that year though they weren't published until after Mendelssohn's death. Richte mich Gott uses 8-part choir, but unlike Bach, Mendelssohn does not divide his forces into two equal choirs, instead he tends to work with the choir split into upper and lower voices.

Mendelssohn's 2nd Symphony, 'Lobesgesang' was written in 1840 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of printing. There are 9 choral movements, setting texts from the bible and the first choral movement uses text from Psalms 150, 33, 145 and 103.

Mendelssohn's sacred choral music tends to be a bit under appreciated and there is a tendency, if you are going for a 19th century admirer of Bach to go for Brahms's motets instead. But Mendelssohn wrote some superbly powerful pieces and this service will be a welcome opportunity to hear his sacred music in a liturgical situation.

The evensong uses Walmisley in D minor for the Canticles and Smith for the Responses. I'm planning to be there for the recording, so will have more about the service on Thursday.

Saturday 2 May 2009

Chelsea (Arts) Festival

So the Chelsea Festival has been re-born as the Chelsea Arts Festival, with the same administrator and festival director but apparently without the support of the Cadogan Estate. The programme looks moderately similar to Stewart Collins' previous Chelsea Festivals. In terms of classical music the programme is a little disappointing. The higher profile events seem to be concerts which could also be seen else-where. The opening concert of the festival is a concert featuring Rick Wakeman and the closing concert is Willard White giving his Paul Robson concert.

Tasmin Little's The Naked Violin, a mixture of concert, demonstration and audience interaction in which Little aims to help people listen to the violin.

Another instalment of Alec Roth and Vikram Seth's collaboration, this one is called Seven Elements, performers include James Gilchrist, Philippe Honore and Rustem Hayroudinoff. This is a co-commission with the Salisbury and Lichfield Festivals - probably the only way a small festival like Chelsea could afford such a high profile commission.

Herve Desarbre is giving an organ recital at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, but including works by composers such as Nino Rota and Shostakovich.

The State Apartments in the Royal Hospital are the venue for concerts by soprano Laura Mitchell, by Young-Choon Park and by the Brodowski Quartet. The Brodowski's Quartet's programme includes Haydn's Opus 20 and Mendelssohn's Opus 80. Pianist Young-Choon Park is performing music by Haydn, Schubert, Scarlatti, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. The apartments are also being used for an Australian music showcase featuring 3 young Australians - Amir Farid (piano), Jacob Cordova (guitar), Duncan Rock (baritone)

Friday 1 May 2009

Recent CD Reviews

My review of Romuald Twardowsky's fascinating Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is here.
If you enjoy choral music then buy this disc ...

And my review of Carmina Luxembourgiana, a disc celebrating links between Luxemburg and the Czech republic, is here. Both reviews are on MusicWeb International.
Unusual and striking ...

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