Sunday 8 January 2017

December on Planet Hugill: two Marschallins, Alice and Mrs Pankhurst

Renée Fleming, Sophie Bevan in Act 3 of Der Rosenkavalier © ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore
Renée Fleming, Sophie Bevan in Act 3 of Der Rosenkavalier © ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore

Welcome to December on Planet Hugill, a month when we managed to catch two very different casts in Covent Garden's Der Rosenkavalier, heard a variety of Christmas music and theatre, and I was lucky enough to interview the film composer Rachel Portman.
Planet Hugill has been named as one of Feedspot Blog Reader's Top 25 Opera Blogs & Websites on the Web.

Opera Heroines

Rising to the challenge: W11 Opera's new opera The Price about the Suffragette movement by Russell Hepplewhite.
A touch of greatness: Renée Fleming returned to the Marschallin at Covent Garden in Robert Carsen's new production of Der Rosenkavalier.
Second view: Rachel Willis-Sørensen & Anna Stéphany in Der Rosenkavalier, a return to Robert Carsen's new production to hear two very different singers as the Marschallin and Octavian.

Performing Solo

Epic Theatre? Heloise Werner in Scenes from the End, challenging one-woman music theatre piece addressing universal issues.
Solo viola: Rosalind Ventris in Blake, Bach, and Roxburgh.

Wigmore Hall

Gravely moving: Philippe Jaroussky in Bach and Telemann with Le Concert de la Loge.
Telling stories: Sir John Tomlinson on vivid form in Schubert's Swansong in a new English translation.
Vibrant music making: Arcangelo in early cantatas by Bach with an undeservedly neglected one from Telemann.

Various Venues

Music at the centre: Schaffer's Amadeus at the National Theatre in a revival which places Mozart's music at its core with impressive use of live performance.
Winning charm: Raphaela Papadakis & Sholto Kynoch in cabaret mode at Omnibus in Clapham.
Stolen Kisses: An homage to Alberto Ginastera with songs ranging from the folkloric to the more modernist from Song in the City.
A Comedy Concert: the London Song Festival finale with Nicky Spence & Melinda Hughes.

Christmas Round-up

Christmas with St John's: Fine survey of the Christmas story in contemporary and traditional music at Cadogan Hall.
Delightful fantasy: All the Angels - Handel & the first Messiah at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Handel House Christmas Showcase: Young artists in music old and new, including Hendrix and a world premiere.
Intimate and text-driven: Handel's Messiah from Ian Page and Classical Opera at Middle Temple Hall.
The Three Kings: An intriguing mix of music in The Sixteen's Christmas concert at Cadogan Hall.

From our correspondent Ruth

Fifty mad minutes: Gerald Barry's Alice's Adventures Under Ground at the Barbican.
Magic and Mystery from The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments at Spitalfields Winter Festival.
Baroque and classical delights: La Nuova Musica in Bach, Haydn & Mozart.
Wintry Darkness from the Tallis Scholars in this programme of Renaissance music that looked back to a time when Christmas was a time to celebrate – or reflect on – the unknown.


Crossing boundaries: I chat to conductor & viola player Robert Ames about the London Contemporary Orchestra, and about working in India & Kazakhstan.
Writing in her own style: I chat to clàrsach player, harpist and developing composer Ailie Robertson.
Composer Rachel Portman talks about her work in films, the 2016 M & S Christmas advert, and opera.
Ambitious & brave: Louis Langrée on Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's concertos for orchestra project.


A case for a new Norma: Baritone Ricardo Panela looks at how the 1950s Bel Canto revival has influenced the way we listen to Bellini's Norma.
Ring of Achievement? The cost of the first Bayreuth Festival was so great that it was four years before Wagner held the second festival.
The Ghost of Rosenkavaliers past. There seem to be a lot of Rosenkavaliers around at the moment, & I look how ideas about the opera have changed over time.

CD reviews

Sounds of the ancient world: Celtic horns brought to life.
Catches, rounds & ground bass from Pellingman's Saraband.
Unjustly neglected: Francesco Durante's Requiem from Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, Oxford Baroque & Stephen Darlington.
Intriguing and thought-provoking: Don Giovanni from MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis.
Linus Roth in Tchaikvosky and Shostakovich: Shostakovich's dark second violin concerto paired with * Tchaikovsky's classic in an intimate account of a new edition.
Verbal acuity: Ben Johnson in sonnets set by Liszt, Britten and more.
Appealing charm: Oliver Davis's Dance.
Orchestral adventures: New South American Discoveries from Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Live buzz: James MacMillan's Symphony No. 4and Violin Concerto from Vadim Repin, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Donald Runnicles.
A Land so Luminous: Two contrasting contemporary British composers showcased on this disc of instrumental music.

And elsewhere

I will be giving the pre-concert talk at Conway Hall on Sunday 8 January 2017, Poetic Inspiration will introduce quartets by Beethoven, Bartok and Dvorak. I return to the Conway Hall on Sunday 12 February for a further pre-concert talk, Ich fühle luft von anderem planeten.


Our header image this month is Renée Fleming, Sophie Bevan in Act 3 of Der Rosenkavalier © ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore.

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