STUPENDOUS MAHLER TWO
CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★★★
This concert was billed as an end-of-season finale, a temporary farewell. When the applause, cheering and foot-stamping erupted after eighty minutes of intense, emotionally fired-up music making it felt instead like a long-anticipated, desperately hoped for homecoming. After more than two years of ruined schedules, cancellations and Covid-compromised concerts here was the platform packed with players, the choir seats brim-full with the cherished CBSO Chorus and – the final ingredient – a packed house. It was the perfect choice of work too, Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony; the work which opened Symphony Hall and a CBSO musical calling-card for the last forty years. By chance, or fate, the last concert here on this scale – in terms of forces, attendance and impact – was the CBSO's performance of Mahler's eighth symphony in January 2020 when we were blissfully unaware of the approaching pandemic. That evening the
LOVE ISLAND AT LONGBOROUGH
The Spell Book / La Liberazione di Ruggiero
Longborough Festival Opera,****
In the deathless words of Nigel Tufnell, what's wrong with being sexy? Jennie Ogilvie's Longborough production of Francesca Caccini's La Liberazione di Ruggiero (1625) places the sorceress Alcina (Lauren Joyanne Morris) and her toyboy Ruggiero (Oskar McCarthy) on a pink, high-kitsch Love Island. And once you overlook Alcina's penchant for transforming people into rubber plants, they're clearly having the time of their lives - lolling around in their candy-coloured smalls, attended by sexually-ambiguous trolley-dollies with Michael Fabricant hairpieces. Ruggiero's wife Bradamante (Simone Ibbett-Brown) is having none of it, and the plot of the opera concerns her grim-faced mission to slap Alcina down, and force Ruggiero to put his kecks back on and get back to killing people, like a proper man.
And there you have it: the first known opera in th
A VERY SPECIAL EVENING WITH THE CBSO
A COVID REQUIEM
CBSO at Symphony Hall *****
There was something almost sacramental about this sensitively-conceived, very special concert created to commemorate those close to the CBSO "family" who have passed away since the Covid pandemic began the best part of two years ago.
The programme-book (and how good to have a genuine, properly produced example in one's hand again!) opened with many tributes to loved ones, all greatly moving, and then the hall darkened as an uninterrupted sequence of elegiac string music began.
It was striking how music of this nature transports us across the centuries: Thomas Ades' O Albion brought surprising resonances of Elgar's Sospiri, Arvo Part's Fratres (Tomo Keller, director of the whole gamut, the brilliantly cross-stringing violin soloist here) evokes Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia, and Samuel Barber's Adagio is just timeless for those it speaks to. The only exc