Friday, January 26, 2007


It's true! Korngold's biggest, greatest opera is finally to receive its UK premiere, nearly 80 years after it was written. The London Philharmonic will play, Vladimir Jurowski will conduct, and an all-star cast is headed by Patricia Racette, Michael Hendrick and Andreas Schmidt; supporting roles will be taken by the likes of Willard White, Robert Tear, Ursula Hesse von den Steinen and Andrew Kennedy. Date for the diary: 21 November 2007. Pre-concert talk by a Korngold devotee closer than you think (*blush*). Full details here.

Yesterday the upbeat team of what's now written as the Southbank Centre launched the classical music programme for the reopening season of the spanking newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall. 11 June is the big day; the first 48 hours are all free; and all four resident orchestras - the LPO, the Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the London Sinfonietta - will play together for the very first time (Ravel's Bolero included). There's a tremendous bonanza of world-class music-making to look forward to. I note with tears in my eyes that the Philharmonia lists piano god Radu Lupu among its soloists. He hasn't played at the South Bank since...well, I can't remember. Pollini will be playing two Beethoven concertos with the LPO. The Piano Series includes recitals by Uchida, Brendel, Andsnes and Krystian Zimerman. Violinists include Mutter, Fischer, Kavakos. There's a run of Carmen Jones in the summer, and later there'll be festivals of Nono and of Messiaen for his centenary.

And they are going to do a Korngold anniversary series. A couple of years ago, I realised that 2007 would be the 50th anniversary of EWK's death and decided that someone had to do something, otherwise nothing would happen. Sketched out my Fantasy Football Korngold Festival, took it to the then head of classical music at the South Bank and left it in her capable hands. Cripes - they went for it. I'm still pinching myself in wonder. Of course, the series has evolved from the basic plan, with everyone deciding which pieces to do; and Vladimir himself plumped for Heliane, not Die tote Stadt.

The LPO is doing three Korngold concerts: a film music programme on 2 November conducted by John Wilson, putting his music alongside Steiner, Newman, Rozsa, Williams et al; the Violin Concerto with the glorious Nikolaj Znaider on 14 November, in a programme with Zemlinsky and Shostakovich conducted by Jurowski; and Heliane to culminate. The Korngold series will also feature a day of events on 27 October, with the showing of Barrie Gavin's splendid documentary, a round-table discussion with a panel of exerts (I'll be asking the questions), a chamber concert by the Nash Ensemble and a song recital by Anne Sofie von Otter with that great Korngold champion Bengt Forsberg at the piano.

I'll introduce a Korngold Watch series on this blog as soon as I can, as there are events taking place all over the world. But to the best of my knowledge, ours here in London is one of the biggest. BOX OFFICE IS NOW OPEN: 020 7840 4242 or online via the concert links above.