Thursday, June 19, 2008

Songs from West and East

It may not be the easiest time to sell American music in London, given the all-time low popularity of that president. But hey, he's going soon and it's no reason not to enjoy the fascinating music of Samuel Barber or the European premiere of a new song cycle by Ned Rorem, one of today's finest composers of art song. An team of excellent young musicians are presenting a programme that is exciting, fresh and (especially for the Wigmore Hall, which is largely back to its old conservative ways) new, on Sunday evening, spearheaded by prizewinning pianist Marisa Gupta.

The Rorem cycle is called Aftermath - Ten Songs on Love and War and sounds, to put it mildly, topical. Super baritone Thomas Meglioranza sings it, and Brilliant Sky, Infinite Sky by Aaron Jay Kernis. Those of you in Australia, by the way, can hear him soon in the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville on 9 July when he sings the baritone songs in our Turgenev-Viardot programme The Song of Triumphant Love. Programme also includes music by Gershwin arranged by Heifetz, with violinist Hayley Wolfe, and Barber's excellent Excursions.

Meanwhile Patricia Rozario is gearing up to a wonderful recital programme in the City of London Festival on 3 July, bringing together songs of longing for the East by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn with some powerful Tavener (the Akhmatova Songs, written for her), a new cycle by Param Vir on poetry by Rabindranath Tagore (also written for her) and some folk songs from Goa. Read my piece about her in yesterday's Indy here.