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.
Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park opened last night at UoT Opera in a production by Tim Albery. It’s a really interesting show that builds up in “layers” to a very satisfying whole. The Austen novel, of course, is very self consciously a novel. There’s no pretence at “immersion”. The author is both telling the story and commenting on it for the benefit of you, the reader. Librettist Alasdair Middleton both builds on this and does a quite brilliant job of compression to bring in a condensed, and only slightly simplified, version of the story in under two hours.
I’ve been impressed by Jonathan Dove’s art songs so I was glad to be able to take a look at one of his operas. It’s The Adventures of Pinocchio and it was recorded in a production by Opera North at Sadlers Wells in 2008. I feel a bit ambivalent about it. I really like the music but I’m not hugely engaged by the libretto. I think this is largely because of the subject matter so it may come off better for someone else.