Sunday, November 11, 2007

Off sick

I'm laid up with a chest infection & didn't make it to the Albert Hall. Reactions to the Foulds from those who were there, or heard it on the radio as I did, are welcome in the comments box. I'll leave mine aside for now due to effect of medication on brain.

Update the morning after, with Lemsip

Tragic but true: after all that fuss, the piece didn't float my boat. It wouldn't, of course - I am allergic to much of the English choral tradition and to most concert requiems, and it possessed the qualities I'm least comfortable with in both. Still, it seemed worth giving the poor thing a chance. Perhaps it was bound to disappoint after the massive build-up we all gave it (except for Pliable, who saw this coming a mile off. Chapeau, mon ami. I stand by my insistence that it should be heard before being slagged off, but now it's fair game). (And thanks for the link today.)

To me the piece felt as if it could have been composed this year: it fitted bang into the 'spiritual minimalism' mindset. The closest thing to it that I could think of was indeed McCartney's latest, 'Ecce cor meum', which has better tunes.

I wouldn't want, however, to judge Foulds's output as a whole by this one piece. The other works I've heard are utterly different. That's one of the bizarre things about his music: he never repeats himself and it can be hard to believe you're listening to the same composer. I have a CD of Kathryn Stott playing the piano music, which is beautiful, original and fascinating.

Let's see what everyone else has to say...I'll update this further with the various reviews as they arrive.

(To hear the work on BBC Radio 3 for the rest of the week, anywhere in the world, go to this page, scroll to Classical, call up the list of programmes and click on 'The Choir'.)

Ivan Hewitt in The Telegraph: "In the loveliest movement, "Elysium", we heard a kind of spiritualised and "orientalised" late Wagner, as if the Flower Maidens in Parsifal had been spirited off to a Hindu ashram."

Barry Millington in The Evening Standard: "All credit to the BBC for putting on a work that demanded to be heard. Let's not make it an annual event, however."

Geoff Brown in The Times: "A jumble, then: of its time and out of time; conventional and modernist; often thrilling, occasionally blank. And a justified revival."

Tim Ashley in The Guardian: "The burning sincerity of the performance eclipsed any qualms about stylistic disunity."