Monday 17 August 2020

A Life On-Line: Jam today, and full of beans

I Fagiolini
I Fagiolini
This week has been one of on-line festivals, with Voces8's Live from London continuing on Saturdays, and the on-line JAM on the Marsh coming from Romney Marsh in Kent. 

We caught up with I Fagiolini's recital for Live from London, which was broadcast live on Saturday 8 August 2020. Monteverdi: the ache of love featured Robert Hollingworth and the ensemble (Rebecca Lea, Clare Wilkinson, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Long, Greg Skidmore, Charles Gibbs, Linda Sayce) in madrigals and sacred music by Monteverdi, what Robert Hollingworth described as 'comfort food'. Moving between six-voiced unaccompanied madrigals in Monteverdi's earlier style to single voice pieces with theorbo (Linda Sayce) and organ (Robert Hollingworth), the short recital presented us with the full imaginative range of Monteverdi's music from two works from the 1603 Fourth book of madrigals, to Lamento della ninfa from 1638, and along the way there was the lovely Duo seraphin and Felle Amaro a fascinating sacred contrafactum of Cruda Amarilli. Whilst in one way this was small scale performance, each individual was a vibrant part of the whole, thus giving us a vividly rich and emotional experience. If only we could have been there. [LiveFromLondon]

JAM on the Marsh has been presenting concerts all week, recorded at the churches in Romney Marsh. We caught mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones' lovely recital with pianist Anna Tilbrook. They started with Elgar's Sea Pictures which always seem to take on a different quality when performed with piano, and Afonwy-Jones and Tilbrook really brought out the subtle detail of the pieces, with Afonwy-Jones shaping the vocal lines beautifully. It was the sort of performance which made you look at Elgar the song-writer in a different light. This was followed by Jonathan Dove's cycle, Nights not spent alone, which was commissioned in 2015 for Kitty Whately. Setting three Edna St Vincent Millay poems, Dove's complex yet seductive music contrasts nicely with the rather tart sentiments of the poetry, and I have always particularly enjoyed the first song 'Recuerdo' with the evocation of the sounds of the New York ferry in the piano. The composer Madeleine Dring (1923-1977) remains a lesser known 20th century writer of song, so it was lovely to hear two of her Five Betjeman Songs, 'A Bay in Anglesey' and the ever delightful 'The Song of the Nightclub Proprietress'. And we finished on more familiar ground with the Britten/Auden cabaret songs. [JAMConcert]

We returned to JAM for a further concert when the Gesualdo Six were joined by two sopranos and musicians from the London Mozart Players, and Simon Hogan (organ) for a performance of Faure's Requiem conducted by Owain Park.

The movements of  the requiem were interspersed with new poems by Grahame Davies. The requiem was performed with accompaniment from organ, viola, harp and cello which balanced the eight-voice ensemble beautifully (the soloists were all taken from the ensemble), and some parts of the requiem were sung just one voice to a part, thus emphasising the intimacy. With everyone spread out in a responsible way, the performers covered a wide area of stage which led to a great deal of rather restless camerawork, but musically there was much to commend this intimate yet powerful performance, with many moments of great beauty. Reading Grahame Davies' poems afterwards, I was struck by many of them, but was not certain that the poet himself was the best person to read them. [JAMConcert]

On Wednesday, The Telling launched their #HomeTour, a weekly series of broadcasts including Sephardic, medieval and lullaby concerts, stories with music, live singing workshops, and online premieres of four concert/plays by Clare Norburn. Things started with a bang with Clare Norburn's Vision: The imagined testimony of Hildegard von Bingen which weaves Hildegard's music with Norburn's imagined text for Hildegard herself, and here the play was itself re-imagined for an on-line audience, with Clare Norburn (voice), Ariane Prussner (voice), Jean Kelly (medieval harp), Teresa Banham (actor). [TheTelling]

Bitesize Proms is a wonderful project which, for eight weeks from 17 July 2020, is broadcasting regular mini-concerts on IGTV, but available to catch up on the Bitesize Proms website. Recent proms have included soprano Caroline MacPhie and pianist Marieke Hofmann in Clara Schumann, guitarist Morgan Szymanski in music by Julia Cesar Oliva, mezzo-soprano Michelle de Young and pianist Eugenia Cheng in Wagner. 

At the Wigmore Hall, the Kaleidescope Chamber Collective (founded in 2017 by pianist Tom Poster and violinist Elena Urioste) one of the hall's new associate ensembles, recorded a concert of Dvorak's Piano Quintet in E flat and Coleridge Taylor's Nonet in F [YouTube]

English Touring Opera has been running a series of In Conversation, live interviews between artistic director James Conway, associate artist Bradley Travis and various singers in in-depth conversations about repertoire. These are now on ETO's YouTube Channel, and I caught up with the engrossing talk with soprano Paula Sides and tenor Tom Elwin [YouTube

Series 1 of Jan Capiniski's podcast, Are you what you do? has just come to an end, 20 episodes in which the singer turned videographer looks at how a portfolio career influences how you self-identify, talking to other job-straddling creative-types about how they got to where they are.

A date for your on-line diaries, Conway Hall's Sunday concerts series re-starts on Sunday 23 August 2020, with a live on-line concert, broadcast from Conway Hall, with violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianist Simon Callaghan in Mozart, Franck and Arvo Pärt

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