In the middle of November the days off at Christmas seem to take ages to arrive; in the middle weeks of December there seems to be no time at all as they career towards us. And then they appear to be over in a flash – or, perhaps, a haze – of social activity. By which I mean to own up to not having written up a couple of good musical events in those hectic pre-festive weeks.
One, in particular, was better than good: it was absolutely in a category where only superlatives will do. The last night of Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden was the sort of performance that stays with you for a very long time, in fact I strongly suspect it is unlikely to be surpassed for its singing in my future opera-going. We had seen the first night, which was something wonderful, but by the end of the run the performance had cohered into something which was nothing short of transcendent. (more…)
On Saturday, I attended an interesting study day at the Wigmore Hall, entitled Capturing a Moment: the Art of Photographing Music and based around the fantastic career of Clive Barda. If you have anything at all to do with classical music and opera, you’ve seen Barda’s work: he’s probably the foremost photographer of musicians, both on stage (for formal rehearsal photographs, for example) and off stage.
He was charmingly straightforward as he talked about the interpersonal – as opposed to technical – aspects of his photographic art. A film retrospective, directed by Philippe Monnet, was part of the day and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in music and opera. There’s a Youtube trailer that’s certainly worth a couple of minutes of anyone’s time:
One slight snag with the day was that the Wigmore was a little chilly, which led to an idle speculation that the cold desolation of the previous night’s winter’s journey had somehow lingered into the Saturday. Friday night had seen the second of Simon Keenlyside’s Winterreise performances, with Emmanuel Ax accompanying. It was astounding in its intensity and raw power.
Last night was, originally, to have been La Fille du Régiment at Covent Garden. However, when we got lucky with tickets for the Christian Gerhaher recital at Wigmore Hall, La Fille had to go – well, in fact we moved to last Sunday’s matinee. The contrast between the two was marked, to be sure. It’s a bit difficult to think back on Fille with Gerhaher’s glorious, and resolutely serious, Schumann still fresh in my ears. (more…)
Having just completed the incredibly frustrating process of attempting to book this year’s Proms, I needed to calm myself with recollections of an excellent concert at the Wigmore Hall on Thursday, when Anna Caterina Antonacci was joined by pianist Donald Sulzen and the Heath Quartet for an interestingly varied concert. (more…)
Friday’s recital by Joyce DiDonato, with David Zobel at the piano, was a thoroughly uplifting affair, though by no means straightforward repertoire.
Themed around Venice, we were treated to two arias by Vivaldi, some Fauré, a couple of Schumanns and a Schubert, a dash of Rossini, some Hahn, and songs by a composer previously unknown to me, Michael Head. Joyce was on tremendous form, but it wasn’t her typically secure coloratura that impressed, but the stunning legato lines and vivid characterisations. To be particularly singled out would be the second of the Hahn settings (Five Songs from Venezia: La barcheta), each verse ending with a vocalise of heart-stopping, tear-inducing beauty, and La regatta Veneziana by Rossini, with tremendous panache brought to the presentation of the alternately saucy and coy heroine. (more…)
After a somewhat trying day in which we discovered someone had nicked some of the lead flashing from the side of our house, the evening’s Wigmore Hall concert was a much needed dose of humanity.
The Nash Ensemble’s programme included the Siegfried Idyll, Mozart’s String Quintet in C Major (K515), and the usual excerpts from Strauss’s Capriccio, performed by the ensemble with Felicity Lott. It was a wonderful evening, going some way to restoring a semblance of peace of mind. (more…)