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Showing posts from May, 2015

Messiaen - Turangalîla-Symphonie

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Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Wednesday May 27 2015

Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen. Piano: Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Ondes Martenot: Valérie Hartmann-Claverie. Philharmonia Orchestra. 

The Philharmonia's Turangalîla under Salonen on Wednesday evening came across, from where I was sitting, as a massive display of scorching orchestral fire-power: the brass and percussion blasting away like heavy artillery at the rear, the dry English woodwind's lighter artillery and the searing, steely siren sounds of the strings in the middle, and at the front, celesta and glockenspiel scattering gleaming, ear-piercing shrapnel, the wailing shells of the ondes Martenot, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard manning a one-man machine gun battery, shooting off salvos of bullets with deadly accuracy and taking no prisoners. Tempi were relatively brisk, Messiaen's sudden silences were deafeningly abrupt, the overall effect was more martial than loving, and apart from brief moments of respite, it was either…

Chausson - Le Roi Arthus

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ONP Bastille, Paris, Monday May 25 2015

Conductor: Philippe Jordan. Production: Graham Vick. Sets and costumes: Paul Brown. Lighting: Adam Silverman. Genièvre: Sophie Koch. Arthus: Thomas Hampson. Lancelot: Roberto Alagna. Mordred: Alexandre Duhamel. Lyonnel: Stanislas de Barbeyrac. Allan: François Lis. Merlin: Peter Sidhom. Un Laboureur: Cyrille Dubois. Un Chevalier: Tiago Matos. Un Écuyer: Ugo Rabec. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

If I seemed reserved in my praise of the musical side of Sunday's Ballo in Brussels, I can be quite unreserved about that of Le Roi Arthus last night: it was simply magnificent, as magnificent, sensitive yet generous a performance as you could hope to hear. Having said that, what can I usefully add? (Eight more paragraphs, perhaps?)

Though I've seen it before in Brussels, like most of us, I imagine, I know the work mainly from Jordan senior's recording with Teresa Żylis-Gara. That being so, I was surprised to see Sophie Koc…

Verdi - Un Ballo in Maschera

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La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday May 24 2015

Conductor: Carlo Rizzi. Concept and Production: Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus). Sets: Alfons Flores. Costumes: Lluc Castells. Lighting: Urs Schönebaum. Video: Emmanuel Carlier. Gustav III: Riccardo Massi. René Ankarström: Scott Hendricks. Amelia: Monica Zanettin. Ulrica Arfvidsson: Marie-Nicole Lemieux. Oscar: Ilse Eerens. Cristiano: Roberto Accurso. Ribbing: Tijl Faveyts. Horn: Carlo Cigni. Un Giudice: Zeno Popescu. Un Servo: Pierre Derhet. Orchestra and Chorus of La Monnaie.

This Ballo, involving a couple of interesting young singers, was musically quite satisfactory overall, and at times excellent.

Scott Hendricks is a baritone I've admired at La Monnaie and the Bastille in the past. Yesterday his singing was fairly blustery (and he looked quite grumpy at the curtain calls), but that was alright, once his character had gone bad. Marie-Nicole Lemieux was as excellent an Ulrica as you'd expect: vocally sumptuous and radiating presence. …

Ann Hallenberg sings Graun