Last night’s TSO performance of Britten’s War Requiem was a bit of a mixed bag. There were things to like but, overall, I was not greatly moved; which I expect to be by this work, and it seemed like a very long evening for one work of modest length.
Let’s start with the positives.Tatiana Pavlovskaya was as good a soprano soloist as I have heard in this piece. She sang with enough power to be a distinct voice in all but the very densest sections of the music while maintaining an admirable sweetness of tone without the almost customary screechiness. The Toronto Children’s Chorus was excellent. Toby Spence’s diction was top notch with every word clear. There was some really nice playing from the chamber orchestra, especially the strings. The last fifteen minutes from the blood curdling Libera Me to “let us sleep now” had the right balance of terror and lyricism though, even here, there could have been more drama. Where was the frisson at “I am the enemy you killed my friend”? Continue reading →
Laurent Pelly’s 2013 production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann at the Liceu is one of those productions that’s a bit hard to take in at first go. Part of it is the performing edition used (Michael Kay and Jean-Christophe Keck) which seems to have added a lot of dialogue compared to any version I’ve seen before and includes Hoffmann killing Giulietta in Act 3. This produces a constant sense of “where they heck are we in the piece”. It doesn’t help that the DVD package contains no explanatory material at all. There are no interviews on the disks and the documentation is sub-basic.
The 2010 recording of Prokofiev’s The Gambler from the Mariinsky Theatre is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a complicated opera about obsession and power and it needs a strong production and a director who can get coherent performances out of a large cast to fully succeed. Temur Chkhiedze doesn’t really manage it. The production is very straightforward, set in slightly abstracted versions of a hotel, a casino etc and at times it is brought to life by the clever lighting of Gleb Fishtinsky but it doesn’t do enough to establish any real purpose for the piece. It’s not helped by some very broad acting, especially from Sergei Aleksaskin’s General which is further emphasized by video director Laurent Gentot’s heavy use of close ups.