The moment of truth in any staging of Hansel and Gretel must be the Dream Pantomime which closes act one. This is the director’s moment, the moment where the entire premise of the production finds fulfillment in some of the most beautiful and harmonically luminous music to emerge from the turn of the 19th century. … [Read More]
The tricky opening chord of Weber’s Der Freischutz Overture needed warming up – didn’t we all – but a quartet of horns quickly lent a dappled glow to the proceedings and the mercury began to rise. Weber’s most dramatic opera sports an overture full of surprises and special effects and Sir John Eliot Gardiner and … [Read More]
In a programme note for the premiere of his 2nd Violin Concerto in 1943 Bohuslav Martinu wrote of the eternal tension between “absolute music” and music with an expressive purpose. But times and attitudes change and his suggestion that the soloist in this rarely heard piece represents a more objective projection of the material and … [Read More]
These days Sir Roger Norrington tends to stop, look, and listen rather than get stuck in; it’s almost as if it is someone else’s performance and not his own that he is enjoying. While the hive of activity that is Vaughan Williams’ Overture The Wasps buzzed busily around him it was a case of lazily … [Read More]
To ravish the senses or feed the soul? That is the question. And although Wagner posed it knowing full well that its significance would resonate through the ages – and no more so than now – he also knew, as a man of the theatre, that in the right hands we his audiences might have … [Read More]
Leicester’s handsome Curve Theatre is surely unique in allowing its audience a pre-performance glimpse of the “innards” of each production. As we the audience stroll freely around the circular public walkway the backstage areas are exposed to our gaze neatly reversing the traditional idea that we keep the means to the magic well hidden. I … [Read More]
The heroics came fast and fervently with Andris Nelsons and the Philharmonia Orchestra emerging from suffocating pianissimi to rip out the exultant fanfares of Beethoven’s Leonora No.3 Overture as if already limbering up to take on Strauss’ critics in Ein Heldenleben. That he saw them off so decisively didn’t, on his present form, come … [Read More]
It’s an in-joke that composer Howard Goodall could hardly pass by – quoting that song in his and Stephen Clark’s musical adaptation of the much-loved novel and film LOVE STORY. But it’s the moment he chooses that raises wry smiles from us all. It’s Jenny Cavilleri’s much-anticipated Bach recital and there it is, the … [Read More]
It was extraordinary but not especially surprising how Gustav Mahler’s presence could loom so large in a concert containing not one single note of his music. His pointless “retouching” of the Beethoven symphonies and wholesale repression of his wife Alma’s compositional talent were both marked by the same motives: a willful self-interest.
So there was, … [Read More]
Vladimir Jurowski must have had a sixth sense about this programme beginning as it did with Debussy’s Prelude Des Pas sur la neige (“Foosteps in the Snow”) and ending with the sound of sleigh bells ushering in the wonderworld that is Mahler’s 4th Symphony.
Colin Matthews’ orchestrations of Debussy’s Three Preludes do what all orchestrations … [Read More]