Thursday 21 March 2013

Edinburgh Festival 2013 preview

This year's Edinburgh Festival has its usual bewildering mix of events. Jonathan Mills's programme is intended to celebrate innovation, and there are some rather striking uses of technology in events, from Opera de Lyon setting Beethoven's Fidelio on a space station to Pierre-Laurent Aimard joining Marco Stoppa for a pair of concerts which combine the piano with cutting edge technology, to modern glass harmonica wizard, Thomas Bloch. There is a great theme of innovation in dance both with premieres and looking back on cutting edge pieces from the past, you can even see a film of the young Pina Bausch dancing. And of course, there are the high profile orchestra concerts, with conductors including Valery Gergiev, David Zinman, Michael Pletnev and Daniele Gatti with visting ensembles including the Royal Concert Gebouw Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Russian National Orchestra, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble.

There are four operas being staged at the festival. Beethoven's Fidelio will be given by Opera de Lyon in a re-imagining which sets the work in the future on board a doomed spacecraft as it hurtles towards infinity. Opera Frankfurt will be giving a double bill of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle. The Opera Group and Scottish Opera join for American Lulu,  Olga Neuwirth's reworking of Berg's Lulu, directed by John Fulljames. Not quite opera, Philip Glass and his ensemble will be performing La Belle et la Bete, where his new score accompanies the classic Jean Cocteau film.

For the opening concert Valery Gergiev will be conducting the RSNO in Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky. The RSNO return conducted by their music director Peter Oundijan in a concert which includes Tod Machover's festival commission Festival City and John Adams' City Noir. Ilan Volkov will conduct the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a terrific programme which includes Varese's Integrales and Ameriques with Berio's Sinfonia. Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Mahler's Ninth Symphony. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra return for the festival conclusion with Donald Runnicles conducting Verdi's Requiem.

Robin Ticciati conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and National Youth Choir of Scotland in Faure's Requiem with Thomas Allen as the baritone soloists and a young treble taking the soprano solo. Ticciati completes the programme with Debussy, Schoenberg and Webern

The Sixteen and Harry Christophers bring a rather enticing programme of large scale pieces by MacMillan, Carver, Wylkynson and Tallis, including Wylynson's Jesus autem transiens / Credo in Deum (a canon for 12 male voices), Carver's 19 part motet O Bone Jesu and MacMillan's companion piece, finishing of course with Tallis's Spem in Alium. The Estonia Philharmonic Chamber Choir under conductor Daniel Reuss perform Part, Schnittke, Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek and Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil (aka Vespers).

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe makes two appearances playing late Strauss, Metamorphosen and Duet Concertino, Beethoven symphonies  - Eroica and Seventh Symphony. The Russian National Orchestra under Michael Pletnev also give two concerts playing Glazunov, Rachmaninov and Scriabin. Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under David Zinman will be giving two concerts of  Bruckner and Brahms including the Deutsches Requiem (with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus)

Mark Minkowski conducts his Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble in five Schubert symphonies split over two concerts. Still on period instruments clarinettist Nicola Boud will be playing four different historical clarinets when she is joined by other musicians for a programme of Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio, Schubert's The Shepherd on the Rock and music by Brahms and Glinka. Christoph Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques are in small scale mood, performing Couperin's solo keyboard pieces alongside his L'Apotheose de Lully and L'Apotheose de Corelli. Rousset will also be giving a pair of solo harpsichord recitals playing on historic instruments from the St. Cecilia's Hall Museum. In an interesting pairing, Renee Jacobs will be conducting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Beethoven (The Creatures of Prometheus) and Haydn.

At the Queens Hall, baritone Christoph Gerhaher gives a recital of Schumann songs, Bernada Fink will be singing Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Debussy's Verlaine settings, tenor Werner Gura will be performing songs by Beethoven (An die ferne Geliebte) and Schubert, Dorothea Roschmann sings Schumann, Wolf and Berg and Ian Bostridge sings Ives, Brahms and Schumann. Andreas Scholl sings songs by Schubert, Brahms, Haydn and Mozart and will also be appearing in conversation with the music critic Richard Morrison. Veronique Gens performs an all French programme with songs by Hahn, Faure, Duparc, Debussy and Chausson.

Cellist Peter Gregson performs his new work To Dream Again 'unfolds after a series of interactions between the audience and bespoke data systems' - intrigued?  I bet you are. Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is joined by Marco Stoppa (electronics) for pair late night performances including Kurtag's Jatekok, Stoppa's own Traiettoria, Messiaen and Stockhausen  Aimard also has a solo recital at Queens Hall playing Debussy and Ligeti

Glass Harmonic virtuoso Thomas Bloch and the Hebrides Ensemble are performing music by Mozart alongside Bloch's own works and George Crumb, plus the world premiere of Lyell Cresswell's arrangement of Mozart's Fantasia for Mechanical Organ. The Arditti String Quartet perform a programme of Janacek, Xenakis and Nancarrow. They will be performing two of Nancarrow's string quartets alongside Paul Usher's arrangements of Nancarrow's Player Piano Studies.

At the Edinburgh Playhouse, Philip Glass and Patti Smith combine for an evening in tribute to the beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

There are some rather exciting dance programmes in the festival. Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project comes to the UK for the first time with William Forsyth's Quintett to Gavin Bryars's Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, Merce Cunningham's Winterbranch with music by LaMonte Young and designs by Robert Rauschenberg and Millepied's own Moving Parts with music by Nico Muhly. Scottish Ballet will be presenting a series of programmes of new work, as well as performing Glen Tetley's seminal Pierrot Lunaire and Christopher Hampson's Rite of Spring. A film of Folkwang Ballet performing Kurt Jooss's Green Table includes the young Pina Bausch amongst the performers. Gelabert Azzopardi Companyia de Dansa will be performing a reconstruction of Gerhard Bohner's Im goldenen Schnitt

New York theatre company, the Wooster Group will be presenting Hamlet remixing in live footage from Richard Burton's 1964 performance directed by John Gielgud. Contemporary Legend Theatre will be performing an adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis in Mandarin. And there is a  whole stream of events devoted to the work of Samuel Beckett.

Exhibitions include Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man, and an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first solo exhibition by Nam June Paik, the video and multimedia artist.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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