Friday 26 August 2011

Brilliant Brahms at Prom 49

On Saturday evening it was back to The Royal Albert Hall for a celebration of Brahms at BBC Prom 49 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Bernard Haitink - conductor and Emanuel Ax - piano. With a programme of Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major and Symphony No.4 in E minor this was definitely a night to enjoy the beautiful sounds of Johannes Brahms.

The previous night I watched the Chamber Orchestra of Europe's first Brahms concert on BBC4 but for the second I'm at The Royal Albert Hall to experience all the excitement live. How wonderful was Emanuel Ax playing the piano in perfect harmony with the Orchestra. It seems that along with Bernard Haitink they are the perfect combination for Brahms.

After the interval we were treated to a brilliant performance of Brahms' Symphony No.4 in E minor which delighted the large audience. Clever and challenging this is a mighty piece of music made even better when played to this high standard. Nights like this make the BBC Proms the best Classical Music Festival in the World.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Afternoon Matinee at Cadogan Hall

On Saturday 20th August 2011 I made my way to Sloane Square for the BBC Proms Chamber Music Saturday Matinee Concert with London Sinfonietta conducted by David Atherton, BBC Singers, Andrew Watts - counter-tenor, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts - tenor and Nicholas Hodges - piano.

The programme consisted of II rozzo martello - Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Champ-Contrechamp - Georges Aperghis and Angel Fighter - Sir Harrison Birtwistle. The concert was introduced from the stage by BBC Radio 3 presenter Christopher Cook.

The BBC Singers beautifully sang II rozzo matello after which we were given the world premiere of Grorges Aperghis' new piano concerto Champ-Contrechamp with Nicholas Hodges. This was a very challenging piece that pushes the boundaries with the constant mix of music from pianist and ensemble.

The concert finished with the UK premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Angel Fighter. A work for ensemble and choir that is based on the Bibles story of Jacob who wrestles with an Angel. Wonderful performances from Andrew Watts and Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts who brought this dramatic story to life.

Monday 22 August 2011

Russian Prom at The Royal Albert Hall

On Wednesday 17th August 2011 I attended BBC Prom 44 at The Royal Albert Hall with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen - conductor, Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay - leader and Lisa Batiashvili - violin.

The programme for the evening consisted of The Age of Gold suite, Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor - Shostakovich, Petrushka (1947 version) - Stravinsky and Francesca de Rimini - Tchaikovsky.

The Age of Gold is music portraying a Soviet football team while Shostakovich's Violin Concerto is a very symphonic concerto. Lisa Batiashvili recorded this with Esa-Pekka Salonen on her album Echoes of Time which is a recording I highly recommend. It was brilliant to witness her play this live at this her Proms debut. A very powerful performance that charmed the audience at The Royal Albert Hall.

After the interval the Philharmonia Orchestra gave a stunning performance of Stravinsky's Petrushka which is a ballet based on St. Petersburg's Shrovetide fair. This outstanding evening of music finished with Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini - symphonic fantasia after Dante. This was a rousing end to the concert as the powerful sounds of Tchaikovsky's symphonic poem filled the Hall like a hurricane.  

Friday 19 August 2011

Henry Macey Organ Recital

St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich was full of the Henry Macey Fan Club on Tuesday lunchtime as we were treated to an Organ recital that warmed our hearts. With a varied programme there was something for everyone.

The programme consisted of Voluntary No.3 in C - Beckwith, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582 - Bach, Pastorale (Six Pieces) - Franck, Eucharistia, Meditation on East Aklam - Watson, Pomp and Circumstance March No.4 in G major - Elgar, Le Cygne (The Swan) - Saint-Saens and Toccata - Lanquetuit.

Henry Macey is organist at Aylsham Parish Church and gave a wonderful performance in this splendid historical Norwich Hall. When a swan swims it sits on the water. When you hear great organ music you feel very privileged. This was a lunchtime treat not to be missed.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Mariinsky Ballet performing La Bayadere

St. Petersburg's Mariinsky's Ballet were celebrating 50 years since they first performed in London. On Saturday I attended the afternoon performance of La Bayadere at the Royal Opera House.

La Bayadere is a Ballet in three acts with music by Ludwig Minkus. Act One Scene One is By the Walls of the Temple of the Sacred Flame and Scene Two is The Court of the Rajah Dugmanta. Act Two is The Garden before the Rajah's Palace and Act Three is The Kingdom of Shades. It was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre, St. Petersburg on 23rd January 1877.

La Bayadere takes place in India where Nikiya a beautiful temple dancer is in love with a warrior named Solor who is engaged to the Rajah's daughter Gamzatti. During the Wedding celebrations Nikiya is forced to dance, after which she receives a basket of flowers from Gamzetti. The basket contains a deadly snake and Nikiya dies. Solar dreams of reuniting with Nikiya in the Kingdom of Shades.

The most famous scene for the Ballet is The Kingdom of Shades where 32 ballerinas are on stage all moving at the same time in perfect harmony. This was done perfectly by the Mariinsky Ballet and will be my lasting memory of their performance. This was a wonderful afternoon spent at the Royal Opera House as the Mariinsky showed why they are one of the world's best ballet companies.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Field Day Celebration!

On Saturday 6th August 2011 I made my way to Victoria Park in East London for Field Day. This was my fourth visit to the Festival and with seven stages there was plenty to see in Tower Hamlets at this celebration of Alternative Music.

I started the day at the Village Mentality Stage catching Faust complete with electric drill. Willy Mason opened the action on the Eat Your Own Eyes Main Stage with a set that was cooler then TV. This was followed by a set from Junip fronted by singer songwriter Jose Gonzalez.

Mark Kozelek was keeping it quiet back at the Village Mentality Stage while Sun Ra Arkestra were starting a Reggae Party getting us all in a Festival Summer mood. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti put on a weird and wonderful show after which I rushed to the Laneway Festival Stage for the dance beats of Mount Kimbie.

Zola Jesus was in the small Bloggers Delight/Lanzarote tent which was jam packed with loads of people standing outside as she put on a cool performance full of dark overtunes on a cloudy day. John Cale brought us Sixties cool to the Eat Your Own Ears Stage. This was followed by Warpaint who produced one of the highlights of the day with a brilliant set full of atmospheric Post Rock.

As The Coral played a a fun set full of their greatest hits a rainbow appeared in the skies above Victoria Park and everyone forgot about the rain. I made my way back to the Laneway Festival Stage to catch the beginning of The Horrors performance. This was a triumphant moment for the band who seem to be at the height of their powers. I finished my day with the Wild Beasts who got us all dancing with their chiming guitars and memorable songs.