Strauss’ Elektra, for all its “grand” music, is essentially a rather intimate psychological study of the psyches and relationships of three women. Given this, one might think that the enormous stage of the Felsenreitschule in Salzburg a very odd choice of venue. Krzysztof Warlikowski’s approach to the challenge is bold but almost impossible to do justice to on video. Despite that, what does come across on video is a rather compelling version of the work.
Back in the days when all British regiments had bands it was common for the band to entertain the locals with outdoor concerts in park or seaside bandstands. As well as the usual martial and patriotic fare, such concerts often featured suites drawn from operettas or operas; both old and new. Shortly before the First World War the more than averagely enterprising bandmaster of the Grenadier Guards made such a suite from Richard Strauss’ Elektra (premiered 1909). Rather pleased with it, he decided to insert it into one of those rather dull pauses that happen during Trooping the Colour. The bandsmen were also rather pleased with themselves for executing such advanced music. Unfortunately they were soon to be deflated as a liveried flunkie emerged from the palace with a message for the bandmaster… “The King does not know what the music the band just played was but it is never to be played again”. Sic transit gloria mundi. Mozart apparently is OK though as the Coldstream’s slow march to this day is Non più andrai.
Yesterday’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was the last for the year in the vocal series and featured members of the Ensemble Studio. Rachael Kerr was scheduled to do about half the accompanying but illness prevented her from playing so some hasty reprogramming meant that what we got differed somewhat from the printed programme but it was still a very well put together effort.
It’s seven years since Elizabeth Krehm died and last night we heard the seventh memorial concert organised by her sister Rachel at Christ Church Deer Park. As ever I was amazed and delighted at the resources the extended Krehm family can draw on. The Canzona Chamber Players Orchestra is essentially a scratch operation but in the hands of conductor Evan Mitchell it’s always a pleasure to listen to.
There’s something very special about a song recital by a really good singer at the top of his/her game in a space conducive to song. The stars conjoined yesterday to yield a recital by Adrianne Pieczonka with pianist Rachel Andrist in the song friendly acoustic of Mazzoleni Hall, as part of the Mazzoleni Songmasters series.
Yesterday Matthew Cairns and Rachel Kerr performed an unusually wide range of songs in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. It’s part of Matthew’s prep for his CBC recording session which was part of the prize at last year’s Centre Stage and which will be broadcast in the new year. They kicked off with a contrasting pair of Duparc song’s. First came the almost dreamy L’invitation au voyage with it’s arpeggio accompaniment followed by the much more dramatic Le manoir de Rosemonde. These really set the tone for the recital. There was power where it was needed but also considerable delicacy from both singer and pianist.
Yesterday’s lunchtime recital in the RBA was given by soprano, Vanessa Vasquez and pianist Miloš Repický. It was a well constructed programme though there were few surprises. The first set was three Strauss standards; Ständchen, Breit’ übermein Haupt and Befreit; the last dedicated to Vanessa’s teacher who died recently. They were all well sung with appropriate emotional emphasis and, best of all, both performers appeared to be enjoying themselves.
I’ve learned not to dismiss Romeo Castellucci’s work on first watching because it has a nasty habit of starting to make sense on reflection. His 2018 production of Richard Strauss’ Salome for the Salzburg Festival may be a case in point. Castellucci seems determined to destroy any preconceptions we have about the work and Franz Welser-Möst in the pit is a willing accomplice.
Last night saw the first concert of this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival. The theme was “Beyond Borders” with most of the works presented; a mixture of piano, violin and vocal, having been influenced by other cultures/places or written in exile.