NEW! Karabits Shares with Ian Lace his Impressions of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius

28/05/2019

Kirill Karabits, Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, delivered a profoundly moving performance of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius on May 15th 2019 to conclude the BSO’s 2018/19 season. Following this (click here), I asked Kirill Karabits about his impressions of Elgar’s masterpiece.

Kirill Karabits

IL: Can you please recall when you first heard The Dream of Gerontius and what first impressions you had of the work then?  Do you think it has a resonance, particularly for younger generations, in today’s increasingly secular and cynical world?

KK: I have actually never heard the work live and only started listening to recordings just before programming it and, of course, during the process of preparation for the performance with the BSO. It is difficult to say whether this work can make somebody become more religious, but certainly a mystical element of this composition can easily catch your imagination and open different levels of possibilities in understanding this work.

IL: Perhaps you have listened to a number of recordings of the work over the years? Please identify those that impressed you and why. If you were cast away on a desert island and you could only take one recording of The Dream of Gerontius, which one would that be and why?

KK: My preferred ones are conducted by Barenboim and Barbirolli, because of the very good voices and how the architecture and dramatic structure is built through the work. Both interpretations are different but are very convincing for me. I would probably take Barenboim’s recording on a desert island.

IL: What challenges and opportunities are presented in conducting The Dream of Gerontius?

KK: It is definitely the balance between the romantic musical language which has to be very rich and expressive; at the same time the story needs to provide a certain distance between the listener and performers leaving some space for reflection. I think this work, as well as other Elgar works, has to be “driven” by the conductor in order to keep the attention and not to lose the shape of changing scenes and episodes.

IL: Elgar had said that ‘This is the best of me…’  For yourself, what would you say are the most inspired sections of The Dream of Gerontius and, possibly, in contrast, the weakest?

KK: Difficult to say, I always try to consider a musical piece as a whole because certain sections would not function in the same way without what comes before, whether it is inspired or weak. My favourite moment is the end of duet between the Soul and Angel at the beginning of the second part.

IL: Looking forward, would you favour conducting other Elgar devotional works such as The Apostles, The Kingdom or The Light of Life?

KK: Yes, absolutely!

IL: Are there any religious/mystical works by other British composers that you would like to conduct; for instance, works by Vaughan Williams (including the mysticism implicit in his Fifth Symphony) or, say, Gerald Finzi’s Intimations of Immortality?

KK: Thanks for the ideas, I’m always interested in new repertoire. Another obvious name that comes to my mind as well is John Tavener…

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month