Music

French orchestral music at Brighton Dome from the early twentieth century, the first night of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2015/6 residency at Brighton Dome. Claude Debussy worked on La Mer whilst at Eastbourne, nearby to Brighton along the coast of the English Channel. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Robin Ticciati gave us a spirited and stormy account consistent with today’s weather: evocative of sharp showers and low visibility on the Channel rather than the grandeur, majesty and depths of the oceans.

Read more: Fauré, Ravel, Debussy: London Philharmonic at the Brighton Dome

Patterdale “The local organist entertains”

Patterdale “The local organist entertains” concerts have been running for a few summers now, featuring the William Hill organ, reinstalled and rebuilt in 1906 by Wilkinson and recently enlarged and rebuilt by Andrew Carter of Wakefield.

Mike Town presented a programme with a summer feel for the first day of June. The brisk wind and driving rain outside was easily forgotten by the committed audience as the first chord of the 2015 series – starting an unchurchy circus style march by Dando – sounded on the stroke of the church clock.

Read more: Patterdale “The local organist entertains”

An accomplished and enthusiastic performance of a challenging programme to an attentive audience by the Doric Quartet at The Theatre by the Lake, Keswick as part of Keswick Music Society's season.

An unexpectedly intense musical experience at the end of a day of hiking in the spring sunshine was both a surprise and a pleasure. BBC Radio3 was broadcasting the concert live, a first for Keswick,  presumably made feasible by the recent arrival here of a fibre optic internet connections.

Read more: The Doric Quartet - Keswick Music Society

St. John's, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria

A full house for the opening concert of the 11th Bassenthwaite Festival at St, John’s Church. Bassenthwaite in Cumbria is a village at the foot of Skiddaw (931 m,) England’s fourth highest mountain. David Gibbs’ introductory remarks as Director introduced a festival programme featuring the work of just one composer, the British composer Henry Purcell (1659-95). This opening concert included a semi-staged performance of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, two odes and two instrumental pieces.

Read more: Dido & Aeneas: Bassenthwaite Festival

Uncomfortable production this, at least at tonight’s First Night. Christine Rice’s Jenny’s song was the highlight for me but otherwise international standard opera singing feels wrong in most of Weil’s music, despite Kobbé and others’ argument that The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is opera.  Brechts’ slogan-shouting Marxism is too literal for this to be an ironic contrast nor does this production play on the satire.

The Royal Opera House made over like the National Theatre (programme sellers in production t-shirts, credits list pasted to the walls in the foyer and projection of spoof Mahagonny advertising in the house before the overture) is a difficult coat for the opera house to wear. Of course the video projections stagecraft and lighting are excellent, the orchestra beyond reproach (and I’m sure none of this comes without much effort) but making the transition from musical theatre to royal opera is uncomfortable. Much easier for opera singers to take on - say - South Pacific.

Christine Rice was in particularly good voice singing Jenny, full voice, sordid and bitter but not preaching. Brilliant to hear Anne Sophie van Otter and Willard W. White cast so well. It sounds as though the cast had a lot of fun this production, as did Lotte Lenya and Kurt Weil in their productions.

Read more: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny - The Royal Opera