Wednesday 5 October 2016

September on Planet Hugill: Semiramide, Norma, Demetrio and Maria de Buenos Aires

Kieran Rayner as Lord Rokeby with William Thomas and Steven Swindells in British Youth Opera's production of Malcolm Williamson's English Eccentrics. Photo: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL
Kieran Rayner as Lord Rokeby with William Thomas & Steven Swindells in British Youth Opera's production of Malcolm Williamson's English Eccentrics
Photo: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL

Welcome to September on Planet Hugill, when the new season really got started and operatic rarities seemed to be something of a theme.

At the Grimeborn Festival we caught Astor Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires in a production which was completely wonderful, but we hadn't the slightest idea what was going on. And at the Peacock Theatre, British Youth Opera rose to the challenge of Benjamin Britten's problem child, Owen Wingrave.

A clutch of rarities

Rossini's mammoth Semiramide came to the BBC Proms courtesy of Opera Rara, and the minutes simply sped by. Whilst British Youth Opera gave us the more compact, very rare and delightfully eccentric English Eccentrics by Malcolm Williamson.
It shouldn't be so, but Bellini's Norma was making a very rare appearance at Covent Garden in a production full of religious fervour. And Opera Settecento gave us the chance to experience Johann Adolph Hasse's Demetrio.

Various Venues

Ilona Domnich appeared at Rhinegold Live, in a recital which explored Persephone, mysteries of her heart. At the BBC Proms, youth certainly had it for Verdi's Requiem performed on the penultimate night with the BBC Youth Chorus. Rachel Podger & Marcin Swiatkiewicz gave us baroque pearls at Kings Place and there were two Don Quixotes from the English Concert, who performed Purcell and Telemann at the Wigmore Hall.

Kings Place Festival

Both Ruth and I attended the Kings Place Festival, I dipped into a lively mix with Artea String Trio, Sansara, and Duo Bayanello. Ruth had a roller-coaster ride with the Brodsky Quartet, and experienced storytelling without consonants from Gwyneth Herbert.

From our correspondent

Ruth also saw the airborne delights of the Gluck and Arne double bill from Bampton Classical Opera, heard some visceral Verdi as Gianandrea Noseda conducted the Requiem at the opening of the London Symphony Orchestra's new season, and heard some luxury voices as Sonoro performed Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil (Vespers).

Features and interviews

From 1420 to the present day, a tour of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
Haydn in Haddington: I chatted to pianist Roman Rabinovich about performing Haydn piano sonatas at the Lammermuir Festival.
The power of two: Pianists Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen talked about their forthcoming London Piano Festival.
A debut in the land of enchantment: I chatted to soprano Rhian Lois about performing Zerlina in Santa Fe, and what its like to sing when you are pregnant!
The Great Silence: Composer Samuel Bordoli talked about his anthem remembering Britain's choristers lost in the First World War.

CDs, a Book and an Exhibition

John Beard, Handel's Tenor: exhibition at Handel & Hendrix in London
Wit and wisdom worn lightly: Steven Isserlis's commentary on Schumann's Advice to Young Musicians
Ancient Music of Scandinavia: Ice and Longboats
London Early Opera's Handel in Italy volume 2
Aksel! Thirteen-year-old Aksel Rykkvin in Handel, Bach and Mozart
Mozartian fragment: Zaide from Classical Opera
Youth & experience: Benjamin Appl & Graham Johnson in Schubert
Ethel Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate receives a first recording
Cello music by Rebecca Clarke from Raphael Wallfisch
A tour de force: Gerald Barry's Beethoven
The choral music of Dan Locklair in some fine performances
Passing through: chamber music by Gernot Wolfgang
Impressive scale and ambition: Nicolas Kaviani's Te Deum
Testament to a friendship: Truro Cathedral Choir in Gabriel Jackson
David Bednall's Stabat Mater
James MacMillan: Since it was the day of preparation
Lively charm: Duo Praxedis in operatic arrangements

Further afield

Riveting counterpoint: On 23 September, Kimiko Ishizaka performed Bach's The Art of Fugue, with the UK premiere of her own completion, at St John's Smith Square, preceded by my concert talk.
On December 8, London Concord Singers celebrates its 50th anniversary with a concert conducted by Jessica Norton at the Priory Church of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell. The choir will be giving the premiere of my double motet, Dominus illuminatio mea (from Tempus per Annum), and giving the premiere of a new piece by Alison Willis which won the choir's Anniversary Composition Competition this summer.

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