Monday, March 27, 2017
Sabata/Armonia Atenea/Petrou (Aparte)Look at Xavier Sabata, all wet and gladiatorial! It’s one way of selling a countertenor disc, though this one shouldn’t need it: Sabata’s selection of 18th-century Italian arias, in which a variety of troubled characters go through the mill, includes gems you won’t often hear by Orlandini, Ariosti, Handel, Hasse and others, and showcases a supple, communicative voice that is honeyed and forthright by turns. But the relentless bounce and in-your-face character of George Petrou’s orchestra won’t be to all tastes; the aria from Vivaldi’s Il Farnace – which is, admittedly, inspired by a horrific dramatic situation – sounds like it’s being played on elastic bands stretched around a biscuit tin. This does at least make for a bold contrast with Sabata’s voice, which takes on extra sweetness in these long, sinewy lines; elsewhere, the most athletic fast passages can sound choppy. He’s going to need a lot of towelling down. Continue reading...
Fernando Montaño and Artists of The Royal Ballet in rehearsal for Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Rose Slavin Crystal Pite is a new choreographer to The Royal Ballet, but a familiar name to dance lovers in both North America and Europe. Working with companies from her own Kidd Pivot to Paris Opera Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater , her creations often combine elements of classical ballet with a powerful sense of drama. Here are six pieces which show why Pite is one of the most esteemed choreographers working today: Betroffenheit Betroffenheit (2015) is a collaboration with Jonathon Young and Electric Company Theatre that draws on Young’s own experience in the wake of a personal tragedy. His journey through depression, addiction and recovery is told through a searing scenario that involves a host of characters encircling Young himself. The work returns to Sadler’s Wells this April . The Seasons' Canon A number of Pite’s works have used large groups of dancers. The Seasons’ Canon , created recently for Paris Opera Ballet, is one such work, in which Max Richter ’s recomposed version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons underpins a rippling mass which becomes a subtle evocation of the power and beauty of nature. Emergence When popular science writer Steven Johnson wrote Emergence: the Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software , he probably didn’t imagine that it would one day inspire a ballet. But that’s what happened in 2009, when Pite created Emergence for the National Ballet of Canada . Drawing on ideas of swarm intelligence and hierarchies, the multi-award-winning ballet has also been performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet and Scottish Ballet , which revives the ballet at Sadler’s Wells this summer . Polaris Polaris caused a sensation when it was first performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2014. It is set to Thomas Adès ’s extraordinary ‘voyage for orchestra’ of the same name, and features more than sixty dancers dressed in black, running, scuttling and quivering across the stage, creating a universe that is epic, strange and hypnotic. The Tempest Replica An unexpected link between Pite and Adès is their fascination with The Tempest : they have both created adaptations of Shakespeare’s play, Adès for The Royal Opera in 2004 and Pite for Kidd Pivot in 2011. But The Tempest Replica goes further than providing the narrative of the play: after a first section introduces the play’s characters and plot, in the second half a section of pure dance puts the spotlight on the characters’ relationships. Flight Pattern For her debut Royal Ballet work, Pite is collaborating once again with several of her regular designers: set designer Jay Gower Taylor , costume designer Nancy Bryant and lighting designer Tom Visser , all of whom worked on several of the works mentioned above. But the subject matter is very different: Flight Pattern addresses one of today’s greatest humanitarian questions, set to the first movement of Henryk Górecki ’s powerful ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’. Flight Pattern appears in a mixed programme with The Human Seasons and After the Rain, which runs 16–24 March 2017. Tickets are still available. The mixed programme is staged with generous philanthropic support from Ian and Tina Taylor and The Taylor Family Foundation, with After the Rain given generous philanthropic support from Kenneth and Susan Green and Flight Pattern generous philanthropic support from Richard and Delia Baker and Sue Butcher.
A dispatch from our quartet diarist, Anthea Kreston: I am on my way to Paris – I nipped home for 17 hours between our two concerts in Vienna and today’s concert in Paris. I have exciting news. I fell in love, a little, two times this week! Once with Anna Vinnitskaya, our diminutive and effervescent partner on the Schumann Piano Quintet, and again with my NEW VIOLIN, loaned to me in Vienna – a Testore from 1710. What a week. Our travel and performance schedule has been brutal – I feel like I have constant jet-lag – my eating, sleeping and travel inconsistencies are putting my through the ringer. Between the hyper-concentration and pressure of these concerts (Munich, Berlin, Vienna, London, Brussels and Paris, all sold out or nearly sold out), late evenings with super-fans and presenters, early mornings to the next destination, direct to the halls for rehearsal and concert – how can I eat normally, sleep decently? Our flight to London had severe turbulence, and I barely made it, bag in hand – only to be stuck for over an hour in stop and go traffic in the taxi. I was actually green – before I made a mad dash for the door and decided to just walk in the “fresh London air” for an hour to our hotel. I still haven’t recovered fully – feeling nauseous and sleep-crazy (reminds me of the feeling of taking care of a one month old baby- a series of cat-naps and quick, strange snacks). An incredible thing happened – as I was taking off from the airport, coming home between concerts, a message came in from Andy Armstrong – our beloved former pianist from the Amelia Trio. His flight was delayed, and he was in a 3 hour layover in Berlin on his way to a concerto appearance in Sophia, Bulgaria. We met for a coffee – and Jason drove to the airport to hang out also. What a reunion! I miss our silliness, our ease – our love of the ridiculous. We have a running gag of who can trick the other one so we can pay any bill – or distract someone and start a movement while they are looking the wrong direction. Andy got me this time, and I quickly tackled him and got him in a headlock – we wrestled in line at the coffee place, much to the confusion of the clerk, and were wiping the tears away as jason came running up the terminal hallway to see us. What joy! To think, it has only been one year – catching up, talking about the big life issues and triumphs (Andy has a baby on the way) – to talk all together – we know each other so well. Catharsis. Anna Vinnitskaya is a pleasure to be around, and to share a stage with her is a perfect balance of high-powered performance and constant surprise. Every evening, new nuances delighted me – this is the way that I also conceive of Schumann – understand the complexity, allow for flexibility. And – when she came backstage before our first concert in Munich – her thick, dark-red (almost plumb) hair, in a messy French twist, full black skirt and shirt covering every speck of her skin, with a hand-made lace embroidered dicky and cuffs (the dicky also supporting a teeny black satin bow) she was the very image of Clara Schumann. Her stage prowess also matched the legend of Clara – her ability to be in turn cajoling, immense, fragile, and what fun was had in the cat-and-mouse of the third movement (played even faster and more free in the nightly encores). I want more Anna! These past months, as donors have come forward to outfit the quartet with new instruments, I have been proud of my Becker (1928 Chicago). There he stands, nestled between and Amati cello and a Strad violin. He holds his own – the velvet G string, the clear and powerful A. But, this week was my turn. I was met onstage at the Vienna Konzerthaus the morning after our first concert, to try three violins. It is a little like being in an arranged marriage. I have the stats on my future husband, photos, credentials and assurances that he is a fine, upstanding character. But – here I am – just some moments for a brief introduction, and off we go! I tried all three – the cadenza of Tzigane, Meditation from Thais, Sibelius. And – tentatively, I accepted the Testore – 1710 – the great Italian maker and father to a small dynasty of Testore makers. That afternoon I took a long walk – going to the Mozart House museum and the magnificent gothic cathedral St. Stephens – the city where Mozart was born and died, Haydn served as choir boy, and even Vivaldi had service. I returned to the hall to practice and slowly I began to realize this violin could be it. I tested, looked for my voice, discovered a new voice. I said to our cellist – I will miss the velvet sounds of my Becker – and he said – “Anthea – your sound is velvet, not the violin”. I hope this is true. I love the weaknesses and inconsistencies of my Becker – I even seek them out. Like the small things you love about a partner – the nose hair, the way my 5 year old mispronounces bracelet – I search out the wolfs on my G string of my Becker – I love the cracking of sound – the verklemmt. The quartet wants me to stop playing there – the sound is inconsistent and unreliable – but I don’t want to stop – I don’t want to correct the pronunciation of bracelet or have my husband trim his nose hair. I love it. I am boarding now – Testore in hand – for a glorious day in Paris. Old friends from Oregon meet me today – a former student and an elderly couple who were loyal concertgoers. In London, British in-laws came, and in Vienna an old friend from Eugene Oregon came. All in all – a week of new friends and a reconnection with old.
Prina, Invernizzi, Hammarström, Novaro, Cirillo, Auser Musici/Ipata (Glossa) (2 CDs)A lost Handel opera? Not quite: during his London years, Handel quite often arranged the music of other composers and compiled them into pasticcio operas. In this case, arias from Leonardo Leo’s Catone are woven with Vivaldi, Porpora and Hasse numbers and short bursts of recitative to create a lively two-act drama. What this shows vividly is how baroque opera really worked: the choices are determined by the star singers, and the adaptations are to suit their talents. Here, Sonia Prina seems to struggle with the arias written for the celebrated castrato Senesino, but Riccardo Novaro is an impressive bass as Cesare, and the drama moves at a cracking pace under Carlo Ipata. Continue reading...
Jazz pianist Bruno Heinen has collaborated with Camerata Alma Viva for a new take on one of the most instantly recognisable classical works of all time. He picks his five favourite versions of Vivaldi’s famous compositionAs a composer who also attempts to bridge the gap between musical genres, Richter’s minimalist recomposition of the seasons speaks to me in volumes. Although Richter is quoted as saying he discarded 75% of Vivaldi’s original material, the soul of the original is still there in the phased and looped original musical cells he beautifully reharmonises. Continue reading...
Nigel Redden, in an op-ed in South Carolina's largest newspaper: "Whether presenting an opera by Antonio Vivaldi or a play by Samuel Beckett, the Festival depends on works created by artists from many parts of the world. ... [Their] varied outlooks come from lives and personal histories that differ from many in the audience who flock each year to the Festival. And this is why they flock: they come looking for the kind of personal connection that the performing arts provide especially well. ... To limit these possibilities limits us as human beings."
Antonio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 - July 28, 1741), was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe. Vivaldi is known mainly for composing instrumental concertos, especially for the violin, as well as sacred choral works and over 40 operas. His best known work is a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. Many of his compositions were written for the female music ensemble of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children where Vivaldi worked between 1703 and 1740. Vivaldi also had some success with stagings of his operas in Venice, Mantua and Vienna. After meeting the Emperor Charles VI, Vivaldi moved to Vienna hoping for preferment. The Emperor died soon after Vivaldi's arrival, and the composer died a pauper, without a steady source of income. Though Vivaldi's music was well received during his lifetime, it later declined in popularity until its vigorous revival in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Vivaldi ranks among the most popular and widely recorded Baroque composers.
Great composers of classical music