Sunday, 24 October 2010

Taxpayer funding private gain ?

Tonight I and good friend Boulezian were at Helmut Lachenmann's chamber music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, along with dozens of musicians, composers etc. Almost full house, tumultous applause, standing ovation from normally non-demonstrative Julian Anderson.  Part of tomorrrow's London Sinfonietta programme will be broadcast next Saturday.

Scary thing though - The South Bank seems to have made Norman Lebrecht House Presenter. He's interviewing Lachenmann. This is all very well, but the publicity material isn't directed at the subject being interviewed but at promoting Lebrecht and his latest book. Why? Perhaps Lachenmann has something to say about Mahler but the deliberate, explicit link to Lebrecht and his ventures stinks.The South Bank is public funded, which in theory means impartiality. Why is it a vehicle for Lebrecht's personal advertising? Has he paid them or is taxpayer money being used to promote him? Is the South Bank about artistic validity or has it sold out? If the BBC started running ads for as private person, there'd be an outcry. But maybe the crass commercialism of Mahler year has changed ethics. 

While we were out, we missed Michael Jarrell on BBC Radio 3. But it's on repeat for 7 more days. Same too, another chance to hear Steffani's Niobe Regina de Tebe from ROH. This time I'll listen for the beauty of the singing - Véronique Gens was divine, as was Iestyn Davies and Jacek Laszczkowski, celebrated male soprano. Read Sue Loder for an analysis of why the music worked and me for why the staging was so dramatic. Baroque is a gamble at the box office poison so it showed artistic integrity.  One of my best this year.  It's the production from Schwetzingen where they know how to appreciate period music. Hopefully it was filmed though it really needed to be experienced live.

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