Monday 31 January 2022

The Manchester connection: lively collaborations and new plans from Manchester Collective and Manchester Camerata

Manchester Camerata's Music Cafe at the Monastery in Gorton (c) Duncan Elliott 2.jpg
Manchester Camerata's Music Cafe at the Monastery in Gorton (Photo Duncan Elliott)

Two Manchester ensembles are celebrating new collaborations and new ways of presenting music. The Manchester Collective,  co-founders Adam Szabo (Chief Executive) and Rakhi Singh (Music Director), has announced further plans for 2022, whilst the Manchester Camerata, music director Gábor Takács-Nagy, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a whole season of events and collaborations.

Manchester Collective will be continuing its collaboration with South African cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe in The Oracle, musical event that featuring stories and original compositions by Selacoe, alongside masterpieces by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Igor Stravinsky and Mica Levi. 

Another continuing collaboration is with soprano Ruby Hughes, and The Savage Parade will feature a new song cycle by Edmund Finnis alongside music by Barbara Strozzi and Benjamin Britten. A Little Requiem features music by Henryk Górecki's Kleines Requiem für eine Polka and Ferrucio Busoni's Berceuse alongside music by Aaron Copland and Alex Groves. Other composers in the Manchester Collective's season include Arvo Pärt, Frédéric Chopin, Caroline Shaw, Hannah Peel, and Lyra Pramuk

As well as performing at Stoller Hall, Wigmore Hall and Bridgewater Hall, the ensemble performs well outside traditional concert venues and there are shows in underground music venues in Salford, Birkenhead and Bristol, as well as a restaurant part of the Collective’s evolving partnership with chef Sam Buckley.

Full details from the Manchester Collective's website.

Manchester Collective at the Southbank Centre (Photo Alan Kerr)
Manchester Collective at the Southbank Centre (Photo Alan Kerr)

Manchester Camerata's current resident artist is saxophonist Jess Gillam and their concerts with her include the ensemble's debut at Wigmore Hall where the programme includes Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto alongside Daniel Kidane's Be Still, a work the ensemble commissioned last year. Other anniversary celebrations include the sixth volume of Manchester Camerata and Gábor Takács-Nagy's Mozart, Made in Manchester series on Chandos Records, the world premiere of a new work by Alex Ho as part of the Royal Philharmonic Society Composer programme, which will be part of an intergenerational performance by the people of Gorton, Manchester, where the ensemble is based.

New collaborations sees the Manchester Camerata joining Manchester-based music duo Space Afrika for a performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 musicians, working with Manchester-based composer, producer and DJ Afrodeutsche as well as cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat. More conventionally, there will be a performance of Bach's St John Passion conducted by Gregory Batsleer with Huddersfield Choral Society, and the ensemble performs with Nevill Holt Opera in June for Puccini's La Boheme

Following its move to The Monastery in Gorton East Manchester, Manchester Camerata continues to embed itself in the local communities there through its participant-led music-making programme.

Full details from the Manchester Camerata's website.

Messiah 250: Paragon Singers celebrates the long tradition of performing Messiah in Bath

Paragon Singers: Messiah 250

Handel's Messiah was first heard in Bath in 1756 and there were other performances during Handel's lifetime and a memorial performance after his death. Then in 1767 William Herschel directed a performance at the opening of The Octagon in Bath, the first of quite a number of performances of the work that Herschel would direct in the city. Herschel is now best known as an astronomer (notably for the discovery of Uranus) but during his lifetime he had a parallel career as a distinguished musician and composer.

To celebrate this history, the Paragon Singers conceived the Messiah 250 project. Originally conceived in 2019, the project will finally culminate in March with a dramatised performance of Messiah, directed by Tom Guthrie and conducted by Sarah Latto, Paragon Singers music director, with soloists from the Echo Vocal Ensemble. The journey towards this performance will incorporate several community events, including  a series of workshops, a Taster day for complete beginners, a Come and Sing Messiah day, a day for younger singers at Bath Spa University and a partnership with Julian House homelessness service. Students from Bath Spa University film unit will document the rehearsals and a film will be made following the process through to performance.

Full details from the Paragon Singers website.

Loving & pretending: Alessandro Stradella's opera Amare e fingere explores the 17th centuries fascination with Arcadia, love & dissimulation

Alessandro Stradella: Amare e fingere; Mauro Borgioni, Paola Valentina Molinari, Josè Maria Lo Monaco, Luca Cervoni, Chiara Brunello, Silvia Frigato, Ensemble Mare Nostrum, Andrea de Carlo; Arcana

Alessandro Stradella: Amare e fingere; Mauro Borgioni, Paola Valentina Molinari, Josè Maria Lo Monaco, Luca Cervoni, Chiara Brunello, Silvia Frigato, Ensemble Mare Nostrum, Andrea de Carlo; Arcana

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 31 January 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A relatively recent discovery, one of Stradella's earlier operas on disc for the first time in an engagingly vivid performance

The composer Alessandro Stradella is perhaps still best known for his dissolute life than his compositions, though his output stretched to around 300 works in a variety of genres. When it comes to his operas, if they were considered at all it was the ones he wrote later in his career for Genoa. But thanks to recent scholarship we know that Stradella's engagement with opera dates back to earlier in his career. During the 1670s he worked in Rome (where he had been brought up) until having to flee the city in 1677, and thanks to the discovery of the inventory of a collection of musical scores created at the time by the pontifical cantor, Giovan Battista Vulpio, we know Stradella wrote at least three operas at this period, La doriclea (1672), Il Corispero,  and Amare e fingere which was staged in Siena in 1676 under the patronage of the Chigi family. And some nifty detective work has uncovered the score of Amare e fingere in the Vatican library amongst the Chigi papers. The surviving libretto was printed in Siena in 1676 to accompany the performance staged in honour of the Princess of Farnese, Maria Virginia Chigi, who sojourned in the city with her husband, Agostino Chigi, in May and June of 1676, to visit their daughters living in a nearby convent. The score is uncredited but the attribution to Stradella seems well founded.

Now we have a chance to experience Alessandro Stradella's Amare e fingere in a recording on the Arcana label recorded at the WDR Tage Alter Musik festival in Herne (Germany) on November 2018. Andrea de Carlo directs Ensemble Mare Nostrum with soloists Mauro Borgioni baritone, Paola Valentina Molinari soprano, Josè Maria Lo Monaco mezzo-soprano, Luca Cervoni tenor, Chiara Brunello alto, and Silvia Frigato soprano.

As might be expected from the circumstances of its first performance, the plot is remarkably light. The title translates as Loving and Pretending, and the libretto is loosely based on a 17th century Spanish comedy, Fingir y amar by Agustín Moreto. The plot explores the idea of dissimulation and the four enamoured characters all have double identities, they have royal and princely titles but are pretending to be lesser mortals in an idyllic pastoral location. The resulting complexities are what drives the plot. 

Saturday 29 January 2022

Expanding her horizons: Lada Valesova on conducting Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at Opera Holland Park

Lada Valesova conducting Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at West Green House in 2021
Lada Valesova conducting Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin at West Green House in 2021

Lada Valesova was due to conduct the Opera Holland Park Young Artists performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 2020, but fate of course had different ideas. In the event, in 2021 she conducted the Opera Holland Park Young Artists performance of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro [see my review] as well as conducting Eugene Onegin at West Green Opera. And this Summer, she will be at the helm of Opera Holland Park's main stage production of Eugene Onegin. Lada is familiar to many as a pianist [she and soprano Natalya Romaniw released Arion, a disc of songs by  Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Dvorak, Janacek, and Novak in 2020, see my review] and a coach, but her move into conducting is relatively new. We met up recently to chat about Eugene Onegin, conducting opera and more.

Lada Valesova conducting Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at Opera Holland Park  with Jacob Philips, Charlotte Bowden, Guy Withers (Photo Ali Wright)

She has, of course, coached Eugene Onegin many times but this involves working on particular aspects of the opera, the language or a specific role. As a conductor, she moves from lieutenant to captain, and is responsible for everything musically whilst the orchestra makes a great deal of difference too. Eugene Onegin is an opera she loves and each time she goes back to the score finds more details and gains deeper insights into the music. 

Of course, Tchaikovsky did not just write a single opera, and it would be a dream to work on Queen of Spades, whilst she would enjoy the chance to work on some of his more rarely performed operas such as The Maid of Orleans and Mazeppa. And not just the operas, but Tchaikovsky's ballet music too though even in Russia these are now more frequently conducted by ballet specialists and fewer conductors perform all of Tchaikovsky's theatre music.

Friday 28 January 2022

The return of our favourite theatre: Opera Holland Park announces its 2022 season

We spent a lot of time at Opera Holland Park last Summer, partly because of the programme but also because of the intelligently creative approach that the theatre took to distancing restrictions and such, so that the resulting theatre was pleasant to visit with a new thrust stage that brought the action forward. Opera Holland Park has just announced its plans for 2022, and it sounds as if this year is going to be equally rewarding. There are five main stage productions of six operas, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Bizet's Carmen, Mark Adamo's Little Women, Delius' Margot le Rouge, Puccini's Le Villi, and Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore.

The theatre's capacity will remain at around 700, with some changes but the same footprint and aesthetic as last year. And not only is it constructed from reclaimed and sustainable materials, but food and drink is predominantly sourced from independent companies within a 50 mile radius of Holland Park for purchase by patrons.

1772: A Retrospective - The Mozartists in Mozart, Haydn and more exploring the musical world of the 16-year-old composer

Mozart 250

1772: A Retrospective
- Mozart, Jommelli, Traetta, JC Bach, Gassmann, Haydn; Ian Page, The Mozartists, Chiara Skerath, Jessica Cale; Cadogan Hall

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 27 January 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Reform is in the air: Mozart alongside music by his contemporaries from the year he turned 16

It is 1772 and Mozart has just turned 16. He has an official position at the Archbishop's court in Salzburg, and a new boss, the far less relaxed Archbishop Colloredo. In Naples, Niccolo Jommelli completes his penultimate opera, Cercere placata despite having suffered a stroke, whilst in St Petersburg, Tommaso Traetta debuts his final masterpiece, Antigona. Reform is in the air. Welcome to the musical world of Ian Page and The Mozartists' 1772: A Retrospective at Cadogan Hall, with music by Mozart, Jommelli, Traetta, JC Bach, Gassmann and Haydn, with sopranos Jessica Cale and Chiara Skerath.

We began with Mozart's Symphony No. 15 in G major, K.124, written whilst Mozart was at home at the Archbishop's court. Using a standard orchestra with two oboes, horns, strings and bassoon, it is in four movements and begins to show Mozart's growing symphonic grasp. The opening Allegro was vigorous and good-humoured with perhaps some quirks of humour, then a graceful Andante that had its pointed moments too. The minuet was as robust dance with strong dynamic contrasts, and the Presto finale featured vivid, tight rhythms. The whole was lovingly performed by Page and his musicians, demonstrating the way the teenage Mozart was moving towards the mature composer.

Niccolo Jommelli was one of those composers who, alongside Gluck, was experimenting with creating newer types of opera, integrating Italian and French elements to create what we know of as Reform Opera. Having written a whole sequence of major works for the Duke of Württemberg, who gave the composer virtual carte blanche, Jommelli had retired to Naples in 1768 and suffered a stroke in 1771. 

Watch our extract of English Touring Opera's new film of Ferrandini's Il pianto di Maria

English Touring Opera might be back on the road, but its ETO at Home project continues apace. The latest video, which streams tonight at 7.30pm and will then be available free on ETO's website, is Giovanni Battista Ferrandini's Il pianto di Maria performed by mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby with the Old Street Band, conductor Jonathan Peter Kenny. The film, directed by Rebecca van Beeck is very much a visual interpretation of the cantata rather than a filmed concert. Van Beek juxtaposes film of Carby's performance with images of mothers and sons, love and loss, plus footage of natural forces echoing the tumultuous earthquakes described in the original poem.

Ferrandini (1710-1791) was well-known in his day; his opera Catone in Utica opened the new Bavarian Court Theatre in Munich in 1753. The theatre still survives, now known as  the Cuvilliés Theatre after the architect. In retirement he was visited in Padua by the young Mozart and his father.  One of his pupils was the tenor Anton Raff who sang the title role in Mozart’s Idomeneo when it premiered in Cuvilliés theatre in 1781. Il pianto di Maria was one of a number of sacred cantatas that Ferrandini , wrote; long attributed to Handel, you rather suspect that Ferrandini's fame resting now on this sole work is rather due to this misattribution and perhaps this terrific film will encourage people to explore his music. There is a recording of Catone in Utica made in the Cuvilliés theatre in 2004, on OEHMS [available from Amazon], and still apparently the only recording of a Ferrandini opera!

Il piano di Maria will be available on the ETO at Home website from 7.30pm on Friday 28 January 2022.

Thursday 27 January 2022

Inspired by the Sistine Chapel: Peter Phillips & The Tallis Scholars explore some of the riches written for the Papal choir

The choirloft of the Sistine Chapel in the early 17th century (1848 copy by Ingres of a painting by Agostino Tassi)
The choir loft of the Sistine Chapel in the early 17th century
(1848 copy by Ingres of a painting by Agostino Tassi)

Inspired by the Sistine Chapel
; Palestrina, Morales, Festa, Carpentras, Allegri, Josquin; The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips; Cadogan Hall

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 26 January 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Music by Palestrina and his contemporaries showing off the richness of the treasures performed by the Sistine Chapel Choir

A whole host of musicians worked for the Sistine Chapel Choir, leaving a wealth of music that was written specifically for the choir. Often not well known, because the manuscripts were jealously guarded by the Popes, this is a repertoire usually known simply for a few highlights. At Cadogan Hall on Wednesday 26 January 2021, the Tallis Scholars and Peter Phillips presented Inspired by the Sistine Chapel, a programme of music written for the Sistine Chapel Choir. At the centre, of course, was the famous Miserere by Gregorio Allegri (c1582-1652), but there was also a wide selection of music from masses by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594), plus motets by Cristobal de Morales (1500-1553), Costanzo Festa (1495-1545), Elzear Genet (Carpentras) (c1470-1548), and Josquin des Prez (c1450/55 - 1521).

Running through the evening were a sequence of mass movements by Palestrina, all from masses written for the Sistine Chapel and showing the remarkable breadth and imagination of the composer's style, so we heard from Missa in te Domine speravi, Missa Tu es Petrus, Missa Papae Marcelli,, Missa Confitebor tibi Domine and Missa Brevis. All five movements were richly textured, the first three masses being six-part, the fourth being double choir and the final one, though four-part, adds a fifth voice in the second statement of the 'Agnus Dei'. And this was true of the motets too; the chapel choir might not have been large but they certainly seem to have relished richly written music and of course, the Allegri Miserere is written for ten independent parts.

ABO Conference 2022: Rebound 9 - 11 February 2022

The Association of British Orchestra’s (ABO) annual conference, Rebound, will be taking place in person and online in Glasgow from 9 - 11 February 2022.
The Association of British Orchestra’s (ABO) annual conference, Rebound, will be taking place in person and online in Glasgow from 9 - 11 February 2022. 

Hosted by Royal Scottish National Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (in partnership with Classic FM, Classical Music, Help Musicians and the British Council), this year’s conference will explore the theme of ‘Rebound’ as the music industry looks to recover from the pandemic. 

In person, the conference will be offering a programme of keynote speakers, in-person sessions, networking, awards dinner and concerts, as well as giving delegates access to the online Conference sessions, either on their own laptop or via a 'cinema room'. 

There is a range of pricing options, including discounts for Under 30s, Musicians and Students, and thanks to funding from Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union, the ABO are offering free access for musicians to attend the online Conference sessions on Thursday afternoon, 10 February.

Full details from the ABO website.

Uncovering rarities by Parry and Elgar

Hertfordshire Chorus - Elgar: The Black Knight, Parry: De Profundis

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, Sir Hubert Parry wrote a series of large scale choral works, the Biblical oratorios Judith (1888) and Job (1892), the cantata Ode on St Cecilia's Day (1889) and the psalm setting De Profundis (1891). These have, largely, disappeared from view and few have received any or many 20th and 21st century performances. Conductor William Vann revived Judith in 2020, performing the work at the Royal Festival Hall and recording it for Chandos [see my review]. The choir on this recording was Crouch End Festival Chorus, and it was whilst the choir's conductor David Temple was preparing them for the Judith performances and recording that he came across Parry's De Profundis.

Now there is a chance to hear this as David Temple conducts Parry's De Profundis with the Hertfordshire Chorus and London Orchestra da Camera in a concert at St Alban's Cathedral on 26 February 2022. De Profundis is written for 12-part choir, orchestra and soprano soloist (Sarah Fox in this case). The work was written for the Three Choirs Festival in 1891; RVW (who studied with Parry) thought very highly of De Profundis and tried to get further performances, to no avail. And as far as the choir can ascertain, the work has not been performed since 1921 when it was given by the Bach Choir! 

To accompany De Profundis the choir will also be performing Elgar's The Black Knight. Written eight years before The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar described the work as a symphony for chorus and orchestra and the form is somewhat experimental; it was his first work for choir and orchestra. It would be the first of two choral works by Elgar based on Longfellow (King Olaf came second in 1896), and these would be followed by The Light of Life (1896) and Caractacus (1898), all modestly successful, and Elgar's real success only came with the premiere of Enigma Variations in 1899.

Full details from the Hertfordshire Chorus website.

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Giulio Cesare in Wien

Handel: Giulio Cesare - Patricia Bardon, Jake Arditti - Theater an der Wien (Photo Monika Rittershaus)
Handel: Giulio Cesare - Patricia Bardon, Jake Arditti - Theater an der Wien (Photo Monika Rittershaus)

The Theater an der Wien in Vienna debuted a new production of Handel's Giulio Cesare in December last year. Directed by Keith Warner, it featured a terrific cast including Louise Alder as Cleopatra, Bejun Mehta as Giulio Cesare, Patricia Bardon as Cornelia, Jake Arditti as Sesto, and Christophe Dumaux is Tolomeo, with Ivor Bolton conducting Concentus Musicus Wien. Definitely one to travel for, if only travel were more possible!

As it is, for those of us missing such large scale productions, there is a chance to catch the opera online as Cue TV will be streaming it on 27 January at 8pm CET (9pm UK time) and it will be available to watch at any time. Further information from Cue TV, production and performance information on Operabase.

Baritone & recording engineer Jan Capinski introduces his new course, Recording Basics for singers

The baritone Jan Capinski has a parallel career as a recording engineer, which put him in an ideal position to know about the needs of singers when it comes to producing recordings. His latest project is to give singers the knowledge they need to do recordings themselves. Here Jan introduces his Recording Basics course.

Demo recordings were an important part of opera singers’ lives even before the pandemic. Now, with travel being far less straightforward than in the past, and opera companies looking to save costs and minimise covid-related risk wherever possible, having a portfolio of recorded content is often the first step to being granted an audition. For some competitions, programmes, and even jobs, the only thing taken into consideration is an audio or video submission. 

The Irish Double Bass: Malachy Robinson goes on a personal odyssey

The Irish Double Bass - Malachy Robinson

The Irish Double Bass
- Eoghan Desmond, Joseph Groocock, John Kinsella, Ian Wilson, Kevin O’Connell, Deirdre Gribbin, Ryan Molloy, Judith Ring; Malachy Robinson, Gary Beecher; Bandcamp

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 24 January 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Irish double bass player Malachy Robinson brings together contemporary Irish music with a work by his own grandfather in this creative response to the double bass in Ireland

Malachy Robinson is the principal double bass with the Irish Chamber Orchestra as well as being an active chamber musician and performing a lot of solo double bass music. His disc, The Irish Double Bass, is something of a personal project; partly it celebrates his reaching 50, partly it is a personal odyssey including not only music by his grandfather but contemporary works that he has played and feels a connection with, and of course it was something of a lockdown project too.

So, The Irish Double Bass features Malachy Robinson alone in music by Eoghan Desmond, John Kinsella, Ian Wilson, Kevin O'Connell, Deirdre Gribbon, Ryan Molloy, and Judith Ring, plus he is joined by pianist Gary Beecher for Joseph Groocock's Sonata for Double Bass.

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Figures in a garden: Waterperry Opera celebrates its fifth birthday with a programme that imaginatively combines the traditional with the new

Jonathan Dove: Ariel - Daniella Sicari at Waterperry Opera Festival 2021 in a production directed by Rebecca Meltzer
Jonathan Dove: Ariel - Daniella Sicari at Waterperry Opera Festival 2021 in a production directed by Rebecca Meltzer

Amazingly, Waterperry Opera is five this year, so artistic director Guy Withers and music director Bertie Baigent have put together a celebratory mix of new and old music for the festival, which runs from 12 to 20 August 2022 at Waterperry House and Gardens, Oxfordshire. The performances take full advantage of the location, with various productions in and around the gardens, and whilst the main opera is a repertoire favourite around this is a constellation of new and innovative productions. Young people are at the heart of the festival, as well as supporting emerging talent via its Young Artists Programme the festival offers free tickets to the under 16s.

The main event is Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro staged on the lawn in front of Waterperry House. Bertie Baigent conducts and the production will be directed by Isabelle Kettle. Another particular highlight will be a staging of Serbian composer Ana Sokolović’s virtuosic a cappella opera Svabada (A Wedding), the work's first UK professional production. Written for six unaccompanied female voices, this coming of age tour de force explores the lives of six women as they discover how to navigate the poignant transition from adolescence to adulthood. Rebecca Meltzer, the festival's director of the Young Artists Programme, directs a production in the garden's Amphitheatre with an all female team

Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park was a great success in the festival's early days and Rebecca Meltzer will be directing an intimate production of the work at this year's festival, staged in the ballroom of Waterperry House. And the production will be touring the UK from May to August. Dove wrote Figures in the Garden for Glyndebourne's celebrations of Mozart's bicentenary in 1991. A wind serenade that celebrates the characters from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, the work is being produced at the festival in collaboration with dance students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and young local musicians from Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra.

The festival staged Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in 2021, to great success. Now Guy Withers' production returns for 2022, and will be travelling to Opera Holland Park too. This year will also included staged performances of other concert works including Janacek's Diary of One who Disappeared, a double bill of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and Wesendonck Lieder, and Flora, a work created by violist Anna Semple and dancer Emily Pahlawan Collinson, fuses music and dance in a creative response to the physical forms within Waterperry Gardens.

Full details from the Waterperry Opera website.

Love, jealousy, death and a wedding: Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo from Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Handel Aci, Galatea e Polifemo; Bethany Horak-Hallett, Zoe Brookshaw - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Cadogan Hall
Handel Aci, Galatea e Polifemo - Bethany Horak-Hallett, Zoe Brookshaw - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Steven Devine at Cadogan Hall

Handel Aci, Galatea e Polifemo; Zoe Brookshaw, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Trevor Bowes, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Steven Devine; Cadogan Hall

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 23 January 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Handel's earlier, Italian version of the Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus story in an engaging performance full of character, swagger and pathos

Handel spent most of 1708 in Rome, but during June and July of that year he made an expedition South to Naples where his serenata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo was premiered. We don't know that much about the circumstances of this first performance; the work seems to have been commissioned by Aurora Sanseverino, Duchess of Laurenzano, for the marriage of her niece to the Duke of Alvito. The Duchess was a great patron of the arts, ran a famous salon in Naples and was an author herself. The text of the serenata is by the Duchess' private secretary, Nicola Giuvo. The work is notable for the writing for the bass soloist singing Polifemo, clearly Handel had at his disposal a bass with a remarkable range. Handel would re-use material from the serenata, Polifemo's first aria pops up in Rinaldo for instance, but when he came to write Acis and Galatea for the Duke of Chandos in 1718, Handel seems to have started from scratch and written an entirely new work, though he would later create hybrid versions including one where elements of Acis and Galatea are back-translated into Italian and slipped into Aci, Galatea e Polifemo!

On Sunday 23 January 2022, there was a chance to catch a rare performance of Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo when Steven Devine directed the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Cadogan Hall with soloists Zoe Brookshaw (soprano, Aci), Bethany Horak-Hallett (mezzo-soprano, Galatea), Trevor Bowes (bass, Polifemo).
Aurora Sanseverino, by Francesco Solimena
Aurora Sanseverino who commissioned Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo
by Francesco Solimena

It is a somewhat curious work for a wedding present, as the work ends with Aci's death (at Polifemo's hands) and Galatea's rejection of Polifemo (again), though in fact the final image of the work, narrated in accompanied recitative by Polifemo, is of Galatea (who is a sea nymph) returning to the sea to be joined by Aci who is now transformed into a river, so the two lovers are ultimately united and the work has a suitably uplifting coro (sung by all three characters): 

'Who loves well has the goals of faithful love, pure steadfastness. Even if pleasures are lacking at least there is hope'.

Aci is a somewhat passive characters, but Zoe Brookshaw brought out his steadfastness, and her attractively bring soprano gave the character quite a youthful air (Handel wrote the work for a soprano hero and a mezzo-soprano heroine). Her simile aria about the eagle in part one was impressively done with great poise, partnered just by an extremely busy continuo. In part two, despite all the angst there is time for a delightful simile aria about birds, this time dueting with Katharina Spreckelsen's oboe. Finally, as Aci dies, Brookshaw was touching and intense in his last aria.

You have two ears and an opinion: artistic director Fiachra Garvey introduces this year's Classical Vauxhall festival

Fiachra Garvey and Adam Walker performing at the Garden Museum as part of Classical Vauxhall 2020
Fiachra Garvey and Adam Walker performing at the Garden Museum as part of Classical Vauxhall 2020

Classical Vauxhall is lively festival intended to celebrate the Vauxhall area. Funded by Vauxhall One, Vauxhall’s Business Improvement District, the festival is run by artistic director Fiachra Garvey and returns next month (10-13 February 2022) for its third edition. After the first festival in 2020, last year's festival was entirely online, whilst this year the festival returns to live audiences with five events at St Mark's Church, SE11 4PP.

Fiachra Garvey (Photo Marshall Light Studio)
Fiachra Garvey (Photo Marshall Light Studio)
The festival is intended to celebrate Vauxhall inspired by the visionary Jonathan Tyers, who was a champion of extraordinary talent when he opened the Pleasure Gardens in 1732, where entertainment could vary from the music of Handel to fireworks and circus acts. Whilst this year's Classical Vauxhall does not have quite that degree of variety, Fiachra Garvey is firm his desire for the festival to attract a wide audience including those who might not normally go to classical events.

Fiachra came to the festival almost by accident. Whilst he lives mainly in London, in 2017 he founded the West Wicklow Festival in his native Ireland, and contacts made whilst looking in London for a web developer for the Wicklow festival led to him being invited to create the first Classical Vauxhall festival 2020.

When we think of Vauxhall today, we tend to think mainly of the transport hub, a place to pass through. Vauxhall One wants to make the area a better place to live and work, and so a classical music festival was very apt. Fiachra is keen to attract a young audience without alienating the more traditional classical music audience. The concerts are presented in a relaxed way with no formality, and Fiachra is feels that people should feel able to express appreciation in the way they want. He points out that when Mozart played his piano concertos, audiences would applaud after a cadenza without disturbing the overall music.

Monday 24 January 2022

Youthful opportunity: young people creating with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and NMC Recordings

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is looking for two aspiring young musicians to join its BSO Young Associates programme, the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) has just announced the 2022 cohort for its Fellowship programme, whilst the composers from NYCGB's 2021 Young Composer Scheme have had the results of their labours issued on disc by NMC.

BSO Young Associates

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is launching its BSO Young Associates, a nine-month scheme designed to boost the careers of two aspiring music leaders keen to inspire people of all ages. 

At the last count, it was reported that people who identify as disabled, or who are from Black, Asian or Ethnically Diverse backgrounds, accounted for just 7% and 13% of those working in the UK’s creative industries respectively - alongside this, despite representing just under one-third of the UK’s national workforce, those from working class backgrounds accounted for just 16% of those working in the creative sector.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has created its BSO Young Associates programme as a direct response, raising funds through the Big Give Christmas Challenge to help support two aspiring musicians who might not otherwise have the opportunity to undertake an internship or placement to launch a career in the arts. Further details from the orchestra's website.

NMC - YOung COmposer 3
Four young composers, Kristina Arakelyan, Anna Disley-Simpson, Alexander Ho, and Derri Joseph Lewis, took part in the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain's Young Composers Scheme 2021 which involved workshops with both the National Youth Choir and the Fellowship ensembles, and masterclasses with well-established composers. 

The results are a range of personal, imaginative, and forward-facing choral music, and a disc of these compositions Young Composers 3 is being issued by NMC Recordings. The disc features nine works by the four composers performed by National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and explores a broad range of themes including coming out as LGBTQ+, the natural environment, racial identity, love, and connection. 

Full details from the NMC website and you can sample Alexander Ho's Hush on Soundcloud.

NYCGB Fellows 2022, Tim Peters, Olivia Shotton, Jason Ching, Florence Price
NYCGB Fellows 2022
Tim Peters, Olivia Shotton, Jason Ching, Florence Price

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) have also announced the latest cohort in its Fellowship Programme. Four new Fellows, Jason Ching, 23 from Durham, Tim Peters, 26 from Guildford, Florence Price 23, from London, and Olivia Shotton, 27 from London are welcomed to the programme which offers emerging professional musicians from a diverse range of backgrounds and musical genres, a fully funded year of unique development opportunities. 

The NYCGB Fellowship programme has been running for six years and many of its graduates have already made impressive starts to their careers. This includes graduates of the programme performing professionally with The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, I Fagiolini, Tenebrae, Philharmonia Voices, Dundein Consort, Ex Cathedra, London Voices, Stile Antico, and St Martins Voices. 

Fellowship alumni are now also working as choral leaders professionally with National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, London Youth Choirs, Barnsley Youth Choir, National Children’s Choir, Rodolfus Foundation, plus many other music and educational organisations. 

The Fellowship are an ensemble who perform at high- profile venues including, recently, the Royal Albert Hall, Saffron Hall, Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, and the VOCES8 Centre. Latest performance highlights include BBC Proms, London Handel Festival and Live From London Christmas. 

Further details from the NYCGB website.

Decadence and refinement: Karina Canellakis conducts Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy with the London Philharmonic Orchestra

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Karina Canellakis at Royal Festival Hall (photo Benjamin Ealovega)
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Karina Canellakis at Royal Festival Hall (photo Benjamin Ealovega)

Boulanger, Wagner, Scriabin; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Karina Canellakis; Royal Festival Hall

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 22 January 2022 Star rating: 4.5 (★★★★½)
A short but intense programme that ended with a performance of Scriabin's outrageous outpouring that drew transparent textures and emotional strength from the orchestra

Under the title Poems of Ecstasy the London Philharmonic Orchestra and their principal guest conductor Karina Canellakis planned a programme at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday 22 January 2022 that moved from Wagner's Prelude & Liebestod (from Tristan und Isolde) to three late Romantic works that took Wagner's ideas and ran with them, in somewhat different directions, Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, Lili Boulanger's D'un soir triste and Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy (Symphony No. 4). In the event, pianist Cedric Tiberghian was ill and could not be replaced so the Ravel concerto was dropped from the programme. I know that we should not measure music-making by the yard, but this very much felt like a failure of imagination, leaving us with a programme of two short halves. In the event the performance of Scriabin's outrageous orchestral outpouring was so terrific that the evening was remarkably satisfying.

The revised concert programme began with Lili Boulanger. Her piece is late, written 1918 (the year of her death) and it exists in three different versions. In orchestral guise there was there was rich sonority and luscious harmony, but there was refinement too. There were intense moments and evocative moments, a real late romantic melange, yet throughout a refined sensibility with Canellakis drawing a fluid transparency form the large orchestra.

Winter Opera St Louis educates as it entertains

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Winter Opera St Louis
Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Winter Opera St Louis

In the UK, if we know the American city of St Louis for opera it is via Opera Theater of St Louis (OTSL) which does a Summer season each year and is routinely reviewed in national and international press. But there are other companies in the area too. Recently, British-Italian conductor Dario Salvi [most recently mentioned in these pages for conducting Meyerbeer's first opera Jephtas Gelübde, see my review] conducted Winter Opera St Louis in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers in Kirkwood, Missouri. In a guest posting Gary Liam Scott, a reviewer based in St Louis, introduces the company and its devotion to operetta.

During a seminar discussion of pedagogical methods years ago at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA, Professor Lewis Hilton--a Canadian by birth and a specialist in ethnomusicology as well as education, thus bringing a wider perspective to the issues--asked the question, "Who is the real music educator in our society today?"  Without actually pausing for responses, Dr. Hilton quickly opined that, overall, people of all ages probably gather the bulk of their musical knowledge not from formalized instruction, but from radio disc jockeys.  

Hilton's statement, perhaps intended more for drama and shock thinking rather than an outright assertion, did serve the purpose of making his listeners ponder more deeply.  Contrary to what is generally assumed, the United States spends an enormous amount on education, which includes instruction in music and visual arts at all levels, as do many other countries.  And yet, one might question just how much the average citizen knows about music history, development of styles and performance practices, the development of instruments, and so forth.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Pure joy: ECHO Rising Star recorder player Lucie Horsch & lutenist Thomas Dunford in music old & new

Thomas Dunford & Lucie Horsch (image from Lucie Horsch's Instagram feed)
Thomas Dunford & Lucie Horsch (image from Lucie Horsch's Instagram feed)

ECHO Rising Stars
; Lucie Horsch, Thomas Dunford; LSO St Luke's

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 21 January 2022 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
Technical facility and great charm from recorder player Lucie Horsch and lutenist Thomas Dunford in a programme of old and new music performed with understated aplomb

Each year the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) nominates a group of Rising Stars, and the selected young artists are offered the opportunity to present a programme of their own choosing, across venues across the ECHO network. One of this year's ECHO Rising Stars is Dutch recorder player Lucie Horsch. On Friday 21 January 2022, at LSO St Lukes (presented by the BarbicanLucie Horsch (recorders) and Thomas Dunford (lute) performed a programme that mixed Baroque music with contemporary works including pieces by Dario Castello, Igor Stravinsky, John Dowland, Francois Couperin, Bach, Lotta Wennäkoski, Francesca Caccini, Isang Yun, Anne Danican Philior and Marin Marais, as part of Horsch's ECHO Rising Stars tour.

We began in 17th century Venice with the Sonata seconda by Dario Castello (1602 - 1631), an instrumentalist and composer who worked with Monteverdi. A series of short movements, moving between fast and slow, with plenty of lively, florid writing and playing that was full of character and charm. Then some Stravinsky. Stravinsky on the recorder, why ever not? Horsch played her own arrangement of the third of Stravinsky's Three pieces for solo clarinet from 1919, busy and spiky with a strong sense of forward momentum. We then moved to Tudor England for John Dowland's Flow my tears, elegantly expressive with lovely phrasing from Horsch and a great sense of partnership between the two performers.

Saturday 22 January 2022

Beyond Miss Julie: Joseph Phibbs on his opera Juliana setting Laurie Slade's updating of Strindberg

Joseph Phibbs: Juliana - Samuel Pantcheff, Cheryl Enever in 2018 (Photo Laurie Slade)
Joseph Phibbs: Juliana - Samuel Pantcheff, Cheryl Enever at the premiere in 2018 (Photo Laurie Slade)

Joseph Phibbs
' opera Juliana, with a libretto by Laurie Slade, was a joint commission from Nova Music Opera, the Cheltenham Festival and the Presteigne Festival in 2018 and was premiered by George Vass and Nova Music Opera Ensemble at the Cheltenham Festival. Vass and Nova Music Opera Ensemble have now recorded the opera for Resonus Classics with soloists Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Felix Kemp, and Zoe Drummond. The opera, a modern interpretation of August Strindberg's play, Miss Julie, is Joseph Phibbs' first opera. I recently met up with him to chat about Strindberg, Miss Julie, and creating opera.

Joseph Phibbs (Photo Malcolm Crowther)
Joseph Phibbs (Photo Malcolm Crowther)
One of the reasons for choosing Strindberg's Miss Julie as the source for the opera was that many aspects of the play chimed in with the commission - three singers and a small instrumental ensemble and a duration of around 60 to 90 minutes in one act. Whilst looking for ideas, Joseph had read Miss Julie but found nothing particularly suggestive about the play until he chatted to Laurie Slade who suggested updating the story to the present day. This brought a new idea for the opera, creating an intense piece with three characters (so no compromises required), with a simple set, a single act and a single staging. The updated story combined interesting character development with practicality, and the advantage that the original is out of copyright! Laurie Slade has worked on other updated versions of Strindberg plays, most recently doing a new version of The Father [see Michael Billington's review in The Guardian], so Strindberg was fresh in his mind. 

Miss Julie has formed the source for previous operas including ones by William Alwyn (1905-1985) and Ned Rorem (born 1923). Though Joseph was aware of these earlier operas, he never heard them until after he had written Juliana. But there again, so many subjects have been done before, and Joseph feels that the updating of the story provides a new angle. Laurie Slade wrote the text from scratch. The setting is still Sweden, but the characters names have been changed and the aristocratic setting has been replaced by the house of a wealthy CEO with a daughter, Juliana, who is damaged and goes wrong by transgressing boundaries. She has a relationship with one of the servants, Juan, and both she and Juan are damaged individuals, both with different expectations, and this precipitates her suicide.

Friday 21 January 2022

Keyboard concertos by Haydn and Mozart from Pawel Siwczak & the Bach Club Soloists

Bach Club Soloists

Haydn's keyboard concertos do not get anything like the exposure that Mozart's do. This is partly because the list of Haydn's concertos is rather tricky, only a few are regarded as genuine, but also because after the 1780s he stopped writing them. Some commentators see this as a response to his hearing Mozart's mature piano concertos and deciding to take a step back from the genre. Haydn had a great admiration for his younger colleague's music and in a letter of 1787 said:

‘If I could only impress on the soul of every friend of music, and on high personages in particular, how inimitable are Mozart’s works, how profound, how musically intelligent, how extraordinarily sensitive! … It enrages me to think that this incomparable Mozart is not yet engaged in some imperial or royal court! Forgive me if I lose my head. But I love this man so dearly.’ 

There is a chance to hear concertos by both composers side by side when Pawel Siwczak directs the Bach Club Soloists in Haydn's Concerto for keyboard and orchestra no 11 in D Major, Hob XVIII/11 (from 1780-1783) and Mozart's Concerto for fortepiano and orchestra no 9 in E flat K 271 "Jenamy" (from 1777) at St Mary's Church, Putney, SW15 1SN on 19 February 2022.

The Bach Club, creative director Pawel Siwczak, is a boutique label, concerts curator and masterclass creator, and home to the Bach Club Soloists. Performers at the 19 February concert include Catherine Martin violin, Leo Duarte oboe, Ursula Paludan Monberg horn, Jonny Byers cello, and Carina Cosgrave violone

Full details from the Bach Club's website.

Remembering Rafael Rojas

Earlier this week it was announced that tenor Rafael Rojas (1963-2022) had sadly died. Rojas had links with a number of British opera companies including Opera Holland Park and Opera North. In tribute to him, Opera North reposted this delightful video on YouTube of Rojas and the ladies of the chorus of Opera North in a surprise performance of 'Nessun Dorma' from Puccini's Turandot given to the shoppers at Trinity Leeds.

Opera scenes from the Young Artists of the National Opera Studio with the orchestra of English National Opera at Cadogan Hall

Young Artists of National Opera Studio, orchestra of English National Opera, Olivia Clarke at Cadogan Hall (Photo Nick Rutter)
Young Artists of National Opera Studio, orchestra of English National Opera, Olivia Clarke at Cadogan Hall (Photo Nick Rutter)

Opera scenes; National Opera Studio, orchestra of English National Orchestra, dir: Amy Lane, cond: Olivia Clarke; Cadogan Hall

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 19 January 2022
Seventeen young artists in a vivid series of opera scenes, in a terrific evening that was all about what can be achieved together

Each year, the Young Artists of the National Opera Studio (NOS) do a series of projects with the various national opera companies in the UK. And on Wednesday 19 January 2021, NOS brought the fruits of the Young Artists work with director Amy Lane and the orchestra of English National Opera to Cadogan Hall. Conducted by Olivia Clarke, English National Opera's current Mackerras Fellow, seventeen singers performed staged scenes from Verdi's Rigoletto, Rossini's La cenerentola, Jonathan Dove's Flight, Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Massenet's Werther, Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles, Donizetti's La fille du regiment, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Handel's Orlando, Bizet's Carmen, Britten's Albert Herring, Massenet's Cendrillon and Verdi's Falstaff.

The singers were the 2021/22 Young Artists - sopranos Alexandra Chernenko, Ffion Edwards, Inna Husieva, Laura Lolita Peresivana, mezzo-sopranos Sian Griffiths, Joanna Harries, Shakira Tsindos, counter-tenor Logan Lopez Gonzalez, tenor Monwabisi Lindi, baritones Josef Ahn, Kamohelo Tsotetsi - and the 2021/22 Associate Artists - mezzo-sopranos Arlene Belli, Judith Le Breuilly, tenor Philip Clieve, baritones Jolyon Loy, Jevan McAuley, bass Thomas D Hopkinson.

Thursday 20 January 2022

In search of Bach's Cello Suites

Robert Max (Photo Claude Darmon)
Robert Max (Photo Claude Darmon)

On Sunday 30 January 2022, Robert Max is performing all of Bach's Cello Suites at Conway Hall as part of the Sunday Concerts series. Max enjoys a varied career as a solo cellist, conductor (of the Oxford Symphony Orchestra), chamber musician (as a member of the Barbican Piano Trio) and orchestral cellist (as principal cello of the London Chamber Orchestra), and he has taught at the Royal Academy of Music's Junior Academy since 1992. He is touring the UK playing the complete Suites, and this will be a wonderful chance to experience a lifetime's distillation of these seminal works.

Before the concert, I will be giving a talk entitled, In search of Bach's Cello Suites, filling in the background to the works and looking at what we do and don't know about them.

Full details from the Conway Hall website.

Honouring three revolutionary icons: Ensemble Offspring's Elegy celebrates the music of Louis Andriessen, Frederic Rzewski and Ian Shanahan

Ensemble Offspring's Elegy - Benjamin Kop, Christopher Pidcock
Ensemble Offspring's Elegy - Benjamin Kop, Christopher Pidcock

Last year, I reviewed a terrific disc from the long-established Sydney-based contemporary music group, Ensemble Offspring featuring three commissions by Australian composers [see my review]. There is currently an opportunity to enjoy the group's work online as part of its digital initiative, Offspring for All

Their forthcoming online event, Elegy, debuts on 4 February on YouTube (at 8pm AEDT, which works out to be 9am, 5 February in the UK) and then available on demand on the ensemble's website. The concert honours three iconic composers who all died in 2021, Louis Andriessen (1939-2021), Frederic Rzweski (1938-2021) and Ian Shanahan (1962-2021). Each composer was, in his way, revolutionary and the concert showcases music written in the 1970s and 1980s (with one exception).

They open Andriessen’s reflective and romantic Elegy (1975) for cello (Christopher Pidcock) and piano (Benjamin Kop), followed by the 2017 piano solo Rimsky or La Monte Young which reveals the composer’s sense of humour. Then comes Rzewski’s epic jazz-inspired quartet for flute, bass-clarinet, double bass and vibraphone Song and Dance (1977), followed by percussionist Claire Edwardes – equipped with simple clay flower pots – in Rzewski’s spiritualistic homage To The Earth for percussion solo. Jason Noble (clarinets) pays tribute to the late Australian icon Ian Shanahan with Pastels (1982) for clarinet solo, and is joined by Edwardes (percussion) to close the concert with Shanahan’s Echoes/Fantasies (1984). Full details of the concert from Ensemble Offspring's website.

Elegy is the ensemble's third digital offering and it is well worthwhile exploring the previous ones. Blue Silence features Jason Noble (bass clarinet), Claire Edwardes (percussion) and Emily Granger (harp) in a programme that features recent pieces by Nathan Daughtrey (USA), Caleb Burhans (USA), and Gunnar Andreas Kristinsson (Iceland) alongside works by Australian composers. Tristan Coelho's In transit was written for his partner, harpist Emily Granger; Gerard Brophy's new duet for bass clarinet and marimba, Just outside Van, is inspired by Turkey’s eastern coastal city of Van; Elena Kats-Chernin's Blue Silence features a version for trio of a work originally written for cello and piano (2006). Ensemble Offspring's Blue Silence event is available on YouTube.

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Armonico Consort celebrates its 20th anniversary with performances of new editions of music by the other Scarlatti, Francesco

Armonico Consort & Baroque Players
Armonico Consort & Baroque Players
Hands up all those who are familiar with the music of Francesco Scarlatti. Brother of Alessandro, uncle to Domenico, Francesco has rather disappeared into the maw of history. Born in 1685 he came to London in 1719, though not much music survives from this period and by 1724 he was in Dublin. 

Francesco's music helped to launch the Armonico Consort 20 years, with performances at Wigmore Hall and abroad. Now the ensemble is celebrating its 20th birthday by performing two of Francesco's sacred works in new editions by Dr Geoffrey Webber.  At Warwick Collegiate Church (29 January 2022) and Malvern Theatre (5 February 2022), Armonico Consort & Baroque Players, director Christopher Monks, will be performing Francesco Scarlatti's Dixit Dominus (from 1702) and Messe a 16 (from 1703) as part of a programme that includes violin concertos by Bach and Vivaldi with violinist Rachel Podger. 

Before the concerts Dr Webber will be giving a talk about Francesco Scarlatti and his wider family, where both male and female members of the family were working as musicians, often with colourful personal lives. 

And for those interested in the later Francesco Scarlatti, in 2002 a group of 12 sonatas by him were found written in one of the work-books of Newcastle composer Charles Avison (1709-1770). 

Full details from the Armonico Consort website.

Beauty and bleakness: Douglas Knehans' Cloud Ossuary from Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and Mikel Toms

Douglas Knehans Mist Wave, Cloud Ossuary; Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Mikel Toms, Pavel Wallinger, Judith Weusten; Ablaze Records

Douglas Knehans Mist Wave, Cloud Ossuary; Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Mikel Toms, Pavel Wallinger, Judith Weusten; Ablaze Records

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 19 January 2022 Star rating: 3.5 (★★★½)
A requiem for our times, Katharina Knehans bleak poetry in an intense new setting by her Australian/American composer father

This new disc from Ablaze Records features two works by the Australian/American composer Douglas Knehans, Mist Waves for solo violin and strings, and Cloud Ossuary: Symphony No. 4, recorded by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Mikel Toms, with Pavel Wallinger, violin, and Judith Weusten, soprano.

Mist Waves was originally written for violin and piano, and premiered in that form by violinist Madeleine Mitchell and pianist Michael Delfin. This version for violin and strings was created for the recording and for Pavel Wallinger (who is concert-master of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra). Knehans describes it as a 'loose chaconne' and the first eight bars form the basis for the whole work. The result is slow and thoughtful, with Wallinger's rather aetherial violin hovering over the darker, lower textures of the strings. The way Knehans repeats his material, but never the same each time, gives the work a contemplative, timeless quality. He describes the work as being about land-based clouds, but rather than being purely descriptive, the piece is much more metaphorical.

Cloud Ossuary began as a setting of a poem by Knehans' daughter, Katarina Knehans. The setting of the poem, Bones and All, forms the final movement of the symphony with the other two movements created subsequently. All three movements, The Ossein Cage, Breathe Cloud and Bones and All are based on the same material though with very different results. 

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