Summer Delights at Chipping Campden and Longborough. A Preview by Roger Jones

Summer Delights at Chipping Campden and Longborough.

A Preview by Roger Jones

Two music festivals in Gloucestershire reach important milestones this year. The small Cotswold town of Chipping Campden is preparing for its tenth festival at the wonderful wool church of St James, and its founder and director, Charlie Bennett is celebrating the occasion with a particularly strong line-up of artists.

There is a strong Schubertian presence at this year’s Festival starting with an all-Schubert piano recital by Paul Lewis on 8th. Mark Padmore joins him the following evening in a recital of Schubert songs including Schwanengesang. On Friday 11th the brilliant young Elias Quartet are joined by cellist Amy Norrington in Schubert’s String Quintet. While the Nash Ensemble come to town the following Friday to play that composer’s Octet in F major.

Two pianists come to the Festival on Saturday 12th: Alessando Taverna at lunchtime an Imogen Cooper in the evening. The latter makes no fewer than three appearances at the Festival: the following Tuesday she performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 18 with the Chipping Campden Festival Academy Orchestra; and on Thursday 17th she joins soprano Kate Royal in Mozart’s Ch’io mi scordi di te?

Richard Goode is the third of the major pianists to offer a solo piano recital. This is on Wednesday 16th when he will fearure music by Mozart, Chopin and Schumann’s Kreisleriana. And on Thursday 10th Simon Crawford Phillips will partner violinist and violist Lawrence Power in sonatas by Beethoven, Prokofiev and Brahms.

I have already mentioned the Festival Academy Orchestra which offers newly qualified musicians the chance to play alongside and be mentored by experienced players. Under the baton of Thomas Hull and with Ruth Rogers as its leader this ensemble has been one of the notable achievements of the Festival in recent years. Its ambitious third concert provides the finale to the Festival with Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and the Beethoven Violin Concerto with Anthony Marwood as soloist.

Two other events stand out. Monteverdi’s Selve Morale e Spirituale containing some of the Renaissance composer’s most virtuosic music will be performed by The Sixteen (eight of them, to be precise) plus a small instrumental ensemble conducted by the incomparable Harry Christophers. This event is on Sunday 13th. The following evening the Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas will be singing some of Purcell’s Ayres for the Theatre accompanied by the Academy of Ancient Music.

Lunchtime concerts by up-and-coming musicians are also featured, but the participants have yet to be announced. For further details look at the website or ring the enquiry line 01386 849018.

Meanwhile, some eight miles away Longborough Festival Opera is preparing for its 21st season with operas by Mozart, Janàček and Wagner.

Over the past three seasons director Jenny Miller and conductor Gianluca Marcianò have focused their attention on Mozart’s operas where Lorenzo da Ponte was the librettist. This time they are collaborating on The Magic Flute, and Longborough will see the return of the Croatian baritone Saso Cano, Elizabeth Donovan (who has sung Dona Anna and Fiordiligi) and Nick Merryweather (an erstwhile Figaro and Don Giovanni). Six performances have been scheduled. (See below.)

The second opera in the season will be Janàček’s Katya Kabanova, with Lee Bisset in the title role and Michael Bracegirdle singing the part of Kuligin. The operation is being masterminded by Jonathan Lyness and Richard Studer who apart from being old Longborough hands are well versed in Janàček’s music having put on The Cunning Little Vixen here in 2008, which was very well received.

Anthony Negus, who has been described as “a British Wagner conductor second to none” by Hugh Canning in the Sunday Times, will be back for Longborough’s production of Götterdämmerung with Alan Privett as its director. The young Estonian Mata Tiri takes on the role of Siegfried with Rachel Nicholls as Brünnhilde. The Negus-Privett partnership has worked wonders with the three preceding operas of Wagner’s Ring cycle and I have high expectations for this one.

Even higher are my expectations for 2013 when the complete Ring Cycle will be performed twice in Longborough’s 500 seater opera house – from June 16th to 22nd, and then from June 28th to July 4th.

This year’s Longborough season concludes in a (slightly) lighter vein with a Young Artists’ Production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd directed by Maria Jagusz.

2012 Schedule:

The Magic Flute: June 9, 10 (at 3pm), 12, 13, 15 and 16.

Katya Kabanova: June 26, 27, 29, 30

Götterdämmerung: July 17, 19, 22, 24. Start time: 3.30.

Sweeney Todd: July 28th at 6.30, July 29th at 3.

Full details are available on the Longborough Festival Opera website:

Roger Jones