Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Passion, individuality and extremes: Arcadi Volodos in recital

Arcadi Volodos plays Schubert, Brahms and Schumann - Royal Festival Hall, 28 October 2014.

'This was live performance at its best – at times eccentric yet totally captivating and always uplifting.'

Read my full review here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

CD Review - October 2014

Just one new CD this month – but it’s a good one!  Irish pianist Barry Douglas has started on a new survey of piano music by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), and Volume 1 starts with two major works, the B flat major Piano Sonata, D960 and the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy, D760. These two greats of the repertoire sit either side of two transcriptions by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) of songs by Schubert, Du bist die Ruh, and Ungeduld from Die schöne Müllerin.  First the Sonata – Douglas includes the lengthy repeat in the first movement of the Sonata, which although long is actually really important for the architecture of this piece, but is sadly often jettisoned for reasons of length.  At just over nineteen minutes, the first movement lasts for longer than the other three movements put together, and sometimes the remaining movements can feel like an anticlimax.  However,   I really enjoy Douglas’ approach here – Schubert can sometimes be performed with too much reverence, when in fact it needs real depth and contrast, from almost aggression at times in the first movement, to painful tragedy (but not sentimentality) in the slow movement, and litheness and energy in the final movement.  His approach to the Wanderer Fantasy is similar, although perhaps the contrasts are not quite as marked here.  But the slow second section has real delicacy here, and the Allegro final section is a real joy, finishing off the disc in style.  The Liszt transcriptions were new to me, and were a real pleasure too.  Du bist die Ruh is such a beautiful and well known Schubert song, and Liszt treats it with loving care, making sure the wonderful melody is still central, and his transcription of Ungeduld is equally faithful, yet adding perhaps a pianistic sense of urgency too.  A great start here to what will surely be a wonderful collection. 

(This review first appeared in GScene, October 2014)

Brighton Early Music Festival 2014, 24 October to 9 November

This years’s Brighton Early Music Festival has the theme of ‘Cities – Musical centres and the journeys between them’, and we are promised a great line-up again of top world-class musicians, up-and-coming young professionals and the best of local amateur performers too. 

The Sixteen (Credit: MolinaVisuals)

Highlights include the return of The Sixteen, focussing on Warsaw, and the music of Italian maestri at the 17th century Polish court (Friday 31 October).  On this occasion they are conducted by Assistant Director, Eamonn Dougan, who has directed The Sixteen in two highly-acclaimed recordings of Polish repertoire. 

La Serenissima (Credit: Benjamin Harte)

Venice is the destination for La Serenissima with music by Vivaldi, Albinoni & Caldara (Friday 24 October), and they are followed the same night by a performance from Early Music Live! artists, the Fieri Consort

Celestial Sirens

Other destinations include London (BREMF Players and Singers, music by Purcell and Handel, Sunday 9 November), Paris (Musica Secreta, the CelestialSirens and Brighton Festival YouthChoir, with music by Charpentier, Lully & Couperin, Sunday 2 November) and Monserrat (The Telling, Spanish medieval songs and dances, Saturday 25 October). 

BREMF Consort of Voices

Popes, Patronage and Power is the focus for a visit to Rome on Saturday 25 October.  The BREMF Consort of Voices, with narrator Nigel Pittman perform music composed for the Vatican, including music by Palestrina, Josquin, and Allegri’s famous Miserere, with director Deborah Roberts singing the soprano solo.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are in town with The Night Shift, taking music to intimate pub settings, and this year they will by at The Marlborough Theatre (Friday 17 October).

The Borromini Quartet
And in a joint venture with Strings Attached, the Borromini Quartet return to Brighton to take us on a journey from Vienna to Madrid, with music by Haydn, Boccherini and the so called ‘Spanish Mozart’, Arriaga (Sunday 26 October).

For venues, times and tickets, click here, or go to Brighton Dome Ticket Office 01273 709709.