durhamcathedralI was talking to Leslie Barcza of barczablog at a concert yesterday.  He asked me what I was most looking forward to in the upcoming season and I was a bit stumped for an answer because there’s lots of good stuff in Toronto this season but nothing that really sets my pulse racing.  Finally I answered with the TSO’s Dream of Gerontius, which, it turns out, is not exactly high on Lesley’s bucket list.  This led to a brief discussion about how origins affect our reactions; that is until the actual concert interrupted our talk.

Leslie, as you might suppose from his name, has Magyar roots whereas mine are very English, indeed Anglican.  There’s a special place in my musical universe for Anglican church music, Purcell, Britten and, yes, even Elgar.  And today I’m realising just how integral to that tradition Handel’s oratorios are.  I’m watching Luc Bondy’s production of Hercules and I’m reacting in just the same way I did to Peter Sellars’ production seen here last season.  I just can’t see how anyone could find this music boring.  It’s really messing with my head, as in I’m an emotional wreck and I’ve only made it through Act 1 thus far.  Sellars’ Theodora does the same thing to me.  Very little non English music does.  I thoroughly enjoy it, am even moved by it, but rarely does it wreck me (OK so Strauss and Mozart occasionally maybe).

Proper reviews of yesterdays concert and Bondy’s Hercules will follow in due course.

5 thoughts on “Roots

  1. Also very much looking forward to the Elgar – and yes, roots have a lot to do with it I think. Despite my name, I’m half English on my mother’s side, and it’s the tradition I grew up with at holidays etc. I also think Elgar is often misunderstood. Sure there are the bombastic, patriotic marches etc. but I’ve come to know his two symphonies very well in the last couple of years and to my ear they sound very much of their time, not at all retrograde and are extremely exciting, moving pieces. I’d even go as far to say that I find them much more appealing than similar big German symphonic repertoire of the period (Mahler, Bruckner) which for some reason I’ve not been able to connect with thus far.

      • The cello concerto is sublime for sure. Nezet-Seguin is coming to Koerner Hall with his Orchestre Metropolitain in April in a program including the cello concerto and the Enigma Variations plus a Vaughan Williams symphony. Tickets were selling very well when I got mine a couple months ago. Rare to see a program like that, and it takes an orchestra from Montreal to bring it to us!

  2. I was at a talk by the director of NZ Opera and he actually said in front of an audience of about fifty people that Handel’s operas were boring. So I guess no Baroque music is ever going to be programmed while he’s in charge. Come back from Seattle, Aidan Lang!

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