Barbican, LondonThe best moments in Tansy Davies’s new 9/11-set opera are the simplest, but there’s no real sense that this is about what librettist Nick Drake calls the ‘most important event of our time’
The advance publicity for Tansy Davies’s opera, the latest to be commissioned by English National Opera, focussed on its subject matter, and whether it was appropriate to base a piece on the events of 9/11. What was never mentioned was whether what Davies and her librettist Nick Drake have created with director Deborah Warner is really an opera at all.
Related: How can you make an opera about 9/11?
Borodin Quartet (Decca)
Daria van den Bercken (piano)(Sony Classical)
In its 22 years, the festival has cancelled only a single concert. As its founder says: ‘Every year there’s some crisis and we say: “My God, are we going to carry on?” and we always do’
Ten years ago, on the eve of Lebanon’s only winter festival of classical music, a truck bomb on the Beirut seafront killed the prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and 21 other people. The opening concert was cancelled. But the next night an Estonian choir performed as planned in a church, in what became a memorial service for the dead and a defining moment of cultural defiance.
The assassination in 2005 was the Al Bustan festival’s darkest hour, its founder, Myrna Bustani, tells me. “It was like Kennedy; it not only killed Hariri, but people’s hope.” Attendance plummeted, not out of fear but because Beirutis took to the streets. Visiting musicians joined in the peaceful protests of the “cedar revolution”. “They came back at three in the morning wearing the Lebanese flag,” Bustani recalls. “They joined the demonstrations that finally got the Syrians out of the country. The musicians were elated.”
Valentina Lisitsa, who has a huge online following, has criticised western journalists for supposed bias in covering events in Ukraine
A pianist has been struck off the concert programme with a Canadian orchestra for expressing her support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Valentina Lisitsa, a Ukraine-born pianist, was scheduled to play Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on Friday night, but her performance was scrapped amid “ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language” on Twitter, said the orchestra’s president, Jeff Melanson.
The city where the young Mozart spent a year in the 1760s was also home to “the London Bach” – Johann Christian. Mozart held him and his music in the highest regard, so why have Londoners heard so little of the older composer?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that no great British music was composed between the death of Henry Purcell in 1695 and the emergence of Edward Elgar in the 1890s. To compensate for this we claim Handel as our own – he did, after all, take up British citizenship – but far less is made of the English connections of two other great 18th-century composers, JC Bach and – perhaps the greatest of all composers – Mozart.
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