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Showing posts from June, 2024
  Weilerstein wows in Barber’s Cello Concerto CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★★ “ Wake-up call” is a much abused term. The England football team gets one every time it loses a friendly match 1-0 but still carries on dozing. Dvořák’s overture ‘Carnival’ is the genuine article, an electrifying musical wake-up call jump-starting the concert with an invigorating blast from Bohemia. The conductor Kevin John Edusei’s downbeat unleashed the CBSO for ten minutes of festive joy with Dvořák utilizing the orchestra from top to bottom with brass and horns providing a firm foundation while the tambourine rattled at the top – I can’t remember it being used to such good effect, and played so vigorously, in any other work. The gentle reflective inner section, with subtle but telling contributions from the wind section and leader Jonathan Martindale, hinted at the riches of Dvořák’s late masterpieces inspired by the folk tales of his fellow Bohemian Karel Jaromír Erben like ‘The Golden Spinning Wheel’. Why do
  THE IMPLAUSIBLE POTIONS OF DR DULCAMARA                              Playground Opera at Welcombe Hills School, Stratford-upon-Avon ***** Rarely have I had such a life-enhancing experience as that I was privileged to share at Welcombe Hills on Wednesday morning, along with 100 excited and enthusiastic children of all ages. Playground Opera is one of Longborough Festival Opera’s many educational outreach activities, and under the aegis of director Maria Jagusz and musical director Jessica May it takes mini-opera productions to a range of schools around the Cotwolds area. But Welcombe Hills is unique, catering as it does for those with special educational needs, all the children clapping in time, tapping their toes, rocking backwards and forwards and even putting their fingers in their ears in their instinctive response to the music-making delivered by Playground Opera’s remarkable little   company. The Implausible Potions of Dr Dulcamara, derived from Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Am
                               RHEINGOLD DRESS REHEARSAL                                   Longborough Festival Opera ***** I was last in a dress rehearsal audience at Glyndebourne in 1966 (L’Heure Espagnole and Janet Baker in Dido and Aeneas). Since then I have conducted many such rehearsals, but yesterday it was a joy to be an audience member again, soaking up the atmosphere as Longborough Festival Opera presented the dress rehearsal of Wagner’s Rheingold, launching this year’s Ring cycle (to be given three times). Longborough combines Glyndebourne with Bayreuth, a winning combination which I have always enjoyed so much reviewing from this amazing Cotswold company for well over a quarter of a century. The atmosphere yesterday was so relaxed, people picnicking beforehand (no intervals in Rheingold), no sartorial showoffs, and the back half of this jewel of an opera-house packed with enthusiasts (the front half the domain, quite rightly, of techies). We heard Anthony Negus, surel
  Adams’ musical elegy for the Earth CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★★★ In 2014 Ludovic Morlot conducted the world premiere of ‘Become Ocean’ the first of American composer John Luther Adams’ ecological orchestral trilogy. It won the Pulitzer Prize and Morlot conducted the 2015 Grammy award-winning recording of the work.So we were in experienced hands for the UK Premiere of Adams’ ‘Vespers of the Blessed Earth’ with Morlot at the helm. It’s a big work: around fifty minutes occupying the concert’s first half, and utilizing a large orchestra with extra percussion, choral forces and a solo soprano. Adams name-checks Monteverdi’s masterpiece as an inspiration with the work’s plaintive prayers addressed not to Virgin but to the Earth itself in all its “complexity and mystery”. To dismiss this as New Age healing-crystal-speak would be wrong. Adams’ ecological concerns are grounded in experience; before becoming a full-time composer he was an environmental activist, moving to Alaska to campaign for