Monday 22 July 2013

Wagner or the Wigmore Hall ?

Snowman pictures
Wagner or the Wigmore Hall ? Where do you want to wilt this week?

The BBC Proms Wagner Marathon runs Mon, Tues, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with more to come. The full Ring with Tristan und Isolde. Emotional overload?  One thing for sure. It will be hotter than Bayreuth in the Royal Albert Hall. 7000 people generate heat.

On the other hand, you could go up the road to the Wigmore Hall, which is having one of its best weeks in ages. What agony this wonderful week would have to coincide with Wagner at the Proms!

Tonight, Monday  is Piano For Four Hands - piano duets from Poulenc, Britten, Grainger, Stravinsky and Dai Fujikura. Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa play.

Tomorrow Tuesday,  a recital by Graham Johnson, Wolfgang Holzmair and Christine Karg who sang Aricie in Glyndebourne's Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie. Again, an excellent, erudite programme based around the songs of Franz Liszt and Peter Cornelius. Normally this would be unmissable as we seldom get to hear these composers' Lieder. The combination is interesting as neither composer was primarily into Lieder. Some years ago Peter Schreier recorded a set of Cornelius songs, explaining that we needed to know what 19th century Lieder was like other than simply through the high points. "You can't appreciate the mountains if you don't know the valleys". I've got that CD, it isn't bad at all.  Cornelius might not be an Alpine meadow but he's not a crevasse. This recital is, however, up against impossible competition: Die Walküre at the Proms! Bryn Terfel, Nina Stemme, for starters. This is by far the best cast Wagner opera of all the the Proms. This will be worth braving the Royal Albert Hall Inferno.

Wednesday 24th: The Theatre of the Ayre, an early music ensemble with two voices and instruments (Elizabeth Kenny, Nicolas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, and Jakob Heringman). They're doing "Double Voyce" a selection of 17th century  dialogues and duos from Dowland, Purcell, Lawes, Blow and others. Again, early music we can hear anytime, but this will be different.

Thursday, Christoph Prégardien and Michael Gees in a well planned all Schubert programme. I might squeeze this in as the Prom that night is Juanjo Mena and the BBC Philharmonic, usually a "night off" combination for me.

Friday, James Gilchrist  and Anna Tilbrook do Schubert Winterreise. A few years ago, I was leaving another of their Winterreise concerts at Kings Place when a few snowflakes fell. Undeterred I drove northwards and got caught in the first huge snowstorm to hit London in 25 years. The motorway was almost impassable, but side roads were lethal.  More than a metre of snow fell in 2 hours. It was the most atmospheric Winterrieise you could imagine. It's up against Siegfried at the Proms. However, that one I plan to listen to from home as it's not a favourite cast, though they're not bad.

Saturday, Diana Damrau sings Schubert, Hahn, Chausson, Duparc, Strauss and more. Damrau everyone loves, but this will be unusual because she's singing songs written for harp accompaniment (Xavier De Maistre). Damrau's voice would marry well with harp : she sings brightly, but with resonance. But she's up against Wagner, too, Tristan und Isolde, with Peter Seiffert and  Violeta Urmana. Semyon Bychkov conducts.

Mark Berry is reviewing Wagner for Opera Today, one of the biggest specialized opera websites. Check out the link HERE
photo Greg Schmit

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