Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Night and cloud : Britten Sinfonia, Bostridge, Barbican

Here is a link to Claire Seymour's review in Opera Today of the Britten Sinfonia concert at the Barbican.  Interesting that they paired Schubert's Notturno for piano trio with Britten's Nocturne. Hands down Britten came off best. I wondered how the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth would work out with small (ish) ensemble

"Although technically accomplished, the Mahlerian climaxes were a little underwhelming; it’s just not possible to attain the lustrous, penetrating string sound required with such a small number of players. But, there was a clear sense of contour and overall structure, and a haunting ambience was established.

"............Fortunately, Bostridge raised the level of expressivity and musicianship in Britten’s Nocturne for tenor, seven obbligato instrumental soloists and strings. Here Britten’s nuanced scoring allowed the voice, and text, to come across clearly, even in the more dream-like, shaded passages. The individual movements melted into one another as Bostridge conveyed both the rapture and ethereality of night-time worlds. The woodwind soloists were all excellent - the cor anglais was touchingly beautiful in Wilfred Owen’s ‘The Kind Ghosts’, in Keats’ ‘Sleep and Poetry’ clarinet and flute danced an elegant arabesque, and there was some impressive virtuosic bassoon playing. The final movement, a setting of Shakespeare’s ‘When most I wink’ (Sonnet 43) possessed a rhetorical stateliness which was quite troubling, Britten’s setting of the final lines - ‘All days are nights to see till I see thee,/ And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me’ - disturbing in its restless intensity and visceral impact."

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