Skip to main content

Knussen conducts Webern, Anderson and his own works late at night

Oliver Knussen conducted a marvelous programme of contemporary music at the late night PROMS yesterday. His interpretation of his Ophelia Dances and Requiem (sung by Claire Booth) conveyed the emotions without loosing the cool - the latter work was a solemn and personal tapestry of feelings. Webern's Five Pieces for Orchestra was a real joy to listen to - the 4th piece which contained only 7 bars gave a new meaning to "Less Is More". Knussen did a customary repeat of all five pieces just in case if anyone in the audience missed it the first time round! The evening concluded with Julian Anderson's Book of Hours - with the composer at the console interweaving sampled electronic sound into the live performance. Knussen's "cartridge onto the vinyl LP" gesture was a firm
acknowledgemnet of the importance of the recorded elements of the work.
The work sounded more sonorous then when it was first performed in Birmingham a few years ago, and had a indescribably shiny quality to it that brought the evening to a glitzy end.


Popular posts from this blog

Joyce DiDonato sings Berlioz at BBC Proms

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique started this BBC Proms concert with Le corsaire - it was tightly played and a sonorous sound. I wonder whether this was due to the whole orchestra standing up while playing had anything to do with it. It sounded good.

Joyce DiDonato first sang La mort de Cléopâtre - her performance was mesmerising due to her dramatic delivery of text and the wonderful lines. Sir John was ever sensitive to the flow of the music. Dido’s death scene was short, yet no less powerful with DiDonata's breadth of emotions. Some may moan about her over dramatic delivery at the expense of pitch accuracy - but that's just nitpicking.

The second half of the concert was Harold in Italy - a whimsical and eclectic piece that's interesting to listen to - but I wonder whether this should have been played in the 1st half of the concert.

Poème symphonique, British Museum

Now how often does one get to hear Ligeti's "joke" Poème symphonique? It came about recently at the British Library. Or rather, it was performed in the old British Library reading room. 100 metronomes arranged neatly on a platform, lit, and poised to commence. After a short introduction, a small team of museum staff flicked the metronomes and the performance started. It was a cacophony of sound echoed by the reading room's unique acoustic. It's strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic. From time to time, some metronomes came together into unison, and then dissipated. It had an organic quality to it. If one ever wondered, it took about 25 minutes until the last remaining metronome on Largo came to a stop. It was fun!

From the House of the Dead, the Royal Opera

Janáček's From the House of the Dead was not going to be an "easy listening" piece. The drama was intense and claustrophobic - perhaps that's intentional. Unlike Káťa Kabanová or Jenůfa where there was a greater story arc, The House was more choppy - including two plays within the opera. All in all a very intense evening.