More online content

coronavirus_2019Tafelmusik are starting a series of on-line concerts on May 27th.  They are ticketed, Pay-What-You-Like with a starting price of $5.  Details on the whole series can be found here.

The Guggenheim Museum’ Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions will present the world premiere of Click Clock – Tick Tock by Dick Hyman on June 1st at 7.30pm.  It’s described as “a surreal meditation on time during quarantine, with intricate paper cuts and ecstatic musical performances” and features well known countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.  It’s free and will play on the WPA Youtube channel.

I Will Fly Like A Bird

flylikeabirdI Will Fly Like a Bird is a chamber opera for two voices and six instruments composed by John Plant to a libretto by J. A. Wainwright.  It deals with the story  of Robert Dziekanski, a young Pole who was fatally tasered by police at Vancouver Airport in 2007.  It’s not dramatic or angry.  It’s more of an elegy recounting the hopes and aspirations of Robert and his mother who waits for him in Kamloops.  It’s often very beautiful and very, very sad,

The two characters; Robert and his mother, are sung by baritone and soprano with support from string quartet, piano and clarinet.  The music is tonal but quite modern in feel.  There are certainly no concessions to musical theatre but it does have a few “songs” notably a drinking song.  The music really feels apt for the story and is geared more to allowing the singers to convey the text than show off.

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War and Peace

No, not the opera by Prokofiev but Robert Carsen’s rather brilliant take on Mozart’s Idomeneo recorded last year at the Teatro Real in Madrid*.  It’s a contemporary Mediterranean setting.  Crete is a completely militarised society.  Everyone is uniformed and carries weapons.  The Trojans are refugees living in a camp with all the pathetic accoutrements of refugee camp life.  Idomeneo and Elettra stand for the traditional “Make Crete Great Again” kind of nationalism while Idamante and Ilia look forward to a world where “Us” and “Them” dissolve in our common humanity.  Carsen, Neptune, this writer and, I think, listening closely to the music, Mozart side with the young lovers.

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A couple more on-line events.

Tomorrow at 3pm EST Jo So is interviewing Alexander Neef on a Zoom channel under the auspices of the IRCPA.  You need to register as space is limited.  The topics, how to register etc can be found at https://ircpa.net

On Friday May 29th at 8pm EST there’s another virtual event.  The vocal/piano du Chordless (Allegra Chapman and Sarah LeMesh) will be premiering a music video of George Crumb’s The Night in Silence Under Many a Star.  I’ve seen a short preview and I’m intrigued.  It will be followed by a Q&A on the theme of “How will digital media shape artists’ and audience’s performance experience, even beyond the pandemic era?”  Registration information is here

nightissilence.

Shostakovich with bells on

shosty11One of the “selling points” of John Storgårds’ new recording of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony (The Year 1905) with the BBC Philharmonic is that it uses real church bells rather than orchestral tubular bells for possibly the first time since the original recording by the Leningrad Phil.  They are interesting but that’s not the main reason to buy this disk.  There are two far stronger ones.  It’s extremely well played.  Storgårds conjures up an almost unbearable amount of tension and it never really relaxes.  This is a performance that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout.  Needless to say, he’s very well backed up by the BBC’s Salford based orchestra who produce exceptionally lovely string tone and brass that is emphatic without quite the “teeth on edge” quality of some Russian orchestras.

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King Arthur in Berlin

Purcell’s King Arthur contains some wonderful music but it also poses real staging issues.  How much of the play that the music supports does one include?  How to contextualise the unfamiliar version of the King Arthur story?  How to deal with the rather crude nationalism?  Sven-Eric Bechtolf and Julian Crouch come up with a very interesting approach for their 2017 production at the Staatsoper Berlin.

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