Today’s recital in the RBA was given by Russell Braun. Carolyn Maule and members of the COC orchestra. The programme, Journeys of the Soul, divided into two quite distinct halves. In the first, Russell was joined by Marie Bedard and Dominique Laplants (violins), Keith Hamm (viola) and Paul Widner (cello) in a performance of Samuel Barber’s Dover Beach; a setting of a text by Matthew Arnold. It’s a very dark text and rather an extraordinary choice for a twenty year old. The music is equally dark and brooding. It’s a great work for Russell though and plays well to the colours of his voice and his keen attention to text. It was a pleasure to hear in the very intimate atmosphere of the RBA.
The second half of the Amsterdam double bill that opened with Iphigénie en Aulide is, of course, Iphigénie en Tauride. In this piece the more usual version of the Aulis story, where Diana substitutes a stag for Iphigenia on the altar and whisks the girl off to be her priestess among the savage Scythians of Tauris, is assumed. So the piece opens with Iphigenia and six other Mycenean priestesses (how they got to Tauris is a mystery) in Diana’s temple at Tauris where their job is to sacrifice any strangers who show up. Almost at once the capture of two Greeks is announced. They turn out to Iphigenia’s brother Orestes and his sidekick Pylades and the the next 90 minutes turns on Iphigenia failing to sacrifice either of them.