Tuesday, 17 September 2019

New season, new premieres: Britten Sinfonia in Turnage and more

Britten Sinfonia (Photo Harry Rankin)
Britten Sinfonia (Photo Harry Rankin)
The Britten Sinfonia kicks off its 2019/20 season this week with the UK premiere of a new song-cycle by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Tenor Allan Clayton joins the Britten Sinfonia and conductor Andrew Gourlay for Turnage's Refugee setting texts by Benjamin Zephaniah, Emily Dickinson, Brian Bilston and W H Auden, exploring what it means to be a refugee now and through the ages. Clayton and the orchestra will be giving the work's premiere at the Enescu Festival in Romania in 19 September 2019, and they perform it at Milton Court Concert Hall in London on Friday 20 September 2019. Also in the programme is Benjamin Britten's Nocturne, his 1958 song cycle for tenor, seven solo instruments and strings, Oliver Knussen's Songs without Voices and Tippett's Divertimento on Sellinger's Round.

Further ahead, the orchestra's A Lunch season begins with a concert with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani in JS Bach, CPE Bach, Richard Strauss, De Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto, and a new work by Laurence Osborn. To celebrate Sir James MacMillan's 60th birthday the orchestra joins forces with The Sixteen to perform MacMillan's The Sun Danced and Symphony No. 5, Le Grand Inconnu at the Barbican Hall, and the two groups give the American premiere of MacMillan's Stabat Mater at Alice Tully Hall in New York. A new collaboration between Steve Reich and artist Gerhard Richter receives its UK premiere conducted by Colin Currie at the Barbican and Saffron Hall in October. Whilst violinist Thomas Gould leads the orchestra in Norwich for Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

The orchestra is participating in the Barbican's Ada Lovelace Day on Saturday 2 November 2019, events curated by Emily Howard celebrating the visionary Victorian mathematician. The day features the Barbican commissioned world premieres of new works by Shiva Feshareki, Patricia Alessandrini and Emily Howard’s own Ada Sketches, plus music generated by artificial intelligence!

In November, pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will be directing the Britten Sinfonia from the keyboard in Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 9, in a programme which also includes a new William Alwyn Foundation commission by Robin Haigh, alongside Dobrinka Tabakova’s Fantasy Homage to Schubert and arrangement of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor for strings, in Norwich, Saffron Hall and at Milton Court, London.

Full details from the orchestra's website.

Playing of great presence, yet on an intimate scale: chamber versions of Beethoven's symphonic music from I Musicanti at Conway Hall

Franz Clement, for whom Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto, here shown aged 8
Franz Clement, for whom Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto,
here shown aged 8 in 1789 drawn by Henri Hessell
Beethoven Symphony No. 1, Violin Concerto, Romances in versions for chamber ensemble; I Musicanti; Conway Hall
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 15 September 2019
Beethoven's symphonic music brought to a domestic scale in a contemporary arrangement of his symphony and a modern version of the violin concerto made in the same spirit

On Sunday 15 September 2019 at Conway Hall Sunday Concerts, I Musicanti performed a fascinating programme of Beethoven arrangements, an anonymous version of Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21 for string quartet which was printed by Beethoven's publisher Simrock 1803, along with modern arrangements of the Violin Concerto in D op. 61 and the two Romances for solo violin and string quintet by composer Carl Hinde. Before the concert, I gave the pre-concert talk looking at the importance of transcription and arrangement, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries, to supply the burgeoning domestic market. A market for which this version of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 was aimed, enabling amateurs to bring Beethoven's symphony into their drawing rooms.

The arrangement of the symphony is anonymous, but almost certain from the circle around Beethoven; his pupil Carl Czerny did a number of such arrangements of Beethoven's works, and Beethoven himself did a piano trio version of one of his symphonies. It was rather effective, a neat boiling down of the symphony into just four parts (Ben Holland and Raja Halder, violins, Robert Smissen, viola, and Richard Harwood, cello), what we lost in weight and colour we gained in clarity, the sense of four very clear lines, and a sense of real intimacy.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Come and sing Palestrina with London Concord Singers

Jessica Norton and London Concord Singers (Photo Alessandro Tamagno)
Jessica Norton and London Concord Singers (Photo Alessandro Tamagno)
My choir, London Concord Singers, has a Come and Sing Palestrina evening next Monday, 23 September 2019, at 7pm at St Michael's Church, Chester Square, London SW1W 9EF (a short walk from Victoria Station), let by the choir's music director Jessica Norton.

We are inviting singers to come and spend an evening working on ensemble singing technique and learning the magnificent Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est by Palestrina. There is a £10 fee to cover music hire.

Please book a place via email: info@londonconcordsingers.org.uk

Coruscating: Leila Josefowicz in Colin Matthews with Simon Rattle & the LSO in an all-British opening concert including Emily Howard & William Walton

Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle - Barbican Centre (Photo Mark Allan)
Colin Matthews: Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle
Barbican Centre (Photo Mark Allan)
Emily Howard, Colin Matthews, William Walton; Leila Josefowicz, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle; Barbican Centre
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 14 September 2019 Star rating: 4.5 (★★★★½)
Rattle and the LSO open the new season with an all-British programme, including a premiere, a further outing for Colin Matthew's fine violin concerto and Walton in prime form

It seems to be becoming a tradition that Sir Simon Rattle opens the London Symphony Orchestra's season with a concert of British music. On Saturday 14 September 2019, at the Barbican, Rattle and the LSO launched the 2019/20 season with the world premiere of Emily Howard's Antisphere (commissioned by the Barbican), Colin Matthew's Violin Concerto with soloist Leila Josefowicz and William Walton's Symphony No. 1. The evening was a significant anniversary, celebrating 20 years since the founding of LSO Live, the orchestra's highly successful own label.

An anti-spheres is a theoretical concept, the opposite of a sphere, where the surface everywhere curves away from the centre. A concept which brings ideas of infinity, shrinkage, distortion (think of an image projected onto the surface), and being of a scientific turn of mind, Emily Howard has found inspiration in these concepts for her new piece.

Written for large orchestra including triple woodwind, a very large body of strings and five percussion, it opened with a series of gestures dominated by the brass with noise of lots of bangy-things in the percussion.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Prom 74: Beethoven Night is Back - imaginative programming from Andrew Manze and NDR Radiophilharmonie, Hanover

Prom 74 - NDR Radiophilharmonie, Andrew Manze, Elizabeth Watts - BBC Proms (Photo Chris Christodoulou / BBC)
Prom 74 - NDR Radiophilharmonie, Andrew Manze, Elizabeth Watts
BBC Proms (Photo Chris Christodoulou / BBC)
Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks,
Beethoven Concert Aria, "Ah Perfido!",
Bach (arr. Elgar) Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV537,
Beethoven Fidelio, Overture and 'Abscheulicher!', Symphony No. 5;
Elizabeth Watts (soprano),
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hanover/Andrew Manze;
BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 13 September 2019
Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)

Coupling Beethoven’s music with that of two of his great musical heroes, Handel and Bach

Friday the 13th (13 September 2019) brought a Proms tradition – Beethoven Night – back to life with a visit from the North German Radio (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) orchestra, Hanover under their Chief Conductor since 2014, Andrew Manze, with soprano Elizabeth Watts. Coupling Beethoven’s music with that of two of his great musical heroes, Handel and Bach, was effective and imaginative programming.

Initially associated with early music, Manze was a member of the group Romanesca; in 1996 he was appointed as Associate Conductor and Director of the Academy of Ancient Music. Manze’s contract with The NDR Hannover Orchestra has been extended until Summer 2023, and it is easy to see how the orchestra admires him and responds well to him. Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks was given a surprisingly smooth, even gentle reading, the 'Largo alla siciliana', also called 'La paix' actually fairly indulgent, although rescued by a pronounced linear awareness. Perhaps 'La Rejouissance' could have been more festive, although that was in keeping with the rest of the performance. It was Handel, too, who provided the final pieces of the concert, in encore form: two movements from the Water Music Suite in G.

In between was a rare outing of Beethoven’s Concert Aria, 'Ah, perfido!'. Young man’s music (written aged 25), this was the point at which the whole evening went up a notch or two. Elizabeth Watts was a superb interpreter, pure and smooth at 'Per pietà,' properly agitated at 'Ah, crudel!'. The opening section (the bit with the text by Metastasio) was superbly accompanied by Manze, the orchestra light but presenting great detail. It was difficult to imagine a greater contrast than the Bach/Elgar Fantasia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 537). No missing the Elgarian sheen to the Fantasia; this is echt-Prom material. If the ear does have to adjust to that harp, there is no denying the effectiveness of the timpani heartbeat. All this was brilliantly delivered by Manze’s forces; impossible to ignore, too, the cheeky flourishes of the cymbal.

Two Fidelio excerpts formed the opening of the second part of the concert, the Overture light in the opening exchanges, lithe in the faster section. Clarity again at a premium, the performance was nevertheless a touch underpowered; not a criticism that could be levelled at the superb 'Abscheulicher!' that followed, Watts absolutely inside the role (how she enjoyed the “sch” sound of 'Abscheulicher') supported by a fine set of horns, individuals all in their solos and yet as one when required.

And so to the Fifth. That word again – “lithe.” Fast, light, exposition repeat intact, the woodwind/strings exchanges scrupulously observed. The most mesmeric moments of the evening were contained in a beautiful plateau of chords in the 'Andante con moto', revelatory in their spectral demeanour. The scampering double-basses of the Scherzo were a true delight alongside bullet-hard timpani, the transition to the finale intelligent rather than apocalyptic. The finale’s ebb and flow enabled a more variegated landscape than most, enabling moments of an almost startling tenderness. The coda, fast but not pressed, seemed perfectly in accord with Manze’s interpretation: enlightening, intelligent and ultimately more satisfying than any dash to the finishing line.
Reviewed by Colin Clarke

Elsewhere on this blog
  • An interesting and illuminating mix: I chat to Ensemble Hesperi about combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance - interview
  • A listening challenge: Philippe Manoury's large-scale musical fresco for piano duo and electronics in a stunning performance (★★) - Cd review
  • A terrific place to start an exploration of Jonathan Dove's non-operatic output: Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic, Timothy Redmond on Orchid Classics  (★★★) - CD review
  • A considerable company achievement: David Blake's Scoring a Century from British Youth Opera - Opera review
  • Prom 63: A 'nice mountain to climb', Yuja Wang, Dresden Staatskapelle, Myung-Whun Chung at the BBC Proms  (★★★) - concert review
  • To avoid being the sort of group which comes in, does a concert & goes away again: I chat to violinist David Le Page, artistic director of the Orchestra of the Swan - interview
  • The Late Romantic Violin: music by Vladigerov, Poulenc & Seaborne (★★★) - CD review
  • Prom 61: Ultimately, rather uninvolved - the Vienna Philharmonic in Dvořák and Korngold (★★★) - concert review
  • All was stylish & expressive, leaving us to enjoy the music & the comedy in such an engaging way that the time sped by: British Youth Opera in Rossini's La Cenerentola  - opera review
  • An unforgettable night: a true slice of history in the making: Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic & Emmanuel Ax at the BBC Proms (★★★) - concert review
  • A passionate evening: Bellini's I Capuleti ed I Montecchi  at Grimeborn (★★★) - opera review
  • A dazzling carnival erupts onto the stage and we don't want it to stop: Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini at the BBC Proms  (★★★) - opera review
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Saturday, 14 September 2019

An interesting and illuminating mix: I chat to Ensemble Hesperi about combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance:

The Pheasant's Eye - Ensemble Hesperi & Kathleen Gilbert - St Marylebone Festival
The Pheasant's Eye - Ensemble Hesperi & Kathleen Gilbert - St Marylebone Festival
The young Early Music ensemble, Ensemble Hesperi, is in the middle of a tour of a programme called The Pheasant's Eye in which they combine rarely performed 18th century Scottish Baroque music with dance from Kathleen Gilbert who is a Highland dancer. Ensemble Hesperi is Mary-Jannet Leith (recorders), Magdalena Loth-Hill (baroque violin), Florence Petit (baroque cello) and Thomas Allery (harpsichord), and I met up with the four musicians and dancer Kathleen Gilbert to chat about the programme and the idea of combining Scottish Baroque music with Highland dance.

The ensemble started as a duo, with Mary-Jannet Leith and Thomas Allery and as Mary-Jannet is Scottish she was keen to explore the Scottish Baroque repertoire, some of which she had grown up with. Then in 2018, they were joined by Magdalena Loth-Hill and Florence Petit, continuing to have a strong interest in Scottish classical music. The core of Ensemble Hesperi's current programme is Airs for the Seasons, a series of 96 short movements by the Scottish composer James Oswald (1710-1769), with each movement named after a flower. These are a series of remarkable miniatures, and though they sound Scots they do not in fact use Scottish melodies and were very much written for the London market.

Beyond James Oswald, much of the surviving music is inspired by Scottish folk songs, what Mary-Jannet refers to as a fusion style, combining Scots folk melody with the classical figured bass. Composers like the Scot, William McGibbon (1690-1756) and the Italian, Francesco Geminiani created such pieces for  publication in London, but a lot of the material is unpublished and manuscripts are still being discovered in castles! As recently as 1989 a manuscript of music largely by the Earl of Kellie (1732-1781) was discovered, and Thomas is sure that there is plenty more to be found. As a Scottish aristocrat the Earl did not need earn a living and he was prone to writing pieces and giving the manuscripts away, often composing the music on the spot. So, though he is known to have written wind music, none so-far as turned up. He was, though, far more than an amateur and had studied in Mannheim. One of his larger pieces is a Sinfonia which Ensemble Hesperi have their eyes on for a future project.

Ensemble Hesperi
Ensemble Hesperi
For The Pheasant's Eye the ensemble has been joined by Highland dancer Kathleen Gilbert. The group admits that their approach is a bit 'irreligious' and essentially they selected pieces which are dance-like and asked Kathleen to dance to them.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Music@Malling

By Klaus D.Peter, Wiehl, Germany - Own work, CC BY 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3506949
All Saint's Church, Tudeley - Marc Chagall window
(Photo Klaus D.Peter, Wiehl, Germany)
Each September, Music@Malling brings the music of contemporary composers alongside classical, jazz, vocal, world and film music to a variety of historic venues in an around the Kent town of West Malling. Founded by artistic director Thomas Kemp in 2011, this year's festival, the ninth, runs from 15 to 28 September 2019. One of the focuses this year is the composer Alexander Goehr (87 this year), and there will be a series of events featuring his music across the festival, the Villiers String Quartet will be performing Goehr's string quartets, and there are interviews with the composer.

Other highlights include Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale from Thomas Kemp and his ensemble Chamber Domaine with Charles Dance narrating, BBC New Generation Artist Alessandro Fisher in songs by Mahler, Schumann and Strauss accompanied by Sholto Kynoch, accordionist Inigo Mikelez, who is a Park Lane Group Artist, in Mozart, Lindberg, Gubaidulina and Piazzolla, and guitarist Craig Ogden in Dowland, Britten and Walton. Ogden will join violinist David Juritz and cellist Adrian Bradbury to perform an arrangement of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

All Saint's Church, Tudeley is the only church in the world to have a complete set of windows by the artist Marc Chagall. In this inspirational setting violinist and vocalist Lizzie Ball will perform her programme A Musical Portrait of Stravinsky and Chanel, which looks at the various artists who made their home in Paris after World War One.

Outreach plays an important role in the festival, and this year 1200 children from 15 Primary Schools will take park in workshops and concerts based on Roald Dahl's The Three Little Pigs. The centre pieces will be Paul Patterson's setting of The Three Little Pigs narrated by Matthew Sharp, but classes will also write their own songs that will be woven into the performances.

Full details from the Music@Malling website.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Internationale Opernwerkstatt Waiblingen: 13 young singers working with Melanie Diener & Thomas Hampson

Melanie Diener and Thomas Hampson
Melanie Diener and Thomas Hampson
You may not have heard of the town of Waiblingen, near Stuttgart in Germany but it happens to be the home town of German soprano Melanie Diener. But if you are a young singer then Melanie Diener and baritone Thomas Hampson aim to put the town on the musical map. With the aid of a remarkably supportive city council, Diener and Hampson have created an international opera workshop, the first of which runs from 23 to 28 September 2019, culminating in a grand closing concert with all the soloists and the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dan Ettinger. And for the 13 young people taking part, it is all free!

Waiblingen in 2007
Waiblingen in 2007
Diener and Hampson have invited 13 young singers from eight countries to be scholarship holders and take part in the workshop. Participation is free to the scholarship holders, travel costs are covered by the city of Waiblingen, and accommodation will be with host families in Waiblingen. The singers will spend the week working with Diener and Hampson, often in public masterclasses, with an emphasis on technique, expression and presentation, things that should be in the foreground of a singer's artistic development and career. And as well as being open to the public, the masterclasses are open to school groups as well.

Melanie Diener points out that Waiblingen is already a cultural city, with many art and music initiatives, and by supporting the International Opera Workshop the city council wishes to further anchor the theme of opera in the city and bring it closer to its citizens. And you don't have to even attend, the events will be streamed live on the workshop's website:

 https://www.internationale-opernwerkstatt-waiblingen.de/willkommen.

On the initiative, Thomas Hampson commented:
"So much of what happens on stage and inspires the audience has been preceded by a long process of intensive learning and preparation. Young artists first have to develop all the skills they need for a professional career. Today in particular, the expectations of young singers who dare to step onto the opera stage are more complex than ever. I consider it a pleasure, a privilege and a sign of confidence that I can help young colleagues to acquire the skills they need for a long and successful career. For a career in an art form that is constantly evolving and that expresses emotions and human behaviour in a language called 'music' and presented in a place called 'theatre'."


Further information from the workshop website.

Celebrating Eleanor Alberga's 70th birthday with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Eleanor Alberga
Eleanor Alberga
The Jamaican composer Eleanor Alberga is 70 this year, and the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) has been celebrating by performing Alberga's musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After performances on tour in the Czech Republic and Slovakia this summer, the orchestra and conductor Peter Ash will be performing Alberga's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Barbican on 23 September 2019 in a programme which includes Dvořák's Scherzo Capriccioso and Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem.

Alberga's colourful and challenging Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for orchestra and narrator was first performed in 1994 by the London Philharmonic and Franz Welser-Möst, with Griff Rhys Jones, Geraldine James and Dinsdale Landen narrating.

Conductor Peter Ash commented that the work is complex, 'perhaps more technically complex than anything the LSSO have previously attempted – yet the piece has a charm, ease and infectious joy that delights any first-time listener. There’s nothing in the repertoire quite like it and it deserves to be as well-known as Peter and the Wolf.' In fact Ash first recorded the work in 2011 with the Taliesin Orchestra and a series of celebrity narrators for Orchid Classics.

Roald Dahl's rhyming version of the Brothers Grimm fable breathes new comic life into a familiar story, whilst Dahl sustains the dark atmosphere and narrative drive of the original, as well as adding elements of cannibalism, gambling, and slapstick comedy into the mix, creating something that is uniquely his own. For the performance at the Barbican the LSSO will be joined by narrator Simon Callow and dancers from Elmhurst Ballet School.

Full details from the Barbican website.

A listening challenge: Philippe Manoury's large-scale musical fresco for piano duo and electronics in a stunning performance

Philippe Manoury Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi; GrauSchumacher Piano Duo, SWR Experimentalstudio; NEOS
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 12 September 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Some stunning playing in the world premiere recording of this challenging musical fresco for piano duo and electronics

For this new disc NEOS from the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo (Andreas Grau and Götz Schumacher) features their 2014 commission from French composer Philippe Manoury Le Temps, Mode d’Emploi (Time, Instructions for Use) for piano duet (two pianos) and electronics. The duo gave the UK premiere of the work in 2015 when Andrew Clements in The Guardian described it as a 'rigorous listening challenge'. On the disc the GrauSchumacher Piano Duo is joined by the SWR Experimentalstudio (live electronic realisation, Jose Miguel Fernandez and Dominik Kleinknecht, sound directors).(The disc is released on 27 September 2019)

Philippe Manoury studied composition with Max Deutsch (one of Schoenberg's first students in Vienna), at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris, and he studied computer-assisted composition with Pierre Barbaud, and joined IRCAM in 1980. His 1987 work for percussion sextet, Le Livre des Claviers (The Book of Keyboards), was recorded by Third Coast Percussion on New Focus Recordings [see my review].

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Starting the celebrations early: rare Beethoven, new perspectives and contemporary transcriptions

Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman
Beethoven in 1803, painted by Christian Horneman
Next year is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, which means that we are in for a lot of Beethoven, but it is also a chance to look at neglected aspects of the composer's output and to gain insights by performing music rarely given. Inevitably organisations are starting early in the 2019/20 season. So, on 2 October 2019, the Academy of Ancient Music launches its new season at the Barbican with a complete performance of Beethoven's incidental music to Goethe's play Egmont. Whilst the play is about the Netherlands in the 17th century (Count Egmont is a patriot standing up to the Spanish domination), Beethoven saw it as a metaphor for Napoleon's domination of Europe. The overture is well known, his extended incidental music is less so; mature, neglected Beethoven. Just the material we should be welcoming for the centenary. Full details from the Barbican website.

And next weekend (14 and 15 September), the Wigmore Hall kicks things off with its Beethoven Festival Weekend. The Wigmore Hall will be celebrating Beethoven's music throughout 2020 until the anniversary of his birth in December 2020, enabling us to hear almost all his instrumental and chamber music. The festival weekend is a chance for major artists to provide some interesting new perspectives on the composer, his music, his health and composers who were influenced by him.

Steven Isserlis (cello) and Robert Levin (fortepiano) open the festival weekend at the Wigmore Hall with the complete cello sonatas and variations, whilst Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt offer us a series of intriguing perspectives on Beethoven's convalescence from illness (including the Heiliger Dankgesang - string quartet no. 15), his immortal beloved and the influence he had on Brahms! The ensemble will be joined by guest artists.

The festival weekend also gives us a chance to hear Beethoven's music for unusual combinations of instruments such as the quintet for piano and winds. And the event ends with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja in Beethoven's final three piano sonatas.

Full details of the Beethoven Festival Weekend from the Wigmore Hall website.

Over at Conway Hall this weekend, Leon Bosch and I Musicanti will be performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C in a transcription for chamber ensemble published during Beethoven's lifetime by his publisher, and I will be giving the pre-concert talk about the art of transcription and arrangement [details from the Conway Hall website]. Beethoven's own transcription of his Symphony No. 2 for piano trio will be performed at Conway Hall on 24 November [details from the Conway Hall website].

A terrific place to start an exploration of Jonathan Dove's non-operatic output: Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic, Timothy Redmond on Orchid Classics

Jonathan Dove: Orchestral Music - Orchid Classics
Jonathan Dove Hojoko (An Account of my Hut), Gaia Theory, orchestral works; Lawrence Zazzo, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Timothy Redmond; Orchid Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 5 September 2019 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A slightly different side to Jonathan Dove with a selection of music for orchestra alongside a large-scale scena for counter-tenor and orchestra

Calling this disc, from Orchid Classics, The Orchestral Music of Jonathan Dove is, perhaps, somewhat misleading as the disc's centrepiece is Jonathan Dove's Hojoki (An Account of my Hut), his 30-minute dramatic cantata for counter-tenor and orchestra, here performed by Lawrence Zazzo and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Redmond. Around this, Redmond and the orchestra place four of Dove's orchestral pieces,  Run to the Edge (2003), The Ringing Isle (1997), Airport Scenes (2006) and the relatively substantial Gaia Theory (2014).

Hojoki (An Account of my Hut) is a setting of a 13th century Japanese text by the poet Kamo no Chame (1153-1216) in a translation by Donald Keene. It is quite a wordy text, and on this recording we are reliant of Lawrence Zazzo's fine (but not perfect) diction as there is no printed text. Zazzo narrates a series of (real) natural disasters which befell Japan in the poet's lifetime, narrated from his old age when he has retreated to the little hut of the title.

It is a slightly curious story but Zazzo has great fun with it and proves to be an avid story-teller.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

A considerable company achievement: David Blake's Scoring a Century from British Youth Opera

David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake Scoring a Century; Hugo Herman-Wilson, Holly Marie Bingham, Florian Panzieri, dir: Keith Warner, cond: Lionel Friend; British Youth Opera at the Peacock Theatre
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 6 September 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
David Blake's operatic entertainment disappoints but receives a fine performance

David Blake: Scoring a Century - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
David Blake: Scoring a Century
British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
This must have sounded like a dream when it was first mooted. Lionel Friend and Keith Warner collaborating on a work originally conceived as part of the millennium celebrations. With a libretto by Keith Warner and composed by David Blake Scoring a Century has been described as 'low entertainment for highbrows, or vice versa'. Originally intended to debut at Portland Opera, Oregon, the 9/11 attacks caused a creative hiatus - a collective drawing in of horns that scuppered its premiere.

The work tells the history of Mr and Mrs Jedermann, a couple of song and dance merchants. There is dialogue – lots, and songs, and from time to time the action is interrupted by mini-operas which contain the serious heart of the show. More musical comedy than opera it reviews the twentieth century in twenty ‘Panels’. Our pair of Everymen, the Jedermann’s stumble through the politics and social change of the last one hundred years, never ageing and only reluctantly adapting to the times. Their sole aim is to provide some songs and snatches, to raise a laugh or provoke a tear.

On March 4, 2010 the opera received its World Premiere at the Crescent Theatre, Birmingham, by students from Birmingham Conservatoire, directed by Warner and conducted by Lionel Friend.
On 31 August, 4 and 6 September British Youth Opera revived David Blake and Keith Warner's Scoring a Century again at the Peacock Theatre. Mr. and Mrs. Jedermann, the ageless fulcra of the piece, were played by Hugo Herman-Wilson and Holly Marie Bingham with their wingman and composer Bertold played by Florian Panzieri. Lionel Friend was once more in the pit.

The Gardeners at the Garden Museum

The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
Last night we had a terrific performance of Joanna Wyld and my opera The Gardeners at the Garden Museum. William Vann conducted, with Peter Brathwaite as the Old Gardener, Magid El-Bushra as the Angry Young Man, Julian Debreuil as the Gardener, Flora McIntosh as the Grandmother and Georgia Mae Bishop as the Mother, with an instrumental ensemble of Oliver Wass (harp), Charlotte Amherst (violin), Joanna Patrick (viola), Sophie Haynes (cello) and Sacha Rattle (clarinet). The chorus of the Dead were William Johnston Davies, Sam Dressel, Christopher Fitzgerald-Lombard, James Arthur and Jake Muffett.

Audience members at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
Audience members at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)

The Gardeners: Robert Hugill & William Vann in rehearsal (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners: Robert Hugill & William Vann in rehearsal (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum (Photo Robert Piwko)
The Gardeners at the Garden Museum - the climactic penultimate scene (Photo Robert Piwko)

Monday, 9 September 2019

'Quite a feat! ... It lingers in the memory' (Classical Source) - The Gardeners returns

Premiere of Joanna Wyld & Robert Hugill's The Gardeners at Conway Hall, June 2019 (Photo Robert Piwko)
Premiere of Joanna Wyld & Robert Hugill's The Gardeners at Conway Hall, June 2019 (Photo Robert Piwko)
Overall, though, there is a formality, of a ritual and spiritual kind, that his opera observes consistently and with considerable impact. The Angry Young Man’s final words are of reassurance and hope - ‘I will tell them, brothers. They will listen.’ 
Claire Seymour in Opera Magazine

After its triumphant premiere at Conway Hall in June 2019, Joanna Wyld and my new chamber opera, The Gardeners returns tonight (9 September 2019) with a further concert performance, this time in the lovely Garden Museum where we will be serving a glass of wine in the Museum's garden before the performance.

Inspired by a newspaper article, The Gardeners is set in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in a war-torn country amongst the family of gardeners who look after the cemetery, The Gardeners treats the themes of tolerance, remembrance and brotherhood using the garden as a metaphor for the possibility of growth and renewal.

There are a number of instrumental interludes, and it is in these that we realise that the viola is given a hugely magnified role in Hugill’s writing (brilliantly, poignantly played by Joanna Patrick), part of Hugill’s sonic armoury 
to create a melancholic, elegiac atmosphere. 

William Vann conducts the original cast, Peter Brathwaite as the Old Gardener, Magid El-Bushra as the Angry Young Man, Julian Debreuil as the Gardener, Flora McIntosh as the Grandmother and Georgia Mae Bishop as the Mother, accompanied by an instrumental ensemble of harp (Oliver Wass), clarinet (Sacha Rattle), violin (Charlotte Amherst), viola (Joanna Patrick) and cello (Sophie Haynes).

Expertly conducted by William Vann, drifts of melody, elusive tonality and 
a consistent moderato pace suggest the layers of dream and reality 
Peter Reed, Classical Source

The opera starts at 7.45pm tonight (9 September 2019) at the Garden Museum, 5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB. Tickets, price £25, include a glass of wine and are available on the door or in advance from TicketTailor.

The final scene is given over to The Angry Young Man in dialogue with The Dead, who he can now hear. This was the finest moment for El-Bushra, and arguably Hugill’s, too. A sort of culminating coda that passes on the story on to the next generation (much like the end of Wozzeck, perhaps, with Wozzeck’s son cast into the same world), this was haunting, in every sense, indeed. - Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Prom 63: A 'nice mountain to climb', Yuja Wang, Dresden Staatskapelle, Myung-Whun Chung at the BBC Proms

Prom 63 - Yuja Wang, Dresden Staatskapelle - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 63 - Yuja Wang, Dresden Staatskapelle - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D; Yuja Wang (piano), Dresden Staatskapelle, Myung-Whun Chung; BBC Proms
Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 6 September 2019 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
A performance of utmost command from Yuja Wang in Rachmaninov with radiant Brahms from the Dresden visitors to the Proms

Prom 63 - Myung-Whun Chung, Dresden Staatskapelle - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 63 - Myung-Whun Chung, Dresden Staatskapelle
BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 63: The Dresden Staatskapelle and conductor Myung-Whun Chung in Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto, with pianist Yuja Wang, and Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on 6 September 2019, reviewed for Planet Hugill by Colin Clarke

Yuja Wang describes Rachmaninov’ Third Piano Concerto, in a Radio Three interview, as a “nice mountain, one you want to climb.” Characteristically dressed to impress in a red, sparkly what I believe is known as a mermaid dress, one with quite a split in it, Wang gave a performance of the utmost command. This was intelligent, thought-through playing, textures perfectly considered, chords perfectly placed. Wang has a lovely sound, clear but velvety at the same time; the orchestra balanced that with its inherent warmth (including subtle vibrato from the first horn in the first half). But the intelligence of her reading was what shone, her awareness not only of textural clarity in her own contribution, but her awareness of interactions with orchestral soloists, also. Finding wit in the close of the first movement seemed entirely appropriate. Although hardly shying away from the grand Romantic gestures and the powerhouse virtuosity, it was in the quieter moments, with her unforced rubato and golden, singing cantabile, that Wang excelled.

To avoid being the sort of group which comes in, does a concert & goes away again: I chat to violinist David Le Page, artistic director of the Orchestra of the Swan

The Orchestra of the Swan
The Orchestra of the Swan
The Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS), founded in 1995 by David Curtis, is a chamber orchestra based in Stratford-upon-Avon with concert series in Birmingham, Hereford, and Coventry. Having led the orchestra for 20 years, violinist David Le Page took over as artistic director in March 2018. I recently met up with David to chat about the orchestra and his ideas for its performances, the importance of audience engagement, their outreach work and going beyond the concert hall.


David Le Page (Photo Natasha Bidgood)
David Le Page (Photo Natasha Bidgood)
The 2018/19 season was inevitably a mix of influences, with both David's ideas and prior commitments whereas the forthcoming 2019/20 season is more David's mix of ideas. Audience engagement is a very important to David, and the new seasons includes three immersive residencies, in Stratford, in Hereford and in Birmingham as well as concerts further afield.

Extra, non-concert activities which are different in each place


The residencies will involve extra, non-concert activities which are different in each place, working with students, schools and special needs, with many of the audiences then coming to the orchestra's main concerts. The main aim is to try to avoid being the sort of group which comes in, does a concert and goes away again.

Friday, 6 September 2019

New Rising Stars at OAE

Zoë Brookshaw, Sofia Larsson, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Sinéad O’Kelly, Guy Cutting, Hugo Hymas, Dominic Sedgwick
Zoë Brookshaw, Sofia Larsson, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Sinéad O’Kelly, Guy Cutting, Hugo Hymas, Dominic Sedgwick
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment's Rising Stars scheme was launched in 2017, a cohort of young singers who would work with and be mentored by the orchestra. The original group were on the scheme for two years, and now a new cohort of seven rising stars has been announced, Zoë Brookshaw, Sofia Larsson, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Sinéad O’Kelly, Guy Cutting, Hugo Hymas, and Dominic Sedgwick.

The seven will perform solo work with the OAE in London and across the UK and abroad, working with artists such as conductors Ádám Fischer and Masaaki Suzuki, Ian Bostridge and violinist Alina Ibragimova. The young soloists will be central to OAE's Bach, the Universe and Everything, its Sunday morning series at Kings Place which combines Bach cantatas with scientific talks, as well as performing in more unconventional venues on The Night Shift.

Bethany Horak-Hallett will be in Mendelssohn's Elijah conducted by Masaaki Suzuki at the Royal Festival Hall on 3 October 2019, and Bethany, Dominic Sedgwick and Guy Cutting will be soloists in the first Bach, the Universe and Everything at Kings Place on 13 October 2019.

Full details from the OAE's website.

The Late Romantic Violin: music by Vladigerov, Poulenc & Seaborne

Vladigerov, Poulenc, Seabourne - Sheva Contemporary
Pancho Vladigerov, Francis Poulenc, Peter Seabourne - works for violin & piano; Irina Borissova, Giacomo Battarino; Sheva Contemporary
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 5 August 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Three contrasting late Romantic composers, Francis Poulenc, his lesser known Bulgarian contemporary and the contemporary Romantic, Peter Seabourne

This disc on the Sheva Contemporary label comprises three works for violin and piano, played by Irina Borissova (violin) and Giacomo Battarino (piano), from composers all of whom might be described as late Romantic, the Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Major, Op. 1 by the 20th century Bulgarian composer Pancho Vladigerov, 20th century French composer Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Violin and Piano and contemporary British composer Peter Seaborne's A Portrait and Four Nocturnes.

Pancho Vladigerov (1899-1978) was a musical prodigy who emerged in Bulgaria at the time that the country was developing independence from Turkey. Vladigerov studied in Berlin and then worked there until he returned to his homeland in 1932.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Prom 61: Ultimately, rather uninvolved - the Vienna Philharmonic in Dvořák and Korngold

Prom 61 - Leonidas Kavakos, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms 2019 (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 61 - Leonidas Kavakos, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
BBC Proms 2019 (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Dvořák The Noonday Witch, Korngold Violin Concerto Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E minor; Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrés Orozco-Estrada;BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall
Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 4 September 2019 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
The Vienna Philharmonic's second 2019 Prom saw them in a rather different mood in a programme full of Czech links.

Prom 61: The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) and Andrés Orozco-Estrada in Dvořák's The Noonday Witch, Korngold's Violin Concerto, with Leonidas Kavakos (violin) and Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor on Wednesday 4 September 2019 at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

If the previous night’s VPO concert with Haitink [see Colin Clarke's review] had been chalk, this was the cheese. Haitink provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience, supremely elevating tinged with the sweet pain of parting and presenting an orchestra unlike any others, almost superhuman in its execution; Orozco-Estrada brought a far more workaday experience, far more fallible, still recognisably the Vienna Philharmonic, but tired (they do have a hectic schedule, in fairness) and, ultimately, rather uninvolved.

The relationship between the evening’s composers and America is one theme (Dvořák’s “New World” and his sojourn in America needs no introduction; neither does Korngold’s association with Hollywood). There is a Czech-like thread though as well, as Korngold was born in Brünn, which is, today, the astonishingly beautiful Czech city of Brno.

Prom 61 - Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms 2019 (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 61 - Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms 2019 (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
The Colombian-Austrian conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada, principally known in the UK via his association with the London Philharmonic, began unsteadily, with a retake of the opening (how often does that happen to he VPO, I wonder?), an unsure start to a rather unsteady concert.

All was stylish & expressive, leaving us to enjoy the music & the comedy in such an engaging way that the time sped by: British Youth Opera in Rossini's La Cenerentola

Rossini: La cenerentola - Adam Maxey, Sian Griffiths - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Rossini: La cenerentola - Adam Maxey, Sian Griffiths - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Rossini La Cenerentola; Siân Griffiths, Liam Bonthrone, Holly Brown, Natalie Davies, Thomas Mole, Adam Maxey, Jerome Knox, dir: Stuart Barker, Southbank Sinfonia, cond: Peter Robinson; British Youth Opera at the Peacock Theatre
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 3 Sept 2019
A youthful and charming account of Rossini's comedy with stylish and engaging young cast

Rossini: La cenerentola - Holly Brown, Natalie Davies, Jerome Knox - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Rossini: La cenerentola - Holly Brown, Natalie Davies, Jerome Knox
British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Gioacchino Rossini's dramma giocoso La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (Cinderella or Goodness Triumphant) is about young people, the protagonists are a young girl and a young man seeking love, along with the young man's valet and the young girl's sisters. Yet the musical requirements of the piece, the sheer technical complexity of Rossini's vocal writing, generally mean that the protagonists are played by singers who are rather older. Though, in fact, the first Cenerentola, Geltrude Righetti, was only 24 when she created the role in 1817, and she had already created the role of Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L'inutile precauzione the year before (the first Dandini was a similar age though the first Don Ramiro was some 10 years older).

So it was with great delight that I saw that British Youth Opera's 2019 season at the Peacock Theatre included Rossini's La Cenerentola (seen 3 September 2019) which they performed in a production directed by Stuart Barker with designs by Bek Palmer. Cenerentola was Siân Griffiths, Don Ramiro was Liam Bonthrone, Dandini was Jerome Knox, Clorinda was Holly Brown, Tisbe was Natalie Davies, Don Magnifico was Adam Maxey and Alidoro was Thomas Mole. Peter Robinson conducted the Southbank Sinfonia. The opera was sung in William Judd's 1986 English translation.

 La Cenerentola with young voices doesn't work, you need to have the right voices, a mezzo-soprano who has a strong lower range (the role was originally written for a coloratura contralto) and a tenor comfortable with the lyrical high writing common in tenor parts of this period, not to mention the other roles. The cast fielded by British Youth Opera was impressive in its balance and strength, these were all young voices that we could enjoy in their roles and I look forward immensely to hearing how the singers develop.
Rossini: La cenerentola - Liam Bonthrone, Jerome Knox & chorus - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Rossini: La cenerentola - Liam Bonthrone, Jerome Knox & chorus - British Youth Opera (Photo Robert Workman)
Of course, simply casting the roles with young singers isn't enough, you require the right young singers.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

An unforgettable night; a true slice of history in the making: Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic & Emmanuel Ax at the BBC Proms

Prom 60 - Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 60 - Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Op. 58, Bruckner Symphony No. 7 in E; Emanuel Ax (piano), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink; BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall
Reviewed by Colin Clarke on 3 September 2019 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
For the first of its concerts at the Proms this year, Bernard Haitink conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra he first conducted in 1972

Prom 60: Bernard Haitink conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms on 3 September 2019 in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4, with Emmanuel Ax, and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7.

At the age of 90, after a career of 65 years, this was what was almost certainly Bernard Haitink’s final UK appearance. The respect between conductor and orchestra ever palpable (and how enthusiastically they joined in the final, standing ovation), this was a concert for the ages, one to live in the memory forever – it is not fanciful to put it up there with Bernstein’s Barbican Mahler Ninth with the Concertgebouw in the 1980s. Ahead of these concerts at one of the rehearsals, (he conducts this programme again on Friday in Lucerne), the Vienna Philharmonic presented Haitink with honorary membership of the orchestra – he first conducted them in 1972.

With a serenely spread G major chord, Emanuel Ax launched a gloriously unrushed reading of Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto. This piece is part of the life blood of Haitink, Ax and the Vienna Philharmonic; but there was not a shred of complacency around this performance. The conversations between piano and wind were impeccably judged (Sophie Dervaux’ bassoon a first among equals), Haitink’s gestures honed to a minimum, followed to a tee by the orchestra, ensured perfect ensemble between soloist and orchestra. Murray Perahia had been the mouth-watering billing for soloist initially, but had withdrawn due to illness, sadly; Ax is no second-best, it turned out, his articulation an absolute joy, nowhere more so that in the first movement cadenza (the more extended one by Beethoven), perfectly judged, its continuation magical, string pizzicato absolutely together.

Prom 60 - Emmanuel Ax, Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms (Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)
Prom 60 - Emmanuel Ax, Bernard Haitink, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra - BBC Proms
(Photo BBC / Chris Christodoulou)

A passionate evening: Bellini's I Capuleti ed I Montecchi

Bellini: I Capuleti ed I Montecchi - Flora McIntosh, Chiara Vinci - Grimeborn Festival (Photo Lida Crisafulli)
Bellini: I Capuleti ed I Montecchi - Flora McIntosh, Chiara Vinci - Grimeborn Festival (Photo Lida Crisafulli)
Bellini: I Capuleti ed I Montecchi; Chiara Vinci, Flora McIntosh; James Ioelu; Anthony Flaum; Pauls Putnins, dir: Lysanne van Overbeek, Kelvin Lim; Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 2 September 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Bellini's Tragedia Lirica at the Grimeborn Festival

Bellini: I Capuleti ed I Montecchi - Flora McIntosh, Chiara Vinci - Grimeborn Festival (Photo Lida Crisafulli)
Bellini: I Capuleti ed I Montecchi
Flora McIntosh, Chiara Vinci
Grimeborn Festival (Photo Lida Crisafulli)
I Capuleti ed I Montecchi is a Tragedia Lirica in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with a libretto by Felice Romani. In their version the ill-fated lovers, from the Capulet and Montague families, are members of opposing political factions, the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Romeo, the Montecchi leader, has killed the son of his rival Capellio. Giulietta is betrothed to Tebaldo but is already smitten with Romeo. Defying their households for love, Romeo and Giulietta meet their tragic fate.

Over the years assumptions have been made about the imputed influence of Shakespeare on Bellini’s work. Amongst the other more likely contenders credited with being the main source of inspiration Matteo Bandello is most often cited, including by Romani’s wife. But Romani and Nicola Vaccai’s own Giulietta e Romeo for Milan was based on a play of the same name by Luigi Scevola written in 1818. The tomb scene from Vaccai’s opera has on occasion been used in Bellini’s.

In any event the opera's gestation was hurried. Bellini was in Venice to prepare a production of Il Pirata, when he was given notice that the contract for a new opera would fall to him. Writing it for the available singers, and ruthlessly ‘rescuing’ and reworking music from the poorly received Zaira, it is not the best of Bellini. Structurally it feels unbalanced and lacking in characterisation. The dramatic impetus is controlled by the men with precious little talk of love. The best music goes to the women albeit one en travesti.

So, whether, as a popular entertainment, you can ignore its weaknesses and appreciate its uncomplicated storytelling is a matter of personal taste as much as the quality of its performers. T
he performance of Bellini's I Capuleti ed I Montecchi at the Arcola Theatre on 2 September 2019 was presented by Over the Pond as part of the Grimeborn Festival in a production directed by Lysanne van Overbeek. The star-crossed lovers were sung by Flora McIntosh and Chiara Vinci. Capellio and Tebaldo were James Ioelu and Anthony Flaum. Pauls Putnins was Lorenzo. Piano accompaniment was by Kelvin Lim.

The production began with a simple enough premise.

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