Skip to main content

An evening of cosmic music with the LPO

The first item of this concert was Brett Dean's Komarov's Fall. I thought it was entertaining - that the violins imitated the bleeping sounds inside the space capsule, and the "panic" in the control room, and the fateful fall. No doubt it's a good piece to introduce to young kids with astronomy / astrophysics aspirations. And this formed a not-too-demanding opener of this concert with Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This was followed by John Adams Doctor Atomic Symphony. Having seen the opera quite recently at the English National Opera, I was intrigued by how this might sound - and whether it conveys the full range of emotions. On balance it was an atmospheric work - and the famous aria sung by Oppenheimer was carried over as a trumpet solo. It worked I thought. And the LPO played beautifully under Marin Alsop's direction.

The final item was Gustav Holst's The Planet Suite. So often one hears bits of it on the radio. And one is inclined to think it is over-programmed. Yet asking around, I found my fellow concert goers hadn't listened to it live and in its totality for years. The orchestra played the work with conviction - and delivering the details. The sopranos and altos of the London Philharmonic Choir appeared right at the end of "Neptune" singing a fiendishly difficult passage portraying an other-worldly sound. All in all, it was a satisfying and enjoyable concert.


Popular posts from this blog

Bruckner 7 and Haitink's last appearance at the BBC Proms

I was lucky to have gotten a ticket to see Bernard Haitink conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner 7th Symphony. No doubt it is a work that Haitink knows well - he did it without score. The movements were broad, had shape, and above all nuanced rather than bombastic. His mildmannered gestures were in starck contract to Andris Nelsons's rendition of Bruckner 8 (earlier in the season). It was a real treat to see this maestro still deliveirng the musical umph at 90. A memorable concert that was.

Káťa Kabanová, Royal Opera

Katya, sung by Amanda Majeski, had the passionate timbre making her role convincing. Boris (Pavel Cernoch) was ok, and his duet with Majeski was a delight. Susan Bickley's Kabanova was steely and overpowering. Antony McDonald's design and Richard Jones's direction worked well together - the faux 70s decor and costumes added a certain softness to the harsh reality of the society Janáček portrayed. Edward Gardner did the score justice, bring out fabulous melodic lines, nature and the edgy textures.

Death in Venice, the Royal Opera

Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice is packed full of atmoshperic details of the characters surrounding Gustav von Aschenbach. David McVar's production of Britten's last opera brought these characters - leading and incidental alike - into vivid portrays on the Royal Opera stage. Vicki Mortimer's set gave the production a cinematic quality - stark sunshine on the beach, foggy canals and dingy Venetian corners. Mark Padmore's von Aschenbach was weighted without being stodgy. His diction was superb. His singing was nuanced. Gerald Finley amazingly morphed from one character to the next - so unless you knew in advance he played the Traveller, Old Gondolier, Hotel Manager, Elderly Fop, Hotel Barber et al, you wouldn't know that was sung by the same singer. Hats off to that.

Leo Dixon was Tadzio - his movements portrayed vividly both the youthfullness of the character and the allure that was key to his interaction with von Aschenbach. The rest of the dancing cast …