Rival Queens

Isabel-bayrakdarianRival Queens is a collaboration between Tafelmusik and Isabel Bayrakdarian showcasing music written for Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni; star divas of the 18th century who fought out a bitter rivalry on stage in London in 1726-28.  The great composers of the sage, most notably Handel, all composed for them and wrote works that brought out their respective, and quite contrasted, strengths.

In the first half of the program Bayrakdarian focused on works for Bordoni.  There were arias from Handel’s Alessandro (one of the works both divas performed in), Bononcini’s Astianatte and Hasse’s Cajo Fabricio.  These are pieces requiring extremely secure technique.  They lie fairly low in the soprano range (maybe modern mezzo territory) but have long, long, intricate coloratura runs which Bayrakdarian navigated with apparent ease.  The arias were rounded out with orchestral pieces by Handel and Zelenka.

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On the Wing

barduaLast night the Talisker Players and guest artists presented a series of readings and vocal pieces on the theme of winged creatures.  It was a very varied programme with the readings, winningly read by actor R.H. Thomson, ranging from Albert Manguel to Peter Matthiessen.  The readings also provided time for the set-up to be changed between numbers with minimum tedium.

The music was also very varied, ranging from Telemann to John Plant’s Sandpiper of 2011 with the rest being drawn from 20th century works from Pärt, Copland, Hoiby, Gideon and Foss.  The ensemble changed constantly with various combinations of strings, woodwind, piano, continuo and percussion.  Continue reading