A Brilliant – and Brilliantly Questioning – Recital by Maurizio Pollini

21/08/2017

Salz

Salzburg Festival [7] – Chopin and Debussy: Maurizio Pollini (piano). Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg, 17.8.2017. (MB)

Maurizio Pollini, Klavier

Maurizio Pollini (piano) (c) Salzburger Festspiele/Marco Borrelli

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‘Full-blooded Romanticism’: Sir Mark Elder Leads Hallé in Sensational-Sounding Faust

21/08/2017

EIF logo

Edinburgh International Festival 2017 [10] – Berlioz, La Damnation de FaustEdinburgh Festival Chorus (dir. Christoper Bell), NYCoS National Girls Choir (dir. Christopher Bell), Gentlemen of the Hallé Choir (dir. Matthew Hamilton), Hallé, Sir Mark Elder (conductor), Usher Hall, 20.8.2017. (SRT) Read more

Sir Simon Rattle’s Inspirational Gurrelieder at the Proms

20/08/2017

Proms

2017 BBC PROMS 46 – Schoenberg, Gurrelieder: Soloists, CBSO Chorus, London Symphony Chorus, Orfeó Català, London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle (conductor), Royal Albert Hall, London, 19.8.2017. (AS)

Prom 46_CR_BBC Chris Chistodoulou_5

Simon O’Neil (Waldemar) with the London Symphony Orchestra (c) BBC/Chris Chistodoulou

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Sakari Oramo Leads Fitting Proms Mahler Memorial to Much-Loved Jiří Bělohlávek

19/08/2017

Proms

2017 BBCPROM 45 – Mahler: Elizabeth Watts (soprano); Elisabeth Kulman (mezzo-soprano); The Bach Choir; BBC Symphony Chorus & Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo (conductor). Royal Albert Hall, London, 18.8.2017. (CC)

Prom 45_CR_BBC Chris Chistodoulou_5

Soprano Elizabeth Watts & mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Kulman perform Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony
(c) BBC/Chris Christodoulou

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Charles Dutoit on Medal-Winning Form at the Proms

19/08/2017

Proms

2017 BBC PROMS 43 – Falla, Lalo and Saint-Saëns: Stéphanie d’Oustrac (mezzo-soprano), Joshua Bell (violin), Cameron Carpenter (organ), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Charles Dutoit (conductor), Royal Albert Hall, London, 17.8.2017. (AS)

Prom 43_CR_BBC Chris Chistodoulou_6

Charles Dutoit is presented with his RPS Gold Medal by John Gilhooly
(c) BBC/Chris Chistodoulou

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Oriental Musical Fantasies at the Proms from François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles

19/08/2017

Proms

2017 BBC PROMS 42 – Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Lalo, Franck: Cédric Tiberghien (piano), Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth (conductor) Royal Albert Hall, London, 16.8.2017. (GD)

Prom 42: Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth, (Cédric Tiberghien on piano)at the Royal Albert Hall, on Wednesday 16 Aug. 2017. Photo by Mark Allan

Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth (conductor) (c) Mark Allan

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Brahms’ Requiem and a Makeshift Strauss Opera Hit and Miss on the Fringe

19/08/2017

Fringe Logo

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 [3] (SRT)

Brahms – A German Requiem, NYCOS, St Giles Cathedral, 12.8.2017

Strauss – Ariadne auf Naxos, VoiceArc, Broughton St Mary’s Church, 18.8.2017.

As if he wasn’t already busy enough with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, their Chorus Director, Christopher Bell, spent what must be a rare August night off conducting his other main Scottish Group: the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCOS). I’ve sung their praises many times elsewhere in these pages. Their quality far outshines their age and experience, and they can produce artistry of astounding maturity alongside the pure tone that you associate with young voices, together with bags of enthusiasm. When I heard them late last Saturday evening, they were singing Brahms’ Requiem, to an organ accompaniment, in the august surroundings of St Giles’ Cathedral, the High Kirk on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. This made for a lovely atmosphere, as did the sell-out crowd, but the echoey acoustic inevitably led to a cloudy sound in places. To be fair, that was only rarely a problem, and in the slower passages, such as the first and last movements, the reverential atmosphere fitted the acoustic beautifully. The two great fugues, however, were taken optimistically quickly, and the ensuing aural fog wasn’t good, precipitating some inaccuracies.  Furthermore, be it the venue or the direction, some of their usually sensitive shading wasn’t quite up to speed either. The dynamic range seemed to stretch from ­forte to mezzoforte throughout, something that was particularly damaging in the second movement, and I couldn’t tell whether that was due to the acoustic, the direction or the necessity of keeping control in the unwieldy building. Never mind: it’s the peaceful aura of the outer movements that will stick with me the most, together with the dramatic contributions of soloists Andrew McTaggart and Samantha Sodden.

At least NYCOS got their show off the ground. Across town, in the lovely Georgian church of Broughton St Mary’s, VoiceArc’s planned staging of Strauss’s Ariadne Auf Naxos was torpedoed by “circumstances out of our control pertaining to copyright and performance rights.” Hmm: I smell a cock-up. They went ahead with what they called on “open rehearsal” for which, to give them credit, they didn’t charge. It led to a slightly awkward set-up of the singers being able to choose how much they acted. Some didn’t at all, some (such as Echo) did far too much, and the whole thing came across as a bit slapdash. That was reiterated by the fact that there was no information about any of the performers, barring each introducing themselves verbally, so I can’t single out any of them by name. That’s a shame, because some of them were very enjoyable, especially a really cherishable Zerbinetta, and a buoyantly confident Composer. Both Ariadne and Bacchus had appropriately big voices, if they were a little approximate on top, and I enjoyed the troupe of comedians, though I will go to my grave thinking that their scene between Zerbinetta’s aria and Bacchus’ entry needs to be drastically cut. Top marks to their heroic, if anonymous, pianist, who got the biggest workout of the evening and deserves a medal for sustaining it.

Simon Thompson

For more about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe click here.

East Meets West in Stimulating Fusion at the Late Night Prom

17/08/2017

Proms

 

 

 

 

 

2017 BBC PROMS 41 – R. Shankar/Glass, Passages: Anoushka Shankar (sitar); Alexa Mason (soprano); Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar); Ameed Ali Khan (sarod); Nick Able (tanpure); Ravichandra Kulur (bansun/vocalist); Pirashanna Thevarajah (ghatam/kanjira/morsing); M. Balachandar (mridangam); Sanju Sahal (tabla); Britten Sinfonia/Karen Kamensek (conductor). Royal Albert Hall, 15.8.2017. (CC) Read more

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