Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Yuki Kasai
27 Jan 2012

Basel Chamber Orchestra, Wigmore Hall

Founded in 1984, the Basel Chamber Orchestra has developed a penchant for programmes which combine the modern and unfamiliar with the traditional and renowned.

Basel Chamber Orchestra, Wigmore Hall

Basel Chamber Orchestra. Yuki Kasai, violin. Mark Padmore, tenor; Olivier Darbellay, horn. Wigmore Hall, London, Wednesday 18th January 2012.

Above: Yuki Kasai

 

Directed by their energetic leader, Yuki Kasai, and joined by tenor Mark Padmore and horn player Olivier Darbellay, they offered a thought-provoking performance at the Wigmore Hall which was musically and intellectually satisfying.

The contemporary Swiss composer Lukas Langlotz was born in Basel, and stStudierte an der dortigen Musikhochschule Klavier (bei Jean-Jacques Dünki), Dirigieren (bei Wilfried Boettcher und Manfred Honeck) und Komposition (bei Rudolf Keludied piano, conducting and composition at the Conservatory of his home town, before further studies in Paris and Lucerne. His arrangements of three well-known songs by Henry Purcell, which opened the concert, presented very interesting instrumental combinations and colours - the strings of the Basel Chamber Orchestra extending the original lute accompaniment into a shimmering array of tonal and textural blends - allied to tense, explosive rhythms. Textures were often lucid and light, as the orchestra proposed independent musical ideas beneath and between the vocal declamations.

But, while intriguing, these arrangements were over-complicated and at times intrusive, disturbing the measured declamation of the vocal line and unbalancing the relationship between voice and accompaniment. For example, the textural and rhythmic complexities of the accompanying ensemble rocked the structural foundations provided by the five-bar ground bass in the ‘Evening Hymn’, obscuring the subtlety of the flexible dialogue between the vocal line and the repeating ground the asymmetries of which contribute so much to the expressive freedom and power of the song. ‘Let the night perish’ is perhaps more suited to exaggeratedly dramatic presentation; here Padmore ranged affectingly from despair - “May the dark shades of an eternal night/ Exclude the least kind beam of dawning light” - to devotion, concluding with a poignant prayer that all, from the richest monarch to the poorest slave may “Rest undisturb’d and no distinction have/ Within the silent chambers of the grave”. Padmore’s strong tenor was employed flexibly and with thoughtfully applied dynamic range. Overall, though, the balance between voice and chamber orchestra was not always ideal; there was undeniably much intensity, but little poignancy, joy or peace.

Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings is inevitably still haunted by the shadows of its first performers, Peter Pears and Dennis Brain, who premiered the work in this very Hall in 1943. Padmore and Darbellay gave a reading that was personal and individual, while remaining in tune with Britten’s vocal aesthetic which promotes the centrality of the text above mere ‘beautiful singing’. Indeed, Padmore’s own website avowals that “One of the great things I enjoy about singing is exploring texts”. That’s not to suggest that his singing is not beautiful … if occasionally a few of his textual emphases were a little mannered, Padmore’s tenor was always richly expressive, his diction clear without being overly emphatic or distracting. He dispatched the virtuosic demands of Britten’s vocal writing with ease, creating an array of wonderful vocal vistas to depict the changing poetic worlds. The sincerity and poise of the opening ‘Pastoral’, with the horn sensitively echoing and interweaving with the voice, evolved to a heightened dramatic tension in Tennyson’s ‘The splendour falls on castle walls’, and was transformed into an eerie darkness in Blake’s ‘O Rose, thou are sick!’, Darbellay perfectly matching the modulations of vocal tone. Daring and vibrant pizzicati enhanced the mood of apprehension and strain in the Dirge; indeed, throughout the evening the violins’ intonation was superb, and the players introduced much freshness to these familiar songs, if at times their timbre was somewhat austere, even abrasive. The final song, a sensuous setting of Keats’ sonnet to that ‘soft embalmer of the still midnight’, concluded the cycle in rapt intensity.

It’s only a small quibble - and one which may seem uncharitable given the technical finesse of Darbellay’s natural harmonics - but perhaps Darbellay was a fraction too authoritative in the horn introduction, which should surely sound mysterious and nocturnal, shrouded with a touch of vulnerability? The concluding off-stage reprise was, however, deeply moving: tender and poignant.

Darbellay returned after the interval to perform Mozart's Second Horn Concerto, once again producing a rich array of colours, most notably in the redolent lyricism of the opening movement where the soloist was accompanied by rhythmically buoyant, carefully phrased and feisty playing by the BCO. The final work of the evening, Haydn’s rarely performed Symphony No.52, was a little more untidy, although similarly charged with energy and exuberance. The Andante offered respite and relaxation after the stylish exuberance of the Sturm und Drang first movement, the players appreciating the density of the organically unfolding material and Haydn’s harmonic complexities. This was impressively committed playing.

Claire Seymour

Programme:

Purcell, arr. Lukas Langlotz; Thou wakeful shepherd (A Morning Hymn); Now that the sun hath veiled its light (An Evening Hymn); Let the night perish (Job’s Curse).

Britten: Serenade Op.31 for tenor, horn and strings.

Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 2 in Eb K.417.

Haydn: Symphony No.52 in C minor.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):