Gavin Plumley reviews Carrie Cracknell’s (you can follow her on twitter) new production of Berg’s Wozzeck at the ENO on his wonderful blog. If you haven’t seen the piece yet – in this or any other interpretation – this hopefully will work as an incentive to do so.
Some extracts (and I’ve heard similar):
Wozzeck is a relentlessly chilling opera. But in English National Opera's incisive new production, the piece shocks afresh. […] At the heart of the tale is Leigh Melrose's superb performance in the title role. […]The rest of the cast is likewise wholly committed to Cracknell and Gardner's reading. […]
This is, quite simply, one of the best things ENO has done for years, confirming that John Berry should back innovative theatrical and operatic talent, rather than flirting with cinema.
Alban Berg: Wozzeck
Opera in 3 acts | 105’
Further performances: 15, 18, 23 and 25 May, English National Opera, London
Leigh Melrose, Wozzeck; Sara Jakubiak, Marie; Tom Randle, The Captain; James Morris, The Doctor; Bryan Register, The Drum-Major; ENO Orchestra, cond. Edward Gardner
Christian Lindberg and the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino perform Luciano Berio’s SOLO on 11 May in Florence during the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Zubin Mehta conducts. Berio wrote the ‘concerto’ for trombone and orchestra in 1999 for Lindberg:
“It’s not a concerto in the real sense of the word, even if the solo part is extremely, almost absurdly difficult. The orchestral element is partially generated from the trombone voice, but the development and substance of the discourses differ enormously. The trombone and orchestra occasionally share the same key note, but they do not communicate with each other. SOLO is thus less of a concerto and more of an encounter between two solitudes.” (Luciano Berio)
Luciano Berio: SOLO
for trombone and orchestra | 22’
5 1 5 1 - 4 4 3 1 - alto sax, t.sax, str(12 0 8 8 6)
11/5/2013, Florence; Christian Lindberg, tbn; Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, cond. Zubin Mehta
But what made this composer so polarizing? Service provides a link to a very entertaining YouTube-channel where we can experience the composer’s “infectious combination of charisma, blazing intellect and force of will” and points out the importance of intuition and experience in his music.
You can read the full article on Tom Service’s Blog.
Prologue (Silver are the tears of the moon) constitutes the first part of a trilogy of pieces I am composing based on the diaries of the German film director Werner Herzog which he kept during the troubled production of his 1982 movie Fitzcarraldo and later published as the book Conquest of the Useless. The movie itself concerns the doomed efforts of a turn of the century rubber baron to build an opera house in the middle of the Peruvian jungle and the central, iconic image from the movie of a steamship being hauled over a mountain has been somehow translated here into a gigantic glissando, starting in the depths of the orchestra and slowly climbing. I wanted this piece to have all the grandeur and over-the-top emotions of a romantic opera overture and as I began to compose, that wish became more and more literally realised with snatches of Rigoletto writhing in the undegrowth accompanied high above by the “melancholy peeping” of tree-frogs.
The world première of David Fennessy's new orchestral work Prologue (Silver are the tears of the moon) will be held on 11 May in Glasgow. Ilan Volkov conducts the BBC Scottish SO.
David Fennessy: Prologue (Silver are the tears of the moon)
for orchestra | 10’
3 3 3 3 - 4 2 3 1 - Table Guitar, timp, perc(3), pno, str(12 10 8 8 6), frog guiros
world prem. 11/5/2013, Glasgow; BBC Scottish SO, cond. Ilan Volkov
The Schola Heidelberg and Walter Nußbaum present a composer portrait of Georg Friedrich Haas at the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele on 9 May 2013. Among the pieces played will be the Hertervig-Studien and SCHWEIGEN.
Later that day, the Kairos Quartett will perform Haas’ String Quartet no.3, “In iij. Noct.” – in complete darkness, with the four musicians playing from memory in different parts of the room. “Darkness, [...] is not present in this piece merely as an absence of light, but becomes the key theme of the work” (Georg Friedrich Haas)
Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele 2013
Recorded on 9 May 2013
ATTHIS; de terra fine; SCHWEIGEN; Hertervig-Studien
Sarah Wegener, s; Tianwa Yang, vln
Kairos Quartett; Members of the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart of the SWR; Schola Heidelberg, cond. Walter Nussbaum
SWR2 | Listen live
Saturday, 18/5/2013, 20:03
The PRS for Music Foundation has announced the twenty UK based composers who were chosen to write 12-minute works for the New Music Biennial 2014, the successor of New Music 20x12. The commissions, ranging from contemporary classical, folk and jazz to world, electronic and urban music, will be performed at London’s Southbank Centre and in Glasgow in July and August 2014.
David Sawer was commissioned by Onyx Brass to write a piece for brass quintet that will be presented in informal and free outdoor performances across Britain’s historic bandstands, outdoor festivals, and public spaces, intending to bring contemporary music out of the concert hall and on to the village green.
Andrew Clements of The Guardian reviewed Vladimir Jurowski’s latest programme with the London Philharmonic, which, focusing on the years leading to the outbreak of the World War II, brought together Webern, Berg, Bartók and Martinu.
First published in Germany in 2003, Jens Malte Fischer’s biography of Gustav Mahler is finally available in English, translated by Stewart Spencer. Find out more on The Guardian, where it has been reviewed as “a masterly and indeed monumental biography.”
Also, if you don't know Universal Edition's Gustav Mahler: The Conductors' Interviews yet, you might have a look.
Luciano Berio’s Passaggio (for soprano, two choirs and instruments) was performed for the first time fifty years ago, on 6 May 1963 at the Piccola Scala in Mailand. The concert caused a scandal when it premièred: “I knew the audience would lose their heads so I briefed the choir accordingly. I told the choir that they should join in as soon as the audience starts shouting, echo the last word and improvise on it. And that’s exactly what happened. Some people shouted ‘Buffoni’. The choir echoed the word immediately, sped it up, whispered it, lengthened the ‘o’ and turned the improvisation into part of the performance. The audience became completely hysterical because they had lost their chance to protest.”
View the full score of Passaggio:
Conductor Lothar Zagrosek and Talia Pecker Berio after a stunning performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia on 26 April at the Casa da Música in Porto.