sat 13/08/2022

Classical Music/Opera direct to home 8 - from troubled royal rituals to a lone cellist | reviews, news & interviews

Classical Music/Opera direct to home 8 - from troubled royal rituals to a lone cellist

Classical Music/Opera direct to home 8 - from troubled royal rituals to a lone cellist

Pick of the week's best pre-recorded operas and livestream comings-together

Pageant scene from Richard Jones's Royal Opera production of Britten's 'Gloriana'Clive Barda

Inventiveness waxes ever stronger, it seems, in quarantine, as do the number of faces and instrumental sounds gathered together at any one time.

As the branches diversify, embracing pre-filmed concert and opera, solo and multiple livestreams from home, it made sense not to try and yoke all this together, and to give individual slots to each happening, from two innovative opera productions to a fabulous young cellist playing in his back garden.


Opera North's Orchestra plays '2001' plus

Orchestral get-togethers online have yielded some fascinating results, including the Lahti Symphony Orchestra's 64-piece performance of Sibelius's Finlandia I featured last week. The wonderful thing about what 40 Opera North players have done here is that we get not only the first minute of Richard Strauss's Nietzsche-inspired tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra immortalised in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (watch out for the kids of the man who makes the big cymbal crash) but also the hymn which blossoms into 18 different string parts – chamber music writ large. Unusually for these experiments they also have a conductor- Tobias Ringborg, baton-wielding from Sweden with part of the interpretation he and the players had been scheduled to give live.


Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Melody


The deservedly celebrated young cellist has been livestreaming from home, giving further insight into the happy musical family scene in Nottingham, but his latest offering, a blissful two-minute meditation, is a thing apart – just released, his own composition, played in the garden (with a brief interjection from a querulous blackbird). It sounds like an offshoot from Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, and none the worse for that, given the familiar subtlety and artistry. Despite his rise to fame, Sheku will not be deserting the musicians with whom he began: he’ll be trying out Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with the young players of the Fantasia Orchestra later this year.


The Royal Opera’s Gloriana Scene from Royal Opera GlorianaBritten’s coronation opera, rather challengingly about the troubled person behind the mask of Queen Elizabeth I, has been making a comeback in recent years. Richard Jones’s dayglo weave of 1953 and the late 1500s/early 1600s dazzled, amused and moved at the Royal Opera House in 2013, even making the pageanty bits work. Susan Bullock is the ruler and woman smitten by Toby Spence’s Earl of Essex (the two pictured above by Clive Barda). This is the latest in the films being made available by the company, available from 7pm tonight on its YouTube channel. Meanwhile, the company’s ever-inspirational Music Director Antonio Pappano has been presenting a series of socially-distanced performances on Facebook, the most recent being a performance of a Britten folksong with Ian Bostridge.


London Schools Symphony Orchestra’s Faust extravaganza London Schools Symphony OrchestraJanuary seems like light years back, but it kicked off in London with amazing concerts by teenagers – first the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and then the London Schools Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Sian Edwards, the programme would have been extraordinary given by any ensemble: an assemblage of works homaging the Faust of Goethe and Marlowe, with superb readings by Dame Janet Suzman, culminating in the wacky apocalyptic tango of Russian maverick Alfred Schnittke's Faust Cantata, delivered with zest by Fiona Kimm. The LSSO filmed the event, and is making the video, the first of two, available on its Facebook page from 7.30pm on Monday (27 April).


Bieito's Munich Boris Godunov  Bieito's Boris Godunov from Munich Calixto Bieito’s productions are maddening and insightful in quick succession; some are write-offs with a few good ideas, but this suitably brutal take on Musorgsky’s selective history-drama about the tsar with a guilty conscience has to be seen. Even the usually not-very funny comic scene has an edge to it. Alexander Tsymbalyuk’s Boris is a man in the prime of life, eaten away from within, the chorus characterises well (pictured above by Wilfried Hösl) and the rest of the cast is top-quality, as you would expect from the Munich house, which can always command the very best. Available on the Bavarian State Opera's website to view for free until 2 May.

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