Monday, 23 February 2009

Handel Festival, London

Get a handle on Handel this year in London! Below is a link to Melanie Eskenazi's article on the celebrations. This will be Handel Total Immersion, as there will be so many concerts, talks etc, even walking tours, as the composer spent so much time in England. The London Handel Festival, which starts 23 Feb, features some of the greatest oratorios, Theodora, Alessandro and Jephtha.

"The highlight of the Festival is surely Jephtha. Laurence Cumming, the conductor and Festival director, has been “saving up for this as it’s such a dark piece, with such complex issues being grappled with. It’s a work in which everything is inherent in the drama, with nothing more needed to bring it out than the right singers.” John Mark Ainsley considers the title role one of the greatest and most challenging: “I’ve recorded it once and would love to have another go at it now that I’ve got so much more life-experience under my belt – I’ve always liked the piece for its top-class Handelian lyricism, and its combination of superlative music with an involving text.” The clearly-defined narrative is “as much about moods of the protagonists as it is about actions”, and he loves the almost Shakespearean nature of the text, which he says you can speak “without cringeing”. After a relatively long absence from the role, Ainsley is looking forward to finding out “what new colours I’ve got in the paintbox.” Ainsley has a special closeness to the Festival, since he sang his very first Handel oratorio in St George’s and learned a great deal from performances there by an earlier generation of singers. He credits Laurence Cummings with the new energy that is evident in the Festival, owing not only to his musical invention but also to his enabling, “yea-saying” approach. He feels that we don’t really celebrate Handel enough as a Londoner, but this Festival gives the chance to do just that in the composer’s anniversary year."

Read the whole article here

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