Edward Seckerson http://www.edwardseckerson.biz Reviews, Blogs, Podcasts Sun, 21 May 2017 17:06:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Writer and broadcaster, Edward Seckerson was the chief classical music critic of The Independent newspaper and a founder member of The ArtsDesk.com. <br /> He wrote and presented the long-running BBC Radio3 show Stage and Screen where he interviewed many of the biggest names in the business – among them Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sting. <br /> During his journalistic career he has written for most major music publications and is on the review panel of Gramophone magazine. <br /> Edward conducted one of the last major interviews with Leonard Bernstein and his audio podcast Sondheim – In Good Company has proved a significant contribution to Sondheim’s 80th birthday year. Edward Seckerson clean Edward Seckerson seckerson@btinternet.com seckerson@btinternet.com (Edward Seckerson) Edward Seckerson Classical Music, Opera and Musical Theatre Podcasts Edward Seckerson http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/Ed-3000.jpg http://www.edwardseckerson.biz 40590573 GRAMOPHONE Review: Legrand Concertos for Piano & Cello – Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Frank http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-legrand-concertos-for-piano-cello-orchestre-philharmonique-de-radio-francefrank/ http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-legrand-concertos-for-piano-cello-orchestre-philharmonique-de-radio-francefrank/#respond Sun, 21 May 2017 17:02:55 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5870 I have long adored the songs and admired the talent of Michel Legrand, inflected as it is with a jazzer’s free-ranging melodies and oblique harmonies – but the devilish inventiveness of these concert pieces took even me by surprise. The fact is they don’t really sound like anyone else, and even if you were to [Read More]

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I have long adored the songs and admired the talent of Michel Legrand, inflected as it is with a jazzer’s free-ranging melodies and oblique harmonies – but the devilish inventiveness of these concert pieces took even me by surprise. The fact is they don’t really sound like anyone else, and even if you were to reach for comparisons and describe the first movement of the Piano Concerto as a little like the Ravel G major on speed you still wouldn’t fully convey its distinctive musical character. 

It’s a piece in a hurry alright – the first movement toccata is born of a jazzer’s feverish note-spinning (Legrand is as we know a mean pianist) but with a classicist’s precision. But suddenly in sweeps one of those lush Film Noir-ish themes so beloved of Legrand and all at once it’s personal. In that regard you’d expect a song, or at least a songfulness, to emerge from the slow movement, and it does – a blue, oblique kind of tune, the kind of tune that would never need words. Again, all the harmonic progressions sound like they’re happening in the moment and for one time only – the art that conceals art and springs deception – and there are always surprises in store: a sudden burst of piano in the trenchant finale which sounds like a fleeting homage to Stravinsky’s Petrushka (panic in the puppeteer’s booth) and a thrilling apotheosis which comes on strong like Gershwin rhapsodising in black. Both were Boulanger students, of course. 

In some ways the Cello Concerto (written first) is even more innovative. A driven brilliance still alternates with aching nostalgia , the evolutionary lyric ideas still spun in such a way as to belie that they have been written down, but there is a ruminative quality especially we’ll suited to the cello – the piece was commissioned by the excellent cellist who performs it here Henri Demarquette – and in the final section of the piece – a long lament entitled “Le plus que lent” – it becomes almost a confessional. Legrand’s love of theatre does not desert him, either. Just prior to this final movement he has the conductor slip from podium to piano (the instrument sits there unplayed for the rest of the piece) to accompany the soloist in a brief “aside” – a three-minute Sonata within the concerto, a musical joke sprung with composerly sophistication.

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Sibelius Symphonies 1 & 6 – BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Søndergård http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-sibelius-symphonies-1-6-sondergardbbc-national-orchestra-of-wales/ http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-sibelius-symphonies-1-6-sondergardbbc-national-orchestra-of-wales/#respond Sun, 21 May 2017 16:48:37 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5865 The solo clarinet which stands on the threshold of Sibelius’ symphonic journey is quite simply the palest, chilliest, loneliest sound in the world. Thomas Søndergård has a nose for such things and his Sibelius – as we have already heard in the first release of the series coupling the Second and Seventh symphonies – is [Read More]

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The solo clarinet which stands on the threshold of Sibelius’ symphonic journey is quite simply the palest, chilliest, loneliest sound in the world. Thomas Søndergård has a nose for such things and his Sibelius – as we have already heard in the first release of the series coupling the Second and Seventh symphonies – is nothing if not atmospheric. 

There are distinct plusses and minuses. I like that Søndergård keeps all the surfaces unvarnished and the woodwind voices keen and folksy. The plain-speaking quality makes for a really elemental sound with climaxes in the First Symphony’s first movement craggy and rough-hewn. There is a transparency, too, with the prominence of inner parts illuminating the harmony in interesting ways – and again, in the second movement, a special remoteness as the dynamics become withdrawn in the closing pages. It’s a uniquely Sibelian sound alright and, as such, like no other – and we are a world apart from the super-plushness of some accounts one could mention, the wholly inappropriate Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic recording for one. 

But against all this one must measure a certain sluggishness in rhythmic matters and passage after passage where Søndergård’s response and that of the excellent BBC National Orchestra of Wales might be cleaner, tighter, more emphatic. The scherzos of both symphonies are oddly deliberate with that of the First (Allegro?) like an ungainly folk dance (for polar bears?) where the timpani feel puddingy and lacking crispness. Likewise the Poco vivace of the Sixth – very poco – is almost perversely the wrong side of propulsive. But then again Søndergård does not refine the Sixth out of recognition – there is still, for all the concision and austere beauty, an avoidance of preciousness. And when storm clouds pass fleetingly over the landscape at the close of the first movement the effect is more than a little unsettling. 

So, a very personal response to this music and one which accentuates its strangeness, its elusiveness. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, though, and much as I am pleased to take this voyage of discovery with Søndergård I’ve a feeling I won’t be alone in craving on occasions a keener profile, sharper relief, and greater rhythmic dynamism.

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Mahler Das Lied von der Erde – Jonas Kaufmann Vienna Philharmonic/Nott http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-mahler-das-lied-von-der-erde-jonas-kaufmann-vienna-philharmonicnott/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 11:46:43 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5835 When you are as big a star as Jonas Kaufmann, when your instrument is fach-defying and your choices in terms of the repertoire seemingly boundless, you get to do pretty much what you want – including, it seems, re-conceiving Mahler’s seminal song-symphony for a single voice. It’s hard to know who thought this was a [Read More]

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When you are as big a star as Jonas Kaufmann, when your instrument is fach-defying and your choices in terms of the repertoire seemingly boundless, you get to do pretty much what you want – including, it seems, re-conceiving Mahler’s seminal song-symphony for a single voice. It’s hard to know who thought this was a good idea other than Kaufmann himself (surely not the conductor, Jonathan Nott?) but record companies do love a vanity project even if it flies in the face of all rational musicality. I’m a huge admirer of Kaufmann in his many and varied guises but this is just plain wrong-headed – and to question Mahler, as he does in the liner notes, challenging the notion of two voices and even suggesting that one singer might provide a more coherent overarching structure is not worthy of such an intelligent artist. 

But the proof is in the performance and the contraltos and baritones whom Kaufmann hopes will forgive his “trespassing” will be smiling in the knowledge that Mahler, acting on what he heard in his mind’s ear, really did know best and that the contrast in timbre and colour between the voices is crucial to the way in which Mahler’s chosen texts impact on each other. The irony, of course, is that Kaufmann is dream casting for the tenor songs, rising terrifically to the heroics and darker hues of the opening song but equally identifying the sparkle and piquancy in “Von Der Jugend” and the contrasting rapture at the heart of “Der Trunkene I’m Fruhling” where inebriation gives way to dreams of Spring. Kaufmann’s “covered” sound is quite gorgeous here. 

But because Mahler’s voices are also instrumentalists in his orchestral canvass a tonal sameness prevails as we move from one song to the next. Those stunning shifts between two worlds, so to speak, are eradicated. Regardless of whether or not Kaufmann has the “baritonal quality” requisite for the songs normally sung by a contralto or baritone the reality is that he is still a tenor, the colour is tenorial (rather like Domingo moving into the baritone repertoire), and the change of timbre which defines the mood of the contrasting songs just isn’t there. This has nothing to do with Kaufmann’s sensitivity to text and musical line and everything to do with it being the same singer. There are phrases in these songs where a different kind of resonance is required for low-lying phrases – particularly the brooding invocations of “Der Abschied” where the line “I shall wander in the mountains seeking peace for my lonely heart”, which Mahler so memorably picks up in the clarinet, always gets to me. How that moment resonates in my favourite performance of the piece from Leonard Bernstein with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (and James King) – also with the Vienna Philharmonic – it really is enough to break your heart. Nothing remotely on that level happens here. There’s a whole dimension missing, and with all due respect to Mr Kaufmann we know what it is. 

Die-hard fans will, of course, want the disc; those who really care about the piece will not.

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Elgar Symphony No. 1 / Introduction and Allegro – BBC Symphony Orchestra/ Doric Quartet/ Gardner http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-elgar-symphony-no-1-introduction-and-allegro-bbc-symphony-orchestra-doric-quartet-gardner/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 11:36:10 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5831 With each new disc that arrives, it becomes clearer and clearer that Edward Gardner is evolving into something really special. If I was permitted only one “library” choice for the works under scrutiny these would not be they – but they can and should be applauded for their lucidity and clarity and insightful honesty. There [Read More]

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With each new disc that arrives, it becomes clearer and clearer that Edward Gardner is evolving into something really special. If I was permitted only one “library” choice for the works under scrutiny these would not be they – but they can and should be applauded for their lucidity and clarity and insightful honesty. There is a major talent at work here – of that there can be no doubt. 

Elgar’s brilliant take on the baroque concerto grosso – his Introduction and Allegro – is, of course, a lovely thing, the interplay between string quartet (the excellent Doric Quartet) and string orchestra, assuming an almost mystic quality as the intimate and intensely personal are repeatedly writ large, larger, largest. Gardner’s great strength is the vitality and rhythmic snap he elicits from the larger string body of the BBC Symphony. But there is inwardness and confidentiality too and it’s only the all-embracing warmth of a Barbirolli that I ultimately miss, not least in the cathartic final appearance of “the Welsh theme” where a shade more indulgence, a more emphatic tug of emotion, is surely in order. 

Moving to the First Symphony, Gardner clearly appreciates that we are dealing here with a study in conflict and change, evolution and transformation, musical and actual. Elgar’s British Empire was at the threshold of a new century and the piece he was writing was at once a premonition and a proclamation. His metaphor – the great “motto theme” in all its nobilmente distinction – shall endure but the turbulent first movement will see it buffeted and swept along on winds of change with barely a moment to take stock of what might soon be gone forever. Gardner is properly, fiercely, impulsive though never at the expensive of rhythmic clarity and the shape of the bigger picture. Those tempest-tossed remnants of lyric ephemera are discreetly savoured. They carry their own distinctly Elgarian nostalgia. 

The brash militarism of the scherzo – circumstance without the pomp – is again vital, if without the Teutonic heft that Barenboim and his Berliners scarily brought to it in their recent, and sensational, Decca account. But the winding down of the transition into the slow movement – where our noblest aspirations are celebrated – is perfection from Gardner and the Adagio itself is heartfelt, bringing some very lovely playing from the BBC Symphony especially when hushed and secretive and inclined towards those rapt falling phrases so beloved of Elgar. 

In the finale, I do wonder if Gardner’s handling of that ecstatically transformative passage (such a glorious surprise) at the heart of the movement is not, for all its tenderness, a little too restrained. He certainly makes us wait for the climax, violins keeping the emotionalism in check before the swelling of cellos and horns sweep us off our feet. 

But there’s no escaping the fact that Gardner arrives in the wake of Barenboim – a hard, if impossible act to follow, as revelatory an account of the symphony as I have heard in many a year. It positively demands to be heard.

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SATURDAY CLASSICS: BBC Radio 3, Easter Saturday 13.00 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/asides/saturday-classics-bbc-radio-3-easter-saturday-13-00/ Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:31:51 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5805 On Saturday 15th April, I will be indulging myself with more than a few of my favourite things for two whole hours on BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Classics, with a highly personal selection of music mainly from the theatre. Composers include Rameau, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein, Britten, Bernard Herrmann, Shostakovich, Gershwin and Gilbert and Sullivan. … [Read More]

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On Saturday 15th April, I will be indulging myself with more than a few of my favourite things for two whole hours on BBC Radio 3’s Saturday Classics, with a highly personal selection of music mainly from the theatre. Composers include Rameau, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein, Britten, Bernard Herrmann, Shostakovich, Gershwin and Gilbert and Sullivan. I do hope you can join me!

LISTEN AGAIN: You can listen again to my Saturday Classics broadcast on BBC iPlayer until 14th May 2017. Enjoy!

 

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Bernstein Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 – Baltimore Symphony/Alsop http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-bernstein-symphonies-nos-1-2-baltimore-symphonyalsop/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:13:00 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5754 A disc of two halves, for sure: a somewhat sober “Jeremiah” and a scintillating “Age of Anxiety”. Perhaps there is simply no reply to Bernstein’s feverish intensity in both his recordings of the former; the latter, of course, has the poetic Jean-Yves Thibaudet as protagonist and he is very much a chip off the Bernstein … [Read More]

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A disc of two halves, for sure: a somewhat sober “Jeremiah” and a scintillating “Age of Anxiety”. Perhaps there is simply no reply to Bernstein’s feverish intensity in both his recordings of the former; the latter, of course, has the poetic Jean-Yves Thibaudet as protagonist and he is very much a chip off the Bernstein block. There’s a chemistry, too, with Marin Alsop that is tangible throughout.

Both pieces deal with self-doubt – or if you prefer, a crisis of faith – in differing ways, though the First Symphony’s self-confidence could hardly have been greater, asserting itself for all to hear just months after Bernstein’s unexpected but sensational New York Philharmonic debut in 1943. A double whammy. Its rather filmic immediacy requires a degree of abandon and assurance in the way it is delivered and my impression of this performance with Alsop’s Baltimore Symphony is one of too much objectivity – a step back from what was clearly so personal a motivation for Bernstein.

There is nothing wrong with it, per se – it unfolds with direction and dignity. But you notice something withheld at the big climaxes, not least the pulverising pedal note which moves us towards that of the first movement, and even the paganistic scherzo (notwithstanding brave trumpets) tenders a somewhat muted profanity. Jennifer Johnson Cano brings depth of tone and a noble resolve to the concluding Lamentation and just for once Lenny’s cathartic pay-off is deafeningly quiet.

Never was our innate solitude as human beings more tellingly invoked than in the two-part clarinet counterpoint which opens the Second Symphony. The inspiration for it was W H Auden’s staggeringly virtuosic poem The Age of Anxiety – a nocturnal odyssey which Bernstein ingeniously chronicles as a dark night of the soul expressed in variation form as “The Seven Ages”. But the trick of having each variation evolve from some aspect of the preceding one makes not only for a sense of “destination unknown” but a chain-reaction of new beginnings. Thibaudet is our “everyman” exhibiting great flair and resilience on the journey – with the keenest partners in Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony – and in the extraordinary and quite unexpected “Masque” where Bernstein takes a cut cabaret song from his first Broadway musical “On the Town” and folds it into a jazzy divertissement for piano and percussion the Frenchman, with great lightness and piquancy, has his fingers skipping across the keys like yet another dance routine for the New York based show. But it is in the work’s most reflective pages at the start and towards the finish that Thibaudet unlocks the loneliness in us all. Never be deceived by his flamboyance. He is the most soulful of players. His introverted solo just prior to the work’s apotheosis is just SO beautiful.

And, of course, there can be no more vivid manifestation of Bernstein’s need for catharsis than the final pages anticipating as they do Marlon Brando’s courageous walk into cinema history at the close of On the Waterfront, Bernstein’s only movie score.

“The Age of Anxiety” is a cracker of a piece and this excellent performance, splendidly engineered, amplifies that view in every way. Symphonic form, like musical theatre, is always hungry for a new direction.

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Natalie Dessay – Pictures of America Paris Mozart Orchestra/Gibault http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-natalie-dessay-pictures-of-america-paris-mozart-orchestragibault/ Thu, 02 Mar 2017 17:10:05 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5759 Anyone who has ever seen Natalie Dessay on the stage will know what an accomplished actress she is. It is that which has put flesh on her singing and enriched her operatic career. And now a new phase begins. There is talk of films, of straight acting roles – and maybe even adventures at the … [Read More]

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Anyone who has ever seen Natalie Dessay on the stage will know what an accomplished actress she is. It is that which has put flesh on her singing and enriched her operatic career. And now a new phase begins. There is talk of films, of straight acting roles – and maybe even adventures at the opposite end of the musical theatre spectrum. Cue the American Songbook and – in this highly unusual debut disc for Sony – a fascination with the painter who effectively took snapshots of the American Dream at its most enigmatic.

The entire two-disc set is inspired by Hopper: in the first he is suggested by songs, in the second composer Graciane Finzi underscores the words of poet Claude Esteban as he seeks to investigate the stories behind the images. Five different arrangers are entrusted the songs – one or two more familiar than others, the Sondheim and Bernstein now iconic, and against an intimate yet luxuriant texture of strings – the Paris Mozart Orchestra – Dessay finds a new way of singing born of quiet conversations in private rooms, a sound she hopes will “whisper into the listener’s ear”. She is as good as her word. But a little whispering goes a long way.

The problem I have with the song performances is that the confidential tone – and indeed the colour of the arrangements – is too unvaried. Even musical theatre numbers like “I Feel Pretty” and (how unlikely is this?) “There’s No Business Like Show Business” kind of purr at you through the harmonically lush gift wrapping. Actually the former, my least favourite song from West Side Story, is, I’ll admit, made a deal more interesting by virtue of the rhythmic and harmonic subversions. It made me smile. But “Send in the Clowns”, whilst perfect for Dessay and the ethos of this disc, has too much going on, too much “movement”, in the arrangement. The sparer the better in this number. It’s just a bit rich for my blood.

Of the show songs (and Broadway aficionados should be wary) “On a Clear Day” is possessed of a mystique entirely in keeping with the clairvoyant character which drives the piece – and the repetition of “Ever more….Ever more…” at the close (echoes of Mahler’s Das Lied) gives it a haunting perspective. I also admire the way Dessay keeps it simple and avoids those jazz inflected vocal mannerisms which could so easily have found their way into her new found style, straddling as it does a path somewhere between classical and jazz. On the other hand, a great number like “Something’s Coming” (from West Side) goes for absolutely nothing, its restless anticipation and euphoria muted to extinction.

For me the most successful track is Bergman and Kellaway’s “A Place That You Want To Call Home” with its gorgeous reassuring “homey” quality. The pairing of “I Keep Going Back To Joes” and “In My Solitude” works well, too – the wee small hours bluesy tone suits the presentation (rather like the Hopper that inspired the choice and which is reproduced, along with all the others, in the booklet). But – and it’s a big “but” – the overriding tone (both vocal and instrumental) is uniform, the arrangements (however lovely) drenching the songs (like too much sauce) in an all-purpose melancholia.

The Hopper “impressions” on the other disc have Dessay speaking (in her beautiful and sexy French) the fanciful stories by poet Claude Esteban between or over Graziane Linzi’s music which in turn behaves like filmic underscoring and is sometimes spookily redolent of Bernard Herrmann’s all-strings scoring of Hitchcock’s Psycho – especially fitting as one of the chosen paintings “House By The Railroad” looks like it might once have been occupied by Mrs Bates. But I cannot comprehend why Sony have not included translations of Esteban’s texts? Unless you are a fluent French speaker the whole exercise is rendered meaningless. I for one am intrigued by the stories Esteban has fashioned around Hopper’s images – but my French is too basic to give more than an impression. For sure the sound of the words (and Dessay’s enunciation of them) are evocative in themselves – but did she really want us to go away none the wiser as to Esteban’s “detective” work?Samuel Barber’s celebrated Adagio (and I’ve heard more intense performances than this one) is offered as a musical manifestation of Hopper’s self-portrait – a slightly odd pay-off to this strange and moody confection. Fans of Dessay and seekers of the unusual will want this; lovers of the American Songbook and/or Hopper’s art should approach with caution.

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PODCAST: A LIFE IN MUSIC – with Russell Scott http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/asides/podcast-a-life-in-music-with-russell-scott/ Sat, 25 Feb 2017 09:41:57 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5742 On the receiving end for a change! Russell Scott @RussellScottUK has me revealing all… Click the link below to listen to our conversation.

Episode 21: An Interview with Edward Seckerson

Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and being shy!

 

 

Brendon McMorrow@seckerson @RussellScottUK Fascinating. Loved the stories about those memorable interviews. Hope to hear … [Read More]

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On the receiving end for a change! Russell Scott @RussellScottUK has me revealing all… Click the link below to listen to our conversation.

Episode 21: An Interview with Edward Seckerson

Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and being shy!

 

 

Brendon McMorrow@seckerson @RussellScottUK Fascinating. Loved the stories about those memorable interviews. Hope to hear more & have many questions myself!

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GRAMOPHONE Review: Tchaikovsky Symphonies 4, 5 & 6 – Arctic Philharmonic/Lindberg http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/reviews/gramophone-review-tchaikovsky-symphonies-4-5-6-arctic-philharmoniclindberg/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 16:27:55 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=5712 In a forward to the liner notes for this new BIS release superstar trombonist and composer turned conductor Christian Lindberg writes of his childhood obsession with the Tchaikovsky symphonies and in particular his fascination with the disparity of tempi revealed in different interpretations. His return to the composer’s metronome markings would, he says, probably mark … [Read More]

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In a forward to the liner notes for this new BIS release superstar trombonist and composer turned conductor Christian Lindberg writes of his childhood obsession with the Tchaikovsky symphonies and in particular his fascination with the disparity of tempi revealed in different interpretations. His return to the composer’s metronome markings would, he says, probably mark out his recordings as “different”. Not really.

It is true that the impulse and imperative of these symphonies depends to a great extent on the momentum of those tempo markings – but Lindberg is hardly alone in pursuing the notion that Tchaikovsky’s innate “classicism” ultimately trumps the age-old temptation to over-romanticise these marvellous pieces. Only a couple of months ago Semyon Bychkov’s splendid new recording of the Pathetique (I have to say in a different league from this newcomer) reminded me that the edge-of-reason first movement is twice as effective if the impending crisis of the development is in part signalled by a swifter (as indicated), more anxiously songful reading of the lyric second subject. Lindberg achieves that, too – febrile is perhaps the word. But he and his Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra give us less of the emotive subtext than Bychkov. Atmosphere, too, is lacking here and to take just one technical example – when the clarinet switches to bassoon in the super-hushed pppppp moments before the thunderclap of the development it is neither quiet nor seamless enough (I still think there is a sound case for switching to bass clarinet here). Tension is dissipated.

On the plus side, Lindberg maximises the dramatic juxtaposition of the march scherzo and final adagio by pulling off an attacca that is rarely achievable in the concert hall when applause invariably intervenes and he surely makes a cri de coeur of the last great climax.

Otherwise we have a thoroughly decent but not exactly heart-stopping account of the Fifth Symphony with a first movement Allegro con anima that is certainly anima but without the heat of a Mravinsky or Markevitch. Much to savour in the shapely slow movement, too, though again the Russians have an ardour all of their own.

The Fourth is for me the most successful of the three performances with Lindberg balancing urgency with reflective other-worldliness in the first movement and the splashiness with the ineffably wistful in the finale. Oddly (given who he is) the trombones don’t really make their mark in the momentous climax of the development or the moment where fate comes knocking one more time in the finale. There is greater immediacy in the woodwind balance with characterful playing to the fore in the folksy plain-speaking second movement.

But competition in these pieces remains impossibly fierce and, eccentric or not, once you’ve heard Mravinsky and the Leningrad you are spoiled for life.

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DAME PATRICIA ROUTLEDGE: Facing The Music – A Life in Musical Theatre http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/live-on-stage/facing-the-music-a-career-in-musical-theatre-in-conversation-with-patricia-routledge/ Sun, 29 Jan 2017 13:52:45 +0000 http://www.edwardseckerson.biz/?p=1149 Patricia Routledge with Edward SeckersonDame Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America.

Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical “Darling of the Day” and a Laurence … [Read More]

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Patricia Routledge with Edward SeckersonDame Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America.

Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical “Darling of the Day” and a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide”. Her one woman show “Come for the Ride” toured the UK in 1988 and in 1992 she played Nettie Fowler in the highly acclaimed production of “Carousel” at the National Theatre. In 1998 she was honoured with the Gold Badge of Merit by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

In this fascinating encounter she recalls this very special part of her career with access to some rare and treasured recordings.

Upcoming dates for my show chronicling one of the best kept secrets in the business – Dame Patricia’s extensive career in musical theatre.

2017
Tuesday 20th June – 7.30pm
Ashbourne Festival, St John’s Church Ashbourne
Wednesday 19th July – 7.30pm
Buxton International Festival Buxton
Friday 28th July – Time tbc
St. James Concert & Assembly Hall Guernsey
Tuesday 22nd August – 2.30pm
Mercury Theatre Colchester
Saturday 7th October – 2.30pm
Festival Drayton Centre Market Drayton

REVIEW: Caz at Let’s Go To The Movies

Facing the Music: A Life in Musical Theatre with Patricia Routledge

Patricia Routledge in conversation with Edward Seckerson

Date: Saturday 9th April 2016

Venue: Customs House (South Shields)

PatriciaRoutledge

When checking what’s coming at the Customs House a month or so ago I noticed that they had Patricia Routledge as an event in conversation with Edward Seckerson. No way I thought Mrs Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances coming to South Shields?! That was certainly something I was very interested in, even more when it was all going to be based around her background in musical theatre. A background that is in fact not massively well known. Although I will admit that I did do a little bit of research before the evening and saw that she was a Tony and Olivier Award winner.

The information about the evening claims it is one of the best kept secrets in show business and I certainly think that makes it even more fascinating. I must first start off by saying that it did not disappoint and it was a truly fantastic night at the theatre listening to stories and hearing singing clips from the brilliant actress/performer and woman.

A table with flowers, two glasses of water and chairs were set up already for the show. The applause was fantastic as she appeared on stage after listening to a song and a short introduction from Edward Seckerson. The theatre was packed out in the main stalls, I was sitting higher up on the side.

We were taken down memory lane all the way from her childhood which she attributed to how she ended up in Musical Theatre. With plenty of singing at home in Birkenhead just over the river from Liverpool. Not that you would ever guess that she should have a Scouse accent due to how well spoken she has always been. Elocution lessons were once seen as very important and that always contributed to Patricia ending up on the stage. She was very humble about her up bringing and that she never really expected anything to come from singing and acting.

She also had a little dig at the schools now claiming to be academies and that should go back to being Council schools. Interesting to hear her thoughts and views on some recent events when it comes to schooling. A lot of which makes a lot of sense in all honesty considering how bad some of them have become. But also sad that the Arts seem to be forgotten about now, not as much singing and learning of heritage.

We learn about how she worked her way up in Theatre from being Assistant Stage Manager and then getting into productions one step at a time. I really do think this talk would have been brilliant for anyone trying to get into the Theatre business and realising that you have to work hard and work your way up and get to know people along the way.

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It was such an engaging evening as we were told all about the different shows she had appeared in, as well as listening to different songs from them and truly hearing the range of her very powerful voice which very nearly went into Opera with experience in that area. Truly inspiring to know how hard she worked to get into Theatre and continuing singing lessons, as well as studying English at University all of which would lead to performing on stage.

The musical clips were put together very well even though at one point she did have to tell them it was too loud and to turn it down for the next song! Which had the whole audience laughing out loud. She is a naturally funny person as even little things were amusing especially in exchanges with Edward. Who seemed to be having the time of his life showing such passion not only for Musical Theatre but for Patricia Routledge’s career. Something which made the evening even more enjoyable. It started at 7:45pm and did not finish until just before 10:40pm with about a 20 minute interval, making it incredible value for money. I am pretty sure everyone would have been very happy to sit and listen to them both talking all night.

Was lovely to find out her favourite musicals among them being My Fair Lady, Oliver and Fiddler on the Roof. Although it did not seem as though she was a big fan of more recent shows. Was mortified that some leading stars have alternates who would do some shows for them so they didn’t have to do eight shows per week!

It really was fantastic to learn more about the actress as well as an in-depth look into the world of Musical Theatre in both the West End and Broadway. She was very emotional when talking about her Broadway debut and getting ready for the curtain call, the role for which she won her Tony Award as well.

Thank you Edward Seckerson for wanting to do a brilliant show like this, giving so much knowledge and insight from start to finish. It really was well worth heading to the Theatre to listen to such great stories.

Listen below to Dame Patricia discuss her 2016 New Year’s honour with Sarah Vaughan on the BBC’s Today show 31-12-2016 during which she mentions not only this show but a few of her many other accomplishments.

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Dame Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America. Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway perfor... Dame Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America.<br /> Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical “Darling of the Day” and a Laurence … [Read More] Edward Seckerson clean 5:36 1149