the script of storms is a new record of music by Michael Hersch. It contains two pieces; each just under thirty minutes long. The first, cortex and ankle, sets fragments of poems by Christopher Middleton. The general theme is death and decay so it’s not exactly cheerful. It was written for the Klang Ensemble and is scored for their combination of saxophones, trombone, keyboards, percussion, guitar and electronics plus soprano; in this case Ah Young Hong. The vocal line is mostly high sustained notes sung with little or no vibrato though at times it becomes speech or near speech. The accompaniment varies from extremely sparse; just the occasional note from the piano, to quite dense and sometimes abrasive and dissonant. The overall effect is quite disturbing. The recording was made in the Jurrianse Zaal (Rotterdam) in 2016.
The 2000 Metropolitan Opera recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is based on Zeffirelli’s 1990 production somewhat modified by director Stephen Lawless. It’s an entirely traditional “breeches and boobs” affair with baroque painted flats, tricorne hats etc. Blocking is mostly very basic with a lot of “park and bark” just livened up with a bit of prop twiddling. It works because it has a superb cast who sing and act (within the limits of the production) extremely well.
At the core is Bryn Terfel in the title role. You get what you expect; a big voice that can be scaled back to quite beautiful, menace, physical presence and a touch of humour when required. If you have seen his more recent Scarpia or Mephistopheles you know what to expect. He’s backed up Ferruccio Furlanetto in a rather broadly comic take on Leporello which, though I find it unsubtle, isn’t inappropriate in this production. The Terfel/Furlanetto relationship is very much master/servant. No ambiguity about two sides of one character here! Continue reading