Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

Brighton Dome,11 November 2018

A pleasant enough concert but I have to say that, given the date, to programme Rossini, Beethoven and Dvorak all in fairly upbeat populist mood seemed a very odd  choice indeed. Was it the only concert – or event – in the country on that date not to acknowledge the centenary of the 1918 Armistice? Most of the performers and audience were wearing poppies but beyond that: nothing.

It meant that the whole afternoon felt a bit understated although the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra was in excellent playing form as ever – this time with pianist, Freddie Kempf on the podium.

We began with Rossini’s spritely, witty overture to Semiramide which was delivered with colourful brio. I particularly liked the pizzicato and piccolo sections and of course the playful dynamics of those famous crescendi which Kempf brought off with promising aplomb. It was an encouraging start.

Then it was reduced forces and a great deal of stage management ready for Kempf to direct Beethoven’s third piano concerto from the keyboard. Well, it’s been done many times before but one felt that the multitasking was a challenge too far in this case. Of course Kempf can play the concerto perfectly, as we all know, but on this occasion leaping up from the piano stool to face the orchestra and dropping back for his entries resulted in too many wrong notes and sometimes hesitant orchestra entries because the direction was unclear or fractionally late, especially in the largo.  And in places the overall effect was mechanical. Nonetheless the first movement cadenza was pretty spell-binding and I liked the way he used his head and eyes to communicate with the orchestra while seated.

Dvorak 7 with its melodious, Slavic D minor should have been the high spot of the concert. Sadly, for me, it wasn’t. It may be a matter of personal taste and interpretation but I like my Dvorak much more lightly joyful than Kempf’s account of it.  It’s admirable that he focuses on the beauty of the detail and refuses to overindulge in gratuitous prestissimo but much of the first movement was far too portentous and I didn’t care for the unusually grandiose adagio. Even the scherzo, competently played as it was, seemed to be a lot of excitable revving up without ever quite achieving vivace lift-off. Not until the final movement did the Dvorakian aircraft really fly with some memorable brass moments and lots of very precise allegro string work. There was a finely managed intersectional acoustic balance at this point too – but it had taken almost all afternoon to get there.

Susan Elkin

‘Queen of Coloratura’ Helena Dix with Worthing Symphony Orchestra

John Gibbons does Armistice Day concerts in Remembrance of war dead with the additional insight and respect of a man who is among the thought leaders and drum beaters of British conductors about British music. There is the expected music ‘in memoriam’ which he couples with British works by composers with direct wartime involvement, plus the vital other music that is uplifting and life affirming.

But this concert took the Gibbons Remembrance Concert model to a new sublimation with the inclusion of two powerful solo vocal works. The accustomed outward trappings were Pam Hurcombe’s floral arrangements, the poppies the WSO wore, and four Union Jack and Australian flags hanging above the stage where Gibbons and Helena Dix, artistes Hampshire- and Melbourne-raised, combined their resources in another WSO presentation remarkable for its uncommon and regionally market-leading depth of reach.

Butterworth, Britain’s most famous wartime-fallen composer, was represented by his rhapsody on the poetry of AE Housman, whose A Shropshire Lad is a collection 63 poems reflecting  on transient life and love, and early death, whose published versions in waistcoat size were read by British soldiers in the trenches less than 20 years since first publication.

The unashamed sensitivity and affinity with this verse, of Butterworth’s folk-founded, subdued yet potent reflective music, chimes amid Gibbons’ own personal artistic response to the best British music, which probably started from Elgar’s ‘innermost’ onlooker’s utterances and those by Vaughan Williams borne of much closer battlefield experience.

A Shropshire Lad in WSO hands was unfailingly moving to hear and took the ear beyond the worldly staging of Verdi’s opera-house Overture, Force of Destiny, which was the fully-brassed WSO’s opening declaration of consummate power and partnered Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture as ragingly dramatic bookends to the afternoon.

They framed the power and nuance of poetry in a concert of calculated exceptional atmosphere. And his time, Gibbons was throwing down a challenge to various people by playing Irishman Hamilton Harty’s lush, lavish and loving setting of the eight long verses of John Keats’ poem Ode To A Nightingale. First to the music manuscript preservation authorities, second to the conductor himself, third to his audience.

He told me it had taken him four months to prepare. He had to persuade then prise the music from its Irish ‘museum’ stronghold along with permission to perform. This he got, provided he generated his own orchestral parts from the scanned Harty-handwritten, full manuscript score which necessitated his own digital forensic examination to establish full authenticity of all the notes written. He was engineering the work’s own live viability and becoming a world expert on it to boot.

It being for a large orchestra, the difficulty of balancing that force with the sole singer (however powerful, potentially destined to lose) in a concert hall without any recording studio microphones to massage or butter up the situation. Richard Strauss had problems with Four Last Songs, as Worthing audiences found some time ago, similarly with Wagner and Sir John Tomlinson singing Wotan outside the opera house.

In such music, the voice rides roaring or crashing waves of sound with the need for audible words, and the nigh impossibility of that, throughout, given undoctored acoustic circumstances. Gibbons as conductor has to get as close as possible to that in the cleanly responsive and faithful Assembly Hall acoustic, which grants him no screens or veils.

So the audience needed warning (he gave it to them), the words in front of them (they were in the programme, £3), enough light to read them (not forthcoming). What saved the day by compensating for any imperfections was Helena Dix’s immense presence which in this context was a glory. Ode To A Nightingale is often rapturous word-setting with radiant climaxes at the end of verses the soprano delivers and the orchestra crowns.

No matter that Dix sometimes got drenched by waves. She quickly came up again. Fellow Aussie Joan Sutherland – the one to whom Antipodeans compare Dix – would have done likewise. This is the large scale, elemental, visceral, all-embracing experience of the music that I suspect, to give him the benefit of the doubt, Strauss had calculated, too.

Essentially, the voice is another musical instrument, which in the moment can sharpen and dim in focus. As some poets will tell you, sometimes the sound is more important than the word itself. Later in time, rock music often works just as well in the same way, though maybe less fleetingly, when the voice is set back inside the sound of the band.

Ode to a Nightingale is pre-war, premiered in 1907, but here was the life-affirmer of the afternoon. Then, however, Gibbons became even more daring. Dix sang Desdemona’s soliloquy on realising the odds were slimming that she would survive the mounting maelstrom in her husband Othello’s tormented, jealous mind. She recognised death row. “How many trench soldiers would have felt something akin?” was surely Gibbons’ question to the audience.

None of this was operatic scene was comfortable, and we could have derived fullest value had we been given the words in the programme or, better, surtitles.  Under Gibbons the WSO brooded and agonised. Dix showed her why she is rising as cover singer for title roles in major opera houses. Her dynamic breadth and bloom of sound which gave her a floral intimacy in Ode to a Nightingale was now a glimmer of waning humanity in desolate realisation and private resignation, alongside Verdi’s penetrating orchestral writing.

The applauding audience wanted her back after the Ode but didn’t get her. They did after Desdemona.

WSO highlights included placing harpist Lizzy Green stage centre instead of wide out on a limb; the linking presence of Olivia Fraser’s cor anglais (English horn) in defining the mood and colour of Desdemona’s plight, then of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet love theme; the sinew-tight timpany of Robert Millet in the Tchaikovsky and the sheer thrill of hearing the terrifying trumpets of Tim Hawes and Will O’Sullivan in their moment.

Richard Amey

Some next top music in Worthing –

Sunday, November 18 (4pm) at St Paul’s: Rhythmie Wong’s ‘Dancing Fires and Fragrances’ International Interview Concert in the round with Chinese surprises. Solo piano: ‘La Valse’ (Ravel), ‘The Firebird’ (Stravinsky), ‘Iberia’ Book 1 (Albeniz), ‘The Maiden and The Nightingale’ (Granados), Piano Sonata No 52 in Eb (Haydn), Mystery Music Spot.

Saturday, December 1 (7.30) at Worthing Assembly Hall: Messiah (Handel). Worthing Choral Society with Sinfonia of Arun, leader Robin Morrish, conductor Aedan Kerney MBE.

Wednesday, December 19 (8pm) at St Paul’s: ‘Christemas Past with The Telling in candlelight’. International ensemble of two voices, harp and reader with an atmospheric show in original ambience  featuring Medieval English and traditional European carols you’ve heard but did not realise how old. With short Q&A, merchandise and gift stalls.

Thursday, December 20 (7.30) at All Saints Church, Findon Valley: ‘Richard Durrant’s Candlelit Christmas’ with singer Amy Kakoura and fiddler Nick Pynn. A festive feast of tunes from early music, British folk, traditional carols and original guitar works.

Sunday, January 6 (2.45pm) at The Assembly Hall: Worthing Symphony Orchestra, ‘Viennese Whirls of Delight’ concert. Overtures – Donna Diana and Poet & Peasant (Reznicek and Suppe). Waltzes – Roses From The South, Blue Danube, Accelerations, Voices of Spring, Gold & Silver (Strauss II and Lehar). Marches – Radetzsky, Tritsch-Tratsch, Thunder & Lightning.


Hastings Philharmonic: Messiah

Christchurch, St Leonards on Sea, Saturday 10 November 2018

Many choirs trot out Messiah as if they don’t need to do anything because they know it so well. Then along comes Marcio da Silva with a reading fresh as a daisy to persuade us that we have actually failed to pay attention to a masterpiece.

The approach was exhilarating throughout, with tight rhythms and fast pacing, emphasising the narrative line which compels us to move from darkness to light. The opening tenor solo set the seal on the evening with a luxuriously ornamented Comfort Ye and exultant Every Valley.

But who may abide and Oh thou that tellest had bouncy dance rhythms which lifted the impact of the first half before an unexpectedly stately Pastoral symphony, with no hints of rusticity.

The Angels appeared from near silence and disappeared alarmingly in the same way.

Even in the darker sections the rhythmic intensity was not lost. Behold and see brought really tense rhythms while the pace of He was despised was almost dangerously passionate.

The balance between orchestra and singers was remarkable in the often challenging acoustic of Christchurch. The potential difficulty was solved by having the choir wrapped around the instrumentalists in a horse-shoe which meant that all were within easy eye contact and many singers were actually facing each other. This aided both intimacy and accuracy.

How beautiful are the feet was accompanied by solo violin, lute and organ, the wonderfully gentle and simple sounds being totally convincing. By contrast there was furious pace and fire in Why do the nations.

The four young soloists were particularly impressive. Tenor, Mikael Englund had opened so effectively with Every Valley but found venom and awe for Thou shalt break them with an explosive top A for dash them to pieces.  Mezzo Laura Hocking was warmly pleasing in He was despised and bass Lancelot Nomura gave a sterling reading of The Trumpet shall sound with the solo trumpet ringing around the building.  If the crown really goes to Sarah Gilford it was for her unfailing empathy throughout, her sensitivity to the text and the radiant, confidence – spiritual as well as musical – that she brought to I know that my redeemer Liveth.

If the chorus was starting to flag just a little towards the end of a long evening they were never less than impressive and maintained the level of discipline Marcio da Silva imbued throughout. Almost a century ago, Christchurch had a reputation for outstanding musical events. The ghost of those performers must have been delighted with what they heard last night.



Music at St John’s

St John the Evangelist, Hollington, Saturday 10 November 2108

Andrew McGregor from St John the Baptist, Sedlescombe, was the guest organist last Saturday bringing a programme fitted to the remembrance weekend.

He opened with a bright reading of Bach’s Fantasia in G followed by a tribute to Hubert Parry. Three short pieces written in memory of the composer were sandwiched between the more triumphalist Hymn Preludes on Dundee and St Anne.

A set of French pieces opened with Faure’s familiar Pavane in an arrangement for organ, followed by two short works by Jeanne Demessieux based on Gregorian Chant. The French section ended with an arrangement of Charpentier’s Prelude to a Te Deum, with the rhythms sounding more Handelian than French.

The final three works were all equally familiar but none the less welcome. Mendelssohn’s War March of the Priests lifted the spirits, only to be calmed again with Bach’s Choral Prelude on Liebster Jesu, before Walton’s popular Crown Imperial.

The concert was one of a series of events to mark the 150th anniversary at St John’s – the next of which will be given by the Treble Clefs on Thursday 6 December.

Tenors Unlimited return to the Opus Theatre

Number one selling operatic trio Tenors Unlimited, the ‘Rat Pack of Opera’ will be performing Christmas charity concert at Opus Theatre Hastings on
Friday 7th December 19:30
in aid of local charity The Little Hands & Art with local choir
Guestling-Bradshaw C.E Primary School

Number one operatic trio Tenors Unlimited, the ‘Rat Pack of Opera’, will be performing a Christmas charity concert at the Opus Theatre, Hastings on Friday 7th December 19:30 in aid of local charity The Little Hands & Art. They will be joined by local choir Guestling-Bradshaw C.E Primary School. The group is currently touring the UK and will touring the USA and the UK next year. Jem Sharples, a member of the group, is from Hastings.

This is fresh from Tenors Unlimited’s recent chart-topping success with “Who is He?” in aid of The Salvation Army which went in at number one on the iTunes classical chart.

Jem Sharples from Tenors Unlimited who lives in Hastings says “We’re delighted to be performing in my home town and hope as many people as possible attend to support The Little Hands & Art, which is such a worthy cause. This will be a special Christmas concert with lots of favourites.”

Tickets cost adults £15; children under 16, £7.50. To buy tickets, visit (also available from Waterfalls, Hastings and Hastings Tourist Office, Muriel Matters House, Hastings.)

Tenors Unlimited – Paul Martin, Jem Sharples, Scott Ciscon – will be performing Christmas favourites such as “Oh Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” as well as diverse and fun songs from their current theatre tour “From Venice to Vegas”. This will include ‘Nessun Dorma’, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and songs written by the group themselves.

Tenors Unlimited has performed alongside such notables as Sting, Lionel Richie, Beyoncé, Hayley Westenra, Simply Red and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few. During 2017, they have been playing to sell out shows in the USA and Bermuda and are currently touring the UK. See footage of their performances

Local charity The Little Hands & Art (formerly known as Hands around the World) was born after the tsunami in 2004 which struck Thailand. The charity raised money for children caught up in it and who lost everything. The charity bought a mobile art unit which provided art therapy for distressed children and continues to help other children from deprived areas or in stressful situations. The charity continues to provide food and medicines for poor families and supports an orphanage. More information:

Guestling-Bradshaw C.E Primary School Junior Choir has performed at concerts and events in Hastings, performed at Hastings Music Festival and was runner-up in the 1066 Choir Competition last year.

For 15 years, Scott Ciscon, Paul Martin and Jem Sharples have entertained audiences throughout the world.  Using talents honed in their previous solo careers in opera and theatre, they bring their own blend of wit, charm and vocal arrangements to their performances. Alan Titchmarsh OBE said “21st century tenors, great fun, great voices and a great evening.” Tenors Unlimited sang at the memorial service for football legend Sir Bobby Robson and sang live at Wembley Stadium at the FA Cup final.

Jem Sharples from Tenors Unlimited says “We perform a wide repertoire of all music so there is sure to be something for everyone.”

Their latest album “The Journey” can be purchased online from their web site via iTunes, Amazon and GooglePlay.

CDs/DVDs November 2018 (1)

Wagner: Gotterdammerung
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden
NAXOS 8.660428-31

I was really looking forward to this last part of the Hong Kong Ring Cycle and was certainly not disappointed. It builds on all the strengths of the earlier operas to give us a challenging, stimulating and highly charged account of the work. If, as in the previous parts, it has been Jaap van Zweden’s conducting that has so impressed, the continued felicity of the orchestra and the wonderful enthusiasm they bring to the score is unsurpassed. When this is added to a dramatic presentation – the work was recorded during live performances – from a well-balanced cast it cannot fail.

Gun-Brit Barkmin creates a Brunnhilde with a wide emotional range and all of the presence to ride the orchestra in act two and in the Immolation scene. If Daniel Brenna does not have quite this sense of authority, his Siegfried is heroic and personable. Shenyang is an unexpectedly intelligent Gunther and Eric Halfvarson’s Hagen the finest I have heard since Gottlob Frick. All of the smaller parts are strongly cast and I have no hesitation in saying that, taken as a whole, this has to be the finest Ring Cycle currently available if anyone is looking for the first time – and even if, like many of us, you have a number of cycles already, you will not be disappointed.


Haydn: Die Schopfung
Accentus, Insula orchestra, Laurence Equilbey
NAXOS 2.110581

Many productions these days use video as part of the design but this is the first I can recall which is so wonderfully – often breathtakingly – effective. The chorus use tablets throughout which form part of the design work as well as providing their scores. The soloists are closely lit from tiny leds attached to their costumes, while the stage as a whole is bathed in a constantly evolving reflection of the score. The explosion of light, the creation of the stars and planets, the appearance of plants and animals are all visually explored. When Adam and Eve appear they do so out of the water and are flown above us to drip, as if just born, before they eventually touch the ground.

I rarely find that I am gripped by new DVDs, and few stagings of oratorio have been as effective as this.

In addition the musical impact is secure and the acoustic works well – it was staged in a concert hall rather than an opera house – despite the constant movement. If you have doubted the concept of staging oratorio this might just change your mind.


Belle Epoque
Ludmila Berlinskaya and Arthur Ancelle, piano

Music from the end of the nineteenth century by Chaminade, Koechlin, Aubert, Hahn and Debussy. Surprisingly the most modern sounds come from the final works by Debussy. For the rest we are awash in late romanticism, and none the worse for that. Reynaldo Hahn’s Le seul amour is intensely beautiful, but surrounded by equally compelling pieces. A lovely disc.


Kalman: Kaiserin Josephin
Lehar Festival Bad Ischl, Marious Burkert
CPO 555 136-2

This late work – premiered in Zurich in 1936 – is a throwback to the early glories of Lehar and Kalman, without any sense of what might have happened within the musical world, or politically, in the meantime. That it has a lot of good music cannot hide the fact that it feels out of place, despite being well presented and strongly sung. As with previous presentations from Bad Ischl it is given in full with the spoken dialogue though without a full text which is a little difficult for none German speakers. A worthy issue but not one in the top bracket if one had a choice.


Elgar: The Music Makers; The Spirit of England
Sarah Connolly, Andrew Staples, BBCSSO, Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis draws our attention to The Spirit of England as an unnecessarily underrated work, and so it proves to be. In the company of the more familiar The Music Makers it certainly holds its own. Perhaps it was the fact that it was used so often during WWII and for remembrance days that many came to associate it only with those occasions, and as we have come to reassess the whole approach to remembrance the work fell out of fashion. However, at this anniversary of the end of WWI the setting seems not only very moving but an appropriate reminder of the complicated emotions which remembering can raise.

Andrew Staples sings all the solo parts in The Spirit of England with a touching English heroism while Sarah Connolly brings a melancholic warmth to the Music Makers.  A fine and apt recording.


The Passinge Mesures
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord

A lovely collection of pieces for English virginals by Bull, Byrd, Farnaby, Gibbons, Inglot and Tomkins. Some will be familiar, most less so, but the enjoyment lies in the quality of the playing and the enthusiasm Mahan Esfahani brings to each piece. I particularly enjoyed Byrd’s The ninth pavian and galliarde, the Passinge mesures which gives the cd its title – but all are worth exploring.


Bach: Sonatas for Viola da gamba & harpsichord
Jean Guillou, organ and Alexander Knyazev, cello

This is very much a marmite recording. Bach wrote for viola da gamba and harpsichord. Here the three sonatas – BWV 1027/28/29 – are arranged for organ and cello. Added to that, Jean Guillou always brings an idiosyncratic approach to registration which means that the balance and registration is strange rather than simply challenging. There are times when it works well, but more often than not I found it uncomfortable and off-putting. I could see and hear what they were trying to do but was not convinced by it. Others will no doubt be more enthusiastic.


Revive: Baroque arrangements for Saxophone Quartet
Ferio Saxophone Quartet

If the previous disc had been marmite this could come into the same category. Purists may complain but I find Iain Farrington’s arrangements of Bach, Handel, Purcell, Byrd and Corelli captivating and hugely enjoyable. In many ways they are far enough away from any original instrumentation that they can be enjoyed in their own right. Listen to their playing of Sheep may safely graze as an example of what is on offer. I suspect you may be surprised at how enjoyable it is.


Haydn: String Quartets Op64
The London Haydn Quartet

All six quartets from Op64 are recorded here and this is the sixth collection of Haydn quartets in what has already proved itself to be a superb set of recordings. The lightness of touch and sense of intimacy imbues the recordings with real humanity. Op64 No5 The Lark may be more familiar, but it is given a joyfully relaxed reading which communicates its humour as well as its wonderful musicality.


LaTraviata; GlyndebourneTour

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, 6 November 2018

The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury is a rare venue in that it seems to work acoustically and visually for every genre: “straight” drama, musical theatre, orchestral concerts – and opera. This elegant, intelligent production of La Traviata sits as well in this space as if it were designed for it. In fact, this is but one stop on a big tour in Glyndebourne’s fiftieth year of touring.

In the pit are 56 musicians – just visible from the circle –  supporting, accompanying and intensifying the action but never overwhelming it. From those opening mysterious pianissimo tremolo chromatics, repeated at the beginning of Act 3, Christoph Alstaedt  uses colourful dynamics and exquisite control to highlight the drama. There’s a gauze screen, behind which we can see Violetta’s bed as the lights gradually come up during the overture. It’s a strong directorial (Tom Cairns) idea.

Mane Galoyan gives us a restrained but charismatic Violetta in Act One. She is, after all, terminally ill, as well as the life and soul of her big party. She and Luis Gomes as Alfredo stroke the perfect harmonies in their first duet so that we feel and engage with every note. Later she brings all the passion and warmth the role needs and I loved the symbolism of everyone leaving silently from the stage a few bars before the end so that Violetta dies alone – as we all must.

Luis Gomes matches her well and is convincing in his love and there’s a stonkingly good performance from Noel Bouley as Alfredo’s interfering, later remorseful father. The work in Act 2 Scene 1 when he confronts Violetta is as chillingly touching as I’ve ever seen it.

There’s nicely directed chorus work and some fine choral singing (chorus master: Nicholas Jenkins) although it’s a strangely misguided decision not to have them back for a curtain call at the end. It was as if they’d been sent home for an early night. They deserve the credit they’re not granted.

Hildegard Bechtler’s sets consist mainly of three big screens which move a little to suggest two different party rooms, Alfredo’s country place and finally Violetta’s bedroom. It’s simple but makes effective use of the space on the Marlowe’s big stage with Peter Mumford’s dark lighting adding a lot of atmosphere especially in Act 3.

But the real hero of the evening is, of course, Verdi with his dancing melodies and gut-wrenching constructions such as the near perfect quintet in Act 3 which, in this production, is deeply moving. And what wonders he weaves with his much favoured triple time. Of course he uses it for lilting dances, drinking songs and set pieces but he also makes it work for some very solemn moments of high emotion and Altstaed’s attention to detail made me notice it more attentively than ever in this production. No wonder old Guiseppe’s work has been so popular for so long.

Susan Elkin

ENO revival of La bohème

Natalya Romaniw makes her ENO debut as Mimì in the fourth revival of Jonathan Miller’s production of La bohème 

After forty years and more than eighty revivals of operas from across the operatic repertoire, legendary director Jonathan Miller’s work returns to ENO in November with his beautiful 1930s-set La bohème. Inspired by the Parisian aesthetic captured by photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, this ‘beautifully integrated piece of music theatre’ (The Guardian) marks its fourth revival since its first outing in 2009. One of Britain’s most exciting sopranos Natalya Romaniw makes her ENO debut as Mimì.

One of opera’s iconic tragedies, La bohème tells of the impoverished poet Rodolfo’s love for the doomed Mimì during a freezing Paris winter, here updated from the 1830s to the 1930s. Miller’s naturalistic storytelling along with Isabella Bywater’s richly observed design make this a perfect example of a first-time opera for new audiences. The cast includes Jonathan Tetelman in his ENO debut as Rodolfo and ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Musetta, with three other Harewood Artists taking principal roles.

Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw is ‘one of the outstanding sopranos of her generation’ (The Daily Telegraph), hugely acclaimed for her roles as Tatyana inEugene Onegin for Garsington Opera (2016) and Welsh Nationa Opera (2017) (‘a Tatyana in a thouasand’ – The Sunday Times, ‘one of the performances of the year’ – What’s On Stage) and the title role of Jen?fa (‘a wonder to behold’ – The Daily Mail) at Grange Park. She was nominated for the Breakthrough category at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2017.

Jonathan Tetelman is a fast rising tenor (‘a total star’ – The New York Times) who makes his European debut in this production. Praised for his singing of Rodolfo at Tanglewood earlier this year, he has won First Prize in the 2016 New York Lyric Opera Competition. His singing of Puccini continues in 2019 with a Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.

Musetta is sung by ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin, in her second production with the company after her Clara in Porgy and Bess earlier in the season (‘one of the loveliest I’ve heard’ – The Times). She will appear as a guest on the Guilty Feminist podcast, recorded live at the London Coliseum on 27 November. With more than 50 million downloads the podcast is a comedy phenomenon, and will turn its attention to opera with a little help from Benjamin.

Baritone Nicholas Lester sings Marcello, having sung as the title role opposite Romaniw in Eugene Onegin for WNO.  Bass David Soar returns for a second engagement of the season after his Jokanaan in Salome, singing Colline after performing the role at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, earlier in 2018. ENO Harewood Artist David Ireland shares the role, singing in four of the fifteen performances.

Schaunard is sung by Božidar Smiljani?, sharing the role with fellow ENO Harewood Artist Matthew Durkan. He debuted with the company earlier in the year as the Marquis in La traviata. Durkan has been seen in numerous ENO roles, most recently as Hel Helson in Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall, as well asDemetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fiorello in The Barber of Seville and Malcolm Fleet in the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie.

The cast is completed by Simon Butteriss as Benoît and Alcindoro.

Conducting the production is Alexander Joel, former General Music Director at Braunschweig State Theatre, making his ENO debut. With a varied and impressive career on the continent, he was last in London to conduct Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House. He has been praised for his more than 100 performances of La bohème (‘Outstanding’ – The Spectator), having conducted it more than 100 times. He is assisted by ENO Mackerras fellow Valentina Peleggi, who will conduct the 20 and 22 February performances in her company debut.

Opens Monday 26 November (15 performances)

Dancing Fires & Fragrances

Worthing’s Autumn Interview Concert

“Her playing bristled with character of many types” . . . “Edge-of-your-seat Haydn” [Sonata No 52 in Eb]. . . “mesmerising Stravinsky” [The Firebird] . . .“The best piece of piano playing I’ve heard in 10 years” [Ravel, La Valse].

. . . Things said and written this year about pianist Rhythmie Wong, who is the next Interview Concerts guest artiste at St Paul’s Worthing on Sunday November 18 (3.30pm for 4pm). Indicative of her artistic breadth and background, she also plays violin, clarinet and composes. A young native of Hong Kong, incidentally, her parents named her sister Melodie.

Rhythmie Wong’s repertoire for this concert  creates a feast for the senses and imagination. Her poetry and virtuosity ignited and sent shimmers of admiration and anticipation through the Sussex International Piano Competition (SIPC) at Worthing in May. She is one of the three finalists due automatically to appear in these now keenly-awaited concerts.

The International Interview Concerts are Worthing’s intimate open door into the music that changes so many people’s lives. They are not the spectator world of stadium rock, large concert hall or formal recital room, but great music in personal close-up to be experienced by anyone.

The performer sits with the audience as though in a large domestic setting, and direct connection comes through personality-revealing conversation alongside the music performance. The informality creates a bond shared among the audience.

Each Interview Concerts celebrates its internationality and is creatively given its own presentation flavour, ambience and look. The feel is warm and inclusive. Seating is in the Round. The Ask A Question section is for the audience. They respond, react and interact in the Mystery Music Spot.  They can meet the artiste afterwards.

Rhythmie co-conceived the new feature Mystery Music Spot and brings from her base in Cologne a head full of exciting solo piano music in a remarkable programme of unaccustomed power, stature and atmosphere, entitled ‘Dancing Fires & Fragrances’.

There is Russian fairy-tale ballet music from Stravinsky’s beloved ‘The Firebird’ in Agosti’s transcription from the magical, mesmeric orchestral music. Another translation into piano comes from the highest French expert, Ravel – his own vivid ballroom costume drama, ‘La Valse’. Rhythmie’s account of this startling piece caught experts’ breath during the SIPC as she surmounted its multiple demands.

She will bring alive songs, tunes, dances and fragrances in two extracts from the greatest Spanish piano music. Book 1 of ‘Iberia’ by Albeniz and, by his friend Granados, ‘The Maiden and The Nightingale’, from his suite ‘Goyescas’, inspired by the paintings of Goya and later to spawn an opera. These nostalgic, pictorial pieces, range from nocturne and evocation, through fandango, jota and zapateado, to a full-scale public parade in Seville.

She will become the first person to play Haydn at The Interview Concerts. It will be his expansive abd masterly final Piano Sonata (No 52 in Eb), in which later we can revel in her rare ability to transmit and share the fun and teasing humour in Haydn. She plays him superbly.

The St Paul’s piano will be hitting heights on a scale not since Dinara Klinton’s transcendent Liszt, Beethoven and Scarlatti two Junes ago. And among the Interview Concert surprises will be some Chinese, with which Rhythmie will return the international welcome Worthing will be giving her.

Facebook Event Page

Seats unreserved . Doors at 3.30pm. Ticket prices top at £12 adult. Concessions down to £1 for Under-19s. Available in person from St Paul’s cafe-bar, or at




BPO 11th November 2018


The Brighton Phil is delighted to welcome international pianist Freddy Kempf to Brighton Dome for the second concert in their 2018/19 season, for a programme of music by Rossini, Beethoven and Dvo?ák.

The concert opens with the overture to Rossini’s opera Semiramide, of which the orchestra’s Artistic Administrator Ian Brignall says: “This is full of tunes, it’s an orchestral showcase – everybody will be smiling at the end of this.” Conductor Freddy Kempf agrees: “The opera is not so well known but I think everyone will recognise the overture. It’s been used in many Hollywood films, so people will definitely recognise the melodies. And as is typical with Rossini, although it’s not the most intricate writing, yet it’s so effective. It will really set the scene for the concert.”

Then Freddy will perform Beethoven’s dramatic Piano Concerto No.3 whilst directing the orchestra from the keyboard. This is a real favourite of his: “I love the Romanticism in the slow movement. I feel that he’s written it almost as an improvisation because there are a lot of incomplete things in the score, so I’m trying to improvise a little bit. And the fact that there isn’t a conductor there makes it a little easier for us because a lot of the time the orchestral players can pretty much sense what the soloist is doing and this way I don’t have to communicate that to a conductor to sort of reinforce that to the orchestra, so it should work really well. I remember when I was a lot younger and learning pieces for the first time I loved the Emperor [piano concerto] probably the most and now that I’ve played them all, now more and more I tend to love this third piano concerto.”

The concert closes with Dvo?ák’s Seventh Symphony which Freddy is looking forward to conducting: “This is probably my favourite Dvo?ák symphony and I’m really delighted to be able to do it in this concert. I love the way he incorporates so many folk melodies and folk rhythms, especially dances. I want to bring out what the strings can do, but I also want to concentrate on that dance aspect. I feel emotionally very close to Dvo?ák even though he didn’t write a mature piano concerto, and he didn’t really write anything for solo piano, he just used it in chamber music, so it’s a great way for me to experience Dvo?ák.”

Tickets are £12.50-£39.50 (50% student/U18 discount) from Brighton Dome Ticket Office, (01273) 709709,

Discounted parking (just £6) available at NCP Church Street Car Park between 1-6pm

Sunday 11 November 2018, 2.45pm

Concert sponsored in memory of Philip Wilford

Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra
Freddy Kempf Piano/Director
RossInI Overture: Semiramide
Beethoven Piano Concerto No.3 in C Minor Op.37
Dvo?ák Symphony No.7 in D Minor Op.70