Monday 14 December 2020

A Life On-Line: Tchaikovsky in Scotland, Rossini in Wexford and RVW in Gateshead

This week's A Life On-Line column is in two parts. In an earlier column, you can read about my Beethoven explorations including a Opera North's terrific live-stream of Fidelio. But this week hasn't just been about Beethoven.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's on-line concerts continue to delight. On Thursday they were joined by principal conductor Maxim Emelyanychev for Schubert and Tchaikovsky at Perth Concert Hall. A lithe and melodious account of Schubert's Symphony No. 5 (written when he was just 19) was followed by Tchaikovky's Variations on a Rococo Theme with the orchestra's principal cellist as soloist, Philip Higham. Both performances benefited from the orchestra's chamber approach, with attention to sprung rhythms and a sense of line, whilst Higham brought elegance to the solo part. [Scottish Chamber Orchestra] (And contrary to my initial thoughts, the performance used Tchaikovsky's original version of the work rather than the first soloists own arrangement which was commonly used)

On BBC Radio  3, we had the delight of hearing Shirley Thompson's Wildfire in a concert from Anna-Maria Helsing and the BBC Concert Orchestra, with tenor Alessandro Fisher, which also included music by Jocelyn Pook, Rautavaara, Finzi and John McCabe. An apt demonstration of the orchestra's versatility. [BBC Sounds]. Thompson's piece comes from a longer work, an opera Sacred Mountain: Incidents in the Life of Queen Nanny of the Maroons which was performed at the 2015 Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival.

This year's Wexford Festival took place largely on-line, and there is still time to catch its highlights. This year's festival opened with a live-stream of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle given in the original version for soloists, choir, two pianos and harmonium. But it was also given with the sort of forces that Rossini expected. At the premiere there were no more than 12 singers all told, rather than the huge choral forces sometimes used. Here we have a top line-up of soloists, Claudia Boyle, Tara Erraught, Pietro Adaini, John Molloy with the Wexford Factory Ensemble (13 young professional singers), Finghin Collins and Carmen Santoro (pianos), Andrew Synnott (harmonium), conducted by Kenneth Montgomery, all in the intimate acoustic of the opera house in Wexford. [Wexford Festival]

If you have ever been on a Zoom call where someone else is completely unaware that their camera is on, then Bastard Assignments' recent lockdown jam will appeal. They perform Jennifer Walshe's zusammen iii, do try it [Bastard Assignments]. With The World How Wide, Timothy Burke has reworked RVW's Tallis Fantasia as a choral piece! Recorded as a lockdown project for the Sage Gateshead by the chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia along with Quay Voices, The World How Wide Community Chorus and a string quartet from Royal Northern Sinfonia.  The result is a striking choral challenge, though I still prefer the original! [YouTube]

I have to admit to being unfamiliar with Vladimiro Ermolenko's but was struck by a recent video by pianist Vladimir Mogolevsky of Ermolenko's Separation [YouTube]

And as a reminder of the season, we finish with Paul Ayres' arrangement of The Coventry Carol recorded (thrice) by Crossley Hawn.

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