Friday, November 23, 2007

Heliane: the reckoning

So here come the reviews. Most are fair, one [correction, two or three once you pass the nationals and hit the Spectator and Musicweb] is monstrously unfair. As always, it's the story that puts most of 'em off, though I reckon I've seen worse.

Meanwhile, if anyone is wondering who the 'eminent German musicologist' was whom I mention in my programme notes, it is Prof Dr Jens Malte Fischer, a professor at the University of Munich who has written extensively on Mahler and Wagner.

Will add the write-ups as they come in. For starters, here are:

Ed Seckerson in The Independent: " succumbs to indulgence over narrative cohesion, and it does so at the same pitch of hysteria for much of its protracted duration. Even so, it's hard to resist the noise that it makes."

Neil Fisher in The Times: "Eighty years on, not just a necessary premiere: at best, an intoxicating one."

Alexander Campbell in "Being greeted with an orchestral layout that includes a piano, organ, celesta and harmonium in addition to an array of percussion, one gets some idea as to the scale of the London Philharmonic’s undertaking to present the piece. No wonder stagings in opera-houses are extremely rare. The real stars of the evening were indeed the orchestral players under Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski."

And if you want a good laugh, Rupert Christiansen in The Daily Telegraph: "Ye Gods! In all the annals, can there be an opera containing more unmitigated codswallop than Erich Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane?"

UPDATE: Tim Ashley in The Guardian.

UPDATE: Intermezzo (hiya, glad you didn't leave at the interval!)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Clark in the Financial Times.

Dear Rupert, I feel exactly that way towards Bruckner's symphonies, the whole lot of them. Bruckner was the biggest pompous, empty, pontificating, boring, overblown windbag who ever set note to paper - but just because I don't like it, that is not going to stop anybody playing the blasted stuff. After twenty-five years of 'giving him a chance' I just vote with my feet and refuse to go. And I won't go to Berg any more, either, because a few months ago I suffered an actual panic attack in the Three Pieces for orchestra - an aural torture that I suspect the prisoners of Guantanamo are spared.

Critics have always hated Korngold, so this guy is just one more poor lost soul who's not eating enough apricots. What the heck. Our reviews may no longer wrap chips, but they do end up being recycled into loo roll, which is where many of them really belong.

Here are some more backstage pics from the other night.