CDs February 2018

(with apologies for lateness as the Editor has been on holiday!)

JS Bach: St John Passion
Bach Choir and Orchestra Mainz, Ralf Otto
NAXOS 8.573817-18

Lent normally brings a number of interesting new Bach issues and this certainly has a great deal to commend it. It draws on the final 1749 revision, but incorporates many of the additional items from 1725 later removed. As such it goes for the best of both worlds yet flows with a simple grace.

Ralf Otto’s tempi are brisk and workmanlike, his choral forces lean and precise. Evangelist Georg Poplutz and Jesus Yorck Felix Speer are excellent but the smaller parts are obviously drawn from the choir and don’t command quite the same weight. However this is not a problem for a recording which holds its own in comparison to far more expensive versions.

Guitar Music of Venezuela
Nirse Gonzalez, guitar
NAXOS 8.573631

The works here were all entirely new to me but none the less enticing and I will certainly return to the recording to get to know them better. Gentle dances by Carlos Silva and Evancia Castellanos sit comfortably alongside contemporary composers Pedro Mauricio Gonzalez and Federico Ruiz. Well worth an indulgence given the price.

Clarinet Fantasies
Nadia Wilson, clarinet, Martin Butler, piano
PRIMA FACIE PFCD 076

This recording is built around Martin Butler’s own Barlow Dale pieces which have lived an interesting if somewhat chequered history, re-emerging recently when Nadia Wilson realised she had been aware of them when Martin Butler himself assumed they had fallen out of both performance and interest. They are lively pieces depicting the cats who are the protagonists of his aunt’s book Barlow Dale.  As such they are enchanting and make a fine central feature for slightly more serious pieces by Bax, Horovitz and Ireland – though I have to admit I enjoyed the Butler settings the best!

Dag Wiren: orchestral works
Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Rumon Gamba
CHANDOS CHSA 5194

Dag Wiren tends to be remembered for a tiny handful of pieces today and it is therefore too easy to overlook his larger output. This cd brings together the third symphony, Serenade Op11, Divertimento Op29 and the Sinfonietta Op7A. The Serenade is the earliest work, dating from 1937 with the Divertimento completed in 1957. If the Serenade is deliberately light in both texture and atmosphere then the other works take on a more serious tone, though they are always mellifluously easy on the ear.

Granados – works for piano
Xiayin Wang, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10995

This is an entirely romantic recording with a great deal to indulge and enjoy. Very much a Catalan, Granados seems to exploit the romanticism of his environment and lure this into both the scores themselves and Xiayin Wang’s fine playing.

Telemann: Melodious Canons & Fantasias
Elysium Ensemble
RESONUS RES 10207

The Elysium Ensemble is here represented by Greg Dikmans, flute, and Lucinda Moon, violin, in a series of very finely performed chamber pieces for flute and violin. If anything it is all almost too intimate. The recording, while having a slight warmth to it, could easily be in a large front room and as such it makes these pleasantly domestic if not actually personal in their impact. It is as if the musicians are playing just for us – which is probably what Telemann intended. It is entirely convincing.

Brahms: Complete works for piano
Barry Douglas
CHANDOS CHAN 10951(6)

The six cds which make up this set were recorded between 2012 and 2016, being released complete now for the first time. It is impossible within the scope of so brief a review to do justice to the set as a whole – let us simply say that I was delighted to be able to review it and indulge myself in such fine playing and such captivating performances. Nothing singled out here – there is far too much to choose from. If you did not get the individual recordings when first released this is your chance to catch up – and you won’t regret it.

ENO: La traviata

Daniel Kramer directs his first opera as ENO Artistic Director, a sweepingly romantic interpretation of La traviata

Opens Friday 16 March at 7.30pm at the London Coliseum (10 performances)

Daniel Kramer will direct his first opera as English National Opera’s Artistic Director this spring. This production of La traviata, which played to sold-out houses following its premiere at Theater Basel, is a sweepingly romantic take on one of opera’s most heartbreaking stories. Irish soprano Claudia Boyle will perform the role of Violetta alongside South African tenor Lukhanyo Moyake as Alfredo. Singing the role of Giorgio Germont is Alan Opie, who celebrates 50 years since he first sang with ENO.

Daniel Kramer said:

‘Almost every note of Verdi’s masterpiece raises up the life of a women who has been deemed dishonourable by society. Through La traviata, Verdi invites us to listen to the magnanimous love of a character who makes a sacrifice which few others would be willing or able to consider. His music is, for me, a love letter to the tender and graceful Violetta.

I believe that our core audience come to ENO wanting to have new light shed upon these well-loved classics. This is also one of my key passions when directing opera or theatre, and has informed our approach to this intensely moving story of love and sacrifice.  

As our world continues to confront the treatment of women in our society we have worked to share the story of a woman who, despite her heartbreaking circumstances, rises above the judgmental and abusive world around her and passes through her life with integrity and grace.’  

Daniel Kramer was appointed Artistic Director of English National Opera in April 2016, taking up the position in August that year. His work with ENO extends backs to 2008. He was selected as part of ENO’s young director’s initiative for which he directed Punch and Judy at the Young Vic which subsequently won the South Bank Show Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. Daniel returned to ENO in 2009 to direct Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at the London Coliseum and Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, conducted by former ENO Music Director Edward Gardner and designed by Anish Kapoor. He has been an Associate at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill and the Young Vic, and a Creative Associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company. The 18/19 season, launched on the 1 May, will be the first that he has curated as ENO Artistic Director.

The ephemeral, image-conscious world of the courtesan Violetta will be brought to life through the designs of Lizzie Clachan, one of the most acclaimed set designers currently working in London theatre. She has recently been praised for her ‘extraordinary’ (The Guardian) work on the Young Vic’s Yerma, and for the National Theatre’s As You Like It.

Claudia Boyle will sing Violetta, the eponymous ‘fallen woman’. A fomer member of the Salzburger Festpiel’s Young Singers Project, her international profile has been dramatically raised through highly-acclaimed performances in London, Berlin, Rome and New York. For ENO Claudia has previously sung the roles of Leïla in The Pearl Fishers (2016) and a ‘standout’ (The Guardian) Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance (2015).

Up-and-coming tenor Lukhanyo Moyake makes his UK debut as Alfredo. South Africa’s representative in 2017’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Lukhanyo has been performing at the Cape Town Opera Company since his graduation in 2010. His roles there include Alfredo in La traviata, Jaquino in Fidelio and Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress. In 2015 and 2016 he was a finalist of the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition (held in Amsterdam) and was also placed third in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition (held in Germany).

ENO legend and internationally acclaimed baritone Alan Opie will return for his second ENO engagement of the season. He follows his debut in the comic role of Doctor Bartolo (The Barber of Seville) with Violetta’s controlling father, Giorgio Germont. Alan’s previous performances in this role have been described as ‘full of feeling’ (The Guardian) and ‘consistently compelling’ (WhatsOnStage).

Rising young British conductor Leo McFall will make his ENO debut with this production. Winner of the 2015 German Conductor’s Prize, he is among the foremost conductors of his generation, and received much praise for his performances with the Glyndebourne Tour and with Opera North. He will be assisted by ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellow Toby Purser, who will also conduct the performance on the 11 April.

La traviata opens on Friday 16 March at 7.30pm at the London Coliseum for 10 performances: 16, 22, 24, 28 March and 3, 5, 11, 13 April at 7.30pm, 31 March at 6.30pm and 8 April at 3pm.

500 tickets for £20 or less are available for each performance. Tickets start from £12.

A co-production with Theater Basel

 

Merry Opera Company: The Marriage of Figaro

Wetherspoons Opera House, Tunbridge Wells and touring

Billed as “opera meets jazz” this 1960s Figaro is rescored by Harry Sewer for kit drum, bass and keyboard led by Gabriel Chernick – a development which took many audience members, including me, by surprise although there was plenty of warm appreciation and laughter.

Interestingly, many of the arias are sung more or less straight against swing and other jazz rhythms which must be pretty challenging to do. The accompaniment plays around with harmonies too. It works quite well in some numbers – such as Cherubino’s  (Bethany Horak-Hallett) agitato Act 1 number, although there are some rocky starts to arias as singers awkwardly find their way into the melody without the usual cues.

Much less successful is, for example, Figaro’s (Alistair Ollorenshaw) angry patter aria in the final act which loses a lot of edge because it is softened and trivialised by the jazzy stuff from the band. And the Countess’s (Rhiannon Llewellyn) second big aria, usually sung as “Dove sono”, is dreadful in this version. It is one of Mozart’s very simple glorious melodies depicting a complex mindset and he knew that it needs only the gentlest of accompaniments. It is completely spoiled by the fuzzy treatment it gets here although Llewellyn, a fine singer, does her best to rise above the schmultz.

In amongst all this is some excellent singing especially in the quartets and other group numbers. The cast has great fun with the reconciliation septet at the end of the first half and the choral work in the finale is beautifully balanced.

Anna Sideris is a suitably sparky Susanna, there is a good Handyman cameo from Christopher Faulkner and Eleanor Sanderson-Nash is a delightfully clear voiced, fresh Barbarina.

Phil Wilcox is strong as the wrong footed Count too, especially at the end when he hams up all those rising fifths. They’re traditionally associated with forgiveness but we know full well that he doesn’t mean a word of it – and, in this version, the Countess knows that too.

Amanda Holden’s translation into English is hilarious and that’s partly why this piece comes off theatrically. There’s a lot of humour in the incongruity of the juxtaposition of the Enlightenment with the 1960s, musically and in every other way – and in many instances that is what makes the cognoscenti in the audience laugh. At another level it’s just cheerful and funny. Michelle Bradbury’s striking, and ingenious, black and white Chanel-style set adds to the ambience. So do black-clad, finger clicking figures – part of the 10-strong cast who form an ensemble between their other appearances – who dance with authentic 1960s loucheness.

I haven’t seen such an experimental Mozart opera since I saw Don Giovanni in a gay nightclub with all roles except Don Giovanni reversed. The material is, of course, so strong, that it bounces back fairly robustly whatever you do to it. This Figaro is a pleasant enough way of spending a Sunday afternoon but on balance I prefer my Mozart jazz-free.

Susan Elkin

 

 

Valentine’s Opera Breakfast

St Mary in the Castle, Sunday 18th February 2018

Following the continuing success of the Jazz Breakfasts at St Mary in the Castle, it seemed reasonable to launch an Opera Breakfast linked to St Valentine’s Day. However, the underlying theme of the entertainment was much more subtle than a string of extracts might imply.

Marcio da Silva and Sophie Pullen drew together arias and duets from a number of Mozart operas to illustrate the joys and pitfalls of sexual relationships, giving the first half over to the predatory male and the impact of what today we familiarly call sexual harassment, while the second half praised the married state.

Don Giovanni opened the morning with his serenade to Don Elvira’s maid – though in this case Marcio sang directly to ladies seated close to him as he wandered from table to table. This was followed by the whole of the opening scene from Le Nozze di Figaro. If Figaro is naïve in his acceptance of the Count’s room his vicious anger in Se vuol ballare hinted that the French Revolution was only too close. Sophie Pullen gave a moving account of Deh vieni non tardar showing her constancy even in the face of the Count’s attempted seduction. Happily Suzanne knows only too well how to deal with him – though not so Zerlina who seems to give in all too easily to Don Giovanni at the end of La ci darem la mano. In between Sophie Pullen had given us a full-blooded rendering of Come scoglio from Cosi fan tutte, where Fiordiligi proves her strength in the face of male onslaught. While Sophie Pullen had given us a fine range of female protagonists, Marcio da Silva had gone from debauched rake to revolutionary and back again.

The second half was all drawn from Die Zauberflote concentrating on the relationship between Papagano and Papagana, with just enough time to take in Bei mannern, with Sophie Pullen morphing easily into Pamina, where she stayed for a very moving rendition of Ach ich fuhl’s.

Throughout, Simone Tavoni had accompanied from the piano, adding in the bells and whistles in the second half, as easily as he brought the dramatic intensity to the heightened emotions of so many of the arias in the first.

The morning was a thank you for the volunteers who work so tirelessly for the venue and particularly those who have supported the work of Hastings Philharmonic. Let us hope it will be the first of a new line of breakfasts!

 

 

 

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Anvil Arts, Basingstoke, 16 February 2018

Dvorak is to the Czech Philharmonic what, say, Strauss is to the Vienna Philharmonic. It’s in the blood and in this exuberant concert you could hear all that Bohemian ancestry pounding in every bar. And they want to keep it that way, which is why almost every player in the orchestra is Czech. The result is a phenomenal corporate “instrument” which conductor Tomas Netopil, an energetic but businesslike conductor, plays, and plays with, to remarkable effect. By the time we got to the final encore – a Slavonic dance, of course – he was ready to have fun jokily exaggerating the tempo changes with electrifying precision and I certainly wasn’t the only person who left the auditorium beaming with delight.

One of the reasons for the distinctive sound is the unusual layout. Tomas Netopil has violas on the right opposite the first violins with cellos and second violins on the inside. Double basses, meanwhile are majestically lined up along the back behind the horns and woodwind on a tier which puts their feet on a level with violinists’ heads. It means that you can often hear both viola and bass parts with unusual clarity and alters the balance of the whole.

The programme was a Dvorak sandwich. We began with the Symphonic Variations in which Dvorak imaginatively explores the fugal form at one point moving from second violins, thence to violas, first violins and cellos in that order. It’s quite a showpiece and doesn’t get as many outings (in the UK at least) as perhaps it should. It’s a very vibrantly orchestrated work which allowed the orchestra to show what all its sections can do.

In the middle we left Dvorak’s homeland and headed to Russia for a splendid performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto – a work which is very much more on the public radar these days than it used to be because brilliant young players (Guy Johnston, Sheku Kanneh-Mason et al) keep winning major competitions with it. On this occasion Alisa Wielerstein, serious and romantic looking in a statement scarlet dress, played it excitingly with lots of tension. Accompanied by a slightly scaled down orchestra, she took the first movement at a terrific tempo and found a mysterious, plangent but appealingly resolute sound in the moderato movement. When she finished someone in the audience gasped “oh!” in amazement. It was involuntary, I think, but a very valid testament to Weilerstein’s verve and technique.

And so to the sunny New World Symphony in which the unconventional orchestra layout heightened awareness of the apposition phrasing between lower strings and other sections. And Tomas Nepotil managed to make the largo sound as fresh as if the audience had never heard it before. It was played with warm, affectionate delicacy, especially at the recapitulation of the challengingly familiar first subject.  I loved the effect of the bass pizzicato when you can see and hear every player clearly and the rousing scherzo accomplished all its time signature and key changes so neatly that one was left sighing in admiration at the tightness of that glorious Czech sound. And as for the finale, the speed was so cracking in places that it made my amateur violinist fingers ache even to think about it. But it came off with aplomb.

It’s a long journey home from Basingstoke to where I live in South London and this leisurely concert – with its 7.45 start, two encores and lots of applause – didn’t finish until after 10.00pm. I have rarely been so glad that I made the effort.

Susan Elkin

 

 

 

 

English National Opera announces cast for ENO Studio Live 2018 and three new Harewood Artists

English National Opera (ENO) is delighted to announce the casts for Acis and Galatea and Paul Bunyan, 2018’s two ENO Studio Live productions. ENO Studio Live forms part of ENO Outside which takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate studio and theatre environments.

Acis and Galatea will take place at ENO’s historic rehearsal studios, Lilian Baylis House. Paul Bunyan will be ENO’s first collaboration with Wilton’s Music Hall. Both pieces are being performed by ENO for the very first time and celebrate the integral roles that Handel and Britten have played in the company’s history.

We are also thrilled to share that exceptional young singers Rowan PierceAlex Otterburn and William Morgan will become ENO Harewood Artists with immediate effect. The ENO Harewood Artist programme was established in 1998 as a means of providing a full-time training and performance scheme for exceptionally talented singers at the beginning of their careers. They will join current ENO Harewood Artists Andri Björn RóbertssonKatie CoventryEleanor DennisMatthew DurkanDavid IrelandRhian LoisElgan Llyr ThomasSoraya MafiSamantha PriceBožidar Smiljani?Katie Stevenson and David Webb.

Acis and Galatea (six performances, 9-16 June 2018, Lilian Baylis House)
George Frideric Handel
John Gay

Directed by Sarah Tipple, designed by Justin Nardella and conducted by Nicholas Ansdell EvansAcis and Galatea features four exciting young British singers. Tenor Alexander Sprague and soprano Lucy Hall sing the title roles. ENO Harewood Artist Matthew Durkan sings the role of Polyphemus and Bradley Smithmakes his ENO debut as Damon.

Acis – Alexander Sprague

Galatea – Lucy Hall

Polyphemus – Matthew Durkan

Damon – Bradley Smith

Paul Bunyan (six performances, 3-8 September, Wilton’s Music Hall)
Benjamin Britten
W. H. Auden

Directed by Jamie Manton, designed by Camilla Clarke and conducted by Matthew Kofi WaldrenPaul Bunyan will be a celebration of ENO’s exceptional emerging and in-house talent. Roles will be sung by ENO Harewood Artists (Elgan Llyr ThomasRowan PierceWilliam Morgan) and members of ENO’s award-winning Chorus.

Johnny Inkslinger – Elgan Llyr Thomas

Tiny – Rowan Pierce

Hot Biscuit Slim – William Morgan

Fido – Claire Pendleton

Moppett – Ella Kirkpatrick

Poppett – Lydia Marchione

Sam Sharkey – Graeme Lauren

Ben Benny – Trevor Bowes

Andy Anderson / Cronie – Adam Sullivan

Pete Peterson / Cronie – Geraint Hylton

Jen Jenson / Cronie – Paul Sheehan

Cross Crosshaulson / Cronie – Andrew Tinkler

John Shears – Robert Winslade Anderson

Western Union Boy – David Newman

Quartet of the Defeated – Michael Burke, Morag Boyle, David Newman, Paul Sheehan

Solo Lumberjacks – Paul Sheehan, Ronald Nairne and Pablo Strong

Wild Geese – Claire Mitcher, Rebecca Stockland, Susanna Tudor-Thomas

Young Trees – Joanne Appleby, Amy Sedgwick, Pablo Strong

 

 

Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

Brighton Dome, Sunday 11 February 2018

There was a lot of lilting 3/4 time and enough tunes to set you humming all week in this enjoyable concert.

First came a slightly exaggerated – but none the worse for that – rendering of Schubert’s 8th Symphony – the Unfinished. Howard Shelley gave us a lingering horn, exciting sforzandi and lots of timp in the first movement, which he ended with a very measured, almost mannered, tempo. The second movement stressed the tip-toeing pizzicato and legato melody nicely. It was a very pleasing start to the concert which left me reflecting – for the thousandth time – that it’s an insult to Schubert’s genius to dub this his Unfinished symphony. I reckon he decided it was perfect just the way it is and he was right.

Howard Shelley is, as ever, fascinating to watch when he multi-tasks by conducting from the key board – iPad on the stand and blue toothed pedal to ‘turn’ the digital pages. On this occasion for Mendelssohn’s first piano concerto he had the lid off the piano – right off too – so that the sound was louder and more dominant than it would be for work by, say, Mozart or Beethoven. It’s a charming concerto and it’s a pity we don’t hear it more often. The sparkling dance quality of the third movement, for instance, was melodiously uplifting in this performance.

And so to Dvorak’s 6th Symphony with its delightful opening movement – 3/4 time again like the Schubert – in which Shelley even-handedly ensured that all the musical conversation is articulated as Dvorak sails on from melody to melody. In particular, I liked the trombone, flute and horn work here. Then came the lyrical beauty of the slow movement (how Dvorak loved lower strings!) which Shelley leaned on to good effect. The incisive string work taken at an impressive tempo in the third movement and the colourful, rousing finale rounded it off with panache.

All in all it was another fine Brighton Philharmonic concert. It was a pity, however, that the cold weather seemed to have led to more empty seats than usual. People who opted not to come missed a worthwhile afternoon of music.

Susan Elkin

Hastings Philharmonic: Winterreise

Christ Church, Hastings, 10 February 2018

Marcio da Silva is a warmly arresting baritone and, for a first stab at Winterreise this was a commendable performance. Twenty four songs in Schubert’s cycle, with only a short interval after number 12, takes a lot of stamina. Only occasionally – in some of the bottom notes in Irrlicht for example – was there any sense of strain. High spots included Fruhlingstraum in which he and pianist Francis Rayner – an excellent accompanist –  emphasised the contrast of the major key passage (most of these songs are in minor keys, of course) and rippling 6/8 rhythm alternating with the stormy passages and wistful ones as the singer dreams of spring.

Die Post was fun too with Francis Rayner ensuring that we could all hear the smiling post horn references in the accompaniment, before the sadness well evoked by Marcio da Silva. They gave  a delightful rendering of Die Nebensonnen bringing out all the folksy nursery rhyme qualities of the piece.

Overall, they ensured that this plotless cycle evoked the singer’s journey as, jilted in love, he sets out, through the winter, to work out his own complex feelings. As always, one is left marvelling at Schubert’s extraordinary ingenuity and at the versatility this cycle demands of its performers.  Marcio da Silva’s was singing the cycle from memory – a feat in itself.

Before Winterreise we were treated to Aysen Ulucan playing, also with Francis Rayner, Beethoven’s violin sonata Opus 30 number 2. It was a workmanlike performance delivered with poise and nice negotiation of rhythmic contrasts, particularly in the C major section. Aysen Ulucan also gave us some very beautiful cantabile playing in the adagio. At other times the tone was a bit thin and the sound sometimes swallowed by the rather dry acoustic created by the spacious, lofty beauty of Christ Church. Occasionally there was harshness created by possibly misjudged bowing pressure too, but these are fairly minor gripes.

This concert took place on a bitterly cold, wet and windy evening. It is a credit to Hastings Philharmonic that so many people turned out for what, in the event, was a musically demanding concert for all concerned.

Susan Elkin

HASTINGS PHILHARMONIC

Love and Despair

Two intensely moving pieces by Beethoven and Schubert. International soloist Ay?en Ulucan and prize-winning pianist Francis Rayner bring you Beethoven’s Violin Sonata, in C Minor. Schubert’s epic song cycle ‘Winterreise’ performed by baritone Marcio da Silva completes this reflective programme. Beethoven’s Violin Sonata op.30 No.2 was completed during a period of anguish in the composer’s most grim tonality: C minor. Schubert’s darkest and most intense song cycle, ‘Winterreise’, was written towards the end of his short life. Setting poems by Wilhelm Mu?ller, the work explores feelings of love, doubt and loss.

Saturday 10 February 2018,  7pm
Christ Church, Silchester Road, St Leonards-on-Sea
TN38 0JB

Tickets at: https://www.musicglue.com/hastings-philharmonic/events/2018-02-10-love-and-despair-christchurch

Valentines Opera breakfast

Arias by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Massenet, Wagner and Bizet. A Hastings Philharmonic event; get a hot drink and a freshly baked pastry with your ticket. Marcio da Silva – Baritone, Sophie Pullen – Soprano Simone Tavoni – Piano

Sunday 18 February 2018 10.30am
St Mary in the Castle, 7 Pelham Crescent, Hastings TN34 3AF  

Tickets: £15 (includes breakfast items)
https://www.musicglue.com/stmaryinthecastle/events/2018-02-18-valentines-opera-breakfast-st-mary-in-the-castle
Monteverdi 1610 Vespers

HASTINGS PHILHARMONIC CHAMBER CHOIR & BAROQUE ENSEMBLE –

Sarah Parkin, Helen May – Soprano
Jake Barlow – Alto
Kieran White, Philip O’Meara – Tenor
Alexander McMillan – Bass
Marcio da Silva – Conductor
Vespro della Beata Vergine – Monteverdi Monteverdi’s most ambitious choral piece. This programme is a full-scale Baroque explosion, with period instruments, a lute, organ, double chorus and soloists. Written in 1610, this piece was monumental in scale, calling for up to 10 vocal parts in some movements, not to mention six soloists and an orchestra. The Vespers are a prime representation of Monteverdi’s genius.
Saturday 24 February 2018,  7pm
Christ Church, Silchester Road, St Leonards-on-Sea
TN38 0JB

Tickets at: https://www.musicglue.com/hastings-philharmonic/events/2018-02-24-monteverdi-vespers-christchurch

Alexandra Dariescu

Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu joins the European Young Leaders’ programme class of 2018, organised under the patronage of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu joins the European Young Leaders (EYL40) programme class of 2018, organised under the patronage of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Led by Friends of Europe, EYL40 is a unique, inventive and multi-stakeholder programme that aims to promote a European identity by engaging the continent’s most promising talents that will shape Europe’s future.

Based on the premise that a group of talented leaders from different backgrounds, sectors and European countries can offer new responses to international challenges, it brings together established professionals under the age of 40 who have made their mark in a wide range of fields such as politics, science, business, media NGOs, the arts and civil society. Those selected to participate are creative, committed to changing the world, and have demonstrated potential to reach the highest levels of their chosen profession.

As part of the programme, Dariescu joins other members of the Class of 2018 and alumni for two European seminars, encouraging ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking in open, constructive discussions: from 8-10 March in Warsaw and 13-15 September 2018 (location to be announced).

Alexandra Dariescu said: ‘I am thrilled and humbled to be part of the European Young Leaders (EYL40) and feel very privileged to join such an incredible group of leaders from all over Europe. I hope through the discussions and fantastic activities programme in Warsaw we will be able to identify solutions in creating a more unified, perceptive and prosperous Europe.’

Dariescu also participates in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s fifth international Reflective Conservatoire Conference Tuesday 20-Friday 23 February 2018: this year’s theme is ‘Artists as Citizens.’ She sits on Vice-Principal & Director of Guildhall Innovation Professor Helena Gaunt’s welcome panel on the opening day, and, as an alumna of their Creative Entrepreneurs scheme, joins others from the course in discussing their work and professional trajectory before performing at the end of the session.

Dariescu has also been selected to present her project The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu at the Classical:NEXT conference, held in Rotterdam on 16-19 May 2019, as part of their annual Project Pitches initiative. Each of the 14 participants have nine minutes to present and answer questions in front of leading and influential members of the music industry, allowing an insight into the most intriguing and innovative developments in the sector.

She wants to challenge the traditional concert format and reach out to new audiences who might not have considered coming to a classical concert before. She has devised a ground-breaking 50-minute live multi-media performance piece for piano soloist, ballerina and digital animation.

Dariescu has created her own personal take on this much-loved story which sees herself re-imagined as Clara: from little girl dreaming to concert pianist. On stage is a grand piano, played by Dariescu herself, and a ballerina behind a see-through gauze screen. Projected onto the gauze and bringing the story to life are exquisite digital animations, all hand drawn and created in advance by Yeast Culture. They follow the music and engage live with the pianist and ballerina as they ‘dance’ across the screen. The audience feel like they are actually in and a part of the Nutcracker story.

Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet music features throughout and includes favourites such as Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Arabian Dance, Chinese Dance, Pas de Deux, and the Flower Waltz in 15 virtuosic arrangements by Mikhail PletnevStepan EsipoffPercy Grainger and three brand new variations by Gavin Sutherland.

Having received its world premiere on 19 December 2017 on the Guildhall School’s Alumni Recital Series at Milton Court, it is also being released as a special book and CD on Signum Records and will include all 15 piano transcriptions with narration by Lindsey Russell, story by Jessica Duchen, artwork created by YeastCulture and illustrated by Adam Smith.

For complete listings for Alexandra’s schedule, please visit http://alexandradariescu.com/ or Alexandra’s general management Konzertdirektion Schmid http://kdschmid.de/artistdetail/items/alexandra-dariescu.html.