Is the song recital an endangered art-form? Full marks to John Gilhooly, director of the Wigmore, for coming out of his corner to belabour the doubters and purveyors of shoddy goods. As he’s pointed out in this newspaper, song recitals these days are often given by opera singers who don’t bother to prepare, ‘and why would anyone whose first experience is of someone bluffing their way through pieces they barely know go back for more?’
Every Beethoven performance by Murray Perahia is an event, but as he launched into the Piano Concerto No 4 in G major with the London Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Haitink’s direction he had the misfortune to stumble so badly in his opening flourish that he temporarily lost his poise. But not for long: he soon reasserted dominance by the sheer beauty and authority of his playing, with the orchestra enchasing the piano as though it were a rare jewel.
When composers unveil new works, they do not generally want the audience to nod off. Not so Max Richter. The intention behind his latest piece, Sleep – which is eight hours long – is that his listeners should slumber peacefully throughout. He has termed it "my personal lullaby for a frenetic world" and "a manifesto for a slower pace of existence". The world premiere, on 26 September, will apparently offer beds instead of chairs – and as it is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 you can even try it at home.
The ingredients for Covent Garden’s new Orphee et Eurydice make the mind boggle. Direction is shared between a choreographer (the Israeli Hofesh Shechter) and a house director (John Fulljames), with 115 people almost constantly on stage: Shechter’s dance company, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner’s direction, plus Amour (Amanda Forsythe), Orphee (Juan Diego Florez), and Eurydice (Lucy Crowe).
Romantic bel canto, the English Civil War and the Troubles might seem an unlikely recipe for operatic success. But the pitting of Roundhead against Cavalier in Bellini’s final masterpiece, I puritani, holds compelling modern-day sectarian parallels for director, Annilese Miskimmon.
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