Archive for October, 2015

Cooper’s London

October 31, 2015


Mel snapshot 19



Come and Get It!

As always, the Wigmore Hall season has looked schubertambitious and extremely attractive from start to finish. You could do worse than spending most of your evenings and some afternoons there for fine performances of chamber music or lieder. Next season a survey of Schubert’s complete 650+ songs will stretch to 40 concerts and two seasons, so check it out and take your picks.

Magdalena-Kozena-Sir-Simon-Rattle-c-Deutsche-Grammophon-Sheila-Rock-580x336Magdalena Kozena is doing a five-concert series with her husband, Sir Simon Rattle, playing the piano for her, his first appearance ever at the Wigmore Hall, I believe; and the Heath Quartet is undertaking a complete Bartok Chamber Music series and two recitals by violinist James Ehnes. And that ain’t all, folks! If you want to hear the best music small in scale but big in heart and sound (actually, the cheap seats at the back and up in the gallery have the best acoustics) by both the top names of the day and the most exciting emerging artists also in the mix, go find them at:

And then there are all the orchestral concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, and all the other ensembles that make London their home; as well as visiting orchestras from all over the world at places like the Barbican, the South Bank Centre and the Cadogan Hall. cadogan hallThe Royal Philharmonic continues its residency at the converted hall that used to be a Mason’s lodge near Sloane Square, but there were also visits this autumn from some of the more interesting European orchestras that don’t often get heard away from home: the Basel Symphony Orchestra, for example, on 24 and 28 September with the redoubtable Elisabeth Leonskaya playing Mozart on the 28th and Alice Sara Ott playing Ravel on the 24th. Conductor Michael Sanderling brought his Dresden Symphony on 5 October; and Gergiev conducted winners of the latest Tchaikovsky competition with the Mariinsky Orchestra on 26 October.

For me, a highly anticipated evening is 5 November when Jan Latham Koenig brings his brilliant Flanders Symphony Orchestra napoleonand teams up with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus to present music written for or about Napoleon in the 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo. And I wouldn’t want to miss either Maxim Vengerov or Chloe Hanslip on 8 and 23 November respectively, the latter with the Prague Symphony orchestra in a program that includes Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony along with the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Check out the full programme and book your tickets at:

When the LSO returns from a touring summer to Japan, you might want to make your way to the Barbican for some of their concerts. Bernard Haitink, Daniel Harding and Simon Rattle (welcome home!) are among the stellar lineup of conductors for the season and you can find the full list, click links to more information and choose at:

I have had a soft spot for the Philharmonia Orchestra since the days when I was a student and used to attend concerts conducted by the likes of Otto Klemperer, Carlo Maria Giulini and a tyro Daniel Barenboim, not to mention the occasional controversial visit from Herbert von Karajan whose lush concerts got slower and slower, shorter and shorter, and sounded more and more like the interpretation of a mechanical genius with Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these great salonen-sibelius2-1performances are preserved on recordings from that era and even turn up on YouTube (though I wish someone would clear the rights to release on DVD the last revelatory cycle of Beethoven symphonies that Klemperer did, which were broadcast on television in color!and even appeared on YouTube for a while with Japanese subtitles). The orchestra seems to me to be regaining its legendary form under Esa-Pekka Salonen after a bit of a slump.

Not surprisingly, the programming and choice of conductors are selling tickets well. Christoph von Dohnanyi has conducted their 70th anniversary concert at their London home, the Royal Festival Hall, with Beethoven’s 9th included in the programme on 27 September. The highly reliable and usually moving Yuri Temirkanov conducted Brahms on 4 October; star pianist trifonovDaniil Trifonov played Rachmaninov’s 4th Piano Concerto on 5 October to kick off a complete cycle of the piano concertos; and chief conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen returns on 1 November. Paavo Jarvi’s Nielsen cycle is likely to become one of those Philharmonia legends and begins on 19 November; lang langand Lang Lang joins with Salonen for a promising Grieg event on 26 November. The result is that whenever you’re able to spend an evening at a concert, there will be something you’ll enjoy attending. (If you expect to be in New York a little later in the season, both Salonen and Trifonov will be working there at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.) Full information for the Philharmonia Orchestra can be found at:

And keep Liverpool in mind: they have what I think
is one of the liveliest and most interesting orchestras outside the vasilycapital, run since 2006 by Vasily
 Petrenko. You can find them at home or on tour this season in the UK ( or whet your appetite with his Shostakovich cycle with the orchestra on Naxos (multiple discs). 

Apollo’s Girl

October 28, 2015


apollo and lyre



Film Society of Lincoln Center:
Scary Movies 9: October 30 – November 5

This year’s choices are a perfect witches’ brew of classics frankenstein 1jpg(Frankentein (1931); The Gorgon; The Last Winter); brand-new takes on adaptations and genres; and tools (chainsaws) and tropes (don’t go into that forest!) of the trade.

So: You can make it easy (Southbound, on Opening Night, with directors, stars, and a costume party with food, drink, and prizes); or you can make it hard: the closing-night double bill of Bernard Rose’s frankenstein21988 Paperhouse and his just-released Frankenstein. Rose knows how to do evocative and how to do powerful (remember the scene in his Immortal Beloved when young Beethoven lies in bed, terrified, knowing his drunken father is climbing the stairs to give him a beating?) but he always does beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful: I was intrigued by Sean Byrne’s sean byrneThe Devil’s Candy, a ravishing marriage of painterly light and camerawork, and seriously heavy metal. The story of an artist who paints butterflies for banks and turns to canvases for the devil was smart, fast, and stylish beyond anything Goethe imagined when he wrote Faust. This is Byrne’s second feature; he’s worth watching and waiting for. P.S. The entire cast—especially the principals (Shirl Appleby, Kiara Glasco, and gallery-
ready embrypainter Ethan Embry)—put, and keep, it spinning over the top.

You can, of course, pick and choose your favorites, or you can keep the popcorn coming and sign up for a week of fear and trembling.

Apollo’s Girl

October 28, 2015

apollo and lyreA View From the Bridge: 
From Across the Pond

Our UK editor, Mel Cooper, saw Ivo van Hove’s production, (now in previews on Broadway) earlier this year in London’s West End. It’s a seamless transfer. His advice (and mine): don’t miss it!

view from the bridge

Cooper’s London

October 5, 2015


Mel snapshot 19

In London (and On the Road)

The Royal Opera House starated its new season with its first production of Gluck’s seminal Orphée et Eurydice in a long time – that is, the French version for a tenor Orpheus – not the original in Italian written for a castrato and reworked for a mezzo by Berlioz. ORPHEEetEURYDICE- bill cooper-opera-danceJuan Diego Florez was simply an ideal choice for the mellifluous hero, with Lucy Crowe as his beloved. The Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists were led by John Eliot Gardiner in what promised to be an “authentic” performance of the work.

luke-stylesFrom 9 September the company will be presenting a new commission in the Linbury Studios, a one-act chamber opera version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the promising Australian composer Luke Styles. This is followed on 9 October by a new opera by Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy. last hotelThe Last Hotel, that I am very curious about because I have enjoyed Enda Walsh’s plays so much in the past.

Back in the main house with the Covent Garden orchestra, there is a revival of David McVicar’s truly gripping and imaginative production of The Marriage of Figaro with a fine cast conducted by Ivor Bolton; I would also wish mattilato attend the revival of Ariadne auf Naxos if only to hear Karita Mattila sing “Es gibt ein reich”. She has the perfect voice for Strauss and is a consummate actress in every role she undertakes. She also has a superb sense of humour and can act irony! For me, the star attractions of the revival of the fine Carmen production by Francesca Zambello playing from 19 October are the conductor, Bertrand de Billy, and the heroic and tormented Don Jose of Jonas Kaufmann (okay, okay, here’s a few choice clips):

and not just the well-sung interpretation of Carmen herself by Russian mezzo Elena Maximova. This is coming in December.

Antonio Pappano is conducting a new Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci directed by Damiano Michieletto, whose Guillaume Tell last season caused a major rumpus because of its graphic rape scene. Many critics and some operagoers hated it; there were boos; there was newspaper hysteria; but it came across well on cinema screens when it was broadcast and many people actually found it very exciting, innovative and a really strong and interesting interpretation of the opera. It remains to be seen what he can do to Leoncavallo and Mascagni who were, of course, in their day, quite revolutionary and controversial themselves as they developed the verismo approach. I bet Michieletto tries to up the ante! romeo and julietteMeanwhile the Royal Ballet will be reviving Macmillan’s classic version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (built originally on Nureyev and Fonteyn) with loads of performances throughout the autumn; and I am particularly looking forward to catching up with Martha Clarke’s ballet Chéri, based on cherithe Colette novels, with Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo returning to dance the roles they created.

Meantime, over at the financially beleaguered English National Opera, which has also just lost its long term artistic director, John Berry, there are three new interesting productions for the autumn. The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich has been a huge hit for them in past years, with Josephine Barstow becoming a notable international star by playing the title role. Directed and designed by Sergei Tcherniakov, racette at ENOPatricia Racette looks likely to be as stunning a Katerina as was Barstow; and the estimable Mark Wigglesworth, the new music director of the company, should be able to conduct up a wigglesworthstorm. The musical forces for Verdi’s The Force of Destiny are impeccable; but the betting is that Calixto Bieito’s production will be even more controversial than his Masked Ball with the male chorus sitting on toilets reading newspapers and commenting on current politics or his Don Giovanni that starts out set in a garbage dump in Seville. This one has been updated to the Spanish Civil War; and for my taste Bieito’s approach has become more and more insular and self-referential since his rather convincing and powerful Carmen. That said, I live in hope; know that Wigglesworth is a terrific Verdian; and look forward to hearing this strong cast. All the other autumn shows – Jonathan Miller’s Barber of Seville and his inventive Mikado; the lovely La Bohème directed by Benedict Andrew; and a winning Magic Flute directed by reliably brilliant Simon McBurney – were all hits when they first appeared and go on being eminently revivable and well-cast. The Barber is particularly famous for the stellar turn by Andrew Shore as Dr Bartolo who is, thankfully, returning to the role.

Finally, if you are willing to travel out of London, my top recommendation would
welsh national operabe the
Welsh National Opera; it has a particularly interesting season coming up focusing on madness in opera, specifically in Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece, I Puritani; Handel’s Orlando; and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. At one of the most consistent companies for fielding imaginative productions that actually illuminate the works themselves, and for its high-level musical interpretations, these works are definitely all worth considering in Cardiff or on tour.

Apollo’s Girl

October 4, 2015

Music, Video

apollo and lyre



It’s World Animal Day; just click on the links to celebrate.

JACK Quartet (Miller Theatre)/
Internet Cat Video Festival (MAD);

On September 17, Miller Theatre at Columbia University jackopened its 2014/15 calendar with a take-no-prisoners premiere of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Run Time Error, performed by the composer and the JACK Quartet. It was definitely a trip! I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and am taking the easy way out by pointing you to the NY Times‘ review of the concert by Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim.

Times’ review

Miller has become known for the adventurous programs devised by its director, Melissa Smey whose interests traverse the entire range of human history, whose choices require the use of the word “fearless” for every performance, and who appears to know just about everything. The real thrill is in seeing and hearing how she puts it all together.

jl adamsComing up: A triple exposure of John Luther Adams’ compositions (he won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014) on October 7, 9, and 10. But it’s not only what’s new but, sometimes, what’s old: a screening of Carl Dreyer’s iconic silent, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), starring the equally iconic Falconetti, with 15th-passion-of-joan-of-arc-480x270century music by the Orlando Consort (October 14 and 16). There’s jazz, too. And, earlier this year (on April 1), even the launch of the Canine Composers series; surely a first, but likely to become an audience favorite:

It’s exhilarating to experience Smey’s seasons, which appear to become more innovative and appealing every year. Just get on board and stretch:

It was a triumph! The Pope had just left the pope
West Side and was on his way to Madison Square Garden. As the faithful streamed out of Central Park, another crowd surged into the Museum of Art and Design; the Internet Cat Video Festival (from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis) was about to begin, and it was standing room only. cat vidThere were very few old ladies in sneakers, but hordes of millennials wearing them mad_exteriorinstead, and applause and laughter rose from the committed like a much-needed benediction. 

The Museum has unveiled a new season of events including cinema, performance, talks, encounters and workshops. Although I can personally recommend the upcoming 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (previously enjoyed at FSLC’s Human Rights Watch Festival);, MAAD’s season looks more than promising. The cinema, in particular, is well-curated, and free! You know what to do….. 

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