Thursday, May 20, 2004

Glyndebourne, plus newsy bits

Dress rehearsal of Pelleas et Melisande at Glyndebourne yesterday. One of those rare occasions when the first trip down of the summer is on the sort of cloudless, hot day on which the place is basically paradise. The leaves are bright May green, the hawthorn flowers are out, there are sheep in the field on the hillside. In the interval the lawns are so covered with the company friends and relations picnicking that it's like a scene from Renoir. This is my seventh year of hanging out there with Tom and I still have to pinch myself to make sure it's real. I love the dress rehearsals because the family atmosphere is so excellent. Yesterday I was in the front row of the stalls right next to the violins - had to resist the temptation to pull silly faces at Tom and to throw his colleagues sweets over the railing. Not a good idea.

Pelleas is a revival of a stunning Graham Vick production, with gold panelled walls, a floor of flowers and an incredibly claustrophic atmosphere. John Tomlinson as Golaud is the central figure and his charisma makes the story work much better than usual. Marie Arnet is a gorgeous, delicate Melisande and the lovely Louis Langree takes a robust approach to the score which I like very much. I don't believe Debussy (or Faure, for that matter) should be all elusive and floaty. This stuff comes right from the gut. Highly recommended.


Tasmin Little has recorded the Karlowicz Violin Concerto on Hyperion and if you don't know the piece, you should get a copy right away. Karlowicz was a Polish composer of the early 20th century who died terribly young and has only recently attracted much attention. About 13 years ago, I visited Krystian Zimerman in Switzerland and he played me an old Polish recording of this concerto; I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard. Marvellous that it's now new-minted on a mainstream label. Bravo, Taz.

Marc-Andre Hamelin's new Kapustin disc is a complete delight from start to finish. Kapustin is a rather retiring Russian who prolifically composes piano music in traditional classical forms but fills them with an astonishing, idiosyncratic, energetic jazz idiom. Charming, dizzying and virtuosic, it shows off super-cool Marc to the manner born. Also on Hyperion.

Susan Tomes has written a book called 'Beyond The Notes' about life as a travelling chamber music player. Insights into what Domus was all about and why it had to give up its dome - that was the early 80s - can you imagine anyone daring to leave a concert dome unattended overnight in the Pavilion Gardens in 2004?! Susan's a deep thinker and her philosophical reflections about the nature of musical communication and relationships in a chamber group are fascinating. From Boydell Press.

You can get all of these from Amazon via the link box on the left.

Dear readers, my web-counter doesn't tell me who you are but does give me a rough idea of where you might be. One reader particularly intrigues me. You've been checking in roughly twice a day. You are in France. You are logging on from UNAPEC, which Google tells me is a university. Please, whoever you are: if you can bear to, write a comment box and identify yourself! S'IL VOUS PLAIT, ECRIVEZ-MOI! The suspense is killing me!