Monday, August 29, 2016
Usher Hall (two stars); Queen’s Hall (four stars), Edinburgh Audience attention waned during the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Schumann’s Manfred, but Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s trio concert was rivetingHere’s a dismal statistic. The entire classical music programme of the 2016 Edinburgh international festival – 41 concerts, three operas – contains works by just eight living composers (that includes re-arrangements) and one woman (that’s Alma Mahler, dead since 1964). The ratio seems about a century out of place. Two years ago, the festival added a strand of pop and folk music under the promising heading “contemporary” and I got excited that classical audiences might hear some fresh stuff – even that the notion of “classical audience” versus any other kind of audience might genuinely start to blur into irrelevance. Instead, we’ve been packed off to a museum full of lovely old things with the message that “contemporary” and “classical” are destined for two different stages. A particularly fusty experience came via John Eliot Gardiner and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a complete performance of Schumann’s Manfred. This is Byron’s epic poem with incidental music for orchestra, chorus and soloists – a broodingly and profoundly tedious hour of romantic uber-angst, and we had narrator Wolfram Koch reclining neurotically on a chaise long at the front of the Usher Hall stage to drive home the point. Continue reading...
Royal Albert Hall, London This complex Shakespearean symphony gained a sinister edge by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique under John Eliot Gardiner, with beautiful choral singing throughoutThe French romantic association of Shakespeare with the collapse of classical tradition and the freedom to experiment with multiple genres within a single work reaches its apogee, perhaps, with Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. He called it a “dramatic symphony”, though it resists classification. Orchestral movements rub shoulders with songs, motets and choruses both large and small. The finale, in which Friar Laurence reconciles the feuding Montagues and Capulets, is pure grand opera. Continue reading...
Romeo And Juliet | The Queen Of Spades | National Youth Orchestra | Der Nächtliche Wanderer | NormaJohn Eliot Gardiner’s performance of Berlioz’s great dramatic symphony ticks the Proms’ Shakespeare box. It’s with the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique; Julie Boulianne, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and Laurent Naouri are the soloists. Continue reading...
The Paul Hamlyn Hall © ROH, 2014 With The Royal Opera and Royal Ballet Companies having headed off on their summer break, there are only a handful of performances left of the 2015/16 Season. Before the theatre closes for its annual summer refresh, we welcome Pet Shop Boys for a unique four date residency to celebrate the release of their new album and the Bolshoi Ballet . The Moscow-based company are always popular with London audiences and we look forward to welcoming them to Covent Garden for their performances of five productions over the course of two weeks. Reflecting on the past 10 months, I hope you have enjoyed the variety offered by our two resident Companies. My own personal highlights from The Royal Opera's Season included John Eliot Gardiner 's collaboration with the Monteverdi Choir , Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the Hofesh Shechter Company in Orphée et Eurydice , a stunning new production of Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci under the baton of Antonio Pappano and the final performance of Werther , which saw Joyce DiDonato and Vittorio Grigolo bow out on a high before the tenor returns next Season in Les Contes d'Hoffmann . During The Royal Ballet's Season, I particularly enjoyed the debuts in Romeo and Juliet and the Company's Christopher Wheeldon Mixed Programme. It was also - as ever - a delight to see the reaction from younger audience members to The Nutcracker . I'm sure that each of our supporters will have their own favourite moments from the 2015/16 Season. Do share them via the comments section below. We now look forward to the coming Season, with booking for Autumn 2016 now open. Friends booking for Winter opens in September 2016 - do check specific booking dates for the various membership levels before then. Until September, and on behalf of the Royal Opera House a huge thank you to all of you.
When I encounter a fine musician, I really do not much care if the recording is old or new. What I care about is whether I derive a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from the musical interpretation. That was the case today, when I spent some time listening to violinist Viktoria Mullova perform the music of Bach on an older recording. I was thrilled by her sound, her sensitive interpretation, and her technique. What I heard is captured on this recording: Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006 Performed dby Viktoria Mullova (violin) The London Guardian wrote: “To hear Mullova play Bach is, simply, one of the greatest things you can experience” Some years ago Viktoria Mullova recorded the three Bach Partitas on a modern violin but has never recorded the Sonatas, and in the meantime her interpretations have been transformed by her studies in Baroque practice and her subsequent performances with masters such as Gardiner, Dantone, Harnoncourt, Antonini and il Giardino Armonico. BBC Music Magazine wrote the following: “In this recording Viktoria Mullova presents virtually flawless playing but, of greater importance, she sustains an impeccably punctuated, modulated and compelling dialogue through Bach’s counterpoint with seemingly effortless intimacy and charm.” Here is Ms. Mullova performing the music of Bach:
Liam Scarlett in rehearsal for The Age of Anxiety ©ROH. Bill Cooper 2014. Frankenstein is Liam Scarlett ’s first full-length piece for The Royal Ballet on the Covent Garden main stage, but in recent years his one-act works have made him a familiar presence at the Royal Opera House – and indeed further afield. Here are a few highlights from his prolific career to date: Viscera Inspired by the raw energy of Lowell Liebermann ’s First Piano Concerto, Scarlett created Viscera for Miami City Ballet in 2012. It has since been performed by The Royal Ballet twice, in 2012 and 2015. ‘There’s no taking it easy in this ballet’, Scarlett says: the outer movements are a whirlwind of energy, and the searing pas de deux which comprises the central movement simmers with intensity. Sweet Violets Scarlett’s first narrative ballet, created for The Royal Ballet in 2012, explores the artist Walter Sickert’s sordid fascination with Jack the Ripper . Sweet Violets is a dark, brooding ballet incorporating John Macfarlane ’s atmospheric sets of murky London brothels and backstreets, and Rachmaninoff ’s haunting Trio élégiaque as its score. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare’s plays have long provided brilliant fodder for choreographers, from Christopher Wheeldon ’s The Winter’s Tale to Frederick Ashton ’s The Dream – and Scarlett turned to the same play that had enchanted Ashton half a century earlier for his 2015 work for Royal New Zealand Ballet and Queensland Ballet . To Mendelssohn ’s famous music, Scarlett conjured a funny, touching ballet which, the New Zealand Herald wrote, ‘may well become a classic telling’. The Age of Anxiety W.H. Auden ’s poem The Age of Anxiety is set in New York in 1944, following four figures trying to make sense of the modern world. Leonard Bernstein ’s Second Symphony, also a response to Auden’s poem, is the score to which Scarlett sets this 2014 Royal Ballet commission. Inflected with jazz and a sombre, bittersweet edge, the music and dance combine with Auden’s poem to form a fascinating trio. No Man’s Land Like Sweet Violets, Scarlett’s 2014 creation for English National Ballet draws on early 20th century British history – but here we are drawn into the Britain of World War I, and the women left behind by the newly drafted soldiers. The ballet combines a re-creation of a munitions factory staffed by these women with the men’s fate in the trenches, as well as a series of emotional pas de deux of love and loss. Watch more films like these on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel: Frankenstein runs 4-27 May 2016. Tickets are still available . The ballet is a co-production with San Francisco Ballet and is generously supported by the Taylor Family Foundation, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Will and Beth Gardiner, Karl and Holly Peterson, The Shauna Gosling Trust, The Constance Travis Charitable Trust, The American Friends of Covent Garden, the Frankenstein Production Syndicate, Bently Foundation, The Hellman Family and E. L. Wiegand Foundation.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner (20 April 1943) is an English conductor. He founded the Monteverdi Choir (1966), the English Baroque Soloists (1978) and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (1990). Gardiner has recorded over 250 albums with these and other musical ensembles, most of which have been published by Deutsche Grammophon and Philips Classics. Gardiner is most famous for his interpretations of Baroque music on period instruments with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists, but his repertoire and discography are not limited to early music. Gardiner has served as chief conductor of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as guest conductor with such major orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic.