Archive Spring 2012

Spring is here, fitfully, and things are hotting up. The major and most entertaining news is that on June 3 I shall be with the London Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant. We are in the last barge, the aptly named Symphony, and performing a stirring selection of mainly British music between Albert Bridge and Tower Bridge. The music ranges from Holst to Coates, via the James Bond Theme. Many of the pieces are more or less obviously associated with landmarks as we pass them, so Chelsea Gardens will have Percy Grainger’s English Country Garden, the Globe Theatre Walton’s Henry V Overture, HMS Belfast the Dam Busters …and MI6, of course, James Bond… When we arrive at Tower Bridge we will greet the Queen with Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and the National Anthem. There is an amazing sound-system on the boat, piping the music extremely audibly to both banks. Altogether exciting and delightful. In March the orchestra and I recorded all the music for issue at the same time on CD, a disc entitled Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant – The Official CD. I will post a clip and a link as soon as it is available.

The next news is our recording for Opera Rara of Bellini’s Il pirata has just been issued, starring the wonderful Carmen Giannattasio. It is always a thrilling moment when the CD arrives in an actual box, with an actual booklet. Carmen has been parachuted into the revival of La Bohème at the Royal Opera House, and is enjoying a huge success.

The early part of the year has been taken up with recording and writing. In addition to the Diamond Jubilee recording, I made a very different kind of disc for the German company Granola, consisting of Entartete Musik, Schulhoff, Ullmann and Tausky, with the English Chamber Orchestra. The two most exciting pieces are Schulhoff’s Double Concerto for Flute, Piano and Orchestra and Ullmann’s Chamber Concerto for Strings, an arrangement  by Kenneth Woods of the composer’s String Quartet No.3. The double concerto featured two wonderful soloists, the Austrian flautist Ulrike Anton and the American pianist Russell Ryan. It was a pleasure to work with such dedicated artists. The Ullmann is a really fine work and the ECO gave a marvellous performance of  a piece which is highly demanding both technically and emotionally. I expect this CD to be issued in the autumn.

And the writing… I took on translating Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor for Stanley Hall Opera and ended up writing an entirely new version, with a much more involved and, I like to think, interesting story than the original. The basic idea of trying to find the money to put on a production and having to cope with screeching rival prima donnas is retained; but it is just the starting point. The opera will be performed this July in a double-bill with Pagliacci, also in my translation; so the production the impresario is trying to finance in the Mozart is, of course… More later. Let me just say that there is an additional heroine called Nancy.

May, June and July are going to be very busy. Rehearsals for La Périchole at Garsington start on May 7. In addition to the Jubilee Pageant, there are two big festival concerts: Newbury on May 18 with the Festival Chorus and the ECO, including Vaughan Williams’s marvellous Dona nobis pacem and Elgar’s Enigma Variations; and Norfolk and Norwich on May 26, with their Festival Chorus and the LPO, the programme Debussy Nocturnes, Elgar Sea Pictures and Poulenc Gloria. Both concerts worth catching if you can…